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And that is the end for LJ

I had reason to make this announcement last week when I heard about having to accept Homophobic Russian law to continue to use LJ.

In short, I'm a British national, and I'm LGBT, I also believe in freedom of speech something that this measure curtails, and in reality breaks the use of a blogging site.

I am not going to dwell on it, I haven't used LJ that much in the last few years and I will admit that I am on Twitter more. However I have been keeping the thing ticking on the count that I can't really sometimes express all my feelings in 130 characters, and facebook is fun for shitpost's and photo storage, but not the place for a full review or opinion piece (like my annual best and worst games of the year lists).

I always knew that one day things would end on LJ. The site was getting worse since it was taken over, and that new 'social networking' sites had musscled into the space that it once had. 10 years ago it was the place to check everyday but now it's a depressing dead shell with only a few people posting.

Maybe this is what I needed, a final good reason to drop the dead weight and start again. Those that feel the same are sort of coming back and seemingly restarting with DW (even though I have had an account here since 2011). I would like to as well. Get back into the flow, get writing things that I just can't do with Twitter or Facebook, creative things that use HTML markup. Something neither of those two sites have.

But for LJ This is the end, the final end. As of today my journal is being imported (all 10+ years of data), and this will be the final thing that will be cross posted between DW and LJ. If I keep the lights on over in LJ land it will simply to acid test their policys by putting up pro LGBT material and seeing for how long it stays up or how long my account remains active. It's dead now in my opinion so what do I have to lose?

Anyway if you are still reading this on LJ and want to continue to read about what I have to say then my DW site is https://sorvall-sergal.dreamwidth.org/

Anyway it was a nice 10 years with a hight of activity from 2007 to 2011/12(ish). For Live Journal at least this is Alexf0x (now Sorvall_Sergal) signing off.


"My final FU to LJ, if I had to make a final statement then it's this."

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The Nintendo Switch.

Yeah the big news break was Friday. So sue me for wanting to take a weekend to process it, and get my thoughts and feelings out about Nintendo's coming console.

Firstly I haven't watched the presentation yet. I didn't know about it and it was at some god awful time on Friday morning (something like 4am UK time). I have though got enough bulletpoint info to make judgement however.

Now (and frankly becuse Mr Biffo of Digitiser 2000 did it nicely for me), what I needed to know about the switch...

1. Release date: March 3rd.
2. Price: £279.99-ish (check for deals).
3. It'll be region-free.
4. Battery life will be between two-and-a-half and six-and-a-half hours, depending on the game.
5. There'll be an online service, but you'll have to pay (obviously). For that you get one NES or SNES game every month - freely accessible for one month.
6. You can network up to 8 Switch consoles together.
7. The controllers come in different colours.
8. There's a share button, to capture screenshots.
9. There'll be a classic controller available.
10. It features 32GB of extendable storage (for saves and downloads).
11. 50 developers are working on some 80 games.
12. No specs confirmed. Though it does have a 1280x720 resolution touch screen.

Now if you want to know what Mr Biffo thought about that, head over to his site at...

http://www.digitiser2000.com/main-page/the-nintendo-switch-switch-on-or-switch-off-by-mr-biffo

But this is my blog so my thoughts on all of that.

1. WAY TOO SOON! More so given the price, unless I want a fair amount of debt on my credit card there is no way that I could afford to save up that money by that date. Didn't help that the first announcement was just a bit before Christmas, you know when we all spend a LOT of money and then have that 5 week stint between pay checks that is Jan. Fuck you Nintendo for that. Oh and its 1 day before my birthday just to rub salt into the wound.

2. £279? Not bad for a console at launch (at least compared to the XB ONE and PS4), but that is just FOR the console! No bundles where announced apparently, and games have been confirmed as costing $60USD and €70! I haven't seen UK Prices yet but I'm betting that they will be about the same £60 or £70! So to get you started its going to cost at least £350, and add at least another £70 for a second controller and it hits £420, ouch!

I know that my PSVR cost the same (£350) but games for that only cost £40 max! And SONY to their credit gave me most of last year to save up for the bloody thing. Even with the PS4 they gave me almost 10 months to get financially ready for the blow. Not a single month on the worst side of the year! Fuck you Nintendo!

3. Nice, but fairly meaningless as I rarely look at import games.

4. Shite, just shite... Well it's almost them admitting that the first trailer was bullcrap with the guy whipping the thing out on the plane. This thing is competing against the iPad that has more than 2.5 hours of use time, and even it's old consoles like the DS and 3DS that had an absolute age of play time. given that it looks bulky as well it almost torpedo's the systems main selling point, it's portability. Take it away from the house and it's a bigger brick than SEGA's old handhelds (Game Gear and Nomad). *Apparently the Battery life of the 3DS is about the same, though it is still weaker than the iPad, still not really fully sold on that.

5. And I got tired last year of PS+ boards filled with cunts moaning about the quality of the free games (all of which where actually fairly good) last year. At least PS+ GAVE us games, a NES or SNES game? Fuck off Nintendo! For a £10 I could both get a reproduction NES or SNES USB controller, a emulator is FREE and a ROM SET just costs time. Yes that is piracy, but it's what people have been doing for years and what Nintendo is competing against. As a PC owner, and even a retro gamer. This deal is an insult.

6. You will be lucky to find 8 other people that have this thing.

7. Nice but whatever.

8. Everybody is doing that now, and possibly better, a big "so what" if there ever was one. Oh actually thinking about it will that even work given how Nintendo has had a counterproductive relationship with streamers and content makers, I am guessing it's shared on an internal network (lame), or is it a press button to get content ID'ed type of thing.

9. The Joycon already looks OK for everything, I don't see the point of that.

10. Again Nintendo prove allergic to anything resembling decent storage amounts. 32GB is a lot, for an iPad or Smart Phone, but for a console that's nothing! I had 120GB storage on my XBOX 360 and eventually 250GB, and that was in the late 00's. My PS4 struggled with the lame 500GB HDD. However Nintendo in this day and age of downloadable media still thinks 32GB is 'fine'. At least Physical media retailers will like the thing as there is no way a download scene is happening here.

Oh and while we are at it, NO idea what is meant by 'expandable' is that something useful like a external HDD? Or something that will only slight remedy the situation like an SD card. Not sure at the moment but my money is on the latter, and that still sucks (it tops out at 128GB). *OK as I was writing this I found out that it's MicroSD, and that SUCKS. No news if USB-C HDD's are supported yet.

11. OK, but like a few other things I'm more concerned about 3rd party commitment. Oh and from what I've seen those games are stuff I don't care about much.

12. 720p touchscreen on a £250 device in 2017? I've got a near 4 year old iPad Air with a retina display, and bargain basement Android with a 1080p display. Can I get a "LLLAAAAMMMEEE"? Also if its 720p for the main display at a time when consoles and PC's are trying to break the 4K mark, it's again lame lame lame with an added spoonful of lame. Games will be weaker again on this thing.


Then there are some other things, like the lackluster 3 game line up on day one (even if one of the games is a big pick for 2017 best of), and no doubt that they're will be shortages on day one due to the normal way that Nintendo handle trickle feed early supplies.

Honestly though you can say that my view is well a bit negative, and I know that I'm not the only one out there looking at the mixed bucket of tweets on my feed that Friday morning. Some people, notably the Nintendo Faithful are going nuts, while people like myself where much more skeptical. Look I'm not the biggest Nintendo fan, and after the Wii I do rather need convincing that there is something there for me with this system. I can believe it or not forgive some of the above failings like the poor memory, or the 720p graphics (word is that that are going for 60FPS frame rate over graphical fidelity anyway, which is fine by me), and I will even note that previous Nintendo systems have had the same failings yet have been alright. The N64 used expensive carts and had icky graphics for instance but was still a seller, the Wii was TOTALLY underpowered even for 2006 and was based around old CRT TV's, but in terms of raw sales it beat out both the 360 and PS3.

Then when sitting down I do like some features of the system, it might not be the thing for a nasty long car ride, or overseas flight. However it is a full system that is portable enough that I could slip it into a bag and take it with me to use when I am stuck in a hotel during a convention or more likely when I am away in the caravan, and taking something like a full console (which I have done in the past) was a total pain in the bum. Travel applications where the battery is by far less of a issue.

Perhaps and if I am reserved then it's over software. There is no doubt that Nintendo lost out with it's last two systems in this area. The Wii started well but the heavy lean towards casual games and lack of quality control meant that the system got buried in a mountain of shovelware, and with the Wii U it was the lack of software in general that caused it's downward spiral.

The latter is why I am going to wait, and wait on it is my verdict. 12 to 18 months, with an earliest of just after this years E3. Basically see if the likes of Activision, Ubisoft, Square and most importantly EA will support the thing in the long run. If they pull out early on like EA did with the Wii U then it's going down in quite the same way.

And part of me thinks that would be sad, I would rather not for them to botch it twice in a row.





And then I heard that they where charging $60 - €70 for Skyrim, a game from 2011, and cost me £10.19 for the legendary edition back in a steam sale in 2013! and I got the 'special edition' for free on steam a few months back.... Maybe after that you can forget anything nice that I said, if I said anything nice, becuse Nintendo can lick a septic tank clean with it's tongue for that one.

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Worst games of 2016

2016 was a bad year where a lot of celebrities that we all like died, and all we got was Brexit and President Trump.

Fuck 2016 for that and fuck it harder for giving us this shite as well.

NOTE: Like my best of list, I must of bought or have been gifted this stuff from someone who clearly hates me for them to even be here. Now that’s out of the way ON WITH THE SHIT!

The Division - PC



Oh god I know that some will disagree with this choice but I started to hate this game and things really didn’t improve no matter what. In fact things got so bad I can bearly go back to the thing.

Let’s get at least one thing right before I start this game at the very pretty. New York in late december or early january, covered in melting snow, and occasional snow storms, along with all the Christmas decorations, is challenging on the front for computer graphics, and this game really makes good on this.

However that’s where my praise ends, The division is a sloppy third person “looter shooter” in the vain of borderlands, however without any of the silly aspects that kept the borderlands train going.

However that’s the least of the games issues. Main missions that feel very samey and repetavie (lots of linear corridor cover shooting and samey as fuck bosses), Then all the other stuff is dull as dishwater “radio tower” open world crap that Ubisoft just can’t get away from.

Then there are the RPG “Looter shooter” aspects that JUST DON’T WORK with the setting. For Borderlands it works, the guns are silly things that start by firing just bullets, but end with you shooting Unicorns, lightning and bees that is also all on fire. The divisions guns are just guns, but for some reason a slightly different pain job causes them to be that bit more powerful by statistics. Then there the enemies that are all the same for over 3/4 of the game, and while never changing visually they always seem to be able to shrug off your bullets causing you to juggle you inventory again (which in it’s self is never fun) find better guns, and the only reason for the enemies to get better is the area of the city and that’s it!

Oh and let’s not even get started on that totally not fun PVP area the Darkzone, where even the simplest of enemies is virtually immune to gun fire on top of trolling fuckpipes. The immune to bullets thing is even weirder given that the area is supposed to be ultra quarantined and everyone in there is supposed to be half starved!

The division is a triple barrelled mess of fudged mechanics, unfair action and boring missions. No wonder I put it down and never picked it up again even though I have the ‘season pass’ for the fucking thing.

No Man’s Sky - PS4



No man’s shite more like.

Now again I know that some people like this game, but I also know that some people don’t like to let it be known that they wasted £40 on a game that never lived up to the hype that they got caught up in.

I’ve been there, and I’ve been sharfted before (see Aliens: Colonial Marines) and I’m cool about expressing my displesure at being conned into buying a crappy game.

Heck what am I saying, I wasn’t even that excited for No Man’s Sky. Sure I thought that it seemed cool, and I loved the 70’s/80’s SiFi artwork style that the game had, but I wasn’t hyped for it.

No all I wanted was an Elite Dangerous experience for my PS4 so that I could get a bit more use out of that machine.

What did I get? Well I got Elite Dangerous with all the depth sucked away so that it was as shallow as a drained paddling pool, mixed with Minecraft without any of the creativity of that title.

So what was I left with, with a mix of to well received games gutted of their best aspects? Boredom, repeating boredom ad nauseam.

You mine elements to power your ship, that in turn allow it to take you to other planets to mine resources that help you to upgrade your abilities for collecting resources.

Oh and occasionally there is combat, and by occasionally I mean ONCE IN A BLUE MOON. Is it exciting? Fuck no! it’s sloppy and annoying both in space and on foot.

It wouldn’t be so bad if ANY of the planets that you visited where really different, but they are not. Oh don’t say that they are! Because they are all the same with only slightly different presets.

There are no wars, politics or trading (something that Elite has) despite there being other races to interact with and fleets to see.

No Man’s Sky is boring, really really boring, and while there has been a patch that said to correct some of my complaints, it’s too little too late as far as I am concerned. The news blackout from Hello Games following launch didn’t help with that either.

NMS would have topped my worst of list but I found something worse, OH FUCK DID I find something worse.

Major/Minor - PC



I am arguing this through as a 2016 title even though I bought it year ago in the dying embers of 2015. The reason was that it was a ‘chapter based’ game that in reality was in early access even though it never marked itself a a early access game, and wasn't finished truly until 2016 this year, so in my book it counts.

What is Major/Minor? Well its a visual novel. Not something that a lot of mainstream PC gamers in the west care about or even notice, or would just say are crap from the outset of being all mostly a long text scrawl. Oh and yep that is all they are, text and pictures that tell a story and occasionally you get to make a choice that effects it. Sort of like a computerised "choose your own adventure" book. As I said not popular here but counter wise they are in Asia, and sometimes the best of there makes an impact over here. Mostly see the Phoenix Wright games or Snatcher on the Mega CD (a cult title that was made by one Hideo Kojima).

I can't really say that I would go out of my buy this type of game unless it has gotten prior praise (like Phoenix Wright) or pipped my interest with the subject matter like this did.

Anyway as I was saying these games are simple, write a branching story, then add some interesting art and music and *BOOM* done. Not hard to fuck up right? Not something that would get on my best of list, but I could say "well that was OK". But if you do fuck it up? IF YOU FUCK IT UP... Then it's the equivalent of the "YOU HAD ONE JOB" meme pictures.

This game had one job and it right royally fucked it up.

Where do I start with this one? Maybe the story since that's the bulk component here, and it's a broken mess of a thing concerning structure, characters and well everything else. From something that starts with a murder mystery, then jumps about with a silly dimension jumping plot. That in itself isn't bad. It's the fact that the story is written with so many rookie mistakes, for a start choose a perspective and stick with it. Yes there are moments that jump from first person, our characters eyes, to third person, camera in the room, not only breaks flow and pacing, but also busts mysteries since we KNOW things our character shouldn't, and considering that we sometimes have to make choices over things we know or not that's a bad idea. Then we have a second fatal flaw of a the author pulling a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu) of their own fursona character (which in the fur fandom is something of avatar). Yes he really made his character a Pop star who is more popular than the Beatles and Jesus, has his own brand of energy drink AND owns a Tokyo district, oh and to go back to Jesus yes we find out that he is indeed has that kindness streak. UUUURRRRRGGG!!!! just writing all that made me cringe, just like it did while playing this shite.

I could go on and on, and list off writing mistake after mistake, but this is already getting long and I need to get to the next problem. Anyone one other problem, a big problem, well besides stupid character motivation and a reveal about one of the characters that is so stupid it melted my brain, was the length of the dialog. Yes in an attempt to improve things what the author of this game felt was needed was more words, and made bold claims month by month about how the next chapter was over 30,000 words long! and so on. Two problems, length isn't an issue, never is or was, I would rather read a story that is only 100 words long if it is well told over 50,000 words of pure garbage. Oh and when you've only got three short lines of text to read all that crap, it becomes what MST3K called "Deep Hurting".

Urrrrrgggg.... So what are the graphics like? They seem OK... right? It's not they are shit, runny after my bowels have been playing up shit. Yes they are that bad.

Yes the furry art by pawsi Clawsi is alright, but if you want to see character shots then just go over to FA and get an account. Tons of that there for free, FREE. However even that has it's problems, but I will get to that in time. Everything else is stock photos nicked from google (something that they where caught doing early on and called out over and where forced to give credit for all the public domain assets they used. More to the point isn't using PD material for commercial gain, kinda illegal or at the very least morally wrong? Not only that it rarely fits the scene, or looks right. Oh and in later version they applied a blur filter to all of it to hide all of these placeholder images. If its any other type of graphic then its from RPG maker stock assets. Drab drab drab..

As for those character images, yeah well it was clear that Klace the twat that made this wanted all the money to himself as he was way too cheap to get the artist to make multiple poses and expressions for each character. As such you only get two poses per character, one on screen when they are talking, and ONE for when you first meet them. Oh and thats it, save for a one cat character who gets a crying pose for one scene early on, but no other character did for the entire game (and she wasn't even an important character either.

As for the music, it's OK. However as dull as this game was all I wanted to do was to keep it off and watch youtube videos on the side to keep me sane. Looping music would have pushed me over the edge.

You know what fuck me this wasn't the WORST game that I've ever purchased but it's on my worst ever list! And when you consider that I laid down cash for crap like Aliens Colonial Marines, Ground Zero Texas, Ride to Hell, Rouge Warrior and Shell: shock 2 blood trails its' on a bit of a long shitty list.

Fuck this game, and fuck Klace the whining arsehole that made it (and I mean that), and then put it on green light for a second time so that he could charge £15 for it (originally it was £5). THIS game and ilk like it from the bowels of Steam Greenlight! FUCK THEM ALL! However that is a rant for another day.

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Anyway sorry if this was a bit long this year. I didn't review as much stuff and I did and I kind of wanted to unload.

Anyway I hope that 2017 for games is better than 2016. Oh and with Resident Evil 7 (Played the demo already excite!), Horizon Zero Dawn, Mass Effect Andromeda alone coming in the first to second part of the year and more to come things are already looking on the up and up :)

FOR EVERYONE THAT IS READING THIS HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My Best Games of 2016

2016 been a year hasn't it? A shitty yeah in which the UK chose economic suicide via Brexit and the US elected a nazi Umpa loompa, and a lot of celebrities that we actually like died. Oh well at least the gaming scene was OK... Yeah OK, a lot of games released but a lot that got to my "It's just good" bracket.

Anyway these are the few that I considered more than a bit above the average or that I've come back to on at least more than one occasion.

Note: For a game to get on my best of list I must of acquired it at some point in the year (and I say acquired since I have received free games along with my purchases)

SUPER HOT - PC




It's the most innovative shooter I've played in years! And shooter is a bit of a stretch word, as Superhot has something of a high speed puzzler vibe to it. Your mission? Simple! Shoot all the red dudes as fast as possible, the twist is that time only moves when you move and as fast as you move. Everything is about timing and forthinking as you plan your next move and line up your next shot, or sword slash, or toss or punch or teleport until everyone in the room is brown bread.

It's a simple game that gets to the point, it's hard but very fair, and when your antics are played out in real time it's super fun to watch.

If I had a complaint then yes it is a bit short and even while there is extra stuff to do it is an easy game to burn out. However for the quality of the game and the fun I had with it, it's an easy pick for my list this year.

Battle Zone - PS4 *PSVR*




Not making a lot of other lists but that's mainly down to investment in the PSVR is needed to enjoy this one, and it's close to a killer App for VR at the moment as we can get this side of next years Resident Evil 7.

To put it simply this is a first person shooter where you are strapped into the cockpit of a tank and have to take on mission after mission in a TRON like world to destroy an AI core. Simple right? It would be if it wernt for the onslaught of RED tanks coming your way!

Very easy to get to grips with and the FTL like rougelike or rougelite, elements with actually some nice precocial generation. Oh yeah and it's hard as well very hard at times. try not to forget that.

Battlefield One - PS4 and PC



Yeah by chance I ended up for the game on both formats, and I have to say that on a technical front the game is very well optimised and looks great on both console and PC (though better tech makes the PC version standout that little bit more).

Aside from some issues with wobbly realism, the game feels fresh for giving the FPS treatment to a conflict that otherwise has been repeatedly looked over for shooters due the nature of the conflict and level of technology at the time. However Battlefield one plays well and the multiplayer is still as solid as it ever was.

The campaign is alright, even though for the most part it really is tutorials for aspects of the multiplayer.

Yeah this is a bit of a drab pick due to it being an AAA FPS game, but it also got me into looking into a lot of history stuff concerning WW1 which alone makes it worthy of this years best of.

XCOM 2 - PC



There are two things about this game that slightly annoy me, one is that I didn't spend enough time with it (due to the intimidating level of difficulty at times), and it forced me to eat my words about the Xcom reboot of a few years back.

A very fine return for the franchise and a brave direction for the sequel. However yes it is bloody hard to say the least.

Honourable mentions: Deus EX: Mankind Divided was a fairly worthy sequel to the 2011 original that I really did enjoy. However it's rather sudden ending, that felt like a chapter end than a true cliffhanger rather dampened my will to stick it on this list. EVE valkyrie, Tumble, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood where fine examples of what VR can do, but none really stuck out as the Killer App for the PSVR or VR in general. Dishonoured 2 was fun once I could play it, but the lack of advancement from the original failed to put it on my main list. Mafia 3 was fun as well and had a great setting and licensed OST, but it also had a shitty PC launch and got into a rather Ubisoft like rut.

The US election

So the unthinkable happened, Trump won against all the odds which where against him. Honestly that news was depressing enough given what his rallies have been like, and the things that he has said have filled me with fear. While I will state what I think will happen, I will say that the next 4 years are going to be bumpy to say the least.

Anyway yes people are scared firgented and more than a few other things, the agenda that Trump has pushed has been facist to say the least and somehow it worked for him. On the social side things WILL get worse in the US I can garuntee that.

However what about the long run? Personally I think Trump will be a dud, and the only thing that is going for him is that, currently at least (and it CAN change during the presidency) the republicans control everything. Pushing through some of the crazy, but lighter social policy for him won't be hard as at least most (extra with 'tea partiers') can agree on that. People, will suffer when Obama care is repealed, and Gay marriage challenged, things that the Obama administration did that while not mind blowing at least where a step in the right direction will be trashed an buried.

Economically he will follow Jr Bush's plans, Trillion dollar tax cut, tax breaks for the rich, increased arms spending, and well we all know how that all worked out (and it went BAD fast back then and it will again).

But really what will he do? This isn't business, there are no 'yes' men to agree with him day in day out. He will love the limelight, early on, but the dull day to day business and the concept of people that say NO won't rub with him. He will either make grave poorly advised mistakes, or get bored, push the work on the VP Pence and fuck off back to bankrupt another hotel or Casino.

That's what 'W' did back in 2000, and he HAD political experience. Granted he was bad at it but like Trump he ended up at top, was clearly now hating it and was spending time away from the white house, and dumping work on the VP. The economy went from surplus to deficit in a short space of time, and the media WAS out for blood. W should have been out of office in 2004, but lets face it he got a saving throw, 9/11/2001 happened, and I will grant him this 'embarrassing shock' moment aside he did nut up and take control, he was seen to be in office, he was seen to be a Prsident at a time of national crisis, not a man we loved or liked but for that brief time understand and sysmpthise with. It did mask his problems and he did things (Iraq war) that we can't forgive, but it gave him 3 or so years before the rot started to catch up, with the economy still ailing and a quagmire left over from his military adventures.

9/11 was Bushes saving throw, I don't think he caused it but he at least was seen to BE president and he got 4 more (troubled) years as a result.

But Trump? He wont have that, and he will have to face the press, and criticism, even from the hard core of Trump supporters for when things go bad, or things fail to happen (the wall anyone?). There is no Soviet union to grind in the dirt like Regan had, there is no Osma Bin Laden hiding in a cave like W had, there is no clear enemy to fight, no enemy to make a demon of. I.S. maybe, but they are a thorn in everyones side, and not much more than back ground noise at this point, beaten back by endless bombing and their own self destructive evil. I do worry that Trump will try to find someone, something to make an enemy of but I doubt that he can. He will just have his domestic policy and foreign policy and neither are looking likely for success.

However there is one more thing that scares me his commitment to NATO. Too long to go into it but he's not a fan of it and thinks that he's a BBF with Putin. He's already mentioned that he will BREAK the NATO treaty if any Baltic state is invaded by the Russians (hell he won't even protest). He things that he can be pally with Putin, reality is that Putin will test him, will test the rest of the US government. It will break the NATO treaty, it will weaken the EU if he fails to respond, it will weaken the US if people question why there are US service personnel on their soil if they are NOT their to help strengthen their own defence forces. Worse, war, even nuclear. It won't be the US that fires the first shot, it will be their lack of involvement. And it WON'T be Trumps 'Turnaround' moment either.

He will be a shit president.

TL:DR

A ultra nasty repeat of the Bush presidency without the saving throw of 9/11 or a clear enemy. Expect a shit economy, slumped social policy, and broken international relations, and danger from Russia.

What was I playing in September 2016?

Yeah this is actually late and I have a lot of ground to cover, I better start running and cut though it fast.

Deus Ex: Mankind divided - PC





This was my big purchase for the month, and a way to start the AAA release season (August to March the following year). One game that I was slightly hyped for given my love of the franchise, though given funds and caution following No Mans Sky the month before I was very off buying on Day 1.

Honestly I enjoyed it. It was in short more Human Revolution, but with quite a few refinements to the gameplay that bend slightly back to the 2000 original game like being able to ignore, sneak past or kill a boss without firing a shot. It had me sucked in and the story was fairly good thought it was a bit 'in your face' to the point of silliness with the comparisons to apartheid like world of Augs and 'naturals', and I am sure that people will rip that part of the story to bits in time.

However what really got me was the end of it. Not wanting to spoil anything, but by dog I could hear the narrative suddenly crash to an abrupt stop! Yeah I didn't half get the feeling that the game was somewhat of a part 1 of X amount only that Square decided not to say just how many parts it is actually in.

But still if you can brace yourself for that it's a great game.

Oh and one other thing, this game has performance issues across the board, I was able to get it looking good on my system but that was after an hour and a half of performance tinkering. It's running at 30fps on consoles and even those with dual 1080 grade cards where stating that it's impossible to run in full ultra settings. Just bear in mind that it is a system killer.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10

Journey - PS4




Was my freebee from PSN this month, it was OK I guess. A critically acclaimed title from 2012 did get the visual upgrade on the PS4, and granted it is pretty. However it is what it is, a artsy walking sim with a shit ton of hype behind it. Granted there is more game than something like 'Gone Home' or 'Dear Ester' and the telling of its story via the visuals has to be commended. However I finished it in an hour and went 'humm' with everything that I played and saw. It's not that exciting and it's over in an hour and once you are done you are done with it.

I did enjoy the multiplayer bit where you see other people on the way. but still when I was done I was done, and I didn't really care for going back. Oh well

Verdict: 6 out of 10

Bioshock 1 + 2 remaster - PC




Hey! More FREE GAMES! More artsy free games, but this time in a why that I respect more than Journey. Yes Bioshock 1 + 2 got remastered (and a fully to DX11 spec version of infinite was pushed out in the package for consoles), all new with Hi res textures and AA, and a frame rate bumped to 60FPS for smoother gameplay, in short a vast improvement on what came before even though they are mostly the same game. Oh and that's no bad thing given that Bioshock was a classic from the last generation of systems.

Bioshock 1 got the biggest overhaul with a remastered into level, (fairly frank) interviews with Ken Levine and additional challenge levels. It was just as enjoyable as when I played in way back on the 360 and more so now with the extra level of shine. Bioshock 2 was the surprise though as it had better (and frankly improved) gameplay on the first game, and a slightly darker if less memorable story. Personally yes Sophia Lamb and the attempt to make an extreme left wing ideology never worked as well for an antagonist as Andrew Ryan did in the first game it has to be said that the journey made up for it with the new underwater sections, and the ability to use guns and plasmids at the same time. Not quite polished as the Bioshock 1 remaster with no real extras (beyond knowing that the game was made from ideas and assets that where left on the cutting room floor after Bioshock 1 wrapped.

The package I think is worth getting for console owners and for PC owners I now consider it the definitive version. Worth looking back at this classic.

Verdict: 9 out of 10.

EGX 2016: Round up part 2, All the VR!

Well I got to try all three of the main VR formats at EGX this year as opposed to use the dev kit versions of the Oculus and Vine that I did last year. Now I am going to make this quick and simple because I only got a few mins with each, first I will give a run down of what I thought about each VR unit, then what I thought was the best and then just a quick word about VR in general.

Anyway on with the run down.

HTC VINE


In all honesty the vine is the most powerful and impressive of the bunch. It's currently the only unit that the public can buy that can do the 'room scale' VR. Quality wise I couldn't tell much difference between it and it's rivals, though it's FOV was a bit better than the others and after a while I didn't get either the pair of goggles on my face feeling or any 'screen shutter' effect. It was fairly comfortable too, but a bit weighty still and it still relies on straps that press it to your face and require adjustment. I also felt that while it seems like a step down the 'bring your own headphones idea that this and the PSVR peddle is much better than that of the oculus (but I will get to that in time). Also the 'chaperone' system works surprisingly well and gives you a nice connection between virtual space and meat space, that none of the others really did (though it won't stop you from tripping over the cat). Also props for the controllers that are basically really advanced Wii Motes. You see these things one to one in virtual space and they are really responsive and precise. I actually had a lot of fun using them and they do offer a lot of control, so the vine really wins out in terms of a dedicated controller.

Sadly though I have to point out the negatives, first if you want to use the room scale VR you need a LOT of room (at least a 4 by 3 meter play space) a big and expensive set of tripods for the sensors. I really don't think many players will have living rooms or could clear the space for it. Then there just isn't the software, it has the smallest library of the three and while I was blown away by the tower and unseen diplomacy, these where experimental titles still at best (and nether where really intended for the play outside trade shows).

Then there is the cost! £750 for the basic set, granted that is everything (but tripods for a room scale setup), but that is a lot of dosh to blow. Oh and if you are going from ground up (in other words need a system to use it), then the cost of a PC to run the thing is likely to be at the £1200 to £1500 mark, that's a total cost of £1950 or £2250! That's not really at all cheap, and will be the thing that will put 99% of people off.

Oculus rift


The divice that started the buzz for the new wave of VR following it's kickstarter in 2011 to it's controversial buy out by Facebook. So it should be the best of the lot? Sorry not really the oculus is actually something of a slightly disappointing end product. As far as quality goes it's on par with the Vine and PSVR, however it did have a slightly more restricted FOV than the others. Sadly as well it was the least comfortable of all the units with a lot of ugly and hard to adjust straps that can make it awkward and uncomfortable. On top of that it can feel a bit off centre and it can leave a nasty pressure mark on your face.

Unlike the VINE and the PSVR it has it's own sound system, however it's average stereo at best and the headphones also felt cheap and didn't really cover my ears. Like the VINE and PSVR they where better off not bothering.

Also the default controller is the XBOX ONE controller, which I have to say for VR is sub optimal. As a controller it works, but it's otherwise disconnected from the experience unlike that of the vine or PSVR. There is a motion controller but it's either not out yet and not pack in so take that as you will.

Also then there is the cost, which is a bit cheaper than the Vine at £550 but still requires a hefty PC to run again in that £1200 to £1500 range. So again from dirt up its costing about £1750 to £2050 to get started with the Oculus.

However one upside since the system has been out for a while as beta dev kits there is quite the range of software for it. More apparently than for the VINE or PSVR. It's one upside on frankly a system I found to be a bit disappointing.

Playstation VR


Is the one system that seems to be getting everything right, well hopefully. However from what I experienced it's very spot on. Firstly yes, it's not as powerful as either the Vine or the Oculus, however I never really saw much in the way of visual differences from the games that I played or muddiness. In fact despite the lower res screens it was actually quite on par with the other two systems. It was also really comfortable as well, and I mean that. It's a light unit compared to the oculus or the vine even though there is no strap. Instead theres band that fits round the top of your skull that fits and locks with an adjustment catch, and the visual part of the unit is on a arm at the front of the band. Again this can be adjusted for comfort, and it prevents some of the suction and tightness that the Vine and very the oculus have.

Also it has a better range of controllers than either the vine or oculus, for a start the DS4 is actually a good pick for the headset even as a standard Joypad. The gyro and front light give it some motion control features meaning that it can be seen and used in virtual space. For example if I wanted a reminder of the controls in battle zone all I had to do was lift the controller up and look down to get a reminder and to see the controller in virtual space. It can also be used in lieu of The move controller which is the other controller for 3D space, personally I didn't use this but apparently it works fairly well but it's 2010 era tech that has been repurposed and it's about as accurate as it sounds at times. Then there is the PS VR AIM a gun like controller which works like the move but has a set of more recent gyros in it that make it more on par with the Vine controller for 1 to 1 movement in virtual space. Like the move controllers however this is sold separately and still has a ETA on launch.

The system also has 50 games coming before the end of the year. Mostly small indie and short experience games, but also some AAA quality releases like Battle Zone, Eve Valkyrie, Robinson and in .

But sold separately is the bug bear with the PSVR, but also one of it's strengths at the same time. For a start it means that it comes in at a way cheaper price than it's rivals at £350 for just the headset on it's own, or £380 if you need the camera with it. Then there is a £500* package comes with everything headset, camera, 2 PS move controllers and a copy of PSVR worlds. This still might seem a lot, or hidden costs if you don't have some of the hardware (mostly the required camera) but it is drop in the ocean compared to the Vine and still cheaper at least on an entry level with the oculus. Then there is the matter of the system cost for the headset, compared to a PC the PS VR runs off the PS4 which at this point is only £250 or £350 tops for the coming PS4 Pro. From dirt up to experience PS VR you will need a figure that is somewhere in the region of £750 to £900 estimated. Still a lot granted, but compared to the PC headsets it's over £1000 difference!

What is more I'm just impressed that SONY made it work on the PS4 to begin with! It's a remarkable bit of kit!

In conclusion


If I had to say which is the best then I would be accused of bias. I have a PS VR pre-ordered and it will be here on Thrusday, however my thoughts are genuine and I do consider it the best of the three on the count that it works as advertised, on low spec hardware, is very comfortable and has an affordable price point (additional parts required not withstanding). However yes buyers bias is something that clouds this statement a bit. You should if anything take it still with a pinch of salt.

Roll on thursday :)

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EGX 2016: Round up.

It was over a week ago now but last week was very busy and stressful for me so trying to get a full write up was hard to impossible. Anyway the show was fun, but something was very off this year mostly because Microsoft was a near no show as was Ubisoft, and Nintendo, well I wasn't expecting them anyway as the WiiU is near dead and the 3DS is just being kept alive.

Anyway did get to play a few games on the floor, but I didn't get to see everything just due to how busy it all was.

-Battlezone - Oh I had fun with this one and it was my first try of SONY's Playstation VR system too (but more on that later). Esentually a remake of the old arcade game this is a fun and fast shooter that puts you in command of a tank in a 90's VR world. The situational awareness I got from the VR was fantastic, and the action was amazing. Worth the 40 min wait to play it, and in fact I changed my games pre-order for my PSVR for this title. Also learnt later that it will be a 'rougelite' with elements that lean back to early 90's console games. Can't wait!

-Sonic mania - Was probably one of the best games that I played on the floor. It was as I expected a massive tribute to the 90's megadrive era sonics, only with a lot of new tricks that couldn't be done on that system (3D hints and mode 7 anyone). A lot of nods to the originals (the stage I played was based on Green Hill Zone from sonic 1), but gameplay imported from sonic 3 and new bosses and stages. It looks great and plays as sharp and as slick as it did back then, or maybe even more so. Keep an eye out for it!

-Titanfall 2 - Was more of the same, which was sad. Was just as confused by the strange MOBA style gameplay and game modes and everything else. I still did walk away hoping that the single player will make up for it this time, and that diving in with the 'proper' Multiplayer this time will be a bonus. Oh well, not convinced to pre-order, but I will keep my eye on it. (Also played the PS4 version, bye bye MS exclusivity)

-Gran Turismo sport - Was naff, but that was down to how SONY showed off the thing with a driving rig that had force-feedback set to 'Break your hands off' levels of powerful that made a rather realistic driving game just that bit harder to play. NO VR here despite the promise. Will be giving it a miss until it turns very cheap.

-ESPER 2 - Was fun and actually plays a bit better how that it works on the oculus with a standard gamepad. Good and expanded stuff from the first game, but sadly no news about it making the jump to other VR formats.

-The Bunker - Got to tinker with it, walked away feeling meh. At least it was a smooth take on the old FMV adventure games.

-Yooka-Laylee - Was good, and much the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo era RARE answer to sonic mania. It played well and felt old school while being as modern as possible. This will be one to look at as it draws nearer to release. That said I am sure that I was playing the PC version and it wasn't massively well optimised at times, but still it's a playable colourful game and we need more of them these days.

-Silent streets - Was the blow out title I think. It was a mobile game and it's about being a detective in a victorian city. However the developer is very confused as it as ARG elements, and hardly seems a good fit for that type of gameplay. Also very crossed signals about microtransactions. Looks like an interesting concept that could totally bomb IMHO. Which is sad because I want some more, and frankly decent detective/police games.

-Unseen Diplomacy - Was really good but in reality something of a tech demo for the HTC vine. This game let you play as a James bond style spy who has to infiltrate a secret base, which seems very par for the course until you realise that this uses the vine's full room VR and the motion controls. It's hard to describe but this is how we've always thought that VR would work, and it doses. You really have to walk, crawl and shimmy around the room and the HTC controllers let you interact with the environment. It is something that has to be experienced rather than talked about, but trust me it was fantastic. However given the play area and the sheer cost of the Vine, this isn't something that everybody will be playing, even if it's a £1.99 title on steam (yes really). Also of note was the tower which was much the same thing if a little less impressive, but that did show how the vine remotes can be used for things like bows and arrows and climbing.

-Snake Pass - Not something that I set out to play but it's a good sounding and playing indie where you are a snake and gameplay centres around climbing puzzles and challanges based on snake movement. Sounds unplayable, but really it wasn't and I had a lot of fun with it. Also it looked as good as Yooka-laylee with vibrant graphics, and design that reminded me again of 90's RARE, worth keeping an eye on.

Windlands - The other smaller Playstation VR game that I tried. This was an open world / runner game that had you swinging with grappling hooks like spiderman over floating island, while looking for bits of a something or other. Not bad, but at it's best when it was keeping momentum which was hard due to level design.

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EGX 2016 (before I go)

A bit more prepared for this than I was last yeah. Honestly it was a blast of a weekend last year and this year I can't wait for the show. As of writing we are now under 72 hours before the start of the show at the NEC.

Anyway a list of games that I am intending to check out.

-Battlezone (note that I am going to this one not only for the said game but because it's the only known third party exhibit that I think is showing of the PS4 VR headset, something that on the SONY stand is apparently requires a reservation that is impossible to get. The game looks like fun as well so I want to check it out for both reasons).

-Dishonoured 2

-Sonic mania (The first real fully 2D SONIC game outside of handheld appearances since 1994's sonic and Knuckles? Yes please! Also I heard that the developers where organically modders and fan game makers that formed a studio and got hired by SEGA to make an official game, and it's looking much better than anything that SEGA have put out in the last 22/23 years since. Much critical praise from other shows as well, will have to see personally about this one).

-Titanfall 2 (I expect that it might be a multiplayer only showing, which would be as shame as I really want to know more about the finally integrated single player component, as that seems to be thing that will save this fledgling franchise).

-Dawn of War III

-Horizon Zero Dawn

-Gran Turismo sport (again due to VR, though I expect that this demo will be on a normal monitor rather than SONY VR)

-Black the Fall

-ESPER 2 (again a very nice indie VR game from last year, rather sudden sequel. Will ask if they are intending to port to Playstation VR at some point).

-Sniper Elite 4

-The Bunker (Found out about this one from the EGX website, and it's interesting to say the least. Let's put it this way, it's an FMV adventure game which is odd given how tarnished and forgotten that genre of games now is outside of the 90's. It looks good though and an interesting post apocalyptic horror narrative of you being the only survivor left in a MOD bunker after the bombs fall in an alternative 1980's).

-Yooka-Laylee (This was looking great, and feedback from the kickstarter beta has been good. Expecting a busy stall though)

-Troll and I (another well developed looking action game from an indie studio will take a quick look)

Now I normally wouldn't go out of my way to look at certain games in the 'leftfield collection' part of the show but two games did stand out.

-Silent streets (A detective game coming to iOS and Android, has a very nice art style but rather odd remarks on the website regarding just how this game plays. I want to take a look).

-Unseen Diplomacy (A first person stealth game, which is nothing outstanding so far. But this is in VR and you seem to have a nice control over the environment. Will be taking a look if I can get a go).

I will note that I am only going off what has been presented on the EGX website. There might be a lot that will only be announced when I get there on Thursday. To note that Ubisoft a big player last year haven't said much in the run up to this show, but in the run up to christmas they have Watchdogs 2, For Honour and the AC:Ezio collection (the last was recently confirmed but little detail has been given about this update to the best part of the rather run into the ground Assassins creed franchise). Anything that I play from them will at best be rather at the last second.

Nintendo also seem to hardly have a presence this year, which isn't all that surprising given how poor and uninteresting a year it's been for them outside Pokemon. It would be very odd if they are a total no show though as Pokemon GO was a big seller over the summer, and I will expect that Sun and Moon have been heavily pre-ordered by the faithful. Plus we have seen them recently announce more games aimed at phones and tablets with a Super Mario runner game announced for iOS (an amazing thing given Nintendo's stubbiness concerning developing software for formats other than their own), and what I would like to see, the official mini NES plug and play system. However it's granted that the company isn't in a great space at the moment so even if they do show I'm not expecting a presence like last year.

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Sept 11th 2001.

I normally never comment on the passing of September 11th, but...

A) Has it really been 15 years? Such a thing as you get older only seems like yesterday.

B) It's one of those event's where you NEVER forget where you where when it happened. Oh and if you want to know I was in Electronics Boutique at the Lion Yard in Cambridge, the stores gone now (both the old stores have the large game and the small game/EB unit). I was at the checkout that friday buying a game (Capcom Vs SNK for my dreamcast, heck I even remember that), and I do recall being frustrated at the time since things where going slow (can't remember what about though, it was either card payment or the line that I was in) and I was cutting it fine for getting back to work that afternoon. Found out about it when I came back in to work where one of our researchers was panicking over some mice that where in transit at the time to the states, and of course US airspace had been closed down. Only learnt about how bad it was when I suggested that for the first time ever we use the 'internet' for news (yeah it was still a bit new age thinking to do that back then). Saw the first images when I got back in, as half the family (we had relatives over at the time since they where on holiday the next day) where around our TV in total surprise at what they where seeing.

C) Definitely one of the few international events that I've generally felt sad at the time, and looking back it was with good reason. From that day forward the world DID change, it did get colder nastier, and the people who died that day where just the tip of the iceberg for what was to come.

Anyway yeah 15 years... By Dog I feel old now.

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