Rebecca Mayes and The Epic Win

26 08 2010

This is my new favourite song. My new favourite song, otherwise known as my most current favourite song, usually only lasts as long as until I hear something new from one of my favourite bands, but this is slightly different. This is really like nothing I’ve heard before, in so many weird and wonderful ways. This is a beautiful musical representation of modern gaming classic Mass Effect 2 that’s just as haunting and makes almost as big an impression as the game itself (along with a saccharine-sweet DIY indie video). This is Rebecca Mayes, and she’s brilliant.Vodpod videos no longer available. 

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Grand Theft Auto has a social conscience (no, really)

21 07 2010

I bought GTA IV a couple of days ago. I know, I know – I’m behind the times and even followup the Ballad Of Gay Tony has been out for ages, but better late than never, right? Besides, I was busy playing Fallout 3 for the longest time, I didn’t really have room in my life for another free-form behemoth of a title, but I’ve caught up now. I’ve only been playing it a couple of days and while early impressions are great, there is one side of the game that feels slightly alien to me: realism.

GTA 4
More realism, sir? I’m not sure – I’ll tell you later…

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‘Erasing David’ – Staying under the information radar

5 05 2010

Last night, I watched a very interesting documentary film. I missed the first 20 minutes or so as I’d been out, but my other half filled me in on what had happened to that point, and I was soon quite involved in the tale of David Bond. David, for reasons I missed at the start of the film, decided to conduct an experiment on the nature of our ‘database state’ by trying to disappear for 30 days, while being tracked by a pair of private investigators. In all honesty I think the idea is a fantastic one, I absolutely loved it – I mean, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to play at Jason Bourne without the danger of your girlfriend being taken out by a sniper early into the second movie?

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Marathon running for geeks

30 03 2010

If I come up against some kind of challenge, task or obstacle, my first thought is usually “what could I utilise to make this easier?” I find a spoonful of technology makes the world go round, or some other confusing kind of mixed metaphor, but the principle works. If you want to paint a room, use one of those self-cleaning even-distributing electronic paint pods, rather than getting more paint on yourself and your carpet using the traditional tray-and-roller method. If you need information on the move use your data-enabled smartphone, rather than scouting around for an internet cafe, paying £3 an hour and feeling obliged to drink stale filter for the duration. If you’re booking a holiday use the web to find the best price and comparison sites to get real reviews on the destination and hotel, rather than trusting to travel agents who are basically obsolete in this digital age (and will tell you anything to make a sale given the massive amount of business they have lost to the web). What can you use, though, if the challenge is one of pure physical endurance and stamina? How can technology help if the task is simply you, 26.2 miles, and a whole lot of pavement? I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK (you can sponsor me by visiting my JustGiving page), but what technology can you utilise to help you get around a marathon? 

The London Marathon

I will be in there (somewhere) come April 25th this year.

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Final Fantasy XIII, one week on

17 03 2010

This is going to sound slightly ridiculous given how excited I was by Final Fantasy XIII’s release, but I’ve only actually racked up 7 hours of play-time thus far. When I was held up at work last week due to industrial action and didn’t think I was going to be able to buy it on release day, a copy arrived in the post that very day. My lovely girlfriend had pre-ordered it for me for my birthday the previous week (I’m 25 now, I fill in a different ‘age range’ box on forms – that’s depressing) and it was waiting for me when I got in from the office. It’s funny though, that when you’ve got a busy job, a few freelance articles on the go, and rather inexplicably you’ve somehow ended up running the London Marathon on April 25th this year (with training taking up so much of your free time so you don’t die in a sweaty heap on national television), you don’t have the time to do things you used to, or at least in the way you used to do them. I think as a kid when I first got Final Fantasy VII, I racked up something like 20 hours in the first few days, but I’ve had a whole week of Final Fantasy XIII as a grown-up and I’m only managing an average 1 hour/day play time. At least it gives games some longevity, even if it is a tad manufactured by circumstance. Maybe rationing play-time is a good way to get your money’s worth? I’ll revisit that thought another time…

Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning Waits

I've finished my hour's play for today - Lightning will just have to sit and wait until I get my hour tomorrow...

So how am I finding Final Fantasy XIII? What are initial impressions, feelings and attitudes towards it? Is it (even at this early stage) any good? Please also be advised (if you were worried) there will be no spoilers here – this is my house, my rules, and I won’t be a part of the problem. Read this article from Richard Cobbett (PC Plus Features Editor) and this article by my old friend Michelle (owner of PioneerProject.net) for some interesting thoughts on the issues surrounding keeping games a secret. And with that elephant firmly out of the room, back to Final Fantasy XIII…

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What ever happened to the world map?

2 10 2009

I’ve been playing Crisis Core on PSP a lot recently. In actual fact, I bought a PSP pretty specifically for this title, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Although when I say I’ve played it ‘a lot’, what that means in reality is that I’ve played it for 17 hours and have already beaten the game. “17 hours? That’s pretty respectable for a £15 platinum title” you might be thinking, but for an RPG, and a Square-Enix RPG at that, I’m actually quite disappointed. I think the problem stems from the removal of the world map, and its replacement with those awful blue dot floating lines from Final Fantasy XII that signify where one area joins another. Now I know the argument that J-RPGs are considered quite old hat, and it may be true that if you don’t evolve and move with the times you wither and die, but please, stop messing with the important stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff that adds longevity and the feeling of exploration and actually having a choice in how the game pans out.

Save crystal and blue dots - disembodied blue entities abound in FFXII!

Save crystal and blue dots - disembodied blue entities abound in FFXII!

My beef with the blue dots is this…

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‘Geeks Rock Hardest’ – It’s Offical

6 09 2009

Back in 2002, a momentous moment in both games and music (in the days before Guitar Hero and Rock Band, long before their paths were intrinsically linked) seemed to slip under the radar quite unnoticed. Nobuo Uematsu, primary composer of the Final Fantasy series of games, heard word that two lesser known Square-Enix musical producers (Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito) had formed a prog-rock band, and were playing live arrangements of some of Uematsu’s Final Fantasy soundtrack songs. He joined them for a one off performance on keyboards, caught the live performance bug instantly, and they became The Black Mages.

Having released three fantastic (if slightly esoteric) albums, The Black Mages have also played a number of spectacular live shows, including guest appearances in two of the live ‘Final Fantasy Musicals’ that toured the world a few years back. In response to my own post (self-centred, I know) with ArcAttack’s amazing electrical video game themes, you should definitely check out these incredible performances of Final Fantasy favourites:

Final Fantasy VII – ‘Those Who Fight Further’ (originally ‘Still More Fighting’ on the OST)

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