All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday 27 January 2014

Assassin's Creed 4 Review

So, Assassin's Creed 4. Spoilers ahead. AKA Here there be spoilers!

I completed the story mode of this game last weekend and then spent the following week playing with what was left - which wasn't much as I'd been doing all the side stuff as I went. Collecting everything from every place I visited, doing all of the missions and side quests, locating all of the Mayan artefacts and animus fragments.
By the time I decided to even attempt completion of the story I had the Mayan outfit (obtained after collecting 18 artefacts), the gold flint locks (obtained after completing all the nautical missions) the pistol swords (obtained after completing all the assassin missions), my character was fully upgraded, with all gear and bags and my ship was at the max it could be without elite plans (though I did even have the elite hull).
The only thing I really had left at the end of the game was collecting the elite plans and then going after the Legendary ships.

It was an awesome game that really revitalised the series, though I can't see how they could make a follow up. They seem to really like their ships but there isn't another historic era when the use makes so much sense.
With the exception of some occasional bugs and some tricky movement the game ran really well. Not only that but it was fun. The platform/free running worked really well to get you around on foot, the synchronisation/fast travel points helped you to get around the map without taking hours. even the combat was good and intuitive if a little clunky when you're near a lot of enemies.
I loved the story, living through a few years of Kenway's life was awesome, and emotional. the lives and deaths of Black Beard, James Kidd and all of the others that started out as friends but eventually became enemies. I loved it, the whole story, even though 'oh by the way you have a child' bit at the end. I'd read more if I didn't know how Edwards story ends only a short time after the end of the game.
My only two problems with the game were:
1; that it wasn't particularly challenging. there was no point in the game that I got stumped or couldn't find my way. it was always simply 'press run/climb in a direction and if that doesn't work do it in another direction'. There were a few moments where I struggled through combat, but I never died because of the enemy, rather because of my own foolishness (or being stuck on a ledge and the jumping wasn't working). Even if they'd included a difficulty setting I can't see any way other than making the combat harder to add difficulty, and as it was the puzzles that I wanted more challenge in, not the fighting that wouldn't help.
and 2; the modern day stuff. Just... all of it. I really didn't mind when we were playing Desmond, a modern assassin, learning to defeat the Templars through his genetic memory. It felt like leading up to something, but then when they killed him off at the end of 3 and changed it to the perspective of random games developer working at ubiso- Abstergo... it just became really stupid. I don't know, at least when it was Desmond the down time as him let you explore the real world a little, now your stuck in an office making the game that your playing for the Templars and occasionally playing a crappy hacking game. Again, it looks to be leading to something but it can't in any way be as good as playing around with Edward (and its not relevant to this game now)

All in all it's an amazing game I'm going to keep going back to just to destroy a couple Spanish ships and become a more terrifying pirate that my friends. (currently second place)

First one was best.
- James

Monday 20 January 2014

PS4 review

So I've had a PS4 for a month now and since I'm a nerd/gamer/geek I figured I'd give you my opinions.
First of all I'd like to say that it's a great console. It feels nice, the controller is a big step up from the PS3 controller, the graphics look amazing, the new operating system is really smooth and intuitive. It's a really nice addition to my gaming systems and I have spent a lot of time using it, that being said, it's not really worth it.

That probably doesn't make sense, huh? Well let me explain; Most of the games are on the PS3 as well. Assassins Creed, Battlefield 4, Injustice; Gods Among us, Call of Duty, the only games that aren't on the PS3 currently are Knack and Killzone (I guess you could count Resogun, but... I don't?)
In the future there will be a lot more, sure, we have The Order: 1886, Infamous: Second Son, Drive Club, Uncharted, all look to be good games, but right now the PS4 is running on potential. It has a lot of it, but it hasn't realised it yet (and probably wont for a while).

The games I got for it were Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Injustice: gods among us Ultimate Edition, and Killzone.
I absolutely loved assassin's creed. It was amazing, but it was also on the PS3. I could easily have continued to use the PS3 for it and it would have been cheaper. The graphics were only marginally better, the gameplay wasn't changed at all and I didn't get anything extra by getting it on the PS4 (except a higher bill).
Battlefield is a solid shooter. I mostly play online which I admit does have it's benefits for the PS4. Playing on the PS4 doubles the number of players in a match compared to the PS3 and - considering the size of the maps - that makes a huge difference. On the PS3 you could spend an entire match without seeing a single enemy if you tried.
The only tangible difference between Injustice on the PS4 and the PS3 is that in story sections you are asked to swipe the touch pad for certain sequences, instead of using the analogue stick. otherwise its the same game with marginal difference in graphics.
As for Killzone... it's beautiful, there's no denying that, but I haven't played much. I got a little way into it (literally the first firefight) and haven't touched it since. It's not a bad game I've just been more interested in other things.

So in my opinion, like all new consoles the PS4 isn't really worth getting yet. It's a good piece of kit that is filled with potential, but until more games come out for it and more developers learn how to handle the kit you're better off buying a PS3 or an xbox-360.
I'm glad I have one, but if I didn't it probably wouldn't matter.

- James

Monday 13 January 2014

Fairytale Fiction

In recent years there has been a lot of fiction about fairytale characters, television shows like Grimm and Once upon a time and comics like Fables, it's almost becoming it's own genre. Not just fantasy, but Fairytales, where you can use established characters in your own ways because it's been so long since the original writers took part that the copyright has worn out.

So obviously I dipped my toe in for a quick attempt. Didn't get very far, but I thought you might enjoy the attempt:

‘Happily ever after’.
That’s a joke, and not the ha ha kind, at least not for me. I believed it at the time though. For years it was my life. Everything I thought, everything I did. I all revolved around four things; ‘meet a prince, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after’. I got my prince. I fell in love. I got married… then in place of Happily ever after, came death.
In it’s place came darkness.
In it’s place came the oldest of the stories, the most powerful and the darkest.
I found a way out though. My Prince Charming died to give my godmother time to send me away. She sent me here, to… to London.
For a long time I wandered the streets alone, but I wasn’t the only one to lose everything and be thrown here. I met others, other fairytales, other stories who had lost everything. We came together and formed a loose society in Camden town in the centre of London. Some thought we should go to the countryside where nobody would see the tales that couldn’t pass for human, but Camden is a marvelous place. Nobody pays attention here.
For well over a century our society thrived. We weren’t always close, we weren’t always friends - there are some rivalries that aren’t settled just by losing your world - but we were happy.
And that’s when the darkness found us.
It couldn't get through, not all of it, not right away. But it had found us. A demon had made it to us. Few of us were battle ready when it did, but we managed to beat it back. We should have killed it, stopped it from returning to it’s master… but we failed.
We knew that it was only a matter of time before they returned again. The few of us who had seen it decided then and there to be ready. We decided not to let the others know, but to be prepared for the day that we had to fight again.
So when Red came to tell me that Rapunzel was missing; I knew exactly what it meant.
“You found the place like this?” I asked, looking around Rapunzel’s fortieth floor apartment. She always liked living up as high as she could. I think it made her feel safe after years locked in a tower. It was also a dead giveaway if someone was looking for her though - especially with that hair.
“No, Cinders, I realised she was missing so I messed up the room and scrawled ‘Let down your long hair’ on the walls.” Red drawled, raising an eyebrow from her spot crouched next to the blood spatter.
“You might have tossed the furniture for clues.” I said, rolling my eyes and walking around the room, avoiding the debris in order to preserve the scene. “She was attacked, someone that knew what she was.”
“You think it was the Darkness?” Red asked.
I shake my head. “I don’t know. Could be.”
“We should have told them about that demon.” She sighed.
“They would have panicked, their lives would have been ruined.” I responded. We have this argument from time to time. I say we keep the Darkness’ ability to come to London a secret, Red says we should tell people so that they can prepare.
I give her a look. “We can discuss it later.” She agrees, standing up and pulling back her red hood. She shakes out her long brown hair and opens her cloak a little as she puts her hands on her hips. She's wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt with a cartoon of herself carrying a pair of pistols and 'the original hoodie' printed on it. I notice her patented wizard blessed battle axe hanging from her belt. “Right now we need to find Rapunzel. You find anything, Princess?”
I look out of Rapunzel’s window, down at the city and brush my long orange duster out of the way to rest my hands on the handles of my twin cutlasses. I like to call them the step sisters. They’re prettier than my real step sisters, but they do ugly work.
“No idea.” I curse internally. I need to find her, she's my responsibility... But there's nothing here to go on besides the blood and I don’t have the skill to analyse it, but I know someone who does. “We need the wolf.” I decide.
Red groans. “Really? Is that absolutely necessary?” She asks, looking around the room for a clue, some way to avoid bringing him here.
“It’s been over four centuries since the big bad wolf killed your grandmother.” I say, exasperated. “It wasn’t even the same wolf, you already killed him, and the pigs killed his brother. Fenris has done nothing but be helpful and prove his loyalty ever since we arrived in London. He’s saved your life half a dozen times despite how you treat him and he’s useful. We need him. If you dont want to be here when he arrives that’s fine. Go and wait for me at goldie's inn. I’ll meet you there in an hour."
She frowns and looks away for a long moment before sighing and shaking her head. "No, it's okay. I'll deal."
I like red - her prejudices against perfectly honest members of society aside - she's a good person. Kind, trustworthy and friendly - if a bit sarcastic. She was the third fairy tale I met in this world. We fought the demon together.
Of all the tales I know she's the closest to what I'd call a best friend, but there are still a lot of things I never shared with her. A lot of things I kept to myself. A lot of things we disagreed on.
"Alright then." I said, as I pulled out my compact mirror and opened it up. No I'm not being vain, nor am I gussying up for the wolf. I looked into the mirror and a face appeared. I know what you’re thinking; 'yes Cinderella, that's how mirrors work. You look into a mirror and see your face.' but this wasn’t my own. The face was masculine, bald and green. My mirror wasn't just a mirror, it was a magic mirror. It's not uncommon, we all have them, it's just how we communicate.
With all the exasperation I could muster I say "Mirror, mirror in my hand, get me in contact with Fenris Wolfbrand." I hate the rhyming, but it's necessary. The magic doesn’t work without it.
The face nods and then swirls for a few moments before being replaced by a tired looking dark haired man with stubble and mutton chops. His brow furrows as he recognises me, "Miss Charming? To what do I owe the pleasure?"
“Evening Fenris.” I say. “Are you busy?”
He shrugs. “Depends how important it is.”
“What?” I ask.
“Well if you need me to take a letter to the post office for you I’ve got company, if there’s a murder and you need a forensics expert then I can break up my meeting early.” He shrugs, looking over his shoulder and frowning at what I presume was a noise from his meeting.
“It’s the latter. We’re not sure if it’s a murder or not but we’ve got nothing to go on.” I explained.
He nods. “We being you and red?” He asked, hesitantly.
“She’s promised to play nice.” I told him.
“Alright. what’s the address?” He asked.
“It’s Rapunzel’s place.” I said.
His eyes widened in shock and he turned his head to the side, cursing. He looked back into his mirror. “I’ll be right there.”
The mirror faded back into the form of the green head and I closed my compact, pocketing it before turning to Red. “I never promised to play nice. I said I’d deal.” She told me, raising her eyebrows.
“You’ll be canvassing the neighbouring apartments, see if anyone heard anything.” I respond.
“Oh I will?” she asks, raising an eyebrow. “Who died and put you in charge?” She pauses for a moment before frowning apologetically and looking away.
“Charming.” I said, prompting a nod as she left the room.
Fenris arrives quickly, I hear his feet stomping down the hallway outside before i see him.
Wait… Fenris is a wolf. He doesn’t stomp. He moves quickly, silently. He’s a predator with very few equals-
“Punzel! You get your ass out here this minute! I got a bone to pick!” That’s not him. I move quickly to the doorway and position myself beside it, taking hold of one of my step sisters, just in case. A man steps through, tall and imposing, he has dark hair and a checkered woodsman’s jacket. I frown, I don’t recognise him.
“What the hell?” He asks the room.
“That’s pretty much what I was just asking myself.” I tell him. He starts, leaping away from my voice as one of the twins slides from it’s sheath to point upon him. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
He looks between me and the blade, backing into the room. “I dint do this shit, Cinderella. I just got here, you heard me.”
“True, you sounded like you didn’t know this had happened, but I don’t know who you are. you could be smart, you could be stupid. You could be cunning or naive. Since you know my name I’m guessing you’re a tale, not a norm.” I explained, continuing to back him against the wall, stepping around the debris while he stumbled over it. “Who are you?”
“I’m nobody, just a friend of Rapunzels.”
“Didn’t sound like you’re too friendly. A second ago you had a bone to pick. What’s going on?” I asked. “Big bad wolf syndrome? looking to blow her door down?”
“It’s nothing like that, just a disagreement between friends.” He responded.
I frowned at him for a long moment, staring up at him and realised who he was. He had a rugged beard, short hair and a concerned expression. His eyes were the thing that gave him away though. He had yellow-green eyes with black rectangles for pupils. “Billy.” I decided. His eyes widened in surprise and then his brow furrowed to anger and he charged me.
Trust me when I say it’s never good to have one of the billy goats gruff charge you.
I dropped and rolled to the side before he hit me, regaining my feet in time to see the horns return to the top of his head, curling above him to create a sort of helmet. I put my sword back into it’s sheath.
I can fight if I need to, but I didn’t learn swordplay so that I could kill other tales. I frowned at the goat as he turned to face me. I’ve not had to kill a man yet in my life, but I know how to fight.
I back against a wall and he charged again. I waited until the last moment and rolled out of the way, letting him slam into the wall. I could tell it didn’t hurt him, but his horns got stuck in the drywall. I got up and moved back to his side, slamming my heavy boot down into the side of his knee. It gave way beneath him and he dropped down onto it, yelling out in pain.
“I’m gonna kill you, you Bitch!” He growled, pressing his hands to the wall and pushing himself free.
I backed off and let him come at me again. He charged, moving his head down to ram me and I dodged to the side, kicking out again into that same leg. It buckled as the foot was coming down and he slammed into the ground, smashing his face into the floor. Blood splattered out, but it was just a broken nose.
His horns and the top of his head are solid, but his face doesn’t need to be. I step over and kick him in the side. Once, twice, three times. I reach down and roll him over, he’s a heavy one. Even heavier as his fist flies into my face, throwing me back against the wall.
I sat there blinking for a few moments, trying to regain my senses. Damn that hurt.
People assume - I don’t know why - that we tales are impossible to kill, difficult to hurt. Maybe it’s because of tales like the billy goats and Baldur who made deals to have powerful strengths, but the majority of us are just people.
We seem to live longer than norms, I don’t know why, we didn’t live any longer than a norm in the old world, but here… I’ve been living in Camden for a hundred years and aged perhaps a week. The wizard Merlin explained it to me once, but I didn’t understand then, and I can’t explain it now.
That being said, while we age differently we can get injured and die as easily as anyone else, hence the stars I was seeing when the goat hit me.
I blinked a few times to regain my sight and felt the goat’s fingers clasp around my throat. He lifts me up into the air and slams me against the wall, knocking the wind out of me. His grip tightens, stopping any new air from getting in.
My fingers grasped at his wrists and his hands, trying to pull them free, but he was too strong. I raked my nails across his face, drawing blood but he ignored it. I kicked at his side, pushed at his chest, but the air in my lungs grew weak. I even swung my foot towards his groin but if it did anything it certainly didn’t affect his grip.

Well I hope you didn't hate that completely.

Good morning, this Monday, sorry for the shoody post, I'm just not used to Monday mornings yet.


Thursday 9 January 2014

Merry January

Hello everyone, welcome back!
As you can see you didn't miss much while you were away. Yes, you, I was here the entire time. The only reason I didn't post anything was because I didn't want you to miss anything. I didn't want you to miss anything while you were away. It's not because I was lazy, nor because I was busy playing on the PS4.
Nope. Not at all.

So welcome back! Happy new year!
How were your holidays? Did you get anything nice for Christmas? have fun over new year? well that's about to end! Time to get back to work, time to start making yourself a better person for the new year.

New Years Resolutions!

So last year I had;
  1.  Finish my three main books/stories (The Longest Cycle trilogy, Dark Prince and A change in the Wind)
  2. Get below 13st (189lbs) - weight loss, probably the most common resolution of them all.
  3. I will not make up any excuse not to go out.
  4. Blog at least three times a week (starting today)
  5. Learn something new every month.
Of this I completed one of them.
I did not finish The Longest Cycle, nor Dark Prince but I did finish a change in the wind (which was re-named On the Hunt).
I did not get below 189lbs, however I did gain a stone since last year.
I didn't make up any excuses to go out, so I completed that one, yay!
I did not blog three times every week. Most weeks I succeeded, but there were a few where I failed :(
I learned something new for the first couple of months but... yeah, it got time consuming and I started working again. I did learn to tie knots, I learned to pick locks and audio editing.

SO I gave money to the Royal Lifeboat Association and Childrens Miracle Hospitals in recompense.

This year I'm going to narrow my focus to losing weight and finishing Hunter Book 2 and the Longest Cycle Trilogy.
At this point I just want to get down to below 14st, I'll still be fat, but I will fit in my clothes again!
I'm enjoying Hunter, and I think its a good series, so it deserves to be written.
TLC has been going on so long now that it just needs to be finished. Screw Book 2, I'm finishing book 3 then I'll go back.

So that's my new year, TLC, Hunter 2 and Losing weight.

Happy new year, see you next time.

- James

P.S. the podcast - starting with the Christmas podcast that I totally didn't forget to post on Christmas day - will resume Wednesday.