Sunday, 1 July 2012

Bank is cunting four letter word fuckers

Yesterday I checked my bank balance and it was £140 less than I was expecting. Apparently it's a normal and acceptable practice to take money from from customers 48 hours before the bills are due.


I know my bills are due out on Monday, that's why there'll be money in my account to pay them on Monday. Why not just start taking the money out when it's there, just in case I do something crazy like spend my hard earned money.

So I have a new mission in life. I'm going to try and be independent of a bank account as soon as possible. The biggest hurdles that I can see right now will getting my benefits paid as they go directly to my account and paying my rent as that's on a standing order.

Tomorrow morning I start finding out how I can do these things without a thieving middle man fingering the transaction.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Things that need to die today

Following a day in which I have inserted too few knives into too few faces (zero at the last count), here is a list of things that need stabbing in the face.

  1. Other drivers. Driving is a privilege not a right, and other drivers have been bigger dicks than usual today. Forgetting rules of priority on roundabouts, letting me through but stopping halfway through the obstruction as they do so that I have to tell them to just get through the fucking thing, being unable to reverse even though I purposely left plenty of room to do so, having to drop down to first gear to negotiate narrow tunnels whilst I patiently wait at a green light for them to crawl through, slowing down to turn on their lights and being afraid to go above 40mph in the rain.
  2. My bread slicing skills. They pay disabled people minimum wage to slice bread for the chance to call their company an ethical one, so how the fuck do I have to destroy a whole loaf in my quest for four slices of bread?
  3. Stomach cramps. I get it, you don't like something that I ate, now fuck off.
  4. Self important pensioners. The courier business that I work for doesn't employ seven people just to bring you the free paper every Tuesday morning, we have a couple of other jobs as well so that we can all get paid. So when I bring your papers a couple of hours later than usual (but still a day earlier than you should have them) don't spend 20 minutes berating me about it. Honestly, I couldn't care if you throw them straight in the bin, as long as I deliver before them Thursday then I'm getting paid.
  5. EA's servers. In three quarters of virtual American Football, my game lagged as I was timing two field goals and three passes. It probably happened a lot of other times that I didn't notice too. There's only ever 22 players on the pitch, how hard can it be?
  6. Amazon customers. The game that I was playing just a week ago doesn't work, looks like I'm about to get shafted out of a working disc. Luckily, I have the customers address.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I'm alive

I've just realised how long it's been since I posted anything here. Everything is fine, but I've been stuck at work six days a week because one of my colleagues got beaten up by the local wildlife. I will be back and being miserable as soon as I can.

Before I go, here's something that occurred to me the other day. Think of it as a thinly veiled anti-war rant. If one believes in democracy to such an extent that he is willing to go abroad and kill to enforce it, but the people of that country want or like Sharia rule or dictatorship, then surely the right thing to do is to allow those people to live outside of democratic rule? Just sayin'

Thursday, 9 February 2012

My kingdom for a good sports game

I prefer sports to shooting people. I can't help it. I'm just one of those far out people who would prefer to reminisce about a good game that recover from death. I'm also a passionate gamer, and here lies my problem.

If one wants to shoot people then the options are plentiful. We can do it in space or on earth, with gritty realism or over the top silliness, one-on-one or team battles. The various subtle rule changes must number in the millions.

If I want to play a sports game? With the exception of Association Football and MMA, I have one option (and even those only give me two options each). If you don't like that, then you're shit out of luck.

Unusually for a Brit, I love American Football (referred to as Football from here on). I love watching it, I love the tactics, the mind games, the formations. I study the sport and it's intricacies. But I can find nothing in terms of gaming to help expand that passion.

Let's compare my most recent attempts at enjoying a Football game.
I started playing Backbreaker last year. The positives of this title are the tactical depths, the intuitive stick controls, the Euphoria based tackle system, the Association Football style Franchise mode, the fully customisable rosters and an enjoyable mini-game based on evading tacklers. The negatives was the vertical learning curve and the lack of a user base (due to not having the NFL license) which lead to NEVER being able to find a human opponent and the total lack of injuries, a real shame considering some the stomach churning big hits that were possible.
Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the process of learning how to play the game, but it's master stroke was that every mistake felt like your mistake. You had only yourself to blame for every failed play (and there were a LOT of failed plays)

Time for Madden NFL 12. The positives include a full NFL roster of every current player, college star and former legends, a large soundtrack of current rock, metal, hip-hop and indie; a huge online user base, official commentary talent and 3D grass. The negatives would be the soundtrack, the online user base, the commentary and the computer assist.
It's easy to win in Franchise mode, just set the computer assist to full on offence, and hold A (which makes the AI move your player for you) on defence. The downside to this is that when you mess up a play, it always feels you never had a chance to make that play as it's so out of your hands. You'll probably feel more in control watching the CPU play against itself. Coupled with commentary gems such as "They have the ball in good position" on their own 5 yard line, "You don't fair catch on your inside your own 20" when he's on the 38 and "Can he make it?" long after the extra point has gone over the whole thing just makes you despair.

But surely the biggest issue is how the games industry allowed itself to get into a position of no competition? Remember the old days of Madden Vs 2K? For those that can't, it's much like the current FIFA Vs Pro Evo that we get to enjoy every year. Competition breeds success, the threat of being outclassed from the market keeps people making good products and not churning out the same broken shit every year.

The short version, exclusive licenses don't work, and the only people that suffer are the mugs that have to pay for the end product.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

If you don't like it then fuck off

The big political discussion right now is that of devolution, more precisely it is about Scotland becoming independent from the UK.

They wish to leave the UK because Alex Salmond recently watched Braveheart again and still believes that the King of England has to sleep with a Scotsmans bride on the eve of her marriage.

The radio station that I listen was today debating about what would happen to the North Sea oil and gas reserves should such a split happen as they currently belong to the "UK". Seemingly, the best idea forwarded so far is to draw a line on a map, starting at the border and going out to sea (I'm so glad that we have such experts). This would leave Scotland with around 95% of the oil and 52% of the gas.

But wasn't it the UK government that funded the exploration, infrastructure, legal wranglings and selling of the licenses?

Not for the first time, it seems that what Scotland actually wants is not to have an amicable split from the UK, but to take the best parts of the alliance for themselves and to leave the not so good parts for England.

If you want to leave the UK Salmond, then leave, but don't be that ex that takes all of our DVDs on the way out.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Would you like a bag?

It's 7.30pm, and I've come here straight from work. I've filled a basket with your goods. I used a basket because I plan to purchase about four times what I could carry in my arms. Some of it is frozen, some of it is easily breakable. Use my card please, the value of these goods is more than the cash I carry.

What was that? Would I like a bag? A bag? For me?


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

When you tell me to do something......

I generally don't do it. I was playing on Madden 12 Ultimate Team today against a 99 rated opponent (not that I'd ever accuse him of just paying for a good team) when I received this at half-time with the score 49-7 to him.

I responded by getting on the mic and informing him that if he was late for Bummers Club (The first rule? Don't talk about Bummers Club) then he'd have to quit.

And he did. He gave me the win. Sometimes it pays to be a patronizing twat

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Are games getting worse?

This week I completed Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast and Mass Effect 2 for the XBox 360 within 24 hours of each other. They're both very similar games, double disc RPGs set on fantasy worlds in which you manage a squad and a ship. The only real differences are turn based combat versus real-time combat and about 10 years.

So how did they leave me with such differing opinions of the experience? Was it that ME2 took me 30 hours to complete compared to SoA's 60 hours? Unlikely, as I've never been one to judge a game by its size, I rate Ocarina of Time and Portal as about equal to each other.

The graphics of Mass Effect are incredible, a full High Definition universe to explore, full of galaxies, star systems, planets, space stations and vistas. Unfortunately that means nothing when changing areas removes you from the experience with a garish loading screen. Skies of Arcadia has much chunkier graphics, but no loading screens beyond a brief black screen. I also found the Silver Temple to be much more immersive and awe inspiring than anything I experienced in ME2.

The storylines were very similar, both revolving around saving the world or the universe by gathering a team to man your ship and fight alongside you. But for all the time you spend with in conversation with (and sleeping with) your crew mates in Mass Effect, not a single one of them was as interesting as your SoA crew mates.

And that brings me to the endings. I finished Skies of Arcadia first. The death of the final boss was greeted by sorrow by the protagonists as he was the former best friend of one of them. The flight home showed them torn between staying together as a team or returning home to help their people. Some stayed, some left, some got married, some died, but every single ship mate was shown making tough decisions after such a momentous event, sometimes making the wrong ones.

The next night it was Mass Effects turn. Very Michael Bay, very impressive HD explosions, a brief celebration and a cold, hard, "Export Character/Continue" option. Maybe that was the main difference between two of the biggest RPGs of their generations.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My first impression of EA customer support

Original Content by me

WWE RAW - 2/1/2012

I recently started watching the WWE again. It wasn't intentional but I found it whilst channel surfing after getting Sky Sports activated, and before I knew it I'd watched an entire episode.
It's such good fun, like a man soap opera, and I'm enjoying it as intended this time. I'm just a viewer along for the ride. No spoilers, no over analysis, just balls out fun.

For the past month or so they've been playing these creepy, "The Ring" style videos, the general message being that our world is going to change on the second day of 2012. Timed with the re-emergence of Kane, I've been guessing that they were marking the return of The Undertaker.
So the video plays, the lights go out, the only noise is the crowd. So far, so 'Taker. And then lights appear at the top of the ramp. It the shape of a torso and some outstretched arms and HOLY SHIT IT'S Y2J!!! Chris Jericho was an absolute hero of mine when I was 15/16 years old. I really hope that he doesn't ruin my nostalgic memories of him, but he did outstay his welcome with about 5 minutes of preening and parading without actually saying a word.

Elsewhere, R-Truth spent the whole night stalking The Miz. Despite his pleas for help, he was basically told that it was tough because he started the fight a couple of months ago. This storyline has the potential to become massively enjoyable.

And the finale was exactly the reason why I watch WWE. John Cena is the target of Kane right now and was booked opposite him in a 6 Man Tag Team Match. However, Kane was nowhere to be found, and so the end result was Cena and Ryder emerging victorious in from a Handicap Match. Cue Kane's music, and Cena runs half way up the entrance ramp to cut him off. With his back turned, Kane emerges from the ring amid smoke and kicks the hell out of Zak Ryder, toying with him before going back into the hole in the ring, dragging Ryder feet first after him. Cena came back to the ring to make the save, and as he tried to chase Kane a huge torrent of flame came roaring from the hole. It looked fantastic, real horror film stuff, and just the kind of over the top showmanship that makes the show so enjoyable every week.

Monday, 2 January 2012

First post

Welcome to the first post of my new blog. I know that most blogs fail after a handful, but hopefully I can keep this thing going with thoughts and opinions about music, games, films, food, life, sport and gambling.

Happy reading