Sunday, 26 May 2013

Consoles, consoles everywhere...

Hello there!

The next pair of important console combatants have been revealed recently, destined to divide rabid, swearing children suffering from terminal brand-loyalty into two grand armies of bickering. People genuinely old enough to know better will proclaim 'x' console as the best due to 'y' technological reason, ignorant of the fact that NOTHING SHALL EVER MATCH THE MIGHT OF THE PC.

Gaming types across the globe are currently scouring the internet, using their eyes, for 'XboxOne vs PS4 tech spec comparison', and then reading the guff assembled by aforementioned partisan nutters! I actually throw my head back in my luxurious armchair, swirl my booze in my brandy glass and scream with insane laughter, with my eyes rolling back in my head as I struggle to breathe! Priceless!

So, because I am both brilliant AND benevolent, I shall present to you the real, 100% true breakdown of both new console offerings. I know, I'm a friend and a neighbour! So here goes:

PlayStation4 (PS4):

The PlayStation 4 console.

PS4 technical specifications:

Amount of memories used by games: 71

Number of RAM's: 200? 300? Who knows?

Weight including disc and joypads: 40 kgs

Speed of processor: 12.2kph (rising to 12.4kph if playing online against a Frenchman)

Number of animals hurt in the production of each console: 3 seagulls

Number of feeling smug about not owning the other console generators: 3

Hidden on-board government listening devices: 2

Summary: The PS4 is aimed at age 30+ intellectual, espresso-sipping architects, has some exclusive games, has controllers....lots of other usual baloney.


The XboxOne console.

XboxOne technical specifications

Graphical cards: 10 IBM x86 1066 socket 775 RealTek X1800's

Wipe-clean surfaces: Fully dishwashable

Number of RAM's: Look, this keeps coming up so it must be important, so let's go for 9999999

Swear thesaurus: Included at launch if Xbox Live Unobtanium membership purchased

Number of elderly relatives confused by actual function: Millions

Sound capabilities: Bangin' sick tunez bruv innit

Size of controller: Medium dining table with chairs

Summary: The XboxOne is aimed at swearing 10yr olds threatening to beat you to death for daring to interrupt their YouTube rehearsal or some such. It has some games, some this, some that.


They're the same thing really, man. Who cares. Just follow your brand loyalty, you know you will!

Despite looking and being named differently, modern consoles are pretty damn similar. I'm not an all-knowing computational genius but I am willing to predict the gap will be pretty small between them both. There will not be the 'crushing, company-ending defeats' being predicted by over-excited forumites across the internet!

And as for the perceived 'type' of player commonly associated with each console? Nope. Roughly the  same people on either side, playing roughly the same game, with the same insecure, nagging doubt about the choice they made. And on and on it goes, stretching off into gaming infinity, like a huge, world-record attempt sausage.

The games will be the same as they are now, with even more irritating social network intrusion. They will look better, or course, but mind-blows just don't happen anymore, Sister.

Except on PC, of course. But who plays on those? No-one! Too complicated & expensive!

GL & HF!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Let's rejoice about GT6!


This week saw the announcement of something rather frothy. The Gran Turismo series is to be further embellished by the addition of Gran Turismo 6! Punch the air, kid!

I like the racing genre. I'm not one of those hardcore types that has a huge, vibrating seat & frame in my front room, the type that dons fireproof overalls before they play and all that. I did once own a steering wheel and pedal set that attached to my desk using suction cups, but I broke it in a jealous fury one evening whilst chasing a pixellated lady on a motorbike in Test Drive Unlimited.

Now, incredibly, 'The Wife' says I can't have another, fancier wheel as it will make our dining room look like a little boys bedroom. She's right, of course, but DAMN HER TO HELL anyway!

Why do I like the racing genre so much? Well, when I was a small idiot I was in love with toy cars, books about cars, films that featured a car briefly, TV shows about cars, posters of cars and just general traffic trundling past my house. So it seems pretty blatant that I'd literally be interested in a video game area that lets you grope so many digitally-represented joy-boxes. Or cars.

Don't worry, I'm not going to launch into an interest-killing list of all the racing games I've sniffed, there are just too many. And I've forgotten lots of them. And I'm untalented. And lazy.

But there is one name that I will never forget. NEVER. If you dare to suggest I will, then I'm afraid I will have to use my internet skills to find you, locate myself in a convenient shrub, and then proceed to 'tut' loudly at you as you leave your home each day. Tremble in fear!

Gran Turismo. GT. Ever since I stood (in 1997 was it?) frozen in my local Morrisons supermarket, a copy of Official PlayStation Magazine gripped in my slowly cramping hands, staring open-mouthed at screenshots of such seductive beauty I think I remember gently whimpering a bit.

So I followed the progress of it, watched it being played on the horrible TV that was 'GamesMaster', read everything I could everywhere I could over and over, and even exploited the friendship of the local 'Electronics Boutique' manager to arrange a pre-release jolly! Excited was an understatement.

I think Gran Turismo was the first game I ever pre-ordered too, in order to get a sexy chrome keyring with the GT logo smeared across it. Man, I wish I still had it, but at that point I had no clue how I'd still be a fan 15 years later. Screw you, hindsight!

So, along with my mate Simon, I collected my pre-ordered knot of gaming hair on launch morning. Upon returning to my Pot Noodle-smelling flat I hungrily inserted the black, logo-stamped disc.

And then this happened, and I'll probably never forget it for as long as I live:

It's probably worth mentioning that the soundtrack is a Chemical Brothers remix of a Manic Street Preachers song, a band which I despised at the time. I obviously had no idea this piece of sonic intro joy was anything to do with them, and they later went on to become my favourite, most-seen band! The gaming world is a strange place full of coincidence & wonder!

That intro. I just.....Wow. I mean, just look and listen. There are no words. It's embossed on my soul!

So I loved Gran Turismo. It just filled my head. And it wasn't just me. A guy I worked with, and this is 100% truth, actually rang me on the phone to play me the revving sounds of the imaginary car he had tuned on his video game. And, after I'd confirmed it was amazingly awesome, he then proceeded to ring a girl he was trying to impress and do the same thing. Incredible! She pitied him, and went on to marry someone else!

Over the years, I have obviously bought every Gran Turismo released, loyal fool I am. And I've loved them all equally. They share a charming blandness, an uncompromising stiffness that only 'The Real Driving Simulator' possesses. The recipe hasn't altered, it's always been about loads of cars, a good representation of physics and an overall sensation of it being made for people that love cars.

Which brings me quickly to a point, for once.

Gran Turismo 6 is apparently the game GT5 was supposed to be, but couldn't due to pressure from serious-looking Japanese executives. I have no idea if this is true, you can research it if you want to!

GT5 was superb in my opinion, it felt like GT to me. I loved the fact that it still wore a well-ironed cardigan, and hadn't bowed to pressure from loud gaming rednecks to 'dumb-down' the handling. Online racing with GT5 was, once you'd gathered enough like-minded murderers, an absolute joy. Hosting lobbies full of good, clean racers was a very rewarding experience, and worth the time & effort it took to weed out all the first-corner kids & Xbox owners! Stupid hill-billies!

GT6 is probably going to be dazzling. Not full of banging dubstep, strobing memes or shrieking, violent children detailing the intimate relationship they have with your Mother. It'll be all strange piano jazz, millions of obscure variants of Nissan cars, a handful of beautifully crafted circuits and those same old BONGS and BINGS that have always accompanied menu choices!

You could say I'm overly excited, but Gran Turismo is a towering monument in my gaming landscape. It's one of those titles that I'll always forgive, I'll always return to and I'll always defend.

I fricken' love it, man. So you should too.

GL & HF!

*YinkYinkYinken is going off on ANOTHER 'Stag do', so this post is written hastily between mouthfuls of porridge & the ironing of underpants. See you next Sunday, loyal readers!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Let's punch a Wookiee!

Hello there, gorgeous!

This week, a games factory called EA announced it was going to craft multiple titles based on characters, locations, trousers and cats found in the Star Wars universe. Big news indeed.

Being as I am a soft nerd in my 30's, an affinity to Star Wars is obligatory. I was too young for Episode...1? But I think I was around for Episode 2. No, 3. The first films. You know, the old ones. The ones with Indiana Jones in. The original, proper ones. Is it IV or V? Or I? Or VI? Why do people think Roman numerals add an intellectual weight to things? If I call myself YinkYinkYinkenXXXVI will people suddenly start reading & commenting here, adding deeply incisive & relevant feedback to the deserted comments section? No, no they won't, damn them all to hell and back! Liars!


Sorry about that. The Star Wars area always makes me furious. I hate the way my childhood has been plundered, altered and defaced. It's like someone vandalising your Grandmother, and then sneakily giving her a gender-swap operation while you're not looking. It's still your old grannie, but you don't recognise her/him and certainly don't want to give her/him a kiss at Christmas!

Man, I love Star Wars. I used to get together with my friend from across the street, 'Marcus', when we were kids and combine all our Star Wars toys into a grand nerd army. There would be a pair of Milennium Falcons, which I know is a major lore error right there, but we were small and unaware of the importance of continuity.

We had all the major characters, but no Princess Leia, as a female action figure was considered a doll, of course, and would have lead to expulsion from the macho, working-class nerd gang I was in, due to contracting 'nits' from the contaminated girl toy.

We'd line up all 16 of our stormtroopers and then Mr. Darth Vader would hop down the ranks, inspecting the troops in a squeaky voice, with Ribena on his cape. Greatness!

I never had a TIE fighter, though, which still saddens me and keeps me awake most nights. I wake suddenly, and dart around my house opening all the drawers and cupboards rummaging frantically, until my scared, confused, crying wife injects me with something that makes me stop!

So, what has this got to do with games, I hear nobody ask? Well, Star Wars lends itself to gaming perfectly (you would think). So, in order to celebrate/mourn the news from EA, I thought I'd expose my memories to you. Sounds good, no? Yes! Hurry to read this huge extravaganza!

First up, The Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600 VCS! Look and be respectful, boss:

Look at the tasty cover, Son.

This is like actually being nestled in George Lucas' beard!

As the above shows, the cover of the cartridge was awesome. So convincing was it, I'd actually put my coat on to play it. The ice-world Hoff was a cold, merciless place full of plodding, fascist AT-AT walkers intent on pooping on your rebel bungalow, which you had to defend at all costs.

The point of the game? Shoot a weak-spot on the AT-AT walker with your speeder, before the AT-AT shot you down OR reached the pathetically weak rebel bungalow. The weak spot moved about on each walker, you'll be surprised to read, which was mind-blowingly challenging at the time. It was probably terrible, but it succeeded in transporting kids into the Star Wars universe, and made me nag for more toys. You win, Mr. Lucas! Have some money!

Next, this thing called Return Of The Jedi, memories of which can be found here:

The loading screen to end all loading screens. Is good, no?

It's Return Of The Jedi on the Amstrad CPC464! And wow, was it a looker. The graphics were so good, I'm going to put ANOTHER picture here so you can pretend you were with me too:

RESPECT the SCENERY while you avoid logs & boulders, yo.

As you can see if you can be bothered to point your face at the screen, this game was stunning to look at, really accomplished in that area. It had everything, speeder bikes being driven dangerously in a forest, that bit were Lando flies into the heart of the second Death Star with that Mexican alien, and a battle against an oddly-scaled Star Destroyer. Fwizzzz! (That's a light-sabre sound effect, baby.)

I think the point of the game was to simply revisit scenes from the movie, albeit via the dark world of isometrics. Or something. Stop hitting me with maths! Anyway, it worked, and I loved it. Again, it did exactly what it set out to do, which was grease the enormous wheels of cold, hard merchandising! Victory to Mr. Lucas!

Onwards, my invisible friends on the internet, to a place I like to call Star Wars Demoliton, which was to be found slotted into the PlayStation. It was basically the lovely Vigilante 8 with Star Wars skins, and it was awfully dull. Strange really, I loved Vigilante 8, so why I didn't love this is a mystery to me. Vigilante 8 was kind of like Twisted Metal, but far more imaginative and with lots more class. Imagine comparing a chicken to a chimpanzee, and you're on the right track, brother.

Oh go on then, have an image you greedy fool:

It even has a sticker on the front confessing to it being a skin job!

God, this is turning into a huge effort. No, I'll soldier on, like a wounded man desperate for the toilet.

Next up, well, it's the KOTOR titles. Knights Of The Obvious Resolution, if you are obsessed with acronym explanations!

These two titles are RPG style affairs, with levelling up, weapon customisation blah blah and all that Sith jazz. It is pretty much clear what is going to happen and how it will end, the best you can do is try to make the journey as funny as possible, like going into a supermarket and arranging all the vegetables into controversial poses before security 'catches' you!

I do enjoy silly chat options in games, and I solemnly swear I shall always choose the most ridiculous option available. Dragon Age Origins had me in stitches with the comedy available, but the KOTOR games weren't too far behind. Skyrim, however, is as dry and humourless as a forum reply from an overly-confrontational, know-it-all nerd desperate to crush you with his towering Google/thesaurus combo word-based ass-kicking! That is one miserable experience!

Quickly, stare in wonder as I flash my KOTOR at you, before someone sees:

WARNING: Uninspiring pictorial representation of decent game.

Next came the Battlefront titles. Perched in the FPS genre, these were the best of the lot. Similar in form to the Battlefield games, vehicular & infantry combat was included for our pleasure. They looked great, felt great, the locations were dynamic and immersive. For Dogs sake, you could even fly an X-wing into a big capital ship, get out and start some trouble, like a man riding a horse into a shoe shop, swatting at the staff with an umbrella and wrecking the displays! Glorious!

It looked like this in places, Chief:

Alien lacking binocular vision attempts to fire RPG near expensive hardware: Heartbreaking disaster guaranteed.

It was great. My mate was always pestering me to play split-screen with him, and it was awesome. It had a sense of scale, a sense of location. It was really rather charming. It had the lot, and for once had no apparent ulterior motive for its existence! Or maybe I'm too naive to see it. It was a properly good set of gaming trousers, for once. That goes for both titles, you needn't worry. I'm not expanding too much on them because they will feature in an upcoming article, so calm yourself! No need to rant!

Star Wars: Empire At War was rubbish, I'm not wasting time on it. Go away and never return!

Star Wars: Republic Commando was awful. Banish it to gaming hell, force it to wear a dress!

So, that's my incorrect and probably incomplete history done. How was it for you? Any of it familiar? Did you love any of them more than me? Did I miss a gem? Do you want to buy me a pint?

This brings us, bored & wheezing, to the conclusion.

EA are going to make Star Wars titles. DICE are going to be involved. DICE manufacture the Battlefield series. It's not unimaginable that DICE will revisit Battlefront. Is this good?

I hope so. I really, really do. I'd love a huge, immersive, multi-faceted shooter based in the Star Wars universe. I'd love to defend trenches on the ice planet Hoff with 60-odd other random loons online, as speeders scream overhead and AT-ATs rake our position with heavy fire. Yes please.

I'd love to watch someone struggle to manoeuvre a capital ship into position to defend evacuating troop carriers, while the opposing team throw wave after wave of TIE fighters at us, Star Destroyers appearing at the edge of the system making the whole scene more urgent & tense. Oh yes.

Are these things even possible? Marrying tactical space combat with solid FPS play, depending on each other to complete the overall picture? Or am I woefully optimistic about what can be achieved in our fantastic gaming age? I don't know, I'm too stupid.

Planetside 2 is doing OK, it seems, albeit with an inescapable impenetrability that seems to hold it back from being what it could be. But any game with such depth is bound to be difficult to get to grips with, right? Or wrong? Will EA, with all its experience with the AAA market, give us a huge experience that is attractive to everyone? 

Will the PC, with all its power and increasing popularity, be overlooked once again as the main platform for such wonders?

Will the Star Wars legacy be treated well? Will we get the definitive experience, the one title that all fans, young and old, will look to and say "yes, THAT is what Star Wars is supposed to feel like to me"? Or will we get a generic shooter/strategy game every november until the Sun implodes?

I wish I knew, but I'm quietly optimistic. I want to believe, Yoda. Make it so. Oh wait, that's the other franchise starting with the word 'star'. Sorry. They're so similar. Space and all that. 

May the force be with you, sweetheart.

GL & HF!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Our new neighbours!

Oh, hello there you smouldering lovely!

This week, I've been visiting various forums looking for something. And, in almost every case I'm sad to say, I found that something. What is that something, I hear nobody at all ask? Read on, and I shall slowly reveal my curvy, enticing mind to you. What a dish!

To begin, I'd like to take you back in time. I don't own a time-travelling DeLorean, nor do I own a big blue phone box that makes a 'Waaaaarupp! waaaaarupp! waaaaarupp!' noise as it vanishes into thin air, with a freshly abducted (yet oddly compliant) young woman inside that I replace every other year, like some kind of intergalactic Hugh Hefner. No, you'll just have to use your imagination like the rest of us!

We're going back to take a look at how, back in the day yo yo, being a gamer was certainly nothing to be proud of. Being a quiet, daydreaming kid was one thing, but revealing you controlled a little pixelated character on a TV screen marked you out as some sort of sickening pervert, hunched over a joystick with drool spraying out of your mouth. Yes, I honestly recall playing computer games was something to be ashamed of, a cripplingly nerdy pastime for only the most extreme, cringe-inducing weeds.

None of the cool kids played video games when I was a kid. The shops that stocked games, in either cassette or cartridge form, where filled by only one stereotype. The bespectacled, puny, slightly awkward kids that generally did well at school. I think if any of the cool, sporty kids that spoke about dodgy things I wouldn't discover for at least another two years had entered a game shop they would have combusted on the spot, as the sheer volume of unfashionable nerdiness came crashing into their cigarette & tattoo-obsessed minds!

All the kids that liked video games would inevitably gravitate toward each other, forming little knots of enthusiasts flashing crumpled games magazines at each other, school bags rattling with cassette cases for lending, joysticks & paddles with wires coiled around them destined for the giddying, overwhelmingly exciting two-player games that popped up here and there. See?

Gaming was a covert, clandestine pastime conducted in virtual secrecy, a hidden world of whispered conversations & back-handed game swappery. Your world would literally end if a GIRL heard that you played video games, followed by a biblical amount of mockery from all the tough kids. Girls were hard-wired to find anything involving your imagination repulsive & horrifying, but at the time we had no idea why that was so important. Ignorant pigs!

Me, being scorned by some girls, yesterday afternoon.

Fast forward lots of years, and something happened. If you have a huge brain you will understand that gaming became popular. Very popular. And, as with all things that become trendy, the nerd-edge was removed. Cool kids arrived on our lovely world and trashed it to hell. Those vermin!

Gaming today is like sending a text, or wearing a waistcoat. Everybody does it. Men, women, kids, elderly grumblers and even Americans. I know, it's a shock to the system, Brother. And all this brings me nicely to my rubbish conclusion.

What was that something I was looking for this week? Well, I was looking for evidence of how that lovely, quiet little secret world we used to inhabit has been invaded and colonised by trendy people wearing fake-tan, oversize black spectacles & mock vintage band t-shirts. I was also searching for evidence of the outrage that occupation by a foreign force brings, and I found it all surrounding one title.

Call Of Duty. 'CoD'.

Every forum I visited held up this game as the example of the invaders propaganda, it's players vilified as clueless drones desperate to add 'gaming' to their BookFace/Tweeter profiles. The thuggish, comically aggressive players attracted to it are the epitome of the swearing & scrapping rough kids that used to terrify the legitimate nerds/gamers back in the early days, polar opposites almost. They have (nor do they make any attempt at) no diversity or depth, and have no interest in broadening their gaming horizons beyond buying the next instalment in the series. They are properly horrible chaps, and they deserve your fury, it seems. Or not! Look and decide please:

A Call Of Duty clan 'dissing' someones KPD, monday.

But what am I trying to say here? Well, look. I think the more committed gamers dislike the shallow nature of the trendy player, or 'casual'. They view them with distaste, mistrust and, well, fear. They see how their private, niche world has been thrown into the VERY mainstream and they hate it. They see how the landscape is seemingly being reformed to cater for uncaring scoundrels. They don't like the lack of knowledge, the lack of respect for where this shiny hobby has come from, but isn't the very presence of casuals evidence that gaming has reached the top?

I'm afraid you can't have success without hollow hangers-on, Son. Gaming is only going to get bigger and attract more slutty groupies, eager to be 'tagged' in a compromising photo for their own gains!

Don't be too sad, but our heavenly world of 100% enthusiasm from all involved has gone forever.

I suppose we all have to just live with it, and try our best to ignore our noisy new neighbours. After all, we were here first, why should we move house?

Hmm, my point is even more unclear than when I started. Help, maybe?

Until next time, be strong and try your best at all times!

GL & HF!