Some things I've learned....

(1) An Engineer can do with 10 cent what a fool can do with a Euro.

(2) "Puff" - unimportant; insignificant; unworthy of study by engineering students; waste of time

(3) It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than to open it and prove them right!

(4) Blockwork people and concrete people can never work on the same site... Apparently they don't like each other....

(5) It's official; I'm fantastic!

Sunday 25 January 2009

How men think?

What are you thinking about??

That's the question most women seem to think men struggle with. Truth of the matter is, we don't struggle with it, in fact, we absorb it. So much so that in the seconds between the question being asked and giving an answer, a man's mind is working it's hardest, not because it's difficult, it's because we think about it a lot. Hopefully the comic below will explain....

I suggest you click on this link to view it full size:

Credit goes to.... you know who you are!

~The Damo

Monday 19 January 2009

Jose Punks the World!!!!


Jose Quits Setanta Sports:

Jose Packs His Bags:

~The Damo

Sunday 18 January 2009

Guitar Hero: World Tour - Review

GH: WT is the fourth installment in the Guitar Hero franchise. What sets this game apart from its predecessors is the inclusion of the drum kit and microphone, transforming the Guitar Hero experience from a single player game to a party one. Rockband and its sequel have proven that the ability to play as a band is an incredible selling point and so the Guitar Hero franchise has had to reinvent itself to keep up with the competition, but the question is, has it worked?

World Tour sees you take the role of a rockstar and has you performing across a whole host of venues. The game allows you to create your own rockstar, and dress him/her in whatever way you like, as well as customising whatever instrument you play. You have the option of playing guitar, bass, drums or vocals.

The features five difficulty modes; Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. Not being a particularly well versed music person I started out on easy mode. Well in actual fact I started on beginner but it's totally insulting so I recommend you go to easy mode. Putting it simply, Guitar Hero is a helluvalotta fun!! It's such a different experience to play a game like it after hours spent in Resistance and Fallout. The Guitar Hero gameplay is well known, even by those who haven't played it. The discs on the screen are associated to the music that is being played, you play the note when it hits the strike line by pressing the appropriate fret button and strumming at the right time. I'm gonna avoid the technicality of explaining hammer-ons and fret tapping and just say that the game is very easy to play. And even though it is easy, it's still very enjoyable, as you are very conscious of how well you're playing, given the "Rock meter" on the left as well as the combo indicator and note counter.

To compliment the difficulty levels, there is naturally a great range of songs which vary in difficulty as you progress, i.e. the songs you play in the first performance are a lot easier than those in the last one. The setlist available is great, and you'll be hard pressed to find a song that you don't like. Yeah, sure, you may not like a certain band or whatever, but the quality of the songs on show is fantastic - all of which are master tracks and no covers. There is also a host of cameo appearances of familiar faces in the music industry like Ozzy Osbourne, Sting and Jimi Hendrix to name a few.

The game is tied together by points and cash. Points earned are determined by how well you play, including high combos, obtaining star power, long strings of successfully hit notes and so on. The cash you earn is based on your overall performance and other particulars like a "Hot start" and "Never going red on the rock meter". The points are uploaded to a worldwide leader board and the cash is used to buy more venues and gear for your rockstar. What you're wearing or how your instrument is decorated doesn't influence the level of your performance, at least I don't think it does. What adds to the GH experience is the on screen performance of the virtual band members. All the actions are beautifully rendered in the 3d cartoony like style of the series and are accurately portrayed according to the actions/notes you're playing, as well as set pieces that may indeed imitate the bands from which the songs were taken.

I've only too complaints when it comes to World Tour. Firstly, there are times when it feels like the notes your striking either don't represent or don't coinicide with the music that is being played. This is definitely more evident in the lower difficulties but you don't really know it on the higher ones. This then leads to my second problem: it feels as though the step up between difficulty levels is sometimes too difficult. For example, on easy mode you're only ever required to hit Green, Red and Yellow. Medium is Green, Red, Yellow and Blue. And finally orange is introduced on hard mode. Now on first glance that's ok, but the transition to hard mode is more significant as you have to start changing your hand position, whereas in medium or easy you can just leave your hand as it is and strike the notes as required. I would suggest that a better difficulty progression would involve all the notes from the start, but having to strike them less frequently, so you get used to moving your hand.

It is a minor complaint when you consider that the difficulty progresses as you work your way through the gigs. And what's great about the game is that you actually DO feel yourself progressing, be it a higher score or a longer string of successful notes or whatever. You CAN see your progression! And playing through a song that you've mastered is still as fun as it was the first time you played.

Guitar Hero: World Tour has a lot to offer, and is certainly one to break out when you're having a party. Then you can be like a real band where you kick the crap out of someone for a rubbish performance, as well as all the coke and booze.

Presentation: 8.5
Yeah it looks good for what it offers, but you never feel WOW-ed by the visuals at any point. We all know they could get more out of the 360 and PS3.

Gameplay: 9.3
Plays great even if it is a little hard at time. Once you get motorin' it'll be hard to drop the guitar, drum sticks or mic.

Design: 9.0
One of my cymbals doesn't work, and as I said sometimes the notes seem out of sync, but it doesn't distract too much from the overall experience.

Content: 9.0
Great set list and tonnes of replay value. I would prefer if they gave more of the treatment Rockband gets with the worthwhile updates.

Overall: 8.7

Bring on Guitar Hero: Metallica!!!!!

~The Damo

Wednesday 14 January 2009

PS3 2009 Line-Up - Preview

2008 was the PS3's best software line-up yet, with all the big guns such as Metal Gear Solid 4, LittleBigPlanet and Resistance 2 garnering top scores, not to mention multiplatform beauties like Fallout 3, Bioshock, Mirror's Edge and Far Cry 2. 2009 looks set to raise the bar even higher....

The following on this list are those games expected to be released by the end of 2009, which I share an interest in. Though some are without an official release date as of yet, they haven't been confirmed to be pushed back to 2010.

Killzone 2
Release date: 27th Feb 2009

Killzone 2 is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best looking console game ever. Period. Four years in the making, the hype train has been gaining momentum ever since the now famous 2005 CGI trailer (below). Guerilla Games look to have learned from their mistakes with the "love-it-or-hate-it" Killzone on PS2, with what looks to be incredibly immersive gameplay and cinematic experience like no other. This February, for PS3 gamers, the wait is finally over, as myself and millions of others across the globe will once more get to enter the killzone.

Release date: Spring 2009

From my current understanding of the game, inFamous is GTA style open world gameplay, with free-climbing mechanics, played out in the eyes of a superhero and his experience in learning his new powers and how his new found abilities can influence the future of the city and those around him, as well as the development of his own powers. If IGN's preview (found here: Infamous Preview ) is anything to go by, this is Day 1 must for anyone and everyone....

Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Release date: Sometime in 2009

What can I say about Final Fantasy that people already don't know about?? The next iteration is the first Final Fantasy of this generation of consoles and is also the first to appear on the Xbox 360. However, PS3 owners have the added joy of being able to purchase the exclusive additonal game Versus XIII trailered below. Awesomeness can't even sum it up....

Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams
Release date: Sometime in 2009

The first Bioshock kicked some serious ass. It managed to re-invigorate the FPS genre which was becoming repetitive and generic. The developers behind the sequel have promised something that is "part sequel, part prequel". It'll be hard to deliver a better experience given the first game, but I know Bioshock 2 is an absolute must for me.

God of War III
Release date: Winter 2009

In the end, there will be only chaos!!! God of War 1 & 2 are two of the best games available for the PS2, and that's quite an accolade to have considering the dozens of top quality games available on the PS3's older sibling. Santa Monica Studios have a lot of pressure on their shoulders to deliver, but when the trailer and test gameplay looks as good as this (below), its hard to imagine how they could get it wrong!

Quantum Theory
Release date: Winter 2009

Think: Gears of War gameplay plus Final Fantasy art style gothicised (is that even a word) plus kick ass developers that are Tecmo and you get Quantum Theory. While little is known about the game except that it combines what I've outlined above, the prospect of a game similar to Gears exclusively PS3 is tantalising.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Release date: Winter 2009

The first Uncharted was awesome, and you think to yourself, "How could they make a sequel look any more beautiful than the first?". Well, it seems they have, if the in-game screenshots HERE are anything to go by.....

Heavy Rain
Release date: Sometime in 2009

The greatest movie you'll ever play. At least that's how it's described. Heavy Rain will be unlike anything most people will have played before, you play a film, with the option to interact with characters and locations in the story whatever way you see fit. I'll let you judge by the videos below, it's a strange one alright, but in this case, strange = good!

Other mentions:
Call of Duty 5 (or 6): Modern Warfare 2
Grand Turismo 5 ....just maybe
Guitar Hero: Metallica
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Ultimate Edition (for serious, that's what it's called!)
Street Fighter IV

Looks like the wallet is gonna get raped real good in 2009...

~The Damo

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Top Ten - I'm on Setanta Sports!!

I'm on Setanta Sports is, as you may have guessed, a Setanta Sports programme voiced by Mario Rosenstock of Gift Grub fame, which has puppet representations of Jose Mourinho, Sven Goran Eriksson, Wayne Rooney and Fabio Capello hosting a football phone-in review show. The show began shortly after Jose was sacked from his job at Chelsea, with the idea in mind that this was his new job. As of now there are 40 episodes online, with a new episode usually each week on Saturdays after the weekends Premiership fixtures. I had originally read about it in the Metro, but without a subscription to Setanta Sports I couldn't watch it. However, as faith would have it I stumbled across a video on Youtube to find that the whole back catalogue of episodes was available.

Over the months, the show has undergone minor changes such as different featurettes like "My thoughts for this week..." or "Wayne's Word", with the addition of Sven (aka "It"), Wayne (aka "The Boy") and Fabio (aka "Cabbage Man Capello") to the roster being the only significant changes.

With 40 episodes to choose from, it's been rather difficult to come up with a Top Ten of the best, especially given that the quality of the episodes is very subjective.

Nevertheless, I have a list, but first, some special honourable mentions....

Episode 1: Jose is Back!

Episode 8: Jose's first signing

Episode 14: Shock new signing!


10. Episode 30: Jose Makes a Shock Revelation

9. Episode 21: Roman Taps Up The Boy

8. Episode 32: Halloween Party

7. Episode 34: Jose accuses the Voyeur of Spying

6. Episode 35: Jose Investigates the Mysterious Illnesses

5. Episode 31: Jose and Fabio: The Great Debate

4. Episode 18: Jose's Got Talent

3. Episode 26: The Battle for Berba

2. Episode 15: The Boy is Gifted

1. Episode 6: Jose on Keegan's Return

Be Champions!!

~The Damo

Monday 5 January 2009

Fallout 3 - Review

Fallout 3 is an action adventure RPG set in 2277, in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. You play as, well, yourself, a resident of Vault 101. The basic premise of the story has you following your father out into the Capital Wasteland, after he mysteriously abandons the Vault. The catch is, no one leaves the Vault, you are brought up believing people are born and then die in the Vault. And that’s where the story takes off…

Now I won’t be discussing the main story as I would otherwise be spewing spoiler after spoiler out like no ones business, but I will say that it is awesome. Fallout 3 is developed by Bethesda, the same crowd that brought the excellent Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and one could argue that Fallout 3 is “Oblivion with guns”. Certainly that’s how I felt early on, and treated the game as such. You are by no means required to follow the main story under any circumstances, you’re free to explore the Wasteland at your will, though I would suggest you play a bit of the main quest. If there was to be one flaw with Fallout 3, it would be that everything can seem very overwhelming. The second you step out of the vault you can go anywhere you want and do anything you want. Unlike Oblivion, where there was a judicial system, law as we know it does not exist in the Capital Wasteland, so if you decide to break into someones house or steal something you only have to deal with them, usually by killing them. There’s no jail and the worst thing that might happen is you lose some karma.

Karma is an indication of how moral a player you are, i.e. do something to help someone or the morally right thing and your karma increases, do something that would otherwise be against the law or anything that is “wrong” and you lose karma. Your karma level can influence how people respond to you and can also dictate whether an individual is likely to come to your aid in an encounter. Gaining or losing karma extends to conversation choices as well as how you decide to tackle a quest. Many quests have alternate approaches and perspectives. For example, a quest called “Tenpenny Tower” has you enlisted to exterminate a group of ghouls who are allegedly planning an assault on the Tower. When you reach the ghouls – and after hearing their side of the story – you may decide that you are then going to help them instead, or, as the case may be you may want to find a non-violent compromise which suits both sides. The game has been excellently designed to allow for personal interpretation and appropriate execution of our own moral understandings of the situations. Quests that you undertake may also have a significant impact on other characters or locations. Very early on in the game you are given the option to wipe an entire town off the map with a nuke, and you must ask yourself if you deem that to be the best idea – morals as opposed to money.

Thankfully there are appropriate awards depending on your handling of a quest, and these could range from a person lowering their prices in their stall for you to schematics for a weapon or a permanent increase in your attributes. The versatility of the system and the array of choices and permutations available provides huge replay value. Many people, myself included, can happily confess to simply wandering the Wasteland, exploring. Exploring is rewarded in a sense, but the world is so beautifully created that you’ll find it hard not to wander at times, especially when you might see something interesting in the distance. Speaking of the graphics, there far from the best I’ve ever seen, but they are quite good, particularly given the scope of the game. Every area – particularly those relating to quests – is well designed and coloured, especially considering that the concept of a post-apocalyptic wasteland doesn’t allow for a huge variety in colour or setting. Locations are plausable, and the odd repeated feature (like similar corridors) can be forgiven. Fallout 3 has the added effect that many sources are radiated, meaning that you can’t interact with water (swim, drink) or any area that suffered recent or permanent nuclear activity without increasing your RAD count. The higher this is, the more likely you are to suffer from some degree of radiation sickness. When you’re sick, your attributes are usually negatively effected.

Fallout 3 however is not Oblivion with guns. The levelling up system and character progression are more refined, i.e. no more jumping on the spot to elevate your atheltics ability. Instead, everything you do nets you XP, be it killing someone, or picking a lock or completing a quest. Almost everything you do nets you some XP. When you level up, you can then upgrade your S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which is your skills with guns, your speech, your medicine skills etc. Each level up also lets you choose a perk, which could be anything, such as a higher resistance to radiation, or an increased chance of successfully picking a lock.

What also makes Fallout 3 unique is the V.A.T.S. system. This is related to your AP or Action Points. V.A.T.S. allows you to freeze the game and target enemies in a particular order and their particular body parts. Strategic targeting can have you knock the weapon out of their hand or make them move slower. When I first saw this in the trailers I wasn’t overly impressed, and I didn’t use it early on, but now I’ve come to appreciate it and almost use it whenever I can. The huge variety of weapons available in the game means you’ll be hard pressed to find a favourite, especially when you can make your own. You won’t understand why there’s so many bits lying around until you start collecting weapon schematics and start building.

And you’ll need plenty of weapons and to keep them in good condition if you plan to survive in the Capital Wasteland. Everywhere is frought with danger, and rarely will you avoid an encounter when travelling from one place to the next. The range of enemies changes from location to location, for example Super Mutants will be all over the Capital, particularly in the center, and the further out you go into the Wasteland the more likely you are to encounter wild animals and such. Raiders are a constant threat whereever you go and as you make a bigger name for yourself, you may just find that someone has put a bounty on your head, making travelling that extra bit dangerous.

Fallout 3 is an incredible game with tonnes of game time and a thoroughly satisfying experience. While it can seem very slow at the beginning, it won’t be long till you find yourself wanting to enter the Wasteland for just a couple of more minutes (or hours) to visit every far reaching corner and uncover the secrets hidden beneath the Earth. Not to mention the opportunities to earn all the Trophies and Achievements for your profile. The atmosphere and the world Bethesda have created is truly something that must be experienced, and once that disk is put into your console, it’ll be hard to take it back out.

Presentation: 9.5
The game looks great, though not as good as the PC version. The limit of the colour palette seems non-existent, and each area is beautifully detailed and living.

Gameplay: 9.7
The game is fun, no doubt about it, but it can seem a little slow at times or even uneventful in places you might expect to be. Nevertheless, the way the game allows you to choose how to play is certainly a plus.

Story: 9.8
Really, really good and once you get into it, you won't want to put the controller down till you've seen it through to the end.

Design: 9.3
While everything looks great, the same can't be said for overall performance. There are strange glitches at times involving NPCs there's times when I've felt the game didn't feel as good as it looked. Much of it can be forgiven given the scale of the game.

Content: 9.9
Given that you can play that game in anyway at any pace you want, and the freedom to explore the Wasteland at your leisure, there's hours and hours to be spent wandering aimlessly uncovering the secrets of the Capital.

Overall: 9.6

~The Damo

It's 2009.....

...since a few days ago, but it doesn't matter, 'cause I'm back in action. There'll be blog a plenty over the next week or so when I'm taking time out from the thesis, and I'm kicking off 2009 with the Fallout 3 review.

Also coming up we've got:
  • Far Cry 2 Review
  • Resistance 2 Post Release Analysis
  • 2009 PS3 Preview
  • Grinds My Gears: Issue 18
  • Postulations Cubed
  • My Movies Preview
  • Interesting Damien Facts

Did you know: The more stressed I am, the more spots I get on my forehead? - Just a sample of the facts to come....

~The Damo