Knock Knock!

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There was this stupid game we used to play when we were younger, it was called Belfast Knock. I have no idea of it’s origins, or even if I am thinking of the right thing, but this was what it meant to us:

  • Run up to a random front door
  • Knock loudly
  • Run like f*ck!

It’s pretty easy right, and if you wanted to be very particular about the whole thing you could change the name to that of the town in which you reside.  I quite like the way Cloud Nine Knock runs off my tongue.

I remember one Halloween playing Belfast Knock whether I wanted to or not, as a failed attempt at trick or treating at the local youth hostel saw us staring down the barrel of a shotgun with the Northern Ireland version of “Ger orf my land” being bellowed. My knees knocked, there is a fair chance I left skid marks and I never went Trick or Treating ever again!

Belfast Knock is the kind of game you play up until a certain age. Once you reach your peak, you’ll slide into one of the following categories:

  • “Oh lets play something else, I can’t be bothered to run anymore.”
  • “You want me to leave my games console??”
  • “Wise up, what feckin age are you anyway”

I can assure you, this story has a point, although not a very exciting one.

There are times when the working day can seem quite long. I’d been looking at spreadsheets all afternoon and my eyes were starting to turn in and blend all the boxes into a foreign language that no one on this planet was ever going to understand. Deciding to stretch my legs I delivered some post and on the way back decided to play Belfast Knock on the door of my work mates office. His doorway is the first inside a corridor, and to get to it you have to go through a door frame.

I faced the door and prepared to knock. There were no signs of life inside, but still I rapped on the door with all my might. I stood for a minute or too thinking there was no one inside and then heard footsteps, panicked and thought, right, this is the run part, so I turned and ran straight into the other doorway almost knocking myself out in the process.

When my colleague opened the door he was a little bemused to see me standing there rubbing my arm babbling about playing Belfast Knock, and who can blame him. Next time I decide to re visit stupid games from my childhood I’m just going to slap myself and cut out all the crap in the middle!

What games did you like as a kid?

The Curse of Pinball FX!

Spring cleaning will have to wait!
Spring cleaning will have to wait!

I had to take an impromptu day off today, good old NIR were having a strike!

I had high hopes for how the day was going to go. As usual that took a turn up a different path that I intended.

I got pretty much everything done, except my mini spring clean. I find that as things change I need to prioritize my time a little better. I have to change things up a little to fit in the chores and the tea making. So between doing the dishes, washing, the VAT and preparing the tea I had this little two hour window left in my day before I actually had to start to cook. My intention was to organise my working space a little better. What actually happened was I sat down with a coffee for a quick game of X-Men on Pinball FX 2. My quick game lasted two hours and my working space is still organised chaos!

Way back when at the start of the Alien Leg saga, just after surgery, Pinball FX was all I played. I didn’t have to think too hard and it was fun figuring out the mechanics of the tables. You meet some weird people on the multi-player though, right Jelly!! He says I stalked him, I certainly did not, well maybe a little, I was starved of company. It was through him I met Shady, almost a year ago! How have they stuck me that long :)

For a long long time I was the leader in Pinball, my name was up in lights and I wore the goofy crown, with an equally goofy grin on my face!

Juls imagined she was jumping up and down on Jelly's head!
Juls imagined she was jumping up and down on Jelly’s head!

Guys are weird though. They HATE being beaten by a girl. Unbeknown to me while I was addicted to Trails Evolution the crafty buggers all crept past me. One day out of the blue I started getting these automated messages telling me my score had been beaten, with little add on’s like “Who’s the king of the pinball tables now b$tch”, even Shady’s cousin’s at it. It’s not even like they beat me by a couple of thousand points, we’re talking millions ffs!

So hence my two hour foray onto X Men today. If I can get back on top of that table, I’ll manage to kill two birds with one stone, metaphorically speaking of course!

I got irritatingly close to my own best score, however nowhere near theirs.

I had to turn it off before I did damage to the TV with the controller! Me…game rage….never!!

I WILL NOT be beaten though. I will once again reign supreme, it’s just going to take a little longer than I had hoped.

I have to get my title back, the feckers have beaten me at everything else!

 

Xbox One vs PS4!

Console Wars
Ding, Ding! Round One!

I have to say I know very little about either console, well apart from what I have read on other peoples blogs. I’m still of the opinion there is no point in  torturing myself if I am not going to be able to afford one in the very near future.

Gaming is getting very expensive!

I think everyone thought that Microsoft had the market sewn up with their all singing, all dancing machine. I personally was put off long before the much anticipated reveal due to the rumours regarding second hand games and the always on camera.

You can never tell if you are actually going to like a game or not. Trailers, just like those for the movies offer a taster of what is to come, and often times are better than the movie / game itself. I got into a routine of hiring a game to try it, and only if the answer was in the affirmative would I purchase it, but even then not brand new. Pre owned games have saved me a fortune over the years. Having this ability removed would seriously hamper my gaming!

The camera thing just baffled me. Never in all the years I have had a computer did I ever want a web cam, so why oh why would I want one on my Xbox! Especially one that is always on.

Always online to play? Not liking that idea much either. From what I can gather, you must sign in at least once in a 24 hour period. Why? No offence Microsoft, but that seems like snooping to me. Because I live in the sticks my internet can be sketchy at times, I don’t want to be penalised for that.

Then along came Sony kicking the ankles clean out from under Microsoft by promising not to do all the things that gamers were griping about, well me anyway. No need to be online to play, no restrictions on second hand games, lending or renting  and a cool $100 off the price tag. However lets not forget the fairly muted announcement about needing a PS Plus account to play online multi player. Ding, ding, round one to Sony in my eyes. Shame on you Microsoft, me being a convert an all!

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft come back with, if anything.

Me, well I’m going to save up and buy a second hand PS2 and perhaps resurrect some of my back catalog. In all honesty it will probably cost me less than one game for either of the two contenders above.

Reveal Reaction!

So the big reveal has been and gone. They hype is over, well pretty much, there is still a huge “The Xbox One Revealed” on my Dashbord, the Xbox one that is.

I have to say, in the end I was mildly curious, no scrub that, I was nosey. I didn’t want to be the last person on the planet to find out what was going on, mind you I wasn’t perched precariously on the end of my seat either.

I read blogs from people far more knowledgeable than myself, like the guys over at “What’s Your Tag“. I relied on them to deliver the information to me in terms I could actually understand as opposed to jargon that just jangled my brain cells. I was not disappointed. Sterling job as usual guys!

I did try to watch some of the online video’s but the constant buffering was a little more than my stress levels could handle.

I checked my mail. Pre Order your Xbox One it said. Pre Order price of 399.99 pounds sterling guarenteed it said. Feck that I said. My interest waned.

Of course I’d like one, but the sad simple truth is I can’t afford one, so whats the point of torturing myself. What’s the point of going all gooey eyed over the stats and statistics, the sleek look, the new controller and the fact it will recognise my voice.

If you don’t have the money, you just don’t have the money, it doesn’t get much simpler than that!

PS. Time to Sping Clean

6789942482_c9817d7d95I really need to Spring Clean!

I’ve been saying it for almost a year now, especially with being off with alien leg, I had the perfect opportunity, but as usual I never got around to it.

I have a whole cupboard that has no available space at all due to the fact that it is crammed with stuff I meant to put on Ebay. Some of it has been there so long I’d probably be better trying Antiques Roadshow.

I’ve also decided that it’s time to get rid of my old PS1, PS2 and PS3 games. I have to face the fact that I am not going to play them anymore. I had always entertained the vain hope of buying a second hand PS2 and rekindling my love, but the truth is I just don’t have the time. It’s better to pass them on to someone who will get enjoyment from them.

It’s definitely an odd little collection of games. Most of them I have not even played. I guess my most prized possessions of them all have to be Shadow Hearts and ICO. 256px-Ico_cover_-_EU+JP

I searched long and hard for them both as by the time I had been made aware of their existence they were both already rare. ICO I pretty much gave up on completely, the £60 used price was a little over budget even for an enthusiast. One day in a game shop I asked if by chance they had any used copies and was informed by the sales clerk the game was to be re released. This was in 2006. ICO was the first game to actually take my breath away graphically, it was love at first sight.

Shadow Hearts proved a lot more difficult, it also had a hefty second hand price tag that I could not justify. It took a lot of auction watching, bidding and middle of the night auctions before I was actually lucky enough to pick up a copy. Then as luck would have it I ended up with two almost at the same time.  51W60BYZSBL

Other games I have loved and collected include the original Bubble Bobble ft Rainbow Islands for the PS1, I lost count of the number of hours that kept us entertained until we finally reached the end.

Pandemonium was another one, a quirky and colourful platformer.

The list goes on……

It’s sad to have to get rid of them, but times move on. There is no point in them sitting here gathering dust while someone else could be playing them.

It’s kinda like saying goodbye to little members of your family though, they have kept me company and entertained for such a long time!

Trials Evolution!

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I’ve been wanting to blog about Trials for a while now, but in all honesty it’s such a huge subject I had trouble figuring out where to begin.

Quite simply Trials is the game that myself and my circle of Xbox friends play the most. We may deviate or get all excited when a new game is released, but we always seem to go back and revisit our old friend.

Essentially it is a motorbike, or a Trials bike game. You control a rider on a physics based motorcycle while navigating obstacles on a track. Fast paced, challenging and often times frustrating but with seemingly endless playability.

Trials HD was the first release, way back on the 12th August 2009. I certainly had seen no other game like it or that could match it. I played it at my Brother in Laws and was captivated and couldn’t wait to get home and purchase it for myself.

Trialshd

I liked the game, but sadly I didn’t fall in love with it. The further I progressed, I found myself getting utterly frustrated by my inability to improve. In fact so frustrated that the controller bounced off the floor a fair few times. I would turn it on, play a track, fail miserably and turn it off because the constant engine rev of the bike was grating on my nerves like fingers down a blackboard.

The bikes felt heavy, almost unresponsive at times and the tracks nigh on impossible.

Eventually it became a dust gatherer within the innards of my Xbox. In the wider gaming world however it was a success.

On the 18th April 2012 Trials Evolution was released and everything changed!

TrialsEvolutionBox

 The huge success of Trials HD made it possible for us to finally create the game of our dreams — Sebastian Aaltonen, Lead Programmer at RedLynx

Unlike it’s predecessor it provided outdoor environments with curved driving lines and sleeker, more responsive bikes which were partially customizable along with the rider.

As in real life you must pass license tests to progress through the 57 levels which range from Beginner to Extreme, unlocking bikes as you go. No two levels are the same, all having their own set of unique challenges.

I loved it. Unlike Trails HD I was totally sold, however there was still the problem of the inability to progress. The hard and extreme tracks lefts me with cold sweats, cramped fingers and rage head! I lost count of the times I cursed and screamed swearing they were an abomination and impossible to complete.  Again I almost gave up.

Then I met the crew in the picture at the top of the post and they helped me unlock the secret! Healthy competition. Your friends names always ahead of you certainly make you push that little bit harder. Also Multi player which is pretty decent improves your single player skills.

I’ve now completed every track, albeit some of the extreme still have a hefty amount of faults attached, but I can’t describe that feeling of triumph when you finally cross the finish line on one that has been giving you nightmares for weeks!

The game also has an in built editor, meaning anyone with an interest can create tracks and then upload them for others to play. Hence me saying earlier it was seemingly endless, there is always new content being added.

However this also has a downside. Sometimes Track Central can get overloaded with tracks with no playability whatsoever and other great ones get pushed to the bottom or out altogether meaning you may never get to see them. Also you can only search by user name which can be difficult given the use of symbols, lower and uppercase letters.

Don’t get me wrong Trials Evolutions is not without it’s faults. We (my circle of friends) have all experienced lag, console freezes, loss of data and a couple of us have had to erase and re download. But at 1600 Microsoft points (approx £16) for Trials and the two DLC’s, Origin of Pain and Riders of Doom who can complain. It’s kept me entertained since it’s release date in April and I am still playing!GlobalTrackCentral

Shady and I have spent the last few days compiling a list of some of our favorite tracks, however as Shady himself says there are hundreds out there we have not yet discovered. So if you know of any good ones you think we should try, please feel free to comment.

We’ve purposely left out Redlynx created tracks as they can be easily found within Track Central.

Our Top Ten Just Kept on Growing!! (I blame Shady!)

SmEgHeAd89 – A Knights Ride & Farm Trail

Meenie77 – Adventure of Doom

PuRpLE oOzi – Citywide Storage Co & Old Railroad Run

Spizaa – Giant’s Kitchen

Murdoc Loch – Glitter & Doom and Rouge Ridge

Doctor EDD – LOTR Moira and any of his other amazing Lord of the Rings Tracks

Icky Qualms – Natural Resources

X CYBER SCYTHE – Quarry Project

Medieval Genius – The Elder Trials IV, Time Line and Now You’re Cookin

Mr Fecker – Mild Insanity

Jelly 1969 – Quick & Simple

ratrod dad e O – Time Travel and The REAL Giga Cross

qbicfeet – Scandanavian Summer

AGANIZE – Sonic (Trials)

F1RESTORM uk – The Show Jumper

StrykeUM – White ‘n’ Sandy

morfyboy – It’s snow good

maccorenzy – Le Monde de Morphee

Kalinius – Carole’s Garden

ll ManOnFire ll – Westwood Farm

insanedude13 – Blue Boxes

the emcee – Air.Craft and Go Ape!!

GhostForce2 – Alice in Woodenland

cKz Kalipso v – Dopamine

Slatonator – Snow Drift Peak

Lus1kka – Palmway

THE ELMONATOR – King of Kludge

x4BSOLUTExZER0x – Tornado Emergency

i ZeqeeeNz 3XM – Lumber Lord


When you find the creators name, make sure to also check out the “Other tracks by this Creator”. We have only listed a few of the many fantastic tracks they have made.

Tomb Raider!!

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So before I start let me say I am not a games reviewer, I never have been and I never will be, what I can tell you is that I love the new Tomb Raider so much I could just jump up and down for joy….well I would have in the days pre knee surgery. Not now.

I’d read the reviews and seen the trailers on the XBox and to be honest I was sort of meh about the whole thing. Yes the graphics looked amazing but I wasn’t to sold on the gameplay. I sort of figured I’d have a go sometime but I wasn’t going to rush out and buy it.

Tomb Raider, the original, was the game that got me hooked on the PSone. Up until that point I had a Sega Master System and the most addictive game in the world was Alex the Kidd in Miracle World. Then one night while at my friends house he showed me this game and said I’m stuck want to see if you can get any further and that was me hooked! He lent me the console for the Christmas holidays. No one saw me for days other than the short breaks I took to grab some food. I have only ever taken leave from work for two games, this was one of them and the other was Final Fantasy VII. Granted some of the puzzles drove me almost insane, but for that time the graphics were awesome, the music haunting and the gameplay addictive.

Since then the games that have held my attention have been few and far between. I’ve enjoyed games but not to the point where you get restless until you sit down and pick up the controller.

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of  the new Tomb Raider, so I anxiously installed it to hard drive and pressed play.

Awesome graphics. I love FMV scenes, especially where it’s almost hard to tell what is real and what’s not. I guess I was hooked from the starting scenes.

It’s a completely different experience to any other TR game, but that’s just my opinion. It has the same feel about it and you know that’s what you are playing, but it’s in a different class.

I have to say, I was worried as my weapon mastery skills are not the best,  for example here’s how Battlefield 3 usually goes…..Spawn, stand up, get shot, die. Respawn, stand up, get shot, die, and so it goes on. After a few attempts I fell in love with the bow and arrow and it is currently my weapon of choice, however the others do come in handy as well. I’ve become quite adept at headshots, and my list of achievements is growing. What can I say I am a shameless achievement whore!!

TRacheivements

The puzzles are challenging but not frustratingly so. The challenges are puzzling but not frustratingly so.

There is plenty of terrain to explore and there were a couple of times when I actually Oooo’d an Aaahhh’d at the landscapes, something I had not done since playing ICO.

There were also a couple of places where there was a little twist of unexpected gameplay, where I whooped in delight and wondered why I have never seen this in any game before.

I’ve almost completed the game. I’m on the run up to the final level, however I still have plenty to explore and find, as I have uncompleted challenges, unfound treasures and missing GPS caches, but instead of thinking oh crap I can’t be bothered doing all this again, I can’t wait. I have a desire to totally complete the game. Whether the desire becomes a reality remains to be seen.

My recommendation! Give it a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.