Thursday, March 26, 2009

Glass Cabinet Full Of Lovely Junk

Click on image to enlarge!

I used to have all this junk on display in a huge glass cabinet in my room. I kind of cobbled it all together in a contrasting montage as I collected it. (I'm terrible for hording nostalgic or setimental crap!) I hoped it might look a little like something psychedelic artist Peter Blake might create. Unfortunately, it was totally getting in the way and Mrs. K said she wanted rid of it. So I took this photo and now it's electronically preserved as my screen saver. Spot anything in there that you recognise?

Catching Up

My posting has gotten rather erratic again, largely due to a lot of game-playing. Oh and I've gone back to work (half days) so I guess I've had less time than I envisaged. Apologies for the lack of updates and thanks for still dropping in here!

Back To work!
As stated above, I finally dragged my cardialogically challenged ass back into work. It was good to be back and the support from my colleagues (especially my boss) has been overwhelming. Unfortunately , in 2009, one of my target children has been permanently excluded from the school three months before he would have left for high school and a second has suffered the most awful trauma. Again. The poor kid has faced having to go through the process of fleeing a war zone with his family (age 4), growing up without his father, who is in prison for rape (seven years so far), moving from housing project to housing project because of harassment from neighbours, a mother who is (understandably) depressed and most recently the death of his grandmother, who committed suicide by pouring petrol on herself and setting it alight. Kind of gives you a perspective on your own troubles doesn't it?

One of the last things I did before going back to work, was go out on a Tuesday afternoon to the cinema with Mrs. K. We went to see Watchmen. I thought it was a stunning film and enjoyed every aspect of it. Despite having dipped in and out of the graphic novel, I'd never read it properly so it had no bearing on my opinion of the film. I thought the acting was excellent throughout, the plot was superb (if not a tad confusing at times) action sequences and fight scenes were brilliant. The musical score and particularly the songs chosen for the movie, were completely integral to the atmosphere of the film. The cinematography was technically excellent and well executed. my favourite characters were Rorshach and The Comedian. A tad worrying perhaps!? For a well written and considered review of the film, check out what Junlee has to say about it, here.

PS2 Love
Recently, (since finishing God Of War actually,) I've just been feeling loads of love for the PS2. I have bought Tomb Raider Anniversary (Special edition - three disc pack featuring: the game, -Tomb Raider Anniversary development/'making of' documentary- DVD- and soundtrack CD.
All this in a nice presentation box which only cost me £4 (pre-owned) in the Blockbuster sale.
I've played the first couple of levels and it is a stunning looking and very playable title. I can compare it to the Saturn original as it's the only other Tomb Raider game I've ever played properly, which adds to the whole experience. Overall the game celebrates Lara's legacy very well!
I also picked up Headhunter, Code Veronica X, and Yakuza 2. When you factor in Kingdom Hearts - which I swear I will finish this year - and DMC 1 & 3, the PS2 is going to get a lot of action in the Krishna household this year.

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
I bought this for me and the, boys after beating my son Joe in a hard fought race, on a demonstration stand in the local HMV. The game was displayed on a 50" High Def flat screen TV with surround sound speakers. It looked gorgeous! I've not played it since we got it home, but it has all the ingredients of a classic arcade racer that me and the boys can play competitively for an afternoon every once in a while.

Gears Of War 2:
I'm slipping this in mid-post without any fanfare, because that's how it slipped into my gaming life. My middle son Martin had borrowed it from a friend, but not played it. The game had sat, neglected under the TV for a couple of months. I was in my usual 'post game completion indecisive stage' after finishing Headhunter and couldn't decide what I wanted to play. On a whim I stuck GOW2 into the 360 and then chugged happily and easily through it over the next few days. I thought it as enjoyable as the first in terms of playability and visuals, but I'm just not as drawn in by the characters or plot as I could be. Consequently, I'll play Gears 3, but won't be chomping at the bit for it's release date... In terms of sheer shooting/carnage induced pleasure, however, it's great!

Resident Evil 5 Co-Op:
Well I've played a couple of sessions with random strangers online, notching up quite a few levels and achievements along the way. On one session I was guiding a new guy who was playing for the first time. In the next, I was being guided by a guy who knew where every obscure 'easter egg' was. Conversation over the headset was almost strictly reserved to the game, but was nevertheless pleasant. We even had rest spots, such as 'tea breaks' that were mutually agreed to, and built into the play time! So that was all good. I've also started a file playing co-op with my little son and I'm enjoying that. But overall, I enjoyed playing the solo campaign more. I've yet to play online with a friend though, so if anyone fancies a session, drop me an email and we'll arrange it!

I've remembered why I loved the Wii...

I'd become completely bored of my Wii and had banished it from the "little" living room, up stairs to the kid's rooms... It was most recently residing in my son's sock draw, underplayed and unloved.
After completing RE5 however, and needing a further 'Resi fix'... Umbrella Chronicles!!
I hitched up the Wii to the biggest TV in the house, in the less used, but much nicer, "big" living room. WOW! I loved everything about the experience... The sound it made when it came on , the menu screen, all the great retro game downloads it has on it, the way the controls felt and responded. I also remembered just what a fantastic game Umbrella chronicles is... Even as good as Resi 5? Just may be!

Anyway folks, it's getting late and my keyboard looks like it's in need of new batteries. Typing is becoming quite frustrating, as letters keep getting missed out of words, so I'll sign off for now!
I've one huge (for me life-changing!) piece of news I've not mentioned, so come back soon, OK? :) Take care my brothers!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Complete Resident Evil Retrospective!

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, when I'm playing a Resident Evil game I get all obsessed with the whole Umbrella mythos. This retrospective from, is about as good as any synopsis I've ever seen, carefully linking footage from all of the games and meticulously piecing together a definitive Resident Evil timeline!

I first became aware of it over at Caleb's most wonderful Hunyak Blog!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RE 5 Completed!

Well, I bought RE5 on Friday and I've played it a few hours each day (except Sunday.) I played it in the easiest mode and struggled with some of the bosses, but in the end, I finished it! I breezed through the game without any tears (unlike RE: Code Veronica or RE: Umbrella Chronicles...)

So, after all the hype and waiting was it worth it? I'd say a slightly hesitant "yes".... Great looking, very playable, forgiving save system and weapon/ammo supply, excellent use of cut-scenes, great musical score etc, it was an excellent experience all the way.

I knew it was going to rely heavily on the gameplay mechanic of Resident Evil 4, but didn't realise how much... At times it felt like the same game... but as RE4 is one of the bst video games ever, that's no bad thing! The new weapon selection/resource management, having to be accessed in-game 'real time', as opposed to the luxury of the last game's system, can be hard to manage- (although the enemies, right up to the final boss, seem to give you plenty of time to prepare your weapon.) The save system is better and checkpoints frequent.

I did begin to panic at the amount of time it was taking me to beat the final boss, and resorted to restarting Chapter 6. I wondered if the arsenal I had, packed enough punch to finish the boss.
That old nagging doubt, seeded by my lack of success in RE:CV and RE:UC...
The surprises weren't very surprising, but like Umbrella Chronicles before it, the game tied up some story strands nicely. I wouldn't say it was a massive upgrade in technical terms from RE4 or Umbrella Chronicles, which IMHO looked almost as good and play equally well. But on the whole, I've loved RE5 as much as I knew I would.

I liked having Sheva as my AI companion. Her importance as a partner becomes fully apparent in the final boss battle. The fun will now come from Mercenaries Mode, playing online co-op (something I've yet to experience properly, my online escapades being restricted to SCIV, VF5, and Sega Rally) and waiting to see what the DLC is like!

Having seen Dead Rising tailored to the technical capabilities of the Wii as "Chop Till You Drop", I wouldn't be surprised if Capcom don't bring out a 'Wii edition' of the game at some time in the future. Certain levels and scenarios would have played well with a Wii-type control system. RE5 delivers what was expected, I just don't know if all the hype and long waiting were that necessary!

So what next? I think that might just be RE:Code Veronica again, or maybe the Umbrella Chronicles...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Resident Evil 5 tomorrow!

Well, both me and my son Martin have got our pre-orders for RE5 in at our local Blockbuster. He's buying the PS3 version, (me the 360 version.)

Oddly enough I'm not that excited. I've begun to worry that I won't enjoy it! I just 'completed' Left 4 Dead (every level is available from the start of the game in single player mode, so you don't have to 'earn' the right to play them, they're just ...there.

Consequently, there is little satisfaction in 'completing' the game, (although it is a nice zombie shooter!)

I'll most likely be playing RE5 in single player mode and I just worry it will be a restriction to have Sheva as my AI companion... But I also don't want to miss out on the excitement that a lot of us here in the blogospherewill be playing the same game at the same time!

Anyhoo, you'll know my thoughts on the game soon enough! In the meantime enjoy the IGN review above...

Michael Jackson Live

Incredibly, much to the surprise of his fans, when it looked like he was going to disappear forever, Michael Jackson is playing some live concerts, here in the UK. Tickets "go on sale" tomorrow (13.03.09), although all tickets for each of the 10 shows at the O2 Arena in London, are sold out due to "pre-sales".

I'm gutted! I would love to see MJ perform, but the chances of me getting a ticket for under £300 (if I am able to get one at all,) are very remote. He has announced another 10 dates, but they will be equally difficult to get hold of! It's so frustrating to be so geographically near to the venue of his first live appearances in years, and yet have little chance of fulfilling my ambition to see it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I'll start (as is now becoming customary) with my apologies for the lack of posts, and thanks to both BJ and Gnome, for enquiries about my health, which is satisfactory, and by no means an excuse for the appalling lack of updates here.

That said, let me fill you in with what I've been up to gaming wise... from one retro console to another, I decided following the joy of God Of War on the PS2, to finish a Dreamcast game I had previously played half way through, before abandoning it. That game is the mighty Headhunter. The game is set in a not to distant future, where the government is all pervasive, fascistic and working hand in hand with global multi-national corporations. (Sound familiar?)

As well as the rather worrying scenario mentioned above, there is a rather unhealthy trade in human organs, both sanctioned by the government and criminals via the black market. The world in which we find ourselves is beautifully illustrated through out the game via "news bulletins", videos interspersed throughout the game, which tie up the game's back-story and provide a humorous distraction after tense missions!

The character you play is Headhunter Jack Wade. Headhunters are future cops, stealth assassins and all-round bad ass dudes. And who's the baddest bad ass of 'em all? Why YOU of course! Only at the start of the game, you've lost your gun, your license and your memory.
Does this hinder our hero? Fuck no!! That's because Jack is a hybrid of Dirty Harry and Snake Plisken. I'm not gay, but I could swing in that direction for Jack, he's THAT fucking cool!

Fortunately, your former chief and a wealthy heiress who's father has just been murdered are there to set you on your feet again and restore you to your former position as Headhunter number 1. In order to regain your license you need to go through a series of virtual training missions in cyberspace, facilitated by the L.E.I.L.A virtual reality computer.

Oh and did I mention that you travel through your futuristic city-scape on a whopping motorbike? The better you ride your bike, the more experience points you acquire assisting your progress through the game.

The game plays like GTA (the bike-riding bits) and Metal Gear Solid (the stealth bits). The game really shows the potential of the hardware it was produced for, being one of the best games on the Dreamcast and delivering some stunning graphics for it's 2001 release. Unfortunately it never merited a release in the USA on the Dreamcast, as the console was already doomed to obliteration by the PS2 when the game came out. However, it did get a PS2 port, which you can pick up for a pittance if you're silly enough to not have a functioning Dreamcast in your house.

The save system, health regeneration and weapon/ammo upgrades are all conducive to a satisfying gaming experience, although some of the boss battles are bloody difficult! The soundtrack, by Sega stalwart composer Richard Jaques is amazing, so good in fact that I've thrown it up in the videos at the top! Overall I'm glad I delved back into this game and would say it's an essential Dreamcast purchase/experience. Father K rating 9/10.