Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not upgrading to Vista just yet

About five years ago I walked into HMV Oxford Circus and bought the Windows XP upgrade pack. I believe that was the first time I ever purchased and installed a new Operating System during the launch period. I never looked back since. XP, while annoying at times, quickly matured, and for the past six years since I installed, I have yet to format my harddrive and reinstall (I did change harddrive but I didn't clean install the OS, merely cloning the original drive), even when I created new partitions for my Linux stuff.

Anyway the reason I upgraded to XP was because back then I was using Windows 2000 (which was a robust OS, but a pretty 'boring' one) and I wanted something fresher. I just completed building my PC and XP happened to be released during the period. Right now everything on my PC works fine the way it should (software wise at least) - so I see no reason to upgrade to Vista just yet (maybe once SP1 comes out and any clear advantage to PC gaming becomes apparent).

The problem I see in Vista is its requirements, which I see as being all flash and offering no genuine advantage over its 'classic' GUI. There are improvements in the kernel, no doubt about that (such as Widgets - but I can already download Yahoo!'s free Widget software, or DVD Maker - again I already have Nero 7 for that), but do we need a bloody graphic card to waste its resource on the GUI? And even if the Aero GUI is worth it, is it worth the upgrade cost of £150? Unless you go OEM, which I will once the time is right.

So I did not buy Windows Vista, but the hell am I blogging about it then? Well since every other people on this tiny planet is talking about the Vista launch I thought I would chip in my two pence and join the crowd. Keeps my blog updated too.

Note: I should have blogged about this instead: Sega's Yakuza + Takashi Miike = Ryu Ya Gotoku film! With him producing it is unlikely the film will feature Audition style torture, but one can only hope.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Yo! Sushi 'January sale'

I am sure some of you, especially those of you in Britain, would have known about Yo! Sushi's 'January sale'. It is basically half price for all their food consumed in store. The offers ends at the end of this month.

Anyway this evening, before I headed back to London, we decided to have dinner at Yo! Sushi. We aren't huge fans of them, but anything cheap from a fast-food restaurant was good in our books. We got there at 6pm. It wasn't too busy and we got to our seats straight away. Ordered a bowl of miso soup for myself before picking up a plate of pumpkin korroke. The first alert came when I gnawed on the piece and found it to be cold. The menu clearly states that it is a 'hot classic', yet it was fucking cold.

Most of the stuff that came by the conveyor belt were generic. You know stuff like fried rice, gyoza, salmon sushi, katsu etc. So we waited to see what the chefs would come up with. Apparently we weren't allowed to order during the sale period, so we all had to wait to see if the chefs decide to send some creativity down our side. And we waited. A bowl of hot soup later and refilled I got to my next snack. And then we played the waiting game again.

I noticed that we weren't the only one waiting. The family next to us looked bored as they scanned the belt looking at the same generic shit after another. The chef in front of us spent about 30 minutes cutting up some brownie. Then he went missing for 15 minutes before returning to wash some veg and then dumping them into the fridge. Then he scurried of to the other side of the kitchen, probably knowing that we were bitching about him in a foreign language. Another chef spent most of the time making more generic chicken katsu dishes.

The two sushi chefs spent half the time chatting with each other than making some nice exotic sushi. And any sushi they made went straight to a container which they kept under their kitchen table - obviously for next day's lunch customer. Their sushi isn't as fresh as they like to make us think they are.

After 1 1/2 hours and only 7 plates between us we decided to leave. The only wonderful thing we had was the Eel Dragon Roll. We were obviously disappointed. I kicked myself for forgetting that we had Sunday discount cards to Moshi Moshi, a far better and 'proper' sushi restaurant 15 minutes away by the sea front.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 review

Nintendo's DS has been called a lot of things, some of them derogatory by pre-pubescent fanboys who pretend to be adults, but mainly heaps of praises. By creating a portable console with two screens, one of which is powered by a digitiser, Nintendo has challenged developers to develop unique titles.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a classic example of such a game. A text-book example of a point and click detective game (and we all love our Agatha Christie’s), it also happens to be the second DS title to be developed by CiNG to utilise some of the DS’s more unique features. The first, Another Code: Two Memories (Trace Memory) was widely lauded for its innovation when it came to point and click adventuring. So many were hoping this would be better. Personally I thought Another Code was tedious at best but fortunately Hotel Dusk offered me a much complete experience.

The game is set in Los Angeles circa 1979 and you role-play as an unlikeable ex-NYPD copper Kyle Hyde. Kyle’s a drunk but he has a good story to back his attitude. Three years ago, Kyle finds out that his close mate from the police force, an undercover with a crime syndicate has decided to ditch his moral values. Kyle then found himself in a situation that had him shooting his former friend. Disgusted with the way things have turned out he quit his life as a bobby and instead took up "sales" (fine career choice). This is all fine and dandy, until three years later when his past finally caught up with him in this dump called Hotel Dusk.

Gameplay involves using the stylus and tapping away while solving puzzles in order to advance the plot. If you have been clicking your way through classic games like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island then you should find this comfortable. It is fairly straight forward and easy. Most of the time would be spent chatting up with the residents (most of which are fairly interesting – and you get to enjoy character development too) of Hotel Dusk. Apart from the ability to choose conversation pieces, the game is fairly linear. This is probably why Nintendo billed this as an 'interactive or visual novel'.

In fact in order to play (or interactively read) the game you are forced to hold the DS sideways, like a novel (oh the ingenuity). One might think of it as a gimmick, a way of drawing more attention on a game that if developed conventionally, might not have attracted as much attention as it currently is. Luckily for us, CiNG cleverly implemented one feature that could not be replicated on a conventional console – the ability to take notes down, you know, like a bona fide Dick Tracy. Just without that ace watch of his.

Visually, this game exudes a unique class. Characters, during conversation mode, are done in nice and huge animated 2D sprites - all in 'pencil sketch' style, whereas while walking and exploring rooms are rendered in polygonal 3D with washed-out film noir colours to boot. While the 3D quality isn’t that great (ie. very pixelated) it doesn’t distract from the gameplay. There is a 2D map that you can use to drag your stylus around on the touchscreen while the 3D room is shown on the other screen.

This game isn’t for everybody. If you have no patience poking through every corner of every room (a flaw that is very much part of the genre) then you would probably hate this. Hints are given, though rarely, which may be a blessing to those preferring a little more challenge on their brains (though those who are stuck trying to trigger the next scene may beg otherwise). You may even find yourself 'stuck' somewhere for hours, until you accidentaly did something the developers wanted you to do. Tedious backtracking features aplenty so beware here. This is prime example of poorly implemented game design.

And while it lacks the comedy wit of the Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright) series or the child-like quality of Touch Detective, the plot is thick and mature enough to hold most fans of murder mystery books interest, at least to me - even if the narrator seems to be a fucking prick. As a title, Hotel Dusk hardly represents value for money, not least due to the lack of replayability (though unconfirmed reports of multiple endings seems to suggest otherwise). But do give it a go, but wait for the price to fall.

Update (30/1): I just completed the game. A couple of things to add. The game is pretty short. As in shorter than say, Gyakuten Saiban. Most of the time would be spent talking. I think I only had to do about 20 puzzles or so, about 5 which were 'proper' puzzles. There are silly issues with the game. For example in Chapter 10 I was stuck unable to continue the game, until I accidentally walked over a small corner, which then triggered the next scene. Apart from that my review still stands. There are rumours that the game contains multiple endings but I am not prepared to test the validity with a second play through just yet. Maybe next time.


Import now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No one is above the law

According to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (he loves getting into the news lately, don't you think?):

"rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well-meaning"

Personally I couldn't care less whether the Catholic Church closed down their adoption agency due to the new gay rights law. It disgusts me that people would prioritise religion over a child's welfare, but these people are so out of touch you can't argue nonsense with them.

But somehow that statement seems to indicate their belief that 'we are the Christian Church, we are above the law' kind of attitude. My conscience tells me to go up to Mr. Williams and Mr. Sentamu and smack them right there and then, but the law says that that would amount to assault and I would go to jail. Instead I settled halfway - bitching about them on my insignificant blog.

To me, this isn't about the debate over political correctness anymore. It is about an organisation trying to opt themselves out of the law because they are part of 'so-and-so' religion. All this isn't new, remember those Muslim protestors in France? It is no wonder the majority of people I know has already renounced their previous faith.

Update (29/01): 21 months for Catholic based agencies to break the law. I wish someone would give the rest of us 21 months exemption to adapt new laws. But we are not religious, hence we must obey them from the get-go.


Update (25/01): Despite appearing otherwise, I noticed that the pope isn't completely out of touch. Singling out animations and video games, particularly those that features violence (eh-hem) and sex (eh-hem), he signals his desire to align his church's policy against video games, probably to the delight of one Mr. Franco Frattini. Come on, you guys are already working hard criminalising gays, now you want to pick on video gamers and game developers too?

Via Wired GameLife

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About time

Nice fluffy snow. Not the killer storms that some idiots were predicting.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Video game snobbery

Games Radar has a fun (but ironic) article on the seven steps needed to become an elite gaming snob. Below are my thoughts.

Step 1 - Swear that system X has no good games. At all
I don't think I have ever thought about that, apart from maybe dismissing the Xbox console because I was heavily into PC then. I do realise that every system I have never owned has some great games on it. I also had the opportunity to play with both SNES and Mega Drive when I was young so these fanboyism trait is a rather new phenomenon. Yes my gaming habit seems to be 'very Nintendo' of late, but If I have the money I would even buy a PSP.

Step 2 - My console's games can beat up your console's games
I did think that Resident Evil 4 on GCN was better than PS2, but then again I also own a PS2, so in hindsight it does not matter. It is crazy when fanboys love a particular game because it happened to be developed by Nintendo/Rare/Bungie/Sega/Sony/Square Enix. Just to rile people up I think I would probably go... Dragon Quest >>> Blue Dragon. :P

Step 3 - You hate on anything popular
I may be guilty of this. Let's see. Final Fantasy VII. Hated it. Final Fantasy VIII. Hated it. Halo. Hated it. iPod. Despised it. All with good reasons but I won't delve into those. However I am looking forward to playing the immensly popular Final Fantasy XII. For one I heard it is actually quite good. I even own a DS Lite, the first console (revision) I ever got before launch.

Step 4 - You care at all about geeky tech speak
I do care about tech speak, when it comes to PC. I am ashamed that my PC is at least 2 generations old. Heck my Samsung CRT is 6-7 years old. All rubbish. I don't do tech speak on consoles as they are all outdated anyway. I rather concentrate on the games.

Step 5 - Affixing the rose-colored glasses to your face
I believe games are susceptible to age badly. If you ask me to play Ocarina of Time again, I will refuse. And how can people honestly say that Goldeneye > Half-Life 2? Fanboyism does cloud people's judgement.

Step 6 - Bitching about minute, trivial changes
People like me who get bored easily hardly notice minute changes, so this doesn't affect me. Castlevania new art direction? Not that great, but not something I would fuss about. Playing as Raiden in MGS2? Well he is pretty damn cool. 2D Metroid fanboys who bitch about FPS Metroid are bloody annoying.

Step 7 - Obsessing over packaging
I am slightly guilty of this. For one I do not like the 'platinum' edition covers. I would not care about it if it is bloody cheap, but if I can find a used original issued at a heavily discounted price in an almost mint condition, then I would rather have that instead. I am not a sad collector though.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Big Bother

I would love to see Qantas attempt to ban the following offensive items:

The Christian 'dog-collar'
The hijab
The Jewish skull cap
Religious stuff (eg. Christian cross, Star of David)

You can't have it both ways.

Regarding the utter tripe of telly culture that is Big Brother I thought I would chime in with my 10 pence worth of opinion. Please forgive me. Even I cringed as I typed this.

Personally I doubt anything that has so far happened in the house can be construed as 'racists'. That opinion is based on the 5 minute clip that Channel 4 broadcasted when Davina McCall interviewed Jade Goody (BTW they share the same PR agent - also includes the other two annoying BB presenters), which were the only segments of this year's series I ever bother to watch (to see what was the fuss all about).

So... bullying yes, racism probably not. Having said that they deserve the public crucifixion anyway as bullying in any form is wrong. But then again Big Brother has always encourage bullying within the house, so why all the fuss now?

I believe that Endemol has been worrying about the sliding ratings hence their decision to dump an old controversial and dysfunctional housemate in. Since the news of her and her mates being allegedly coached before Jade Goody left the house last weekend, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they actually encouraged her in bullying in the first place. The fact that she decided to pick on a non-white foreigner was a bonus (for rating terms at least). I am curious to see if an equal amount of fuss is generated if the contestant being bullied happened to white!

As far as Ms. Shilpa is concerned, as she chose to enter this crude TV competition, can't say I have any pity for her. The only positive outcome that can happen with this whole sorry episode is the total axing of the current and future Big Brother and other degrading 'reality' TV programmes. That sadly, would never happen.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

All DVDs should be released on digipaks by law

I was clearing out some stuff, dumping some of it on eBay (mind you, for profit) as well as tossing general junk out. Haven't been watching Nip/Tuck (I am still missing half of season 3) for quite some time but their boxsets just lovely.

I am a great fan of digipaks/digipacks. I just hate it when studious release TV series on those newer thin plastic DVD cases - they look like pirated DVDs, so why buy them? Even worse are half season boxsets, but I digress. Some of my favourite albums are in digipaks, such as the early editions of Arch Enemy albums (Burning Bridges and Stigmata, both fantastic stuff if you are into Swedish death metal).

Nip/Tuck season one region two PAL boxset:

The amazing Shadow of the Colossus boxset (I got this for 60% off at WHSmith - they are a great place to look for cheap out of print games since nobody shops there):

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Should I go WoW?

So... with all this excitement over WoW: Burning Crusades, any advice on someone who is mulling over whether to start playing WoW? A mate of mine who quit playing WoW several months ago gave this rather helpful opinion: "Do not do it".

I do have the internet connection on my side. With the amount of lag between my PC and the wireless router I can see that any sort of online gaming will be a hopeless activity, for now. It will save me a fortune in monthly fees. Still the £1.99 DVD with 14 day trial is awfully tempting, if only to see what the fuss is all about.

And for the first time in my life I have been tempted to get a PSP. And all for Kojima's Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. I probably should wait for the inevitable fixed console port. Unless someone can loan me one over the weekend.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Ah those pesky Germans. Love to blame video games for all their misbehaving criminals. German tabloid Bild-Zeitung (equals to Murdoch's The Sun) is putting the blame squarely (no pun intended) on Square's horrid Final Fantasy VII, dubbing it a killer game, after police arrested two teenagers who killed a mother and father.

Video gaming persecution seems to be on the rise, isn't it? Quite a nice coincidence too. EU lawmakers in Brussels has recently agreed on a set of rules limiting the sale of 'violent' video games to minors, which is all fine and dandy, except that they are also planning for more stringent banning orders.

Do take comfort in knowing that while Germany is keen on imposing bans, they realised that each member state will be able to decide which games are violent and so on. Or so insists Franco Frattini, the EU Justice and Security Commissioner. If I remember correctly this guy (whom I dubbed EU twit) insisted on a blanket ban on Rule of Rose.


I wrote a nice article that some how relates Final Fantasy last night before I had the chance to read about the EU debacle. I will probably post it later. I am not a FF freak, but with the release of Final Fantasy XII next month, you can forgive me if I appear to be. Ta.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Can a speaker with no receiver pick up a broadcast?

The strangest thing happened today. While we were still sleeping we were awakened by the sound of a man talking. The sound, which was like a man chatting through his walkie-talkie, was coming from inside the room. Peering out the window to make sure that there isn't some dodgy guy hanging outside, I saw a fire engine parked outside on the street. There wasn't anyone climbing around though.

I double checked the telly and made sure it was turned off. It was. The PC was also turned off but the connected speakers (a JBL) were left on. Listening closely I found that the voice of the man was crackling through the speaker. According to Jenni some of the words she picked up were "gas", "5-2-1" etc. Thinking that we have picked up the radio transmission of the firemen outside, I turned it off and went back to bed before realising how peculiar it was that the speaker, not having a radio receiver, could be receiving broadcasted radio communication. I just hope this isn't one of those so-called freaky "paranormal activities"! An explanation from a wise engineer would be appreciated.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Final Fantasy IV Advance review

There is a reason why Final Fantasy IV is on my Top 100 games of all time as of November 2006. It is the story. This arguably was the first 'proper' Final Fantasy game that mixes epic storyline laced with (the then) excellent gameplay. So it is all good and proper for us when Square-Enix decided to port the game over to the GBA, putting an end to the excuse to playing an illegal ROM on a dodgy SNES emulator.

The plot is classic FF. Bad guy plots to take over the world by stealing crystals and the hero saves the day. However FF IV also introduced more than just a great plot (with twists). It introduced developed characters. Looking back, the development between the characters, particularly Cecil Harvey, the dark knight of Baron, and Dragoon Kain Highwind, his childhood friend, was what made me love this game so much.

Then there is the relationship between Cecil and Rosa. The two twin sages Parom and Porom provides slight comic relief, during when the plot may seem to be heating up. Yes, so many interesting characters to write about. There is also Edward, the cowardly prince who hides himself every couple of turns, and Tellah, the 60 year old Sage, hell bent on exacting revenge.

Another great thing about FF IV is the ability for the player to take control a vast number of playable characters, as in by having them in your party. It does make levelling-up a chore, where players need to turn to serious grinding whenever a new character replaces a dismissed one.

The graphics are based on the WonderSwan port. It looks nice - marginally better than the original SNES version, though still seriously outdated (God knows that they should make a FF III DS style remake, or at least something on par with The Minish Cap or Golden Sun). But man am I glad to see those deformed sprites. Lags do happen during battle sequences where 4 or 5 party fights a larger group of enemies. It isn't really a problem, but can get annoying when navigating the 'Active Battle System' menu. I also didn't like the typefaces used. It is annoying having to wear glasses to play this, but there you go.

Best Final Fantasy? Not really (that would go to VI, and maybe XII if the reviews are indicating), but a close one. Definitely better than VII though. If you haven't yet experience the depth which was IV now is your chance.


Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mountain biking snobbery

Got the new WMB mag in the post yesterday. Two guys wrote in to the letter sections regarding the snobbery of some mountain bikers. Six months ago I got back into mountain biking after a decade of inactivity and loving every minute of it, but have seen some attitude by other MTBers that makes me wish I didn't.

Most of the time whenever we bike on a trail, the other MTBers we meet are excellent and friendly people. Nothing pleases me more than having people say hello to you (something Londoners do not do enough). Even while cycling through Lydd, a nice little girl actually said "nice bike" to me. So have I met MTB snobs? Some of those at certain EvansCycles do qualify (I prefer to get kits from indie bike shops - the prices are the same anyway and they actually remember your name), but on actual trails, not all the time.

Yes I have seen snobbish MTBers before. The sort of people whom when you give a friendly hello, would not answer back. They are recogniseable. They ride the latest kit and spend £2000 on hardtails or £5000 on full sussers, but have no idea how to use them. They buy 6 inch full sussers to use in the city for commuting purposes. They would eye your £240 bike and scoff at it. Thankfully, 95% of all MTBers are alright. Even the long haired dude we met on the train from Seaford, with his £1500 Specialized Stumpy, is friendly enough to at least say "you gotta start somewhere".

As for bikes? I am pretty content with my cheap Giant. It's a burly and heavy bike, more suited for all-mountain terrain than cross country or singletrack. Do I wish for a better and lighter bike? Most definitely. When I can stomach up and afford a £1000 hardtail, I will get one. But as a sport, I don't care. Give me back my old cheap and creaky 1993 rigid steel Universal Fusion and I would still be happy.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

$600 is the same price as a PS3

People are weird. You know that Apple just announced a new multimedia phone right? It costs US$600, which is expensive for something that already exists on the market, for years now. The reaction from tech blogs has been pretty much the same, it's a bloody great innovation. This despite being a product coming from a company that has zero mobile phone experience.

And what were the reactions when Kaz Hirai announced the price for Sony's mismanaged PS3 during the E306 conference? Total armageddon. I can't remember reading a single positive post by a tech blog that actually praised the price, and yet we are seeing the exact opposite in relations to Apple.

Sony are the hatred (deservedly too) in the entertainment industry right now, and the £425 UK price, battery recalls, unsporting behaviours and lying press departments aren't exactly helping them. But quite why the same standard isn't applied to Apple, I would never understand.

They being the media darling, for this long too, is pretty puzzling. My guess would be great marketing and PR. Get your PR right and Stevie can pass off anything as innovative.

If someone can convince me that $600 is good enough to part for an Apple branded multimedia phone (most likely made by an OEM manufacturer in Taiwan), then I would have no problem throwing away the same amount for a PS3.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

New Apple phone not a reinvention

Nor is it revolutionary or magical or whatever the BBC calls it.


I like how Stevie claims that the new Apple mobile phone is a reinvention.

Let's see, touchscreen? Tons of devices has been using that like since forever. Tilting sensor? I believe one company did that on a PDA phone (it's somewhere in T3 from 2-3 years ago), and Sony did implement it on one of their HDD based DAP player, so nothing big here as well. Built-in 2Mp camera? Uhm, isn't 5Mp mobile phone cameras the next big thing? WiFi? Done that. The only thing decent with this, is the 8GB flash memory and IMO that is not enough. And where is the built-in GPS?

Technically it seems to be a marginally better mobile (though no buttons really does mark it down a lot) than most of those currently on the market, not the 'breakthrough' that they seem to imply it is. Still should at least finally kick PalmOne and HTC to finally wake up and start offering real technical updates rather than the usual annual cosmetic redesigns.

Apple fanboys will most likely lap it up anyway and label it an innovation (like they did with the Ipod) and try to justify the reasons in which we no longer need keypads. At least the days of iClones carrying Ipods and Blackberries are over.

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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Shadow of the Colossus review

I have been meaning to write about this for quite some time since I got it a couple of months ago, but only now had the chance to finally sit down and write what I thought. Before I continue I will probably want to set the tone down for the review. There won't be any mention of Ico (wonderful game, one of the best on the PS2, but I feel SotC has enough qualities to stand out over Ico). This game is awesome. If there is anything next-gen, this is it.


The premise of Shadow of the Colossus is this: boss fights. Nothing but boss fights after boss fights after boss fights. No in-betweens, no minions and certainly no pansy boss fights that we usually encounter in many video games. These Goliaths, known as the Colossus, are majestic and huge (think bigger than dinosaurs) - representation of would be gods, if they ever walked the earth.

SotC is a bare minimum game and hardly contains a plot. The epic opens with Wander, the clumsy protagonist of the game, riding into an ancient temple, carrying a dead body. Apparently there is only one way to resurrect her, that of the slaying of sixteen giant idols. Your job is to guide the hero across the massive desolate land in search for each of the Colossus.

This may seem daunting, but trust me, each of the boss fights is winnable. It may be challenging to people who never played platforming games riddled with puzzles (think Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider) but here's an example to ponder upon. I found the first Colossi the most difficult, mainly due to me struggling to get used to the control. Only once I finally nailed it I sent the Colossi to its deathbed. After that, by the time I reached the eight Colossi, the game only clocked 3 hours. When I completed the game by save file read 8 hours.

So it isn't too difficult, yet surely at 8 hours, some may correctly question its replay value. It isn't too much of a concern for me (since I got it cheap) but if you count your value based on RPG standard (70-80 hours to complete the main quest, with second ending, like I did on Dragon Quest VIII), then SotC would stack up rather poorly. Even then I would say that SotC is pretty good value, as it offers more than many video games. Which video game offers you the chance to battle 16 gigantic bosses, most of if they appear in other games, would probably be the final boss?

Each Colossus felled by the hero isn't the malevolent creature hell bent on destruction (though they do cause massive damage) that we see in other games. As each of the giant falls there is a moment of silent. No celebrations by the hero. Just necessary killings in order to resurrect a love one.

Agro, the trusted steed who , is easily the more realistic looking and animated videogaming animals I have seen. And I would like to think I know a little about horses (since I have ridden them in the past). You are never in full control of the horse. A nudge on the left analog stick basically tells Agro where you want him to go, not necessary where you will go. Sure the controls may be unpredictable, but we are after all role-playing as the protagonist, not the horse!

Despite being developed on a 6 year old console, the graphics are lush and beautiful, with its washed out blurring effect and lighting bloom. Sure the PS2 could do with a little bit more oomph as frame rates does stutter, but you know what? I didn't care. What was important was despite the limitations of the PS2 hardware, for some reason SotC's landscapes is as real as it gets even compared to newer games on newer hardware and high-end PCs. Sure things will get sharper, more colourful, more glossy etc. but are they any more 'realistic'? Some may argue yes, but I think not necessary. Even then nothing I have seen has yet to match the architectural detail and uniqueness that each Colossus has (my opinion of course).

The soundtrack is even more extraordinary. Music only begins when you enter the realm in which the Colossis live and during battle, even then only subtley. Apart from that the game has no music. Travelling the distance to each of the Colossus's hideout in silence, conveys a sense of solitude for the lonely hero. Surprisingly it works well.

SotC is the living proof that you don't need to spend £300-£400 for next-gen. It isn't perfect, nothing is. But it does break videogaming conventions, and for the better.


Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Friday, January 5, 2007

TV Review: Ugly Betty pilot episode

Just caught the pilot episode of Ugly Betty on Channel 4. I was expecting a similar style to Desperate Housewives than say, Less Than Perfect (which has slight similarities), and true we have a typical US style comedy with bits and blops of mystery and episode specific contents. Who would have known that here we have someone, ugly as she may be, as a modern true heroine? Another highly recommended US comedy on my regular weekly TV viewing list then. Thanks C4.

But no thanks to Davina for ruining what could have been a perfect Big Brother free evening.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

The best and worst of Channel 4

Channel 4 has always been one of my favourite TV channels and yet they are also one of my least.

It depends what they decide to broadcast. Like yesterday, the third season of Desperate Housewives got ahead (double bill too!), and that is of course great. But Celebrity Big Brother? Not so great. I remember Channel 4 pretty much killed off Nip/Tuck from terrestrial tv due to 'bad ratings', but any bad ratings that were associated with Nip/Tuck was probably because they constantly broadcast the series after the watershed, sometimes way after midnight (usually moved from its slot to accomodate craps like Big Brother and Russel Brand). They probably would never cancel the dreadful Big Brother series especially when 7 million of you lots tuned in to watch yesterday's launch.

Well at least Sky scooped in and stole Lost. One less prolonged crap on the tv, I guess. And The O.C. cancelled? Best news ever!

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year winter cycling

It was a rare mild day today. The sun was out. The temperature was moderate. The wind wasn't strong. So we headed out to the South Downs Way after a hasty breakfast. It wasn't easy this New Year's ride. Weeks of rain meant that the already difficult enough (in winter) to ride bridleway, is now clogged with grit and wet chalky muck. Picture above taken at the aptly named Waterpit Hill.

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Happy New Year

Hi guys, have a Happy New Year. I tried to text some of you before midnight but the network went down. Tried to connect via UMTS and it wouldn't let me. I believe that my mobile only managed to get hold of the o2 network by 2am. No wonder o2 texted me two days ago warning us. Other networks seemed to work fine.

We did not head to Central London for the fireworks as we did last year, so no pixs this time. New Year's resolution for this blog? More cycling posts, more game reviews, more cynical religious topic counter-posts and slightly less political nonsense. Oh, and we hope to be able to finally do a couple of long distance cross country moutain biking like the 100 miles South Downs Way and the 140 miles Coast to Coast cycle route (c2c). Anyway have a great year.