Things you should see.

Archive for December, 2010

Quake in 60 Minutes

This one has been doing the blog rounds over the last few days and I thought ‘me too’. I’m actually one of id Software’s biggest fans. I love Doom and Quake to pieces, and am beside myself with anticipation for Rage. That said, I have a confession that may shock you; I have never completed Quake. That is, the first Quake- I’ve finished the others.

So for the first time, thanks to wusseh on YouTube, I’ve finally seen the last boss, Shub-Niggurath, in the flesh. This frentic shootathon has also served to remind me just how much I loved these old FPS’s and how much I hope Bulletstorm or Rage or even Serious Sam 3 can measure up in some small way. Can we all cross our fingers now, please?

Secret Diary Needs Longer Entries

What makes me most upset about British TV is the penchant for five-episode seasons. Hardly enough screentime to get anywhere with anything, if you ask me. It doesn’t help when episodes are only 22 minutes long either. Or when, even into its third season, a show feels the need to devote a segment in each already-painfully-short episode to maintaining the series’ gimmick.

I’m talking about Secret Diary of a Call Girl which has the potential to really become something more than it is. I can’t speak for everyone else, but didn’t the whole ‘one sexual deviant per episode’ thing become unnecessary some time back? We get it- the show’s about a hooker. What dyslexic, sex-crazed audience hasn’t got that message by now? These garish segments eat into what little time there is to develop the real storylines that unfortunately have come off a bit wafer-thin so far and made the watching the show harder to justify. This season, we had a sleazy editor who found his way into the main character’s bed in the guise of a proper suitor who didn’t care for her sordid past when really, in a whirlwind exposition, learn he was actually just a hooker-crazed maniac. However it was rushed and seemed all too convenient. I bet the writers could have done more with it given time. In the end she ends up in the arms of her always-there go-to BFF with the implication that they’ll hook up at some point and what is that if not convenient too? I can’t count how many seasons have ended on that note. Oh wait, I can; all three of them.

Without drifting onto a tangent I like this show and wish it had a chance to bloom a little. It’s coming upto it’s fourth and final season in 2011 and I just think that if something isn’t done to change up the formula slightly we’re going to be treated to a parade of kinky sex fetishes, a little romantic innuendo and little else. It’s come and go and be utterly forgotten once the inevitable DVD box sets disappear from store shelves. Which would be a tremendous shame given the high hopes I had for it a couple of years ago, when it was outrating Dexter.

Force Feedback Is A Pain

It’s hard to say when, in a world where apparently the more realism the better, you have to stop and draw the line. I picked up a Logitech Driving Force GT today but not with the intention of being one the cool kids or trying to shave seconds off lap times. No, I bought it to make my driving experiences feel a little more authentic. Not only has this wheel and its monstrous Force Feedback failed at this, it has actively become a pain in the ass to drive.

If I had to guess where that realism line was, I’d say it’s where the fun stops. My gut feeling after a day or so of playing Race Driver: Grid, Colin McRae: DiRT 2 and Sega Rally Revo and endlessly tweaking the settings in each. The end result in each case was learning how the wheel wanted me to drive and not just driving how I would naturally. There would be delays before any turn of the wheel registered with steering in-game, no matter the deadzone – no such problem with a 360 controller – and the wheel often seemed not to adjust for it correcting itself. That is resetting its position to 0 after any turning, whether keeping to a long turn or trying to countersteering, was problematic as there didn’t seem to be mechanical consistency as to what the controller was expecting you to do. Further the vibration and internal motor make sticking to the perfect driving line a battle with the wheel more than anything else.

And I know how to drive; this just doesn’t feel right. Admittedly I’m used to driving something with 1.8L along city streets and not sliding a turbo’d AWD monster sideways to see how the steering wheel would respond. Nevertheless, if I had to guess whether the erratic and downright annoying movement of the wheel is an accurate representation of real driving in these conditions or just a third-party peripheral trying to manage itself in a bunch of varying usage scenarios, I’d have to go with the later.

Oh and to clarify, these are not my formal impressions of the Driving Force GT itself- I’m saving those for next time. I just wasn’t sure whether this painful first impression was down to the hardware or software implementation. I’m going with the latter until I’m more educated on the topic in which case, if necessary, I’ll revise all this.

James Frain Likes Displeasing His Masters

James FrainAlthough he has a filmography stretching back to the early 90’s, I only know James Frain, above, from his recent appearance in The Tudors and from his very recent (ie tonight) performance in Tron: Legacy. Not to dither about too much, he plays an obsequious vizier in both roles and is in both cases executed for incurring his master’s wrath. It’s a coincidence I find amusing right now. Oh dear. To be honest I like the guy and hope this isn’t the beginning of some tragic typecasting.

The Mega Drive Lives

Although they have been yesterday’s news for a good 10-15 years now, Sega’s old Master System and Mega Drive consoles have lived on in one way or another. Either through emulators or through grey market and even licensed products in markets like Brazil, they haven’t been forgotten. I was still shocked to see this item on the K-mart Christmas catalogue though and had to get a hold of one.

The short of it is the hardware is sound. It’s all a bit cheap-feeling but it comes with 15 games built in and two controllers. So far so good. Graphics were all perfect, but, as other reviews have noticed, this box must have a cheapo sound chip or something. Sound effects just sound off and music is at a decidedly lower pace. I know this isn’t a PAL issue – as someone who’s played Sonic & Knuckles more times and in more forms than I care to remember, I can vouch that all games are all either NTSC or 60hz modded ROMs – and against gameplay that runs at the same brisk clip you’d be used to, this deficiency just seems strange. A very bizarre oversight and a poor place to cut costs, especially when you go to the effort to have an onboard PAL/NTSC toggle. Although I suppose everything else, from the packaging to the plastic construction, was done as much on the cheap as possible as it stands.

Luckily all cartridges from the old days work, apart from the sound problems, just as you’d remember. I have a selection of slowed-down PAL cartridges ranging from Adventures of Batman & Robin to Jurassic Park and a Japanese NTSC import of Monster World IV and can’t fault the playback of any of them. Can’t vouch for any US games, and can confirm the Master System and 32X adapters – at least the local versions – don’t work. Still, given the unit’s native composite output, it would be the perfect replacement for my verge-of-death Mega Drive II and it’s gigantic power brick if not for its dodgy sound.

Overall I’m still impressed and this experience has made me want to try out this company’s range of other Sega products. In a vain attempt to recreate some of the gaming magic of yore, no doubt.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iPhone?

So in my last piece of Mortal Kombat news for the minute, apparently Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is coming to iOS with Street Fighter IV-esque controls, 11 fighters and the rumour of Goro and Shao Kahn as bosses. Sounds good, but if they DLC-ed it up to the Mortal Kombat Trilogy character count that’d be even better.

Let’s hope it plays half-decently when it comes out, apparently before Christmas.

UPDATE: Here are some screenshots and, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t those look like 3D models and not the digital still sprites used in the original UMK3? Why would they bother going and remodelling everything instead of just using the original graphics? Surely modern iOS devices could handle it…


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