Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh you know what is not cool? Lazy cliffhanger endings. Hello Homeland and your bomb didn’t detenoate bullshit; Game of Thrones’ two and a half seasons of nothing ever fuxxing resolves. It’s such a lame device used it in horror all the time: the tension builds and builds until the reveal of what the baddie/evil is, and then you’re like hmmmm acto, this is the same kind of bullshit again and again.
The Returned is the same — eight episodes of mmmmm this is intriguing, where is this going, the slow build and you’re dying for the pay off and then the disappointment as an extra serving of weaksauce is ladled on the final scene leaving us hanging until season two. Wtf lazy lazy bastids.
The execs obviously want to keep this going but why not employ the writers, producers and crew on a new project/story, even if you can’t turn it around as quick.
The second season will never be as dramatic as the first because it loses the novelty; the slow pace forgiven because the story is original and the premise interesting. It’ll be very difficult to maintain this again — plus the town/dam scenario is played out so they have a problem of where to set it and what the anchor will be.
Better to have just wrapped up the story and gone out on a one season high then drag it out to inevitable dilution — again Homeland is the most recent striking example of this. Ho hum… shame.
Halfway through Despicable Me 2, our hero Gru ends up on a date with a bimbo, Shannon. She gets drugged by the hero’s eventual love interest, Lucy who says, “I guess we should take her home.” They then take her slack body out, make her wave to a cop that she’s ok, and stick her on the roof of their car trussed up face down ass up for the ride home.
Then when they get home, they brake hard and she plummets forward into another car and ends up legs akimbo upside down. Lucy then says she’s used the drug on a few dates and in the background Shannon is in the downward dog position.
Pretty odd Easter Egg and certainly flew over all the kids in the theatre. Pretty out there even for the long history of adult references in animation.
Please don’t read this unless you’ve seen Man of Steel.
Jesus Christ Superstarman
Superman is almost an impossible story to tell and I’m not quite sure why people keep trying. He can’t be harmed and his one weakness is laughable. At least the film got it right by leaving out all mentions of Kryptonite, but then how do you keep the tension up? In many other stories, you’d simply harm the ones that the hero cares about but Superman has so few canonical characters that none of them can be sacrificed without severely impacting the story. Martha and Lois aren’t going anywhere, so then you’re left with only one other option – saving humanity.
This is where the film got a little weird for me. Russell Crowe spends quite a lot of time telling Supe to be some kind of benevolent despot cum Jesus figure that can show humanity the way and align the best of two cultures. Thing is Krypton is depicted as some oddly North Korean like warrior expansionist society which Crowe seems to promote minus genocide – aligning cultures would essentially mean Supe fuxxing his way through three billion ladies.
There were also clear nods to faith – a poorly scripted church advice scene, Supe turning the other cheek on numerous occasions and also helping those that wronged him. All of which is cool and all, but Guardian Angel stories are lame when TV series, more so in films. The final Matrix, for all its faults, got the supreme being right – the love story with Trinity, her death spurring him on; Django and Kill Bill also got the revenge plot spot-on. The issue with Man of Steel is its lack of tension.
Cookie-cutter bad guy
The final battle scene could seemingly have gone on forever, the two continually smashing one another into buildings ad infinitum. While Zod’s raison d’ être was great, it unfortunately left him utterly one-dimensional. A better construct would have been for Zod and Supe to argue out their ideologies and/or at least set up a Mexican stand-off. The one little bit of tension with Zod’s laser beams does beg the questions why those few people matter when the destruction before would have surely killed thousands? The neck snap was also a strange way to end, even if Supe’s ensuing realisation of isolation was well portrayed.
The film did get a lot right and the origin story was well handled especially for audiences that had lived through the Christopher Reeve original and Lois & Clark – take note The Amazing Spiderman. Other great plot choices were the complete elimination of the Clark/Supe reporter stupidity, the omission of Lex and a great dream sequence.
Yet thematically the film was a little cloudy. Aside from the Christian aspects the truly peculiar end scene where Supe knocks out a drone and is asked about whether he has America’s interests at heart is completely redundant. Was this some kind of dig at the drone programme and other civil liberties? Let’s not forget the Wikileaks Julian Assange cameo. All a little surface level and lacking clarity.
So to end, a little about what the film got critically wrong –Lois. I reckon about 90% of the scenes she’s involved in make no sense for her to be there at all. “We want to take her on board our ship” – for no reason at all, that made no sense.
Why is she on the Hercules plane at the end too – “It’s up to you and Hamilton now” – when her job was to insert a key? I presume that her parts were cut down, including her dream sequence (and how Zod got in their heads). It’s a shame Hollywood continues to create female characters that are undeveloped and have pointless storylines and dialogue – that last moment where the female soldier titters at Supe’s hotness, lame.
I guess Zack Synder and Christopher Nolan made the most of what they had, but it does seem that cracking a credible Superman story is yet to be done.
I met someone who told me something and now I can’t get it out of my head. At all. It colours everything I do, everything I think about. When I’m at work, I’m thinking about it, when I’m out with friends, it continues to consume me. I used to think about it, a long time ago, then life got in the way. Being reminded of it now has made it inescapable. Maybe it’s about belonging, maybe it’s about opportunities missed, a sense of inertia or maybe it’s symptomatic of something deeper, frustration of life, getting older, the staid nature of things. Either way, I’m not sure what to do -
And then I read Camus’ Stranger.
“And, on a wide view, I could see that it makes little difference whether one dies at the age of thirty or threescore and ten– since, in either case, other men will continue living, the world will go on as before. Also, whether I died now or forty years hence, this business of dying had to be got through, inevitably.”
So I now have about 40 years to ummm…
“I had lived my life one way and I could just as well lived it another. I had done this and I hadn’t done that. I hadn’t done this thing and I had done another. And so?”
I guess there’s still time to change, find some kind of purpose or resolution. Either way, I’ll never see things as I once did.
There is something amiss about the ending of Dishonored. After being double (double?) crossed, you stealth up to face those that wronged you, ready for a battle, only to find that Havelock has killed everyone involved with the conspiracy. There was no final battle, no last hurrah, nothing. Just resignation from Havelock for his actions echoing the ending of Macbeth.
Before I reached the final room, knowing that the end of the game was near, I skirted up and around the conservatory and found another building. It looked like an area where you would retreat to following the last battle, overwhelmed by loyalist soldiers with only a platform left to make a last stand. I imagined that Corvo and Emily would make some last pact and leap to their fates, with the thought that Samuel might be able to fish them out – would have made a nice last scene, Samuel rowing and reaching into the water.
Anyway, back to the true ending, it really seemed like a missed opportunity. Throughout the game I’d chosen the non-lethal option for each of the targets. At one point when you have to get your gear back, you find Campbell consumed by the plague left to rot in a basement. Here I thought the game was giving me a choice, one last chance to assassinate him. It was at this point, that the game was testing me – did I really want to let this guy live, the originator of Corvo’s current circumstance.
It was here that I thought another twist was afoot. The rather obvious twist that Havelock/Pendleton/Martin would betray you was clear as day from miles out. But here I thought the writers were readying another plot twist that would have made an interesting alternate ending. Since these loyalists were the only ones that told you who to kill, there was no way of confirming Campbell and co.’s guilt. Thus if you let the supposed bad guys live through non-lethal mission completion , at the very end of the game they would all return and assist you in establishing a new régime.
I realise this would mean that Havelock would have had to have enlisted Daud to assassinate the Empress but it could have worked. As it was, the fact that you can simply pick up a key from a table and open a door to end the game was disappointing.
The world the developers created was brilliant, I love the way that each mission had a myriad of solutions, the whole backstory about whaling, the harsh society in which they live, the plague and the authoritarian landscape. The mysticism was also great, though those bizarre husks that shoot acid at you make no sense, and neither really did Granny Rags.
I wonder if we’ll ever find out about whether any alternate endings were developed as the one offered just wasn’t powerful enough. Given you’re this supremely powerful assassin, surely you should be the one to exact vengeance to all involved, not just Havelock. Plus, once you have Emily, you’re still locked on an island where everyone is on the lookout for you – it was like a freeze frame movie ending… dull.
— turns out this is the low chaos ending, and that area mentioned above was in use for the higher versions. guess i’ll have to play through again! —
So this is an idea I’ve had for an age — it involves the redistribution of the nation’s wealth through a weekly lottery. The idea is that each taxpayer is charged £1 per week for the chance to become a millionaire. In the UK, there are about 30 million taxpayers and so each week we could create 30 millionaires — meaning 1,560 millionaies per year.
If you win you drop out of the lottery, if you stop paying tax, you drop out of the lottery.The government pays no money into this fund — but perhaps they could throw in a few incentives — additional prize money, tax rebates if it so desired.
It’s like the national lottery, but the benefit to the government is that it encourages the public to get on the tax system. The benefits to the public are manifest — £1,000,000 is enough to clear all debts, your family’s debts, set yourself up nicely with a great house, car and could well give people the capital needed to start-up their own businesses (given the banks continue to fail s spectacularly at this).
£1,000,000 also isn’t a crazy amount of money. There are many stories of lottery winners that go broke a few years after their win, so this moderate figure will force the winners to think sensibly about what they want to spend it on. And this is the key, they are very likely to spend the money which in turn will help kick-start spending habits again — think about all those kitchens that will be redesigned, those walls that people will knock through and so on… These things all require tradesmen and so we would drive up the revenues of local businesses too.
The chance of winning the lottery is 1 in 14 million — this new version is 30 in 30 million or 1 in a million — chances 14 times greater that the existing model. I’m not sure who we can contact to make this happen, whethers is HMRC, the government or NSandI, but if you do read this, spread the idea far and wide — whichever country you’re from.
Also remember these wise words from George Orwell, “The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made their living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets.”
If nothing else — it will cheer up a few people each week.
I’m not quite sure why anyone is surprised by HMV going into administration. They occupy prime locations in cities throughout the UK with these cavernous shops that are nothing more than warehouses with people wandering about on a lunch hour, after work or when bored on weekends.
There is simply no need at all for such shops these days – not only can everyone buy online, but we’ve also learnt that manually browsing shops for stuff is highly inefficient. We’ll do it at supermarkets, for now, but who has time to do this for CDs, DVDs and games? Coupled with the fact HMV were getting killed by online prices, it’s a wonder they lasted so long.
We just don’t need these shops anymore. Blockbuster also went into administration today and I’ve always been amazed at companies that fail to see the way their own industry is going. They could have captured the streaming market years ago – dealing in commoditized goods when a digital version exists is pointless.
So the death of the high street continues, only it’s obviously not the death of the high street. It’s just evolving as always – shops need to start taking radically reduces premises where customers can purchase in store or order online there and then. You might even go further and use your shop as a gallery with barely anything for sale in-store. Really any shop that is needlessly large is under threat – clothes stores will likely survive as people need to try things on, but book, game and phone stores could quite easily go the same way.
Oh, and that whole stuff about HMV gift vouchers not being valid is shameful.
Okay game developers, it’s time you all came together and agreed upon a unified control system for all console games. Look at the great work the GSMA has done with telefony with all their standards — hell even mobile chargers are all the same now (bar greedy, greedy Apple). We urgently need to do the same with control systems in games.
Deus EX Human Revolution is the perfect example of this. This critically acclaimed game was on sale on PSN for £6.99, an unbeatable price. So off i trot, download it, load it up and die over and over attempting to get to grips with the control layout that is full-on broken.
Aim down sight is on the right analogue and works as a toggle. Call of Duty and Battlefield defined the left shoulder for ADS. It works well. There is no need to ever change it. Sprint on Deus Ex is top left shoulder button and not the standard L3. Why was this decision made? Muscle memory is essential to gamers, the intuitive way we pick up the pad and feel instantly at home with a game is mandatory to continued play. Think about how easy it is for you to use Ryu and Ken, you could play a round right now while reading this, just remembering the cross ups, specials and you’ll quickly notice your fingers dancing out the commands without thinking about them. I’m sure I can learn to play Deus Ex but there are now to sizeable barriers to this — firstly, I died on a checkpoint about 15 times on the way out of the lab at the start (it’s on hard, ok! :P) and secondly the problem is compounded by buttons that I’m not sure I have the willingness to overcome.
Contrast this with Dishonored [sic lol]. What appears to be a rather complex power system is made easily navigable with the ease of the controls. I unlocked the possession skill and on the first try dived into a mouse, snuck past the guards emerged on the other side, ready to assassiante a guard from behind. Everything felt natural and this is solely because the buttons are in the right place.
Deus Ex might not get a replay for a long while.
Remembers the layout of Ocarina of Time, it was perfect and made traversing the 3D environments — still fairly new in 1998 — and tackling boss fights second nature.
When systems go wrong it’s borderline farcical (like Borderlands driving controls). The ultimate proponent of this has to be Metal Gear Solid — everything is just so confusing — if you aim, you can only cancel the shot by doing a mêlée attack. And then there is absolutely everything else — here’s Dara O’Briain running through its myriad of problems.
Of course you can always master it — but why do developers put players through the ordeal in the first place. It’s like the Bloomberg banking terminal — it’s outdated and inefficient, but bankers like being able to say they can use the terminal even though its interface could be revolutionised quickly . We forgive MGS because the rest of it is brilliant and Kojima had the stones to make MGS2utterly post-modern.
When control schemes go wrong, they become more memorable than the plot or any other part of the game. Resident Evil will be forever remembered for its atrocious control system, the impossibility of walking and shooting, swapping weapons without going into a menu, and an aiming mechanism that was like you were steering a tanker or a very large telescope with two hands. It’s so bad, it’s as if they did it on purpose.
Back in the early 2000s, FIFA was an incoherent mess compared to ISS Pro Evolution Soccer. There were early Fifa iterations where the players’ limbs had different skintones — Michael Owen black arms a personal fave. However when they finally got their shit together, one thing that undoutedly helped FIFA attract fans from its great rival was that it wholesale stole the command layout. Everything from how to execute through chipped through-balls to dummies and even sprinting. To retain a modicum of their own IP they simply swapped the shoot and long-ball buttons and labelled Pro Evo’s layout as “Alternate”.
Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 have defined the FPS layout and if you swap from BF3 to CoD you’ll only bring up the scoreboard instead of spotting and knife instead of crouch. These minor tweaks mean swapping between playing both titles is workable if a little clumsy.
So let’s get this done. This is the start of a journey that will set out the standard for games.
The new normal layout for Action Adventure: FPS or 3rd person. Xbox buttons in brackets.
Square (X) — Interact / Cover / Weapon-wheel
Triangle (Y) — Reload
Circle (B) — Confirm menu selection / Crouch / Hold for prone
Cross (A) — Cancel menu / Jump
D-pad — Quick select weapon or skill
Left analogue — Move
Right analogue — Look (ANDWHILEWEAREATITINVERT-YISAUTO-ON, DEALWITHIT) L1 (LB) — Aim down sight / Lock on L2 (LT) — Talent / Special / Other weapon R1 (RB) — Fire R2 (RT) — Grenade L3 — Sprint R3 — Mêlée
Select — Menu
Start — Pause
Contact your favourite developers and let them know we need uniformity and if they are
insistent on their own style, at least let us gamers reassign the buttons.
*This post contains plot spoilers for Homeland Season 2*
You know, I really liked the premise of Homeland; seaon one was great — full of tension, Carrie’s psychosis and Saul’s world weary caught in the middle focus on his job to the utter detriment of his personal life. However the character of Brody never sat well with me. I liked the is-he-isn’t-he plot but there were too many holes in the story — i.e. Tom Walker goes up to a roof to set up a sniper point, the baddie couple below get killed needlessly given the point Walker actually sets up is not overlooking an airfield but in Washington. This was just one of many missteps the show took as it worked around the fact it had been commissioned for a second season. I wrote about the problems with the show in an earlier post stating that there would be “no point tuning in for Season 2.”
Unfortunately that has been proved correct. Brody needed to die at the end of season 1 — Carrie and Saul would have been vindicated in their investigation and the second season could have focused on the hunt for Abu Nazir or other sleeper cells. Instead we now have a plot whose direction has been muddled. Much like 24 that couldn’t maintain its focus on Jack Bauer in subsequent seasons, the producers looked to develop other characters. Kim Bauer’s various misadventures were beyond insane and now we have Brody’s daughter involved in a hit and run. Fortunately the characters in Homeland are more well rounded, his wife Jessica is great, but things are careering out of control — his buddies trying to catch him for Walker’s death is inane.
This was most evident in the episode, A Gettysburg Address, in which an entire CIA squad is shot to bits by a crack team of insurgents dressed in SWAT gear. Even typing that sentence is ridiculous and something that would be only at home on shows such as 24 that are willful in their departure from reality. This is also the point that a lone shark upon the seabed donned a jetpack and jumped from one continent to another, saluting passing 747s. Contrast this episode with the one at the same point in season 1 — the lie detector episode in which Brody cheats the exam and Saul fails. That was a true highpoint of the first season in which the seed of doubt that someone as trustworthy as Saul could be involved. Back to season 2 and Brody is feeding info to a news reporter who is sending attack dogs to take out threats in broad daylight. Nonsense.
The thing is, once a show jumps the shark it loses its credibility and reason for viewers to engage in and believe in the premise. It must be very difficult for the writers to script a second season so quickly on the back of the first, but they should have had the stones to kill off Brody. Unfortunately the popularity of Damien Lewis has meant that he, as the star, will survive until at least the final episode of season 2. This in itself is a problem as it removes the drama and tensions of the dangeros situations he gets in. We know he will be ok because he’s the star — think Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds. It’s a shame, because it was a very intelligent show that has dealt with the issues it addresses in an adult manner. However, that has given way to ratings bait and set pieces ever upping the ante while forgetting completely what made the show great in the first place.
Also they know he is a terrorist and they cut him a deal?! Oh come on!? He’d be in Gitmo for life, not walking about and certainly not a Congressman. Jebus, look up and salute the shark jumping high above your head.
If you’re looking for directions to my house, please follow the words below in the form of a little ditty to be sung in the style of an out of tune washer-woman or Cher Lloyd. May I present to you The Turnpike Lane Anthem:
Get off at Turnpike Lane stayyy-ssshunn
For you’ve reached your destinaaayyy-shhuunnnn
And everything is rosy and deviiiinnne.
Turn left along the Green Lanes
And marvel at the locale
For you’ve truly arrived at Nirvana noooooowwwww
It’s like a Dickensian novel
As everyone lives in a hovel
Poor and happy that is the only way to beeeeeeeeeeeee
And if you’re lucky you might just hear my girlfriend shout…
Fix the damp,
Get a new kitchen
The bathroom needs to gggoooooo
The area is so shit
It looks just like The Wire
And Waitrose is afraid to deliver to our door
And though I try to placate her
There’s just no escaping Turnpike is our hooooommmmmmeeee
Harringay seems like the kind of place you move to when you first hit London, much like in Grand Theft Auto. Everyone is bustling about, there are a huge range of enthicities here and a lot of family run businesses. Everyone is friendly and there are a lot of hard working traders here.
Much of the area was built for servants of rich families in Kensington and it sure feels that way now, as thousands flock to Turnpike Lane/Manor House to work in central London. Still though, can’t shake the thought that everyone would prefer to move to nearby Hornsey or Crouch End — I’ll escape through writing a comic called ‘Harri ‘N’ Gay’ about a young boy and his gay guardian learning to obey the Green Cross Code and other council services. Harringay Council will love it.