Monday, 28 September 2009

Feudian Slip

I've mentioned before my plans to stay in China with my girlfriend for a while. I'll be going end of October, but my original plan was end of September - pretty much now. I remember when the date slipped due to various reasons, looking at the gaming release schedule and thinking "at least there's some damn fine consolation prizes".

What a great month. Bioshock 2, Dragon Age Origins, Borderlands, Alpha Protocol, Brutal Legend...

Of course, we know what happened next. Bioshock 2? Next year. Dragon Age Origins? November. Borderlands? Last day of October now, after I'd moved forward my travel plans since nothing was coming out October 30th previously. Alpha Protocol? Next year now very probably (although Sega are still baffingly tight-lipped). Brutal Legend? Despite my fervent predictions/hopes/demands, EA aren't releasing it on PC (yet). As my 360 ain't coming with me, I have to turn down a Tim Schafer game. I feel dirty.

Oh, I'll be playing most of them no doubt (unless they require some hideous online activation that won't work in China...), but this constant slipping does really bug me. Especially when it's unique to the PC.

Borderlands has slipped a week, only on PC. What the fuck guys? Surely you knew about all these technical things? And didn't you make the damn game on a PC? It works fine! And if it doesn't, how does just an extra week help?

Assassin's Creed II was never coming October, but it was coming November - now the PC version isn't. It seems like someone at Ubisoft made a mistake when they said it was coming out on PC at the same time as the console versions and they've only just realised. "Sacre bleu (they're French, remember)! Assassaaan's Creed Deux was announced as coming le same date for PC! PC games do not come out at le same time as le consolé, it just isn't Tour De France!"

This just in: Mass Effect 2 delayed on PC. "We were just kidding," explains Bioware. "We never thought anyone would take that announcement seriously. I mean, whoever heard of a PC game releasing at the same time as the console version?"

- Chris Capel

Friday, 11 September 2009

Back to the Front

"You will die, when I say, you will die... BACK TO THE FRONT!"

That's what Metallica once said and, at the moment, I feel like dying. It might certainly be less painful than the sciatica/back trouble I'm currently suffering from. At the moment, it is calm, but who knows when it might rage again. Right on deadline week too, sadly.

Also, I've been severely vexed by the atrocious state of our national health service, which has literally refused to provide me with an appointment to see a doctor because I, not having lived in my new flat for more than two weeks, don't happen to have a bill addressed to me. Funny that. Now I have to get the billpayer/landlord to write me a note before I can be registered.... which then takes 7 sodding working days to "process" and then AND ONLY THEN can I actually begin to even make an appointment! By the time I see a doctor, I won't be in any pain, so they'll probably refuse me a note....

What a fucking system.


Thursday, 10 September 2009

I never could get the hang of Thursdays

If there's one thing I love as much as gaming, it's the works of Douglas Adams. While Last Chance To See is probably my favourite (now being "updated" as a Sunday documentary with Stephen Fry which, sadly, isn't as funny because the team aren't quite as incompetent), no book series has had a big an influence on my writing as his most famous work, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The five books, the two radio series, the TV series, and to a much lesser extent the incredibly hard computer game.

As I said, it's a huge influence on my writing - and so therefore my entire life. Hell, the damn book was even first published the day after my birthday!

Which means that nothing in the world pisses me off quite so much as people fucking with it.
The first screwing with is this latest re-release of the books. First off, why is it still so impossible to find a collection of the five books together? Especially in paperback? It's very easy to find a paperback collection of the first four books, but why would anyone buy that? It's missing the fifth!

The latest re-re-re-re-re-re-release is, once again, all five books separately. Even more stupidly, they don't go with the new book cover which I'll talk about shortly. This is obviously a money issue, but it's still ridiculous.

But some bright spark had the idea of giving away stickers with SciFiNow magazine to customise the books with official new "wacky" artwork that once again misses the point of the books spectacularly.

If you had some stickers themed on Hitchhiker's Guide what would they be? A big '42'? The words 'Don't Panic'? Dolphins? A totally black spaceship? A man with two heads? A man in a dressing gown? A Babel Fish? A snotty green lump-like Vogon? A slogan advertising 'Milliways', 'Stavro-Mueller Beta', or 'The Domain of the King Bar & Grill'? A bored-looking robot?

Here's what I got:

Yes, I couldn't be bothered to scan it in and just took this with my camera.

You'll notice that none of those things I mentioned turned up. Instead we have:

  1. Some generic-looking planets with one attempting to be wacky.
  2. A very generic-looking flying saucer spaceship.
  3. A green drink that I assume is meant to be a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster but looks so generic it could be anything.
  4. A cartoon cow that looks in no way alien.
  5. A sandwich, which is one I could agree with - pity it's so small.
  6. A number 37 raffle ticket, which I also agree with.
  7. A pair of generic-looking sunglasses which I presume are meant to be Zaphod's Peril-sensitive pair but which frankly don't appear cool or imaginative in any way.
  8. A fish bowl with a fish in it. If it had "So Long..." written on it I could accept it. If the fish was a small, yellow, leech-like and very odd Babel Fish instead of a generic goldfish I could accept it. It doesn't and I don't.
  9. An electric guitar. This one puzzles me the most. The rest I can identify at least, as poorly designed as they are, but I can't think of a single guitar in the whole saga. Can some correct me? Maybe they were thinking of Red Dwarf...
  10. This one is the real kicker: an analogue watch. This is the one that proves that whoever designed these stickers didn't give a shit about Hitchhiker's Guide. Anyone who's read the first book, listened to the first radio series, or watched the TV series will know that the whole joke here is about digital watches. Whoever pulled these stickers off Clip Art didn't know their Gargle Blasters from their gold brick to the head.

Oh, and there's the small matter of a new book coming out, not by Douglas Adams, which is being released on my birthday. Gee, thanks world.

- Chris "Pissed at Eoin Colfer and SciFiNow" Capel

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Shh... Alpha Protocol release date, keep it under your hat!

Okay, now what the fuck is up with the release dates this year? First pretty much every game was delayed to "give it the time needed", or in Activision's case in a surprise moment of honesty, "not come out within three months of Call of Duty: Overpriced Warfare 2". While it's good that publishers are trying to thin out the number of games released in the always crowded Christmas period, they're all delayed to the same time next year - meaning the first few months of 2010 is going to be equally crowded!

To be honest, it's not the slipping, it's the ones that just slip out of my grasp that annoy me. I'll be going to China for a good long while on 23rd October, so that's the last possible day for me to buy a game from the shops. So when Dragon Age slipped from that week to just two weeks later, that made me annoyed. Oh, I'll still be able to download it (LEGALLY), but the install's about 20Gb with discs! Borderlands, if you slip too, I'll be ticked off.

But I'm more worried about Alpha Protocol.

Now I've got lots of hopes and worries about this game anyway. Right now the game is down for an 'October' release. That's just a few weeks away and still we don't have a proper release date.

Right now there must be serious arguments in Sega HQ about the game. They've been saying October all year, to slip it now will make them look incompetent and stupid. On the other hand, rushed release dates have spoiled all of Obsidian's other games and will get them some serious marking down if it happens to Alpha Protocol too.

However, there's one day in October that Gamestop is touting (Amazon UK's saying 4th Oct) and that's 27th October. In no way can Sega release an RPG using a Bioware graphics engine and style on that day, for the obvious reason that Dragon Age comes out a week later. No matter how different they are, Bioware are a known quantity for most people. PS3 owners burned by Mass Effect will want to see what the fuss is about, 360 fans of KOTOR and ME will consider it a must-have, and PC owners know Bioware pretty well by now.

So, yeah, don't release Alpha Protocol a week before a Bioware game, Sega. Release it on or before 23rd October, they're the best dates.

- Chris Capel