Monday, 12 December 2011

Shit that L.A. Noire does

Just a few screen shots that I caught while playing through L.A. Noire that were quite funny.

That's some toe strength to balance like that!

Power slid into a post box and managed to beach the car on it.

Crashed into a billboard and it seemed to glue it's self inside the car.

This one was pretty amazing. While looking for all cars in the game (for the auto fanatic achievement) I got out of the brown car on the left to enter the one in the center of the screen and the blue car decided just just drive (literally) into it.

Hot Rod! This car was waiting at the lights in a bit of an odd position.


And finally... Poor Roy. His animation froze while getting into the car and he would't move until I drove at him at speed enough to shock him back into life.

Friday, 18 November 2011

GRID Review

I've been playing GRID for about 2 weeks now after purchasing it in the Midweek Madness offer on Steam. An absolute bargain if you ask me at only £2.74 at the time. I've seen the game a few times in the Codemasters racing pack on Steam and considered it at full price, but I don't think i would have regretted paying full price for it.

Given that the game is now just over 3 years old, and the price tag, I thought the game would come with slightly underwhelming or out-dated graphics, but that was not the case. Playing mostly on my machine at work (with a Xeon W3550, some 12GB of RAM and a GTX 460 SE) the graphics have been one of the stand out achievements of the game. The tracks and surrounding environments look great. Car models are detailed and include high level of damage modelling, which goes way beyond what I've seen in either console's flagship racing titles.

There are not a massive choice of tracks to race on, at only 15, but the selection that Codemasters made was exceptional. Time and time again I've played the same tracks on other racing games such as Gran Turismo and Forza, but I was delighted to see such tracks as Donnington Park, and been a big F1 fan, it was also exciting to finally race around Istanbul Park and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. (OK, yes, this is now DLC for GT5, but it is paid for, and it costs more than I paid for the full GRID game!!!) The track selection also has a few city courses which nicely mixed up the race environments.

One thing that has kind of bugged me is that you often find yourself racing in a different car each race, so it is quite hard to learn how best to drive a specific car. This is a side effect of the fact that the game offers several race types and tries to keep you interested in them all as you progress through the career.

+ Looks brilliant
+ Great tracks to race on
- No weather effects
- Lack of consistency between races

All in all, one of the best racing games I've played and will remember it for some time.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

... with support from Fools Gold.

Good choice of support act for RHCP (at least better than "Chicks On Crack" back in 2006 during the Stadium Arcadium tour), bringing to the stage a selection of instruments that I've not seen since back in primary school! Very chilled, but also energetic music keeping the 90's sound of REM alive. A good listen for a Sunday afternoon no doubt.

Ok, on to the main event.

I wasn't mega-hyped in the run up to this gig, maybe because I wasn't really impressed with the new album (don't get me wrong, I still enjoy listening to it), but man had I forgot the energy and vibe you get at a Chili's gig.

The set list was amazing. A mix of songs spanning right back to Me And My Friends from 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, right up to the opening song from the latest album, Monarchy Of Roses, and of course, all the classics in between (Otherside, Give It A Away, Can't Stop and Californication)

Once again, an impressive stage design. Crazy lighting, guys hanging from support beams with spot lights and screens with the ability to split into super-sized strip screens which were used to great effect to add depth to the performance.

Otherside and Californication were highlights of the stage design, creating the stand out moments in the set for me. What was showing on the screens was not exactly related to the songs, but the design of the visuals was amazing.

Only thing I didn't enjoy was, unfortunately, Josh's backing vocals. He's managed to step up well to John's position and the on-stage chemistry with the rest of the band is defiantly there. The same jams with Flea and Chad are still there, which staged the finale of the set, but I just don't like Josh's vocal style compared to John's.

Rest of my good pictures here.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Welcome (finally!)

Ok, so I've been contemplating starting a blog for some time, but never got around to it and recently I've started to miss writing (or typing at least) since I finished uni and I'm not writing reports 17 hours a day.

I'm mainly going to focus on video game reviews, so that (when it is complete) I can link up to my portfolio. I'm learning about 3D modelling quite alot at the moment, so my main focus will be on that in the games that I look at, but I'll be doing some other bits no doubt around the music and gadgets that I love.

So, let's get going...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Gears Of War 3 Review

One of the first things I came across in the game while having a rummage through the menus was a short video recapping the events of the previous two games in the trilogy. Kind of like the "Previously On..." clips you get at the start of many TV show (although this especially reminded me of the intros from Lost). As this is the first time I have played a game from the Gears series, this was a really nice feature, although it may not be so useful for the hardcore fan of the series.

Starting out in the game in the first level it was nice to see animations other than just walk cycles. One example was when Marcus steps through a doorway, but stopped to step over the higher block in the center, rather than straight through or over it. Further into the game this type of animation was continued, but was used sparsely and during the slower parts of the game where you are just getting to the next story advancement. This was effective because they don't get in the way by slowing you down, but keep the flow of the game interesting.

The level environments are continuously rich in detail (although I did spot some low resolution textures along the way). A nice touch I came across was some destructible props which made it easier to shoot enemies, and it is also possible to interact with certain elements of the environment. An example I found was a button which when pressed dropped some creates into the floor which enemies were taking cover behind. However, these can also sometimes get in the way, but in a positive way when looking at the design of levels. I was trying to shoot an enemy higher up than me but a crane hook was in the middle of my field of view so a few of my shots were blocked.

The active reload system where hitting the reload button, then quickly hitting it again in the given range makes it quicker to reload your weapon which can save time at critical time, such as when multiple enemies are trying to shoot you down. Imagine the number of times you reload in an shooter? It just makes sense to have this! Although on the flip side this can have a downside. If you suddenly realise the you need to reload, but the reload sequence has just started, you hit the reload button and as you do the active reload hits early causing a longer reload.

Collectibles in games are commonplace now, but in Gears it actually feels like there is purpose to collecting them (other than for the achievement). For example, the 5th collectible of the game. It's a journal entry speaking of how Lambents "go down quick, but there's so many of them that we're burning through ammo like toilet paper at a chili festival". I really enjoyed this. Not only does it add to the game by progressing the story a little, but shows that the game also has a fun side, and there can still be some humor found in all the shit going on around.

A great guide I used for finding all of the collecatables: 

Given that the game is so strongly based around a quite complex story line, the facial animations are a bit of a letdown. The lip sync is really not convincing and words don't seem to match up to what is said. During cut scenes between the continuation of the main story line you keep getting little bits to the back stories of the characters which is nice and keeps you interesting in what is going on outside of the main story.

After finally completing the main story campaign in a little under 10 hours on Normal, I would defiantly recommend this game to somebody that has not played it yet and enjoys a good shooter. The final battle was a great conclusion to the story, although at one point I thought I was going to be massively disappointed with the way you take her down. I really enjoyed fighting system (especially taking a chainsaw to an enemies face), the slightly slower pace of movement giving the characters a feeling of the weight that they are carrying in armor  and the whole game in general.