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Battlefield 1 – A few thoughts

Ok, so there is a new Battlefield game that has been announced. I’m not going to link or embed the new trailer because I’m not a fan of the game thanks to the rather jarring premise.

Battlefield 1 will be set in the First World War.

I’ve written before about how I’m not overly fond of shooters set in this particular period in human history already over at Indie Haven. As wars go this one of the most complicated and morally ambiguous wars ever to take place. A planet-wide cluster fuck of colonial powers (Mostly European) releasing two centuries worth of pent up hate upon one another’s populace. It was a stupid war.

 It was also the one of the most horrific wars imaginable thanks to deplorable ingenuity each side used in trying to kill one another from various ranges. Chemical weapons such as Chlorine and Mustard gas were fired indiscriminately at the opposing sides.  1000 of young men were killed by these weapons without a chance, without a hope of running for their lives.

Battlefield 1 will let the player use chemical weapons.

Maybe one of the reasons I’m so uncomfortable about a first person shooter in the first world war was my upbringing. I’m from England where the first world war is still looked on with horror. We are taught it in schools never to forget it, not just in history classes but in English classes as well. For an entire term, my class was required to study Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum est. For those unfamiliar with it please read on.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Now imagine why I’m uncomfortable about this game.

I’ve said it a thousand times before and I’ll say it again; games can cover almost any topic  and any time period if the makers of the games understand the topic, treat it respectfully and know what is and isn’t appropriate to include.  Ubisoft tried and somewhat succeeded in creating a game about WW1 with Valiant Hearts, a game that explored the human side of the cataclysm (Although the games boss battles were unnecessary)

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Welcome to 2016!

Is it too late already for a welcome to 2016 blog post? It feels like it is but since this is the first chance I’ve had of writing one I’m just going to run with it.

The reason I’ve been a little poor in keeping up the blog work in the last few weeks since Christmas was the fact I became horribly ill with the dreaded man-flu. Since about the 27th I have been feeling truly awful, with no energy to write at all. Now I’m on the mend (At last, seriously, this took a while to get better) I should be starting to pump out more regular content.

So what can you expect from the Played Out blog/Media empire? Well the blog will still be running as normal, bringing you all manner of odd pieces about games that take my fancy to write, this will include but is not limited to: Reviews, previews, opinion pieces and other bits of gamey/nerdy guff.

The Played Out Podcast is also seeing an evolution in the next year, with me taking on regular co-hosts Philp Aldous and Matt Mckeown. Having already done one show with these two I can say I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do next, both of these two are hilarious, insightful and just jolly fine chaps to listen to.

I also have plans to reboot my work on the Youtube channel in the next few weeks. With video editing stuff I have the know how to make something basic, presentable and enjoyable to watch (In my view) I’m no big name youtube star and don’t think I ever will be (I’m not that self-delusional) so really it’s just going to be me doing what I like, when I’m inspired to do so.

Today’s header image is Cpt Phasma because I loved the new Star Wars film and she is my favourite part…. Don’t ask why, I’m not even sure I know myself.

ATTENTION – XMAS SPECIAL PODCAST NOW UP

The Played Out Podcast as you surely know has been bubbling along quietly for the last few months with a very scattered schedule. This has been down to me being Lazy/Busy/Trapped in various dungeons.

One problem I felt I had was that I had to motivate myself and since I have a hard enough time doing that getting out of bed I decided to enlist some fine folks to come join me host the podcast this week. @LegitStreotype and @PAldousMusic are two lovely and hilarious folks who I’ve invited to join me on the podcast on a more permanent basis from next year and I’m really looking forward to whatever we get up to next.

If you want a taste of what we’re bound to cook up why not try the XMAS special we did on Christmas Eve while getting slowly pissed on various alcoholic substances

 

Also Still looking for a better Logo than the one I made in 20 minutes.

Played Out Podcast Episode 4 Out Now

Happy Friday everyone, to start off your weekend with a bang, why not listen to the fourth episode of the Played Out Podcast!

This week features Jose San Mateo as my guest and we get to talk about all manner of games and the culture he grew up playing them in. The last few of my guests have had fairly similar background so it was great to hear how communal gaming became a thing in his youth.

If Soundcloud isn’t your bag then you can subscribe and listen to the podcast on Itunes. At the moment, I’m now in the process of wrangling my next few guests to have on the podcast and I’ve got some great ones in the pipeline so watch this space.

Crohn’s Disease: The Little C

Quick notice: This blog has absolutely nothing to do with video games, movies or just general geekery in any shape or form. Instead, this is going to be a bit of a PSA on Crohn’s disease. If that doesn’t interest you (and I wouldn’t interest me in your shoes then good day and don’t let the X button hit you on the way out)

“Crohn’s Disease is inflammatory bowel disorder that can affect any part of any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus” at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. To me though Crohn’s is something bigger. Crohn’s is the reason I wake up at night in pain, Crohn’s is the reason why I fear going to the toilet, Crohn’s is the reason I shit blood.

As with any condition, Crohn’s affects the sufferers life in a number of different ways. The first is the obvious physiological issues, the lack of energy, loss of appetite and the chronic bowel issues. These make can make everyday life painful and exhausting. The second wave of changes that follow are far more pernicious and troubling, it makes you afraid of a rumbling stomach, of wiping to clean yourself up and awaiting the results of another blood test.

In 2011, I was 17 and an idiot. It was my last year of school and I was ready to leave for the university if I got the grades. It was the time of the sixth form musical and I was to play Mr Sowerberry, a minor role in Oliver! Originally it was just a speaking role but a need to bulk out the show lead producers to add in my song two weeks before opening night, one of those weeks I was due to spend in Germany on a school trip. Opening night came and I was terrified, my stomach was rumbling, I had ten minutes to go to the toilet before I was needed so I ran off. After relieving myself I was calm, ready to give it my all, I only needed to clean myself up.

That was the first time I ever noticed the blood.

There was no pain, no constant drip, only the scarlet infused brown on the tissue to warn me something was up. Suddenly all thoughts of the musical, nerves and my song were gone, replaced by a fear for my life. I can never remember how the show went, I remember the morning after having some young year 7 tell me that his mum thought I was the best bit (Which was bullshit because our Fagin kicked ass).

The next two nights went off without a hitch, no blood in sight. It was an anomaly, a quirk, something that didn’t need to be told to my parents. I was of course wrong.

The following weeks went on like this, a few days of nothing followed by another bloody event. I was losing weight at an alarming rate. To most this would be worrying but as someone who had always been pudgy this was wonderful, at last I was starting to look good. I remember getting a few compliments and started to have some confidence in my appearance. As the weight continued to fall the compliments stopped and the concerned questions began to arise.

It was a surprisingly bright day in April and so I and my friends were playing on the field when I first noticed a thing in my buttock. Maybe I just pulled a muscle or something, I tried not to pay it too much attention. Five days later I couldn’t walk.

I’d developed what’s called a Perianal Abscess: An insulated infection that had developed in the tissue of my buttock and which made my left leg incredibly painful to move. After a visit by a GP I was sent to a hospital, the abscess was drained and I was checked out that same day on a heady mix of painkillers. I was lucky, as unpleasant as the abscess was it finally allowed doctors to find out what was happening to me.

The doctors were certain it was Crohn’s but need to be sure and so I was given a Colonoscopy, which put simply is having a camera on the end of hose pipe slide up my ass to take a cheeky look around. It was unpleasant, but it gave me a name “Crohn’s”. Like some of you reading this, I’d never heard of Crohn’s disease until I was told I had it. First I was afraid, I was petrified (Sorry had to do that) was this a death sentence? was my short life to be cut even shorter at the age of 17?

No, , Crohn’s isn’t a death sentence. But it did alter my life. At 17 here in Britain, I had to do my A-Levels to see if I got the grades to go to my chosen university. This didn’t go well. My revision was foiled by a constant lack of energy and living on some of the most powerful painkillers money can buy (But since we have the NHS it was free, god bless the NHS). For weeks I didn’t attend school, I couldn’t, instead watching four seasons of House and visiting the GP every day for a check up. You see the fun thing about an Abscess is that you can’t seal it shut, it has to heal naturally, this meant I had two assholes, with one that had to be stuffed every day by a nurse (You’re giggling aren’t you?) for a month while it healed. This has left me with a pretty nifty scar on my ass that you can look at if you pay me a quid.

That was 4 years ago and how much has changed. I managed to get into my first choice uni thanks to the baffling lunacy of that places admissions policy, got a decent degree (2:1 in creative writing if you’re interested in why I’m unemployable) and I still live with Crohn’s. During this time I was on a range of medications that made me fat (That and my Panda like laziness), sucker punched my liver but typically made me feel better than worse. For a time, I was off them completely, but now I’m back on them.

You see what inspired me to write this was the pain I’ve been in of late. Since about January of this year I began feeling the old gripes of Crohn’s coming back, I tried to ride it out but that’s not a wise thing to do, so I went to my GP and got dragged up again. The meds don’t work overnight however and every day I wake up thinking “Will this hurt?”. I occasionally see blood in my stool and it frightens me, it never won’t. Sometimes after a meal I’ll think “I shouldn’t have eaten that” and wait close to the toilet in case of emergency.

Crohn’s at it’s worst can rule your life. A healthy person so rarely has to consider where the nearest toilet is in any given situation but with Crohn’s It’s something I always need to be aware of in case of being caught short. I consider myself lucky with how the condition has been with me, I’ve yet to truly have a life threatening issue arise* but some day in the future Crohn’s may open the way for something worse such as Prostate Cancer or another infection of some description.

If you’ve never heard of Crohn’s disease before now I hope you leave this feeling you understand the issue a little better. It’s likely that someone in your life has the condition, one similar or will develop it in the future and so you’ll understand their struggle better and not just call it “A dicky tummy”. For those that do have it and are suffering from it on a daily basis, I’m sorry, but you’re better it and It will get better

P.S Science, I love you and all but could we please get a cure for this? Like now.

*Thanks to modern medicine, 200 years in the past and I would have died at 17, yeesh

Game of Thrones – A Telltale game EP 3

Oi, I’ve gone done a review of the 3rd episode of Game of Thrones, but it’s not here, but on Indie Haven. So go read it. As a reward for clicking you get a lovely picture of Margery Tyrell

Obligatory 100th post celebration!

After last nights flurry of writing and me pressing the publish button on yesterdays post I was met with WordPress telling me I’d done something of note, I’d reached 100 posts on this blog.

This surprised me, the time since starting this blog in June of last year seems to have gone by in such a blur I can barely keep track of where the time has gone. What started as vitriolic rant about my hatred for everything Watch Dogs has mutated into something I’m immensely proud of.

These 8 months haven’t been the best time in my life in the real world, unemployment and various personal issues have made it a difficult time to be me. When I first started writing here it was to take my mind off what was going on in my life, and find some escapism in video games as I had always done.

Writing this blog was also about keeping me writing. For three years at university, writing had been a daily part of my life. I adored my time at university and so loved the writing that came with it. But after leaving, there just seemed to be less to write about, and the only times I was mandated to write was for failed job applications.

In all honesty, I left university without much of a plan for my life. Writing about games is such a over-saturated field that I was unsure I’d ever make a penny from it*. Words are a dime a dozen and when you’ve got the generic voice of middle class white boy the price only sinks further.

Still I keep writing, trying to hone my craft until one day I can look at something I’ve written and not been cripplingly embarrassed by it (That day has still not come). I’d like to wrap up here by giving thanks to a few people, the great folks over at Indie Haven who’ve been a wonderful in helping me to improve my work. Developer Mike Bithell for being awesome and giving me a boost right when I needed it in my life.

But most of all I’d like to thank you dear reader, for taking the time to read my words. For me, finding an audience who are interested in what I have to say has been one of the hardest things to do, i’m so bad self promotion and networking that it’s the very thought of it makes me nervous. Lucky for me then that you found me and for that I thank you.

*Money of course not being the soul reason one should write, but you know, I have to eat

2014 Gaming Post-Mortem: November

I’ll be honest, when I was writing my notes for today’s post-mortem I was horrified, there was a lot to write about. So much it seems as though an entire year of preview events, press hype and community controversy was all building up to this one month. If 2014 was an exercise in tantric sex, then November was when the video game industry just scream “Sod it” before banging away with all it’s might. So time for us to peer into the maelstrom of carnage and consumerism that was November.

far-cry-4-listing-thumb-01-us-13may14

Let’s start with Ubisoft’s output shall we? First they decided to release 2 Assassin’s Creed games at once, Unity and Rogue. Here at Played out we are no strange to the Assassin’s Creed series, having played everyone of the main games in the series, I was gearing myself up to get Unity after the reviews gave it the mandatory 8 out of 10 they always got. But what’s this? It was an unmitigated disaster of a release, with a game that barely worked, patches the size of full games and stale game-play that didn’t have pirates! During all this hoo-ha Rogue went completely ignored, a trend I’ll continue with since I know bugger all about it. However Ubisoft wasn’t done with our wallets yet and so released Far Cry 4. With Far Cry 4 it was clear they knew they found a good thing in the form of Vaas in Far Cry 3 and so tried to desperately recreate the winning formula. With game-play that was near identical to 3’s in almost every way, it merely acted as Far Cry 3.5. I will say though that I did enjoy the character of Pagan Min, he was well scripted and at least had some character in compared to the rest of the game’s cardboard cut out cast. (Seriously all the writers effort must go on Pagan).

Next we have of course the daddy of November releases: Call of Duty: Advance Warfare. After the last few years of slow but steady stagnation in the series it was good to see the game alter the formula some what. It’s been tradition for the last few years for COD to work like this: Modern shooter made by Infinity Ward followed the year after by a slightly experimental game by Treyarch. This year however the newly formed Sledgehammer Games did Advance Warfare, giving the other two a few more years to work on their own ones. The game itself was very popular with critics and gamers alike, the addition of jump packs and cool gadgets gave it something over it’s competitor in the genre. Some were quick to point out the similarities between it and Titanfall, but given how long this game had been in development I’m going to say it was more of a coincidence than anything else.

Dragon_age_3_1

Without a Battlefield game of it’s own to sell, it was looking as if EA would be sitting this month out and let COD get all the bro-gamer shooter dollars. But then they just release one of the best RPGs of living memory and one of my personal favorites of the year Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’ve put about 120 hours into this game, started a 2nd play through and loved every minute of it. It’s one of Biowares best games to date, with some of the best writing I’ve seen in anything. Some of the characters and stories behind them is down right fascinating. I do as an old Origins player have reservations about the games quest system, with far too many dull fetch quests instead of the morally grey ones of the first game in the series. Still a great game that’s well worth your time.

I’m always amazed at the output of Blizzard, not only to they own the most successful MMO ever, they also release great games year on year. As an old WOW player I must say I was tempted by the thought of going back to Azeroth by the new expansion Warlords of Draenor. Alas I didn’t and just played a shit ton of Hearthstone instead. Warlords seemed to be pretty popular with Wow diehards who weren’t as pleased by the fucking Pandas of Pandaria. 

gtav_xbox360tv_1280

Think GTAV made enough money? Well you clearly don’t work at Rockstar who released it for the new-gen consoles with a first person mode just to show they’ve been busy. Having played very little of the original game I was glad for the chance to play it at last. A solid game with good all round mechanics, what made GTAV special for me was the 3 characters. I love bastards, I love watching them, reading them and writing them. Luckily then for me we got some corkers in GTAV. I summed up how I felt about the three protagonists here. GTAV is a world were everyone is horrid, and while it would be awful to live in it, it’s great fun to watch. Issue has been made of how the game represents women, I personally (as white male) found their treatment dull and lazy. Only three women in the main story really do anything and 2 of those is get killed. It would be terrific to see the next GTA actually have a women protagonist. Women can be as despicable and psychotic as any man (See Orange is the new Black or Gone Girl for that) and be great to see that done but a very fine team.

Have I gone on a bit? I feel like I have. So quick rap up by saying you should definitely buy This War of Mine, because no other game actually makes you feel what it is to be trapped in a war zone as effectively as that game. I even have my own video series about it here. Also the Binding of Isaac: Rebirth came out and was great as well, as did Telltales newest release Tales of The Borderlands which makes Borderlands funny (Who knew?)

2014 Gaming Post-Mortem: October

On to the second course of the big release blow out of the year, October had perhaps 2 of what I’d call stand out games to come out, a with a few decent enough titles and one or two complete balls ups for good measure. October also had the golden Joystick Awards, an award ceremony that I don’t think many people actually care about too much. I’ve often found these sort of affairs to be mostly dull shows with a few teaser trailers for games that aren’t out yet.

A recent addition to man award ceremonies of late has been the addition of a “Gaming Personality” Award. Both the golden Joystick awards and Game Awards have a category of this sort, won this year by Pewdiepie and TotalBiscuit. Congratulations of course to both of these two guys for their work and the award, but what does this award mean? I have the slightly cynical outlook that these awards are there really to grab headlines and garner interest from the contestants fan-bases. Both Pewdiepie and TB have huge audiences and these awards were the only ones open to the public to vote for. See the connection? Big audiences get invested in their favorite Youtubers success, they watch the show and get adverts played to them. Everyone wins!

So what about actual games that were released this month? Let’s just get the talk about finely sculpted ass in the room shall we? Yes, it’s Bayonetta 2. A game that is amazing to play but which you’d never play in front of any loved one. Much has been written about Bayonetta as a character and what she represents. There are many good arguments to be made on both sides of the discussion. However, Having never played either of the Bayonetta games i’m going to have to sit this conversation out.

The other big game of October was Aliens: Isolation. A great game for 2 very important reasons. 1. It’s a great take on the venerated franchise that was respectful to the source material. While it did have some issues in terms of having a character who was linked to Ripley in some way to tie it directly the franchise’s movies it wasn’t bad enough to cast a shadow on the game. 2nd and more importantly was that it was a brilliant horror game that proved that triple A can still make good horror games when it wants to. Horror as a genre has taken a back seat for many years in the triple A market for almost no reason. As such the Indie’s plugged that gap with games such as Slender Man and Amnesia the Dark Descent. With the decent success this game received both critically and commercially I would not be surprised to see a revival of sorts of the horror genre among the bigger publishers of the next few years.

borderlands

After we got the breath of fresh air that was Alien we then had to endure the puff of stale shit that came off from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. A game that exists to plug the gap before Gearbox and pump out a proper sequel for the new consoles, as well as to fund the disasters there were both Duke Nukem and Aliens: Coloniel Marines.  Neither Borderlands nor their creator Gearbox are things I have much time for any more. Whilst I did get some enjoyment from the first in the series it’s clear it’s not a series they wish to evovle in any way, and so are happy to regurgitate the same game out ever 2 years. As for Gearbox, they’re business practices over the last few years have been shady at best and it’s honestly not a company whose name I put much stock in. I am interested to see what they come up with Battleborn, but if that game is a failure we all know another Borderlands game will come out to mitigate their loses.

Next we have Civilization: Beyond Earth. A decent enough entry to the CIV series but lacking some of the depth that would have made it a great game. Worth a look maybe after an expansion or two, until then I’d recommend CIV 5, with it’s expansions it’s a far more complex and satisfying game, and the real history setting gives it something the sci-fi of Beyond Earth lacks. We also got Lords of the Fallen which looks like a western rip off of Dark Souls but since I’ve never played it i’m just be a judgmental cad.

In other news we also got two games no one wanted to play in the form of Styx: Master of Shadow and Drive Club. Both were dull as dish water so no real lose there.

2014 Gaming Post-Mortem: September

It’s September and things are starting to look intresting in the gaming world at last. September as a month was filled with 3 rather notable releases, Sims 4, Destiny and Shadow of Mordor. September in terms of releases is where a game are released six or weeks before the real big daddies of the holiday market emerge (A Call of Duty Game). It’s hardly unsurprising then that in this month we got 2 Triple A games with original IPs (Kinda) Sequels are very much the life blood of the triple A industry so having two new games that people haven’t seen before is big deal.

First released this month was the Sims 4. The Sims ever enduring appeal is something that confuses me but which I can kinda understand. Sims is not for the hardcore gamer, it’s a video game equivalent of a dolls house that attracts a decent sized amount of people who buy the new version of the sims and no other games. An Ex-Girlfriend of mine played very few games, playing the odd Sherlock game (Fangirl) but she was obsessed with the Sims. She’d poured hundreds of hours into the virtual community she built up, even making a Sim of me (A Sim I can only assume she tortured after our break up). The point is is that the Sims attracts a market no other game does. It’s a series that could honestly go up against the likes of Call of Duty and neither of them would cannibalize the other’s market share.

Next up we have perhaps one of the most anticipated games of 2014, Destiny. Even 4 months later I still don’t know what to make of Destiny. It’s a first person shooter with MMO esqe leanings, It’s got grinding and raids but it’s console only. After a shaky start Destiny appears to have found it’s footing and an established player base that could last for the next few years. With monthly paid for content updates, Destiny looks to me just about milking the players wallet while having them run on perpetual loot treadmill. Of course other games do this but none so blatant as Destiny.  

Shadow of Mordor: What can say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Nothing really so read my review here and go play Shadow of Mordor (Also I made a photo gallery of my rampage through it)

In terms of Indie releases, we had two major names being released The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Planetary Annihilation. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of those first person exploration games that have been earning some acclaim over the last few years. Praised for being visually stunning and actually having gameplay compared to other one’s in the genre (Looking at you Dear Esther). Planetary Annihilation was rarity among indies in that it was a RTS, a genre that is often overlooked by indie games developers due to the sheer scale and complexity of an RTS. Funded during the Kickstarter boom of 2013 the game is notable for it’s massive scale of the solar system sized maps and the ability to throw a planet into another fucking planet!

A decent month overall for releases that gave us plenty to play with, but this was simply the starter course for the next few months and the delights they would bring.