Not The E3 Diary – Part 1
A fair few people will undoubtedly be having fun at E3 this year. I’m not one of them. Bitter? I prefer sweetly sour, after all, it was my choice. It wasn’t so much that much of the good stuff is recycled from last year’s bloody expo – Hitman/Tomb Raider/etc. – but that our three month old science experiment is too young to be palmed off on eager grandparents just yet… not without a certain measure of guilt and fear… fear that she may fall victim to their mainstream desire and be returned resembling a piece of candy-floss.
So I threw myself on the GL sword (not the meaty variety) and opted to stay behind and take on the task of editing and site-keeping. Last year I kept what could loosely be described as a diary. This year… well, you know what… fuck it, I shall do the same. So welcome to my ‘Not the E3 Diary’.
Warning: May contain nothing about E3.
Day something… I woke up at shite o’clock in the morning as Mark leaped up to get ready for his cab to the airport. Then I cheerily waved him goodbye and returned to my cosy, now more spacious bed. Score. Me – 1, E3 – 0. I knew there was a substantial upside to this ‘staying behind’ thing. While the GL posse dined on powdered egg and transparent bacon in-flight, I was tucking in to a healthy breakfast of Monster Munch, Cocoa Pops, and hot, non-shite tea (Darjeeling, you airplane tea supping proles).
Awake. While everyone else risked their gear at the black hole known only as Heathrow, Terminal 5, I admired my own bag hanging safely in the kitchen before deciding on a course of action for the week. Obviously something gaming related… some reviews perhaps? Problem is that I have nothing to really review, at least nothing that I won’t get stuck on for days, rending its inclusion in this diary useless.
I tell myself I’ll think of something, but in the meantime, I felt like jazzing up the regular GL scoring system. Something… interesting. Something… important. Something… stylish, devilish, and the ideal measure of awesome. I settled on Tim Curry. I give you the Curry scoring system:
Anything reviewed will be given a score of however many Tim Currys out of ten. Ten being the ultimate score. Awesome things may well be awarded the Golden Tim award. Please note, however, that the image will not be gold, due to my general laziness when it comes to Photoshop filters. And so my first day was so very riveting that I slept through most of it. The following day, I fired up my Xbox, nearly threw my usual fit at the odious dashboard with its advertising (that I pay a nice Gold subscription for, obviously) and the fact that games appear to have been relegated to a dim and distant tab. Oh, and I can’t find anything. I vomited hate and carrots at it and turned it off in disgust. My laptop was all the way over there, so I needed something else to do. Bored, I decided to review Tania’s lunch. The same lunch she has… every. Single. Day.
Title: Tania’s Lunch
Genre: Nutrition (allegedly)
Release date: Five minutes if that fucking stuff ever got anywhere near my finicky digestive system.
It’s that time of year again and the developer returns to their Scottish headquarters, bringing with them some all-too-familiar fare. Unwilling or unable to change the formula, this is the same tired offering that is all too frequently presented. What can loosely be described as a ‘sandwich’, this squashed mound of produce disappoints on so many levels. Visually, little has changed in the series, with the pasty white bread presenting a deceptive semblance of class with the crusts delicately removed. However, upon closer inspection, the edges lack anti-aliasing and that is merely the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended… no vegetation was involved in this lunch).
The bland layers continue, with grey filler meat offering little of real substance, while the bizarre inclusion of a potato waffle in the middle of the whole thing goes beyond surreal to convey a sense of mere lip-service to nutrition. This failed homage to one of the key food groups isn’t the biggest issue, however. The smell alone is positively stomach churning. The heady combination of bread, unidentified meat, cheese, and waffle is an overwhelming assault on the nostrils, and while this element of Lunch can be avoided if the kitchen is vacated for half an hour, it remains a sticking point.
This microwaved mess of layered pap has very few redeeming features, I’m sorry to say. While the average gamer may well be used to such fare, this odd offering combines some of the dodgier elements of the medium and produces a dish that, while not uninspired (the waffle was an interesting touch), ultimately assaults the senses in an odorous fashion. A few attempts at a decent presentation can just about raise the profile of Tania’s Lunch, as can the garnish of the excellent salt ‘n’ vinegar square crisps side-plate, but on the whole it remains a rather drab release.
Bored of staring in horror at Tania’s food, I browsed a few news sites in search of anything interesting that may have happened at the various conferences. I scanned the headlines about Microsoft. My thoughts strayed from frustration, to anger, to overall apathy. As mentioned in Ed’s rather spiffy Microsoft E3 piece, I wasn’t impressed by the direction that Microsoft are going. I feel pretty isolated and let down by the whole ‘Xbox becoming an entertainment hub’ thing, actually.
For years it was the only decent middle ground between Sony’s technical fanboy magnet and Nintendo’s family oriented, casual piece of white childish last-gen crap. It was a console for gamers. Nothing more or less. Now I’m lucky if I can find out how to install my games or even find my achievement panels. I have a PC for browsing and various music devices for that crap… I want a games console. It was nice while it lasted. It had a good innings, as they say, but I think that I have now packed my gamepad into a knotted red and white spotted handkerchief and set off for good along the road back to full time PC gaming.
Oh, I’ll visit every now and again… if Alan Wake 2 and Mirror’s Edge 2 ever get released (and don’t make the PC for a while)… and I imagine there are still exclusives that I’ll dabble in, but my heart is not really in the system as much any more. The PC is graphically superior, has almost all of the same titles and so much more, and it was always my system of choice, many moons ago. You can almost hear it sniggering as I sidle back in the door and sit sheepishly down while it makes the tea and tries not to say ‘I told you so’. I’m sure my first game-save losing blue screen, however, will put paid to this romanticising and have me running back to the Xbox for a while. Either that or a really shiny, impressive new piece of hardware could make me have another crisis of faith.
I finished snorting at the Smartglass and Kinect stuff, switched off the PC, and decided that I fancied something sweet. I deliberately didn’t raid Greggs for one of those awesome Aquafresh doughnuts (the fresh cream ones with the jammy stripe) so that I would be forced to make use of the cupboard full of baking ingredients before the mice finally eat them. Brownies ahoy. Maybe. Here’s the foolproof step-by-step guide that you will need in order to make your own…
Step 1 – Give recipe a cursory glance. Decide you don’t really need it.
Step 2 – Crack open Chardonnay and pour into favourite KitKat mug (free with Easter Egg). Consume.
Step 3 – Eat majority of chocolate chips.
Step 4 – Bung remaining ingredients into mixing bowl.
Step 5 - Ignore egg-shell fragments, these will add ‘texture’.
Step 6 – Realise forgot to sieve flour. Tell self it will be fine.
Step 7 – Mix for five seconds and then get bored.
Step 8 – Wonder if Agent 47 has ever had sex.
Step 9 – Wonder if Mario ever has to get his Kart serviced and if, when he goes to collect it, his mechanics tell him that his Kart is in another garage.
Step 10 – Wonder if Pikmin bite.
Step 11 – Chuck mix in tin, chuck tin in oven, wander off.
Step 12 – Get massively distracted and forget for fifty minutes. Panic. Remove.
Step 12 – Done. Congratulate self.
After this breath-taking display of culinary expertise I decided to switch on the Xbox and sign The Kid up to Xbox Live. Start young. Tania questioned the point in this.
T: “She’s three months old.”
T: “She can’t even hold a game-pad.”
Me: “Can. Well… she can puke on it. If it was the WiiMote I wouldn’t blame her, but we don’t allow that filth in the house.”
T: “What is it then?”
Me: “A Wii?”
T: “No… her gamertag.”
Me: “Not telling you, you might steal it.”
T: “Fucking pad is bigger than her hand. What’s she going to do FFS?!”
I did the only thing one can do with a younger sibling. I ignored her. Forty minutes of infuriating dicking about and eventual lying about The Kid’s age in order to circumnavigate Xbox wankiness and refusal to accept my password for ‘Parental Control’ and The Kid now has a gamertag. I laughed at her n00b gamerscore of zero and she instantly turned purple and burst into tears #jokefail.
After editing and imaging up some of the E3 diaries and previews, I took a break and decided that, rather than do something sensible like play a new game, I would replay the first game I ever completed for the Xbox360 – Hitman: Blood Money. With the release of the massively hyped Hitman: Absolution later this year, I had (and still have) a sudden hankering to sink back into the world of gaming’s silent assassin for some stealthy ultraviolence.
First, I did what any self-respecting gamer should do. I read the manual. Even though this is a game I played to completion no less than five times. Boot that sucker up and let’s… what? Odin fuck my tits… 60hz what? It won’t run on PAL 50hz, whatever that means. I had a nasty distant memory of this nonsense before. If it was a ball-ache then, it was positively infuriating now. Where was this nugget of info stored? In tiny, tiny print at the very back of the manual. Yes, if you want people to play your game, what better location to stick a pertinent piece of technical information. It was useless anyway as my Xbox settings don’t include the option to change it.
Thankfully, Google came to the rescue and I had to abandon my HDMI cable for a weird one with a TV switcher and about a million coloured nuggets hanging from the opposite end. I swiveled the TV around and located what I assumed were the right ports, and plugged in half the cables. Nothing happened. I swiveled the TV back round, catapulting the centre speaker off the TV unit and onto the TViX media drive sitting maliciously below it, with intent to get damaged. Fuuuuuck. Wondering what outrageous lie I would tell Mark to explain its breakage, I picked everything up. Undamaged. Relief flooded my icy veins. I swore viciously about nothing being fucking simple and that ‘this level of dicking about is usually reserved for trying to get PC games to run’.
My first thought on finally getting into the game was “I remember the graphics being a little better than this.” Still, it all swiftly came back to me and I romped through the tutorial level until I accidentally poisoned someone rather than pushing them out of a window and the whole thing swiftly fell apart. Shots were fired. Mainly by me. And lo, my stealthy cover shriveled away like a penis on ice. This was on the Rookie setting. Damn it. I have much work to do until I become the Silent Assassin that I once was. This shall be my mission. E3, who needs ya.
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