It seems like an age ago that I booked it and, looking at the receipt, it was in December 2004, but I just got back from Little Britain Live at the BIC in Bournemouth. Good show overall and very funny – the live version of the Dennis Waterman sketch was very creative and well done, and the finale was excellent – marred slightly by the fact that what seemed like half the audience seemed to forget that it’s generally common courtesy not to use flash photography in a dark auditorium whenever anything even remotely interesting happened. Not even mentioning the fact that you don’t need a flash when you’re taking photos of a well-lit stage.
There were a couple of moments of audience participation which were among the funniest parts: washed up children’s TV presenter Des Kaye bringing two men on stage to play “hide the sausage” (I’ll leave it to your imagination), and when the man plucked from the audience for the Fat Fighters sketch turned out to be blind drunk and barely able to stand up.
The format was quite clever, as most of the background with the exception of key props were projected onto the cinema screen at the back of the stage, which provided new clips in between on-stage sketches and also some pretty elaborate scene changes, all to the usual surreal Tom Baker commentary. All allowing some impressively quick costume changes which were all the more impressive when you see some of the stuff that Matt Lucas had to squeeze into.
Overall worth seeing if you’re a fan of the show (which I am), but if you don’t like it you probably won’t be converted.
I’m sure every UK PSP owner has heard the news that although the game was due today, it’s not hitting shops a week later on 7th November, so I won’t dawdle on it beyond to say that MCV is reporting that it might not even meet that date, being used as a spoiler for the Game Boy Micro and possibly even the Xbox 360 launches. Apparently the debacle over import PSPs didn’t teach them anything, because most import shops in the UK have them already and I know of one that sold twelve copies today and has several orders for tomorrow’s batch. Region free games, FTW!
Anyway, I have the game in my hands right now. I’ve only had the chance to play for an hour or so but although it’s not a completely faithful conversion that suffers from the technical limitations of the PSP in some ways (the controls aren’t ideal, for example, and the audio sounds very compressed) it’s still a phenomenal achievement to have crammed it so well into a handheld. Liberty City has always been my favourite so a return to it with an all-new storyline and missions, as well as the minor changes that occured between 1998 and 2001 in the game world, means that it’s worth returning to. There are even little graphical effects that weren’t in GTA3 on the PS2, like how your lights reflect on wet asphalt.
I had a quick blast on multiplayer which seemed quite cool, but the game doesn’t seem designed for that style of play. I’d imagine it could be much better with a bigger group of players and would certainly make a great game if it were put online on a home console that could handle much bigger numbers of simultaneous players. The series has always been fun to just thrash around in so one would think that it would transfer well to a multiplayer environment.
Overall, definitely worth buying. If you’re in the UK and not inclined to wait, ordering from the excellent Video Games Plus with priority shipping should get it to you early for about the same as the UK price (£39.99).
Edge issue 156 is out today and, as usual, any descerning gamer should pick up a copy. One of the more interesting features is an excellent interview with the always-interesting Simon Pegg (currently an avid player of Half-Life 2 multiplayer) along with a group of other gaming comedy writers, but perhaps most interestingly a free Tokyo Game Show DVD. If you’re one of the types who picks up magazines based solely on the freebie (I’m not, but whatever) you should go for it.
The show floor footage does a good job of making it look bigger than it actually was and, alas, I sadly (for narcissistic old me, at least) was nowhere to be found in there. They showed a few things that I didn’t even get to see as well, like what happens at the end of the day and Taito’s cool looking Exit on PSP.
What’ll be of more interest for most people is the short feature on a gamer’s view of Tokyo, with an obvious bias towards Akihabara. In fact, it doesn’t show anywhere outside Akihabara even though some of the most interesting games shops we found were in Shibuya and Shinjuku, but I still found it to be a nice little nostalgic look at Electric Town. It could have been a more extensive look but then again you could easily fill a DVD with all the games stuff you find in Tokyo.
Edge is usually worth a buy but this definitely sweetens the deal this month. The Pegg and Revolution features are good and the usual stuff is there, so check it out.
I can’t think of a more apt way to describe Shadow of the Colossus than the term, “spiritual successor”. It’s not a sequel to Ico – there are no recurring characters, none of the same environments (it could be set in the same world though, I suppose), and any similarities are simply in themes and the overall aesthetic. The initial opening mentions that the strange girl that you must fight to save was sacrificed which could be seen as thematically similar to leaving the outcast boy in Ico to die, and they share the same ethereal tranquility, but the similarities don’t go far beyond that.
The premise of the game is intriguing – a high concept fantasy adventure in which levels, puzzles, and enemies are one and the same. In order to save the girl who you’ve brought to an unexplained temple in the middle of a deserted land you must hunt down and kill the sixteen colossi, giant creatures that aren’t necessarily aggressive but still require you to find a way to climb to their glowing weakpoints and deliver the killing blow. When all sixteen are dead and their effigies destroyed the girl might be revived…but at a price. The story is very much secondary to the process of getting there, with very little exposition between the intro and the last few chapters.
It’s the presentation of the game which has the power to really blow you away. This game has to be pushing the PS2 to its absolute limits when you see the size and scale of the world and the colossi, and there is almost no loading beyond the brief initial one when you boot it up which is another impressive achievement when you consider how long you’re left sitting there at a loading screen when you play other seamless games like GTA. However, it often seems to be pushing the PS2 beyond its limits just as much, since the framerate is very inconsistent. Never so bad that it impacts on the gameplay, but I doubt that it even reaches 30fps most of the time. Sound is similarly good with no music outside the boss fights, but when it does come on it creates a suitably epic and tense feel to the boss fights. This is probably going to be a soundtrack that I’ll be buying at the Japanese release.
The game isn’t without flaws – the camera can be more of a threat than even the biggest colossus, for example – but this is certainly something that can be described as an experience, and one that you should try. Make it a bigger hit than Ico and give them the rewards that they deserve for their sterling work.
If you’re a lapsed Warcraft player who hasn’t logged on for a while you might want to get online now and check out the Hallow’s End (Halloween to anyone else) celebrations that started a few days back. I’m probably over-excited about it because it’s my first world event as I’m a recent convert to the fold, but it’s amusing to confuse new players by giving them pirate, ninja, or other costumes.
As well as having pumpkin decorations and hanging ghost effigies in the middle of all the towns and settlements, you can go apple bobbing for health-restoring apples, and best of all you can go up to any innkeeper and trick or treat them – most of the time you’ll get a treat bag with something cool in them, but other times you’ll get tricked:
That’s the only time it happened to me but I was turned from a hulking tauren warrior into that emasculated little demon thing that couldn’t attack or anything. Until I turned back I did the only thing that could be done – ran into the middle of a raid and farted on everyone. Treat bags give you food items like candy bars to restore you health, but you can also get Halloween masks (I’m a tauren but somehow still ended up with a tauren mask) and the best things: wands that let you give other players random costumes. They range from the aforementioned ninja and pirate costumes to bats and weird, disembodied spirits.
It’s not going to be long until the Christmas celebrations start (American players would have seen it last year but this is the first one that most European players will experience) so I’m looking forward to that now. This game is awesome, yet also frightening when I found out about the /played command which shows how long you’ve played. It was one day and six hours when I checked several days ago and I’ve been scared to look since, and I’m only level 17.
In a potentially exciting announcement, the BBC are going to be producing a video games show called videoGaiden. Any excitement about this news may be tapered off because of the fact that the percentage of video game TV shows that turn out to be crap is about the only thing that rivals the percentage of video game movies that turn out crap, but the ace up the sleeve of this one is that it’s being developed by the team behind Consolevania. It’s only in ten-minute episodes and it’s only being shown terrestrially in Scotland, but it’s a start.
It’s a deal that’s been in the pipeline for some time, with them telling Boomtown a while back that they already get more viewers than some televised shows that they produce already. I don’t think showing it only in Scotland (five million possible viewers, but only if every person in Scotland was to watch it) is the way to reproduce that success, but hopefully it will be made available throughout the UK and online.
Hopefully by giving some funny blokes with a passion for games can turn the gaming TV genre around and make it a hit like GamesMaster was in the day. God knows we need something to compensate for the horror of Gamezville and the non-event (although I’ll admit to enjoying it) that was When Games Attack.