Proof That the Daily Mail Ruins Everything

I’ve been mystified about how the current controversy over Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’s comments on the radio have been blown out of all proportion. What started as an admittedly crude but funny joke that was probably always going to provoke an apology somehow escalated into an official comment from the Prime Minister, debate in Parliament, the suspension of the presenters involved, talk of police involvement, and ultimately the resignation of Russell Brand.

But it was when I read this timeline that it became apparent who was responsible: my arch-nemesis, the Daily Mail. As if we needed more proof that it ruins everything…

Daily Mail Nazis

What struck me is that when the controversial call in question was aired there were two complaints out of 400,000 listeners, and those were over the language (exact quote: “He fucked your granddaughter!”). Being that it was late on a Saturday night and also that there’s no fixed watershed for radio anyway, those complaints wouldn’t have been upheld.

But when it was reported in the Mail five days later complaints flood in, eventually reaching 27,000 at the time of writing… eleven days after it was broadcast. Clearly those people didn’t listen to it – the most they could have done is downloaded the podcast episode by choice – so why on earth are they wasting time complaining? Could it be another pile-on when the Mail smells blood in the water after someone on the BBC does something controversial? Hmm…

Daily Mail Aryans

Admittedly there’s the argument about the licence fee and people objecting to ‘their’ money being used on this stuff, but I object to my money being used for assorted BBC shows, for different reasons, to be fair, including Strictly Come Dancing, Last Choir Standing, just about any other talent/singing/music show, Songs of Praise, and more. You know what I do? I don’t watch them and I certainly don’t lodge complaints having not seen them. Crazy, I know.

I heard the prank call in question on the podcast last week and thought it was funny, if possibly a bit tasteless, but you hardly listen to Russell Brand for insightful political discourse, do you? With any luck he’ll find a slot online or on satellite radio where the technological barrier keeps out the busybodies.

Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions

Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4. For some reason, Infinity Ward must have decided to be all postmodern and skip a number in its Call of Duty series. I like to pretend that it’s because COD4 was so awesome that it warranted two increments on the sequel scale, but we of course know that it’s because the third was farmed out by Activision to Treyarch in a pretty average attempt to match IW’s faultless FPS credentials.

Call of Duty: World at War

So it was with trepidation that I once again braved another Eurogamer 403 error beta giveaway to see whether it was third time lucky for Treyarch (the first time being Call of Duty: Big Red One), freed from the pressure of being Call of Duty 5.

So far, probably not. Continue reading Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions


So with less than a week until its release, one of the PS3’s most important games has been recalled and pushed back, all because of one complaint from someone who has guaranteed himself a lifetime of hate mail after he made the post with his PSN ID attached. To be fair it’s not his fault because he just asked for a quick patch, not a full recall, but you only have to browse through that thread for the post-delay posts to see that people inevitably aren’t seeing it that way.

The fact that LBP was recalled after a single post from a Muslim player while Resistance’s complaint from the Church of England garnered only an apology does somewhat play into certain groups’ hands, though. Don’t expect to hear the end of that any time soon.

It does seem like an unnecessary reaction to me. Like the guy asked for, a patch would have sufficed for now, and the song could be properly removed from all future pressings. Everyone’s happy, and the handful who’ll buy it without online access and even notice could, I’m sure, just ask for an exchange for future ‘fixed’ versions. Now there are probably millions of discs that will end up being destroyed – or on eBay at hugely inflated prices – and the marketing effort will be disrupted as people go to check out this new game that they’ve seen the reviews for and it’s not there.

I’m deliberately avoiding the ‘political correctness gone mad’ and ‘I think we all know why this garnered such a reaction nudge-nudge-wink-wink’ rubbish that I’m seeing everywhere because I hate it and it’s a bit Daily Mail, but there’s no reason to ruin it for everyone else because of a song that’s generally available on iTunes, free to listen to on MySpace (‘Tapha Niang’ in the audio player on the right), and apparently won a Grammy.

Religion is a personal choice, as is listening to a pretty beautiful song and playing the game. I’m not going to get political with that whole debate about whether religion deserves to be put on a pedestal – it doesn’t, but I said I’m not debating it ;) – but please, don’t make Everest out of a molehill when the most people want is Ben Nevis.

I Miss Good Trade Shows

The general disappointment at how TGS was pretty much a non-event this year, coupled with the continued decline of E3, the complete absence of a relevant UK show, Nintendo’s increasingly token – at best, often – appearances and reluctance to resurrect Space World, Microsoft having neglected its own shows since X06, and Leipzig’s support among the console holders varying each year got me thinking: will we ever again get a trade show to match the gaming decadence and one-upmanship of E3 in its heyday?

Probably not, I would guess. I miss never being able to visit a ‘proper’ E3, but you can see why things changed. It gave the industry a focal point each year, providing an excuse for a mention on the evening news for one day of the year and to drive ad revenue for the gaming websites, but it cost a tremendous amount of money and, really, did it do anything that the new, low-key events couldn’t?

Nowadays we’re just as likely to see a big announcement happen out of nowhere, or to see a platform holder or even individual publisher hold a small ‘gamers’ day’ type event. Hype it up, invite the specialist press, get it on their front pages, and you have pretty much the same net benefit as the old dog and pony show, right?

I’m not so sure. I think the industry needs a big focal point of an event like Hollywood needs the Oscars and the music industry needs its Christmas number one. Without E3 there’s no one event for all the big announcements and this year’s major releases to start the hype train in advance of the Christmas season. Do we expect a mainstream press that’s ambivalent at best, if not outright dismissive, about gaming to bother with a dozen minor events to show the latest sequel? Of course they won’t.

From the perspective of a gamer I actually like the constant trickle of news that comes from surprise events and developer visits, not to mention the wholesome nuggets of new information that often appear on development blogs, but it doesn’t make it easy to find, either on an individual basis or for the media outlets themselves – how many sources would you have to cover to read every piece of news? E3 got everyone’s attention and everyone expecting the big announcements and unveilings to be there. It was so big and extravagant that the TV news couldn’t help but pay attention, and now we don’t really have anything like that.

It’s a shame, and I don’t know whether or not it’s going to change. There is all kinds of whining after another disappointing show on the GAFs of the world, but most people don’t know or care and I’m sure that, if I was a major publisher, I’d be looking at the few million dollars that I’d just saved in not putting on a light show and losing weeks of development time, and shrugging my shoulders. Money talks…

WipEout HD

You can’t deny that Sony has been worlds ahead of Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of digitally distributing its games this gen. Not only does PSN let me buy stuff in real money – incidentally, that makes me more likely to make an impulse purchase than one that requires me to work out how much I’m actually paying – it’s also let me download ‘proper’, fully featured games. Warhawk, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Siren: Blood Curse, Burnout Paradise, and now WipEout HD – all impossible with Microsoft’s backwards size limit for downloadable games and, for many reasons, impossible on the Wii.

© MrTroubleMaker

Mini-rant aside, WipEout HD is just the kind of thing that we should be getting as downloads. It’s relatively slim on content with only a few tracks from the PSP versions, but it’s 60fps at 1080p (almost), tight and addictive to play, and it’s only £11.99. I defended the pricing of Braid when I posted about it, and while I appreciate that WipEout is less of a commercial risk than a self-funded indie project, this does kind of make it look bad.

WipEout’s been something of a fringe series for a while now, having only two PSP games and a poorly received PS2 iteration since the series’ glory days on the PS1, with most fans still considering WipEout 2097 – the American title, WipEout XL, sounds too much like washing powder for me – to be the high point. It’s a shame because it was one of the titles largely credited with being responsible for the establishment of the PlayStation, and, quite remarkably, it’s managed to remain both cool and futuristic over a decade later. The design work on show here was so far ahead of its time that real life hasn’t managed to catch up yet. That’s pretty much this series and Blade Runner that can boast that. Continue reading WipEout HD