2008: Year of the game?

Being honest, 2007 was a huge disappointment for me. Games like Assassin's Creed, Super Mario Galaxy, Bioshock, Mass Effect and Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare paled in comparison to everything that came before them, and you'd have to shove the pointy end of a loaded rifle into my rectum and threatened to pull the trigger before I actually played any of them. On the positive side there was Crackdown. And that's it. One great game worth playing, for a whole 365 days, 8 760 hours or 31 556 926 seconds of prime release time. But what about Crysis, I hear you cry (pun intended)? You could launch Crysis and its entire development team into the sun and you'd have to send my testicles along with them before I started caring. But that's a rant for another time.

So I was casually flicking through the latest issue of PSM3 yesterday when I discovered an 18 page extravaganza featuring 157 new games. Think about that for a second. 157 games on PS3 alone means there must be something good in there, right? Right. I noticed a few gems I'd either forgotten about or didn't know about to begin with. For example, The Getaway 3, Two Days to Vegas (new media released recently on Steel Monkeys' official site) and The Outsider (Splinter Cell: Conviction without Sam Fisher).
I'm going to go off on a limb here and spew out every good game I can think of that's coming in 2008, in no real order.
Grand Theft Auto IV, Mercenaries 2, Mirror's Edge, the Half-Life 2 modification NeoTokyo (pigs flying etc), Mafia II, Eight Days, Midnight Club Los Angles, Alan Wake, Red Faction 3, Rage, MGS4, Gran Turismo 5, Haze, Killzone 2, The Club, Frontlines: Fuel of War, Far Cry 2, Battlefield Bad Company, Fallout 3 and Rainbow Six Vegas 2.
And those are just the ones I'm interested in.

There is a little voice in my head screaming at me for writing this because the majority of them are sequels and soulless mush, the likes of which are slowly draining away all originality and creativity from the gaming industry, along with my will to live, but the sheer number of appealing titles has already bound and gagged the little bastard and beaten him until he can't move. I probably won't end up buying more than one or two of these, but it's always good to have choice, and a repeat of last year would have seen me hanging myself in a mental asylum for cases of unusually extreme boredom.

I'm almost a month late, but I'll say it anyway: bring on 2008!


Ground Zero, 13th January

Whelp, it's the 16th and I still haven't got around to regaling you all with tales of my latest airsoft skirmish. That's because sitting around on the two small tongue depressors with a piece of A4 paper stretched over them that I call my arse in front of a computer screen for 364 days of the year, and then venturing out into the wide world for six hours of excruciating physical exercise, apparently leaves you in a state unfit to move comfortably for a couple of days, which includes settling back down into one's natural habitat. My habitat, in this case, being a paint-stained black leather office chair which has an arse groove so perfect you could fill it with Plaster of Paris and sell the results to an anorexic supermodel to use as a mould for the next plastic surgery on her gluteus maximus.
Picture to the right: My 'My Lai' face.

If the following is to be understood, you will need to take in the list below (which is also general knowledge for future posts, so learn it like the words to a song because I'm not going to post it again):
  • My local site is Ground Zero, Hampshire. See link on the right hand side of the page.
  • There are two teams at Ground Zero, Delta (white tags) and Bravo (orange tags). Myself and my team (Delta 1337) always go Delta (obviously), mainly because Bravo are a bunch of unwashed halfwits who wouldn't take their hits if somebody was dangling their nan over a threshing machine. Up until recently, the marshalls haven't really cared about the cheating, at least until Howard had a word with a few of them and got some to go onto Delta team. At Ground Zero it isn't 'who won?', it's 'how badly did Delta loose?'.
  • Howard is the owner of said site, who gives a long, boring speech at the beginning of every game. Those wishing not to offend him will refrain from falling asleep.
  • Neil is the site's gun handyman, the gaps in whose knowledge about airsoft guns are comparable to the size of a Venezuelan transexual's penis.
  • I own three guns, all of them made by Tokyo Marui, or 'TM', who are regarded by most airsofters as the standard on which all airsoft guns should be made. They have flawless internals and will almost never jam or do anything wierd such as strip their gears, which ICS and Classic Army (CA) guns have been known to in the past. The only downside to TM is that the majority of their guns are made from mostly plastic (with a few metal parts). While this may not be an issue to people who are there to actually play the game, realism junkies and sad bastards with too much money to spend prefer CA and ICS. If you actually want to pay an extra £40 (or £100+ for an aftermarket metal body) just to increase the weight and decrease the reliability of your weapon, you are a sad bastard indeed. Having said that, I am a man who prefers realism, but not when it's going to make your rifle sling start to cut through your neck after a few hours of playing.
  • The guns I own are (at present): TM Steyr AUG SR (bricked), TM FR Ordnance MC51 + red dot sight + solid stock, TM XM16E1 (M16 Vietnam style) + CAW M203 grenade launcher, TM Glock 26 Advance, and a KSC Heckler & Koch USP .45.
  • I only have a phone camera at the moment, so the quality will be awful on all of these pictures.
The weather forecast for the 13th in Ringwood was heavy rain all day. Rampage (crazy bastard with two 6-barrel revolving grenade launchers, amongst other scary guns) said on the forums that it wasn't going to rain, and "RampageWeather™ is rarely wrong!". By some miracle, he was right. The weather for the day was cloudy, with a little bit of wind, but a nice temperature (approx 9 degrees, which is good for airsoft).

After arriving and parking in the bog-like field (rain the previous night), myself and squad leader (kinda) Tim (who owns a 512fps L96 sniper, one of the same grenade launchers as Rampage and two chrome-plated Desert Eagles, the crazy sod) idled over to talk to Neil, who doubled as the pick-up point for Zero One orders. I had only bought a spare magazine for my new M16/M203 (having only one previously), but my friend Stuart (AKA Jewbu) had recently saved up to buy a shiny new TM M14, which he seemed to be muchos pleased with. Tim also received his sniper rifle back after some repair work, which consisted of the repair crew at Zero One putting some duct tape inside the buggered trigger mechanism and charging £45 for it, chuckling all the way. You could see where they had been giggling whilst writing the bill. Jewboy also brought along one of his friends, Scott, who I reluctantly lent my MC51 for the day. After some buggering around (during which Tim managed to send my M203 shell to its untimely death) we assembled for Howard's speech as usual and had a nice nap to make up for getting up at 7am. We were informed that nobody had actually volunteered beforehand to be Delta's captain, so Howard shouted for Rampage who assented, apparently oblivious or uncaring as to Delta's reputation as 'the unleadable team'.
Picture to the right: Jewbu, Tim and Scott from left to right, relaxing in the car park at lunch.

A long walk later and we arrived at our designated spawn point, Checkpoint Charlie, where rampage handed out pink sashes (sash holders do their 'dead time' on the spot without having to run to a spawn point to wait. Downside is if Bravo get hold of them they get points), one of which I took, and later lost in what can only be described as a move of unparalleled coma-inducing stupidity on my part. I won't elaborate.

Some confusion later we arrived at Stag Camp, where there was a timer to be switched over to Delta (timers are an objective, you switch it over to your team and hold the position against the enemy, then every half an hour a marshall comes to see who is currently in the base and gives points accordingly), as soon as we could find it. 23 and a half hours later we found the timer and switched it over to Delta, then dived into whichever trenches weren't knee-deep in water and prepared for the attack. 15 minutes and some head-scratching later, shots rang out across the valley over in Firebase Charlie (right next to Checkpoint Charlie, which is essentially just a guard tower). The clueless pillock who leads Bravo had given the wrong orders and they were attacking our base instead of the actual objective. More than half an hour later, and after receiving some points for the timer, Bravo decided attacking the objective might be a good idea, and lurched slowly into motion in what can only be described as a cluster fuck. Our squad, consisting only of 5 or 6 guys at this point, were attacked on all sides from Bravo. I managed to plug about 3 of them using my new baby before all my team mates were killed and I was the last man standing. I slammed my second and only remaining magazine into my M16 as some prick with a support gun sprayed most of the mud from the top of the bunker (which is just a hole in the ground) into my hair, and stood up, ready to unleash hell. Before I even spotted the two bastards shooting at me, some guy came through the bushes on the left-hand side and shouted 'BANG', pointing a Colt 1911 in my face. Not one to reject a bang kill and be shot at point blank in the face anyway, I called the hit and climbed out of the bunker just as no less than 15 Bravo swarmed into Stag, declaring it to be theirs. We'd already got the timer at this point and the objective had moved, so this was entirely pointless, but your typical Bravo has about 5 brain cells, and it simply cannot turn down the prospect of shooting somebody.

Other notable events of the day include four people (myself, Jewbu, Scott and one other guy who joined in on the fun) holding The Village and area surrounding for more than 30 minutes against an attack of 12 Bravos. I managed to get some bald twat with an armalite and a sniper hiding in a bush (although he didn't take his hits even after I threw a rock in his general direction shouting 'GRENADE!') until both myself and Jewbu were hit and the four of us decided to break for lunch. Just as we were leaving, a marshall came through the bushes with the timer we had been waiting for all this fricking time, followed closely by a squad of four drooling morons. We spotted another eight on the way out, including the poorly concealed sniper whom Jewbu used to zero his iron sights on. This was just before I took the picture on the right.
Picture to the right: The random guy who hooked up with us, Jewbu and Scott all posing for my phone camera on the way back from the village.

My last battle tale is one either praising the Tiger Stripe camo I was wearing, or showing how ridiculously stupid Bravo really are. Myself, Jewbu and Scott piled into a hollow bush just outside Stag camp late in the afternoon, after Delta had re-taken it, and chilled out for a bit before Bravo showed up. After some lengthy discussion about where to set up a defensive perimeter around the base, a Bravo popped through a hole in the front of the bush, preceeded by 15 or so BBs that slammed into Jewbu and Scott. The angry Bravo yelled at the pair, accusing them of not taking their hits (irony), until Jewbu declared that the Bravo was in fact a silly twat who apparently didn't hear them shout 'DELTA HIT' at the top of their lungs. I slowly aimed my rifle at the intruder who was on his way out of the bush and sprayed a few rounds into his arse before pulling a smug grin and giggling slightly. He apparently didn't even see me.

Me now being alone in this bush, most of Bravo team were attempting to attack stag from the direction we were supposed to be guarding. I felt a little claustrophobic as most of Bravo team slowly surrounded the bush on all sides, advancing towards the base behind me. I took a few pot shots at ones passing through gaps in the leaves, praying they wouldn't figure out where I was. Most notable of these was a guy who came into the same gap that the dispatcher of my comrades had. Not once, but twice I managed to bang kill him. The second time he brought along a friend who I was glad to accept as a human sacrifice. Another one was a suicidal halfwit who ran past the entrance to the bush and tried to jump behind some sandbags about 5 meters away from me. Before he even hit the ground after the jump, I managed to put about 3 rounds into his neck and head, assisted by the team actually in the base more than 20 meters away. He walked away holding his neck exclaiming 'Christ, it's always the long range ones that hurt the most'. I chuckled a little, knowing that yet another Bravo had failed to spot me in this bush.
I was finally knocked off my killing spree by three friendly Deltas who, seeing we were pushing Bravo back a little, piled into the bush with me. Before long they were merrily popping rounds into advancing Bravos. I was glad of the assistance, until I suddenly realised that they were merely attracting attention to the bush at the exact moment a line of shiny white BBs collided painfully with my legs and groin from the right flank.

I should also mention that I saved Jewbu's life (probably) at one point during the day. We were running after Rampage (who should compete in the fucking Olympics) who was leading us around the back of a Bravo-infested path, when we came across a small pond. No big deal. One, two three, four and five of us jumped over. I turned back just in time to see the last of us, Jewbu, try, and fail to jump over the small hole and fell in up to his knees. He later told me that it was incredibly pretty sticky mud, so I guess he was lucky I was there to pull him out.

Also, apart from being impossible to keep up with, Rampage was an exemplary captain. After this incident with the bog, we encountered stiff Bravo resistance in the back woods. Jewbu was saying that Rampage had gone on ahead and deserted us, but he was wrong. After being pinned down for about 10 minutes by a small squad of Bravos, we heard the 'fweeeeeee' of two electric motors, followed closely by 'CONTACT LEFT!' and 'HIT BRAVO' several times. Rampage jumped from over a log holding two VZ61 Skorpions, ginger beard flashing in the light, and said:
"Right, I've got your bad guys, now move up!"
I have never laughed so much in all my life, the man is a complete legend. Shortly after this, we followed him to a large path and said that we were going to have to run past a Bravo only spawn point. We all gulped a little, realising that they were probably going to follow us. After some deliberation, we all broke into a sprint, heading straight towards the T-junction on which the spawn point was situated. "Morning lads!" I said merrily, saluting as I ran towards the village where our aforementioned predicament took place. There was a clamour of about 15 Bravos attempting to give a smart ass answer at the same time, but I didn't catch any of them.

So there you have it, the 13th in a nutshell. As always, I end up feeling like a battered wife at the end of the day, but I always go back for more. The camaraderie and friendliness of all the staff and players (including the Bravos, they're not really that bad) at Ground Zero is fantastic, not to mention what a socking good day out it is. I'm not trying to sound like an advertisement, but that tends to happen when I talk about something awesome.

This post wasn't very funny, was it? Tough shit, I wasn't trying to be. Hang around until whenever I feel like it and I'll post a rant which will keep your feeble minds amused.


Let's have a go at this 'blogging' stuff

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Laurence 'Imbrium' Trevennor.
Full time internet geek, gamer, proud Airsofter, full-time cat owner and Level Designer. I currently reside in the piss soaked, toothless yokel-infested backwaters of Wiltshire, England and created this blog mostly as a means of venting my anger at various game/publishing companies, inform the general public as to the depressing state of their grammatical skills and perhaps even post a few map WIPs. But first, a little about myself.

Freakishly lanky (6"5-ish), worryingly pale and heavily armed, I am, in reality a bit of a shy bloke (due in part to the long imprisonment on this metaphorical desert island) with a love of firearms and collection of airsoft replicas. While this may sound a little worrying to some readers, I do happen to have a soft side. This is where my cat, Ruby comes in, and my two rabbits Amber and Sapphire. I'm 16, slowly working my way through college, and for those of you who play computer or console games on a regular basis, I welcome you to my blog and wish you long life and good health. You will need your gaming skills to understand the majority of terminology I will be using throughout the life of this blog. To Daily Mail reading parents who have been brainwashed into thinking games are evil, Jack Thompson and anybody who takes anything they read on Gamespot without a 5lb bag of salt, I wish you two weeks holiday at the business end of a firing range, you bunch of stuck up hypocrites.

Well, we're 19 lines and one rant in and I haven't even touched on Level Design yet, so let's get on with it. I am currently a Source Engine man (Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike Source, Garry's Mod etc.), mainly due to the complete absence of any other games with a grotesquely huge fan base, (mostly) bollocks-free toolkit, radiosity lighting and framerate in excess of 3 per minute. I am currently working on one map, GM_Mudstorm for Garry's Mod, which I will post some images of next time I compile it, and have two or three other projects in the pipeline. Hopefully there will be a game engine along with real-time radiosity (none of this compiling malarkey, to quote Interlopers.net's Athlete UK), a decent SDK and all of the next-gen bells and whistles before I stop giving a shit and join the marines.

Anyway, I hope that's given you a little insight into who I am and what I'm about. As my whiteboard has just reminded me, I have an airsoft game at Ground Zero on the 13th which I must now prepare for. I'll post a few pictures if I remember.
Tally ho.