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Author Archives: Greg

About Greg

I am a prospective university history student, volunteer for the Labour Party and handsome father of 112 fictional children. I am a lover of and thus blog about politics, gaming, politics again, television and film, anything the holds my interest and occasionally political stuff. I am not happy with the way I've summed up my life so far. So impersonal. Oh yeah I also run a Youtube gaming channel for shits and giggles with a good friend.

Unity was the game Assassin’s Creed needed

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been bereft of originality for a long time. The first game in it’s franchise being the most preordered game without other games in it’s franchise to bolster it’s rep, this game packed in crowds. It wasn’t a flawless game, but it was very good for a first try. Future games made small strives in various directions, be it assassin reinforcements or the INSPIRED hookblade. Unfortunately, as of the second game, every year came with a new title and the same good but flawed formula used in the beginning had more and more games built on it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of this franchise, really, I own all the main games to date and even one of the spin off titles for  some reason. I love Assassin’s Creed, even if Unity pulled on those ties. And Revelations. Gad-zooks I was disappointed in Revelations.

Right, back to the point. You see, Assassin’s Creed was always to easy, lingering problems with the combat always meant that with the repeated press of a moderately well timed counter button could defeat a small army for you. Moreover  this was made worse by the introduction of the chained execution system in Brotherhood which took all the challenge left out of confrontation. Not only that, but I never felt stealth or even retreat to hidden locations was necessary in these games as every situation was easily solved by combat. This is after all Assassin’s Creed, a game about being a sneaky bloke who kills stuff in the name of liberty, not being a one man army.

Black Flag, the game that received critical acclaim and the most love from newcomers to the series and fans alike earned the popular sentiment of “It’s an awesome pirate game that unfortunately has Assassin’s Creed bits stuck to it”.

Assassins Creed’s success is a dolphin swimming near the surface, it jumps and dives above and below the water again and again, some jumps are big, some jumps are small but it always returns under the water. Unity was a massive jump that went very wrong and just led to a fin awkwardly surfacing and now everyone mistakes it for a shark and direct their anti-shark hate at it.

Because you know what? Unity had some really great things going for it. The combat was finally made legitimately challenging, a fight between you and a handful of guards could very easily result in a loss for you. This pushed stealth to the forefront as a valid way of approaching an Assassin’s Creed game. Not only that, but a progression system and armour upgrades that compliment your combat or stealth based abilities to hit the new way of play home. It’s great to have some actual meaningful changes come to Assassin’s Creed other than some of the token crap we’ve been fed before.

These are improvements this franchise has been begging for since its conception. Not to mention, the diversity of weapon choices sure was cool, as well as the aesthetic colouring choices and the fact that armour choices actually made a cosmetic difference as well as a difference to style of play. The co op was a neat addition as well and the reformed free running system takes a while to get used to and while I had no strong issues with the previous model, this new model works well for the landscape of 18th century Paris.

Sadly, these significant improvements to the formula of the franchise are completely overshadowed by the sheer incompetence of the state of the game on release. Ubisoft Montreal, for whatever reason, zealously pursued giant crowd sizes in certain areas at the expense of the stability of the actual game. Don’t get me wrong, these big crowds are great for some of the historical events that we play through, but for much of the time it hurts the frame rate significantly, which normally is something that has never bothered me but it can be pretty atrocious. Not to mention the bug where I found myself inexplicably falling through the map, which occurred far more times than it should of. And for the record, why were the accents not French? It’s not like they’ve been shy of native accents in the previous games.

I’m not even going to start with all the locked chests, gated by micro transactions or an IOS companion or something, that stuff was so low I won’t even bother giving it a paragraph of its flaws.

But this all brings me round to my point, Assassin’s Creed has been seeing diminishing returns on subsequent releases for years now, even Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (the one everyone liked) sold less than Assassin’s Creed 3. Unity was the re-branding this over saturated behemoth needed, a new direction with design choices that empowered players and presented returning fans with actual challenge while also turning the heads of those who lost interest years ago. That’s what Unity could have been. What it almost was. But, of course, those who had spent years developing this game thrust it out of the door early and we got the malformed mess that the gaming community laughed at and went on to their next thing. And now we, or rather I, find myself at a point lower than after the previous low point in the franchise for me, Revelations, which I didn’t even think was possible, so low that I can’t even get myself excited for the new one in jolly old London town. Good job, Ubisoft.

Good job.

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Gaming

 

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Don’t underestimate Katie Hopkins

Don’t underestimate Katie Hopkins

What wins elections? An educated electorate that meticulously seek out every mainstream party’s policies and promises and cast a well informed vote on that basis? No, I’m afraid not. That’s a dream for another day. No, you see, people who aren’t me or someone so into Politics they’re reading this obscure blog, don’t actually care about politics that much and get there summary of events through word of mouth and the media, as well as the opinions of pundits and powerful people like Katie Hopkins.

When Katie Hopkins say she’ll leave the country if Ed Miliband wins the election, that legitimately wins and loses votes. I’ve known people to cast a vote based on the candidate in a political debate the smiled the most. Another votes Conservative because “David Cameron had the hottest wife”. A polarising and interesting character like Katie Hopkins will lift the ears of all sorts and influence more people than you might think. And in an election as close as this, that might win a seat or two and that’s a big deal. But then again, this election is set to be the most unpredictable one in living memory, and a lot could happen. People might actually give a fuck. That’d be cool.

But let’s be fair, if the Sun print the day before the election “Miliband eats baby kittens”, the impact that will have on the election would be bigger than any threat Katie Hopkins could ever make and this is Hopkins thing could be reasonably small. Let us never forget the day after Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide victory the Sun reported “IT’S THE SUN WOT WON IT”. Whether or not the Sun reflected increasingly public support for Tony Blair’s campaign or actually precipitated it is a matter for another day. But let’s none of us forget, there’s still time for several debates and time for slip ups in the “She’s a bigoted woman” department. Either way, fun times in Politics, am I right?

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Political

 

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The new Halo 5 Guardians trailers are good news!

The new Halo 5 Guardians trailers are good news!

Tell you what, as a Halo fan of many years who owns all of the games to date, I think those trailers look really interesting. The fact that the Master Chief as an unstoppable warrior was conceived by unethical means and could potentially be a total maniac when to him the ends justify the means, that’s an interesting area. Having Spartan Locke as a representative of the shady ONI guy who might not exactly be looking out for the interests of the people. That’s an interesting area too.Blurring the lines into a position where it’s hard to tell who’s right and who’s wrong and playing a questionable character has always been fascinating to me and to be honest, I really appreciate the Halo franchise going in a new direction.

When I first heard about Spartan Locke, I expected him to take a similar position to the Arbiter in Halo 3. A guy with a back story and context for being there, but ultimately becomes an AI/playable co op position for the campaign. That would have been quite sad. That MAY still happen. But it looks like that may not be the case and they may do something interesting with the arc 343 are creating and as someone who didn’t much care for Halo 4, that’ll be nice.

But yes. Blur the lines. The Chief used to have it all easy as to knowing who was bad and who was good etc. Now he’s outdated, he’s been in cryo sleep and missed a lot. Make him an anti hero. The potential has always been there. Also, do something interesting with the Arbiter in this one, as well as tell us more about what has happened to the Covenant. Halo 4 answered none of the questions we had before and only gave us new ones that I had no interest in.

Okay, this was a total ramble. My apologies. Enjoy the rest of your day, patient reader.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Gaming

 

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The Battle for Number 10 is just getting started

The Battle for Number 10 is just getting started

So the first of a series of televised events in the lead up to the election took place last night. Cameron was suave and predictable, coasting along on the dignity of office and his natural charisma. Miliband had a much more up and down performance, going through bouts of word vomit but coming across as more human and having a sense of humour even when being jabbed with frankly personal questions that were irrelevant to a political interview. Though the winner here was definitely Paxman.

Let me just clear up now, I’m going to be biased here as I’m a Labour Party member and volunteer, as much as I try to avoid it.

Let me be clear, I have a great deal of respect for the man, I’ve even read one of his books. He’s the king of nailing down evasive politicians and has done some great interviews in the past. He brought to light a few promises Cameron had not kept that even I didn’t know about as well as actually got an answer out of him on the matter of the mystery welfare cuts. However his attacks on Ed’s character reflect the behaviour of 5 years of tabloid childishness, something I had until now felt was beneath him. Of course, this is coming from a guy who has a real distaste for personality politics and worries these upcoming debates will just be a battle of memorised sound bites from party leaders on each issue.

My worry, at least in part was this was not totally impartial. Both presenters and the station involved being right leaning and the conduct towards Ed would seem to indicate that may be at play. But again, as I said, I’m hardly unbiased and this may be the rose tinted glasses talking. And of course, Paxman went out with the intent with hitting these leaders weak points, Cameron’s being broken promises and being that Ed wasn’t standing in 2010, the mistakes of New Labour and his personality gave Paxman his angle of attack.

My point is, this set the tone for the rest of the election and it certainly seems that it won’t be anything special in terms of being free from petty squabbling and mudslinging. Though in fairness, these people work in Parliament, a place with less decorum than my very own politics classroom.

But to be clear, ICM’s instant poll called it for Cameron which was expected but it was closer than predicted which is apparently a victory in itself for the Labour Party. I personally am happy the public got to see a less airbrushed Ed Miliband and the Conservatives so far proudly touted sublime record as been professionally besmirched for all to see. Hopefully this election was play host to an approach to substance over style for once and we’ll have real debate or real and serious issues … but I’m not holding my breath.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Political

 

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Two problems with British Democracy

Two problems with British Democracy

As of writing this, the UK General Election is in 49 days, 23 hours, 7 minutes and 22 seconds. What better time than to celebrate the numerous flaws with our humble system, a cheeky dose of good ol’ British critical thinking to get you feeling patriotic and hyped for the potential futility of the vote you may or may not cast on May 7th?

First Past the Post. Plain and simple, it’s broken. Briefly for the unaware, the vote you may or may not cast in will go towards the constituency you live in to elect an MP (Member of Parliament). There are 650 seats for MPs to hold altogether and the party that holds the majority of these seats is invited by the monarch to form a government. At the last election, there was no one party that held a majority and so the options were a hung parliament (weak government) or coalition. The problem here is smaller parties and smaller voices often have little to no representation in parliament.

Theoretically, if one party had 49% of the vote in every constituency but in every case another one of two took 51% of the vote, even though the popular vote across the country reflected that this 49% party was the most voted for party in Britain, it wouldn’t win a single seat in government and those voices would go unheard. In the 2010 election, UKIP gained 919,471 votes and no seats because their vote was spread out all across the country, not significant enough in one particular place to get a single MP, whereas that amount of votes in a proportional election would have won around 60 seats. That’s massive. Now I don’t support UKIP, but I do support those people’s right to be represented. First Past the Post actually supports a two party system, thus helping The Conservatives and Labour. Now I actually volunteer for Labour and support Labour, but I do that because I support Democracy more. Which we currently don’t have. At least not fair Democracy.

Now this is less of an issue to the one I just confronted, but still an issue. Personality Politics. In a country where every person is educated to the fullest extent about every issue, a government would be formed that would reflect the all round knowledge of the electorate and we’d most likely have a direct democracy, voting issue by issue with referendums every Friday. That’s the dream. But as it currently stands, people are busy and have a lot on their plate and need the issues summarised for them by a trusted person, party or media outlet so they know how to vote. That’s how political parties, politicians and the media are even a thing.

However many, many people are too busy even for this brief summary, but still want to vote. This, tragically more often than not comes to personality politics. Though the personality of a leader and not their actual policies inform many on some level all the time. Ed Miliband is hardly famed for his charisma and I’ve known people who took my Government and Politics A-Level with me for two years to comment that even if they liked his policies, they’d never vote for him because he’s not charismatic. People, this is the death of democracy. I’m not saying VOTE LABOUR. As long as you cast an informed vote, this issue is beaten and I love you.

Chances are however, at least for now, these issues will not be fixed any time soon and ironically any major party pledging to do so would be unelectable as proved in 2011 when the Alternative Vote system was shunned by the British public in the referendum for breaking this whole “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” vibe this country has going for it. Okay, rant over.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Political

 

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12 things Fallout 4 should have

12 things Fallout 4 should have

For the uninformed, Fallout 4 is a possibility in the near future (check the bottom for a link to the source of my speculation). Let us commemorate the possibility of my hopes being awfully trashed with a cheeky little wishlist for the next entry into the critically acclaimed franchise:

(Parts of this list were made with the rumours of Boston being the next location of the game in mind)

1: New Vegas got a few things right and a few things wrong but one of the things they really got right was the divergent storyline. Anyone who enjoyed New Vegas enough to finish it I’d wager went back to finish it again. Being able to help a certain faction to victory was great, I see nothing wrong with doing that again. Fallout 3 was good but in my mind, too linear, for a game that thrives off of choice. A more explored, thoroughly built up Fallout 4 with all these factions quests more thought out and fully realised instead of the limited development time Obsidian were given with New Vegas would be amazing.

2: While I’m on this, I preferred the karma system taking a back seat in New Vegas and more weight put into faction reputation. But I want the factions choices to be less clear cut. I’m told original plans with Caesar’s Legion were to have more land beyond the river which showed the safety and prosperity people were experiencing under Legion which would have made them actually a bit of a reasonable choice to make as perhaps a necessary evil instead of just a bunch of brutal slavers. I feel like this kind of thing would fits the Fallout universe a lot better, leave the objective good and bad stuff for Fable. Not that it would be out of the question to have some kind of raider civilisation as a major faction, I’d just rather they be one of 3 or 4 major factions you can choose from rather than the 2 choices in New Vegas (Mr House doesn’t really count, his whole choice can be understood with a few random throwaway dialogue lines.

3:  If anyone has seen modern day Boston, (google it if you haven’t) there is a well built up urban area in the centre of the city. Not unlike the built up city area we had in Fallout 3 in the form of the destroyed concrete jungle that was the D.C area. I appreciate the limits of the hardware in 2008 but we’re a whole generation more advanced now and I’d love to have a more open city area to explore instead of lots of blocks of area separated by loading screens. Take advantage of the horsepower of the new generation to create a sprawling complex of skyscrapers collapsed into each other filled with enemies, loot and factions battling and vying for each street and building. However, after I learned how to read the London tube map, I did grow a soft spot for the metro system in Washington which I previously only seen as a frustrating obstacle and since Boston does have its own metro system, it’d be cool to keep that relevant somehow. I’d hate the city to become as uninteresting as the area around New Vegas and verticality above and below the ground I think would keep that at bay if pulled off well.

4: Expanding on a point I just touched on, I’d love to have some kind of dynamic faction war system included in Fallout 4. Not unlike the civil war quest line in Skyrim, I’d love to be looting a building and hear gunfire behind me, go to the window and see two factions fighting in the street, with me being able to join in the fight as a backer of my faction of choice, gunning down both sides or even just sitting back and watching as on higher difficulties it may be unwise to draw attention to myself.

5: Ya know those people in Megaton referred to as a generic megaton settler? No more of those. Even if they’re just a named NPC with very little to talk about like in the Imperial City in Oblivion where many characters just had nothing to to do with anything, but they contributed to the atmosphere.

6: One thing Dragon Age Origins did beautifully was it’s varied ways to start the game, which had some baring on how parts of the rest of the game would play out. I’d love a similar thing from Fallout, with several backgrounds to choose from. An Android from the institute. An Enclave deserter. Someone who grew up in the Brotherhood of Steel. Grown up from a slave. One for each new faction. And perhaps some unaffiliated starts in various settlements and towns. Not to say that that these start up choices would bind you to these factions, you could breakaway and join another group, but I want it to be very difficult for an Enclave deserter to join the Brotherhood of Steel. I want this shit to matter and immerse you into the game.

7: This one is a maybe, and maybe should only be included in a hardcore mode of sorts but it’d be interesting for Fallout to explore mental health. Throw in existing features in Fallout to compliment it like drug addiction and being put it awful situations. But don’t bother with it if it’s not going to be done well and it’s just like H20 or Sleep.

8: Fallout has showed culture in some places reverting to an entirely tribal form, with hand axes and throwing spears being prevalent weapons in Honest Hearts and from Legion troops, as well as the Chosen One from Fallout 2 being brought up in a tribe. So why not explore archery a bit and go into more detail with throwing spears and whatever and make them into slightly more viable weapons if used skilfully, yet completely useless on power armour (as well as small arms fire while we’re at it).

9: The towns and settlements in Fallout rarely feel properly ‘lived in’. Some kind of dynamic towns system would be cool, if but a little hard to achieve, in which this ongoing war affects the fortunes and population of places, with new houses and expansion being possible with the towns and immigration between regular citizens in different factions areas displaying Fallout’s amazing talent for presenting apathetic NPCs, with absolutely nobody in Megaton ever slightly worried about the rise of the Enclave or the looming threat of super mutants. They just wanna pray to a bomb and write wasteland survival guides.

10: Seasons and temperature would be a cool feature, with longer nights and snow in winter. Considering the Massachusetts already gets heavy snow in winter, this would go the extra mile to make the world feel more real and in hardcore mode, temperature control would be an amazing feature. Plus you could have a DLC/expansion in Canada and call it ‘Cold War’. You can have that one for free Bethesda.

11: A missed trick and a no-brainer on Bethesda’s part for years would be being able to play as a ghoul or super mutant. Being subdued and captured by super mutants and dipped in a vat of FEV and turned into one of them or over exposure to radiation turning you into a ghoul would be fucking stellar and do so much to broaden a players experience. The Brotherhood would be hostile to you. Some would fear you. Some would reject and scorn you as a minority. Others would embrace you and tolerate you. This would massively change up your experience. This would have to be warned by several people in the early game so a new player doesn’t walk up to a group of super mutants, run out of ammo and surrender, not suspecting to be captured and mutated. Or maybe that would be bettered if there was less warning? Who knows?

12: And one last easy one. Ensure Three Dog is back in, but have a few more radio stations that are affiliated with the various factions and throw in loads more brilliant forties music. I’m going to play this game forever and a bit more variety and some watering down of ‘Johnny Guitar’ would go miles for me and wouldn’t be too difficult to pull off.

Giving a real sense of consequence in the world will immerse players hugely in this hostile game I’ve basically designed. This would be my ideal Fallout game, but obviously a bit of that trademark Bethesda magic to improve on these ideas and come up with many that are no doubt better. Of course Fallout 4 may never come out and I’ll just be sad. Let me know if you’ve got any ideas of your own in the comments if you fancy a chat!

P.S: Also, they should totally do another game jam like they did with Skyrim after they’ve made the game to phase cool ideas in with updates and future expansions.

https://gregalderman96.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/fallout-4-on-the-horizon/

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Gaming

 

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Let’s Purvey Let’s Plays

Let’s Purvey Let’s Plays

That title was almost clever!  Anywho, gaming has been going from strength to strength in recent years, and it’d be foolish not to attribute that to let’s plays, at least in some small part. We’ve all seen them, in fact I’d wager anyone tech savvy enough to come across this blog has seen a fair few. Many of us love them, myself included. I even do them with a close friend as a hobby, so I appreciate that I’m hardly impartial on this whole matter.

Critics of Youtube personalities regularly raise concerns that “it’s not a real job” or “it’s just being payed to play video games” as well as “Let’s Players are parasites”. Let me explain why I believe they’re wrong.

At what point is a job ‘a job’ do you suppose? When it’s hard work? When it contributes to society? Speaking as someone who has edited all the videos for and managed a Let’s Play channel for a year and a half, putting literally hundreds of hours of work into learning the software from scratch, working hard to make it good and forever endeavouring to actually catch someone’s attention and hold it, I can tell you this is not easy. And I’m not even doing this as a job! A lot of the big names now where just starting out when the climate much more poised against the idea of Let’s Plays being a remotely good idea as a way to make living. These were the people that did it simply for the passion (which I also do, otherwise I wouldn’t bother with it at all).

The idea that Let’s Players are parasites? Lecherous cretins that try to catch the falling crumbs from the cake that is the games they play for a living? Total poppycock. Many developers recognise that Let’s Players have far closer to a symbiotic relationship with them, a mutual back-scratching bonanza. Everyone wins in this scenario.

Of course this is without drawing the comparison between Let’s Players and athletes. It takes a lot of hard work, natural talent and a little bit of luck to be good at both. If Let’s Players are the Sportsmen and women, the video games are the ball and goal posts, Youtube is the pitch and the video viewers are the crowd in the stand. Plus the really really good ones make quite a bit of money, whether that’s fair or not is a debate for another day.

These people are entertainers. Commentators. Comedians. Reviewers. People that make their living from contributing content to an advertising platform behemoth that millions watch every day. Not unlike television which has long since entered and become accepted into the cultural lexicon, just as Let’s Playing will become as the generation that watches it more than or as much a TV grows up and knows it as the norm. And is there anything wrong in that?

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Gaming, Youtube

 

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