Richard III’s head


Ok it’s not actually his head but it’s a model of his head built from his skull following the discovery of his body last year. The model is now on display in the Yorkshire museum in York until 13th October.

This has brought the fight over his remains back to the forefront, which I have blogged about before. Although the University authority has the right to decide where to bury him the descendants of the Plantagenet’s want him buried in York and have taken legal proceedings seeking a judicial review. Continue reading

Deus Ex: Human Revolution PS3 Review


I just wanted to write a quick review/ plug for a PS3 game from one of my favourite game series. Deus Ex. For those unfamiliar with the series they’re first person action shooters with the emphasis on the action.

The Story:

It’s 2027 and humans have begun to take control of their own evolution by making use of cybernetics. Augmented humans are beginning to appear and the consequence of this is a society divided into those for and those against, those with and those without. Up until now augmentations have been available only to the few, many not being able to afford them and many being morally opposed. Now Sarif industries is working hard to make augmentations more effective and more affordable. This angers anti augmentation groups and tensions are brewing

Scientist Megan Reed has made a startling advancement in her research, she’s found a way to free augmented humans from the need to take the anti rejection drug Neuropozyne. As your character Adam Jenson you are preparing to escort Dr Reed to Washington to present her findings. It seems however that the good Doctor is a little anxious about the possibility she might be asked to explain how she made her great discovery. What is she hiding? But the delegation will never make it to Washington, what happens next will change Adam’s life forever. How he deals with that is up to you.

Game play:

Basic but effective. Press the select button and everything you need is right there, just use L1 and R1 to cycle through your map, your inventory, your data log etc. if you want to select something from your inventory just hold the triangle button and you get a selection wheel. The inventory is managed for you, so no more rearranging things as long as you’ve got enough free squares you can pick it up.

Throughout the world you can read newspapers and ebooks (ebooks will be stored in your data log) pick up credit chips, booze, weapons, energy bars, ammo etc etc. One small tip try lifting up the odd cardboard box every so often you’ll find a hidden goodie! You can also rob dead and unconscious people or go through peoples draws and take stuff .

Oh and you can also drag the aforementioned bodies around in order to hide them. If they are unconscious and another guard sees them they will wake them up and come looking for you. If they’re dead, then the guard who finds the body will still come looking for you, so hide those bodies!

Jenson can also hack computers and security devices, which comes in handy. You can gain useful information such as security codes or just amuse yourself reading peoples personal emails. Sometimes if you hack some of the nodes you can get extra goodies. You can also use virus software to aid you in avoiding detection on the network Hacking skills are one of the augments which you can choose to upgrade.

Throughout the game you can gain experience points towards new augmentations. Each part of the body has augmentation options and there are skill augmentations available too. This gives you choices to make about which abilities you want to enhance or install first etc. It’s a bit like selecting the weapons skills for a character in a RPG but somehow it feels fresher. You can also upgrade your abilities by using praxis kits which can be bought at L.I.M.B clinics or occasionally found.

There is often more than one way to complete a mission. You can take different routes through buildings, ; you can be stealthy or choose a method of non lethal take down or you can just shoot everyone, it’s up to you. Ventilation shafts are also a good way of getting around unobserved.

In conversation with people you have a choice of questions to ask or responses to give effecting how that person responds to you. There are also side missions within the bigger mission which you can complete or ignore as you wish.

In fact the best things about the Deus: Ex series has always been the first person viewpoint and the control you have. There is no one right way to do something so you can develop your own style. It reminds me of the choose your own adventure books I had as a kid. This game is strangely addictive.

If you are looking for a game with a storyline to back it up, a good level of interactivity to back it up and a bit of the futuristic thrown in then give Deus Ex: Human Revolution a try.

2013 Reading List


After reading this blog entry by fellow blogger Jennifer Kierecki  http://jenniferkblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/setting-reading-goals/  (reblogged below)I became curious too about just how many books I read in a year.  So I’ve decided to start keeping my own list for 2013 and hopefully share some reviews of them too as we go along. Starting the list is a bit tricky because I often buy books in bulk and then work my way through them so I’m not a hundred per cent certain which I read last year and which this because I haven’t kept track until now. So Below is my short list of titles I know I definitely read this year 🙂

Have read:

  1. A dance with Dragons by George R.R Martin
  2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  3. The Winter Ghosts: by Kate Mosse
  4. Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
  5. In a Glass Darkly by J.S Le Fanu ( a re-read because I like it)

Currently Reading:

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury (there will be a review later I think!)

 

Not many so far but a Dance with Dragons kept me busy for ages. I’m quite a slow reader too. I have also been reading various short stories from kindle collections etc. I’ve read Madam Crowles ghost and the Dead Sexton and J.S Le Fanu’s Ghostly tales  volumes 1+2. A lot of the classic ghost story collections are split into volumes for Kindle. These consist sometimes of only 2 or 3 stories, as with the ones mentioned so I’ve not put them on my list. I’ll add my list to a page and update as I go.

 

Setting Reading Goals


Loved this idea and it has inspired me to keep my own reading list for the year

The Happy Elephant Blog

Sometime last year, I became curious about how many books I read in a year. I have never kept track and only had a vague reference of how long ago I’d read a particular book – last year? two years ago?

So I began keeping a list of books I read in 2012 and was shocked at how short the list was. Twelve. Twelve months, twelve books. Was that all, really? Take a look at my 2012 list.

Admittedly, 2012 was a bad reading year and I blamed it on the fact that I spent the majority of that year planning my wedding. But I knew, wedding or not, I simply wasn’t making enough time to read.

Jennifer Kierecki Blog Reading GoalsSo I decided to make a reading goal this year. My goal for 2013 is to read 40 books. It’s not a terribly ambitious goal compared to some, but I chose 40…

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Game Of Thrones PS3 Game Review


First off let me say I’m not a gaming expert; It isn’t my life It’s something I do for a bit of fun, I’m not obsessed and it isn’t my job. This is my take on the game as an amateur gamer.

That said let’s begin. I’ve really only just started this game only having played for a couple of hours so this is very much a first impressions review.

Story:

Let’s be clear, it’s a game set in the Game of Thrones world but this is NOT the game Of Thrones story. For me this is a good thing as for those who’ve watched the show or read the books I think it would be less enjoyable, knowing where it was going from the start. That said it might have been nice to perhaps play a young Ned Stark, or even Brandon Stark or Rhaegar Targaryen in a prequel adventure. That is a minor quibble though and leaves room for future games 😉

You play two characters night’s watch man, Mors Westford and red priest Alester Sarwyck. Alternate chapters of the game switch between the two characters as each pursues their goal, (presumably they will link up at some point.) The game begins just before the first book and Jon Arryn is still the King’s hand.

Combat Set Up:

Although this has the appearance of an adventure game the comabat system is that of an RPG. You begin each characters first chapter setting up their weaknesses their stregths, weapon and armour proficiencies etc. During this process I found my first gripe with the game. Games like this are a nightmare if you play on a small TV in a bedroom like me. The writing on the screen is small and some disappears off the end of the screen altogether (I know I need to check my settings). My screen is not big and it’s not flat; now old fashioned as that may seem to die hard gamers it’s all I have space for. It’s also not HD ( I refuse to buy one while this one still works! The TV was here before the PS3.) So I found myself having to lean off my bed with my eyes 10cm from the TV to read the information for each weapon or piece of armour and so on and so on. The same problem occurs throughout the game when you need to choose a skill in combat or make a purchase.

OK I know people will argue here that most games are set up for HD flat screen TVs so big that require you to knock down a wall so it can straddle yours and your neighbours house because that’s what offers the best gaming experience right? Brilliant I’m sure it looks amazing but as not all of us have that option a bit of product testing on an average size bedroom TV would have been helpful. Guess I’m not the market they’re aiming for though.

Operating The Combat System:

R1 brings up your command wheel where your special attacks and defensive moves, purchased with your experience points are listed and L1 brings up your other special abilities in Mors’ case he can instruct his dog to attack people in various ways with his skin changer ability. For Alester it is his red priest abilities. If you’ve not used a combat wheel before it takes a few goes to get used to but is quite straight forward once you’ve got used to the position of all you commands.  when your command wheel is up in combat, time slows down and the fight continues in slow motion giving you time to select your commands. You are allowed up to 3 commands in your command chain at a time which are then carried out in order. There are commands for recharging energy and some  of the more energy consuming special commands can’t be used for a while when energy drops below certain levels.You have the option to change  targets during a fight and if playing with a secondary character or Mors’ dog you can switch between the 2 and give them their own commands. If your character has no commands in their queue they start auto fighting. I sometimes suspect there is more of luck than skill in the fighting but that’s probably because I’m still getting used to it. So the combat system all in all isn’t bad.

Appearance:

While wandering the streets does have some of the look and feel of games like assassin’s Creed ( look at Alester from behind with his Red priest’s hood, doesn’t he look like one of the assassins?) the background characters let it down badly. If you are someone who delights in the details in a game like me this will irritate you. Not only do most of the men you speak to have the same face ( or so I thought) in King’s landing you will find 4 or 5 small folk  within a few yard of each other wearing EXACTLY the same clothes! Seriously same model same colour they’ve pretty much duplicated the same character several times and shoved a beard on a couple.  All in all there are about 3 outfits available in King’s landing, the beggars rags are even torn in the same places. It might seem like a minor niggle but visually it really spoils things.

Vocal Acting:

Possibly the most irritating part of the game is the vocal acting. It’s so bad it’s almost laughable, actually scratch that I did laugh a couple of times. I’m not saying all of it’s bad but to say most of it is would not be an exaggeration. It’s not just adequate it is truly awful. People in dire circumstances are talking to each other like they’re checking off their shopping lists. If I were one of those actors I would ask for my name not to appear in the credits!

Game Play:

Game play itself isn’t bad, I like running around all the buildings looking for hidden stuff (loot). You can find various things lying around, cash, armour weapons and other bits. lot’s of rooms and corners to explore. I’m having a good wander around Maegor’s holdfast When in conversation you get a choice of responses to use. Although I do have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t matter which response you choose the conversation and story will still end up in the same place. Of course this being early days in a first run through I can’t be sure of that.

There are different Merchants to trade with, you can buy armour and weapons, poisons and medicines like milk of the poppy and dream wine and substances such as wildfire.

Mors is a skin changer and one rather nifty feature is you can put him in control of his dog. So you leave his body behind and can go following interesting scents which you can make visible and then bark to bring Mors when you find something good. Although why you would need to do that I don’t know, if Mors is controlling the dog surely he doesn’t need to bark to attract his own attention?

Alester also has special abilities like pressing a button to make fire shoot out of his hands and by the light of R’hllor reveal hidden mechanisms to him.

Summing Up:

So far, do I like it? Yes. Do I love it? No, but as I said it’s early days and I’m hoping that will change. The premise of the story is promising and I like the graphics (apart from the people.) It’s certainly not a bad game but so far it’s not a brilliant one either. The repetitive small folk and bad acting let down what could have been a brilliant game. If I’m honest when it comes to the fights I would prefer something a bit more fluid or with more stealth options like Assassin’s  Creed. Sometimes just standing there hacking at someone until the red bar goes away gets dull. On the other hand some people might like that particular style of game, it’s all subjective

I may well update this post later as I get further into the game and unlock more abilities as I’m sure they will all add to the experience. I reserve the right to change my. As I said at the start this is very much a first impression review and there’s a long way to go yet.