Selling Illusion

Monday, December 18, 2006

[Happy Customer]


Friday, December 08, 2006

[roll the dice]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[fighting fanatics]

[super smooth, super cool]

[light refresh]

[research materials]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

[CHAVS ARE STANDING BY FOR YOUR CALL]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

[It's time to ROCK]


The Taste of Things to Come

I'm completely loving the new Audioslave album. After their patchy second effort I was dubious about passing over my wallet's fillings (yes I'm one of those those crazy folks that wants to give artists my money) but I'm glad I took the chance.

At first it seems nothing new, but multiple listens are making it one of those rare jewels; the grower album. I believe I had it on repeat for an entire day at work, a situation that hasn't occured for a very long time. And in a year where brillant albums have sprouted likes weeds in an untended garden, that's high praise indeed.

I go by the monkier Nab Gil (pen name - god help the child who's parents actually label them with that title) and I'm a videogames journalist. I do a few other things as well. You might hear about them sometime. (Not in a 'crazed Irishman takes over world' scenario, but certainly in the general themes written about in this here log.)

But in the mean time, welcome. Make yourself comfortable and have a flick through previously scripted articles, which have been sitting in a vault for a few years, unearthed from the time I worked on a weekly column for the Once Upon In Cardiff website. You won't find its like again, but I would direct you to the All Star Friends website, featuring a collection of very talented individuals, from award winning film maker Alun Pughe, part time muscian/full time father D.V.S and the individual we only occasionally refer to as Filth. www.allstarfriends.com is what you need to click/type.

As for here, expect general randomess, commentary on the videogames industry, art, photography and on occasion *gasp* competent articles that are worth reading. You never know what delights you'll uncover.

Even if dragging your eyes over my general wanderings becomes too tiresome, I'd ask you to refer to the number of links tagged onto the right of this page. I can say for certain that you'll find nothing but the best content from the best people there, so your trip here wasn'y entirely wasted.

I think that's about all the introductions I've to make at the moment. I'm now off to review Viva Pinata, dream of playing Lost Planet and wishing I had a 60Hz-capable television in my bachelor pad (re: shoebox flat in North London) so I could play Gears of War ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

[A Golden Line Up]

Well, with my life pretty much revolving around the Xbox 360 for the last month, and the huge amount of media that the 'mis-information' of the launch line-up is recieving, I'd like to push towards a postive note.

Alright, we still don't know 100% what'll be out on first day, but from what's confirmed, and what we all hope (fingers crossed) makes it out on 2nd December, I'm very happy indeed. Playstation had WipEout, Ridge Racer and Tekken, 'three killer apps' from day one that totally blew people away, giving gamers a taste of having (then) jaw dropping graphics with a strong foundation of gameplay. I'd say this was a shift into higher gear for videogames, with the embracement of the mainstream.

(I'd have started with SNES and Megadrive launches but my memory is getting fuzzier as the years go by.)

N64's killer combo of Mario 64, Pilotwings 64 and Turok gave us something we'd never experienced before, and to me, one of the most exciting times in my videogaming life. Mario has been rightly accredited as a revolution, Pilotwings blew my mind for being something entirely different from my collection. Turok was, to many, the first real 3D FPS they'd played. (Quake being reserved to those who could afford high end PCs.)

Dreamcast heralded full-blooded arcade titles in the homestead, without the 100 pound mark of Neo-Geo titles. Outside of Powerstone, the launch didn't truly include anything revolutionary (though VF3tb and Sonic Adventure were spectaular to play.) but graphics were a big part of the intial 'wow' factor.

And now we have the Xbox 360 launch on its way. We keep hearing about 'it'll be the greatest launch line up ever'. And to a certain extent, I believe this to be true. Looking back at the last decade, no, it will not offer anything truly surprising or original in it's intial infancy. Only Elder Scrolls: Oblivion promises anything new, and that, like Quake, is because RPGs of this calibre have remained steadfast on high end PCs.

(I'm excluding MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XI because a) Its not out until next year and b) Phantasy Star Online on DC has already given console gamers access to this sort of gaming experience.)

BUT, we are looking at the greatest number of launch titles for any console. Even if we exclude the 'killer apps' such PDZ and PGR3 that still remain in the vague 'christmas line up', we've looking at a number in the double figures. And all of them certainly aren't going to be turkeys.

Like the Dreamcast, we're looking at a huge step up in terms of graphical power, and this seems to be main focus of many games magazines, forums and websites at the moment. the whole NBA 'sweat physics' is a hell of a talking point. PGR3's photorealism is mind boggling. Sure, at the very foundation stones, the gameplay mechanics are going to be incrediably similar.

I've heard one person who had a hands on with DOA4 saying how it felt liike he was picking up Ultimate on the Xbox, but with a few minor ajustments. But then, he told me, he spent as much time as possible playing it. Because the gameplay mechanics are still as beautiful and fun as ever.

I'm looking foward to both NBA and NHL on the 2K6 series. I can't wait to see the puck fire into the back of the net, see that basketball slam into the hoop, and feel my jaw drop for the tenth time, not only because it all looks so real, so beautiful, but because I just got my ass handed to me by some 10 year old kid over in America.

Because all in all, its the gameplay that counts. And this launch line up?

Has it in spades.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

[RANDOM SELECT]

On average, the videogame industry sees three new games released each Friday across the United Kingdom. The summer months whittle this number even further. The winter quadruples it. Taking three games as the base average per week, and increase this to a half dozen come October until the end of the year. Basic calculation would sum up a number in the triple figures; two hundred and four.

Take the price of one game at thirty four pounds. Forty is the market standard, but retailers know those numbers don’t crunch through the register anymore. We exempt Game Boy and PC games from the mix. Even basing the ball park figure on the three main formats; X-Box, Playstation2, and the GameCube, we’re looking at a cash buy of well over seven thousand pounds. No one is going to buy the entire pie, nor even the majority of the slices. Speculation and observing customer buying habits would put, again, the average number of games bought by one consumer to range between seven and twelve games per annum. This number can be argued, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll select ten as our number of choice.

Ten slices of gaming pie. Out of a choice of two hundred and four.

What decides the consumers’ choice are something video gaming corporations, and their advertising wings, have been speculating, and working on for years. Sadly, what should be the common sense answer, ‘a good quality game’, isn’t the single issue. Random picking of the Top Ten Sales Charts over the last vast number of years attests to this. What equates to be worthy of the money doesn’t necessitate equate to sales. So we see game brands frequent the Top Ten. FIFA and Medal of Honor. Sequels, for the most part, slowly choke off the chance of original game content. Advertising onslaughts do not make the dent into consumer mind sets as companies would want to believe. The last great ‘re-imagining’ of gaming in its entirety harks back over seven years ago to Sony’s original PlayStation brand material.

Yet some games are swept off the shelves, others are swept of dust.

It’s sadly easy to walk down games aisles, and lift videogames that have had used the term ‘criminal underrated’ to the extent that it has become a cliché. Slices left to cool and harden under the dim lighting of retail stores across the country. The ‘hardcore’ fraternity have personal stories to tell. The game that is a jewel in their collection, yet receives no acclaim from a wider audience. But there are even more games out there, that fall between the cracks. Not a brand name to interest the casuals, not raved about to appeal to the gaming elite.

The other one hundred and ninety four pieces.

Lacking in high production values or content to impact on the higher culture. Nor the tightly fought quality precision of gaming perfection. These are the games that are passed over on the shelf, because so little is known of them; because there is the vague memory that they hadn’t been rated very highly – an average game, nothing more. For over thirty pounds, they’re not worth the price of admission.

But the retailing market is changing. Come the end of the year, we will be entering into the fifth generation of home consoles. ‘Retro’ used to denote Commodore 64/128s and Sinclair Spectrums. In recent times past has hungrily eaten into present, now ‘retro’ encompasses anything from Sega’s Dreamcast even up to first generation Playstation2 titles. Rare gaming gems find buying prices up to four times their value online. At the other end of the scale, sees the emergence of the term ‘bargain bins’ being coined in gaming outlets. This is not an official tag, but one between consumer and seller. It is to here that the ‘criminal underrated’ and their ilk fall. To here we see those that have fallen between the cracks come to rest. Where price tags drop from thirty to five. And were these games finally may have found their niche.

The consumer is willing to exchange a small amount of currency on an unknown property. Critical examination is replaced by broader strokes, genre definitions extended to their limits. For just under ten pounds, risk taking becomes an exciting proposition.

A slice is taken off the plate, and re-heated.

We may find something that is an hour’s snack, no more. Chance could decree we gag on the first taste, agreement with our initial suspicions over the flavouring. And then again, we could find something delicious. But that’s the fun. Taking a chance with an unknown commodity. Selecting at random or basing choice on the small amount of information gleaned from the screenshots at the back of the game box.

So, with that in mind, this site is going to be home of two new weekly features. The first, aptly entitled [RANDOM SELECT], will involve what has been addressed in this article; purchasing bargain price games that I know little or nothing about. Every week will see a new game under review. Played until boredom, frustration or other parts of my life deem otherwise. Reporting back on each, I’ll try and decide whether its worth that much, or if it’s grown stale on the plate for a reason.

Additionally, to keep track of the gaming output each week, I will be selecting a game due for release at random. Ideally this will be the late Wednesday/Thursday slot, entitled [CONTINUE?], in preparation for the game’s release on Friday. In keeping with the spirit of both articles, with this week’s big release being Tekken 5 on the Playstation2, the first [CONTINUE?] piece will be on Capcom’s Fighting Jam for the X-box. [CONTINUE?] aims to answer whether these smaller release games are worth the full asking price.

Articles should be up and running as of next week, and are open for change. Keep checking back for more news and updates as the days go by.