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5:15 PM on 01.11.2012

Repetitive Cinematic Events Awards

Welcome to the first ever Repetitive Cinematic Events Awards, a one time only awards ceremony that celebrates the latest and greatest repetitive cinematic events in the video game industry.

Chosen by a panel of judges with more talent and knowledge than that of the X Factor (it includes only me), the winners of this year's awards can be seen below.

Best Really Heavy Doors

The first award goes to Gears of War 3, a game that has exceeded any other in making its characters work unnecessarily hard to open a worryingly frequent amount of MASSIVE doors. Just what exactly are these guys trying to keep at bay?

Most Fragile Floorboards

Next up is the award for the most fragile floorboards of 2011, which goes to none other than Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3. It's evident from the word go that the team behind the game worked as hard as they possibly could to give Uncharted 3's hero, Nathan Drake, a really sore back. These floorboards couldn't even withstand the teeny tiny footsteps of Warwick Davies.

Best Assassin Telling His Enemies to Rest in Peace Scenes

Assassin's Creed: Revelations was the only game of 2011 that truly deserved this award and although Ezio Auditore has toned down the Requiescat en Pace scenes in his latest outing, he still manages to squeeze it in their a few times. After all, it is the least he could do considering he just travelled across the capital of Turkey to stab these men in the throat.

Best Sleeping People Waking Up

If Rayman Origins deserves to win one award this year, then it's this one. Not only do you meet almost every single character in the game by watching them wake up, but the entire story revolves around a group of friends who want to get revenge after they were woken up by the screams of a rude old lady.

Tightest Gaps in Cave Walls

This is the final award in this year's line-up, and the second to be awarded to developer Naughty Dog for their efforts in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The third game in the series sees globetrotter Nathan Drake set off on a tour of the world, in order to find the planet's tightest gaps, which is exactly why the title won this year's Tightest Gaps in Cave Walls award.   read

4:19 PM on 07.08.2011

Shadows of the Damned: Unoriginal Ideas at Their Finest

Hunting through levels to find keys that unlock gates to new areas, running and rolling to avoid enemies that can only be killed by attacking the weak spot on their back and stopping in the heat of a battle to top-up your energy with a health pack. These are all video game clichés and they're just a few of the overused gameplay mechanics that appear in Grasshopper Manufacture's Shadows of the Damned. Gamers can complain about tired ideas all they want, in a game set in an ordinary, grey world but what Shadows of the Damned does a great job of proving, is that it's not so much the gameplay mechanics, but the way they're showcased that makes a game. This is how Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami have managed to turn what would otherwise be nothing but a 'fun' title, into something more like a masterpiece.

In Shadows of the Damned, locks are presented as the faces of demon babies and keys, the food of a balanced diet; brains, eyeballs and strawberries, while save points take the form of turds dropped by a one-eyed bird like creature and health packs are in the shape of alcoholic drinks which, in the words of the game's witty sidekick demon, Johnson, 'un-kill' the player, instead of dooming them to a lifetime of kidney problems.

It may take the player a fair few minutes before they learn to look beyond the game's illusion of originality and nobody would blame you if you managed to play through the entire game, before realising that it's not much more than a generic third person shooter (or action thriller, depending on how you see it), with a coat of hellish polish and a touch of Suda 51's signature 'punk-rock' style. This may sound like a bad thing, but the fact that Grasshopper Manufacture managed to pull this off shows nothing but raw talent from the team behind the game. I've not finished it yet, but I am a good few hours into Garcia Hotspur's road movie and, so far, the lick of paint disguising the familiar elements of the game is doing a good job of keeping me interested as I fight slow moving demons and run around closed off arenas to defeat enemies that might look and sound like giant, swearing birds, but act no more out of the ordinary than a typical video game boss.

The novelty of a shoving a strawberry into the mouth of a baby's head, while hearing Mexican hero, Garcia Hotspur, shout expletives isn't the only thing the game has going for it, though. Cheesy, but hilarious, dialogue, the likeability of the game's protagonist and his British sidekick and an intruiguing lightness/darkness mechanic seem to have the power to keep anybody interested, even if they do discover the truth behind the game's so called 'originality', before the story is over.

If the game continues to entertain and the novelty of phallic jokes doesn't dry up anytime soon, Shadows of the Damned could end up being a contender for my personal GOTY 2011.   read

2:41 PM on 01.28.2011

Gaming and Music: A love Story

I can't think of an intro for this post, every time I type one It's either way too long, doesn't actually get the point of the post across at all, or just makes me look like a complete pube. Anyway, a blog post about how video games help gamers to find new artists and artists to find new fans;

It will come as no surprise that piracy is seen as a threat to most industries and with the ever growing popularity of the media and the ever growing reluctancy amongst "fans" to actually pay for music, you wouldn't be given strange looks if you argued that piracy is putting the music industry in a place it's never been before; and not a good one.

Whatever your views, it's safe to say that just like always, artists and bands want fans. Whether they buy their album, pay to see them in a small venue or simply illegally download their music, before telling everyone they meet how awesome they are, it will help their career in some way.

Over the years it has become increasingly easier to gain a fanbase, whether this is through TV, radio or signing up to every social networking site on the wonder, that is the internet there's a big chance you'll be able to gain some form of fanbase no matter how big or small you are, no matter how awesome or terrible you are which is where gaming comes in; gaming used to have the reputation as a pastime exclusively seen in the basement of an old woman's house, where her 34 year old son would sit,gaining wait and playing games until the early hours of the morning, and whilst it still may not have the best reputation amongst ill-informed fogies who read the Daily Mail, it's definitely more mainstream now, than it's ever been before. Thousands of people play games every day and it can be the perfect place for artists to get some coverage.

No matter what genre of game you're into, your favourite will have some sort of soundtrack, and when that's a compilation of licensed tracks, rather than an original score, it can do wonders for the artists who've been lucky enough to get their track, or often tracks, into the mix.

The majority of people who've purchased a particular game (Lets say, for example, Burnout Paradise - the soundtrack for which, is a perfect example of what I'm talking about, here.) will have listened to every song on that disc, countless times and whilst there may very well be a whole host of well known tracks amongst them, these will do nothing but convince the player to listen all the way through the soundtrack (whether this is an intentional act, or an accident). Personally, I've listened to many songs in games, Burnout Paradise especially and, 10 minutes later, finding myself doing some extensive research on a song, artist or in some cases, a whole genre on the internet and I'm sure others have done the same, to atleast some extent.The latest example of this being when I heard one of Deadmau5's tracks on NFS: Hot Pursuit, I would never have dreamed of listening to any of his songs or anything similar before, but since then, I've spent about £10 on one of his albums, listened to it almost endlessly and I'd now considering buying tickets to one of his shows next time he's on tour.

Talking about my recent introdcution to Sir Deadmau5 and similar artists leads me to my next point; It's not even new artists benefiting. Within one month, one racing game can have a massive effect on an individual's music taste. Imagine how much power the whole track list of something like Rock Band has. Granted, all the songs are going to follow some of the same conventions but not every song in one Rock Band or Guitar Hero game is hardcore rock, or Metal; There's a big variety and just like Hot Pursuit did to me, it could lead someone to a whole new genre that they never would have been a fan of, prior to playing that game.

It doesn't matter whether this person buys the entire discography of an artist, pays 79p to download one song, or pays anywhere up to £100 to see them live, or just spreads the word amongst their close friends; this artist has just gained fans and somewhere down the line that could help to boost their career, even if it's the tiniest bit. Obviously, one person becoming a fan of one artist wont have a substantial effect, but when you imagine the scale this could be happening on every time a new game is released there's every possibility that, without gaming, the music industry would rely much more on the sales of music in the charts and bands and artists would find it that bit more difficult to gain the fanbase they have done.

In fact, as I've been writing this I've been listening to a playlist of songs from LittleBigPlanet; everyone of them bought, legally, with genuine monies.

Video Games deserve a big thanks for helping me and many others find new music, as well as potentially helping the music industry get to where it is today. Thanks, gaming.   read

12:57 PM on 01.26.2011

Toilet Games: Hits and Misses

With a plethora of games to choose from on mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, as well as the ever increasing popularity of these amongst both gamers and developers, it's becoming extremely hard to escape gaming; the majority of people down your street will be doing it and it's become a mainstream pastime not only in the home but out and about as well, thanks to the extremely accessible titles smartphone gaming has brought us.

Thanks to your iPhone, your Android or even your Blackberry, you can play games on the train, whilst walking down the street, whilst waiting for your food in a restaurant, or even on the toilet. There is however one difference between gaming on the toilet, and gaming elsewhere; no one really knows what to play. You can't exactly jump into a quick game of GTA: Chinatown Wars on your iPhone whilst taking a poo - you don't know how long it's going to take for your body to rid itself of waste and you might not even get chance to finish a mission! Angry Birds isn't perfect for it either, some of the later levels can be truly frustrating and the last thing you want whilst pooing is to be deep in thought about something else - especially when that something is flinging birds at a pile of glass, wood and pigs.

Equipped with an iPod Touch, a Samsung Galaxy S that runs on Android and a roll of loo paper, I've spent the last few days testing out a range of different games in order to answer the ever puzzling question; What game is best for the toilet? All in the name of science, of course.

Whenever you're on the bog, play these games. They're fun, easy to pick up, and you can get through a level or two in no time.

Game: Doodle Jump
Played on: iOS
Available on Android? Yes
Description:If you're reading this post, you've most likely heard of Doodle Jump. It involves the player tilting their device in order to guide a constantly jumping creature over tiny little platforms whilst, simultaneously, dodging monsters and other obstacles to prevent your character from falling to his death.
Why is it a good toilet game? The simple control scheme and use of your device's motion control means the game can be played single handedly with no worries; of course, this isn't necessary for a toilet game but if you are tight on time, you can carry on playing whilst you wipe. The game lacks levels, and instead takes the form of a 'beat the score' type competition, meaning you can jump straight into the game and can play as much or as little as you like over any time period.
Similar: Abduction, Abduction 2 (Like Doodle Jump, but with a cow)

Game: Angry Birds
Played on: Android
Available on iOS? Yes
Description:Angry Birds is another well known title, that I'm sure you will have heard about. There's not much to explain really - the aim of the game is to catapult the birds into a fort of pigs, in order to get revenge on the pigs because they stole an egg or something. Different birds do different things at a tap of the screen; some of them split themselves into three smaller birds, some get speed boosts and some explode. That kind of thing.
Why is it a good toilet game? The game has a simple, and clean visual style as well as a simple goal, meaning the game can be effortless to play, keeping enough of your brain focused on doing your poo, whilst reserving power for some of the harder levels which may require a substantially larger amount of thought.
Noteworthy Drawbacks: The game's level system means there's a fairly hefty amount of menus to go through before you can actually start flinging some birds; if you've misjudged the size of your business, you might find yourself reaching for the toilet roll before you've even started playing.

Game: Rocket Bunnies
Played on: Android
Available on iOS? No
Description: Rocket Bunnies isn't as popular as Angry Birds or Doodle Jump, but it uses a similar 'fun without fuss' style. You play as a bunny, who's riding a rocket and your mission is to fly your rocket around different sectors of space by tapping on a planet to move there, until you've collected all the other bunnies, who appear to be stranded in space. Your bunny will continue to orbit the planet it currently enhabits until you command it to move to the next one. Look out for spider bots though; they have a completely unexplained vendetta against the bunnies, and every single one of them is out to get you, following you from planet to planet until it hits you, unless you take it from behind and get it first.
Why is it a good toilet game? The simplicity of the game's goal allows you to quickly hop into one level before quitting moments later when you've done with your dump. Cute animation, a cartoony art style and pleasing sound effects add to the game's entertainment value, keeping you amused for the entire duration of your toilet time.
Noteworthy Drawbacks: Just like Angry Birds it can take a few moments to get through the menus, so maybe this one should be kept for those special, longer poos.

No matter what you do, don't play these whilst you poo; they're complicated, stressful and will make the experience more painful than it already is.

Game: GTA: Chinatown Wars
Played on: iOS
Available on Android? No
Description: You all know what GTA is, and I shouldn't have to explain. You steal cars, shoot people, complete missions, and drive around. This one has a top down camera similar to the original games.
Why is it a bad toilet game? The game's virtual buttons make it difficult to play at the best of times, never mind when you're on the bog - you'll have to concentrate extremely hard to play this one on the toilet and if you lose focus on what you're there for, you might have to leave and come back later for another go. Missions are lengthy, and you'll have to travel to get to them in the first place; if you're taking this long on the toilet then you should see a doctor.

Game: Fling
Played on: iOS
Available on Android? No
Description: Fling is a puzzle game, involving a board with multiple, different coloured furballs on. You have to fling one furball into the next in order to get all but one of them off the board. It may sound simple, but it's quite challenging at times.
Why is it a bad toilet game? The earlier puzzles would make for a great toilet game, but once you get to the later stages you'll have to really think about what you're doing, resulting in either you getting very frustrated, convincing your poo that it's not time to leave yet or a shortage of time, meaning you wont get anything done before it's time to get up off your throne.

Game: Pocket Legends
Played On: Android
Available on iOS? Yes
Description: Pocket Legends is a mobile MMO, set in a fantasy universe. Think of it as World of Warcraft on a smaller screen. You choose a race, and start life as your new character, completing quests and hitting people with swords. It's a very good game for a lengthy train ride, but it's not exactly suited for the toilet.
Why is it a bad toilet game? It's as simple as this: You can't just pick it up and start playing. If you're enjoying it, you'll really be enjoying it and you'll want to complete quest after quest after quest. You'll turn it on, you'll play it for hours on end and then you'll wake up in the morning, on the toilet seat, with crusty bits of poo stuck to your bum hairs.

Well, that's it as far as my toilet game do's and don'ts go but please drop a line in the comments section expressing your opinions on mobile gaming in the lavatory.   read

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