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Welcome Destructoid and sexual malcontents. I'm Andy, some of you will know me as such, or some will know me as "Grammar Nazi Bot 5000".
Either way, I'm a British gamer, hence my impeccable grammar and poor dental hygiene and yes, I do know the queen personally.
Now I know what you're thinking, does masturbating on an aeroplane make you a member of the mile high club? No, no it doesn't, just a wanker.

As an impoverished and un-employed 22 year old ex-student, you can imagine I do little with my time apart from playing video games and watching TV. However, if you made that assumption you would be completely wrong, for you have forgotten that all British people are James Bond-esque secret agents. So this blog and video gaming is obviously just my cover.

: Writer
: Writer

You can reach me at;
MSN / Gtalk:
Or by calling MI6 Headquarters and asking for it's sexiest man of mystery and cupcakes.

- Andy Howells.

Following (7)  

I doubt I'm the first person, or the last for that matter, that will suffer from Xbox 360 problems other than having 3 red rings staring them in their horrified faces. Possibly the most annoying error of these is the constant overheating problem that occurs, where your Xbox will shut down and flash 2 lights every 10 minutes.

This cry for attention from my Xbox has been happening over the last couple of weeks. Every day I would throw my arms in the air, pop the monocle whence forth from my eye and spit my tea all over my lap. With two filthy flashing lights glaring back at me in disgust I contemplated how much splash damage it would cause on my lawn if I threw it out the window.

But alas, I could not bring myself to destroy my beloved Xbox. How else would I experience the ear-piercing frequencies of 10 year old racists? How else would I get the chance to throw two cuddling stormtroopers down a ventilation shaft? Only in my dreams and nightmares unfortunately.

This brought me to the disagreeable option of ringing Xbox customer support. Though the staff there were courteous and helpful, they would not listen to my pleas for a brand new 360, they would not heed the cries of my broken heart, offering instead that I send it in for repairs but nothing more.

Repairs? At this point I welled up, ashen faced with burning tears slipping down my cheeks, it took all my will to hold it together. "Please" I begged, "I'll send cookies, hookers, whatever you want, just give me a new Xbox!"

"I'm sorry sir we can't supply you with a brand new Xbox, give us £60 and send it in for repairs", he didn't say anything about the hookers at this point, but I knew he was tempted.

"£60!?" I exclaimed. "What will I use to buy FarCry 2? AND HOOKERS FOR THAT MATTER". "I'm sorry sir, your problem is not covered in the extended 3 year warranty, only hardware failures. And your ability to acquire the services of a humble wench is your own problem."

Unable to beg any more, disdain flooded my arm resulting in the thunderous crash of the phone upon the holder. "Damn" I whispered under my pepperoni smelling breath.

This left me one final option, searching google. When all the solutions I found online were unable to suffice, I almost accepted my fate, that I would never be able to play by beloved games again. (Well at least not for the price of £60 and waiting 10 days for repairs). But suddenly, a thought hit me, a slap in the face like a wet fish, or that girl I thought was a hooker and offered money to in the supermarket the other day.

Youtube. Youtube was to be my salvation, a young man by the completely unrelated nickname FixYourOwnXbox had posted a video detailing exactly what to do to open your Xbox. Salivating I clicked his video and was enthralled for the whole video at how dexterous he was with a screwdriver, how his hard yet tender hands managed to peel open the flesh of his 360 and delve into the wonderful insides.

I followed his every dictation, like a school boy getting into the back of a strangers van and eventually wrestled free my Xbox from the oppression of its cover.

Suddenly and without warning, I became frozen in time, horrified, dismayed, shocked beyond all recognition at the view that lay in front of me. The insides of my darling Xbox stared back at me with contempt, a blaming, shuffling look that took the very soul of me and crushed it into oblivion. Dust, dust, dust, it seemed to say with snapping lips and hateful glances. The whole inside of my 360 was caked with dust, cigarette ash and some random viscous substance that looked like tapeworm.

I edged forth, running my hand across it. My hand screamed out in damnation that such a thing was upon me, but still it needed cleaning. I vacuumed with the wit and fancy of 500 housewives, I scrubbed like a man caught with lipstick on his collar until all was well and sparkling in the Xbox.

Finally, as if the shroud of Mount Doom had been lifted, my 360 was in perfect condition, shiny, clean smelling and quieter than usual, its gentle purring soothing me, letting me know I had done a good job.

At last, I was free from the curse, at last I could play Brothers In Arms completely un-interrupted, at last I could touch my - "Dinner is ready" came a booming voice, shaking the very walls around me into submission. After a scared silence, I suggested "I'll be there in a minute". But the voice would not be silenced, it repeated its original order, but this time, with such depth and tone that the words would not be out of place coming from Satan herself.

It was then I realised, the once swelling pride that I had fixed my Xbox, the happiness that I could now shoot some Nazis, was now shattered due to the demands from a petite 5"6 woman. But I will have my revenge, like Hitler himself, what with gassing all those people at a dinner party with his dangerous flatulence. My time begins soon, mark my words woman, a war is brewing.

- Andy Howells - also writes erotic novels for polar bears.

Clint Hocking, Ubisoft creative director, discussing animations, gun breakage and immersion in Far Cry 2.

See more gamer videos at PWN or DIE

ARRRR I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS GAME, GIVE IT TO ME NOW! I'll say please and everything if it helps?

Fresh from the GC in Leipzig oven comes a new Far Cry 2 trailer.

See more gamer videos at PWN or DIE

Gotta say it looks almost as sexy as you Dtoid.

Red Alert 3 character introductions, I didn't know so many of these actors were in it.

See more gamer videos at PWN or DIE

Okay Gemma Atkinson is hotter than Dtoid, sorry guys.

- Andy H

Well my destructoid brethrin, I'm feeling charitable, nay, I'm feeling sexual. Either way, you have your chance to get your filthy mits upon my review copy of SBK08 for Xbox 360.
It is PAL regioned, so none of you dirty capitalist pigs (americans) should bother entering unless you enjoy having games you can't play.

I'm running a caption competition on, a website which gave me my first writing job and has been unable to get rid of me so far, head on over there to be in with a chance to win.


The picture is this;

Winner will be announced next Tuesday when another contest will be unveiled to win a different game.
It's all completely free in case you're wondering, I'll post it to you out of my own cobweb and bat filled pockets much to my own displeasure, but as long as someone earns it by making me laugh, it's all worth it.

Head on over, what have you got to lose?

- Andy H

In response to the murder of a taxi driver, GTA 4 has been banned across Thailand and is being pulled from shelves all over the country.
According to Captain Veerarit Pipatanasak of the Bangkok police; "[the murderer] wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game."
That's just fabulous, this news is sure to spread across all news channels eventually, expect Fox News, Sky News, Jack Thompson and the censorship boards to eat this news up and spit it back into the faces of gamers everywhere.

I do however find this slightly over the top and somewhat hypocritical of Thailands police and government. I've been to Thailand quite a few times and I'm sorry Thailand, but your record on crime and human rights is pretty appalling. The child sex trade is still running, drugs, violence, bad healthcare and crime run rampant, even without the prescence of GTA 4.
So perhaps they should be looking at problems other than gaming and I hope they realise that there are problems in Thailand that banning a game isn't going to solve.

However, eventually this story is going to break on news networks, so expect there to be a media backlash against GTA once more with this as a much repeated example.

Stay sexy Dtoid.
- Andy H

Yes, the game has been out a little while but I've only just got round to penning out my impressions and a review. Hope you enjoy and find it useful if you still haven't tried/bought the game.


"Tank on the left Rummy, TANK ON THE LEFT RUMMY!" I scream at unintelligible decibels down the microphone at my squad mate, but to no avail, a fireball lets loose itself heading straight for us.
His body goes hurtling through the air at the speed of sound, flipping over the street and burrowing itself into a ditch, my ears have popped, the screen has gone hazy and the tank bursts straight through our lines. I stare up at the mammoth waiting for its gunner to open up and finish me off, but suddenly I hear the roar of a snipers guided bomb and the tank is reduced to molten steel 10 feet from me as I run to cower and hide in a crater.

The above is just a taster of the explosive new instalment from DICE, following on from it's previous incarnations, all centred around massive multi-player battles with Tanks, Jeeps, Choppers and a host of other vehicles thrown in for good measure, what it does differently however is offer a true sandbox experience to the game-play. Have you ever been annoyed by that sniper you can't pick off in a high window? Have you ever been unable to bust your way into the enemy base because they're camping all the entrances? Those problems no longer exist, because in Bad Company you just blow the building up instead.

Although Battlefield is known for it's multi-player, Bad Company takes a side track in the form of a meaningful and comprehensive single player mode, featuring fully rounded characters, an intelligent and well thought out plot, while still including massive battles, explosions and even some hilarious moments.

In the campaign you see the world through the eyes of Preston Marlow, a new draftee to Bad Company after he crashed a stolen helicopter which apparently had he "landed it a few feet to the left, no one would have noticed". Our protagonist is quickly introduced to the other three members of his squad, Sweetwater, a soldier who hacked the army's network, Haggard, the dumb but loveable redneck who is often the comic relief and Sergeant Redford, the tough as nails leader.
The foursome are sent off on dangerous missions used mainly as bullet magnets to clear the way for other units and often treated as disposable objects, which doesn't bode well for the characters, but certainly does for you since it means you get to see a hell of a lot of action.

Due to the way the single player is set up with massive maps and expansive environments, you usually have the choice of which objective to complete next and something all too rare in shooters, the ability to choose exactly how and where you attack. This is where the game sets itself apart from other first person shooters, many are linear scripted battles moving from point A to B without any real choice being involved and simply following the course the game sets up for you. But the brilliance here is that the game truly excels as a sandbox adventure from start to finish, you can do what you choose, when you choose.
However there are some problems with the single player, the biggest one being that sometimes the AI in the game is quite shoddy, often I've been creeping up on an enemy location only to have Haggard start firing rockets or Sweetwater start spraying his machine gun which quite frequently is completely useless since they rarely hit the enemy or help you at all.

Another somewhat frustrating part of the game is that when you are killed absolutely nothing bad happens, you simply re-spawn at the last checkpoint with no impact on the game whatsoever. Whilst this may be construed as being a good thing, it quickly means your game disintegrates into simply charging and spraying because you realise that getting yourself shot in the face will have no repercussions.

Another dilemma that betrays the blessing of these open battlefields is that often it leads to breaks in the momentum of the level, because you'll conquer a village and be on a high, only then to have to drive for 5 minutes to the next battle.

Multiplayer however is free from these problems, you get to choose between ranked and player matches which will suit hardcore and casual players respectively and fulfil all of your wall exploding needs. It is a well rounded experience with intelligent map design and great battles, but there is only one game mode at present in the form of Gold Rush, which is basically search and destroy with re-spawns, where the attacking team must demolish the crates that are chock full of gold while the defending team tries to hold them back.
Most maps have around 5 sets of these crates with the battle lines changing after every pair is successfully destroyed which means battles can be long but also varied as it unusual to have a multiplayer game fold out exactly the same way each time. This is of course helped by the Frostbite engine which allows players to literally craft the world around them, blowing up buildings, creating trenches with explosives, using fallen trees for cover and basically means that each time it is a completely different escapade.

Online play is also not without bugs and glitches, many players have noticed quite a few annoyances cropping up, a major one is the lag that is often experienced, possibly due to high demand, but nevertheless it is probable that most games you play in you will suffer from it one way or another.
Unfortunately the problems don't end there, bad hit detection, a mediocre party mode and faulty game mechanics also plague this exemplary game and often you are taken out of the immersion and your experience tarnished because of the inability for DICE/EA to publish a game which is appropriately completed. The badly thought out party modes are almost unforgivable in a day and age where gamers expect to be able to play with those on their friends list, but are usually seperated and split up from each other in game. This wouldn't be such a problem if you could still hear everyone on your team. But due to the inclusion of the squad system which means only the four of you stuck together in a squad can communicate it is a seriously bad annoyance when this occurs.
Of course a lot of these problems will be fixed in a patch that is apparently in certification as we speak, but the game badly needed a bit more spit and polish before being released.

What Bad Company does do well are glorious graphics that help bring the game to life, a gritty feel to it created by the grainy filter that almost makes you feel like you're watching a movie at times, all backed up by fantastic sound effects. Never before has a game had such amazing sound, the deafening shell shock when an explosive hits nearby, the wonderful whiz of bullets impacting around you as you run for cover thudding into the dirt and slicing through wood and concrete.

The sound and visuals also work well together, especially when you're facing an array of bullets, the screen shakes and high pitched bullet impacts ping all around you to bring a wonderfully engrossing and realistic feel to the game. The only part of the visuals that sometimes let the game down are of the iconic smiley face grenades which look almost cartoonish in size and flight, and the way the environment, such as trees, doesn't actually break, but is instead replaced by different textures and objects, but these can be forgiven as quickly as a mortar strike sends you to meet your maker.

Due to Bad Company’s brilliant graphics, excellent sound, amazing sand box gameplay, longevity is not an issue for this game, especially since every time you play it'll feel brand new, a different experience. The problems it is suffering from at the moment, pre-patch, could be it's undoing, but with good sales it seems the public is willing to forgive a few little quirks to play this fantastic shooter while eagerly awaiting an update.
Overall you should look at buying battlefield as an investment, something that will mature with time like a good wine, and therefore will taste much more delicious in the long run.

Visuals: 8
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 7
Lifespan: 9
Overall: 8.5/10 Although due to the glitches it should really get a 7.

- Andy H