News and comments from Arthur

Invaders Must Die

 Friday 28 Nov 2008, 3:55 AM Invaders Must Die

A good few weeks to be a Prodigy fan (as I am) - first they finally announce a new album entitled Invaders Must Die, due for release on March 2nd 2009 (my dad`s birthday but I doubt he`ll be wanting a copy as a present!). Then we get the track listing including Worlds on Fire and Warriors dance, both of which have been going down very well when played live recently. Then a few days ago they released the title track as a free download on the webiste and today we get the video for the song starring Mickey from Dr Who (OK, so he has plenty of other claims to fame but that`s what most people know him from!) available on YouTube:

As for the song itself, at first I though it was a OK track, nothing too special, but I was listening on my PC rather than a proper, loud sound system. Once turned up to a decent volume with good bass, it definitely improves. It`s more tuneful than recent Prodigy stuff, but still has a good agressive edge to it with plenty of heavy beats. The only bit I`m still not convinced about is at the end where it begins to sound like the record/cd is stuck. Still, I`ve been humming it for the past few days and it has a place in my "Bit of Everything" favoutites playlist on my Squeezebox., so it has definitely hit the spot. Roll on March (assuming it doesn`t leak on BitTorrent early like the last album - not that that would stop me buying it; I`ve still bought every Prodigy album released on the day it came out and don`t intend to stop with this one.)

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Left 4 Dead

 Tuesday 25 Nov 2008, 4:09 AM

After good comments from friends who have been playing this, I was persaueded to join them as it has a strong co-op play element to it.

I grabbed a copy from Gamestation in a branch of Blockbuster close to where I work (normally I`d go to ASDA for games but they don`t do PC games anyome, somehting I found out when trying to buy WoW: Wrath of the Lich King a few weeks back) and it was a relatively easy, if rather slow installation. I was a bit nervous that it wouldn`t run too well on my aged PC (I think it`s about 5 years old now - I`m still stuck with an AGP graphics card slot rather than PCI which is the main limiting factor) but it ran just fine, albeit with relatively low graphics settings - no antialiasing for me!

And the game is really good too - it has a great atmosphere and is pretty tricky too. It perfcetly captures the feel of a Zombie film with speedy modren Zombies rather than slow shambling ones (I don`t think the game would be quite as manic!). It is definitely fun blasting the legs and arms off literally hundreds of screaming zombies charging at you! Or blowing them up with a gas cannister. Or burning them alive etc. My favourite level so far has been an outdoor one where it was impossible to see where they were coming from. The little buggers kept hiding in the foliage and garbbing me when I wasn`t expecting it!

OK, so it might not have a long life with limited levels to play but as it is a Valve product, the level editior is not far behind so it should hopefully get plenty of community support. Saying that, thre is a good degeree of artificial intelligence and even playing the same level again, the zombies don`t just appear from the same places each time - the traps and mad attacks play out differently in different games.

It would be nice if more than 4 players could play together at once but the levels have obviously been balanced for exactly 4 characters (the others are played by bots if there aren`t enough real people to fill each role). Not sure if this could be modified for later levels though. Maybe it`s a technical limitiation too based on PC processing power or the engine it runs on?

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Wrath of the Lich King

 Friday 14 Nov 2008, 5:39 AM

I spent last night driving round the various shops and Supermarkets in my local area looking for a copy of the new World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King.

My main charcater, Koneko (a Gnome Warlock) has just reached level 70 so I wanted the expansion to open up a greater level range as much as I wnated new content (I still haven`t gone through all the regions in Burning Crusade yet).

But could I find a copy anywahere? No. Actually that`s a slight lie - my local branch of Morrisons had it for the bargain price of £30, which is £5 over the RRP. Funilly enough I decided not to give them my business.

I could have bought online for £18 but, as usual, was too desperate to get a copy in my hands. As I had the day off work I popped into town expecting to pay RRP from the usual big retailers but found it for £20 in HMV which was pretty good in my opinion. A £2 premium to get it in mynhands from a bricks and mortar retailer there and then seemed like a pretty good compromise to me. And thus I bought it there and then. Well done HMV (not often I`ll say that).

I didn`t actually get to play it until later in the evening today as I spent most of the day helping build the roof to a summerhouse for my mum (yes, I know it`s almost winter). Plus the game took a while to install, update, patch etc. And even then there was a half hour queue to get onto the server as it was full!

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Important Day

 Tuesday 11 Nov 2008, 5:29 AM

Today is an important day. Some will remember it as the 90th anniversary of the end of World War 1. I will remember it as the day I finally gave up writing on this bloody website in the third person and satrted writing as myself.

You wouldn`t belive what a pain in the arse it is to write things as Arthur. So much so, I have realised it actually puts me off writing entries. And thus I have decided to bring and end to an era and start writing properly. Arthur will still exisit of course and maybe this change will encourage me to update his life story a bit more.

Writing as myself means I can type a bit quicker too although this may not be a ggod thing as my arthritic fingers tend not to work as fast as my brain meaning loads more bad typos and appalling spelling (at least that`s my excuse - I can do genrally spellings quite well!)

Anyway, back to remembering all the lessons the human race has learnt about the futility and human suffering of war and all that...

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New Bondage

 Sunday 2 Nov 2008, 12:39 PM

Arthur went to see the new Bond film last night, Quantum of Solace, although he thinks he may have got the wrong screen and went to see a "Bourne" film instead.

Whereas Casino Royale got the balance just right of ditching old style Bond campiness and adding real worldiness whilst keeping enough Bondiness to make it feel like Bond, the new one just went too far. Arthur thought it just didn`t feel like a Bond film.

All the camera work in the action scense was done "shaky style" a-la-Bourne, but even more extreme, so much so you couldn`t really tell what was going on half the time. The plot didn`t really seem to exisit or if it did it was so overly convoluted or trying to be too clever it was difficult to follow. Arthur couldn`t actually tell you what it was all about as it really wasn`t that obvious! The plot idea they set up in the first film, that the bad guys were a network of people who had spies everywhere and you never quite knew who they where or their motives, was taken to such an extreme that is just seemed to disolve into a whole load of different people who occasionally met up with Bond getting involved to try and find out who they were/kill them/sleep with them/go through some kind of high octane action scene (delete as applicable).

OK, it was enjoyable enough and each action scene by itself was fine (if you could cope with the shaky cam) but nothing seemed to flow. And the worst part of it all was that the famous opening shot looking down a gun barrel with Bond shooting staright at you and the screen filling with blood, was tagged on at the end of the film at the start of the end credits! It really wouldn`t have been hard to include it at the start where it should be.

Arthur just hopes that, despite record breaking opening weekend bookings and some reasonable reviews, once word of mouth starts to spread, box office receipts will drop off pretty quickly and send a clear mesage to the producers of the next one to go back to the Casino Royale blueprint. Arthur will only buy this on Blu Ray once the price has dropped considerably and certainly wouldn`t recommend a cinema visit to casual films goers.

Finally, Arhtur`s special prize for weird people of the evening went to the couple (a balding man in his mid 40`s and a short, slightly overwight, younnger oriental girl) who arrived 45 minutes into the film and sat down next to him and proceeded to try and read their mail by the light from the screen! They eventually gave up but the oriental girl used her post to fan herself to keep cool instead - personally Arthur would have thought taking her thick winter coat, scarf, hat and gloves off would have been a more sensible idea but maybe that`s just crazy thinking...

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