Game of Thrones: “First Of His Name” Quick Thoughts

Before I start a couple of things. There will be spoilers, don’t go moaning at me when you read something that you haven’t already watched yet ok? If you do I will hold you in as high regard as I hold Dany’s story lines. Secondly, I’m not going to go through everything that happens in the episode, just little things that popped into my head as I watched. Sorted? Good, off we go.

Well RIP Tanner. My favourite villain in the GoT series who had all of about 10 minutes screen time overall. I hope the guy who played him has a long and fruitful career as a Willem Dafoe tribute act.

Karl Tanner Game of Thrones

Goodbye Sweet Psychopath

So Craster’s Keep has been burnt to the ground, the mutineers slaughtered and Craster’s daughters are off to survive by themselves…Yeah, good luck with that. One thing that struck me about the way that Jon Snow (on his 9th different northern accent) and his Night’s Watch brothers attacked their former comrades was just how poorly planned it was. Jon sends Locke out to have a little scout of the camp, comes back and tells them there are NO GUARDS PATROLLING and most of them are drunk so what does Jon Snow do? Sends them in screaming to signal they were coming. Good work Jon Snow, Lord Commander Mormont taught you well. Surely the best but would have been to sneak up, take a couple out on the outskirts while they were doing their beating and raping and then keep going from there? What do I know though?

Dany is finding out that while it’s pretty easy to take cities it’s not so easy keeping them under your rule when you just walk out of them expecting things to be all hunky dory. She has a lot to learn that one. We will now look forward to twenty pretty dull Dany episodes of her being a terrible queen, being undermined by Daario while Jorah and Selmy try and tell her what she should be doing. Joy. One thing I did miss off of last weeks thoughts while I remember it; where the hell did they find a bloody great Targaryen flag to hang off the Harpy of top of the pyramid in Mereen?

Game of Thrones Mereen

Also, who’s job was it to climb up there? Sod that.

Long live King Tommen, the realms greatest puppet King. Everyone wants a piece of him and even Cersei seems to be doing nice things to help him not turn into a little shit like his recently deceased brother. I’m sure that won’t last long. If Cersei isn’t being a bit of a dick then that’s just not Game of Thrones.

Poor Sansa and poor Sophie Turnere who is the actress that plays Sansa. It must be quite demoralising as an actress to turn up to work every day and just be told to cry, look sad, get beaten up, cry some more and then just frown when not doing those other things. We did get to see her smile for about half a second this week before realising her Aunt Lysa is crazier than anyone she had met in Kings Landing. Lysa and her lungs kept her up all night and then she was interrogated to ask if she had slept with the irish villainess vampire Littlefinger before then being told she was going to marry Robin Arryn who, thank god, we didn’t see sucking on his mothers tit this time. Chin up Sansa, it might get better (it won’t).

From one Stark girl to another. Arya got her dancing shoes on and started twirling Needle around. It was great to see Arya doing some water dancing and allowing us reminisce about the good times of season one when she was enjoying her sword lessons. I bet you that Maisie Williams will be keeping the Needle prop and pulling that dancing shit out at parties and get togethers, I know I would anyway. Arya is most people’s favourite, or at least high on that list and it’s scenes like this that prove why. Without going on too much about the actress I have to say that Arya is one of the best acted and I certainly hope that there is some kind of award down the line for Maisie Williams. It certainly helps that she has amazing dialogue to work with and being paired with The Hound is simply brilliant, it’s always one of the highlights of the show and I don’t want that pairing to end, it will though, nothing lasts in Game of Thrones.

Let’s end on probably the most awesome thing that has ever or will ever happen in Game of Thrones; Hodor Hulking up with the help of Bran and nearly ripping a mans head off.

Hodor Locke

Drink your milk and take your vitamins, brother.

The internet (and book wankers like me) were up in arms after last week’s episode showed Hodor getting stabbed in the leg last week. You can change anything from the books but Hodor is sacred. So even though it was through Bran’s warging and not just Hodor going full out Hulk Hogan it was great to see Hodor nearly rip Locke’s head off. It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t see more of Locke, he was a pretty awesome character but now he is dead Bran is free to wander off for three seasons through the bitter north to find the Wierwood tree that he and Jojen have seen in their vision, that’s going to be a fun watch.

So, here is looking forward to next weeks episode, “The Laws of Gods and Men”. Get a taster by checking out the preview.

Kevin Spacey: Advanced Warfare

Well, another year, another Call of Duty.

I didn’t go anywhere near the last one, mainly because I was too busy playing Battlefield 4 but I’m very interested to see what happens this year with the Call of Duty franchise. It will be the first year where the games first thought is next gen consoles and it needs to come out swinging especially with Titanfall being the first truly great multiplayer FPS to be released on next gen.

A couple of things stand out for me in the trailer, firstly, KEVIN BLOODY SPACEY and secondly, I’m very much expecting players to be able to hop around a la Titanfall.

Apart from a pretty trailer there isn’t much more known about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare so let’s wait until we see some actual gameplay before we start ripping it apart mmkay internets?

Oh and did I mention KEVIN SPACEY?! I did? Oh, ok.

Something To Brighten Up Your Day

I didn’t watch the Chelsea / Madrid match last night so imagine my joy when I saw this on Sky Sports News this morning. Everyone’s favourite racist / cheater (excluding Luis Suarez) was crying his eye’s out after losing in the Champions League Semi Final.

Image

 

Any one else and I would have sympathy (except Luis Suarez). So, if you’re having a bad day, just take a look at the image above and have a chuckle.

You’re welcome.

Play to Win, Not to Entertain.

If England played football like Chelsea at the world cup and won it, I wouldn’t care less, it’s about winning. It’s not pretty, but it gets the results. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it week in week out, but if it gets results then that is what matters.

A lot of people will tell you that football is entertainment and while for us, the fans we can certainly see it as entertainment the fact remains, when all is said and done football is a sport, it is about a team playing to win trophies. You don’t play football as a kid to entertain your parents watching on the sidelines, you play to win and its the same all the way up the football pyramid, it doesn’t change.  It shouldn’t change. Just because football is now this huge global phenomenon the core goal is still the same, win football matches. Win trophies.

It's all about trophies

It’s all about trophies

While I would love teams I watch or have played for to play beautiful, free flowing attacking football I would still sacrifice that for victories. That feeling of winning outweighs anything else. If Chelsea end up winning the Champions League and maybe even the Premier League then do you think Mourinho, the players or the fans will care about the striker less team that was put out at Old Trafford earlier this season or the digs from other managers who have been defeated by Chelsea? Not at all, that feeling of having your club lifting a trophy is amazing.

There is that phrase that manager’s use just before they get sacked; it’s a results business. And that is the truth of it. While there are a few owners of clubs who might get rid of a manager for not being entertaining (and Abramovich was one of them, he seems to have accepted results over style now) the most important thing, especially in the modern game where the amount of money a club receives for just staying in the Premier League is astronomical, is results. Just look at the handful of clubs at the bottom of the Premier League at the moment.  There have been so many changes of manager because the results just have not been coming.

Yes as fans we would love to see free flowing football but whether its on a park on a Sunday, or playing at Anfield / Old Trafford at 3pm on a Saturday the main goal is the same, win a football match. You play the right tactics against the right teams.

Only the result counts

Only the result counts

To address the criticism of Chelsea a little more head on hear I actually think Mourinho would be playing a little more expansive if he had brought a striker in the summer or in the January transfer window, he is playing to his teams’ strengths. I have absolutely no issues with how he sets his teams up to get a result, Liverpool and Rogers were sore losers on Sunday and of course you can understand that a little, being close to their first title in over two decades and seeing it slip away must be heart breaking but Mourinho did his homework, knew Liverpool have one way of playing (which is beautiful to watch and will blow away 90 percent of other teams in the league) and set out his team to counter that and win. And he did.

What doesn’t sit well with me about Mourinho is how he criticises other teams for setting up teams against him in the same vein. He’s a genius when he does it, but Big Sam and West Ham play 19th century football when they do it.

Jose-Mourinho-001

Love it or hate it, Mourinho’s way of playing football is successful and while the larger football world might not look back in twenty years time and remember that classic Chelsea side who won all those trophies, the history books will still read that Chelsea won and if Mourinho comes out against Athletico Madrid tonight and heads to Lisbon to face his old club Real Madrid in the final then again his tactics from the first leg would be totally justified.

To take you back to the top of this piece I will ask a question of you: If England (or your nation if you aren’t English, I’m not UKIP) win the world cup playing the type of football Chelsea have in the big games this season would you really complain? Or would you be out on the streets waving your flags and having a few drinks? I’ll be out on the streets.

Game of Thrones: “Oathkeeper” Quick Thoughts

Before I start a couple of things. There will be spoilers, don’t go moaning at me when you read something that you haven’t already watched yet ok? If you do I will hold you in as high regard as I hold Dany’s story lines. Secondly, I’m not going to go through everything that happens in the episode, just little things that popped into my head as I watched. Sorted? Good, off we go.

We are coming up to the halfway stage of this season of GoT and it really has been a cracker so far. We have had Dany marching past dead children to Mereen and magically conjuring up some catapults from somewhere (seriously, how the hell could they have travelled the mountain roads?!) to throw broken slave chains at it’s walls. There has been Jaime being told where to go by Cersei who has turned into nothing more than a drunk middle aged woman at this point. Oberyn Martell has been introduced to us and nothing more than a full size version of Tyrion who also likes to sleep with men and of course we have had the death of King Douche himself; Joffrey.
As someone who has read the books (herein referred to as book wanker) then most of GoT becomes me just waiting in anticipation for things to happen. I was shaking in anticipation of the Red Wedding and when Joff was being an insufferable little shit to Tyrion at his own wedding I was shaking again, just waiting for the poison to take effect, it’s exhilarating even though you know what is about to happen. That being said my favourite episodes, or at least part episodes of GoT are when the story lines deviate from the book so much that I have no idea what is going on, I like to be surprised. Oathkeeper’s second half specifically had so much going on that is not in the books that I just sat there with my mouth wide open just taking it all in.
Karl Tanner - Leader of the Mutineers. Willem Dafoe's Lovechild

Karl Tanner – Leader of the Mutineers. Willem Dafoe’s Lovechild

Now we all know that Joffrey was a detestable little shit and Ramsay Bolton certainly runs him close on the show for sheer scumbaggery but my goodness, Karl – ex brother of the nights watch and leader of the mutiny at Craster’s Keep, he is one hell of a scary bloke. Part of that is down to the fact that he looks like the love child of Willem Dafoe and Lee Evans but still, when he opened his mouth he became one of the most truly despicable characters on the show (shame he will probably get speared through the heart by Longclaw net week). I was fully expecting to not be interested at all in the story of the heroic Jon Snow (now slipped back into his northern, but not so northern voice) ranging out beyond the wall to exterminate the mutineers but with the revelation that Ghost is being held captive and now Bran and the gang are as well I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens. Will we see another instance of relatives just missing each other with Bran escaping while Jon Snow is fighting outside or will we actually see a small reunion of one half of the remaining Stark children? Who know’s but part of me would like to see a scene with the Starks coming together and the fact that Bran has so little to do this season it would mean the actor would earn his wage actually having to act a scene.The ending of Oathkeeper had me just saying to myself “what the hell is going on, what the hell is this place, WHO THE HELL IS THAT?” Part of me thought I had switched over to reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when we get to see who, I am assuming, is the Night’s King. The character design there was pretty terrible but who cares he turned a babies eyes blue!

Anyway, roll on Episode 5; “The First of His Name” and fingers crossed that Dany becomes less boring, Karl somehow survives and the Direwolves get to have some revenge.

Where's Buffy when you need her?

Where’s Buffy when you need her?

A New Beginning

Well hello there, long time no see and all the other usual clichés we spout after not seeing people for a long time. It’s been over two years since I last put something up on here, granted I have attempted to write a few things since then on my ill-fated ‘trying to write a book’ website (don’t even go looking for it, seriously, my lack of drive to do anything on that was embarrassing).

A lot has changed for me over those past couple of years. I’ve recently started a new job back closer to home (Swindon, UK) and That means for the first time since my girlfriend and I have been together that we are living, seven days a week, in the same Town. This is where we start the sweepstakes to see how long it will be before she realises that’s not a good thing!

I’ve tried to tidy this little site up so that I have an outlet to get some thoughts down when I have them, regardless of the subject matter. It could be football, TV, marketing, video games or just something that is in my head, who knows but as someone who wrote and podcast about video games for nearly three years sometimes you just miss being able to force your opinions on to people. New posts may take the form of one paragraph or they could be huge opinion pieces, more than likely though they will be pretty short and to the point. I will be trying to get something out at least once a week just to keep the site updated (yay for google) so feel free to subscribe to this page if you fancy it.

Anyway, time to crack on with some work. It’s good to be back and let’s see how long this new beginning lasts.

Interview with Jess Ratcliffe of GaBoom.co.uk

Have you ever wanted to set up your own business? Well, not just a business but one that was doing something you love? For a lot of you reading this that would be video games. I know I have thought of it a lot, “what can I do that will make me money and means I work in video games?” I have yet to find that answer, I’m still trying don’t you worry, but for some people they have made their dream a reality. 

Recently I was looking to get rid of a copy of Deadly Premonition. I had recently purchased it from my local store and hated it. I knew I wouldn’t get much money for it anywhere so was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it. I had seen on Twitter a mention of a service that would allow me to swap my games online with a user base. I managed to find someone willing to swap Deadly Premonition for Assassins Creed: Brotherhood and the rest is history.

GaBoom.co.uk was the service I used and will be the service I use for the rest of my time on this earth. GaBoom is an easy to use service giving me the option to swap my game by connecting directly with the other user, by Escrow where each user stumps up £18 deposit and then sends the game out using recorded delivery with their deposit returned when the game is received or by using the GaBoom secure swap system where for a minimal fee both users send their game to the team at GaBoom who check the discs and then send the games out to their new owners.

The owner of GaBoom, 21 year old Jess Ratcliffe is very active on twitter (@GaBoomTweet) and since the service went live in July 2010 Jess has managed to amass over 10,000 active members. After chatting to Jess online I asked if she would be willing to answer a few questions. She was, and here are the answers:

Where and when did you first get the idea for GaBoom? 

Jess: I first had the idea for GaBoom when I was 15 years old and hanging out around the corner from where I live. There’s a large field, so a group of friends and I used to play out there all the time, climbing trees, skateboarding and then going inside to play video games. I used to swap my video games with my friends and neighbours and one day thought, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if you could do this on a larger scale!’ The idea grew from then on.

What was it that sparked you to look into setting up the service?

Jess: As soon as I had the idea, I knew I wanted to make it a reality so I started looking into getting work experience at local web development agencies.  Fortunately, it was around the time of work experience week at my senior school, so it fitted in perfectly! I got myself a weeks work experience at a web development agency in Guildford and it was there I explored the possibility of setting up the service. Unfortunately, the agency quoted me £10,000 for the work, which was way out of my budget at 15 years old! So, I hired a web freelancer over the internet and that’s when things took a turn for the worst, and I soon realised I had been taken for a fool, when the developer walked away with my money without delivering the website he had agreed he would. Then when I was 19 years old at in my first year at university, I was able to take the idea back up again and I’ve never looked back!

To read the rest of the interview and find out Jess’s thoughts on the kind of games she likes and also her time on BBC TV show Dragons Den then head over to Death By Robots by clicking here.

Also, check out GaBoom.co.uk – a great place to swap games you don’t want, for ones you do.

 

Newbreview.com Podcast

Newb Review Podcast

Just a quick one to let you know that I was a guest on the newbreview.com weekly podcast this past week. It’s well worth a listen, not just because I’m on it but because it is a very good podcast that you should subscribe to.

Here’s a brief summary of the topics discussed.“Tom and Kieran are joined by special guest Joe Dale to discuss the incredibly important topic of Zombie Games – following the release of Dead Island have we finally had enough of them?

We also have our regular 60 second review and Adam Thinks features, as well as a bit of banter about what we’ve been up to since our last podcast (a regular thing).”

Click here to check out Newb Review Podcast Episode 40.

FIFA Manager 12 – Preview

Let’s get this out of the way right now, not everybody loves football management games. It could be because they don’t like Football in general or it could just be that people find them too fiddly, and I can understand why people would feel that way. As someone who plays football (when I’m not injured) and who has tried my hand at coaching and managing a side, I am one of those people who really quite enjoy the genre, and find it a perfect way for me to see if I can manage the egos of a top class football team (though I draw the line at trying to keep them away from ladies who aren’t their wives).

FIFA Manager 12 is the eleventh instalment of the FIFA Manager series and also happens to be the first time I have ever seen a FIFA Manager game running. Based in Cologne, the developers, Bright Future, have been working on the FIFA Manager series since 2007 and, since taking over the development reins, they have managed to produce a game that has gone down quite well with the critics. This year, FIFA Manager is looking to blow the competition out of the water with some brand new features and refinements of old ones. During a visit to EA’s offices last month, Producer Adrian Curry ran me through some of the new features for the game and talked over what I could look forward to getting out of this one…

The first thing that struck me is the quality of the presentation. In football management sims, I’m used to staring at the same dull menus – a massive issue for me in this genre as you’re usually just staring at a screen full of boxes and menus – but Bright Future have picked up on that and created some beautiful and intuitive menu screens. This was best shown off in the game’s 3D match engine, an enhanced and tweaked version of the previous FIFA engine that not only looks good, but provides minimal loading times in the transition from menus to game and certainly looks impressive.

The game plays out as if you were watching a game of FIFA but, at any time, you can make changes to your formations and tactics, differing from rival footy management sims by allowing you to make all of these decisions right there on the pitch, without having to trawl through lots of menus and sub menus. If you know that the opposition striker is dangerous and needs close attention, you can find the defender on the screen and check out his man marking stats while the game is still in full flow, and then instruct the defender to man-mark that target. As soon as you have made that man-marking call, you will see your defender attempt to get close to the striker, though unfortunately in our demonstration the opposition striker scored within seconds of being marked, but it just showed that it’s not a guaranteed way of always keeping your opponents from scoring. With defending as just one example I was shown, you can also make changes on the fly all across the pitch, instructing your midfielders to take more long shots and wingers to cross the ball more often, all while the game is unfolding in front of you, just like a real manager.

To read the whole preview click here to be transported to GamingLives.com

The Secret World – Preview

Forget what you think you know. Imagine a world where the lost city of Shambala suddenly reappeared on the world map, imagine a time where the lost city of Atlantis rises out of the sea and imagine a time where the earth that we live on is revealed to be hollow. Those stories, dismissed as myths and legends, are now all true and, with these truths revealed, dark forces come forth, storming the earth and spreading the shadow, waiting to claim anyone who dares to set foot into the darkness. The end of days is upon us, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Time is running out and now is the time to choose a side; The Secret World is appearing in front of us.

The Secret World, a brand new MMO from Funcom, places you in a real world setting where everything you thought you knew about this world must be discarded. With darkness seeping into the world, there only are three secret societies willing to stand in its way:

  • The Illuminati; with headquarters in an abandoned warehouse in New York City this group of shadowy figures are looking to rid the world of the darkness. By having their plants in high profile positions in governments and businesses around the world, they can do as they please without giving too much away about themselves.
  • The Dragon; based in Seoul, South Korea, the Dragons motives are not entirely known to the other two factions. The Dragon feel they know the true meaning of the world and are the ones who sit in between the other rival factions, at times being able to manipulate them and bend them to their own will.
  • The Templars; a lavish mansion in the centre of London Town is home to The Templars. With rich heritage and a history of battling the dark forces for thousands of years, tradition means everything to The Templars, although they are aware they must change with the times in order to keep up in the fight.
Not only will these factions be battling demons and the mythical creatures found rising from the depths, now they will be battling against each other. The Templars and The Illuminati are directly opposed, both wanting total control of the world but for totally different purposes. The Dragon on the other hand are very shady, slithering between the factions, ready to turn their back on one and offer their help to the other, but always in a way that benefits them, so that when the time is right, they will be the ones left standing when the dust falls and the sun sets on the end of days. “You can be whoever you want to be and play however you want to play,” says Ragnar Tornquist, creative director on TSW. One of the big differences with TSW compared to other MMOs is that this is a class-less and level-less game, where you are able to progress exactly as you please. PvE missions act as the base for you to gain skill points in order to equip new skills and powers to your character and, whilst I got a quick look at the skill wheel, the presentation I sat in on was unfortunately all in German, so I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on… helpful, I know!
To read the rest of this Preview click here to be transported to gaminglives.com