Archive for February, 2007

Love/hate

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

This weekend’s Thing Of Love: Final Fantasy XII

I’ve not played a “mainline” Final Fantasy game since FF7 on the PC, many years ago; I got horribly sucked into FF:Tactics Advance on the GBA, and enjoyed a thrash through Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube, but I never owned a PlayStation and never really paid much attention to games on the PS2 other than stuff by Nippon Ichi, shooters and music games, so up until now I’ve never really played another one of the main series. But just recently I reflashed my PSP with a custom firmware that lets it play PlayStation 1 games, and got sucked right back into FF7 all over again – so I decided to order FFXII and see if it was any good.

And yes. Yes, it is.

It’s set in the same universe as FF:TA, which makes me happy (Montblanc even makes a reappearance as the head of your clan), although there’s no real connection between the locations featured. The plot – well, there’s an invading army and they’ve taken over your city and people aren’t happy and you’re a girly-looking loudmouthed 17-year old boy who likes to cause trouble who by a series of astonishing coincidences find himselves connected to and embroiled in the whole thing and eventually saves the world – the usual sort of thing, you know. It’s (and this might be heresy) not actually all that important.

The combat mechanic is completely revised – battles actually take place “in game”, rather than switching to a separate battle view. Because you can only fight enemies that you can actually see, this has the wonderful side-effect of allowing you to avoid the random battles that plagued the earlier entries in the series. It’s still a sort of hybrid real-time/turn-based thing, but you can now put together “gambits” – effectively macros that you can use to, say, automatically heal characters that are low on health, or use particular spells against enemies with particular weaknesses. Also, attacks are now automatically repeated, meaning that you’ll continue to attack until the enemies (or you!) are dead, or you perform another action.

A few people have complained that this makes the combat too easy; I disagree – you still have to know what sort of strategy will work against the enemy you’re fighting; the gambits just relieve some of the tedium of pressing the same sequence of buttons over and over to keep the battle going. It allows you to concentrate on the tactics of the fight rather than the minutiae of the details. I like it.

Graphically, obviously, it’s utterly stunning – there’s a sort of Persian/Morrocan feel to the whole game, and the FMV in the cutscenes is better than any you’ll have seen in any game. The production values are extremely high throughout.

So, yes. I love it, and have invested far too much time in it already this weekend.

This weekend’s Thing Of Hate: Websites That Tell Me To Upgrade My Browser

Two things: if you wrote your website properly, it would degrade happily onto any browser; in fact, if it doesn’t, you’re probably falling foul of some disability/accessibility laws somewhere because if you can only view the page on the latest and greatest browser, it certainly won’t work in browsers designed for the blind or partially sighted. Also, I’m using Opera, so it almost certainly bloody well will render your page properly, but you’re just too lazy to (a) check it does and (b) write your browser-checking code to include Opera as well as IE and Firefox.

Even worse are the wanky, snivelling idiotic Open Source weenie sites that refuse to display the page unless you’re using Firefox. You know what? If you’re going to be that pathetic, I don’t actually want to see your webpage. Idiots.

Seth Lakeman

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

You know, we don’t play in Manchester often enough — Seth Lakeman, Manchester, 2007

Damn straight you don’t, especially if you’re going to continue putting on gigs like tonight’s. Absolutey bloody brilliant, and helped by the fact that the audience were great too – I’ve been to too many gigs recently where people have been there more to say that they’d been than to see and enjoy the band. Everyone there tonight was clearly there to see Seth and, moreover, was there to have a damned good time at it: the roar of applause at the end of the gig was like nothing I’ve heard before.

This was all probably helped by the utterly infectious support act, an Australian guy called Carus (pronounced “kye-rus”) who, despite not having the most exciting or original songs in the world, performed them with such astonishing energy and commitment that you just couldn’t help but love him – his self-proclaimed “Aussie-Reggae” style warmed the crowd up to near-boiling for Seth and band.

The only downer tonight was the lack of the inimitable Cormac Byrne on percussion – a new percussionist joined them and, whilst technically excellent, he lacked Cormac’s cheeky character – and also his amazing bodhran skills. But the band still sounded great and – though I’m almost loathe to say it – I didn’t really miss Cormac as much as I thought I might.

More photos: here.

Dr Alice Roberts

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I notice that searching for pretty science lady doesn’t return Alice Roberts’ website. I think it should, so this post is a tiny attempt to sort that out.

(whilst that awful poo woman is still polluting our airwaves, it’s important that Actual Real Proper Science on the telly – even if it’s a bit simplified and popularised – is applauded, and even better if it’s done by a nice pretty lady with eccentric taste in hair colour)

You might be an evangelical

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

…you go to a jazz club, and wonder why, after the singer has finished an improv scat song, no-one gets up and offers an interpretation.

Top Gear vs America

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

Seeing as there are going to be more complaints about this programme than any other in the history of television, ever, I’d just like to make it known that I thought that it was brilliant, hilarious and one of the best pieces of TV in a long time. BBC: More of this sort of thing, please.

Guillemots

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

In the first hour of their show, they played a grand total of four songs off their album, and two of those were sub 2-minute. The rest was new material, B-sides and unreleased stuff. This appeared to deeply confuse most of the audience, who were presumably there on the back of either the Annie single or their Brit nomination for Best Live Act. Either way, they were bloody awesome, even if the crowd was a little muted, and they’re still the best and most interesting band in Britain at the moment.

Oh, and Emmy the Great lives up to her rather self-congratulatory moniker, too, even if she did turn up late and not have chance for a proper sound check.


click for more photos

OMG BLIZZARDS

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

Compare and contrast:

Today’s weather forecast: The view out my window:

Some definitions

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007
  • Lan´guish`ing a.

    1. Becoming languid and weak; pining; losing health and strength.
    2. Amorously pensive; indicating melancholy; as, languishing eyes, or look.
    3. Suffering neglect; neglected.
    4. Continuing in a weak or deteriorating state; lingering.
    5. This blog
  • Lan’gou’stine n.
    1.
    2. Not this blog.