02
Mar
09

My weekend in Burma

So I collected my copy of Killzone 2 from JB. My attempt at scoring the game early fell through when the Game Traders store manager I’d sweet talked into handing over a copy once stocked arrived took the day off, so I waited until Thursday like the rest of us. Hey, I saved $20 (apparently JB’s retail price is lower than GT’s cost price) and also picked up Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Awesome Collection. That was probably a mistake, as I had planned to use this space to give my impressions of Killzone. What happened next surprised us all.

I more or less shunted both games for a book.

The book in question is Shadow Warrior, the autobiographical tale of Dangerous Dave Everett. His story starts the same as a lot of people’s – leave school and join the Army as a trade, a mechanic in Dave’s case. Dave’s story steps up tempo when he is accepted into the SAS, but the real meat is in how he puts his newly acquired skills to use.

When I applied for SAS selection back in the early 1980s, I was a skinny young apprentice mechanic who nobody thought had a hope of getting through the gruelling course. Not only did I get through, I managed to achieve an above-average score to boot. Life in the Regiment was great for a young digger, but I quickly became frustrated with the lack of action. While on leave investigating an SAS mate’s suspicious death in Burma, I became caught up in the plight of the ethnic Karen of Burma, and joined their fight against a totalitarian military regime. In the unforgiving jungles of eastern Burma, I experienced the harsh realities and horror confronting the Karen people. On my return to Australia, I went outside of the law to raise money to help the Karen cause.

It’s really amazing stuff and I’m surprised how much it’s affected me. The book plays out similar to a gritty, realistic Burn Notice (without the beaches and bikini clad babes), and it’s exciting to have something real-world to contrast Hollywood’s interpretation of special forces and what happens in the shadows.

Shadow Warrior is certainly a compelling read. I’m unsure if I related because I’m aussie, because my dad has a military background, because a lot of places visited in the book are familiar, or because I see authority in the same transparent way, but I highly recommend this book to anyone; especially those not convinced – Dave is likable, funny and very human. He doesn’t break the law, he disregards it; but his motives are so clear and innocent you’ll accept his actions rather than judge them.

For those looking for a taste, a chapter omitted from the book is available to read here.

But enough about books and back to video games. Without stable internet I’ve been unable to play KZ2 online for more than 5 minutes consecutively. With each network disconnection my hunger grows, but the steady diet of bots keeps me from starving. The lack of levelling mechanic in skirmish (the offline variant of multiplayer) restricts the player to the most basic of weapons (two variants of machine gun), but this in itself adds to the Killzone experience. This is a game tethered as close to reality as functionality permits, and under these circumstances you feel like a real bad arse acquiring your weapons on the field.

I honestly can’t comment on the single player experience yet, I haven’t had the motivation to press too deep into it. 

 I guess I should mention SMDUC, considering it was what I pumped most of my gaming time into. I’m quiet determine to make this my first platinum trophy. As with any oldscool compilation, it’s perfect for quick pickup/putdown sessions, and having the trophy lists is motivation to put time into some of the titles I may not have. Personally, I give it a B- for nostalgic value, simply because I skipped owning a Mega Drive, and went straight from the Master System to my PS1. I’m playing a bunch of these games for the first time, and I must admit I am surprised by what the Mega Drive could achieve.

Looking back on my time with the Master System while it was a last gen console draws parallels to the PS2s continual survival, and I must commend Sony for that. Being a kid who’s only income was pocket money, there was nothing better than having a console that I could get cheap ($8!) second hand games for, as well as new releases with the reduced price tag that a last gen port garners. I guess modern handheld gaming has filled this void (the Gameboy was a supplement to console gaming, not an alternative), but I wonder how many youngsters are getting more bang for their buck with the PS2.

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Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.
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