Watchmen

February 28, 2009 – 2:29 pm

There has been a lot of buzz over a new film coming out called Watchmen based on the graphic novel of the same name. Basically a film about costumed heroes and the trailer points at an action packed adventure with at least some murder mystery.

Before last year I don’t think I had ever heard of Watchmen, I’m not really a follower of graphic novels but I know what I thought were the big names, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four and quite a few others. The trailer got me interested and learning that Watchmen was the only graphic novel to make Time magazine’s top 100 novels list peaked my interest so I ended up buying the book on Valentine’s day. I’m not really a big reader, I hardly get through a book a year and I finished Watchmen yesterday. I could have read it quicker but its twelve chapters are split up like twelve episodes of a television show, each has their own story but they all progress towards the final conclusion.

The book cleverly weaves a history for the watchmen, who they are, where they came from, why they do what they do. It is set in a gritty world where the arms race hasn’t finished so people are under threat of nuclear attack. For the most part people carry on as normal but as the war looks to be escalating tensions rise too. Each chapter ends with a section of text, diary entries, police files, newspaper clippings that sort of thing, this gives a deeper look into the history of some heroes past and present and emphasises some of the smaller details that are included in the book. The chapters themselves also make good use of flashbacks and memories to give a complete history to the main characters and their interactions.

At the time the book is set costumed heroes have been outlawed so the history shows most of the characters in their prime crime-fighting days to compare with the normal people most are in present day.

The majority of the heroes described are regular people who were just trying to make a difference to their community, some have different reasons to fight than others. There are only two real exceptions of note. One is described as the most intelligent man ever who had progressed from taking down individual criminals to bringing down organised crime. There is also the worlds first super hero, dubbed Dr. Manhattan by the government this character was originally human but after an accident has become a being of energy. He isn’t constrained by the normal flow of time and this made for one of my favourite chapters, where he recalls parts of his history where he spoke with people knowing what the outcome would be, frustrating for other characters to understand but very entertaining for the reader.

Some of the chapters also involve a comic book about a man shipwrecked by pirates and his struggle to save his family from those same pirates. I found this difficult to follow at first as while one person is reading the book other people are having conversations but after a chapter or so I was adjusted to the style and quite enjoyed the story within a story. I am interested to see if there is any attempt to bring that into the live action feature it may not translate well but should at least get a mention.

I don’t want to spoil the outcome of the story but it is quite fantastic and thought provoking and I can hardly wait for the film, although I do have concerns that it won’t now hold up to the story I have already experienced.

The resolutions

January 5, 2009 – 6:42 am

To set myself some quantitative and some qualitative targets for the year ahead I have five things to concentrate my efforts on.

1. Run 500km (284.94km in 2008) 
2. Eat Healthier (smaller portions) 
3. Catch up with friends more often 
4. Increase savings (to £10k from £1k) 
5. Get a new qualification for my CV

A year in Games – 2008

January 4, 2009 – 2:54 am

Borrowing from ‘The “Complete” List’ and Done & Dusted I have made up my own title for the same thing.

They are in roughly the order that they were completed. They only include purchased games not web based games like You have to burn the rope. I also specify if the game was a story completion or achievement completion. I thought I had made a post about achievements before but apparently not.

Zuma (Gauntlet mode)
Half Life 2 (story)
Half Life 2 : Episode 1 (story)
Half Life 2 : Episode 2 (story)
Bully Scholarship Edition (1000GS)
Grand Theft Auto IV (story)
Soul Calibur IV (story)
Mass Effect (story)
Oblivion : Shivering Isles (story)
Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga the Videogame (story)
Fallout 3 (story)
Lego Batman the Videogame (story)
Gears of War 2 (story)
Fable II (story)
Legend of Zelda the Phantom Hourglass
Legend of Zelda the Twilight Princess

So a total of 16 games which at least covers the target one game per month basic target I’m clearly lagging behind Bob (17) and Nish (26) and less than my list from last year (22) included below. Strangely I feel like I have played a lot of games this year, probably due to the end of the year surge in games. I have no particular interest in bettering my tally in 2009 but I do have a couple of games in progress and at least two games waiting for me to have some spare time.

Oblivion (Main Quest and 1000GS)
PGR3 (All Silvers)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Story)
Tomb Raider:Legend (Story and 1000GS)
Viva Pinata (1000GS)
Crackdown (Story)
King Kong (Story and 1000GS)
Perfect Dark Zero (Story Agent Difficulty)
TMNT 1989 Arcade (Story)
Guitar Hero II (Medium Difficulty)
Pokemon Diamond
Mario Kart DS
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Bioshock (Story both endings)
Quake 4 (Private Difficulty)
Halo 3 (Legendary Difficulty)
Portal (Story)
Sonic (Story)
Uno (Achievements)
Hitman : Blood Money (1000GS)
Guitar Hero III : Legends of Rock (Medium difficulty)
Assassins Creed (story)

Enamel

January 2, 2009 – 2:53 pm

In a brand new adventure fight your way through ten excitingly realised environments including the mouth, the dentists and Jess Weixler’s lady garden. Choose your character and squad mates wisely. Lead the team with the first premolar giving you control over waypoints and the saliva gland special strike ability. Wisdom, the brains of the operation is able to take control of enemy technology and heal the squad. The Super Molar brothers are a no nonsense team of brute strength able to take anything that comes their way and grind it to a pulp. Incisor uses an oriental fighting style utilising a samurai sword to despatch opponents and Canine can move through areas the other characters cannot and can perform special stealth attacks.

Unlock special characters and work together to liberate the enamel fighters from the evil dr. drill and his cohorts. This game can accommodate up to 32 players and is coming to a system near you on December 27th.

Films this week

September 12, 2008 – 12:50 pm

Went to the cinema on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week and managed to watch four films so here are my impressions.

Get Smart was a bit funnier than I was expecting and Anne Hathaway was also looking nice which seemed to be the point since she was more placed for Steve Carrell to bumble around. Steve Carrell suited the analyst with dreams of being a secret agent well. There was also a nice message about the person being most important and not always judging them on what they do.

Bangkok Dangerous was on when I made it to the cinema at 16:30. I didn’t really know anything about it except that Nicholas Cage was in it. It’s all about an assassin. He has his rules that he never breaks so he won’t get caught. He then quite randomly starts to break his rules and everything goes action movie. There was even a training montage. It had got an average review that I hadn’t read but I would probably peg it around the same average or slightly below average if I’m being harsh. As a film about an assassin it has been done better and as an action movie it tries to make you feel for the character too much without enough real reason behind it. I did enjoy the relationship he managed to strike up with a deaf pharmacist but it didn’t feel real enough.

To round out my days off I managed to get an early showing of Rock n Rolla the new film by Guy Ritchie. So I feel compelled to compare it to Lock Stock and Snatch at least a bit. To build up the story there were a lot more different groups introduced and perhaps to restrict length I didn’t feel they were as developed as groups in the other films. I enjoyed the title character the rocker who is rumoured to be dead but since there were so many other things going on he didn’t enough screen time really. The story was much darker on the whole than previous films. Lock Stock really built up the story with a group of friends having a good time, Snatch with the Pikeys and Rock N Rolla loses out on that charm a little. Having said all that I did enjoy the film a lot and getting to the end, the number of people being introduced made sense when it points out that another film with the same characters will be made. This was not an annoying cliffhanger ending though, just a note at the end that {characters} will be returning in {new film}.

Since I had managed to get into RockNRolla before 1pm I was out at 3pm and opted to catch a showing of Babylon A.D. Set in a near future setting Vin Diesel is a mercenary called Toorop (I had to check the credits to be sure). He is demonstrated to be good at what he does and that he seems to keep his word. He gets hired to escort some girl to New York and on the way stops treating her as just another delivery job and more like an actual person. Some weird stuff happens at the end but I just didn’t really ‘get it’. I was also a little distracted by the use of shaky cam during a chase and some unnecessarily frequent scene changes. I can’t really recommend the film unless you really like Vin Diesel, there is a brief shower scene that might interest you if you do although that was strictly from the waist up.

Weekends

September 4, 2008 – 8:53 pm
As I normally work shifts, the weekend has a pretty good chance of just being another workday. During the majority of August though my shifts happened to free up a few weekends in a row. Probably helped by the bank holiday I managed to actually arrange and attend various events. I have recorded some of the most enjoyable below.
First off L’wren’s birthday. Originally planned as a picnic in the great outdoors it was hastily relocated to The Devonshire in Balham to escape the forecasted rain. I enjoyed a tasty roast dinner and a few pints while catching up with friends. There was also some impromptu hula hooping and a few fun games of Taboo. Check out the picture how exciting does that look? Well I can assure you it was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If only more Sundays were this enjoyable.
Taboo

Taboo

The following weekend the sun came out as it seems to do every year when I go to celebrate my friend James’ birthday. We had planned this months back and spent the day on Clapham common enjoying the music and general festival atmosphere of South West Four. Cleverly named after the postcode where it is hosted (no its not that clever but a lot of London seems to have some odd fascination with postcodes). We ate, drank and were merry in the field and tents while music was played for our enjoyment. When the event ended we carried on drinking and even managed to make our way to the Two Brewers for  more drinking and dancing until the very early hours. The Sunday following was almost a complete write off, I woke up watched Star Wars and pretty much went back to bed.

Sout West Four

Sout West Four

Conveniently this was the bank holiday weekend and so getting up on the Monday Deidre and I headed up bright and early to Notting Hill and found a space along the parade route to take lots and lots of pictures. This was my first Notting Hill carnival and although the costumes and routines were quite impressive the carnival seemed a little disconnected and the sheer number of people who turned up made the latter part of the afternoon quite tiresome. It sounds like the atmosphere was more fun and friendly on the Sunday which makes sense so I’ll probably head to that next year round.

Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival

This last weekend I celebrated another friends birthday with a few drinks while everyone else prepared for a much larger night out. I didn’t manage the later celebrations because this was the last weekend of the month and so the long awaited Nike ‘The Human Race’ was the following day. To remember the event I took this photo of me looking excited:

Ready for The Human Race 10k

Ready for The Human Race 10k

There are many more photos at the facebook group that give a much better idea of the size of the event. The scenes at London would have been replicated at all of the 29 participating cities I imagine. After all the training covering a total of 180km since I signed up the 10km race itself took me 56m46s and I came 68844th place. Considering that was out of almost a million runners globally I was pretty happy with that.

London came 2nd apparently with an average running time of 57m47s and out of the people who ran in London I came 6827th place which is still pretty good.

So based on all the fun I have had with my weekends free I decided to book up a few holidays from work and so in addition to my normal days off I will be free on weekends through October and November. Now I just need to find some friends to spend them with…

Mass Effect

August 5, 2008 – 5:24 am

This is a post about a computer game. I’d be interested to know what anyone who reads it thinks of it, especially if you do not play games. Have I made it sound interesting? Have you ever heard about it before? I have tried not to reveal much about the story but maybe it is too vague.

Today I plan to talk about one of the games I have been playing. It is an adventure type game where you take on the role of commander Sheppard a soldier in the human Alliance military. Set in a future where humanity has joined with various other galactic species and is finding its place amongst the other races who mastered space flight hundreds of years ago. As you play the game you find out more about the history that shaped the galaxy you are currently exploring usually by guiding your character to talk to other people or reading computer pages. The history for me was very interesting to investigate, and had a cyclical nature to it. The first races were peaceful but soon discovered a hostile race, a warrior race then came to the rescue but turned on the peaceful races. A new militant race beat down the warrior race and became an important police like force. Humanity was initially seen as a hostile threat and a couple of generations later is when you are introduced.

The mechanics of the game are similar to past games from the same company, a character you can create picking from a variety of skills, combat skills, technical skills and biotic powers (think telekinises). You can customise the appearace choosing male or female for your character too. My originally named Geoff Shepard character was a male who specialised in biotic powers.

Starting the game you head up a three person squad investigating a mysterious attack on a human colony, the attack is ongoing and you are soon attacked by a some of the Geth race. This is a race of artificial intelligence equipped robots who overthrew their creators and evolved in secret and have only now begun to spring up around the occupied areas of the galaxy. All quite mysterious but carrying on through the mission we discover an ancient artifact from the ancient civilisation that apprently created a lot of the major space stations linking the galaxy together. This is the sort of thing that makes me think of the Stargate television series but if you never watch that its basically the same idea, the stargates were made by ancient races and I suppose is a neat way to bypass any ownership of this giant space motorway system.

After this mission you basically get called a liar and to prove your story you get to explore the centerpiece of the galaxy. A huge space station called the citadel where the government is based and you can interact with more of the alien species. You also flesh out the crew who you can continue exploring the galaxy with, you get to include one of the Turian race (militant police race), one of the Krogan (warrior race) and a Quarian (the race that created the Geth).

The game lets you choose the direction that interactions should play out so you can make your character interactions take on a helpful, neutral or aggressive tone in the majority of conversations. When I first played through the game my conversations were typically aggressive but as I was enjoying exploring a lot of my actions were quite helpful. Basically I was acting like a jerk but still helping them out whereas I could have been acting like a jerk and not help them either. During this early exploration my squad consisted of the Krogran warrior and the Quarian since I was most interested in these two races. When I came back to the game after a long break I carried on taking the Quarian with me but chose to take the Turian with me instead of the Krogan for no particular reason.

My break from the game was due to a couple of reasons. One was that I had a lot of new games around the same time, just after christmas. The second was that the game felt like it was going to end too soon. Once I left the citadel I was presented with a quite surprising number of locations to explore and I duly set out without too much of a system to explore everywhere I could. Simple survey missions on planets would return information on minerals or artifacts found and on every system there was a planet I could land on and drive around in my tank. This just seemed to get quite repetitive, quite fast. Despite a very strong start to the game with the initial mission and Citadel exploration and a couple of primary missions the secondary missions just dragged out the game. After coming back to the game I completed another primary mission that actually progressed the main story and that inspired me to finish off the game.

Once I finished the game thanks to the achievement system I immediately started another game from the beginning. Choosing this time to play as a more helpful character but also limiting my exploration of the galaxy to completing missions only.

In summary the story that unfolds and the character interactions and detailed history that can be investigated are very impressive and really draw my to the game. The unfettered exploration of the galaxy is not as interesting as it could have been there is no reason why those who want to explore shouldn’t have been rewarded with more detailed environments and further character interactions. The game is meant to be followed up by a sequel which I will definately purchase as I am interested in exploring more of this fiction.

Another game I have been playing recently also has a strong story driven pull but this one is interspersed by tetris style ‘battles’. I might talk about Puzzle Quest more after I have played it more but the basic premise is matching coloured jewels to beat a variety of mythical opponents, orcs, trolls and the like.

One last note, I found a blog and after reading the last few posts I have been working through the archives. It’s a shame that http://virgin-slut.blogspot.com/ has stopped posting as a lot of the posts I have read are very interesting and well written.

Dr. Horrible

July 19, 2008 – 8:25 am

Quick go and see it! It’s being taken down on midnight Sunday.

Running (again)

July 17, 2008 – 9:27 pm

So the new best way to get home from work is to run.

That’s what I did tonight so what usually only takes me about half an hour or forty minutes on the bus today took me an hour and ten minutes. I did save almost £1.60 if my memory of bus fares serves me correctly.

The only reason I’m really talking about this now is that I ran a slightly longer route than I would normally take if I had gotten buses and the result was I ran a total of 11.86km so any concerns that I might collapse during the 10k run have pretty much vanished. Yay for me.

Since my last post I had managed to run on the Saturday (6.48km), Sunday (7.63km) and Monday (6.6km) then my foot hurt and I sat about Tuesday and Wednesday playing games, because of how productive I am.

Next time I post it won’t be about running. Promise.

Dear Internet

July 13, 2008 – 6:21 am

Dear diary/blog.

With only two months to prepare for the horror that is a 10km run I decided to buy a new Nike+ sensor, having lost the last one somewhere around March. This gives me a better idea of how far I am running at the moment and shows quite clearly when I have been slacking off on my training. I bought it around teh beginning of July, I forget the exact date but know the first run I did with it was on the 4th of July.

7.19km was a nice start, the usual run that I had been doing sans sensor the last night shift. A very flat run on a nice circuit from Hammersmith bridge to Putney bridge and back again. Since the weather was so nice the next morning I followed that run up with the exact same route this time it clocked in at 7.22km. I guess I just ran a litte wider on a corner or two. So Friday morning and Saturday morning had been good nice and early each morning with not many people about, I wonder if I can get up that early the next day.

Sunday morning I didn’t run. It’s Sunday a day of rest. It was raining too.

Monday I did run, I ran a little later in the day and this time I ran on a circuit crossing Tooting and South Wimbledon. This run was only 5.4km though and at the end of it I was shattered. I think the problem with this run was that there were too many hills. Two of them. Well not really hills just bridges, but they were steep bridges.

Tuesday I did not run. I have no excuse for not running. I sat around most of the day in my dressing gown. Then I got dressed and went to the cinema. In the car. Wanted is a silly film.

Wednesday I went to work. I planned to run. I took a bag with trainers in and everything. I was going to run home from work. My bag of everything had no t-shirt. It was raining again.

Thursday I went to work again. I didn’t plan to run. I planned to drink free beer at work.

Friday. Work again. Free beer again. No running again. Did try out the new Korean restaurant in Earlsfield though, Cah Chi. You can take your own wine and they have a selection of their own wines, each table conceals a gas burner so if you choose any of the barbeque menu options the staff bring the marinated meat to your table and cook it in front of you. All very tasty and our meal of two appetizers, two mains with accompaniments and rice came to just under £20 each. Well worth checking out.

Saturday I went for a run. Near home but a flatter circuit, did two laps. Distance was 6.48km felt very tired at the end though, if I slow down maybe I can do three laps.

This morning I was working. Took a lunch break to go running and my bridge to bridge circuit came up as 7.63km, I had run quite a bit slower. Felt like I could have kept going but was running out of break time.

So to sum up I have found a good route to run at home that compares better with the route I run at work, well actually credit for the route should go to Deidre, she found it a while ago and I had butchered it by turning off towards South Wimbledon and introducing the hills. The promise of free beer is too appealing to pass up. I like Korean food, especially when barbequed in front of me.

Thanks for listening internet. Your’s always, Geoff.

PS: Website of the week is youniverse.com check out the visual personality test but there isn’t much else to keep me coming back to this dating site / social network. You can also keep up with my run progress at nikeplus.nike.com