Video Game News : : Metal Gear Mobile and Activision Succeed?!

Favela removed from MW2 due to offensive imagery

One of the fan favourite maps from Modern Warfare Two has been removed from the multiplayer rotation. ‘  Favela’ is a map set in the slums of Brazil. It showcases fast paced gameplay on multiple levels, an ideal Call of Duty map.

Two in-game paintings featuring a representation of a quote attributed to the Prophet Muhammad were hung in a bathroom, something that can be offensive to those of Islamic faith. Activision tried to worm their way out by saying,

 “We apologise to anyone who found this image offensive. Please be assured we were unaware of this issue and that there was no intent to offend. We are working as quickly as possible to remove this image and any other similar ones we may find from our various game libraries.”

     Oh so it was a mistake? I assume that whole ‘No Russian’ level also turned out a bit more extreme than you originally planned? (I’m obviously joking everyone…)

“Activision and our development studios are respectful of diverse cultures and religious beliefs, and sensitive to concerns raised by its loyal game players. We thank our fans for bringing this to our attention.”

      You know what I’m respectful of? Soap bloody Mactavish. Yup, I still haven’t forgiven you for (SPOILER) killing him Activision.


   In all seriousness it is rather impressive at the speed in which is matter was dealt with. After the whole No Russian fiasco I’m sure this is the last thing Activision wanted. Given the game is now almost 3 years old, I doubt this news was even on most UAV’s out there.

 Metal Gear Solid on iPhone

     With all MGS talk related to the upcoming open world game (you don’t know what I’m talking about?!) it has been relatively easy to miss the new iPhone game, ‘MGS Social Ops’. Watch footage online and you’ll realise it’s a blend of Peace Walker and MGAcid, that horrible card based MGS game. Still, most people who have spent hands on time with the game have expressed nothing but positivity.

Metal Gear Solid has always had a silly sense of humor buried under the layers of serious storytelling, but it looks like Social Ops is going to crank that up to 11. There’s one scene in the demo where three or four guards all cram their way inside the same cardboard box, then the box starts shaking around for a bit and explodes into dust. Amazing.”

The game brings together characters from all eras of MGS. Old Snake and Big Boss are finally working together. Let’s just hope MGS2 Raiden didn’t get the memo….

The iPhone has already been lucky enough to make Snake’s acquaintance. A game that played similarly to Time Crisis that took you through different stages from the MGS4 storyline. This was a huge success so you can bet this new project will be just as popular.

FIFA 13 on PS Vita : : Don’t waste your money

     With no changes from FIFA Football (2012), EA should be immensely disappointed with themselves. Make no mistake, it is a great game, maybe the most impressive on the Vita at the moment. I would however advice you to save £25 and pick up last years copy of FIFA.

      Seeing as there is only one difference between FIFA Football and FIFA 13 we may a well address that first. There are new kits. There are new players. There is……nothing else. If you are desperate to have a Manchester United frontline of Rooney and Van Persie then just make this adjustment manually on the old game. There is not a single new animation, no new celebrations, no new game modes, no new menu layou….oh wait! The menu select icon now has sharp corners compared to round ovals found in FIFA Football. To be honest, I was shocked when there was no mention of this on the back of the game casing,

               “Select the same game options with total control. Thanks to the new ‘sharp cornered’ outline around your cursor, you can really control the menus.”

       Imagine my bemusement when I didn’t even find any reviews that spoke of this incredible new feature. FIFA Football often left me in tears when I couldn’t tell if I had pressed X on ‘Career Mode’ or ‘Quick Match’. I couldn’t sleep at night. Now that you can be 100% sure of what you are choosing, it’s made me feel quite happy that I forked out £45 for the game…

It really is quite worrying how an international game company like EA can feel ok with releasing an exact replica of an old game and still expect consumers to pay premium prices. If you think I’m being unfair, please comment below and tell me why this game is worth £45.

Now, this does not mean I don’t enjoy the game. I played the old FIFA Football religiously, raving to anyone that would listen about how identical the game was to FIFA 11 on console. HD graphics, dual analogue sticks, replica animations and frame rates to that on console. Portable gaming had finally pulled off the impossible, they had effectively ported a console game to a portable device. My frustration merely forms out of a hatred for EA’s laziness.

FIFA 13 is a fantastic video game for the PS Vita when you look at it alone. It really does feel like a console game that you can carry in your pocket. The virtual pro career mode gives you plenty of playtime, not to mention the online head to head modes. The problem is how all of these positives can also be said of the old game, FIFA Football. So if you don’t have either game, just pick up the old FIFA Football, manually change the team rosters and save yourself £20. Or, if you already have FIFA Football, just start a new virtual pro career in a different position.

Trust me, FIFA 13 is not the worth the money and EA does not deserve the money.

Ryan Giggs Must Retire

   Before you jump straight to the comment box and accuse me of knowing nothing about football let me explain myself. Ryan Giggs will forever be one of the finest players to grace the Premier League. Excluding this current season, it is an unbelievable achievement to have scored in every Premier League season. This is something that has never been matched, nor will ever happen again (obviously). He has served United for over 20 years and has always been one of our greatest players, until recently.


The brilliance of Giggs is something known to everyone. Any football fan wouldn’t hesitate in describing how much of a fantastic player he was. The key word here is was. Giggs has unfortunately fallen into the limbo of players that are still trying to clutch to their glory years. However, the bottom line is that he no longer has anything to offer to the first team of Manchester United. Before you start screaming ‘what about experience?!’ let me stop you.

   Ferdinand, Evra, Vidic, Scholes, Carrick, Rooney, Van Persie. 7 first team players for Manchester United whom have all played in a cup final. They have all won silverware and have all been playing professional football for over 10 years. If experience is all that Giggs can bring to the table, why does he not adopt an Ole Gunner Solskjear role and aid his team from the dressing room?
The final argument you may bring up against me is, “what about Paul Scholes? They come from the same era so why should Scholes not retire?” Scholes still remains the best midfield player for United. He is still able to pull the strings in a way that Carrick, Anderson or Cleverly can not. These players are still yet to prove themselves on a weekly basis. Scholes is still keeping out other central midfielders from starting. This should be even more apparent after what happened to our midfield when he retired last year (it fell apart), and then when he came out of retirement for the second half of the season (we made a huge push for the title and only lost on goal difference). There are still many times when I think to myself, ‘I bet we would have won the title had Scholes played the whole season.’

   Compare this to Giggs who is competing against players like Nani, Young, Valencia, Kagawa and Welbeck. All of these players would offer far more on the field than Giggs who used to rely on his pace and control, both of which have faded heavily over the years.
Ferguson has a problem with axing Giggs from the squad due to their personal relationship, meaning we are all waiting for Giggs to fall on his own sword.  His career has been littered with trophies and winning medals. Although, when the time comes that he is being out-played by Tottenham’s Sandro, surely he will realise that he needs to retire. Giggs can still have a very positive impact on the club and the players from off the pitch. The longer he tries to capture the lost magic, the more his career will be tainted.

Ryan Giggs is a player that should be remembered for his 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final winning goal (click here), his lethal left foot and the chemistry he devolved with Dennis Irwin and Eric Cantona. He has been one of the top players in the past 20 years, in the whole world. I’ve just heard one too many United mans bemoan his latest performance for his career to end on a positive note.
We love you Ryan, but please, do us all a favour. I’m worried you may regret it otherwise.

I Am Alive : : Don’t wait for The Last Of Us

I Am Alive is probably a game that you won’t ever play. The next 5 minutes will hopefully convince you otherwise. The simplicity of the game is what makes it such fun to play. For £8 you’re getting a single player experience that easily rivals that of the £40 titles out there at the moment. It’s certainly been the most enjoyable single player I have played in 2012. So what exactly makes it such a joy to play? Why should you not just wait for The Last Of Us? 

The opening hour is more or less of a climbing tutorial. In I Am Alive you have a stamina bar that slowly decreases as you traverse the terrain in front of you. Therefore, if you are acting like Nathan Drake for too long, then you’ll eventually fall. This makes the climbing sequences not only exciting but also challenging. Figuring out what path to take across (the George Washington?) bridge will act as a lovely tutorial for this.

These climbing sequences usually space out the main events of the story which see you meeting many people. Some need your help, some can help you but most just want to kill and loot your body. This part of I Am Alive is where the game comes into its own. You usually want to help those in need after you experience how difficult it is to stay alive (especially in the harder difficulties).

Every meeting with hostile civilians is dealt with differently than in previous encounters. That said, there is only ever one solution towards coming out alive after each encounter. These meetings with people pop up at a brilliant pace, you’re not waiting long between meetings but you’re waiting long enough to enjoy the other aspects of the game like climbing, scavenging and exploring. The variety between who you come across is also very refreshing.

It’s been a very long time that I’ve played a video game that had me thinking about what will happen even when I am not playing it. Most nights I often found myself thinking about how this man would find his family, which parts of the map I hadn’t explored and what I needed to scavenge for as soon as I resumed playing. It was nice to be so passionate about a single player game since I played the Uncharted series.

Scavenging is another part of I Am Alive that the producers seemed to have pulled off brilliantly. Your character starts off with nothing. Everything from water to camera batteries to first aid must be found. The rare items like bullets and adrenaline shots are usually found in hard to reach places. They often require the player either helping out a person in need or exploring a part of the map that does not tie in with the story line. That said, it is worth your time to go this extra mile. You see, an empty gun is handy to keep away people with a machete. But should you raise your gun towards someone who also has a gun, then expect to die, quickly. Should you find yourself cornered by three enemies, you should shoot and kill the one person with a gun first and then aim your gun menacingly at his two friends that only have knives. They don’t know you just ran out of ammo and they sure ain’t going to call your bluff. Usually, you won’t ever have more than 1 or 2 bullets. Heck, most of the time you won’t have any. I vividly remember the time I managed to scavenge 5 bullets in the space of 15 minutes, I couldn’t stop screaming “5 F**KING BULLETS?!” The amount of power I had was silly. Like a school boy I ran into my next engagement as 4 men slowly cornered me. They were joking with one another about how I probably had nothing for them to loot and how my body would keep their fire warm that night. 3 seconds later they were all dead and I only had one bullet left. The regret seeped into me immediately….

The game later brings in other elements, like a bow and arrow in which you can pickup your arrow again after each use. This means you have unlimited ammo in one way, but can only use it effectively once per engagement. This brought a new element to the game as there were now numerous ways to deal with hostiles. Not only did I have my machete for close engagements but now I had 2 bullets and my bow and arrow?! Before the excitement got too much, I realised that now there was usually an extra person in each group of enemies and a couple of extra guns between them. This made each encounter much more difficult. Yet I must commend the game, the pacing is superb along with the increased difficulty as the game progresses.

I Am Alive is a game that far exceeded my expectations. When a game is only available on the PSN store for £8 you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid. However, I Am Alive could be the most under-rated game of the last 5 years. Many people will unfortunately miss out on this experience due to its lack of coverage along with the release of The Last Of Us just around the corner. However, you will not be disappointed. It was, without a doubt, the best £8 I ever spent.

Environmental News : : Bloody Ivory and Extinct Polar Bears.

Elephants killed for religious craftsmen

Picture of mature African elephant bulls with long ivory tusks

In January of 2012, hundreds of armed men rode into Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidah National Park. They murdered hundreds of elephants, entire families with AK-47’s. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year in Africa for their ivory. Horrifically so, this ivory is then used as material in which to carve religious objects out of. Ivory smuggling is illegal and yet the Philippines still manage to have a huge ivory trade going on. A reporter from National Geographic found a street merchant selling iconic religious figure in ivory. I somehow doubt that any religion would condone the slaughtering of thousands of elephants for this purpose.
Ivory has turned into a drug. There has been a global ivory trade ban intact since 1989 but that seems not to have had an effect.
Do your part and adopt an elephant now.

Arctic Ice will be gone in 4 yearsArctic ocean warming, Arctic ice, Arctic ice sheet, Peter Wadhams, Global warming feedback, Methane permafrost

According to Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, the entire Arctic ice shelf will be gone in just 4 years. Just 5 years ago it was predicted that the ice would survive until 2060. Now it won’t just be the polar bears that are gone by 2016, but it will also initiate a negative feedback loop that would heat up our planet much quicker.
The loss of ice will cause the ocean water to warm up, which then warms the ocean floor. Much of the Arctic continental shelf is composed of offshore permafrost which contains methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas. I don’t need to tell you how bad it would be if this gas was released.
What’s that? You don’t want to adopt an elephant because you like polar bears and penguins more? Just make sure you get your adoption money back in 4 years…

90,000 lbs of trash collected at Sierra Nevada

Over 2,500 volunteers collaborated to clean up thousands of pounds of garbage that clogs up this picturesque Californian landscape. Over two thirds of Californians get their water from the Sierra Nevada. It’s truly amazing how 571 tonnes of trash has been cleaned in the last 4 years. That is, it’s amazing how it becomes so littered in the first place as well as the effort of the volunteers. I helped take part during an ocean clean up in California. Never have I picked up so many cigarette buts or 6 pack holders in my life. The beach is not a trashcan.

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Gary Neville turns from United-Red to Eco-green

No, he hasn’t signed with Celtic or Panathinaikos, don’t worry. Instead, Neville is building his own house, a house that meets the highest UK environmental standards. He built his first two homes when he was just 22 and 26. Both of these experiences have helped him realise what needs to be done in order to save the planet.

“So I have had a transitional period in my personal life, from car to home, to become as efficient as I could.”

Side view of the proposed development
                                                         Gary Neville’s new home.

Many people won’t just be surprised by his sudden intelligence as a football pundit. They also will be shocked by his plethora of knowledge towards the environment. He is fully aware of how loud his voice is:

“We believe in the power of sport to deliver a message. You have seen over the past 12-18 months, the way that the Olympics and football transcends all social issues. In fact, it brings social issues that are a problem in society to a head through football.”

 

I leave you with,

The deadliest air fight in the world.
The epic migration of hundreds of thousands of hermit crabs.
Dumpsters transformed into beautiful gardens.

The Beauty of PC Gaming.

Recently, I downloaded steam on my MacBook and took the plunge into PC gaming. After a long and tortuous night of installing Windows 7 to allow for greater gaming access, I was ready to join the ‘pro-gamers’ that people had only warned me about.
It’s no secret that PC gamers are more competitive. However, this competitive attitude does not turn them into screaming hooligans. It, dare I say, brings out the best in people. Especially those people with a mouse and keyboard in their hand, rather than a wireless dualshock.
You can watch any gaming YouTube video and it wouldn’t be long until you found a console vs PC comment war. It was never something I took much notice to due to my lack of PC experience. Give any console gamer 1 hour on Counterstrike Source and he will suddenly realise what he’s been missing his whole life and why consoles will never match up to PC’s.

The game library itself is far more extensive for PC’s, an obvious thing to say but it must be said all the same. Not only that, but graphics suddenly become less important. My 2009 MacBook is hardly capable of running Slender. As long as there is a smooth frame-rate, I have been consistently having much more fun playing these games compared to the blockbuster console titles; Modern Warfare 3, Fifa 12, Mass Effect, Max Payne.

You see, the PC really comes into it’s own when you turn on your microphone and start listening to other players. It wouldn’t take you long to hear a “F**K YOU” whilst playing online on Xbox, or PS3. Yet I managed to play 2 hours worth of Counterstrike and 2 hours worth of Hidden: Source without anyone screaming at me. More than that, these people were pleasant. PC gaming is incredibly difficult to pick up. Having a keyboard with 60 buttons rather than a dualshock with 8 is incredibly daunting at first. I was hesitant to ask the ‘pro-gamers’ which button I should press to open a door in fear of being sworn at. However, it just doesn’t happen. Everyone is happy to welcome new players, help them out and ensure they are enjoying themselves. Once I picked up the controls more, real conversation ensued. Suddenly, I was talking to a Polish man about how long he has been gaming for and why he started.

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I haven’t ever had a conversation like that in my 5 years of playing online the Playstation 3. With dedicated servers and a more precise aiming tool (your mouse) there is much less room for you to be made angry. The games are more simple and so more fun.

I haven’t had this much fun playing online games for a very long time. So I plead for you all to try PC gaming. Don’t get me wrong, if you are one of those obnoxious COD players then we clearly don’t want you. But anyone that is just looking for a new experience or is simply tired of getting called a ‘F*****G TW**”, then download steam and download an old school fps. They’re cheap and they really don’t need a great laptop to run them smoothly.

I leave you with the video that kick started my new found love.

Video Game Euphoria.

You often hear people talk of their amazing experiences. Whether this is in front of a crowd, as they jump out a plane or when they see there sports team win the championship. These are easy to understand because all of us, at some stage, have experienced that magical feeling. That feeling that makes you scared to live the rest of your life out of fear that you will never reach those magical heights again. This feeling comes in all sorts of forms. However, one of those is greatly overlooked. This is the 3rd blog post I’ve written after experiencing such euphoria from a video game (see here for what Call of Duty’s single player did to me).

I write this just one hour after the most incredible FIFA victory I’ve ever seen or taken part in. Now stay with me, before you judge, because it was utter insanity.

The night began with pizza, beer, (real) football and a complete oblivious nature as to what was about to unfold. We set ourselves the task of beating Germany with England on Legendary difficulty in FIFA 12. This would be the perfect climax to the video game football world with the release of FIFA 13 just around the corner. We would proudly be able to say “yeah, we beat FIFA…..on Legendary.” After 3 hours of trying we soon realised the task ahead was not for the faint of heart.

It took us an hour alone just to score a solitary goal, but a tremendous goal at that. Rooney, from the centre circle, threaded a perfectly weighted through ball towards the ‘gassed’ Theo Walcott down the left wing. Rooney continued his gut-busting run all the way to the edge of the area, overtaking two German defenders before Theo eloquently rolled the ball towards the bulldozing Rooney.

Manual Neuer never stood a chance.

   The goal was met with raucous cheers that were loud enough to wake the neighbours. We weren’t even dis-heartened by the final score line of 4-1. We had scored. Against the Germans. On Legendary. It was possible. Suddenly, seeming like we were in a Nike “impossible is nothing” advert, we clicked the restart match button. Our index fingers filled with nothing but optimism and faith.

Another hour went by and we got closer. Scoring became a more regular occurrence. The main difficulty (my friend George and I agreed) was that as soon as we managed to score, the computer would seemingly crush our gleeful faces by upping the difficulty from Legendary to ‘COMPUTER SAYS NO’. The number of times that we conceded minutes after scoring…I don’t like to think about it. Still, we could score, and we had experienced times of up to 60 (FIFA) minutes where we kept the Germans at bay.

Memories of playing through the D-Day mission on Medal Of Honour and Call of Duty began flooding back to me. The Germans had to be stopped.

The clock struck 11:27 pm. We hit the restart button for what would be the last time.
The first 45 minutes was uneventful. A chess game. Teasing runs that made sure not to commit too many men forward for fear of the German merciless counter-attack.
Within 5 minutes of the 2nd half commencing, Ashley Young was hacked down in the area by Per Mertesacker. The kind of challenge that only a slow, lumpy oaf like Per would make. Ashley tumbled to the ground before we heard the referee’s whistle stay silent. We could barely contain the anger. We were stuck in the pause menu for 10 minutes, trying to steady our emotions after it seemed this game was doing everything in its power not to let us win.

   Then just 2 minutes later, Walcott steamed into the penalty area off a counter attack and lobbed the ball up deliciously into the bath of an incoming Ashley Young. He was out for revenge. He leapt high up above Per and headed the ball towards goal from 2 yards out, a certain goal, a certain 1-0 lead…..to our disbelief Neuer clawed the ball over the bar. The agony wasn’t over yet. From the following corner, Lampard swung the ball into the near post where Ferdinand met the ball, winning England’s 4th header in as many hours, before directing it towards the bottom corner. We began to rise in anticipation of this long awaited goal before we saw the ball cannon off the post and out. More screaming ensued. There was no way to win, it wasn’t in the algorithm of the game. Another two minutes went by and these fears were crystallised as Klose headed the ball into the England net after what was incredibly uneventful and boring build up play.

We were 1-0 down at 55 minutes. Our belief in being able to win was gone. We both knew that come the final whistle it would all be over, for good.

But it wasn’t over.

10 minutes later, Per handled the ball in his own area to keep the ball away from Rooney.  A certain penalty, there was no way the referee could worm his way out this way. George handed me the controller in complete fear he would miss. Lampard stepped up and blasted the ball into the top right corner. 1-1. GAME ON.

At the 76 minute mark, Rooney (who has been our shining star all evening) received the ball with his back to goal about 20 yards out. He leant one way before swivelling the other, leaving Per for dead. Shrugging off the incoming Schweinsteiger, he rocketed the ball into the bottom left corner. A typical Rooney goal that displayed his strength and power. We were 2-1 up and we could hardly contain ourselves. Just 10 minutes away from beating FIFA 12 we became petrified as soon as the German team took possession in fear of the computer suddenly upping their difficulty level again. People say the Shining is a scary film and that Slender is a scary video game. I however have never been more scared than when Phillip Lahm has been running straight at me.

We held out until the 90th minute before Klose somehow found himself 3 yards out. Joe Hart came to our rescue for the 89th time that evening. The ball was cleared and the final whistle was blown. 

The following 25 minutes, we sat dumbstruck. Re-watching highlights and absorbing every possible lick of information available from the match facts page. We knew that we had both experienced something we would one day tell our Grandkids. Stop laughing, I’m serious.

You can list this as #39 in the “Reasons why Video Games are the Best Thing to Happen to the World Since Sliced Bread”.

Bring on FIFA 13.