Dr Cathy Gale and Cmdr Jane Shepard

August 16th, 2009 Strident Posted in Comments & Thoughts | 1 Comment »

Video games are regularly criticised for their depiction of women. All too often female characters are simply over-endowed, empty-headed eye-candy; there to be gawped at or act as the swooning love interest for the muscle-bound heroes.

I guess it’s not really that surprising. Video games as a medium are still in their infancy. The majority of titles are, at their heart, action-adventures aimed at a largely male audience. Strong female characters weren’t exactly a feature of many “blockbuster” action-adventure films back in the day.

In fact current video game writing reminds me very much of the James Bond films of the sixties and early seventies especially when looking at the way female characters and ethnic groups are treated. You could probably write a whole article comparing elements of the recent Resident Evil 5 game with the 1973 Bond film Live and Let Die.

So how can we develop and write strong female characters? How can we lift videogame writing out of the 1960s? Strangely enough a trip back to the 1960s could be what’s needed. A journey back in time to look at an old TV programme, originally broadcast in black & white in the United Kingdom called The Avengers. Read the rest of this entry »

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TGS Replay 8-Bit Special

August 14th, 2009 Strident Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »

To celebrate the launch of The Gamer Scene Xantiriad, Silverfin and myself recorded a special TGS Replay episode looking back at the 8-bit era of gaming. We were lucky enough to be joined by Ratsoalbion of the great GamerDork.net podcast.

Click here to listen to the Replay show.

We had a lot of fun recording the podcast and reminiscing about the days of tape cassettes and rubber keyboards. My choices for the trip down memory lane were The Hobbit, Head Over Heels and The Great Escape.

You can find out details of how to play all the games we chose and can post your comments in the 8-Bit retro section of The Gamer Scene forums.

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Overlord II

August 11th, 2009 Strident Posted in *Reviews | No Comments »

overlordii_box1The original Overlord game could never be described as a big success. Even its official Xbox.com description refers to it as a “cult hit”. Making a follow up to such a game is always full of difficulties. You don’t want to alienate loyal fans by removing any of the elements that made the first title a success but you also want to change it enough to make it more attractive to a wider audience.

Triumph Studios haven’t perhaps managed to resolve that dilemma as successfully as I’d hoped but they have succeeded in producing a game that’s worth taking a look at, whether you enjoyed or disliked the previous outing.

Set many years after the first game the original Overlord’s Dark Tower has been destroyed, the big guy himself has gone missing and his minions have been left without a leader. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 27th, 2009 Strident Posted in *Reviews | 1 Comment »

The CGUK Replay game for July was Crackdown

This was the first time I’d played Crackdown as it came out well before I got a 360.

Crackdown is what I’d call a “Ronseal” game. It does exactly what it says on the box. It doesn’t set out to be particularly big or clever, it just wants you to love it because it’s fun.

It’s a game that you can spend as little or as much time with as you like. At no point do you feel forced to complete what would traditionally be considered the “side missions”; the road and rooftop races, the stunt challenges and orb collection. Read the rest of this entry »


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Lego Battles

July 17th, 2009 Strident Posted in *Reviews | 3 Comments »

Forget all the famous conflicts of the 1980s. The most intense and important battles (at least to my ten-year old self) took place on my bedroom carpet. There, on the tastefully-speckled expanse, spacemen Lego took on the mighty mounted knights from the Castle sets. Policeman mini-figures tried their best to arrest plastic Viking hoards. Terrified Lego City folk were crushed beneath the feet of evil giant-headed Sindy dolls. Of course the deadliest foe, the common enemy of all of Legodom, was the evil sucking tube of death… the nozzle of my mum’s vacuum cleaner. Oh, if only those legendary battles could have been captured in a videogame.

Fast forward twenty or so years to 2009 and Lego Battles for the Nintendo DS attempts to bring childhood play sessions like mine to life in digital form. The game might feature the familiar Travellers Tales branding but rest assured it is not merely another iteration of the series that has taken on Star Wars, Batman and Indiana Jones. Lego Battles is actually an RTS, a real time strategy game, based around some of the familiar classic Lego kits. Read the rest of this entry »


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I Hate Mario!

July 7th, 2009 Strident Posted in Comments & Thoughts | 3 Comments »

Well actually that’s not true. But it’s a slightly better title for a blog post than ‘I have completely indifferent and ambivalent feelings towards the lead character and any of the supporting cast in Nintendo’s most popular videogame series’.

I don’t spend hours chuckling at grown men running around in plumber costumes on You Tube. The Super Mario Bros theme tune isn’t set as my ringtone. I don’t get warm fuzzy tingles when I see pictures of crocheted mushrooms and knitted turtles on the Internet. In fact it takes a Wikipedia search for me to find out I should be calling them Goombas and Koopa Troopers.

I understand why you guys love him. I really do. It’s just a passion that I’m completely and totally unable to share. Read the rest of this entry »


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CGUK Replay #4

July 5th, 2009 Strident Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »

The Cranky Gamers UK Replay show gives listeners a chance to dust off and revisit games released during the early years of the current console generation. Once again I had the honour of joining top podcasters Xantiriad and Dits on the June 2009 episode  where we looked at super-hero button basher Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

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As well as the Replay game of the month we also spent quite a bit of time talking about the development of the Tiger Woods series of games and Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus.

If you’d like to vote for your preferred game and play along with the Replay crew next month, pop along to the CrankyGamersUK.com forums.

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Defining Games

June 16th, 2009 Strident Posted in Comments & Thoughts | 3 Comments »

I found the discussion on Episode 15 of the Big Red Potion podcast fascinating. Sinan, Joe and their two guests were attempting to come up with a definition of what a “video game” is. They weren’t saying that this was a necessary or even particularly worthwhile endeavour, but rather (as with many Big Red Potion episodes) just using it as a good excuse for an intelligent conversation about gaming.

It got me thinking about how I’d personally define what a video game is. I suppose, like Big Red Potion, I should start by thinking of a good definition of a “game”.

For me, a game is ‘play’ within the boundaries of rules. These rules could be agreed beforehand by the participants, exist already as part of their shared culture or arise and develop organically through the action of play. Read the rest of this entry »

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TWTGTW #4: Zombie Apocalypse Victim

May 26th, 2009 Strident Posted in Gaming Blog | 1 Comment »

I’ve never really understood people’s fascination with zombies. I think that some of that is down to my complete disinterest in the horror genre. I’ve just never been one for blood, guts and scary movies. As a result I’ve missed out on all the “classic” zombie films, such as Dawn of the Dead.

Of course, to be cool, these days you don’t call them zombies… they’re “infected”. They’re not the dead, come back to life, they’re victims of some disease or experiment. Is it just me… or is that just not quite as scary?

Despite my complete ambivalence towards the brain-munching hoards, I’ve somehow found myself playing three zombie games this past month… Read the rest of this entry »

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The Knights of the Nine

May 24th, 2009 Strident Posted in *Reviews | No Comments »

Cranky Gamer’s Replay game for May was the Oblivion Knights of the Nine DLC…

Playing through The Knights of the Nine content was a really interesting experience for me as it meant revisiting a game that I hadn’t played for well over a year.

Now, there are some games that you can just jump right back into but I don’t think Oblivion is one of them. I’d like to think I was a veteran player, having spent over seventy hours on the game, but I’d forgotten so much… like what spells I had access to, what weapons I used to use, where my house (with my stash of equipment) was and…erm… exactly what it was I’d done to upset the guards in every city in the land. Luckily that last problem was more a case of mistaken identity and , in general, the process of acclimatising was made a little easier having just played Fallout 3. Read the rest of this entry »


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