Wednesday, November 05, 2003


A mammoth blog entry written in front of the Man Utd-Rangers game, so don’t pay any attention to the timestamp.

The second half has just kicked off, and United are already 2-0 up. The first goal by Forlan was stunning. I can’t say I’m a fanatical football fan (after all, I support Leicester City) but it’s been a good game to watch so far, thanks to the ever superb refereeing of Pierluigi Collina. Collina is probably the single most recognisable and respected referee in the game, and he allows the game to flow beautifully. Not only that, he’s so well respected that I haven’t seen a single bad tackle or any chatback over the few decisions he’s had to make. When you watch a game refereed by this guy, you know this is how football is meant to be played. Ooh and Ruud van Nistelroy has just stuck in his second of the night. Hat-trick coming up? I wouldn’t be surprised.

However, when it comes to team sports, the game I most like to watch is rugby union, and on Sunday morning I was treated to a peach of a game – New Zealand vs. Wales.

Now; not many people would’ve given Wales much of a hope, but good grief, for 65 minutes they were right in the game and gave the All Blacks a real run for their money – you’ve got to give some kudos to any team that can put four tries and 37 points on the kiwis. It was real throw-the-ball-about cut and thrust stuff; probably one of the best games of rugby I’ve seen in years. The finishing of the All Blacks was nothing short of awesome – when they ran in their first try after a couple of minutes, you thought it was going to be all one way traffic, but after 60 minutes, both teams had over 30 points on the board and Wales were winning! It was a great game. I can’t wait until the weekend until the quarter finals:

New Zealand vs. South Africa, Australia vs. Scotland, France vs. Ireland and England vs. Wales. That’s some good rugby in store…

Still no word from The Evil Belgians, thanks to the wildcat Royal Mail strikes – such great timing! – so I have no idea whenever EIS still want to sue State, which is worrying with only ten days to go before the action gets filed. I contacted Wayward_Ronin, the chap who got State into this mess, in order to get him to contact their lawyers via e-mail, and he gave me a bit of information that’s provided a bizarre twist to the situation.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War states that you should know your enemy, and in the interests of research, W_R decided to go to the EIS website and get a trial subscription from the publication he took the article from online (Tech Europe), and low and behold, stuck to the front cover was a sheet explaining how EIS were filing for action against OVER FIFTY ORGANISATIONS who had plagiarised their work.

FIFTY ORGANISATIONS! Now that’s what I’d call leaky plumbing. Somehow, I can’t see a company as relatively small as EIS wanting to take over fifty separate companies to court. Not wishing to tempt fate, but that’d be a desperately difficult lawsuit to co-ordinate, and we’re relative small fry – after all, cutting and pasting a single two paragraph article hardly constitutes “systematic plagiarism” as citied in the legal notice. I’m pretty hopeful they’re not going to bother with us now that we’ve gotten rid of the article from the website. But I know I’ll sleep a lot better when I have it in black and white and we can draw a line underneath the whole sorry affair.

I said this was going to be mammoth, didn’t I? And I’ve not even covered what games I’ve been playing lately. Speaking of games – it finished 3-0. It wasn’t much of a spectacle after they got the third goal – the second half of the Lazio-Chelsea game looked like a better game from the highlights. Oh well.

I’ve not been playing too much over the last few days – a smidgeon of Halo; I’ve managed to get past the initial surge of The Flood (see what I did there?) and get out of the complex to try and escape with the group of marines to the LZ – and promptly got killed. So I left that, as The Flood are a truly hateful creation in videogames – I’m not looking forward to The Library at all, and I seriously doubt whenever I’ll be able to look at a brussel sprout in the same way ever again.

I played a bit more UFO: Enemy Unknown over the weekend, and tried out the UFO: Aftermath demo too. I have to say that I much prefer the original. I’m not convinced by the camera in Aftermath at all – and I prefer a strict turn-based format to the tactical combat than the pseudo-real time format in Aftermath – the gameplay doesn’t seem to flow well enough for me, and I can’t abide the stop-start-stop-start; though no doubt my friend Mr Hale will say I’m Mad And Wrong. But I’m used to that.

Having had my fill of FPS and TBS on Saturday, I went on an RPG kick on Sunday after the rugby – going back to Neverwinter Nights with my Blackguard character and making a start on Chapter Three. Blackguards are super – being able to summon Doom Knights is rather fantastic.

I also got around to finally making a proper start on Arx Fatalis. Having made it further than last time I tried it; i.e. actually getting out of my prison cell – I’m pretty impressed, despite the fact that the melee combat system is predictably horrible, as it is with most first person RPG’s, the graphics engine isn’t quite cutting edge, and I’m not overly fond of these classless stat based character systems. However, an RPG lives and dies on its depth and ability to capture the imagination, and here Arx Fatalis delivers.

The interface is quite innovative, there’s a satisfyingly high level of interactivity with the suitably claustrophobic environment, an interesting object and inventory system and at least you’re able to kill rats at Level One. Even the comedy werespiders aren’t too much of a challenge to squish. Goblin Lords, on the other hand, are another matter entirely. I’m slightly disappointed that you’re constrained to a male player character, particularly given that the cover of the game box is adorned provocatively with a scantily clad lady – who - I’m reliably informed by my mate Paul (who reviewed the game for PC Format) - doesn’t (totally) constitute a case of false advertising, but an NPC you meet later in the game. Even so, I’d have liked the option to have been there.

I’ll be spending more time with this one, though. I’m enjoying it so far.

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