Monday, May 22, 2006

The Sisters Of Mercy

I was a teenage goth. I stopped painting my face and dyeing (sp?) my hair right after high school and cut the hair for college. It's been over a decade since my best/worst days. But the music lives on! I never even dreamed of getting to see one of the big ones live, but now The Sisters Of Mercy is coming to the local metal festival, Tuska (translates to PAIN in English, for what it's worth).

It'll be an interesting weekend. The Sisters on Friday, and Billy Idol on Sunday. Considering I go to concerts maybe once in two years.

UPDATE: Gee, now my other long-time favorite is coming over, too. It's been only a year or so since I last saw Paradise Lost, but this year's set lists seem cool enough. And right in the middle of summer, too, in my home city. Now if I only managed to catch Type O Negative and System Of A Down some time. I missed TON a couple of years back.

UPDATE 2: Paradise Lost was mighty fine - not as excellent as the last time, but good nonetheless. Billy Idol did kick butt, I was thoroughly entertained.

Sisters Of Mercy was something of a letdown because there was lots of trouble with the sound, but they did get it together before embarking on the biggest hits. All in all it was all right, but the biggest gripe I have with is volume. They've had to pipe it down in the downtown Helsinki festival and as things stand, I don't see much point going over there when I can listen to music at work louder.

I also put up a couple of snapshots from the Sisters Of Mercy gig, late as they are, since people seem to come to this post from search engines, looking for SOM info.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Games that I'm excited about

So E3 came and went. This year it was much, much easier to get your hands on the juicy trailers and information, and keynote speeches and whatnot. Nice, that. Some games stood out, but before I go into those, I really must wonder at the lack of enthusiasm towards the Playstation 3.

I mean, nobody seems to care. Sure, it's coming, but nobody's gawking at the trailers, nobody's asking when they can get their hands on one, everybody's saying that $600 is way too much. I for one will not pay $600 for a console. (Well, according to Sony it's not actually a gaming machine.) Nothing we've seen is better than what's on offer on the 360 and the developers are all saying that the machines are so near identical that the games will be exactly the same on both platforms. We'll see how it plays out, but for now it seems that Microsoft has really played their cards so much better than Sony, who's bound to lose some market space to their competitor.

I'll give Sony this much: the Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer was cool, especially with the final scene of old Snake. We haven't seen ageing heroes in too many games. Also, points for bringing back Raiden despite the ridiculous fanboy backlash to MGS2's protagonist.

Speaking of things you just don't see in videogames: Assassin's Creed. I've played Hitman quite a bit, so I wasn't that interested in another assassination franchise. But at the time of Crusades? In Jerusalem? As an Arab, killing Christian knights? In broad daylight, amidst real crowds? The trailer was really something, breaking a bunch of boundaries I wouldn't expect to be approached with a launch game for a mainstream platform.

Chrome Hounds: I've proclaimed my love for the mecha genre before. The Armored Core series is one of its cornerstones, so I am thrilled to see it coming to the 360, even if the trailer doesn't show anything spectacular.

Gears Of War: So call me gullible. I've been unenthusiastic about this 360 heavy hitter, but Penny Arcade's slack-jawed reaction to it has me excited. I've been waiting for games to reach a sense of solidity, of real physical mass, and early reports indicate that GOW may have achieved just that.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Recent games

I've been wanting to post about Beyond Good & Evil for some time now. I've put it off because I wanted to get further in the game before getting all vocal about it, but what the hell. Chances are you've already played BG&E. Good for you. But if you haven't, I very strongly urge you to do so right away. It's been out for something like three years.

I knew it was supposed to be good, but this good, never. It really feels like you've walked into an animated adventure, complete with great pacing, acting, art and music. The character design is really very good, although the world could be perhaps a little more engaging. It's written well, and the central gameplay is solid. The camera can be a pain, though.

It's interesting how taking photographs of the bad guys is much more exciting than fighting them. I wouldn't mind more games about photographers. The photography in Metal Gear Solid 2 was one of that game's standout moments, too.

Another cool older game I've been at recently is FlatOut on the Xbox. We've played it with a couple of friends - going at the singleplayer, taking turns to get through the really rather challenging races. It's good fun. I wonder when mere physics cease to be fun, but that day is certainly not here yet.

There are the physics-based, driver-flinging minigames, too, but I really prefer the singleplayer experience. Well, make that "communal", perhaps... As a bit of trivia, I was on a Nile cruise with a guy working on the game some years ago. (He wasn't at Bugbear back then, though.) I hope the soon to come sequel all the best, although I'm a little worried about the addition of explosions. The original was fine without them, suitably down to Earth, yet over the top.

And yes, I'm still playing Advance Wars DS. It's just really very good.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A note on advertising

You might have noticed the Google AdSense banner on the page. It's there just to test the system, as I want to know how it works. Unless I suddenly begin to get thousands of hits instead of the handful I'm seeing now, there's no money in it for me. The blog is just serving as a professional (as well as creative and personal) playground for me.