Saturday, October 31, 2009

Far Cry 2: A far cry from Far Cry

At sunrise, I retrieved my pistol, rifle and machine gun from my weapons locker and left the safe house at the edge of a vast desert. I picked up ammunition and explosives that one of my buddies had conveniently left just outside the door. A sturdy Jeep waited for me on the path, it’s previous owner was presumably now a dead carcass providing breakfast for hungry vultures. I recalled the previous night’s events; he should have just driven on by me but no, he had to turn around and chased me along the jungle road until he caught up with me and forced me off into a tree. By the time he was out of his car I had grabbed my truck’s mounted machine gun and unloaded almost 30 rounds into his mass. Just as well the truck had a mounted weapon as my small arms ammo was either spent or my weapons had degraded and broken apart earlier. I picked up his AK47 as one doesn't leave a working firearm on the ground [especially if your own weapons are gone] and took his Jeep as I wasn’t going to stick around so near to a guard post repairing my truck.

Now I drove along the dusty brown road at sunrise and I spotted a cell tower near the side of a hill, I manoeuvred my Jeep off the road and up the access path to the rusty tower, starkly alien to the trees and sheer cliff face. I abandoned my Jeep at the foot of the hill and went up to the tower’s control box at it’s base. I managed to intercept a transmission from an obviously electronically distorted voice who told me that there was an available target of opportunity in the area and that I was to eliminate them. The standard payment in rough diamonds would be paid into my account on completion. I pulled out my map and GPS locator and saw that the target’s co-ordinates had been added to my map which covered 25km2 of Burka Sako, the Northern District [of a diplomatically unnamed country]. Unfortunately it was some distance away, it would take a while to drive all that way which I could but the roads were filled with fighters from both sides of this lawless war-torn African country, and I’d get nailed for sure more then once before reaching my objective. So instead, I made my way to a bus station.

As it’s much slower, and presumably makes quite a few stops on the way; the bus journey took half a day. Strangely I didn’t even know the time had passed even though the ride was uneventful. Were it not for the obvious signs of the sun beginning to set I’d have assumed it took mere seconds. The bus stop at which I was eventually dropped was very close to my objective [and someone had left a car there]. I could see from my GPS that my mark was near an airfield. The contours on my map indicated hills to the South and West of the airfield but either too sheer or to far away from the target to get a good shot. There was however some sand dunes to the East where I could set up my Dragunov SVD sniper rifle and take out my target with a clear path to freedom should I stir up a hornet’s nest.

By the time I reached the dunes, I noticed that the target was moving. He was in a black SUV led and flanked by assault trucks. I was expecting maybe a few mercs guarding a stationery target – not this. I’d have to rethink my tactics on the fly and hope things didn’t go tits up like last time when I took out a mark in the centre of the ceasefire zone in the town of Pala. All three vehicles were in my line of sight now; tracking a moving target on a winding road was difficult enough – hitting one was another matter entirely. If I got the mark, sitting in the rear of the SUV, I’d be well pleased with myself, but at 6-700m away it was unlikely, even by someone with my considerable skill. No sooner I’d have either succeeded or missed, the boys on their assault trucks would close the distance and pepper me good. A better tactic would be to take out them first, then concentrate on the SUV.

My first shot missed. It guess wasn't unexpected, but the next shot found it's mark. This took out the driver of the tail truck. It disappeared behind a mound – it either toppled over or went into the river, I couldn’t see, but I know it was the last I saw of it or it’s occupants. I don’t think the other vehicle occupants were paying too much attention to their rear view mirrors, because I didn’t observe any change to the direction, speed or driving pattern, of the other vehicles; everything seemed copasetic to them. How wrong they would be. My third shot obliterated the head of the lead truck driver, the rest of him fell out and the truck stopped dead. I lined up my fourth shot to take out the rear gunner before he got a bead on me, he’d have seen my muzzle flash, but this guy was a slippery customer. I knew I had missed as soon as I pulled the trigger. Quick as a flash, the gunner had slid down to the driving seat and was undoubtedly getting the truck in motion again, to make matters worse – the SUV had changed direction and was driving away from my position at full speed – this was not good. I couldn’t see him but I was sure the driver was on the left as I lined up my fifth shot. It missed, as did my sixth. The range between me and the SUV was growing; by the time I ran back to my vehicle, my mark would surely be – LUCAS! Then I got the shock of my life: the lead assault truck was making its way up the fucking dune – its driver determined to run me over! This was terrible [and fantastic at the same time]. My seventh shot shattered the windscreen of the truck and hit maniacal motorist, but it wasn't until my eighth shot hit him in the face that he slumped out of the vehicle as it came to a stop mere inches from me. I jumped into the driver’s seat and sped off after the SUV.

I caught up with the SUV soon enough as it neared a tree line [I'm an elite driver]. I managed to steer alongside it and the sides of the vehicles clashed with sparks and the sound of metallic grinding. I eventually managed to steer the other driver into a tree with a loud crash. I brought my own vehicle to a stop and got out bringing my PKM Light Machine Gun to bear on the SUV, but the driver was quicker and was already spewing hot lead in my direction from his HK G3A4 Assault Rifle. I ducked behind my truck shielding myself from the 7.62mm ammo. From my cover I lobbed out a fragmentation grenade which exploded sending my would-be assailant flying over my trucks bonnet, a lifeless ragdoll. I broke my cover and closed on the SUV, my vision obscured by the fire I started – the flames lapped at the SUV – and I knew from previous experience that the vehicle was seconds from exploding! It was time to run again. I was maybe 20 meters away when I heard the SUV explode behind me; I turned in time to see the remains of its chassis inconveniently land on my own truck, which too would now soon explode. But I wasn’t going to wait around for the fireworks, I apparently still had a man to kill as according to my GPS, he had slipped out of the SUV as his bodyguard was keeping me pinned.

I caught up with my mark on an open plain where a herd of zebras grazed. I opened up with my LMG and he began moving erratically and made for a tree stump. The zebras scattered at the sound of my gunfire and I began shooting at the stump. I felt all-powerful and cocky now; there was no escape for this man. I began swapping out my empty ammo belt but my mark popped out from behind the stump and took a few pot-shots at me with a Star .45. My arrogance disappeared as a round embedded itself in my thigh with a splash of red. He was certainly not waiting for me to let loose with my LMG again either because he bolted for the tree line. There would be plenty of obstacles to protect him there and from which to blast at me with his pistol. That was… if I let him.

My mark was too far away from me now to accurately hit with my LMG so I unshouldered my Dragunov again and peered at him though its scope. I prefer the crosshairs style to the Ruskies “chevrons”, but beggars can’t be choosers in this cursed land. I spent about a dozen rough diamonds on this the best one in the arms store and it wasn’t going to let me down. My ninth and final sniper shot of the day took down a running target at 100m. I breathed a sigh of relief as I reached for my tweezers to agonizingly pry the bullet out from my thigh and patch myself up. Now to get out of here, a sheer cliff face was to my right, behind me - an endless arid desert. To my left a raging brush fire [that I started] had enveloped trees near the remains of the vehicles. There was for once, only one direction I could go here - forward; to eventually find The Jackal and put an end to the war destroying this land… …by any means necessary.

You may be forgiven for thinking that this is a chapter from my memoirs but it is in fact an account of a single one-hour session of playing Far Cry 2 and I think that it is a perfect way of reviewing a game like this where everyone’s experience will be different – there is very little or no scripting here – the level of detail I describe is all in the game - the actions of the enemies are all the AI, meaning that my experience will most likely not happen to you at any point in the game, or you may experience a some of these elements, but never exactly as with many other shooters. Some aspects generally happen as I describe - you steal and drive cars or boats through all the climates on the African continent condensed into two 25km2 regions in a free open game world as you collect diamonds to buy a wide range of small arms and explosive weapons to carry out assassination, destruction, courier or rescue missions anywhere within that world. You make few friends as practically everyone else you meet is billigerant and gunning for you. The buddies you do meet [like Nazreen - pictured here] will pull your fat out of the fire, and help you especially if you help them. You can carry three weapons but you must keep them maintained by replacing them with new ones from a gun store or they will jam and eventually break as readily as the crap weapons you pick up from fallen foes. Your map and GPS make sure you never get lost , only occasionally taking a wrong turn if you're not paying attention. The GPS will also reveal hidden diamond treasures. The graphics are on par with Crysis but are much warmer in tone and more varied in scope. I guarantee you, you will spend hours just marvelling at the scenery, expertly crafted with flora and fauna of Africa. High-Range Dynamic Lighting effects were practically invented for this game where the blistering sun will cross the sky casting a long shadow as you travel away from it or blind you as you face it. Survival isn’t easy, you need to get medicine to heal yourself once you’ve pried the bullets from your flesh and need copious amounts of malaria pills to prevent the disease’s debilitating attacks. The odds are against you, and you’ve no superpowers, air support, flashlight, night-vision, nano-suit or even sunglasses,. What chance do you have? But still, you must kill The Jackal, the scumbag who has armed both sides of the war. Then perhaps you can die in peace…

Final Verdict: Far Cry 2 is not the progeny of it's predecessor, it's connection to the original is in name only. Even by sticking to the main "quest" missions you're still going to need about 20 hours to complete it but double that if you take on missions of opportunity or side missions for more money and arms. Enemies are unrealistically difficult to kill, encouraging headshots all the time and you in contrast can be instantly killed if tipped by a moving car. Nevertheless this is graphically impressive, atmospheric, tactical FPS that sets the bar for the open world shooter. Highly recommended!
Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2

Friday, October 30, 2009

Doune Castle is a Film Set once again

The medieval keep of Doune Castle near Stirling, Scotland built at the end of the 1300s for Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, has become the setting for a new Hollywood production by HBO.

Scenes from Game of Thrones, a series based on George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy adventure novels, starring Sean Bean and Lena Headey, were shot there last weekend.

Doune Castle is already a place of pilgrimage for movie fans after it featured as Castle Anthrax in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is understood the castle will be used for scenes depicting the courtyard of the fantasy dream realm of Winterfell.

Here you can see the pictures I took there last Friday as they were setting up.

Source: IMDB / BBC / The film crew that were there setting everything up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dead Tauntaun Wedding Cake

You'd be forgiven from just looking at the picture there that Hasbro or some simarly associated manufacturer has created a new action figure diorama of Luke Skywalker bring stuffed into a Tauntaun's innards from The Empire Strikes Back.

This is not the case. This is someones WEDDING CAKE! Read all about it here.

Source: The Whitehouse / / Gizmodo

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have returned

I took the liberty of visiting the wonderful land of the Scots last week. It is indeed a majestic land, rich in history, abundant with ancient castles open valleys and calm lochs. I stayed in Edinburgh, itself a city of inspiration for many now famous writers and it's easy to see why once you walk down it's narrow cobbled streets and wander through it's graveyards after dark.


"Suck on this English dogs!" Etc....

I heartily recommend Haggis but must warn against the dreadful taste if Irn-Bru. Well worth a visit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I must take my leave

...and go here for a few days. Reply/comment here with anything of importance during my absence.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zombieland: "Where are the fucking Twinkies?"

The Zombie movie is indeed as tired a genre on the silver screen as WWII is in the land of video games. Even the godfather of the zombie movie, George Romero himself now produces woefully substandard movies of a genre he once pioneered and dominated. It took some British comedy writers to pave a clear path for what can really be now - due to over-saturation - the only future of the Zombie movie [save the Resident Evil franchise which is consistently innovative and more Sci-Fi then Zombie horror at the end of the day] and I speak of course of the Zombie-comedy. Edgar Wright’s 2004 movie Shaun of the Dead worked because it took an idea that everyone was more then familiar with and turned it on it’s ass in the best way possible way through a hysterical lampoon of the genre. Seeing the success and the status of Shaun stateside, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick set about creating a proposed TV pilot that would not only address a Zombie outbreak in the US and put an American slant on the zombie-comedy using the somewhat more familiar Zombie-movie setting, but also due to it’s location: serious, easily available firepower. It eventually became a movie and attracted the likes of Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray so [hopefully] a new movie franchise was born in the from of Zombieland.

The opening credits present a gleefully gory yet hilarious series of slow-motion images of what must be the Zombie outbreak. Like many of it’s contemporaries, it doesn’t investigate what caused the Zompocalypse or delve too much into what happened, a throwaway narrative comment is sufficient and enough to specify a virus [stemming from mutated mad-cow disease] as opposed to evil risen undead etc., and as it’s the subject of Robert Smith?’s paper – a virus is far more chilling these days. The style of the movie is seen from the protagonist’s perspective, one Columbus played by Jesse Eisenberg. Columbas is a likeable yet neurotic nerd who enchews human contact and a social life for pizza and World of Warcraft. He has applied his organisational skills with great effect to create a series of several dozen rules which he uses to combat the Zombies, these include "Cardio", "Seatbelts" and "Double-tap" and all are supported as exceptionally good ideas throughout the course of the movie and they even appear as large text on the screen whenever a rule is followed as you would find in an instructional video adding to the hilarity.

Columbus is supported by Tallahassee [Woody Harrelson] who seems to have been born to kill Zombies and take quite a delight in coming up with new and innovative ways to sadistically yet humourously send them on to the afterlife. His quest in search of Twinkies crosses his path with Columbus and later Wichita [Emma Stone] and her sister Little Rock [Abigail Breslin], a pair of young con-artists who trust no-one, not even our beloved heroes. Their journey stems from Austin, Texas along the road to Hollywood to partake in a lavish respite [a rest which took slightly too long on screen] from Zombie hunting before the finale in Pacific Playland in California, where the movie explodes with insanity – just think of how many unique ways there are to eliminate Zombies in an amusement park!

If anyone is going into this expecting a horror movie in the run up to Haloween, then forget it, this is a comedy through and through, while Ruben Fleischer has not directed a tale to trump Wright's Shaun, he, his writers and cast have created a worthy and highly entertaining addition to the genre and without a doubt, the funniest movie I've seen all year.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *****

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Original Link Removed
*** UPDATED 19:00 14/10/09 ***

Well this was working in the country I was in at 12:30 today but apparently not in the one I'm in now? I hope it works wherever you are...

*** UPDATED 19:30 14/10/09 ***
Here is a Low-Rez version: Expendables

*** UPDATED 22:19 14/10/09 ***
Wow, not only is it not available anymore there's some copyright claim from Lionsgate appearing. They took out that last link too. Lionsgate are after it like Colonel Decker after The A-Team - just gotta stay ahead of them!!!! Here's a new embed:

Friday, October 09, 2009

UNETIDA test weapons on Moon

Today's news will document NASA's successful deployment of their LCROSS mission which blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a missile that blasted "a hole in the lunar surface at twice the speed of a bullet." The story mentions that a Centaur rocket, was steered by a shepherding spacecraft that guided it towards its target - Cabeus - a crater close to the Moon's south pole.

Scientists expected the blast to be so powerful that a huge plume of debris would be ejected and believe ice could be trapped in crater shadows near the south pole which never receive any sunlight. If so it could provide vital supplies for a manned moonbase.

In reality this scientific NASA mission to prove there's water on the Moon is a cover story, and the real mission is specialist weapons testing being undertaken by UNETIDA. The mission was really a test flight of the Apocaylator One spacecraft which launched the KX-20, a new precision targeting warhead deemed capable of eliminating alien motherships, at the Moon just some 30 minutes ago.

"We call it the Muthafucker," said Colonel "Whopper" Creedon of UNETIDA, monitoring the event from Speciual Operations Bunker 14 today. "...well I call it the Muthafucker because of what's it's eventually supposed to do; blow some goddamn alien mothership out of our sky. General Jackson has some nerdy name for it, the K-20 or something but I prefer to name things that strike raw naked fear into the hearts of our enemies... ...if they have hearts that is."

Colonel Creedon watching something going "boom" on the Moon today.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Surrogates: An idiotic world of masks!

Let me get the premise of this movie out there first: Bruce Willis plays Agent Tom Greer and Radha Pitch Black Mitchell [Agent Peters] investigate the mysterious murder of a college student linked to Canter [James Cromwell] the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves – fit, good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles – enabling people to experience life to the full from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The investigation leads to a conspiracy and the rediscovery of humanity, that is, if you can trust anyone who is not whom they appear to be...

Willis was more than adequate in his role as human Greer although I found that his transformation from mere dissatisfaction to outright Chuck Heston class hatred of Surrogates in the space of a few scenes, rather unconvincing. Willis was less than stellar in his portrayal of cyborg Greer; His blond comb-over aside - The inane smirk he sported reminded me of the misplaced idiotic smile that James Caviezel sported in the Thin Red Line. Basically, no matter what he was doing, interrogating witnesses or discovering a gristly crime he'd still have this pursed lip smirk which was very distracting. The other performances were strictly B-movie grade with Cromwell only showing any remote attempt at acting.

I wished that this Philip K. Dick-style parable, a social commentary on civil liberty and free will was actually originally written by Dick as no matter how badly it was adapted, it would still couldn't be filled with as many plot holes and leave you asking so many questions afterwards as were presented here. You see the set-up was sheer madness, I've been able to sit back relax and accept a "future history" from a sci-fi movie like Judge Dredd, Terminator, Minority Report or practically anything, possible or impossible provided it's logically explained. But all you get from Surrogates is that by in 2017 we have humanity, 96% of whom are all so depressed with the way look that they'd rather become hermits and control robotic versions of themselves via a virtual reality chair to live their lives for them. This is probably understandable if you're a quadriplegic, weigh 700lbs or someone who otherwise could not have a semblance of a normal life but it doesn't explain everyone else.

I know some people would love to laze around all day as your robot does your job for you and brings home a paycheck, but that's not how this works here - you have to be in constant operational control of your surrogate in order for it to do anything!!! That's not to say there's no use for this tech, but surely it would be limited to high-danger situations such as a soldier, nuclear reactor technician or even a fucking lion tamer!!! But the most idiotic concept you're expected to grasp here is that 96% of the population of the entire world uses one of these robots to simply live their life - they work, throw parties and we even see them go clubbing! WHY????!!! Sorry that's as hard to swallow as a chalk sandwich. Now this is a pretty similar concept to something covered in the Caprica pilot and most likely it's series, but that's treated as an A.I. artificial reality, as easily escapeable as removing your headset. In Surrogates - you have to go the trouble of walking/driving your cyborg home in order to recharge it. What's the point? There's no explanation.

Final Verdict: The movie as a thriller was at best OK, it was sufficiently paced as an action-movie and adequately directed by Jonathan [U-571, T3] Mostow considering it's basically a meld of several highbrow sci-fi concepts melded with "we've seen it all before" action. There was sadly nothing revolutionary, it's not good enough to stand on it's own on your DVD shelf and it can't possibly get a sequel so it's really one to ultimately forget about, maybe after you've seen it once - but stop there.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **1/2

Sunday, October 04, 2009

VICTORY: Lisbon Ratified

“Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.” - Malcolm Forbes

I recalled those words at the weekend as a final Yes vote on the Treaty of Lisbon came in at 67% vs. a shock 53% against on June 14th 2008.

"It is a good day for Ireland, it is a good day for Europe; We stand with them as we seek to move forward together. We do this because we know we are better and stronger together," said An Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

I'd just like to send out a big FUCK YOU - WHO'S YOUR DADDY NOW BE-ATCH!! to all the Shinners, parasites [students], commies, lefties, wasters and other neer-do-wells who voiced an idiotic opposition to the treaty since the first referendum. To those that stepped back into line and changed their minds to Yes this time around, I say: well done; but if you voted correctly the first time - you could have saved the country a couple of million euro in taxpayers money. But you've saved yourself from execution in the new order.

Now that the government has got their way, there doesn't need to be another vote, so there won't be a "best of three" or other such nonsense here but everything is not hunky-dory yet - while the Polish president is expected to sign the treaty this week, the Czech parliament did ratify the treaty but their president, a treaty opposer is required to sign it first, which he didn't. Instead he has tied it up with their Constitutional Court for a possible 6 months at which time it would be very close to the general election in the United Kingdom, an election in which the Conservatives are poised to win and whom have promised a referendum if the treaty has not been ratified by all members at their time of election, but are being urged to hold one even despite full ratification at that time. So the shenanigans ain't over yet.