Category Archives: Gaming

Thumbs as fit as fiddles

I long to play some football, my circle isn’t interested in that sort of thing and the extended ring to which I once belonged is now a fading memory; my waistline, in contrast, is an ever expanding reality.

My thumbs are as fit as fiddles – if fiddle thumbs were a thing, they’d be challenging in all sorts of competitions, winning little fiddle thumb trophies and signing autographs for fiddle thumb fans from all four corners of the world.

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The beautiful game. (The tired looking man).

My eyes are a bit weary and the coffee I’m rubbing into the sockets seems to be penetrating just enough to let me operate a keyboard at 40%. Apologies if this don’t read good. There’s a reason for my lethargy this morning, and that reason is FIFA’s Ultimate Team and Pro Clubs.

These two features from FIFA 13 are going to be the death of me due to the following reason:

1. Loss of job. 
Ultimate Team has a web app and a phone app. These applications sync in with the xbox/pS3/PC game and allow you to build your Ultimate Team (FUT), bid on players in the online auction, sell players and commodities. The lot. At one point last week I found myself playing FIFA whilst simultaneously checking the iOS app for a Golden Right Back.

Doing this at work is NOT a good idea. It’s got that Ebay pull. Keeping your eye on the clock as it ticks away and you pray to the gods that no one else has spotted that player you want with 40 seconds to g…. NNNOOOOOOO!!!

2. Lack of sleep.
To call FUT addictive is to call crack cocaine a little powdery time waster. On the surface it’s easy to look at it and dismiss it as a way of EA to syphon a bit more cash from you via micro-content and in game purchases. Whilst that’s true, it’s quite possible to build up your wedge of in-game cash by working the auction house (buy high, sell low!! – no wait..) and  by winning games both on and off line. In fact, the little money I’ve spent has wielded scant reward in terms of star players yet the sheer joy of opening a pack of cards harks back to the days of spending our pocket money at the corner shop buying up Panini stickers and trading cards.

Got. Got. Got. Need. Need. Oooh a shiny one!!

This need for the best players is only beaten by the need to tinker with your team. Building 100% chemistry and keeping your players fit, and happy. These pre-madonnas don’t like to play out of position and they much prefer playing with team mates from the same league or the same country. Thinking about it, perhaps someone needs to have a word with the Kick It Out campaigners on this one?

And then there’s Pro Clubs.

Pro Clubs is FIFA’s other online community. A place where chums from all walks of life can gather in their private (or public) club, pull on a virtual shirt in the form of your very own Virtual Pro, and take to battle on the field of play.

As a team member for the sedate Olympion Argos, my role is playmaking midfielder. A dream I’ve held for many years and one that, frankly, never materialised in real life; and like real life, it’s not actually materialising in-game either! Arse.

Still, there’s a reason for that. Your pro can only get better by doing things in game and online. The more games you play with your friends, the better your pro will get. It’s often the simplest ideas that are the best, and this hook along with many a laugh with your friends online can keep your head buried in game before someone mentions over the voice comms, “er… it’s 1.23am“.

Every. Single. Night.

So forgive me if I look like an unused extra from The Walking Dead, but my goodness, this years FIFA 13 is a bit good.

(Picture lovingly borrowed from the internets)

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Focus

It’s good to have focus.

I can normally retain a decent level of focus for around 3-5 minutes. I’m quite sure that this is a level normally associated with children under the age of 5 and yet there isn’t a thing I can do about it.

Even writing those 46 words took a lot longer than it should because my eyes darted from the window I’m typing in to the Twitter timeline on the right of my screen. After that there was laughter from opposite me which I had to acknowledge and find out if it was really funny or not (it wasn’t. Whatever it was). On top of that, I shouldn’t be blogging now at all, I should be working.

Basically I have the attention span of a puppy.

I noticed today that Me.You.Coffee was losing focus. A little bit of my gaming geekery had started to trickle in amongst the words and doodles that I’ve been trying to keep all warm and cosy and safe from harm within the confines of this here blog. The upshot is that I’ve decided to give those things their own little home, they’ll be much happier there I’m sure.

It’s just a heads up really. It means more to me than you but hey, if you want to read what I’m writing on the topic of games and gaming head on over to 30 Something Geek!

Vitalike

Almost 6 months on from release and I caved.

I’d done so well to avoid the gadget lust. Convincing myself that I didn’t need another shiny thing. That I didn’t need another prop to occupy my time. Time, lately, evades me and if anything I need more of the stuff than things to fill it. But then I was shown a 3DSXL and something happened. A light switched on inside the dusty room I call a head and I started to process a few thoughts.

I already own a 3DS. The 3DSXL was chunkier, has a bigger screen and … that’s it. It looks an ugly mother from all angles, made from the same sort of plastic my kid had been chewing on when he was teething. Durable, yes. Desirable, no.
It got me thinking…

What game am I most looking forward to on 3DS?

I couldn’t really answer it. Luigi’s Mansion 2? Perhaps. Animal Crossing 3D? Maybe. I thought NSMB2 was going to be something I’d be aching for but the more I see of the coin fest, the more I realised I was kinda done with the crazy little plumber for now, especially as Mario Kart 7 had left me so cold. (Actually, that’s not strictly true. MK7 left me with cramp in my hands). My on again off again love affair with the 3DS was most definitely off again.

“You could trade a 3DS in for £100 and ALL you have to pay is £80 for a 3DSXL” said the floppy haired assistant. That’s when I started thinking something else. Something crazy. Something shaped like PS Vita. Something I’d been drooling over 6 months previous but managed to reign myself in.

There’s a point in every gadget whore’s thought process that the certainty of ownership becomes a given. That point is normally at the very beginning of the timeline, the rest of which is filled up with half hearted attempts at talking yourself out of the product. It’s mainly for show of course, but it’s there.

It’s just a PSP
The old PSP hurt my hands
There aren’t many games out for it

Now as collectors of shiny things, we can sometimes be a little forgetful to how things started out. The 3DS, when it first launched, came with a RRP price tag of £229, which as it happens is the same RRP of a PS Vita. It launched with a handful of games, yet no “killer app”, the likes of Mario and Zelda still a good 6 months off.  It took the release of those two brands and a drastic price cut for people to sit up, take notice and stop taking the piss.

….So I traded my 3DS for a PS Vita.

I’m quite sure many would baulk at such a move, some might even laugh and point to slow world wide sales, a fairly terrible take up in it’s home country of Japan and a 6 month game schedule that to call “sparse” would be flattering. Yet trade I did, and I tell you what; I don’t regret it in the slightest.

I won’t witter on about the design or the battery or the technical aspects because that’s already been covered, instead I’ll give you some bullet points.

  • PSV is not just a PSP
  • PSV is much comfier to hold than a PSP
  • PSV has a wonderful library of games for a 6 month old console

I grabbed Rayman Origins, Uncharted, FIFA, Everybody’s Golf and Motorstorm RC with my device. On top of that I’ve downloaded demos for Super Stardust and Wipeout 2048 . Those games alone will keep me busy for a long while already because, you know what, I work from 9-5 and when I go home I have a family to play with and feed and all that other stuff a 30 something does. So time to actually enjoy my hobby is at a premium.

There is so much to love about the Vita that I genuinely can’t get my head around the bad press.

We wanted 2 sticks. We’ve got ’em.
We wanted hi res graphics that almost mirror the PS3. We’ve got ’em.
We wanted touch screen, giroscopes and a screen as clear as a retina display. Yup, we’ve got ’em.
We wanted connectivity, easy wifi, leaderboards, cross platform play, friends lists, social networking features and fully featured games of FIFA on the go? And now we’ve got them!

How they’ve managed to squeeze so much tech into this thing still baffles me (as it does with iThingys too. Seriously these things are made from magic, right?) but they have and it shouldn’t be sniffed at. Sony appear to have given the gaming public what they wanted and then some. Maybe they’re a year or 2 late. Perhaps things have moved on and smartphone gaming is now the future.

But what if gamers remember their thumbs. Those important stubs on the side of your hands that long for something tactile to touch and waggle and tease into position. What if we’ve been given the ultimate gaming device away from the TV and Joe Public is too blind to see?

My budget (and by this I mean my money and my time) only allow me to have one portable gaming device at a time. 3DS, or Vita. Having spent time with both, the sheer power Vita offers you is undeniable. The downloadable back catalogue of games is rich and varied, the screen makes you grin every time you wake it up from it’s sleep mode and whilst the near future might look uncertain for now I still can’t help but get excited for things to come.

So bring on the doom and the gloom, bring on the graphs and the sales figures I’ll still be happily blasting my way through Wipeout, cringing at my shots in Everybody’s Golf and trying to destroy all of your PS3 times on Motorstorm until Christmas. Not only that, but I’ve yet to meet a little chap named Sackboy. I hear he’s quite the creative sort.

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