The Evil Within is Aptly Named – for it Awoke the Evil Within Me

Title: The Evil Withinthe-evil-within-logo
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Distributor: Bethesda

Pros:
-Devilishly bloodthirsty
-Simplistic controls
-Upgrade system
-Exploration yields fruitful rewards

Cons:
-Vague storyline and plot
-Bland graphics
-Excruciatingly limited resources
-Occasionally unresponsive and slow
control system
-Camera can prove frustrating

Verdict: 5.5 (out of 10)

This year’s Destiny had a lot of hype, but after completion of the short campaign, what remained was a series of frequently repetitive occurrences that made about as much sense as an ashtray on a motorbike. The Evil Within is not necessarily in the same boat, but it certainly originates from the same dock. After watching several astounding trailers, and reading the verdicts of professional gaming companies online (Ausgamers gave the Evil Within a 10), I was expecting something considerably more entertaining. Australia’s newspaper The Age noted how The Evil Within was ‘a grand rebirth for survival horror’, and had this been 1998, or 2002, I probably wouldn’t bother voicing an argument. Today however, I would presume gamers want a little more from their games than relentless chase scenes and inexplicable gore, with an almost non-existent plot. For me, on the most part, I found the Evil Within annoying, for reasons I will explore in this post, the scariest part about the game quite possibly being its price.

Perhaps I might have found more enjoyment if the protagonist was someone a little different than Sebastian Castellanos. Although I won’t deny, I’m sure he’d make a great detective, but the lead in a horror game? He is out of his league in this alternate universe. Although he proves himself courageous in a fight, his delicate body is quite the contradiction to his character, and the fact that he, at the beginning, cannot run more than a couple dozen feet without becoming crippled with exhaustion, is frustrating. He doesn’t just stop running though – usually he has to bend over, panting like someone who just ran a  marathon, all the while, whatever thing you were running from, draws ever closer, and when battling boss monsters, who can kill you with a single hit, the distance between you and the bad guys, is precious.

Moving on, throughout the game, a majority of the levels are an incoherent mass of hysteria, and reminded me a fair bit of Painkiller, in that one level does not exactly continue on from the other, and you rather find yourself going from one random location to the next, and this similarly occurs during levels as well. Often in games, locations are meant to yield information on the plot itself, but such is forfeited by this peculiar technique. Again, like Painkiller, the environments are rather drab, with a mixture of browns, blacks, grays and (of course) reds, making up a quantity of the environment, and although everything is well constructed, the lack of any lively color makes the game look and feel like a graveyard, which does nothing to exploit the power of the new systems (I myself played this title on the XBOX One).

While exploring these strange environments however, you are able to find news clippings, audio and doctoral files from other individuals, and a back-story regarding Sebastian, and from chapter five onwards, you begin to piece together the kind of life that Sebastian has experienced. It is sub-plots like these that make you want to continue, in order to alleviate your quest for answers, however the slow pace the answers are provided means there is a lot of trekking through strange territory, that on more than one occasion seems to have no real pertinence to the shadowy storyline.

The most hectic part about the game though, is the lack of resources. This is where upgrading becomes most paramount. At the beginning of the game, the amount of reserve ammo or health-packs your character can carry is pitifully low, and you are forced to choose between making your character’s life line stronger, or upgrading the number of resources you can hold. Upgrading is done by acquiring glop from around not only the environment, but from the bodies of deceased enemies, who (rarely) drop something you can use. During each level, you may hear the sweet melody of music serenading your eardrums, which means that by walking through a mirror, you are able to enter a safe haven, which seems to exist between not only the game’s worlds, but time itself. Here, you can save the game, find information on certain back stories, restock on supplies (during the Evil Within you may find small statues which internally contain keys, that then unlock cabinets containing goods), or upgrade your character by shocking yourself in an electric chair (yes, you read that right).

Continuing on with regards to the lackluster resources, I have no problem with a challenge, as long as I receive a reward afterwards that will incentivize me to persist with the unending struggle. The reward that is received however is hardly agreeable compensation – often, a collection of new antagonistic monsters appear, sometimes even in areas previously cleansed of enemy combatants. As previously noted, enemies drop very little in the way of loot once deceased, and been forced to waste valuable resources dispatching these new creatures is a frustrating hindrance. What is most annoying though, is that you receive, early on in fact, an arsenal of powerful weapons, but you can hardly ever use them, and rather, your character seems to spend more time running from the enemy in a vain attempt to avoid as many encounters as possible, rather than using the weapons for the reason they were made. The frequency of these chase sequences reminded me somewhat of Prince of Persia, Warrior Within, in which a great portion of the game is spent running away from the monstrous Dahaka.

The addendum that enemies don’t normally stay dead unless set alight is another conundrum faced, and since matches are even more scarce than ammo, you are forced to choose who you purge with fire delicately, as you never know what lies around the next corner. That is even if Sebastian lights the enemy up at all. On several moments, the game refused to let me set an enemy alight unless I stood in a certain position, and by that time, the target had already begun to drag its gory remains to its feet, forcing me to repeat the entire process all over again. If you happen to die moreover, upon returning to the game (there is a checkpoint system, alongside the opportunity to manually save your progress), resources will either be different, or not available at all. There was one moment when I uncovered several bullets from inside a container, but when I returned after having died, it was completely vacant.

On this note, a number of the resources are hidden in boxes, containers and cabinets, and you are forced to demolish these, making unnecessary noise that alerts nearby foes. Occasionally, you are also required to work with an NPC (non-playable character (for the uninitiated)), and their clumsiness in knocking over items is aggravatingly brutal. They might as well put up a neon sign. On the subject of lighting, Joseph is allowed to carry a lantern with an unending shelf-life, however the light is just as much a monster magnet as the unfortunate onset of sound, which can be triggered by bumping into a table, or stepping on some glass, which adds a good deal of realism to the game. Sounds can however, when properly employed, be used as devices of distraction, which can allow you the opportunity to sneak up on unsuspecting foes, and stealthily kill them without the use of ammo. Going into a fist fight with an enemy is seldom a recommendation judging by the amount of damage a single combatant can inflict, but stealth kills offer a solution to this quandary. Stealth kills are not impossible, but the chance that the enemy will turn and see you is very likely, so careful precision is always a requirement. Of course, the fact that the crouch button needs to be held down, alongside the addendum that Sebastian cannot use firearms while crouched, makes this all the more complex. Additionally, with regards to stealth, Sebastian can, rather than kicking a door open, slowly push it forward, the eerie squeak of the door being questionably loud. The point I’m making by including this assessment is with regards to the camera angle during this stealth tactic. As Sebastian opens the door, for several seconds, you have no control over the camera’s location, and instead of seeing what threat exists in the following area, you have to wait until Sebastian is in the room to regain control, putting the character at unnecessary risk.

Returning to the subject of checkpoints, occasionally, they fail to reboot the player where the checkpoint was received. There was one moment in particular, where I received a checkpoint behind a condemned building, but after having died, I rematerialized atop a flight of stairs, in plain sight of an enemy, who then proceeded to hurry after me. With regards to the enemy in general, although they are capable of detecting the player by sight and sound, they don’t appear largely intelligent. On one occasion, I was chased into a room by a cluster of creatures, who then proceeded to run amok, bumping into one another in a frenetic attempt to acquire me. Not only was I able to escape without taking any damage (which was a rare occurrence, I must say), but witnessing the creatures blindly bumping into one another like a gaggle of brainless bots was certainly something to behold.

In general, most enemies appear much the same; humans who have endured a wealth of torture, with bits and pieces hanging off their bodies. Although the graphics render their mutilated forms in vivid detail, which you cannot help but admire (when you are hidden, at least), most enemies are simply reminiscent of zombies, and after having seen one, you have, on the most part, seen them all. Although on occasion you find creatures that are very different, and the boss encounters are certainly reminiscent of this, such is rarely commonplace, rendering the excitement of been pursued by yet another zombie-like creature moot after it occurs for the sixteenth time that hour. Despite a lot of creatures requiring little more than a wealth of firepower in order to have their existence brought to a close, sometimes creatures require a degree of strategy. Not long into the game you encounter a certain enemy that has the habit of becoming invisible, and so you are required to watch the environment; if a puddle of blood is disturbed, or an item is inexplicably knocked over, the chance the creature is near is very high.

Besides enemies, there are also traps that players need to be on the look out for.  One is unable to stroll confidently into a room, else the chance they will be turned into a pile of bloody innards from an unexpected device is quite likely, and these become all the more frustrating when you are been pursued. Bombs, bear traps, electric wires, retractable spikes, among other contraptions, await you in every single level, and unless you have your wits about you, a lot of cheap deaths await the novice traveler. Alongside traps though, there are also puzzles, the act of solving them moreover proving to be quite fun. Occasionally dire ramifications await those who, for instance, happen to incorrectly put things in the required order. Puzzles can involve applying knowledge found in a picture or diagram into a real world scenario (like looking at the picture of a body, and then cutting open the mutilated flesh of some poor sap in the location specified by the drawing).

Occasions like these, not to mention the inexplicable wealth of blood, appears to be the frightening scenarios players were promised upon purchasing this title. Unlike in Alien Isolation, where the terror is in your face, watching Sebastian being torn to shreds by creatures is hardly anything to become squeamish over, and for the most part, I found myself chuckling at the sight of limitless violence. When other ‘frightening’ scenarios are produced, they are normally cliched and predictable, and it is nothing you wouldn’t have seen before. In conclusion, as the title of this post suggests, the only ‘evil’ I found was my own, after becoming rather angry with myself for having bought this particular product. Although I won’t deny, there are some impressive moments, these are so fleeting and minor, that between the lacking resources, pathetically weak protagonist, and bland locations, they are unable to satisfactorily save the Evil Within from itself.

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Assaulting the Covenant in the new top down Halo Shooter

The following review is for the XBOX360 edition of Halo Spartan Assault.

Title: Halo Spartan AssaultHalo_Spartan_Assault_HD_Cover
Developer: Vanguard Games and 343 Industries
Distributor: Microsoft
Cost: $20 on XBOX Live

Length: Between 4 and 6 hours

Rating (out of 10): 6

Pros:
-Nice graphics
-Frequent action
-The return of some sweet firepower
-Kick ass vehicles

Cons:
-Frustrating glitches
-Vehicles often handle like a double-decker bus
-No checkpoints

Who reading this remembers that McDonalds advert about a decade back with the slogan ‘things that make you go Mmmmm’? In the case of Halo Spartan Assault and the many glitches that can be associated with it, the slogan should most definitely be ‘things that make you go Arrrrrrrggggghhhh!’

Now, normally I begin a review by discussing the finer points I enjoyed about a title before moving onto the more irritable aspects, but with this particular Halo game, I simply cannot. When it comes to this gaming franchise, to say I am an adoring fan would be putting it mildly. So when another Halo game with 343 and Microsoft written all over it was released, I had expected to play something that was going to enthrall me for days on end.

Upon downloading this game from XBOX Live I knew there was trouble. The download kept freezing and shutting down, forcing me to restart, and after consulting a number of forums, I found I was not the only one who experienced this annoyance. However, the hits just kept on coming.

Spartan Assault is separated into six chapters, each containing five levels. For the first four chapters I was continuously followed around by a shroud of darkness that came in the shape of an error which caused the game to freeze, lock-up, and then automatically shut down. Any progress I had made in the level was irrefutably lost, and what made matters worse was the irritable fact that the problem happened to almost always occur whilst undertaking the final mission in a level.

From chapter five onwards the errors became less frequent, but lost none of their annoyance when they did occasionally happen. Other issues included the use of the left trigger, used to initiate a power up. Now, I did acknowledge that a cool down period was required after every use, but even after that had expired, I could press the button until my hair grew long and bushy and still see no affect. There was one moment where I lost my entire shield as I kept hitting the key, hoping for something to occur.

On a less than paramount note, there were additional issues with the sound and music, which could occasionally grow softer, and even drop out entirely for a short time period.

Moving on, as previously mentioned, the game itself is not terribly long, going for between 4 and 6 hours, however, if you include the hours in which you are pulling out your hair and shouting profanities at the screen, it might go for a little longer.

The graphics look pretty darn attractive, especially when you consider that this game was originally made only for a mobile device. Everything stands out in gorgeously vivid colour, which aids in bringing the environments and enemies to life, and if you’re anything like me, you may in fact be pleasantly surprised.

Furthermore, the controls for this title are fairly easy to master; the left stick is used for movement and the right controls the aim, and whatever direction you point in is where your firepower will be focused. The same goes for vehicles, however I noticed that these controls are especially touchy, and more so when using Covenant class vehicles, the Ghost moving a full 180 degrees with the tiniest of nudges.

Although this can be annoying, the vehicles have lost none of their firepower, however their strength and armor is considerably less that you may remember from other titles. New vehicles, including the Wolverines and a double barreled Scorpion though are incredibly impressive, and must be seen to be believed.

You will first notice when beginning the game the lack of any difficulty setting. Although the first couple levels basically play themselves, the game becomes exponentially challenging as your proceed, and the lack of checkpoints becomes almost painful in the later levels. Although every level is not exactly long, the sheer number of enemies you encounter further into the game, and their vehicular and turret allies, do not make this any easier. On a lighter note, the challenge does make it all the more enjoyable, and causes the relatively short experience to last just that little bit longer.

The challenge can be further beefed up by initiating skulls, much like in other Halo games, although the number available are very limiting. Spartan Assault does come equipped with two new additions, including Hollow, which allows players to have only a shield (when it drops, so too do you) and Pacifist, where every bullet you fire also depletes your shield. Two skulls can be active at any given time.

Over the course of the game you encounter a mass of Grunts, Jackals and Elites (including Commanders and Zealots), along with the occasional Brute and Chieftain (whose hammer works a lot like a nuclear bomb – there’s no survivors when it comes crashing down). There are however no Hunters, and perhaps the player should only be too glad for that, although funnily enough, on the front cover of the game, there is, you guessed it, a Hunter. False advertising much?

The human weapons include every kind found in the original Halo, with newer varieties including the Battle Rifle, Rail gun and SAW taking a day off, although dual SMG’s are occasionally available. Covenant weapons offer very little in variety, and include only the Plasma Pistol and the Needler, along with two weapons from Reach; the Plasma Rotator and Focus Rifle, a number of the weapons sounding exactly as they do in the Halo franchise.

Strangely enough there is no reload key, and the weapons will continue to fire until all ammo has been exhausted. On top of this, Covenant weapons which ran on a battery during the other Halo games can be rejuvenated of their ammo supply simply by walking over a dropped weapon – nifty!

Along with the weapons, players are able to use a power-up, including known favorites; sprint, active camouflage, auto-sentry, etc, along with a couple of new ones, such as the stun blast (which does as its name suggests), seeker drone (which chases after an enemy and blows up), over-shield (fans of slayer will know of this gorgeous thing) and rejuvenation (a bubble shield device).Moreover, there are the boosters, which can temporarily increase the health or damage implemented, or even increase the number of points received.

Yes, you read that right – points. In every level the player acquires points for everything they do, which is greatly increased from receiving awards (fans of Firefight will know of these). At the end of each level these are tallied, and you can receive one of three awards (bronze, silver, gold), which increase the number of points that you have for the next level. These you can use to buy items that will last only for the following level, and you can swap these out for credits to upgrade the general proficiency, however you need to be online to enact this ability.

Over the course of Spartan Assault, you play as both Sarah Palmer (from Halo 4) and Spartan Davis, as you attempt to thwart a new Covenant threat from a rogue faction that have ignored the Human-Covenant cease fire enacted after the events of Halo 3. The game predominately takes place on Draetheus V, and its moon, X-50, and is told from the point of view of Roland, the Infinity AI, who is providing this information as a guide to future Spartan soldiers to learn from, so, rather than happening in real time, the game is basically a history lesson that you experience inside a simulator.

More often than not you work alongside a group of both Spartan and human marines, although during the most difficult stages of the game you are almost always alone. Missions are occasionally repetitive, and range from killing or destroying specific targets; defending an area from attack; protecting particular individuals; or assaulting an enemy stronghold, to name a few.

There are a couple of occasions which are specifically unique to Spartan Assault. As an example, I personally had always thought that seeing an Elite wielding two energy swords would be pretty awesome. After having to fight an epic boss that utilised this particular skill, I can assure you, it surely is not!

However, even these few unique moments to this top down shooter are often overshadowed by the negative aspects of the game, and half the time when your heart is racing as you fight the fourth Wraith you encountered in a level, it is not because you are afraid of dying; it is because you are afraid the game is going to automatically shut down. Although this is a nice attempt at a new Halo experience, fans of the series do not want nice; they want amazing, and frankly, so do I. Halo has proven itself time and time again to be a franchise that will continue to live on, but this game here does little to strengthen this notion.

Image link: http://static2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130812032133/halo/images/a/ac/Halo_Spartan_Assault_HD_Cover.jpg

Alone…Again

 

I began this blog so that all of the content that I did not want impeding on my other blog, I could instead store here. Tonight however I am using this blog for an entirely different reason; therapeutic.

Well, hopefully.

It’s Friday night here in Australia as I type away this particular number, and the reason why I am writing this rather than being out on the town like other stereotypical young adults is for the simple reason that I have no paramour in my life to go out with.

Yes, I have friends (actually, I’m lying – I have a best friend and I have a couple of friends overseas) and I have a family (who I get along with as often as I travel to Mars by pony), but, like I have written previously on this blog, I have this hole inside me which can be filled only by a potential love interest, and as long as it remains unfilled, I am forced to endure this feeling of intense loneliness.

Okay, full confession? I have not being in a romantic relationship since 2009. In 2012 I began to think that a relationship may be a good thing to attempt, as I have continued to think since, yet attempting to start one is proving to be immeasurably difficult.

You see, as I have (I think) mentioned on this blog previously, I suffer from depression; I have since I was 15, and I have since convinced myself that no woman could ever possibly fall in love with me, which is what makes attempting to ask a woman out so difficult. I already think a woman is going to say ‘no’ before asking her out, so I normally don’t bother.

In June of this year I asked a woman out, and I probably should not have done so. Reason: she is SO out of my league (I say ‘is’ rather than ‘was’ because I bump into her every Monday – funny – I asked her out because I thought I would never see such a beautiful woman again, and yet, now I am forced to do so!) Basically, I was pretentious to think for a second I was her type; to think she was available; to even attempt such an action.

But, amazingly enough, after I asked her out and was rejected, I did not feel so bad – true, my ego was deflated and I was disappointed, but it was not as painful as the feeling I have in my gut right now.

A young woman I met in 2011 resurfaced in my life this year, and I never began to pay her much interest until now. In August we really began to communicate, and I told her I thought it was strange that a beautiful, intelligent woman such as herself was without friends, and we talked about not affiliating with people at the university campus we attend and she later mentioned she was single when I raised the idea of a possible partner.

Like I mentioned previously – I often convince myself that women cannot love me, and the same applies here.

I contemplated asking her out last week, but this feeling of mine halted my doing so, and today I just went for it; and it turns out she began to date a man not even a week ago. If I had asked her out last Friday as planned, I might have been lucky enough to be dating her right now.

This is of course, my own damn fault.

I guess the reason why I wanted to go out with her is, yes, because I like her, but the real inspiration for my asking was for a different reason entirely. I may have written this here previously, maybe not too – full confession, right? – but I have in the past attempted suicide, and one technique that I have been using to keep my depression from completely destroying my existence is to distract my mind; as long as I am doing something; working; going to university; talking to friends or family – I am not thinking of my depression.

However, this technique of mine has been waning recently, and I at present feel as depressed as I did back in 2010, which is the last time I attempted to take my life, and was the one time when I really nearly succeeded, and if my friend had not intervened, and, with the help of her father taken me to a medical clinic, I would not be here now.

On that note, I felt that going out with this young woman would do me good; would help me with my depression and fill the hole inside my gut.

Instead, that’s not going to happen. For a long time I wanted to die. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I don’t necessarily want to die now, but this is the first time that I can remember when I am scared; I don’t know if I will be able to continue without, well, love I guess.

Anyway, I just wanted to write this, and I have.

Thank you for reading!

Oh, and I don’t think this was therapeutic at all! But I tried, right?

How important are looks in everyday life?

How much do looks play in everyday life?

On my blog I occasionally ask rhetorical questions such as this, and I often do enjoy some of the responses that come from them.

I ask because, well, I guess it is kind of difficult to explain without being an open book.

I am unsure if I have ever admitted to this on the blog I am writing in now, and if not, I guess this is as good a time as any; my name is Derek, and I have lived with depression since I was 15.

Why do I admit to this you may ask? Well, I doubt my mental state was at all helped by a number of my high school peers who seemed to make it their duty to ensure that my years spent undertaking secondary education would be incredibly gruesome, and being continuously abused, physically as well as mentally left a number of scars, and not just the visible ones. Being continuously told to go kill myself only furthered my suicidal behavior; being told how much I was hated only made me hate myself even more; and being told how hideous I was only caused me to loathe the way I look more than I already did.

I am naturally one of those people who has never really been truly satisfied with my looks, but I neither have the intention (or the money) to go under the knife to do anything about that. Although I was once a child model, I believe my looks began to wane at an early age, and if you direct your attention stage right, I am sure you can make your own observation on how hideous I generally am.

All of this information leads directly back to the question I asked at the beginning of this post.

Now, before I continue, I will say this; even though I was once in a five year relationship with a woman, what I know about women I could probably write on a post-it note, and what I don’t know about women could fill a series of novels that could span for generations. I am writing this because I have a theory; I believe that women care more about looks than men do.

I do not mean any offense by that, and if I have caused it, I do apologise but please, allow me to explain. Many women talk about how they care about feelings, and this argument has been made during my university classes when women are discussing the lack of realism generated by certain female characters in literature, complaining that the author did not place another emphasis on emotions experienced by these fictional women.

However, I would argue, how often do you see a beautiful woman going out with a man who is not good looking?

As an example; there was a woman I knew during my undergraduate university course, who said online and off that she was ‘not shallow’, and thus did not care how a man looked like. She said all she cared about were feelings. Now, she told me once that she liked me – I believe this was a general observation of my character. When I asked her out, she was absolutely horrified that I had come onto her and made it very clear that she did not wish to date me – why not; simple – I wasn’t good looking enough. This, dear reader, was her reason for not going out with me.

This happened a year ago, so I am very much over such an occurrence. Instead, I am attracted to someone else now, and again, this pertains to my original question.

In July I asked this woman out, she told me she was already in a relationship, and I told her I would respect her answer and have since then left her alone. Unfortunately for me she happens to be in one of my university classes and I bump into her once a week, and although I am smart (that’s debatable) enough to realise that nothing is going to happen, and on every other day I barely ever think about her, it isn’t exactly easy for me to inevitably bump into a woman that I am attracted to and have this rather awkward silence hanging over us.

You see, I didn’t exactly ask this woman out in the conventional sense – I wrote her a poem, where I wrote about how beautiful she was; how fascinating I found her to be, and how I would happily die a million deaths to buy her a coffee, among a couple of other things that may be a little too embarrassing to write here. I didn’t sign my name or anything; I concluded the piece anonymously, and said that if she wanted to know the ‘writer of this here verse’ that if she were to wait around when lunch time arrived, that I would make myself apparent.
So, she waited around; she gave me her answer; and thus, awkward moment.

Now, one of the reasons I became attracted to this woman was, well, I guess her aurora; she just naturally stood out (you know, when everyone else ceases to exist and only this one person is visible in a crowd of several dozen other people), and another would be the fact she did not seem to be very popular. She never sat with the ‘cool crowd’ and during lunch breaks I noticed she only ever hung out with one other woman, and no one else.

These were two of the reasons I was attracted to her; I am not to sure these reasons apply so much now though. Yes, I am still attracted to her, I can’t help it (and unfortunately for me, being in the same class as her has helped me realise she isn’t just beautiful, but incredibly intelligent and has a healthy sense of humor, so, damn, damn, damn!) but she seems to have deliberately changed her attitude or something to conform to the societies in the classroom. I did mention that she seemed to not hang out with the ‘cool crowd’, and originally in class she didn’t either.

You see, there is this group of about three guys and three women who are ‘the cool kids’, a term once used by a young woman who said these three words before ditching her own friends to go sit with them. In class it generally seems that everyone is lining up to kiss their arse, be their next best friends, and if that is not enough, I know for a fact that at least one of the guys has dated one of the women, if not two of them judging by the conversations I have overheard him having with some of his other friends.

Now though, the woman I am attracted to; she sits with this crowd; and hangs out with them after class.

I will note that I am in no way this woman’s keeper, and she has every right to do whatever she wishes and spend time with whoever she wants. Just because I will never be associated with the ‘cool crowd’ in no way means that she should not be.

But this again goes back to the question regrading looks, but this is not the physical sense of the word, as much as it is the visual of one’s character. This certain young woman (I do know her name FYI, I am just refusing to use it in this post as to not further embarrass myself!) has obviously decided that she would rather look ‘cool’ than look like a loner (like me!) and although I respect her decision, it certainly means that if she were to break up with her current partner, that I have absolutely no chance of ever being with her since those associated with the popular crowd never lower themselves to interact with those beneath them.

Continuing on with the notion of if she were to break up with her current partner, would she remember that I am attracted to her and alert me to the fact that her relationship status has changed when she is ready to begin dating again? Or will she not give a damn and go out with either someone associated with the crowd she now associates herself with, or with someone more attractive than I am?

I realise it is not healthy to like someone who is unattainable. However, I find it difficult to move on when I am going to keep bumping into this woman until the start of November. Once this month comes around the chance I will see her again is minimal, and then I will probably be able to resume my life as usual. Until then, I am cursed to see this woman.

So again, I ask the question, how important are looks in everyday life?

I don’t necessarily need any answers, but anyone who wishes to contribute to this post, feel welcome to write your thoughts into the comments section below.

Thank you for reading dear reader and I hope you have a pleasant day.

If you are broke, do you have the right to ask someone out on a date?

In the past on this blog I have asked two questions regarding relationships, including ‘do guys date women who remind them of their mothers’ after reading an article on the subject and feeling a little queasy at the thought, to asking ‘do women date guys who wear glasses’, which was more of a rhetorical question, but I was glad for the feedback generated by it.

Today I am asking another question, and as suggested by the title, it is as follows: if you are broke, or are not economically comfortable, do you have the right to ask someone out?

Over the course of this post I am going to be talking about a man asking a woman out, however, the same argument can be made for anyone of any gender in any relationship.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m broke, don’t get me wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t openly admit to such an embarrassing notion even if I was. At the moment I have the money to sustain myself and acquire the necessities (food, etc) and can acquire entertainment on an occasional basis, however, if I were in a relationship, I have no evidential proof of how long I would be able to afford to go out with a woman before I inevitably ran out of money to date her, let alone support my own existence.

I think it is an obvious connotation, that if a guy asks a woman out, then he is expected to pay for, well, a lot, and I will not argue against this assumption. If you are asking someone out, you are asking for their time and their commitment and so you should fork out the money to enjoy their company. You are asking them to accompany you to places and to spend time with your friends. If you were not a part of their life they would be spending their time doing other things, and so, if you ask me, the man should put up most, if not all the money for the time that he is lucky to be spending with a living, breathing human being that they like.

However, if you do not have the money to accommodate for this, then I am unsure whether the man has the right to even ask the woman that he fancies out. I believe it would be plain rude for a man to ask for a woman to spend her time with him, only to say after a decent night’s meal at a fancy restaurant ‘oh, I don’t think I can entirely afford this, do you mind paying for half the bill?’
A woman may have agreed to go out with the man, but I cannot imagine her ever agreeing to pay for the meal that the man wanted her to have with him, nor would I even want her to. Maybe I’m strange, but I feel a man would have quite the nerve to ever do that to a woman. I’m not saying a woman could not afford it, not at all; I’m saying that she probaly would not have attended this restaurant if the man had not asked her there, so why ask this certain lady to put her hard earned cash into the equation when it was the man who asked her to be there in the first place?

Adjunctively, what if a woman left her former partner to have a relationship with a man who had recently captivated her attention, only to discover that he was not as economically stable as the partner she recently left? Would she not feel horribly cheated?

The reason I am asking these questions right now is as follows – if a man does not believe he can afford to take a woman out for the period of longevity that he would like the relationship to last, should he simply not bother to ask a woman out at all?
This may seem like an easy decision to make when written on paper, or in this case, a blog, but I would argue against that therom.

I believe that as soon as we humans in general agree to have a romantic relationship with another person, that we give up the ignorance we were originally born with, that ‘ignorance’ being our unknowing of how it feels to be in love. The moment we welcome someone into our heart, I believe that we become accustomed to that feeling, and thus, cannot live without it. I’m not saying that dating is like oxygen, and is thus a mandatory part of life, but I am arguing that if that first person we date were to leave us, it leaves a hole, and every time anyone leaves from that moment on, the hole returns.
Before dating we had no idea of the pain felt when someone leaves. We also had no idea of the loneliness felt when we do not have a paramour in our lives. True, if a person has friends and family they are not essentially ‘alone’ per se, but there is a difference between the hole left from not having family, and the hole left from not having a love interest.

I can’t really believe I am going to admit to this (however I will because it will strengthen my argument), but I myself have not been in a relationship for over a couple of years, and I can assure you dear reader if you do not already know, that what I noted in the previous paragraph is true, at least for me. Although I have friends and family, they cannot fill the hole that is now meant for a paramour, and it does become quite brutal every so often when I realise how many a night is the same – dinner for one, dessert for one, wine for twelve (maybe I’m kidding about the wine, or am I?).
It would just be nice to have someone in my life that I could love because, well, isn’t it nice to love someone and to be loved back? I’m sure there is not a single person out there who will disagree.

Now, unless I’m destined to spend the rest of my existence alone, and I would hate for that to come to fruition, I would like to think there is still hope for me, which comes all the way back to my original question – do I have the right to ask a woman I like out if I cannot fathom I will be able to always afford the ability to take her out?
Of course, there is more to dating than going to fancy restaurants, clubs and theaters, and I am sure continuously having a woman over at my place for dinner, or cooking at hers; or making every date night a movie night, will inevitably become quite boring.
Besides, if you like someone, there is the expectation that one must shower them with gifts every so often. The argument ‘I will always love you’ in my opinion has not been enough for some time, and unless you can show a woman your affection through jewellery, clothes and other like accessories, I do not think that the four letter word in the three word sentence will always remain believable.

On this note, image is just as important as affection, which is often where economics comes into this, for money does pertain to a person’s lifestyle. Now, I am not an expert on women (who is?), but I think it is a fact (and if it’s not then I beg the forgiveness of every woman on the planet) that women like men who are: good looking, older than they are, mature, confident, economically comfortable and suitable to the lifestyle the woman enjoys, have their own place of accommodation (basically, they are not a kipper and still sleep over at mum’s house when they are nearly thirty years of age), own a car of their own (and can drive it, although I think ownership usually implies driving capability), are in a professional occupation, and on top of that, have the ability to keep a job for a period of longevity.

Although I can admit to having some of these qualities, I would be lying if I did not openly admit that all of these do not necessarily describe the man I am today. Again, this leads to the question, do I have the right to ask a woman out if I am not economically stable?

Additionally, does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he is still in is twenties and lives with his parents?
Does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he does not own a car?
Does a man have the right to ask a woman out if he is not incredibly popular and really good looking?

I’m not saying those three above questions pertain to me, but they do fall into the same category as the primary question that I had begun this post with. I think I am getting ahead of myself here, but I do believe all of these questions can be asked.

Now, perhaps these ideologies are simply those generated by a mind that is lacking confidence in the area of dating? Maybe so, but the fact remains the same that money is unequivocally an important factor in a relationship. According to research statistics recovered online, it costs between 2-4 thousand dollars a year to maintain a stereotypical relationship, and if one does not believe they can afford this kind of money, should he attempt to orchestrate a relationship with a woman in the first place?

I realise I keep asking the same question time and time again, and that will be the last time I do so.
This here is just my opinion. Any other opinions on the subject will be very welcome in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading, and I bid all of you a good day.

Getting slapped in the face by the many pages of thy many books

Recently, the beautiful PM wrote an interesting post on a meme concerning books, and after inviting me to partake in a post of my own, well, who am I to say ‘no’? PM’s interesting little nugget can be found here peeps…http://prinsesamusang.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/walking-through-the-cemetery-of-my-not-so-forgotten-books/

So, without further ado, time to answer some questions it would seem…

Author you’ve read the most books from: Andrew Daddo, JK Rowling, John Whitman, John Saul, William Shakespeare (although technically these were plays and poetry collections rather than actual books)

Best Sequel Ever: I’ll probably steal PM’s answer and say one of the Harry Potter texts – The Goblet of Fire no doubt.

Currently Reading: Floundering, Romy Ash

Drink of choice while reading – I normally don’t drink from fear of spilling it, but if I had to say, either coffee, water or wine

E-reader or physical book: I’m an old dinosaur (not really) and will always go with the physical version. I have tried e-readers and I have never truly adapted to them. I like to feel an actual text – the moving of the pages as I turn them over – being able to close the text and open it again, as though I am temporarily locking the characters up to reveal them again and give them life at a later date.

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school – Difficult to say, but I will note this, when I was younger and was reading Animorphs, I had a thing for Cassie. Since high school, my taste in women has not changed much, and although I can think of many intelligent women from books, I also have a thing for women with tattoos and piercings, and none of them spring to mind when remembering any books…

Glad you gave this book a chance – the Book of Lies by James Moloney. My mother bought this for me in high school because when I was  a lot younger I used to tell lots of lies and she said she saw this book and immediately thought of me. Glad she did, because this was a really interesting fantasy adventure!

Hidden gem book:  Perhaps Andrew Daddo’s Dacked – his short story collections were so relatable when I was a teenager from the voice of the character to the life experiences, and although they were meant to be funny, I never really laughed that much, but I was certainly entertained, and it was because of this man’s short stories that I began to write a few of my own.

Important Moment in your reading life – perhaps the above mentioned book, because, like I said, this assisted me in taking my own writing endeavors more seriously.

Just finished – Foster, Claire Keegan

Kind of books you won’t read – I once began 50 Shades of Grey for an assignment at university. I was at least 15 pages into it before I slammed my face into my desk in an attempt to end my horrific torment. Since then, I can officially say, that erotic romance is not my thing, and neither is romance in general – unless its poetry – I just darn well love me some romantuic poetry.

Longest book you read – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix certainly felt that way the first time I read it. Then when I went back to it later I thought ‘eh, you ain’t that big!’

Major book hangover because of:  perhaps Terrible Times by Eddie Dickens. This was in I do believe 2003 mind you, but when I started reading this, I simply could not stop!

Number of bookcases you own – 2, both the same height as I, and I am one tall drink of water!

Book you have read multiple times – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, sometimes called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, depending on what country you live in.

Preferred place to read – my couch and my floor – I like being all spread out, funnily enough I have never truly become accustomed to reading in bed though…

Quote that inspires you – Yeah, don’t have one, sorry guys! No, scratch that, I do! ‘so long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.’ William Shakespeare wrote this in his fifteenth sonnet ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ which emphasises immortalising a beautiful young woman forever in the art of writing, and to this day I have kept this in mind – when writing about someone I love, my goal is to immortalise them inside a textual piece for all of time so other people may love her too!

Reading Regret – can’t remember the title, it was an Australian book about a football player who was hired by a PR company for an ad that went terribly wrong and his career ended up on the line. It was supposed to be hilarious, and although there were a couple of laughs at the start, most of the book left me shaking my head in disbelief – me and football never did become very well acquainted anyway. Technically that’s not entirely true – during a game at primary school, the soccer ball was kicked by the goal keeper and landed right on top of my head. Not funny!
Additionally, and no offence to the man’s memory, but John Forbes and his Collected Poems – eh, sheesh! Not going to read you again my friend!

Series you started and need to finish – don’t have one yet…

Three of your all time favourite books – Dacked by Andrew Daddo, probably a Harry Potter book and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I have never been too good at valuing which is my all time favorite books because I often find them to be equal if I enjoyed them.

Unapologetic Fanboy of:  William Shakespeare, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Tara Mokhtari

Very excited for the release more of – I have been thinking of George R.R Martin and his fantasy series since I am a major fan of the TV show Game of Thrones, and if I start his book collection, I will have to see it through…

Worst book habit – if someone borrows my books and they do anything, I mean anything to them – break the spine, curl a corner of the page, spill something on it – then that person had better run, else my wrath will reign down upon them – basically, my worst book habit is that I am a book Nazi – do not hurt my books or I will hurt you!

X marks the spot (start from the top left of a bookshelf and go along to the 27th book what is it?) Looks like our winner is Muddle Earth from Paul Stewart and Chris Riddle

Latest Book Purchase – it was, funnily enough, a reader for one of my university subjects called Text Time and Space – truly a riveting read (by the way I am being sarcastic)

ZZZ -snatcher book (last book that kept you up all hours of the night) Hasn’t happened in a while, but it might have been Stephen King’s Misery, but this was a few years ago. I try to do my reading during the day as to not be consumed by it come nightfall. I have some kind of insomnia (don’t ask me which, I ain’t no doctor) and if my mind is too active when I go to bed, that sure ain’t going to help matters either.

Well, thank you to PM for telling me about this meme. Quite a fun exercise ma’am!

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

I know, I know! I haven’t posted anything recently on this particular blog of mine, but fear not (if you were fearing) for I have found a topic that I wish to discuss! (Wild applause)

Ever since Riva disappeared from the shelves, I have been desperately searching for a replacement to supplement my love of coffee. More often than not I am disappointed by the lack of taste or general weakness that a particular blend provides, but upon smelling the fragrance of the Avalanche Duo, and noticing that it was the first coffee since Riva that smelt genuine, I thought I was onto something special.

You will notice I am speaking in past tense, yes – well, that will be revealed soon!

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I always heave two mounds into my cup, with one mound of sugar and no milk (I have always felt that milk deafens the taste). Basically, there are no difficult steps that need to be taken to adequately create a cup of Avalanche coffee, which is surprising because after my first cup of it I could have sworn that something had gone terribly wrong.

Now, for legal reasons, I will say this; I am not a professional reviewer, and this opinion is simply my own!

Okay, now back onto the review…

The first thing I noticed was that each mouthful of Avalanche Duo is thick. Riva and every other coffee blend I have ever drunk was thin, like water, and easily slid down my throat, and unless I am drinking cappuccino, I cannot imagine why a regular coffee would be as thick as this. If that is not enough, the drink is also quite sticky, and it felt as though there was something caught on my teeth, which is the last thing I need to feel whilst attempting to enjoy myself. Drinking coffee is meant to be a relaxing pastime right, not an annoying one?

If this is not enough, although Avalanche Duo smells like coffee, it tastes much different than what I was initially expecting. Instead of tasting, well, like coffee, Avalanche Duo has what I might call a fake chocolate taste to it. Safe to say, if I wanted the equivalent of hot chocolate, I would have bought that rather than coffee.

Lastly, and this is the most important part I realised, the last mouthful, albeit, rather large mouthful, was filled with sludge. Now, I called the hotline for Avalanche Coffee, (which was in New Zealand by the way so I am guessing my phone bill this month is going to be bigger than my ego) and I was told that this is meant to be this way. You see, 15% of this particular coffee is Infused Fresh Coffee, and this is what is supposed to happen when this particular variant is used, although I for the life of me cannot see how this is in anyway tolerated. Imagine drinking a cup of tea, and in the last couple of mouthfuls finding yourself choking on all of the leaves that have spilled out from the bag? That is how this is like, and as you might imagine it was quite a shock for someone who was not at all expecting this, and just as much the second time when this moron forgot what had happened the day before. Imagine that? Forgetful much?

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There is however a way around this issue. If you are like me, you don’t drink your coffee immediately after you make it; you have your lunch/snack, before beginning to savor your coffee afterwards once it has cooled down by a couple of degrees. This is the problem. If you do not drink Avalanche Duo immediately after stiring it, the coffee will accumulate at the bottom in a sludge after returning to its original state. So, if you drink your coffee like I do, you need to stir it again before proceeding to drink – although I must admit one quick stir will not suffice – you need to really put some elbow grease in there, and then it should be alright. Only once though, over the course of the four times I have had Avalanche Duo, have I not had to suffer the sludge at the bottom of my cup.

My concluding review? Well, this is just my opinion and you dear reader may actually enjoy it. I however, a guy who does not believe in wasting food; good, bad or indifferent, cannot wait to finish the bottle that I bought. Must buy? For me, nope, never again I am afraid!

If you have tasted Avalanche Duo and have your own opinion, please comment if you wish.

Thank you for reading, and have a good day! Oh, and good coffee too!

News for back pain sufferers

In the last twenty four hours, reports on the news have stipulated that a new medical breakthrough could advantageously assist sufferers of back pain and provide an indefinite solution to the problem. The article I am currently acquiring my online information on to base this particular post of mine comes from this site here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/07/back-pain-breakthrough-major-operations

Now, before I continue I would like to add that I am not a medical professional. I have no doctorate in medicine or anything of like comparison, so I guess one could ask, why continue reading? I, like many people who would find this particular studying incredibly interesting suffer from back pain, so, like many of you, I am unfortunate enough to understand how it feels to be in constant pain.

According to Hanne Albert at the university of Sourthern Denmark, one reason behind some cases of back pain could very well be microbes known as ‘Propionibacterium acnes’ that stereotypically reside in one’s hair follicles, traces of oxygen, or even in the spaces between one’s teeth. My question would be, how can something from any of these three areas arrive at one’s back? The answer is, apparently, via the blood stream. This particular bacteria is supposedly harmless, unless someone has a slipped disc. These bacteria do not cause a disc to become dislodged from its location in one’s spine or any other like occurrence, but do aggravate the pain. Due to this, antibiotics can be used to bring a sense of realism back into one’s existence by reducing, or even removing the pain entirely with the continued use of prescribed medication.

This theory I do suppose sounds as though it has merit, but it has adjunctively being theorised that approximately only a small percentage of people may indeed have symptoms that can be related back to this research.

Now, why is it that I seem so skeptical about this? I don’t doubt that in some cases it could work, but this is not the first time that theories have been postulated about back pain.

In my case, although, as previously mentioned, I am no professional, I am almost certain I know why I suffer from back pain; I have a moderate protrusion of my T8/9, L2/3, L3/4 AND L4/5 and these press upon the nerves which cause pain to run from across my back and down my right leg. I do not believe that microscopic bugs could be responsible in my case.

For me, this sounds like an ideal that is too good to be true. I realise that I may seem incredibly negative and could very well be looking  a gift horse in the mouth, but I would rather not get my hopes up over a study that seems to be very much in the initial phases of testing.

As a sufferer of pain I understand that I am always hoping that some study will help relieve  me of this burden, as I am certain all of you are. I am aware that I need to be careful with what I lift and how I go about such an exercise. I can no longer lift dumbbells or any other weight sets and so can only do push ups and on occasion sit ups when the pain isn’t quite so bad.

I am also aware that the pain extends to more than just the one that you personally suffer through. I know how this makes acquiring a professional role to be difficult. When applying for jobs I used to note in the section where they queried whether or not I had back pain that I did and I never received any employment from those places, for reasons that were unrelated to back pain. I know that a profession cannot not hire a person based on back problems, but it is obvious they would rather hire a person who appears more physically capable, which is why I no longer bother mentioning that in  my applications. You know what? Since then, I have acquired job positions. Amazing!

I additionally know the familial pain that comes from this. I acquired my back pain two weeks before my eighteenth birthday. The doctor assured me that it was nothing; perhaps muscular in nature and that I was perfectly fine and assured me of this on two further occasions when I visited him in the future. I should have realised he was incapable. He was after all the doctor who told me after I had pneumonia fro the second time that I should take up smoking because if my lungs were going to become irreparably damaged from illness, I might as well acquire some enjoyment from it – by setting them on fire?
A year later I discovered a doctor who was willing to provide me with an x-ray and later an MRI and I discovered that I had always been right in assuming that I suffered from a protruding disc and that I would inevitably live with this. When I went to receive my results my father in his wisdom decided to escort me, which is something he had never done previously during my past inquiries about my back. The relationship between me and my father could never have been described as ‘great’, but the day I found out that I would be living with this pain permanently; the way he looked at me; it was like I was no longer his son, as though all of my past failures were nothing compared to this. He seemed to realise that obviously much of what he had always wanted me to achieve might very well be unattainable and so officially gave up on me then and there.

Moreover, my mother additionally to this day suffers from back pain and has done so since she was nineteen. She has had no less than eight operations since she was twenty eight, none of which have ever assisted her and have in fact made her condition worse to the point that she can barely move. The second and third operations she had were to fix what the original operation failed to successfully achieve, which was, what one might call, a colossal failure that inevitably ruined her life. Because of this I have always been skeptical of back surgery. I realise that a lot has changed, but I would rather not do something so major as this, and at the same time potentially risk losing the ability to walk in the process. There are risks with any operation but I feel there are considerably more with back surgery.

After having surgery to remove a pilonidal sinus back in 2010, I have since been left me with coccydynia. This is one such ramification of having surgery and this is further reason why I personally will never go under the knife to assist myself in relieving back pain unless it becomes fundamentally necessary or is thus my last/only remaining option.

Relating this piece back to a topic I was discussing a couple paragraphs prior, I am additionally aware that back pain causes pain for the future of families and since my mother had major problems with her back that have since been genetically transferred onto me, the chance that I could transfer the same condition onto any potential children that I may in the future have is a grave concern of mine. I would love my children no matter what, but do I wish to make the choice of having them knowing that they too may very well suffer as I am?

A couple years back I told a woman that I liked that I suffered from back pain and it immediately changed our relationship. Safe to say we haven’t talked since. Some people cannot deal with the idea of living with back pain just as some people cannot deal with the idea of living with someone who endures it. I am now skeptical of telling anyone close to me about my condition from fear of what might happen, but when the day comes that I do find myself with a romantic interest that I love more than life itself, I would like to think that she would stand by me rather than leave.

Perhaps in the future I won’t have to worry about such things, and if I be even luckier, perhaps in the future if I happen to have children who suffer from back pain, medical treatment would have advanced to such an extent that it will not in the slightest hinder them.

I wish the team in Denmark all the best with their research, although, as previously mentioned, I am uncertain how promising this could very well be.

Killing the Pain: Hell and Damnation is loosed on console

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Title: Painkiller: Hell and Damnation
Developer:
The Farm 51
Distributor:
Nordic Games
Release Date:
April 5th, 2013 (PS3 and XBOX360 versions),
October 31st 2012 (PC)
Duration:
Between 4 and 6 hours

Pros:
New weapon

Cons:
-Repetitive, old levels
-Dull graphics
-Very little violence
-Cliché storyline
-Pathetically short
-Voice actors seem out of their depth
-One: the average IQ of your opponents

Less Entertaining Than: Painkiller

More Entertaining Than: Bonking a hammer over your head

Rating (out of 10): 2

In Summary: To call Painkiller: Hell and Damnation entertaining would be like suggesting the act of putting a red hot iron down your trousers, or running a cheese grater over your genitals, were genuinely smart things to do.

The original Painkiller and the first mission pack that spawned from it, Battle out of Hell, which Hell and Damnation is very loosely based upon were originally designed by People Can Fly and distributed by Dreamcatcher. Sometimes when a new developer takes the seams one must question whether or not they will pay homage to the previous titles by making a game deserving of the franchise. Sometimes, much like Halo 4, the developers can surprise you by constructing a stunningly gorgeous game with a breathtaking storyline, fantastic action sequences and an alarmingly entertaining experience. Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is not one of these games, and is in fact the reason why many new developers are looked at so skeptically when taking command of a fantastic franchise and by the end of the game, the only thing requiring a painkiller, or ten, will be you, the player, after having to endure such a soporifically torturous experience.

The story picks up after the events of the last mission pack, with Daniel Garner returning to the graveyard where he originally began his pilgrimage back in 2003. Having been denied the right to see his beloved wife Catherine in Heaven, he is stuck in the hellish land that he has set to ruin over the past few titles. All of a sudden, Eve, who had betrayed Daniel back in Battle out of Hell, and who Daniel is unable to entirely trust throughout this campaign warns him that ‘he is coming’, the ominous ‘he’ being Death.

Although Hell and Damnation is, I guess, supposed to be a brand new storyline, it uses old levels to tell its tale, with a very loose, cliché and predictable storyline playing out during the cinematics that infrequently occur over the course of the campaign. On that note, you are basically forced to fight through areas and enemies that you would have already cleansed and punished previously.

Right from the very beginning you can see the differences between the previous Painkiller titles and this new addition. Fans of the original franchise may remember that the cinematic moments were utterly sublime, the graphics being beyond fathomable, with the characters, whether they be humanoid or demonic looking so utterly realistic that the movie experience these cinematic scenes brought to the game aided in absorbing the player further into the compelling story. True, Painkiller has always been a brainless action shooter, but there was a story worth telling none the same during the cinematic sequences and it is a shame that such cannot be said for Hell and Damnation.

The graphics of the cinematic cut scenes in this game are the same visuals that will be presented to the player during the levels. Now, I will be the first to admit that the graphics of the original series were a little dull and dark, but on top of this I might remind the player that the games were using an older engine. With the use of the Unreal 3 Engine to power this particular game, one may assume that the graphics would be near astounding, with titles the likes of Gears of War 3, Bioshock Infinite and Mass Effect 3, just to name a few, being powered by this graphically gorgeous engine. Now, even though Painkiller is indeed set in purgatorial realms and hellish domains, one might assume that the engine would make the environments more beautiful than they were in previous titles. Wrong! If anything, the graphics are incredibly off putting, dull and hazy, and make the graphics of the original game continue to look fresh and lively today when in comparison.

On occasion, for instance in the level Cathedral, the bright colourations of some of the environments and castle features are a welcome change. They are not stunning per se and are in no way up to the standard of today, but are still much more engrossing than the usual grays and blacks that the game seems to more often than not rely upon. At times, such as in the level Opera House, the environment is so black that it is literally pitch, and by pitch, well, you’ll see for yourself if you decide to suffer through such a level; at times you will be unable to see an inch in front of you, let alone the enemies attempting to rid you of your health. A torch would have been supportive in such a level, which actually is used later on in the Orphanage level, which, ironically, was an unnecessary attachment.

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Moving on, upon Death entering the cinematic, if you are anything like me you will be a bit at a loss as to who you are looking at. I mean, how would Death appear to you? Would this terrifying reaper be a skeletal monster with a sheath and a horse of like comparison? In Hell and Damnation, the designers obviously opted for a unique look to the harvester of souls, and with that, have basically turned him into an aquatic terror. Death basically looks like a chubby octopus with some green algae hanging from his shoulders.

In fact, a number of the characters in the game look as though they spent the hiatus between the last Painkiller and this one down at the local McDonalds, where they refused to leave, instead opting to eat their fill and then some. Eve herself, who later appears in corporeal form once more, who was originally a babe of unimaginable beauty, has decided to cover up with a few additional layers of skin. Now, I have no problem with a woman, who, unlike most models these days, actually decides to eat, so before you start sending in your hate mail and stipulating that I am a vulgar bastard, please, allow me to finish. Eve (this is the Eve FYI, who happened to have a thing with Adam at one time) is the kind of individual you would imagine to be quite special. I mean, women are naturally beautiful, so it would be natural that Eve be beautiful too, which was reflective in the previous games, but not in this one. Her hair; her face; her choice of attire; even her voice, all of this is completely different and you will in no way recognise her character.

That is the other factor you will notice. The original voice actors do not return to voice the characters, and so a bunch of new individuals have been hired on. The biggest difference here is Jon St. John who voices Daniel Garner. When it comes to voicing Duke Nukem, I would want nobody else but Mr. John to voice the character because he does an unfathomably brilliant job portraying such an action hero. As Daniel Garner though, Mr. John seems out of his depth, his deep voice being unable to convey the emotional power that was originally orchestrated in the prior titles, and it sometimes seems disturbingly humorous to have such an actor portraying a broken and defeated character. If you want someone to be taken seriously, one should hire an actor who can portray a serious part. Mr. John does a terrific job at articulating humorous one liners and other such comedic dialogue, but in Painkiller, he seems about as wooden as a tree stump.

Now, Death has not magically appeared in front of Daniel out of the goodness of his heart – he has a proposition for him. If Daniel gives to him 7,000 souls, Death will grant him his wish to finally rise up to Heaven and be with his wife. Upon this deal being struck, Death grants Daniel a new weapon, which is the only new feature of the game. Like every other weapon in the Painkiller universe it is a two in one kind of deal; the primary fire is the buzz saw, which launches a relatively strong saw blade in the direction of your target at a rather slow speed. The secondary fire is much more entertaining, and is the soul snatcher, that will rip soul’s right out from your opponents and give them to you. Additionally, you are able to aim the gun in the direction of a soul that has erupted out from the body of a fallen opponent and drag it into your character.

Old weapons, from both Painkiller and Battle out of Hell make a welcome return to the game, including, but not limited to the Chaingun Rocket Launcher, the Battle Rifle Flame Thrower and the Stakegun Grenade Launcher. On top of this, you not only begin the game with the brand new weapon that Death provides to you, but with the Painkiller device and the Shotgun Freeze Ray.

Much like in the previous Painkiller games, the goal is to go from level to level defeating the terrific amount of enemies that come in their droves to stop you. As usual, after collecting a certain number of souls, Daniel will enter demon mode, where you, the player, will be able, for a temporary period of time, to eradicate enemies with but a single shot. The enemies however are as brainless as they come, and if you can find more incompetent AI anywhere, I am almost certain that Hell and Damnation will beat that by an extra few per cent. Enemies flock towards you as though wanting to be eradicated, with no flight complex and no way to defend themselves against your attacks. On several occasions I came across enemies that ran into walls and became stuck; enemies who became stuck in corners; enemies who became stuck on the corpses of other enemies; enemies who decided to kill other enemies; the list of the blatant disregard of AI in this game is overwhelmingly never ending. On top of this, since a majority of your enemies can be eradicated with but a single shot on many an occasion, and since more of them only come equipped with melee attacks rather than long range weaponry, a lot of combatants will be annihilated before they are even able to touch you.

To make the game easier, as with previous titles, Tarot cards can be collected by completing certain objectives during the map; use only this particular weapon to vanquish the hordes of Hell; find every gold coin; find every secret area; complete the level in under a certain time constraint, etc. Due to the shortness of the game, in some levels one will discover there are in fact two cards that can be unlocked, each of which has a unique objective that needs to be completed.
Once more, the gold that is collected is used to power the cards, each one costing a certain amount to be used during a map. Each card can only be used once per map, although, like the last games, the ability to use more than one at the same time empowers Daniel considerably. Although the act of attempting to acquire the cards, along with the ability to use them can add some much needed entertainment to one’s experience, the Tarot cards are not essentially necessary, and one can efficaciously complete the game without any undue assistance.

Of course, with 7,000 souls to collect and a mass of opponents to destroy, you might imagine that, much like the previous titles in the series that Hell and Damnation will be incredibly violent; wrong again! The reason why there was such a considerably lengthy delay between the PC version and that which is on console is due to a German classifier, who stated that the game was unnecessarily evil in its violence. It is at this moment that I could make a vulgar and rather racial joke about this, but I will avoid the urge. I however did have a go at the PC version after playing the one on XBOX, and really, there is not much difference in the amount of blood and gore; both versions have very little of it. In previous Painkiller’s you almost needed to bring a towel to wipe the gore from your screen as it oozed across every surface of the environment, but in this particular game you see a quick spray of red from the bodies of those that are blown to smithereens and nothing else. Classified MA in Australia for Strong Horror Violence and Blood and Gore, if a game is going to have such a classification attached to it, then I will very much appreciate seeing all of this supposed ‘blood and gore’. Now, I am not necessarily a Satanist, but I prefer my games to have a bit of arterial red in them, and Hell and Damnation more often than not refuses to bathe the player in the bright red bodily ooze of fallen opponents.

All of the opponents you face moreover are replicas of those that you would have fought during the original campaigns, with a few changes here and there. Often when playing through a level, different opponents than the ones you remember initially fighting will appear, but the change is barely worth noting. Some minor alterations have additionally been implemented with some of the combatants, including providing the skelebones with arms and a blade to wield in each, and reducing the Skeletore, who was a terrific 8 foot tall badass with a double barreled shotgun in the original Painkiller, being strong, dangerous, and capable of using other enemies as demonic shields, to a four foot delinquent incapable of inciting fear into an ant, let alone the player.

Additionally, a couple of the original Boss monsters return for the slaughter, including the Necrogiant and Alastair. In the case of Alastair, like with the Skeletore, the developers decided to ‘improve’ upon the original design, so instead of the boss being a gigantic fire breathing monstrosity who would make even Godzilla wet his pants, they have sent him off to Jenny Craig, where they not only took off some of his muscle, but much of his height as well. The end result is this flimsy, 6 foot tall creature with goat legs, the body of a hairy chimp, two bat wings and the face of a gorilla; not exactly a fire breathing dragon now, is it?

Moving on, the levels you will fight through are from the original Painkiller game, and the mission pack, Battle out of Hell. Players may remember that Painkiller came with 24 levels, and Battle out of Hell was equipped with 10, and so it is blatantly obvious that 20 of them have apparently disappeared into the ether in this particular campaign comprised of 14 levels. You begin the game in the Graveyard level, as the player would have in the first game, and will continue on through other known maps the likes of the train station and the theme park. Other fun maps, the likes of the Military Base, the Tower of Babel, the Town, the Labs and Dead City are not included, and so, if you are anything like me, you are going to be adversely disappointed by the game’s content.

An interesting new addition to the levels though are the Boss monsters, who reign over these lands, and sometimes you see then moving about the environments in the background. When you begin the game in the Graveyard, you might suddenly experience a moment of pause as you look up to see the Necrogiant walking about the place, and later still, you may see him interact with the world by shoving his huge hand through the ceiling of a building you happen to be standing in.

Throughout the game, from the cinematics to moments during the levels themselves, random hints are provided as to what the ending will be comprised of, and the developers do not disappoint by leaving it wide open for a sequel. The ending, although rather unlikely, makes it seem as though brand spanking new content is just waiting around the corner to be explored in any potential new games that are to be made in this new franchise, I must wonder – why would anyone want to persist in this experience?

On that note, all of this combined makes for a very short game, and if you are in anyway interested in purchasing this particular title, I would recommend that you perhaps borrow it from your local video store and complete it over the course of a night, for I cannot imagine anyone wanting to experience this campaign twice.

If the developers of Painkiller: Hell and Damnation should feel anything after having completed this project, it is shame. Painkiller has been an abundantly popular series over the years, and what this game does is take everything that made the series entertaining to play and completely ruin the enjoyment for everyone. I would be seriously surprised if this dreadful excuse for a sequel manages to spawn another, and if it does, I only hope the developers do a better job than they did this time around. If Farm 51 want my opinion, it is this; if you want to create an appalling, pathetic excuse for a video game, I ain’t going to stop you; I do however recommend that you do not destroy a perfectly good franchise in the process.

IMAGE CREDITS:
http://www.nerdly.co.uk/2013/01/23/review-painkiller-hell-damnation/

http://www.tgrealm.com/blog-posts-137/tgr-blog-hands-on-painkiller-hell-damnation/

I hope I am not graded on these 11 questions…

 

I was recently tagged by the beautiful blogger PM (http://prinsesamusang.wordpress.com/) to answer some questions of hers, and so, without further ado, here are my responses!

1. You have to give up one part of your body: brain or heart? Pick in the context of the debate mind vs. heart or right vs. kind in making decisions.

WHAT? What kind of question is this? You don’t ask a soporific romantic a question the likes of this one! No! No! I would love to say ‘I refuse to answer on the grounds that this is unjustly wrong!’; I would love to, but I know how you want your answer PM!

Okay, let’s think about this for a second; by giving up the heart, hypothetically, you are suggesting that I will not be allowed to love, ever again; I will not be able to experience love; feel love or respond to such an emotion if anyone was (un)lucky enough to fall in love with me. However, on the plus side, I’d be incredibly intelligent as I would be empowered with the mind. Decisions would come unbelievably easily to me as no longer would I be concerned with the emotional ramifications of any potential choice. I would therefore be an intellectual, albeit, emotionless zealot.

On the other hand, if I give up the brain, I’d be rendered an insufferable idiot, incapable of articulating even the simplest of decisions. However, I would be empowered with the power of love and would be able to successfully feel such an emotion without the bounds of intellect. I could fall in love extremely easily – which would be as much of a curse as it would be a potential gift. The brain after all helps one make decisions in regards to romantic endeavours and indeed on occasion assists the individual in not making a total fool of themselves.

Okay, moment of truth; what’ll it be? Brian, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart? Brian, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart? Brain, heart?

Okay, here’s a twist – I’ll go with the brain. Goodbye heart!

I’ll be an emotionless zealot, yes, but I will never again feel the agonising pain of heartbreak. On occasion, romance is overrated. Relationships fail; lovers leave; the brain is always there, and therefore is the one muscle that can always be relied upon (unless you’re attempting to complete an exam – then it apparently shuts down).

So, there you have it PM, your answer to question no. 1! I did not enjoy answering that particular question, so, just for that reason, and although this may seem immature and vulgar, please imagine me sticking my tongue out at you right now. (For the record, my tongue is long and forked).

2. Fictional characters are great! Would you rather be the hero or the villain in the greatest story ever told?

The villain, absolutely, hands down! If the option was available though, I would choose the anti-hero over the villain.

Heroes often fail and are forgotten to time; villains are forever.

3. Smart and ugly or gorgeous and dumb?

Some people already think I’m smart and ugly, so I’ll just go with that option. Besides, I would never wish to sacrifice intellect for something as cheesy as some moderately good looks. Besides, good looks are overrated. True, a good lookin’ person is easy on the eyes and never will one become bored of looking at them, but without the intelligence or personality to back up the physically perfect form, where is the reason to stay together?

4. Yes or No: becoming a parent and having kids.

I don’t know if I am mature enough to answer this question for you PM. I’m only 23 after all, and although some people do have children when they are in their teens, I have not thought much on the subject of children. As a woman PM, I believe you would have thought more about children than I, as women are after all the members of the human species who give birth to the future populations.
For the moment I will say no. I do not have time for children or a family. However, as I mature, acquire additional economic sustenance and become older, I may very well change my answer. Watch this space PM; watch this space.

5. Yes or No: divorce.

Apologies PM; I do not understand the question. Are you asking ‘do I believe divorce to be an acceptable aspect of society?’ or are you asking ‘would you consider divorce if you were in an unhealthy marriage?’ Just in case, I will answer both of these questions.

Yes, I believe that if two people are in an unhealthy marriage, they should split. Besides, divorce is so common these days that I personally believe many people have simply become indoctrinated into believing divorce to be socially acceptable, even though there was a time when nobody (in the western world that is) would consider what was thought to be a heinous occurrence.

Yes, I would divorce someone that I was unhappily married to. There is a stigma to this response though; unlike most people I have happened to bump into over the last few years, I don’t believe in one night stands; I believe in relationships.
In my opinion, if you choose to be with someone; if you fall madly in love with them; then you cannot have eyes for anyone else. When I fall in love with someone, this has always been the case with me – I have not had eyes for any other woman whilst there was a certain young lady in my life. Basically, if I was to marry someone, my intention would be to stay married to them until I officially ended up on my back, with my arms and legs in the air. So, unless the woman I married turned out to be a wraith or something – I can’t imagine why I would consider divorcing them.

6. You are about to do the one best thing that you have always wanted to do ever. What stops you from taking the plunge: your personal fear of failing or your fear of judgment from others?

PM, this question is irrelevant. If I was about to accomplish the one best thing that I had always wanted to do, there is not one thing in the universe that could stop me from succeeding.

Okay, hypothetically; just say my goal was to…fly to the Philippines, find out where you lived and say, to your face ‘PM, I did not like some of your questions.’ Then, upon completion of said goal, fly back home to Australia. I know, sounds kind of dumb, but, bear with me. My point, is that if this was my major goal, there is nothing that could stop me from accomplishing it.

However, if I was to do something a little less important than ‘the best thing that you have always wanted to do ever’, my personal fear of failing would be why I would not accomplish that particular task.

7. For one day, you get to spend the day with this famous person. Will you pick your favourite athlete, your favourite musician, your favourite author or your favourite actor?

Favourite actress actually darling, favourite actress. Never know; she might fall madly in love with me and later still we may end up married. Ah, a man can dream can he not; can a man not dream?

8. Yes or No: watching cartoons until your ridiculous old age now. (Admit it )

I can say, with absolute certainty – no. Not 24/7 at least, but in moderation, why the hell not, eh?

9. The unfortunate has struck: your lover is dying. You are faced with this option: donate your vital organ to save him or her and die yourself while he or she lives without you or let your lover die without doing anything?

PM, if the woman I loved most was dying, there is not a single thing I would not sacrifice to get her back, even if that means forfeiting my own life.

However, I find the notion that my lover will, in perhaps three years time be married to another man with children to be a little disconcerting. This may not be the scenario that you concocted in your question, but it is indeed the scenario that will come to fruition.

Now, I realise I have been quite serious throughout this particular question thus far, however, I am now going to be contradictory and become a little obscene and vulgar; your vital organ may be your heart PM, but mine is not. I will give you three guesses as to what mine is, but you will only need one. If my lover was dying, why would she need my particular vital organ, when women do not have that particular appendage?

10. Yes or No: death penalty.

Do I believe in the death penalty? Do I believe it is an adequate punishment? Yes; yes I do. In Australia, the death penalty was cancelled in I do believe 1967? (Don’t quote me on this). The crime of the last man executed in Australia (he was hung) was as follows; he orchestrated a prison break out, and during this, a guard was shot and killed. Now, according to many sources, the executed man was not the man who shot the guard; however, because he instigated the break out, he was blamed because if he had not broken out with some other prisoners, then the guard would never have been killed. It was theorised that some believed at the time the execution was unnecessary, and so it was disbanded because such a punishment was rarely used, even then.

However, in Australia today it seems very much as though crime is unchecked. I mean, just looking at the paper today I can list several heinous crimes right off the first couple pages;
-a teenage girl, gang raped after leaving party
-man shot dead in CBD
-armoured truck attacked by gunman
-stabbing death in suburbs
-pregnant woman killed in hit and run
-young man assaulted in bar fight

My point is this; many people who deserved to live are killed; many people who deserve to live a good life are forced to endure a horrific one; and many people who deserve to die live to cause more death and destruction. The punishment fits the crime in my book, and if there was a referendum tomorrow in regards to the death penalty, I would vote for it to be reinstated; if not for the reason that some deserve to die, then for the reason to keep our streets safer.

11. At a huge crossroad in your life, a decision has to be made which will alter the course of your freaking life. What do you do? Do you take the ridiculous way or the safe way to go about it?

‘Your freaking life’? Quite a phrase PM, quite a phrase indeed.

Can you define ridiculous? What, do I rip off my clothes and run up and down the street screaming insanities before finding myself with a one way ticket to the local funny farm?

Seriously PM, I will probably take the safe approach. If this decision is going to affect the course of my existence, then I would rather not jeopardise my future by doing anything, as you said, ridiculous.

 

Well, there you have it PM! I do not know if these were what you were after, but they are my questions just the same.

Thanks for the questions PM, although I cannot wait to get you back with some questions of my own! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!