The stories that inspire us – Skyrim

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Buy The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim® from the Humble Store

I firmly believe that Skyrim may be the greatest video game ever made and stay with me here, even if you aren’t a gamer because there are very few video games that give players their own licence to shape their time in a world that is wholly interactive, beautifully constructed and most importantly immersive.

From the epic introductory music that leads into an ensemble of visual and audio beauty Skyrim follows the typical chosen one trope where you, the player are thrown in to a ‘Tolkienesque’ world of being a second coming who is able to face a returning ancient threat; dragons. How you walk down that path is entirely up to you, via magic, via combative brute strength or perhaps sneakily and stealthily that choice falls upon anyone who takes on this game making every journey unique and different – something all games stride to succeed in and maybe Skyrim does that the best and that is what sets it aside. No matter what action the player takes, the level system is counting, adding exp and shaping your character based on what it does in the world.

You can learn magic in detail, from conjuration to restoration but the real magic is all around. The end of 2011/start of 2012 was mostly a wonderful time in my life and perhaps that romanticizes the memories of when I picked up this game and took my first dive into this genre. Although I came late to the RPG genre at 22 I have certainly made up for it over the years with three Fallout games but for me it all started with Skyrim and I have decided to reignite this blog series because I have been playing the remastered version of the game on PS4 over the past few months and it reminded me of how beautiful this game truly is. Lockdown nights have been a breeze with Skyrim as a companion.

Skyrim Wallpapers 1920x1080 - Wallpaper Cave

Visuals of rolling hills covered in snow, tundras drenched in sunlight, mountains, sea and castle dominated cityscapes. There is no shortage of picturesque backdrops in this open world where anything can happen while the player chooses to do anything they like. Join one of the many factions from a secret sect of werewolves to a guild dedicated to thievery. Many a tomb await filled with the dreaded Draugr or it could even be an old castle filled with undesirable raiders to the ruins of an ancient civilization now populated with those pesky and tough Falmer. The game is a living and breathing work of art all of which can be further crafted by the player.

The actual gaming experience can be anything that player wants, you can pursue the main story line if you so desire or just go anywhere else the path leads you. Eventually destiny of an intricate and layered quest system will pull you in the right direction. What inspires me the most about Skyrim is the freedom for the game to let it be whatever the player wants it to be, the sheer scale of this production is on the grandest of scales and for that and to me it resides in video game greatness.

Can you name a story as accessible and immersive as the one of the Dragonborn? 

The stories that inspire us – PlayStation 2

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Image result for playstation 2

It is the most successful gaming console to date and this week twenty years ago it was released; apart from the wave of some readers probably muttering ‘Oh god I am old’ this is a fantastic piece of history to celebrate in gaming and I was lucky enough to be a kid at the time… 

158 Million people owned a PS2 with the original release coming out in Japan on the 4th of March 2000 – the rest of the world would have to wait until later on in the year and me, I got hold of one after spending all of my 13th birthday money in 2002. To this day I still remember shopping around finding the best deal which came from the now extinct (in the UK) Woolworths.

Having been very lucky to own its predecessor PlayStation, like all kids I wanted the new thing and so that fresh plastic smell dominated the living room as I opened the packaging and set it up. The very first game I played was Medal of Honor: Frontline – which was a tribute to history itself while also nodding to the Spielberg epic ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A group of us crowded around the living room television while it took us away to artillery fire and allied soldiers on a beach in France. I have always embraced the imagination of where a game takes you and this was history.

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PlayStation 2 had a lasting influence on my life and even now as a writer its still inspires my stories. Back then I had all the time in the world to play but not a lot of income so new games would be sparse and arrive via birthdays and Christmas. I could always rely on a service which doesn’t exist anymore: Blockbuster video game rentals… The race would be on to complete a rented game in the handful of days I owned it and many many times I succeeded but again with a small crowd around the screen.

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Red Faction shaped my science fiction writing….

Not only did the games of PlayStation 2 shape my writing influence they also played a huge part in introducing me to the music I would come to align myself with.

These were still the days when parents overlooked age ratings on games and by Christmas 2002 my uncle gifted me possibly the greatest PS2 game ever and not for the reasons you think.

Yes the story was great and the whole production was amazing and Grand Theft Auto Vice City is indeed an incredible playing experience but for me it was a gateway to rock music.

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Bands like Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Motley Crue and Tesla would blare out of my room while I cruised along Vice Beach – this was my safe haven and back then rock music was bullying material at school. That music paved my interest into the bands I listen to today and without out it there would be no Rock and Roll man!

Looking back on this era of gaming, it truly was a golden age and I’ve only mentioned the tip of what is a huge iceberg of games, so check out my favourites below….

Do you have any PlayStation 2 memories?

Image result for gta san andreas Image result for half life  ps2 Image result for spiderman 2 ps2 

Image result for wwe smackdown shut your mouth Image result for metal gear sons of liberty Image result for dead to rights ps2

Image result for the simes ps2 Image result for simposns hit and srunImage result for max payne ps2

Red Dead Redemption 2 – Review

A stunning visual spectacle with a truly beautiful story…

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I don’t play many video games these days. My time is valuable and so if I am going to pick up my playstation controller it has to be for a good reason and this year Red Dead Redemption 2 has been just that.

Rockstar have put together a game that is not only a spectacle visually with a stunning looking backdrop of emerging America but they have constructed arguably the best story a game has ever had. The ballad of main character Arthur Morgan is one of a man trying to find his way in a world becoming more and more civilized by the day. Gunslingers and outlaws are becoming a thing of the past and the group Morgan belongs to are looking for that final payday. He’s a real character in a sense that he has a detailed history, believable flaws and even health problems all of which that just add to the realism of a story that is both emotional and beautifully tragic at the same time. The old west can be a brutal place and it spits you out as a player sometimes while also being an immensely rich and a fun environment to play in. GTA of the wild west it is not, although some will say it is, RDR2 is more complex in a lot of ways.

I spent much time doing everything but main story line stuff and even side story line stuff, much like GTA but with less intentions to commit criminal acts, in this game being wanted is a pain in the ass. You can turn your attention to pretty much everything that is interactive in the world. You can craft, fish, hunt and generally just live in the world. Your choice to be honorable or not is always held in account. There are only a few real drawbacks, as a player you have to ride horses quite often and the mechanics of combat can be clunky.

There are some points in the game where this is a truly cinematic experience which is complimented by the rich soundtrack. Galloping along with seven or so fellow outlaws by your side will make it as authentic as the Magnificent Seven or the many Clint Eastwood forays into the genre.

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The characters that join you are one of the strengths that help carry a main story so rich with drama, action, deception and so much more.

For everything RDR2 the one thing it isn’t is a disappointment. I spent five months gradually playing out what is an incredible and sometimes poignant story that at moments brought a tear to my eye. Games are becoming more and more cinematic while also retaining the charm of being a solo experience although many times my better half would happily watch. There is no medium out there like a video game and the satisfaction that comes with it is hard to recreate elsewhere. If anything this sort of thing is an escape from our own world, like all good story telling RDR2 is very effective at it!

9.5/10  – stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Fallout, Skyrim and of course GTA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallout 4 is here!

War never changes… From the moment of installing Fallout 4 you are thrown back into a world many fans have been waiting for. This week Bethesda did what they said earlier this year and released the very much anticipated Fallout 4.

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I can only review what I have played (1hr 45mins) but what I have seen will please even the most basic of spectators. For those not quite familiar with the fallout universe (there can’t be many of you) the whole premise of this game is what the world would be after nuclear apocalypse. Of course there are major details I have missed out, but for me Fallout has always been a journey of self-discovery. Every game experience is different and unique. Every path is yet to be discovered. I could play for an hour doing one thing and another person could start exactly where I do and end up elsewhere.

Moving on to the actual game, right now my first impression is that the people who made this thing have spent an awful lot of time doing so. The graphics match the hype surrounded by its release and all visuals in this game so far are stunning. They have literally thought of everything.

Combat in this game is dictated by the VATS system which allows you to slow the world down (only slightly this time compared to before) and you can carefully aim at a target. Using this system you will see the menacing threats slowly come towards you unless something is done. Even then your ability to hit the target is defined by the stats you choose at the very beginning of this journey. Perception ,luck and some others are important factors in surviving in the wasteland and you are reminded of this in self-help vault tech videos played as the game loads up initially.

I will continue to admire the detail in this game. The very beginning we are treated to an actual film with real actors and sets introducing this world (pre apocalypse). That leads into the voice acting which this time is a full experience. Every conversation is spoken and normally most of the time there are several options of what to say (again time and detail).

After only an hour and forty five minutes of play  I can only guess that there is so much more for me to discover and do. Building weapons and actual settlements is a new direction for this series to go and will make it a more rounded experience which will fully immerse even the most casual of players.

Fallout is a world of discovery and that world is at our feet. Gaming will never be the same, but we all know war, war never changes.

 

You can see my first hour of gameplay including commentary right here via Matt Streuli’s youtube channel. Definitely worth a look if you are not sure whether to buy this game, but you will.