In all honesty, the bombs that blew up bits of my hometown and fellow Londoners caused game news to escape my mind like some forgotten balloon absently let loose into a cloudless sky. In any case, it seems to have had a similar effect on others who take more than a passing interest in this industry.
For the amazing London emergency services and ordinary members of the public who put their lives on the line to help, life goes on. If the driver of the bus that was ripped to shreds, taking with it 13 people, can go back to work, then I haven't a complaint in the world. Ergo, an inevitably slow news week comes to a close with solemn but defiant reflection. Enjoy without a hint of guilt, for that is what the bombers fear the most.
The Gamers' Priory
I'm addicted to games, but it doesn't make me ill, which is what I thought people went to clinics for. Sure, my eyes have started to hurt and I've had the occasional headache from particularly lengthy and gruelling marathon gaming sessions, but nothing like a cold or anything. Still, Chinese MMOs apparently vent germs through over-clocked fans in PC cases. The result? They open a clinic for addiction to games.
I'm fairly cynical when it comes to addiction. I subscribe to the school of thought that believes most addiction clinics spring up to try and make money out of vague discomfort, scare people into thinking they're addicted to something and cash a fat cheque. But, as far as gaming goes, I'm down with that, if only because I can imagine myself wanting to be admitted.
Put MMOs up there with smoking and alcohol. I'm addicted to World of Warcraft. Like the nicotine in a fag, the levelling up reward system flows through my veins like an eel winding its way through a reef. I have just broken through the level 56 barrier with my Night Elf Priest. All I can think about is grinding my way to level 57. I'm thinking about it as you read this.
Even when you hit 60, the reward system keeps you hooked. You find yourself indulging in constant instance runs in raid groups of ten or more just to have a chance of getting that item of the epic armour set you need to look completely bad-ass. Like cigarettes and alcohol, pleasure becomes obsolete, only satisfying craving matters.
So, perhaps my cynical eye can overlook this latest clinic fad. Forget it if you're simply avoiding housework or leaving the house to log on for a spot of flower picking or mining. Please check in if you can see this coming. If a single similar case is prevented, the clinic will have been worthwhile.
Like a minging slapper at a bar, after a while, it inevitably appears more and more attractive
With the news that Pro Evolution Soccer will be appearing on Sony's handheld this autumn, another recently announcement game has renewed my efforts into the PSP saving fund. My added vigour is well founded. Virtua Tennis on PSP should be fantastic.
Virtua Tennis 2 on the Dreamcast was the game that made me buy the console. It is also the best tennis experience outside the real thing in the world (It is, in fact, probably better than getting off of your arse and playing the sport in real life, unless you're Roger Federer, and you know you'll never have to face the bitter taste of defeat).
So I'm extremely excited by the thought of playing this game on my way to work every morning. There are just a couple of things I need SEGA to convince Sony to allow in the port:
One: Online play. This could be huge. Not simply wireless play, since the chances of me finding another Virtua Tennis playing PSP owner at exactly the same time on exactly the same bus is extremely unlikely. I want my PSP to scour the globe for other hopefuls like me, hook me up with them and let me play them without a hint of lag.
Two: Let me be able to level up my customised character ala Virtua Tennis 2 for play online. Let matchmaking pair me with similar skilled players. Let me be able to buy amazing accessories, shorts, wristbands and guitars (sorry, wrong game), so I can show off my handywork to other players. Let my reputation proceed me, and for others to be able to log on, sit in the audience and watch me destroy my latest opponent.
If Sega and Sony can provide a quality of multiplayer half as good as this, I'm convinced. If they can match this, Virtua Tennis on PSP could be the handheld's defining game. I'm just hoping thinking, just as I was when Gazza moved in on that low cross Vs Germany in 1996, that they don't miss such a good opportunity.
This week's new releases
While July is looking like a rather dry month for games, it does have one truly brilliant release. God of War was finally released in the UK this week, some months after our US friends were able to play it. For anyone still on the fence about picking it up, get off that fence and head down to your local game store. God of War is one of the best games to be released for the PlayStation 2 and a true technical marvel as well.
Anyone who wants more multiplayer maps for Halo 2 (who doesn't want to download them via Xbox Live) can purchase Bungie's map pack. The budget priced disc includes nine maps and a few bonus videos. These videos aren't all that great, but for any die-hard Halo fan, they make for a nice treat. We're playing these maps right now, so expect a report on them next week. DS owners who have a few friends could do worse than Bomberman. I'm sure nearly everyone on the planet has owned at least one version of Bomberman, but some wee scamps might not have had the pleasure.
- Bomberman (DS)
- Crazy Golf: World Tour (PS2)
- God Of War (PS2)
- Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack (Xbox)
- Soldner Gold (PC)