Monthly Archives: October 2012

Musical Monday VIII – “Let’s go!”

Musical Monday returns for its 8th episode this evening, hoping that it can bring a little smile as we look back on some great video game music. I found it rather more difficult to choose what games to include this week, due to all of the brilliant games my friend James reminded me of on Saturday. Hopefully I will get around to including all of these games in a Musical Monday post eventually, but for this week I have chosen two franchises that we both love: the ever popular Lemmings, and everyone’s favourite holiday destination Silent Hill.

Let’s start with Lemmings. As far as I can remember this was one of the first franchises that I played when I first started out on my gaming career at the wee age of four. At this age there was a large element of trial and error involved with trying to complete levels, especially in the later stages. I quickly lost count of the number of times I managed to trap my lemmings in a hole I’d told them to dig where the only escape is a perilous drop into some unkind elemental nasties, resulting in certain death. The good thing about Lemmings though was that even in the face of complete level failure you could still have one last bit of fun before retrying. This was to give those poor guys five precious seconds to live before blowing them sky high. I can’t begin to imagine what thoughts went through their minds in these last moments of life, although I think there may have been some curse words in there somewhere. In the later levels failure became a much more common occurrence, and my little end-of-level mini-game was to see how much destruction I could cause to the landscape with the final explosions. It was almost a disappointment if a lemming’s death didn’t take anything else with it. I still enjoy playing Lemmings on my PSP from time to time, and I don’t think any other games have ever allowed you to quit a level in such style.

And now to a world that couldn’t be further from the colourful and jolly lands the lemmings inhabit. My first experience of Silent Hill was when a demo of the first game came with Metal Gear Solid. This was also the only time that I have played any of these games by myself, and after scaring myself silly in that elementary school, I decided that I would only ever play it again if friends or family joined me. I do enjoy playing these games, but even now my imagination always gets the better of me when that radio static kicks in walking down those deserted streets, so I can promise that you will almost certainly never see me playing them when the darkness of their world is shared by our own. So far I have managed to soldier my way through Silent Hill 2, 3 and 4 with my Dad. My favourite of those would have to be Silent Hill 3. Even though it successfully managed to scare me faster than any other game I have ever played with those overly cheerful looking, but blood covered bunny costumes in that theme park. I liked the main protagonist Heather more than her counterparts from the other games, although there isn’t that much between her and James Sunderland. Even though I was almost always too scared to play it alone, I would sometimes brave putting the game on just to listen to the opening music before the days of YouTube made it so much simpler. I wouldn’t venture passed the main menu screen if no-one was willing to join me in playing it though.

I’m not sure why Silent Hill has always had this effect on me. I can play other survival horror games like Dead Space and Resident Evil and do little more than jump at some of those sudden attacks. I haven’t played Slender yet, but I’d like to see which of the two categories that fits into. I have a rough idea.

That’s all for this week’s Musical Monday. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to these soundtracks as much as I do. If you still have an appetite for more video game music goodness after reading this I’d certainly recommend hopping into your boat and setting sail for No Tune Unturned on Twitter, where a new tune hops into the spotlight each day. I definitely think it would be worth the trip.

Musical Monday VII

Carrying more delays than an overstretched train network on a Friday afternoon, Musical Monday makes a return for its seventh episode this evening. This week’s post looks back at the series that I shared my first experience of the Xbox 360 with. It is also the series that has occupied the majority of my gaming time over the last few weeks as I play catch up on the story in preparation for the next addition to the series which hits the shelves early next month. All this is a particularly long-winded way of saying Halo.

I’m quite pleased with the speed that I have been bringing myself up-to-date with the goings on in the Halo universe. Normally when I buy a game everyone else who starts playing it around the same time as me finishes it long before I would ever do so myself. On my travels around WordPress this weekend I read a post where the author reminded me that Skyrim has been out for almost a year now – that I have had it for almost a year. Unless you looked through my questionably high number of backup saves you probably wouldn’t think so given the progress I have made. I love the game to pieces, but I’ve only racked up about 55 hours play time due to my inability this year to play any game continuously for an extended period of time. Halo has been different so far, I have completed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and am currently working my way through Reach’s campaign. Once Halo 4 comes out I should have been successful in my mission to replace ‘bringing’ with ‘brought’ at the start of this paragraph, although if I do that I should probably get rid of the ‘have’ too. But anyway, let’s go find us some of that brilliant Halo music.

The first theme that I have chosen will almost certainly come as no surprise. The main theme is up there with my favourites from Uncharted and Far Cry. Like those games’ menu themes it never fails to bring back memories and emotions felt through the story, and considering it was the first theme that I heard on my shiny new Xbox 360 four-and-a-half years ago it has a permanent place in my memories. The menu theme for Halo Reach has also had a similar effect on me. If I had to choose a favourite though I’d still go with the original theme.

The final theme this week tells you exactly what you’ll be doing during this brilliant piece of music. Titled ‘Warthog Run’ it helps to bring Halo 1 and 3 to a thrilling close during that frantic escape. Fora a few seconds in the middle it also manages to remind me of some of the music from the Playstation 3 game Warhawk, so it gets bonus points for that. I’d love to hear if it reminds you of Warhawk, or if I’m just being strange.

That’s all for this week’s Musical Monday. I’m certain you have enjoyed listening to these themes many times yourself, but it just doesn’t seem right to continue posting my favourite game soundtracks without including some of these fantastic pieces of music.

As always thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you on the battlefields of Halo 4 next month.

GamerScore League and November anticipation

This evening I have found myself in that position that all students love to find themselves. After spending around ninety minutes this after college today working on some practice exam questions for biology tomorrow, all of my coursework is currently up-to-date. Biology, in particular, is going really well so far. I have gotten an A grade in both of my end of unit tests, and I’m hoping that I’ll find out the result of my third test, which was on mitosis, tomorrow morning during class. I felt this test went quite well and I know for certain that, thanks to YouTube, I’ll never be able to forget the process of mitosis. Not a bad thing for exams of course, but tomorrow we’ll see if having the mitosis song stuck in my head for the last two weeks has actually paid off. I hope so!

You may have seen me tweeting about the X360A GamerScore League over the last few weeks. We have just passed the halfway point in this competition. This is my second time participating since joining the site back in early 2009. My first time was later that year, when I was part of the winning team, accumulating just over 110,000 gamerscore during the eight weeks of the competition. This time around I didn’t want the pressure of joining a team hoping to challenge for top spot. Joining three other like-minded members we came together to form the team ‘Casually Motivated’. Our aim was to just find ourselves a comfortable spot in the standings and have fun. We’re sitting nicely in 11th place tonight as I write this. I’m more than happy with this given the incredible scores some of the teams are putting up.

So far I’ve used the GSL as motivation to finally catch up on the Halo series ahead of the release of Halo 4 next month. I can currently be found having a generous helping of fun playing Halo Reach multiplayer. I’ve never really given Halo’s multiplayer much attention before, but I feel Reach’s multiplayer will do a good job of keeping me occupied until Halo 4 hits the shelves. I’d also like to dust off my copy of Metro 2033 in the coming weeks along with a couple of other games that have been left unloved on the shelf for various lengths of time. My target before the GSL started was to earn 6,000 gamerscore. Truthfully, I’d be happy with 3,000 now.

The moment October fades into the past and draws the GSL to a close my attention will turn to National Novel Writing Month, and my first attempt at writing fiction since my days as a year 9 student nearly ten years ago. I’m really excited to be giving this a go. I’d love to reach the 50,000 word target, and will certainly be setting my sights on doing so. I’m hoping that getting involved with this and doing my A Level work will drive away my sometimes overwhelming urge to procrastinate. I’m also looking forward to using the experience, along with tips and help from my fellow November novelists to work on and develop my writing style.

Now I just need to take a scoop of the jumble of ideas in my head and see if I can work them into a foundation that can hold together well enough for a 50,000 word novel. At the moment I’m leaning towards a Medieval story, but I’ve always been a terrible decision maker, so only time will tell.

My first month of A Levels

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen a few of my tweets about me embarking on a journey to amass a collection of three A Levels earlier this month. It seems quite scary that it was already seven years ago that I finished my GCSEs and made a decision that, as the years have flown by, I have only come to regret more and more. It was the choice to step away from education to pursue employment straight out of school. While this course of action wasn’t all doom and gloom I would be lying if I said it went anything like I had thought it would. This isn’t the part of the story that I regret the most though, it’s the idea I had given myself that I had missed my chance for further education, and so was stuck in this situation. I now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and can’t express quite how stupid I felt for thinking otherwise for all those years.

That’s all for the negative reminiscing though. I have a chance to put this right now and am determined to make it count.

The subjects I have chosen to study are chemistry, biology and maths. Chemistry and maths were definite choices from the moment I applied, owing to my hopes of progressing to university to study for a chemistry degree. Biology would’ve had to fight with history, but by the time I applied history was already full, so biology won my final subject choice.

The summer months were spotted with attempts to recall as much of my previous knowledge as possible. The Khan Academy was an invaluable resource in helping me to lay a good foundation of knowledge in each subject before making the jump to AS Levels. This foundation has held up relatively well. The only shortcoming has been some of the content that we’ve been covering in maths was never touched by me over the summer, quadratic equations being the prime culprit. This left me out in the rain trying to scour the darkest recesses of my brain for maths knowledge from seven years ago, which as you can imagine doesn’t work out too well. I feel more confident with the topics we’re covering in maths now, but the first few weeks were certainly a struggle.

Two-and-a-half weeks into the course we were greeted by our first set of periodic tests to ensure that we’re understanding, and are confident with the topics that we’re studying. Entering these tests I was most confident about chemistry, with biology second and maths, understandably, third. In terms of difficulty the opposite was true, and the results gave biology the chance to top the list. I scored an A in biology, B in chemistry and a D in maths. This surprised me because I was sure that chemistry would be where I would pick up the highest marks, but I was let down by some of my calculations. Overall, I’m more than happy with these results, especially my biology score. I just need to keep working with the same level of commitment to ensure those grades stay where they are (except for maths, that’s more than welcome to improve) up until the first real exams in January.

Looking back on the last four weeks I’m very pleased with how I’ve managed so far. I feel that I’ve coped well with the transition back into full-time education, I’m enjoying all of my lessons, and everything is made so much better because I still get to see my partner-in-crime and brilliant friend James during breaks and lunch. Now that I’m settled in I want to try to pick up where I left off here back in July. All going to plan I want to keep a steady stream of posts going up until New Year, when I should be heavily focused on revision for the dreaded January exams. I did actually want to bring Musical Monday back yesterday, but it will definitely be making a return next week. The games and music are already chosen, and given my recent gaming habits I bet you can guess what series will be taking centre stage. 🙂

Thanks as always for stopping by; it’s always appreciated. I can’t think of a better way to end this post than to give a huge thank you to Warwickshire College for allowing me this opportunity to further my education, and to my family for supporting me in my decision to return to full-time education.