Odds and Sods #1

It seems I have several things I want to blog about today, but none of the subjects warrants a full post, so here we have the first of many “Odds and Sods” posts which will chuck them all into one big post.

Books

So, the Booker Shortlist is out tomorrow and it will see much of the literature world ramble on about who was placed and why so and so wasn’t. Personally, although I have only read four of the longlist I have an idea of what I’d like to see from the shortlist. This isn’t a prediction, just my two pence worth.

Over recent years the Booker Prize has been criticised for several things, notably a lack of genre fiction and being stuck in the past, otherwise known as failing to embrace more contemporary literature. This years judging panel has already done a cracking job of putting that practice in the ground. With novels such as Jessie Lamb (Sci-Fi) and The Sisters Brothers (Western Drama) given the nod, one has to hope that this continues onto the Shortlist tomorrow.

To accompany those two books, I’d love to see the grim but adventurous Jamrach’s Menagerie take the next step. Despite having not read it yet, Kelman’s Pigeon English deserves to be there for telling a modern and urban tale, rather than sitting in the overused 19th and early 20th Century. Then comes the emotional impacting entries in the form of Far to Go and Half Blood Blues to cover the tail end of the list.

If my varied Shortlist was to come to fruition and my chosen six books were announced tomorrow, then the next step would be to choose a winner. I’m sure I’ll debate the list and winner when the time comes, but if I was to throw my hat into the ring now, then I would back The Sisters Brothers to win.

What would your choice be for the shortlist and eventual winner?

Games

I’ve spent a lot of time with various games over the last week, notably Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Toy Soldiers: Cold War and De Blob 2. Unfortunately nothing that has appeared from Boomerang has grabbed me enough to keep it for longer than a few days. Both Child of Eden and Black Ops were sent back within 48 hours for differing reasons. The former was fun but felt like it was missing something for me. Possibly Kinect, but to be honest I expected a lot more. The latter is just a terrible game. I’ve moved along quite a lot from my gaming tastes of a year ago. Shooters just don’t hold me in a vice-like grip anymore and much of my games playing is in the form of more relaxing play.

Having said that I have played would could be seen as a shooter, in DX:HR, though it could also be called an RPG or even a stealth game. I was actually playing the game via stealth to fill the gap left by the absence of a really good Splinter Cell game. I use the past tense as I haven’t picked the game up in a few days after the encounter with the first boss. A lot has been banded about on the internetz about the boss battles and their inclusion, so I won’t weigh in too much. All I will say is that if you are going to include unavoidable boss battles (even if you offer up such in depth and believable stealth) then construct the actual battles to aid the player.

I arrived at the first boss with one handgun that held ONE bullet, by the time my hamfisted fingers found their way around the keyboard to navigate our hero to more guns I was already on half health. This could be down to my lack of keyboard and mouse muscle memory, but let’s be honest, if the developer had let us sneak past like every other moment in the game, it wouldn’t be an issue to start with.

I picked up De Blob 2 today, for the bargain price of £6. The main reason for grabbing this one was to play it with Big Daughter. Although she doesn’t quite grasp the controller yet, she enjoys sitting beside me to play through the levels and guide me around. So far, it’s a great game for doing just that and despite its simplicity, we’re having a great time. It has to be said that it looks and sounds lovely, too.

What have you been playing this week?

Rant

Something we’ve all ranted about at various times, but why can’t Microsoft either replace the stupid MS point system with real money or allow us to buy smaller increments of their silly space points? I’ve recently become quite a fan of the Zune service but if I have 200 points on my account and want to rent a film for 300-ish points, then I only want 100-200 points… not bloody 500. Let us buy in blocks of 100. OR, why not introduce a subscription service? You have one for music, after all.

Am I missing something? Is there an easier way around this situation?

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