Salut, 

I’m fighting off a cold at the moment so not feeling 100%. It’s one of those colds which has no sneezing or coughing but there’s the wooziness, elevated temperature and cracked voice. It came on midway through gaming at the Griffin on Sunday afternoon around 5pm and got worse throughout the course of the evening. However, two early nights, lots of honey-infused tea, a little ibuprofen and general rest might well have knocked it on the head. Or rather immune system has done what it should have with a little help from the conscious part of the brain.

Once again, the last blog post was written but not published for a week, I am the King of Procrastination lately. Hence why there’ll be two today. And no, I wasn’t looking to capitalise on what happened in Brussels today (22nd March) by posting about Brussels in the last post, given how often I’m there…yeah.

Anyway, I’m going to stick to a predominantly gaming-themed post today. Starting with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment as it’s a freebie from Games With Gold and the first title I’ve downloaded since Assassin’s Creed 4. It’s what I’d theme as something of an interactive story, kinda like CSI Investigations or even a modern version of Monkey Island where you take the role of the titular character and attempt to solve a series of mysteries set in late Victorian London. I’ve only played the first case so far (whilst ill, laying on the couch) but it’s enough to form an opinion or three. First of all, it’s not all that open ended, fairly linear but there hasn’t been – thus far – too much going back and forth between locations for single clues. Of course the old method of “investigate everything” remains sound advice and the hints from characters are a bit too on the nose. But perhaps the better feature is that the cases can have multiple possible endings, some of which are more “true” than the others.

Graphics – nowt special. 3D environments that don’t move much apart from the characters. No, there’s more to the sound as it’s crucial to hear the voice acting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s stereotypical Sherlock fare, as Jeremy Butler were in the role with all the other supporting characters playing their classic roles. That’s no bad thing, easy brand recognition but I personally wouldn’t have minded if they took liberties with a few of the characters. You can dress Holmes up, give him disguises to wear to make him look a little different. Also with the sound – it’s bloody loud. I normally have my TV at 12 when I play video games, had to turn it right down to 6 for this one.

Other bits – there’s the “Sherlock Scan” where you can survey a crime scene and detect other clues which you wouldn’t be able to interact with otherwise. It’s not the greatest bit as all the problem solving is done for you. Perhaps if you were able to form your own conclusions… And then there are the minigames – man are some of them frustrating. In the first case alone, the pig carcass, the arm wrestling and the lock picking can make you want to lob the controller at the wall. Though admittedly, I solved the lock picking by random chance so wasn’t too irked by that.

All in all – I might play the second case and go through the game, I might not. Kinda…indifferent to the game. I had hoped for a more engrossing experience rather than the product we have which it a bit too…leading. Fortunately, it’s only 12GB so doesn’t take that much HD space. And it’s something different to my other game. Plus, it’s free. Overall, it’s worth a look but don’t get your hopes up. The fact that it’s free from Games with Gold is a major point in its favour.

Also downloaded, Ticket to Ride Europe (for my Xbox 360 version of the game), chiefly so I could practice but also as I’ve played well over fifty games on the US map. There isn’t much I can say, it’s a faithful reproduction of the board game, some new background music to fit the map, otherwise no other bells and whistles. I’m happy with my purchase.

Still slowly grinding my way through Star Trek Timelines. On Mission 5 now but need to seriously upgrade my characters before I can even tackle the first level (Picard is my best character but even he is about 50 points short in the diplomacy stat at level 39). If there were more space battles, I’d kick ass because I’ve got some seriously decent hardware in my arsenal. Ferengi Marauder, Romulan Warbird, Kirk’s Enterprise (which is more powerful than the Galaxy Class starship, randomly), 3* upgraded Constitution class starship, Maquis Raider…

GTA Online update – I made my $2.8 million for the Valkyrie Helicopter. Then I looked it up just to check and so many people trash it, I decided to go with the Savage helicopter instead. Great fun. Still have over a million left though I’m not sure what to buy with it. I’ve a Banshee in the garage that needs pimping at Benny’s as well as a hankering for a Buzzard. At level 173. 

Ovver Bits: Fiber Optic Broadband is now connected at home. I have to say, I’m not noticing a massive difference in speed but both Dr Do(o)m and I can stream TV and play online games without and SNAFU which I think is the biggest win. And there is no random dropping of the signal (a perennial source of vexation on GTA). There’s only one downside to the Fiber Optic stuff, I’m in an eighteen month contract (there was no option for anything less) and it’s likely we’ll only be in the flat another eleven months. There’s no guarantee of anything longer post February 2017. But let’s worry about that next year. I know, home moves but still, it’s a loose end and I loathe loose ends. It gives the writers plenty of material for stories.

This week’s iBooks purchase – Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. Many of you will know that this was the source of the stories for the first season of Tales of the Unexpected. Rather than continuing the buy-back of my book collection, I wanted something different to read and the short story format is great as I can read one at lunch in its entirety whilst chowing down on whatever salad offerings are in the staff restaurant. What strikes me most about the book is the…socially cultural values of the book and how different they are from today. You might call them sexist, I call them dated. That said, it’s sometimes quite difficult to actually read the stories without empathising too much for the put-upon characters because in typical Dahl fashion, there’s a fair amount of abuse going on in each of the books. I’ve watched most of the first season of Tales so I can’t help but picture the characters as they were on the small screen.

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