Sunday, 20 October 2013

Look back in fondness - old game memories

Every so often Flickr alerts me somebody making a'favourite' of one of my photos in my online gallery. That people chose a picture of mine as being a 'favourite' is always nice, but what is interesting is just how many of these pictures are quite old game screenshots.

Thanks to Flickr's excellent stats tracking I can check up on which of my pictures are most 'popular' and it's amazing that quite a chunk of these are game screenshots. So I thought I would use a post to highlight some of my most viewed game snaps...

5. Left 4 Dead - Being 'Witched'

Perhaps suitably, as we are coming up to Halloween, I'll start my review of most popular Flickr screenshots with this little snap - it's a first person view of what it's like to be 'witched' in the popular zombie fest - Left 4 Dead.

Getting killed by the witch in this game was a source of some humiliation and embarrassment as it was usually an indication that you were not stealthy enough to avoid this fate. Of course, there were some players that went out of their way to make a witch kill (as it meant big points) but in what was supposed to be a survival game staying out her way was usually a good tactic if you wanted to finish the level alive!

4. Call of Duty 4 - Me getting killed...Again...And again...

For some strange reason I kept a record of me getting killed in CoD4, and for some even stranger reason these rather mundane screenshots were rather interesting to other visitors to my Flickr gallery!

Getting killed in a FPS is a tedious routine for me, but even more so in the high octane frag fest that is competitive CoD. I was still with RiP Clan when we played this against other teams and it's fair to say that I was generally the person they asked to be in the team when someone else couldn't make it! :)

How come the helicopters always find me - I'm sure there were loads of my team
around me just a second ago! Bastards never said anything about the chopper overhead!

3. Borderlands - Skagzilla

Monsters always seemed to be a popular topic for screenshots from the game Borderlands. I tried to document my progress through the game - and it's collection of boss advisories - and it seems that others like to look over my pictorial journal.

Which this particular screenshot isn't the most exciting what it does show - to me - is a record of when members of 'Team BIG' (the small clan I belong to) played together to bring down Skagzilla in our first run through of the Borderlands game. Good times!

Another very popular monster screenshot of mine, this time 'The Warrior'
from Bordelands 2. Again Team BIG brought the beast down!

2. Ghost Recon Classic - 'Udmurtia Spetsnaz' mod shots...

This is quite amazing - the second most viewed game screenshot in my Flickr collection is one that is not only from a relatively niche game - which was released in 2001 - but is a pic of a even more niche mod for the game!

One of the great joys of the original Ghost Recon game is that it was so easy for people to make their own modifications, there was a huge cottage industry of community developed expansions for this game. From new maps to weapon collections, to additional missions to - as above - uniform skins.

It's a great pity that today's game are not so accessible and open to such player participation in the direction that the game takes. Some might say that the reason there is not is that the game developers want to keep control over paid for DLC (discuss)!

1. Fallout 3 - Alien Ray Gun

Fallout 3 was a monster of a first person shooter RPG. The map was huge and there were a large number of hidden side missions peppered around the maps periphery. However, one of the most eagerly quested missions was the search for the 'alien technology' which could be found if you discovered the location of a downed UFO.

I succeeded and was rewarded with the alien ray gun and screen-shotted the moment for posterity. This picture tops my game related 'hits' on Flickr, though perhaps somewhat disappointingly for some I do not give away the location of the crashed spaceship in the picture description! Despite this people - even today - still seek out this screenshot (and related shots).


Well, that's it folks. Perhaps not the prettiest screenshots I've ever taken (I'll do another post some other time of those) but ones which - for whatever reason - caught other peoples' interest the most. It's quite bizarre just what people find interesting, but I appreciate the 'hits' none the less.

I'm really glad that I've kept such a good visual record of my gaming down the years as I can invariably remember each of these 'moments' quite clearly and they bring back a rush of nostalgia.  For the most part a lot of these snaps were taken during team games while I was playing with my clan-mates and friends, which makes them all the more special.

I will leave you with this final shot - from the pre-diabetic days when my 'game days' were just as much about eating and drinking as they were about playing computer games...

Entitled 'Emergency Supplies!' amazingly this was what I had to go out to get because my original gaming fodder was running low! OMG...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

JG G36C EBB AEG Add-ons

I was hoping to be able to go out and do a shooting test but finances and circumstances conspired against me unfortunately. So, instead, I am posting up this piece about the modifications and add-ons that I am currently undertaking on my G36c.

First of all, colour. You remember that nasty two-tone, well it's still about but I have bought some spare parts so that I can rectify this 'for display purposes'! ;)

I still have to get my hands on a SRC bright green stock - but there are
plenty out there. Incidentally, once I do get my UKARA I am pretty sure
I can make a profit reselling these on eBay again!

Basically I bought some cheap second hand SRC two-tone G36c parts off eBay (I got the hand-guard for just 99p) and these will keep my AEG kosher in line with the UKARA guidelines. Now 'for display' I have given the 'spare set' of G36C furnishings a couple of coats of Olive Drab Krylon.

I know, what palaver. But it sort of keeps me feeling reasonably righteous (even if technically I am still in the wrong as - according to the letter of the 'law' - as soon as I put the none-bright parts on I am reverting the AEG into a RIF (Realistic Imitation Firearm).  Suffice to say that most of the time - or until I get my UKARA again - my G36C will be dressed in its two-tones (in case anyone slightly official is reading this)!

Anyhoo...Onto more enjoyable things...

In 'display mode' my G36C now looks like this (see above) - I haven't gone completely mad with add-ons and modifications as I wanted to keep the whole unit light-weight (so no metal RIS). I went with the OD two-tone effect because I saw one like it online and really liked the look, it's not authentic but now matches my OD and black G3A3.

The principal modifications - or should I say most practical improvements - are; the fitting of a Laylax Hand-guard locking pin, the G&P rubber pistol grip sleeve and the MAGPUL P-MAG mid-cap mag.

Of all these the Laylax pin is the most important. You might remember that in my initial review of my new JG G36c I criticised the hand-guid pin as being a flimsy item that was likely to just drop out in use. Well the Laylax pin is an improved design that incorporates a spring and a articulated catch to prevent such an accident...

The pin head can be swivelled to allow insertion and then swivelled out to lock once pushed through the hand-guard hole. The spring gives the whole thing tension and keeps the pin from jiggling free, I also find it keeps the hand-guard wobble-free too. It's not cheap at £16 from Zero One, but gives me peace of mind.

Talking of the front hand-guard, I did pick up a cheap CYMA replacement front end on eBay. It's a Chinese clone of the Laylax enlarged hand-guard which is designed to accommodate a larger battery. Unlike the Laylax version my cheapy CYMA clone did not cost me anything like £60 though!

I need to do some Dremmeling to the rear fitting slots to make it fit, but that's not a big job. I'm just unsure whether I feel I really need that extra battery capacity, I suppose I thought it was a good option to have and it was going for peanuts.

Next there is the G&P pistol grip sleeve. I found the design of the G36 pistol grip a little disappointing, not up to the ergonomics of the rest of the H&K design. There are not finger grooves for a positive grip and the the grip is not stippled or diamond-checked either.

The sleeve is rubber and based on a Hogue design. It simply pulls over the original pistol grip like a rubber band and gives you some additional grip and comfy finger grooves.

I also bought a Magpul P-Mag mid-cap magazine, just to give my G-36c some pizzaz! Now I'm not a big Magpul fan-boy but I had read quite a lot of good things about the reliability of this mags feed. It's expensive at £25 a pop, so I just got one to evaluate and while I haven't shot with it I can say it certainly feels very solid (unlike cheap plasticy MAG magazines). BUT the fit in the JG isn't exact and there is some wobble, so the jury is still out on this.

Onto the more 'dressy up' add-ons and I knew I wanted to fit a vertical grip as a priority. But I think my ASG ergonomic grip is a little on the long side, so I sent off for a stubby grip and one of those new trendy 'Gas Peddle' thumb rests...

It does appear - in theory - to be a very comfortable set-up but due to the terrible over-sized JG front rails I mentioned in my initial report I was unable to fit either of these accessories! To do so I will have to order a new better quality - and more accurately designed - set of G36C front rails (Guarder do a set).

So, in the meantime I have had to revert to my long ASG vertical grip. At least my lovely BE Meyer 'Black Out' replica flash hider fitted nicely. This is one of my favourite flash hider designs and I have the 7.62mm version on my SA-58. Made of steel by King Arms it is a hefty replica and this is the 14mm anti-clockwise fitting '5.56mm' version.

So, finally, we come to the obligatory optical sight - after all, there is a top rail on the G36C!

There are two parts to my sighting system - the mini red dot and the raised rail attachment. The raiser is a lovely UTG 'see through' sight attachment that allows me to make use of the G36's iron sights which giving me a little extra height for my red dot line of sight.

The red dot is just a cheap Chinese clone of a 'Doctor' mini-sight which was really intended for use with my Glock pistol. But the very small size made me think that this was just what I needed for my 'shorty' G36C as it's weight is negligible.

Well, that's it really - oh, except to say that I have a nice Viper one-piece bungy sling for this AEG. So, hopefully next month I will be able to get out and chrono this AEG and report on it's power, accuracy and - most intriguingly - the electric blow back!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Goodbye WoT and hello BF2 (BETA)

Finally, a possible escape route from World of Tanks, and it couldn't have come at a better time as I have even managed to reach the higher tiers in my free account!

I pre-ordered the full version of BF4 yesterday which allowed me early access to the BETA. There's just one map and still some glitches but it at least does allow me a peak at the game which *may* be my main gaming obsession for the next year or so.

At this point I should mention cost - the Digital Deluxe version that gives you access to the BETA costs £54! To put this into some sort of context though, this - as mentioned - will be my main gaming pleasure for the coming year, breaking that down that would be something like a Pound a week. Cheaper than going to the pub.

Edit: The BETA will be available to everyone from October 4th!

Still, what do you get for your £54? Well, obviously the chance to say that you have had a go at BF4 before a lot of other people. This might seem like a bit of a gamble, but my team-mates and myself have been watching the progress and development of BF4 very carefully so I was fairly certain that some of my main concerns - based on my experience with the atrocious BF3 - have been dealt with by EA.

For a start, the map (just one so far remember) was a lot more interact in design and 3 dimensional and there wasn't a clear line of sight between flags. The upshot of this - unlike BF3 - is that I wasn't sniped all the way from one flag to another from campers on the defending flag!

There seemed to be a return to the more varied approach to objectives in BF4. In BF3 I always felt that I was being 'led' in a fairly restricted route from one flag to another, and couldn't help but thinking this had to do with the emphasis placed on the importance of console versions of the game. In short BF3 felt like CoD.

Graphics were interesting, but no real great advances since the nice work that was done of BC2 with detail and realism. Though you will be glad to know that BF4 retains the glossier style of graphics that were a positive note in BF3 rather than the gritty washed out and over-contrasty graphics of Bad Company 2.

One exciting feature was the destructibility. Now I think we still haven't got to the completely destructible game map that DICE/EA have been talking about since BEFORE BF2. Destructibility is still prescribed although a little more widespread. But I still don't think it plays a positive role in the actual game play as such - having said this there was a wonderful set-piece bit of destruction in the BETA map when a central high-rise building collapses!

Computing horsepower is a must, although I did just manage to play my part even on my very modest system by cranking down a lot of the detail (something I always do to play competitively anyway). But my BIG clan team mate - Magnus - did seem to be experiencing a lot of problems trying to play in a higher resolution and quality, and he had a few crashes which we think may have been due to lack of graphics driver support. But this will undoubtedly be tackled before the full release.

Still, I have a nasty feeling I may want to seek some kind of hardware upgrade within the next four to six months.

Game format is what you expect from a Battlefield game, as were the game modes, classes and weapons. No surprises. But I haven't yet witnessed the much vaunted Commander's mode yet - this may happen when my other BIG team mate joins the band wagon as he - BIG Paddy - was our specialist commander player in BF2. (I will report on his views when he joins us online.)

As I say, this is very early days, but even so I did seem to like the flow of the game better than the previous version. I found plenty of opportunity for flanking the enemy, which in turn kept the game very fluid and prevented us from feeling bottlenecked. All in all I would say I really enjoyed my couple of hours on BF4 (with the caveat about my worries concerning graphic

One think we did end up wondering was whether we will again see the return of some of the classic BF2 maps. Will there be a return (return) to Karkand? I was told this may happen with the release of a special maps DLC later.

Initial view: Positive