22 May 2008

Moscow: A Travelogue - Day 3

Last - albeit short - entry into the travelogue. Am finally home, and by God I'm tired.

Plane left on time form Moscow, got to Frankfurt with only 20 minutes to get onto the flight to Edinburgh. Thankfully, the transfer only took about 10 minutes, so had loads of time to settle back down to sleep.

Got back to Edinburgh at about 6pm GMT, and crashed at Fee's by about 7.30pm...

And that's that...

21 May 2008

Moscow: A Travelogue - Day 2

So! Big day today!

Started off rather poorly, to be absolutely honest. Woke up at about 8am, realised I didn't actually need to be awake, and then sat in bed wondering why I was awake for about an hour! But! I quickly remedied this by actually getting the fuck up and getting showered. Watched some crazy Russian TV for a bit, then got very bored and had a wander about.

Was particularly amused by the Indy 4 poster. Wonder how they'll react to it when it's actually released!

Anyways! After about two hours, it started raining, and so I more or less jogged back to the flat. Watched some more Russian TV before finally discovering that they had English channels, so watched them!

Then! The time came for us to head towards the stadium. Very exciting stuff - driver picks me up from the entrance to the flat and drives me to where my Dad is. We quickly grab some dinner, then hop into yet another car - which turns up late, much to Dad's chagrin. Then! To University Metro station and onto the famous Moscow metro. Oddly enough, it's just like in Night Watch - no glamorisation, no funky camera stuff going on...that's the Moscow metro up there! Anyways, we head to the station nearest the stadium, then up towards the stadium:

video

Brilliantly, both the Man Utd and Chelsea fans are lagered off their minds - which makes for interesting bits of entertainment along the way.

And then! The stadium appears! It's a gorgeous piece of architecture. I'm no connoisseur, but it was rather jaw dropping.


Once inside, we're treated to an astonishing game of football. It's ridiculously tense - each side doesn't want to lose but then again they have an obligation to the fans to put on a show. So they start poking at each other for a bit. After 26 minutes, Ronaldo pokes home a fantastic goal, but Frank Lampard slams one in just before the interval. And that's how it stays until the end of extra time.


Penalties, and all is not going to plan. Ronaldo misses his, and as John Terry steps up to the spot, my head's in my hands. I can't watch. But suddenly, everyone around me is cheering - that can't be right, can it? John Terry's usually fairly accurate from the spot...but no this time. He claims he slipped - I think he just plain missed, from what I've seen on the video replays - but whatever happened, he puts it high and right. We're still in with a shot!


Giggs steps up to the spot and slots it home - there was a little bit of nail biting that the pressure might get to him, but it doesn't. Then Nicolas Anelka steps up...and Van Der Sar saves! Fucking hell, what an eruption. The crowd goes absolutely mental - I'm talking screaming, hugging every and anyone; it's absolutely superb. We've won the Champion's League!


The victory is sullied somewhat by the fact that the Moscow officials felt it necessary to keep us in the stadium for an hour after the game has finished. But we get to the airport, and then Dad jumps on his plane back to London, leaving me to wait 10 hours for my flight back...

20 May 2008

Moscow: A Travelogue - Day 1

Been at Fee's since about 8pm yesterday, chilling out with her. Plan is to not actually go to bed tonight - seeing as I have to leave here at about 4am, with my flight being at 5.50. Once I get on the plane, I'll sleep for the duration, then get off it again in Frankfurt and sleep in the terminal for a couple of hours. After that, hop on the plane to Moscow, sleep on that too - after getting something to munch on, of course - then crash at wherever me and Dad are staying.

Say goodbye to Fee - I'm not afraid to admit that I've become rather attached to her, so it's quite difficult to leave her behind, regardless of what it's for. Then trot down to the bus stop and pay the driver £5 for the privelage of being able to hop on his bus and go home when I come back. Stuff that in my bag, then sit in boredom as the bus weaves through the streets of Edinburgh in a vain attempt to keep it's 'centre of the city to the airport in 25 minutes' promise.

Check in is packed - mainly with people wearing Man Utd tops, so it's forgiveable - so it takes a little while longer than I thought, but I still end up with 45 minutes to wander around the terminal before finally getting to the gate. Getting on the plane takes a little while - some lady starts a fuss over her baby buggy that is eventually solved by sticking the thing in the hold, but it took it's bloody time. Onto the plane - finally - and away to the skies!

Arrive in Frankfurt at 9.37 local time (that's 8.37 Edinburgh time), 8 minutes earlier than scheduled - not bad, considering the pilot said we had a head wind - and get herded onto a bus that takes us to the terminal proper. Turns out the that the gate for my next flight is literally in the exact spot where the bus dumps us, minus anything useful like somewhere to get something to eat! So the whole lot of us have to sit there until 13.00, either sleeping or just sitting there twiddling our thumbs. I managed to get a bit of shut-eye - not much, considering the child next to me decided to start screaming, and the mother seemed inept at calming her down.

Boarding starts, and getting on the plane is easy this time. More or less get to sleep the moment I sit down, only to be woken by the hideous stewardess - someone clearly didn't know when to say no to the fake tan...the woman was orange! Still, the meal she gave me was passable for airline food - pasta carbonara, and the cheese they gave us for the bread was quite tasty.

Land in Moscow, and now all that's left is to wait for my Dad to arrive from London. Ends up arriving an hour and a half late, despite the fact that the board claims that he should have arrived at any minute of that hour and a half, so was a little bit worried that he'd been held back and cavity searched...or something.

Went to a flat that belong a man my Dad knows - Alf Dsouza, if you can believe such a surreal name. Nice flat, with a nice bed...speaking of which...

That's it! Am knackered, so am going to bed

11 May 2008

Fancy!

Yeah! A video game review! Fancy, huh? Honestly, I think I phoned it in a bit - seems a bit too pacey, methinks - but I might start doing that more often. Next month it should be Age of Conan, seeing as I'm getting my greasy little paws on a copy more or less as soon as it's released!

Am a bit frustrated as of late - won't go into it, because we all know what happens when I go into even vague details about my personal life...don't we Jimmy? But suffice to say that it's timing related, and I'm quite vexed by the whole thing. But it's just one of those things that happens, and I'm just going to deal with it! Not angry at anyone involved - more angry with myself for feeling anger in the first place...a vicious cycle! But there we go!

Been watching Rome as I recently got the second series for my viewing pleasure, so I decided to give the first one a bash through again. Still as good as I remember it - although a few of the earlier episodes seem slightly more over-directed than I remember them being. Still, it's entertaining, and that's what's important, right?

Finally got around to sticking the new theme on...kinda rough around the edges right now - rather literally, in fact, as well as figuratively! Hopefully going to concoct two reviews tomorrow - [rec] (finally) and Iron Man. Got nothing better to do tomorrow (see second paragraph for vague details as to why), so might as well. Then I'm off to the cinema in the evening to see either Speed Racer or Doomsday - although I'm leaning towards the latter! Absolute shit all on at the cinema at the moment - I think distributors are kinda intimidated by Indy IV rolling out into theatres, so they're saving great movies for a few weeks after the be-hatted one cracks his cinematic whip for what might be the last time. Can't wait for that, to be quite honest...the new trailer makes it look even more awesome!

That's about it for now - so I shall bid you good eve!

10 May 2008

Grand Theft Auto 4 Review


GTA IV is a flawed masterpiece. There's oh so much that still wrong - despite massive improvements over previous iterations - that it falls just short of a shining gift from God. Instead what we get is a fantastic game that has quite a bit of quirks that range from the instantly dismissable to the outright frustrating.

Great things about GTA IV include the absolutely incredible graphics that - whilst they don't hold up to intense scrutiny - still look absolutely incredible when you're rocketing through the streets at 100mph, chasing down that last scumbag who thought he could get away! The gameplay is still just as entertaining as ever - with the multiplayer allowing you to share the experience!

The story too is absolutely superb - crafted immaculately with some excellent humour, fantastic set pieces and a whole host of extra content that you don't actually have to do. A stand out moment so far is the inclusion of an incredible bank robbery mission that was torn straight from Heat's chest and placed into a video game. It's cinematic gaming at its finest, and is the crowning jewel of GTA IV.

However, the bad things do rear their ugly heads. The on-foot combat controls - whilst significantly improved - are still incredibly clunky; the inclusion of a 'free-aim' system being the culprit here, as the attempt to combine both a free-aim mechanic with a lock-on one just means that sometimes you're left shooting at thin air when you actually wanted to lock on. The driving controls - however - are still as slick as ever; arcade-y enough for anyone to pick it up, but realistic enough that you can't behave like a complete moron when at the wheel - just a bit of a one...

Another quirk is that you're still forced to hold a freaking button to run, which is highly annoying when trying to manoeuvre through tight spaces. The analogue stick exists for a reason! Tilt it forward a wee bit for walk, fully forward for run, and then the good old fashioned tapping of A/X to sprint!

Finally, the AI is just as dodgy as ever - going into 'shoot Niko and only Niko!' mode, despite the fact that not only did you not start the fight you're in, you're also heavily outnumbered! Needs a bit of work, to say the least.

Still, what's left is still as addictive, violent and fun as ever. Still not quite a masterpiece, but bloody close - a few tweaks here and there in upcoming patches may well sort out some of the more major issues, but to be honest, if a game is still fun despite issues as big as those described, it's obviously doing something right!

Ross' Rating: 91%

5 May 2008

Steel Bloke....

Or, indeed, Iron Man! Just got back from seeing it and...wow! Definitely up there in the echelons of great super-hero movies. Will get around to writing a review of it at some point...but until then...


Iconic, no?