News

New Years Update

I sat down with myself the other day and decided that one of my few, and ultimately doomed new years resolutions, would be to update this blog at least once a week if not more, and I will do my best to hold to that, as there’s a lot of industry developments as of late, and a long-winded article every couple of weeks just doesn’t really cut it, so here’s to hoping that works out.

To begin with I told myself that MyTwoSenses shouldn’t too be formulaic, as there’s enough cookie-cutter stuff out there already, but I’ve realised that a few weekly sections/articles wouldn’t go amiss, and might be an easier way to convey my drivel to you fine sirs. With that say, starting from today I’m going to a “weekly picks” article, with links to sites and vidoes worth wasting your time on and a little bit of info, whether it be useful game guides, kick-ass headshots or simply stupid viral-y sort of stuff. So…

Weekly Picks 13/01/10

  • First thing to check out, if you don’t already follow it, is Zero Punctuation, and it’s awesome games video reviews done by the hilarious and frankly psychotic Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw
  • Next up is YouTube channel from a gentleman who goes by the name of SeaNanners. This guy posts up video commentary on his games of Call of Duty, as well as giving tips on how to make that special sort of pwnage ensue and additionally does some light-hearted video commentary for a few other games. Comical, useful and generally good clean fun – do it.
  • Another YouTube Channel now, College Humour – Besides a shitload of funny and well produced spoofs and parodies of movies and pop culture (I highly recommend the “I gotta feeling” Parody) they run a gaming series called Bleep Bloop and I found their recent review of Tony Hawk’s Skateboard Controller to be particularly poignant and thought-provoking to me…well not really, but just watch it, you’ll see.
  • And finally something completely un-games related, but awesome nonetheless is Zach Galifianakis’ (star of The Hangover) Between Two Ferns. If you’re partial to a bit of extremely awkward humour, this is definitely your cup of tea and has to be seen to be believed.

And that’s it for this week, lookout for a Games News Update in the next day or two. As always let me know your thoughts about anything on the blog , even hate mail is fun!

January 13th, 2010
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Reviews

Assassin’s Creed 2

Well it’s long overdue that I review a game so I figured I’d get down to it. Anyone who played the original Assassin’s Creed will know the very blatant flaws that Ubisoft presented us with. On one hand you had a stunning game, especially for 2007, that beautifully recreated the holy land of the Middle Ages, along with the irritating beggars and templars; albeit be it slightly condensed, with Damascus being a short country stroll from Acre – but we could forgive that. However, on the other hand, and what many found it hard to forgive, was the hideously repetitive and unoriginal gameplay. It felt as though they’d finished the graphics and gameplay mechanics but got a little bored and fancied a cup of tea and a biscuit instead of wasting anytime on combat or content. Big mistake. Because of this, and because of the hype that had surrounded it, prior to its release, it received a pretty bad wrap from a large percentage of its potential community. However Ubisoft have admirably, taken the feedback.

In ACII you play as Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian, born to a wealthy family in Florence, and yes, you are literally born in the game, gooey fluids and all. From there on the hilarious Italian accents roll forth, but it comes off as charming and a little quirky to anyone who understands it’s a game and not BBC costume drama. Within the first couple of minutes the narrative is already clearly more comprehensive, coherent and interesting than AC1. You start developing connections with your family and actually care for them – even your “Its me, MARIO!” uncle.

This time round our assassin doesnt have inexplicable aversion to water.

This time round our assassin doesn't have an inexplicable aversion to water.

The story this time round is infinitely more engrossing, but builds on the plans that AC1 set out, and while some parts feel a little far-fetched, given the story, it generally works pretty well and many reviewers report that they played the last quarter solely for the narrative, not because of bad gameplay, but rather because of the fantastic story. Along with the painstakingly  recreated historical architecture, the game attempts to throw a few historical personalities in the mix. But it makes no claims that it’s a true representation, and simply entwines them in the story for fun, the most noteworthy being Leonardo Da Vinci who acts your Q-esque gadget man and sidekick, and I personally very much enjoyed the cute and somewhat awkward bromance that occurs between Ezio and the renaissance inventor!

One of the most marked improvements is the variation in gameplay and missions. Each main task has its own unique twist and element in the story, from use of Da Vinci’s (apparently workable) flying machine to a spaghetti western horse and cart chase. There’s even some sections underground that feel very Prince of Persia-ish, but its done in such a way, and only for a short section, that it feels like a little tribute to the earlier free-running platformer games, while adding yet more variety. The length of the story is not overly generous but certainly isn’t cut short like the recent Modern Warfare 2 and there’s plenty of side quests and places to explore for extended gameplay. This blockbuster actually manages to reconcile all its ideas exceedingly well and everything is tied in with the narrative very well, even the random collectibles spread over the cities and countryside which is a welcome improvement on the glowy flags in AC1, whose inexplicable existence in a game so set on being realistic on many levels, irritated me a great deal.

Ubisoft, in their effort to add heaps more content into this sequel, which is of course not a bad thing, instituted Ezio’s villa and town, and have tried to travel down the RPG route, however it hasn’t worked spectacularly, because really, they got tired out and gave up halfway along that route: To do up the villa and town, you must spend money and invest in it; this in turn either raises the villa’s income, or lowers the cost of weapons, armour and medicine in the shops. It doesn’t take a genius to workout that after a while, with no upkeep costs and no threats, that you’ve got the perfect investment – no pyramid scheme here. Except, you end up rolling in money with diddley-squat to spend it on, as the consumables, such as medicine and knives, cost pocket change. Additionally, in this villa of yours, there’s no choice, and no decision, its just invest in everything once you have the money, which you can simply wait for, piling up every 20 minutes in your chest. And thus this feature seems fairly hollow when you look at it. Infact within the game as a whole there’s not much choice at all, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is when there is the pretence. For example, you can customize the colour of your robes, but the choice rangers all the way from grey with mustard spilt on it, to grey with ink spilt on it.

Having said all this, the town, villa and clothing features are all fairly well presented features, and one has to take the attitude that its better they’re there than not, although they don’t reach their full potential. One area where there is a fair amount of choice and personalisation is weaponry; there’s are quite a wide variety of swords and daggers, and you can use certain other weapons by disarming guards. Nabbing a pike, then proceeding to impale your foes and then scraping their limp body off it again, entrails and all, I assure you, is quite delightful.

The game features a number of stunning Italian locations, but not Rome in its entirety, unfortunately.

The game features a number of stunning Italian locations, but not Rome in its entirety, unfortunately.

Mutilations aside, controls can be a little ropey and unforgiving especially with the targeting system, but for a game that tries to accomplish so much, it is understandable. Mirror’s Edge did a far superior job in terms of free running but its still fun to roam the rooftops like a maniac and throw yourself into piles of hay with safety mats hidden underneath. Combat feels fairly similar to the original, just with many more differing ways to humiliatingly slaughter guards, arguably just doing their job – but this time round it feels a lot more fluid. The countryside has been opened up so that all the cities aren’t connected by a convenient series of gorges through the rocks, and should you want to forego the scenic route, there’s a quick travel system that was much needed.

Assassin’s Creed 2 is the perfect example of a sequel that’s improved upon the original according to customer feedback. Every aspect of the original game is in there, except with more variety and fluidity. Not only this, but it also offers up a great story and fascinating historical links and information. Being a great advocate of both interactive story telling and games as art, this certainly ticks many of the boxes, and what’s more arty than the architecture and paintings from the Italian Renaissance? After Modern Warfare 2, this is a must buy – there’s a great deal I’ve missed out on account of spoilers, as this is definitely a game which your going to be and going to want to be surprised at, at every turn, whether it’s the final twist or simply your mother beautifully saying the words “Besides Vaginas!” in that lovely accent.

December 6th, 2009
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Investing means putting your money to work to potentially earn a better return over the longer term than by keeping it in savings or in some other investment. Visit https://www.sofi.com/investing-101-center/ to learn all you need to know about investing!

I would not invest more than 4% of my current net worth into something that has a return that is equal to 5%/year, and I think many people do not do this. But if you think you might be in the market for an investment that might outperform the market over a long period, then investing 4% of your net worth in that investment might be a reasonable investment.

Many investors have trouble with this because they feel that their money has to be put to work for them, but they are not putting it to work for themselves by doing something that earns a higher return than 4%/year. This is why I’m in favor of making sure that the money I earn from an investment is invested in stocks that earn a 5%/year return on average, because then the potential returns from the investments go up over time. To me, an investment that pays me 4%/year is a good investment and an investment that earns a 5%/year return is a great investment.

I’ve had a hard time telling people my actual plan of action to achieve a 5% return. I’ve done plenty of reading and some research, but I don’t have a clear-cut answer. There are a few theories.

Why Is It So Hard To Reach 5% Return On Investments?

Before you take my word for it that this is possible, you need to look at the fact that investing doesn’t always pay off. There is no guarantee of that 5% return, no matter how good you are at the investments or how diligent you are in tracking your progress. There are three main reasons this happens. You make more money in one year than in 10. Investing can be very risky. That’s why you need to be diligent. If you get some money, then lose some it will cost you. Once you reach a certain level, it takes a long time before you get that return. And once you get that money, it’s not yours to give back. Once you get a return, you have to spend it or you’ll have to start all over again. You can’t hold on to it forever. There is no reason to keep the money for as long as possible. You should sell it when you can get enough interest.

I know this is the main reason many people don’t invest. The long term. It takes a lot of time to earn enough to pay the return. If you take the time to accumulate a good amount of money you’ll have plenty of interest. I know this is the reason many people don’t invest. Because they don’t want to spend too much time in making it work. But this is a wrong way. It is dangerous. You can run the risk of losing a lot of money too. There is no good way to make money. It’s not about how much you make.

January 9th, 2005
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