Game On

Socom II

Since TimeSplitters 2 was getting a little long in the tooth, I was eager to find myself another PS2 based first person shooter to get my teeth into. And, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve solely been playing Socom II due to its immersive single player mode and addictive online play.

I assumed the headset control was going to be gimicky at first, but in single player mode it really does draw you into the game. A whispered warning through the earphone from your team mates as an enemy passes close by can have you holding your breath and freezing to the spot in a way that just wouldn’t carry the same weight through the main tv speakers. Additionally, the chat that goes on during online play can be both helpful and amusing, although you do get the occasional assclowns on there, who can thankfully be muted if they prove to be consistantly annoying.

An example of a comedy conversation from an online session early on a Saturday morning:
Player 1:*I think I can see some movement over by the gate*
Player 2 : Cool. Why are you whispering, by the way? They cant hear you.
Player 1 : *Because my mum is asleep!*
Player 2 : Not wishing to pry, but why are you playing Socom in your mum’s bedroom?
Player 3 : ..yeah – don’t tell us you sleep together!
Player 1 : NO! No! It’s just that the walls are very thin!

The voicecomm’s really does help you get to know the personalities of the people you’re playing with, and is essential for organising the tactical side of things during the game. I’ve had terse warnings hissed from a team mate who can see I’m about to step on a pressure mine, for instance, while feedback about enemy locations has helped secure a win against a team with a three man advantage in what looked like a lost battle. A team who talks together wins together in Socom II, while a team of freelancers who don’t communicate can be embarrassingly dismantled by even an average team on the opposiotion, so long as they help each other out.

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Through the grapevine

Last weekend we went on a trip into the countryside to visit Wroxeter Roman Vineyard – a treat that Fliss had bought me for valentines day last year, but we hadn’t managed to organise a date to go on until recently.

We stayed in the small village of Brosley, just east of Shrewsbury, in a hotel/inn which can only be described as… unusual. The rooms had just been refurbished, in fact – the whole place was being refurbished, except for the rustic looking dining area inside the front door. Our room was nicely themed with roman looking items, a nod to the ancient heritage of the place, and the bed was large and comfortable. But, from the large cat who appeared to be the only one in charge when we arrived, to the 1981 published book on Nude and Glamour Photography which sat on the bookshelf in our room, the place was just plain weird!

Brosley itself was a bit of a one horse town, but did sport Indian, Thai, and Chineese restraunts and several pubs on the high street. We managed to do a lap of the central village area in about a 20 minute walk on Saturday evening, before calling it quits and returning to the hotel with a stash of junk food to see us through the evening.

On the Sunday morning we had some hours to kill before the wine tasting, so we decided to drive into Birmingham for a bit of a shopping expedition. With a some help from Kieran via sms we managed to find the dilapidated shopping centre which housed an American Sports store I wanted to have a look in. I’d seen a feature on the store on TV a couple of years ago, but unfortunately the shop and the building looked to have been closed on a permanant basis since then. With nothing much else to do in that area we were beginning to give up hope that there was a decent shopping centre in Birmingham, however a short drive further into the centre of the city revealed The Bull Ring.

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