Leave is for Gaming

If you’re looking for “Big stuff coming in 2018!” this is not where you’ll any of that. Hell the way the weather is going right now I’d not be surprised if it snows a shit ton the day I’m meant to fly to Vegas and my whole carefully planned SHOT trip is royally buggered.

If you follow me on IG in order to see the ‘stories’ you’ll see I’ve spent genuinely the entirety of 2 days before today building Ikea flat packs (which I now despise with a passion) just so I can have more room to store kit. About as far from glamorous as it gets. But necessary if I want to carry on building the collection. Spent all this afternoon laying out the next mail call post picture; got bloody lucky as just as I brought the camera inside (after all the kit) it hammered down hail as I stepped through the door

Minor break from the gear to discuss what I’m playing at the moment – I am only on PC but then these days the majority of titles get released out on most or all platforms.

Recently finished a campaign in Medieval 2 Totalwar which I’d had going on and off for maybe a year at a guess. For those unfamiliar, TW is like Risk/Civilisation, but when the pieces meet on the board you zoom in to a real time battle with access to just the units in that army. Medieval 2 was the 4th entry in the series, the first 3 using a really old school graphics engine with a lot of 2D (yep) troops in the tactical battles. In Med 2 you’ve got all of Europe, most of Russia, North Africa and modern day Syria plus parts of Iraq and a few other countries in that region to primarily fight over. An awful lot like both World Wars in many ways, even the nations involved are essentially the same ones with a lot of clashes through France. It’s also heavily based on Religion and the crusades on a strategic level, with Catholic Europe squaring off against Orthodox Russia and the Islamic middle east, as if there weren’t enough modern parallels already. Funnily enough I played Empire TW about 8 years ago and that starts off right where Med 2 finishes, with every nation fielding rudimentary firearms while melee warfare and bows fade away.

The screen cap is my faction leader (King of England) with his army of shinily armoured’ knights and their polished helmets swatting down the final bastion of rebel hold out that was left over after I finally had beaten the Mongol hordes.

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In between gradually conquering the world map in TW, I’ve been dipping in to Battlefield 1, primarily when a new DLC comes out of course. It’s the most mainstream series I play these days, but I started my time in BF by pre-ordering the 2 CD-ROM box of 1942 in a GAME store. Missed Vietnam, played BF2 massively, quite a lot of BF3 and BC2, bought the fancy edition of BF4 with the season pass and blimey was I disappointed. Nothing but pink tanks rolling around everywhere with marijuana leaves on the sides to cater to shit bag kids who scream at their weak willed parents until said parents cave and buy them the collector’s edition of this year’s CoD. I know the WW1 setting is somewhat divisive, but as someone who finds a lot of modern weapon really boring at this point (they’re just too easy to use and efficient), playing this Battlefield during the centenary of the war and learning about a lot of the guns in Forgotten Weapons videos as I go – very enjoyable indeed.

Right now I’m hugely surprised by how hooked I am on Child of Light. It’s one of those games Ubisoft does so, so much better than the turd Assassin’s Creed has become. The trailers for it make it seem like some sort of relaxation software, or a game only aimed at young girls. Reality is it’s more like a moving piece of art with truly amazing music, great painted-style visuals and all the dialog is written poetry; good poetry too. There’s Rayman-light type movement around the world with Final Fantasy/Stick of Truth RPG combat all reliant on timing and it is far harder to get right than you’d think based on the aesthetics of the game. In a similar vein and also looping back to WW1, be sure to check out Valiant Hearts: The Great War which is another Ubisoft 2D platfomer with lots of puzzles, no actual combat per se, just a truly amazing story of some real heroes who went through literal hell between 1914 and 18. It may be presented in a fashion that can look like Wacky Races-inspired childish cartoons, but the stories going on with the characters are incredibly deep and involving and draw you in like nothing else. I choked right up at the end of it and if you play it you’ll see why, superb tellings of heart wrenching tales of horrors 99% can’t even imagine.

Last recommendation based on a recent play through is Transistor, which is another RPG though isometic this time, with somewhat timing/turn based combat. It drops you right in at the deep end in to a very unique sci-fi sort of world (which is impressive enough as it is) and you have to learn what the hell’s going on as you play. No handy intro cinematic, the veils are slowly lifted as you progress. Tragic ending of course, as with a large proportion of the best games. However yet again great characters, as is they key to giving a damn about the story in any game, film, book or TV show.

Shagohod

Been having a bit of a clear out of the gear cupboards over the weekend, moving some other junk that isn’t tacticool to other places, giving some really old bits and pieces of kit to the salvation army, good clean out of the tool box etc.

A lot of the bulk said ‘stuff’ consists of the folders where I’ve transferred all my PC games from the era before Steam (and Origin and GOG etc) in to a more compact sort of format. I’ve chucked the plastic DVD boxes/CD-ROM cases and just kept the cover insert, disc/s and manuals. All sorts of old gems in there and a couple of PS2 games, but I did not have the time to photograph everything sadly. One thing I decided to let go to the recycling bin was my well-read guide book to MGS3, but I had to have a flick through, read a few bits and take a couple of pictures before it went. Being from the era when online connections for consoles were only just coming in and required the purchase of extra hardware; game patches weren’t a thing so a print book like this was more than viable. Plus of course you didn’t have to go over to your desktop, hope to find a guide online, read the bit you needed then go back over to the console – rinse and repeat.

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I ended up going through this title at least 7 times I’d say trying to get every single item possible. Not sure I quite got every item or found every single secret, but certainly came extremely close and managed to play through most possible permutations. As it turned out this guide did contain absolutely everything that there was to find, as far as I know.

Now, I’ve not played either Metal Gear, I started portable ops but didn’t get along with it so never purchased any of the other PSP entries. I remember being very satisfied to find a PC copy of Metal Gear Solid long after they’d stopped making it, sat in a dusty cardboard box on a shelf in a Virgin Megastore that hasn’t existed for maaaany years now. That was the version that came with all the VR missions and I did the same when it came to buying MGS2, although DVDs were finally a common thing by then. Numbers 3 and 4 never released on PC that I know of and I bought a PS3 just to play MGS4 for the most part. 5 was good on PC, but clearly cut well short of what it was meant to be. With 4 being more cutscene than game and MGS2 having some definite issues, I feel it’s a competition between 1 and 3 for the top spot. Very close call, but the cold war plot of 3, the incredibly rich characters and some really wrenching segments combined with the hunting and survival elements just clinch it for me.

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Until Next Time

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Finally reached the point of being about as close to 100% in The Witcher 3 as I’ll ever get. All main quest lines finished of course, every notice board mission, every random encounter I can find online and every question mark visited, as well as a lot of other wondering about.

I don’t know how other people feel about this style of huge open game with such a long play time, but I do get pretty attached to them after playing for such long periods of time. I did a similar thing with this title as I did with Skyrim – played it for a long time, moved to something else, came back, repeated that cycle a couple of times over the period of about 18+ months until eventually everything is done.

Given you can now pick up the GOTY edition with all of the DLC for a fiver or less if you look around (platform dependant), this probably represents the best value for money in a game there is right now taking in to account cost vs game time/quantity and quality as well.

If I were to review this game personally, I’d honestly give it a 98% score. As my steam account attests (and that just covers the last 11 years or so) I’ve played a few games in my time and this is easily one of the very best. The books help a lot of course in character development and plot, but in my opinion CD PROJEKT RED smashed it out of the park in every department that counts. The sheer amount of detail spread through the whole game world beats even Skyrim. Amazing music, solid and sensibly challenging gameplay, huge amounts of quests and a massive variety of monsters to fight and kill. I could go on for ages on different aspects but, as shallow as it is, the graphical aspect of the game really shines out for me any time I play it. Once I’d done all the quests and was left with just ? points to examine, I stopped using fast travel and Roach and simply jogged around the place. The beauty of the natural environment that has been crafted quite genuinely astounds me, I can run from one corner of the map to another and not once feel like I’m seeing repeats of the same landscape, vegetation or structures; not something I’ve ever been able to say about any other game. The weather effects, lighting, noises of the wildlife, everything just combines perfectly. I’m planning on doing a bit of reading in to what sort of procedural generation was used (or not used) to create each plant and tree and how the whole environment was modelled.

I took this screencap just before heading to finish up the very last couple of question marks. In the northern area of the DLC zone Toussaint I stopped by a river to read some of the Bestiary as the sun was setting, the combination of that with the mountain and statue in the background seemed a solid opportunity to capture the quality of the graphics. Problem is of course you can’t appreciate it in a still cap. Usually developers use all sorts of trickery to make every game screenshot look far better than the game when running, but Witcher 3 actually works the other way around.

Keyboard + Mouse

All well and good having a decent PC, but if the other stuff is really cheap, worn out or unsuitable you just don’t enjoy it nearly as much.

Went through a certain company to do a tax reclaim type deal recently, decided that with the amount of time I spend sat here at the REMF Tac command + control management station I needed to make some changes.

Gone from some horrible £50 Argos chair that I’d spent most nights the past 8+ years sat in to a nice Nitro Concepts ‘Pure’ with thick new padding that’s not so worn down that my arse imprint is touching the plastic base and hurting the bottom of my spind. Also has lumbar support that my previous one didn’t, which my old-man back is finding so comfortable it can’t even handle it yet.

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The previous Razer control accessories were, I have to say, a let down. Partly due to me not doing enough research, partly in build quality. The keyboard had clicky switches with a heavy press weight that was HORRIBLE for tapping out long reviews and blog posts; and while that’s my own fault for not educating myself more on switch types before buying, the fact keys would often get stuck on like thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis, was very much a manufacturing defect. I’ve gone over to the ROCCAT Isku+ Force FX, which is actually a membrane board so some of you out there will be going madat me right now, but my board before the Razer was something like a £15 Cherry brand super basic thing that was more akin to a laptop keyboard with very slim keys and I’m a big fan of that style frankly. Also this Roccat has something I’ve longed for my entire gaming life and it’s the only board to have it – analogue keys (progressive input like a console controller button). I don’t play many racing games but I like to wander from FPS/RTS occasionally and I have played a lot of console conversions in my life that are designed for the player to use analogue input. After playing many, many iterations of Metal Gear Solid on PC I’m pretty stoked about this feature. It’s a comparatively low price board but typing this right now is just so much quicker and easier than on the old clicky switches.

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The Razer mouse always worked fine, but it was ambi shaped which I’ve never really like and lacked on-the-fly DPI (sensitivity) change, which was again a stupid mistake on my part after going from my previous Logitech G9 which had that functionality. As a heavy Battlefield player since the series began (I pre-ordered a physical copy of 1942 in GAME) being able to maximise sensitivity for tight turns in aircraft then eventually die and dial it down for precision rifle shots at long ranges when back on the ground has proven crucial time and again. I’ve had occasions back in the day when resolutions were lower that I was taking shots at such distances I couldn’t physically get the front iron sight blade on to the target as it skipped over the right pixel placement (G36C unlock in BF2 for those who remember) and you need low sensitivity to remedy that sort of thing. I’ve plumped for the Roccat Kone EMP now and again it’s one of lower-middle offerings from the brand but I really never use weight adjustment and I’m not nearly good enough for having 25 buttons on a mouse or 25k DPI sensors underneath. This gives me quite literally everything I want at a good price and build quality.

Masterpiece

So, at my previous posting we had a job that would come up now and again where someone would take a turn for a week just manning the entry point to the explosive storage area. You were in a nice building for the most part with a TV and a DVD player, so pretty easy job. But sitting there all day for a week I got through a lot of films, got to that point some of you may have also experienced at different times in your life where you end up watching literally just anything you can get hold of.

The film I saw during such a stint that I enjoyed the most was Tropic Thunder. But the film that just totally blew my mind was a little gem calledOzombie. Rather than trying to explain it, I’ve uploaded the trailer below. I cannot encourage you all enough to watch the full thing.

Ozombie

So, at my previous posting we had a job that would come up now and again where someone would take a turn for a week just manning the entry point to the explosive storage area. You were in a nice building for the most part with a TV and a DVD player, so pretty easy job. But sitting there all day for a week I got through a lot of films, got to that point some of you may have also experienced at different times in your life where you end up watching literally just anything you can get hold of.The film I saw during such a stint that I enjoyed the most was Tropic Thunder. But the film that just totally blew my mind was a little gem called Ozombie. Rather than trying to explain it, I've uploaded the trailer below. I cannot encourage you all enough to watch the full thing.

Posted by REMF Tacticool on Sunday, June 4, 2017

Guns On The Big Screen

Alien Covenant. The reviews are kinda average but I really liked it overall, felt like a real quality piece. However this isn’t a review page for cool films that tacticool guys will enjoy.

It would be interesting to know what their prop department were going for with the weaponry selection. Covenant is set a fair while before Alien/s but would they be using 556 rifles in 90+ years? Rather doubtful. Either way, we see a lot of ARs (maybe 416s), Steyr AUGs (Thales F90s if you want to get technical) and funnily enough, Kel Tec KSGs. The KSG is kind of funny to me in that the reviews are generally bad, much like many Kel Tec guns, but because of the way it looks it ends up in loads of films. I’d say the UTAS-12 makes 10x more sense for a sci-fi shotgun when you need something that can actually fire blank rounds; alternatively the Fostech Origin-12, the Six12, DP-12, AA12. Hell if you could get one the Jackhammer would be awesome as an on-screen shotgun.

That aside, the thing I find even more sort of amusing is how the general perception of ‘futuristic’ firearms hasn’t changed in decades, if anything we seem to be going backwards.

In Starship Troopers they dressed up Mini-14s, in Aliens it was dressed up Thompsons, that Tom Cruise sci-fi movie was a really obvious ACR/Masada in a body kit (and a Magpul sling to match). In this film it’s literally just ARs and AUGs with 1913 rails, some M-LOK *looking* rails, green laser/light attachments on both side rail positions, as well as normal, unmodified ACOGs. There were a few pistols that seemed literally like bog standard modern fare, nice modern fare, but not 2104 tech.

Watching a Tested video with Adam Savage talking to the film’s Armourer; seems extremely knowledgeable in general and especially so about history… not who I’d have hired for a film set way in the future. The guns used aren’t even up to the minute in 2017 let alone the year when the events are meant to take place. He wanted to go back a step technology wise from the Pulse Rifles which makes sense and would be tricky since the pulse is actually a pre-WW2 SMG, but he went way too far back really.

The problem persists of course, if you’re a ‘gun person’ basically most films will be spoilt for you your entire life and this is the burden we bear. I still really enjoyed the latest Alien overall though.

Silencers in Games

Don’t know about the rest of you but this is a perfect intersection of my interests. SilencerCo also needs to give their editing guy a pay rise.

The ironic thing is silencers in games have generally decreased damage, velocity or accuracy as a way to provide balance because you can’t really account for the added length or the quicker rate of accumulation of carbon. What they perhaps should actually do is make aiming down sight a tad slower to represent the weight/balance change and, more importantly, increase recoil (especially in FA) which would actually be realistic in most cases. In self-loading firearms, most silencers cause more gas to cycle back in to the system and hence cause the bolt carrier to slam backwards faster and harder on every shot.

I don’t think emulating the effect of hot, noxious gasses being blasted in to the firer’s face would be a good idea in games because it would just annoy players and increasing rate of fire would often be more of an advantage, but possibly just making some guns unable to accept sound suppressors (as is generally realistic) would make sense. Many common military self-loading weapons that are depicted in games simply aren’t built in such a way that they’ll still cycle rounds reliably when massively over-gassed. Not in their issued configurations anyway, you’re often talking armourer level work to change gas parts in some way to allow reliable silencer use.

NB – If ‘Silencer’ triggers you because you believe you’re a god of firearms knowledge and you’re sure you just read something wrong on the internet, please do more research on the origins of devices that muffle the report of firearms.

I’m a Wanderer

Think I started my game of Fallout 4 roughly a year ago now, spent all my down time in Afghan building this huge glass and concrete mansion thing out on Spectacle Island, filled it with pretty much every type of power armour possible. Started working on the DLCs before completing the main quest, then BF1 came out which took my attention for a long while, but after a few days completing Nuka-World today I’ve finally destroyed the institute. Pretty sure I’ve checked every location on the map and done nearly every quest there is going, so I’ve hung up my X-01, my Gauss Rifle and my Quad Barreled rocket launcher, currently sat on the 4th floor balcony at Lvl100 enjoying a cool can of emergency ration water.

Also decided to break open my copy of American Sniper this evening since I’m staying on camp for the weekend and I had a lot of time to kill. I won’t get in to real detail on my thoughts, because as many things as there were that stuck out in the combat sections that were maybe not *exactly* realistic, I’d say the story being told and the issues highlighted are what matters most.

Jungle Fever

This is a pretty long reach, but if anyone has a good meory of the AK-101 used in game by the MEC faction in Battlefield 2 back in the day, you may just recall the funky taped mags and throw-spin-catch reload animation that happened every other time you reloaded those guns.

Now people don’t ‘jungle mag’ any more because it just makes way more sense to use a proper mag clamp or even tape the mags in the same orientation with some sort of spacer material inbetween, but quirky stuff like this does amuse me I must admit.

Being such an old and outmoded practice I figured I’d try it on a super modern gun like the Team ASG replica of the Česká zbrojovka a.s. (CZ) Firearms Scorption Evo3 A1 9mm.

Definitely a bad idea in the real world where going prone would be hard and you’d probably end up with dirt getting in the inverted mag, yet apparently it was done a lot in Vietnam by US conventional and special forces using the 20 round magazines that were commonly available at the time for their AR-15 rifles and carbines.

John Wick 2

If anyone’s considering seeing John Wick: Chapter 2 (if you’re here, you must’ve seen the first right??) I’d say it’s a solid follow-up.

You’ve probably all seen the training videos of Keanu ripping it up 3-gun style in practice for the film. You can definitely see that coming through in the final piece. The biggest gun fight is actually conducted with a 9mm pistol/556 AR/12g Semi combo. There’s a standard ‘go to the armoury and hear about how custom all these guns are’ which is.. not terrible, the stuff the guy in the assassin store actually says isn’t total BS. Nice Magpul Industries Corp. and Trijicon, Inc. on the Bravo Company USA AR-15 (full suite of Gunfighter polymer furniture with a KMR rail on the front). The Taran Tactical Innovations G34 and G26 aren’t as fucked up and fugly (trigger alert:) as the average Salient Glock either.

There’s a mag flip reload in there with the AR that would make Dynamic Pie Concepts proud because John flips out a pair of PMAGs coupled together. Some uber bullshit scenes where guys pop silenced pistols off at each other in crowded public places and supposedly nobody notices; also the bro dawg beard-oil no-cardio crew that the main henchwoman employs look fucking stupid in the context. But when almost every pistol kill in the film is a kneecap followed up by a headshot, I can forgive a lot of things.