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The personal site of Jamie Knight, a slightly autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Game Reviews: Forza 5, COD: Advanced Warfare, Monument Valley

I have played more games in the last year or so than in the previous 5. I’m not entirely sure why, but it has had one nice side effect. I have opinions about games again!

Here is a collection of mini reviews covering the games i have played recently which i enjoyed.

Forza 5.

I’ve never really been a Forza person, the last big driving game i completed (well, 89%) was Grand Turismo 2! I like to play them from time to time, but i have not had the time to get deep into them in recent years.

Happily, this has changed a little. In an effort to reduce anxiety, i have started to spend more time at the weekend setting myself gaming tasks. With forza on the side, i figured it would be worth a go.

Overall, i like it. It goes without saying its very pretty, but it’s also lots of fun. I’m working my way through the various leagues, but its also very enjoyable hammering around the Top Gear track in a rented Arial Atom or F1 car.

For me, the balence of enjoyment is to have a more stable car (eg, traction control and ABS on) but faster opponents. I found the full simulation mode just a little too frustrating. Perhaps as i get use to the mechanics of the game i will disable the aids further, but for now i am happy.

If i had one complaint, its the number of unskipable cut scenes. When starting and ending a race, precious time is lost waiting the same damn animations to be run over and over again. This gets boring and annoying. At the end of the race, i want all the scoring out of the way quickly so i can go to the next event.

I would much prefer the game to start loading the next level immediately in the background.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

I tend to play COD games WAAAY after release. I think modern warfare had been out for at least 3 years before i tried it. This was normally because i didnt like the idea of spending £40 on a game so i waited till they could be picked up second hand for £10 or so.

For COD: AW, its a little different. Like Forza, it appeared in my home over the weekend as my partner brought it. However, i have been able to spend a few evenings playing it while he was at work. Score.

I’m enjoying it. I’m about half way through (i think) and its been fun. For AW there are a whole array of new toys and tricks. I don’t have a great twitch response (i always die fast in human multiplayer!) but i do like exploring the toys. My favourite is the threat grenade. When deployed, all the enemies on screen turn red which makes them MUCH easier to see. This has transformed the game for me. From something i would move through slowly, to something far faster paced.

Like all COD games the scenarios and acting is way to farfetched and overblown, but it is what it is. It’s probably my favourite shooter out there.

Monument Valley

Monument valley is a puzzle game on iOS. I have been playing it on the iPad and have found it to be extremely enjoyable. You guide a mute princess around various reality bending 3D puzzles. Its all EXTREMELY pretty and well designed. Even the typography is beautiful.

I really like this game, interacting with the puzzles makes very pretty noises. The tone and feel matched my slighly spaced out surreal mood when i was playing it as well, so that worked out nicely.

It came to my attention as there has been some backlash when they introduced an option to buy the sequel as an in-app purchase. For an extra £1.59 or so I think its a bit of a bargain. I proceeded through the first 5 levels very quickly, so I am going to leave it a short while before I go back to it to get the most out of what is offered.

Final words.

All three games are very enjoyable. Much like the Lego Marvel game (the last game I completed) they have a unique character to them. COD is pretty mindless it its own way, but the addition of interesting toys adds a new dimension. Forza 5 is all about delicate balence and gentle inputs into the controller. Monument Valley…. it just asks you to reconsider what is physically possible! All in a great bunch of games for whiling away the winter evenings.

Published: 15 November 2014 | Categories: Permalink

RIP John, in H1.

John Richard’s was one of the student support folk who lived in room H1 at Richard Huish College. To be honest, I don’t know what the name of his job was. I don’t know all that much about him. But I do know one thing. He changed the lives of thousands of people. He changed my life. Recently he died. This is a post to remember him with.

My interaction with John was a simple one. A few times a week I would visit him and get a meal voucher to the college canteen. For my AS levels and most of my A Levels I was basically homeless, living in a hotel room. Meal vouchers were the insurance. They were my option when I didn’t have anything else. John would always remind me to bring them back if I didn’t use them. We would chat a little. On a couple of occasions college got to much and I use to hide behind the chairs in the corner of H1. John and his colleges kept me safe. Reminded me everything was okay.

John worked at hush for years. Over that time he helped thousands of students. Often the students who had no one else, or who were so close to the line that college was as much where the ate as where they studied.

He was a top man. He is missed. Goodbye John. You champ.

Published: 4 November 2014 Permalink

Apple Event Wishlist (16/10/2014)

A bit last minute (the event starts in 20 mins), but here’s my wishlist for todays Apple event.

iPads

I don’t care about the iPads much. I enjoy my iPad mini (i use it for traveling) but its not a device i am keen to upgrade. It works well.

However, there are few things i would like to see. The main one is better pricing for the higher storage models. I am looking to buy my parents an iPad for Christmas this year. However, even a 32gb iPad is a little small to last the 3-4 years needed. So a drop in pricing would be great.

I would REALLY love for Apple to include mini displayport so i can use the iPad on my cinema display, but that is just wishful thinking.

Retina iMac

I’m not in the market for a Retina iMac but i the retina rollout is an interesting thing. Retina on the desktop is something I would love to try.. If they developed a retina iMac thats cool, if it supports Target Display that would be even better. Perhaps it could be achieved with a pair of Thunderbolt ports, who knows.

Mac Mini

I love the Mac Mini platform, and if they brought something out it would have to consider it. I did just by a Macbook and sell my Mac Mini, but thats more to do with the price of the old Mac Mini than its form or functionality. (£1000 of Mac mini was overkill!)

If Apple brought out something with the same specs as the MacBook Air and an SSD, for less than £350 I would be super tempted. I even wrote an imaginary review for such a beast.

New Apple TV.

An Apple TV update would be nice. I have a Apple TV 2 which does not do 1080p, but the current Apple TV is WAY to long in the tooth to be a worthwhile update. If it worked as a basic games console, that would also rock.

If the Mac Mini above came with an equivalent to Frontrow, then i would be extremely happy.

So thats it, my wish list for this evenings event.

Published: 16 October 2014 | Categories: , Permalink

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