Monday, June 20, 2005

GTA: San Andreas

I had quite a lot of gripes with the original GTA3, to the extent that after a while I got really turned off playing it, many small things getting in the way of having a good time. I tried out Vice City but wasn't at all charmed by it in the same way my brother was. So, I figured that once you've played one GTA game you've played them all and was ready to completely swear it off until I read the review. I was still sceptical, GTA3 had frustrated me immensely, but sharing the economic burden with my brother made it a lot easier. So we got it and the addiction is back.

The game feels like GTA3 and GTA: VC mixed up and polished. Some problems are removed, new ones present, and the same technical issues as I had with the previous two games (though this probably depends a lot on your Xbox, earlier systems like mine are notorious for giving frequent "dirty disc"-errors). The camera feels a lot smoother, and you can now control the camera yourself, panning around as you please, both on foot and in car. The city itself feels enormous, and I still haven't unlocked any of the other areas yet. The missions so far have been quite well thought out and witness of something greater in motion as some discussions give you the choice between negative and positive responses. No big feat in itself, but surround that little detail with a city that feels like more than just cardboard buildings and a little thing like where to go in discussions with NPCs can make a big difference. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, those occasions seem to be pretty rare.

Even though I've played quite a lot already it feels as if I've barely scratched the surface...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bugs in my life part 1: Flies

I thought I'd write a bit about what I do when I'm not doing the things I should be doing (studying, reading, writing etc.), because as much as I'd like it to be untrue, I'm an incurable slacker.

Living as close to nature as I do (out in the woods, practically) and in a quite old house, means that in summertime you're surrounded with small creatures. My most-hunted prey through the years is most definitely the ordinary fly. It was a couple of years ago that I really started going after these little bastards with a vengeance, attacking them as soon as I saw one or heard the familiar buzz. I use quite a crappy fly-swatter, it's an old plastic one that bends quite a bit during the swing. Mostly you'd want to have a stiff "neck" on the swatter (the area between the handle and the impact area/kill zone), as a soft neck when it bends in the swing takes longer time to impact then a hard-necked one. We also have another kind of swatter with integrated handle and neck, consisting of two metal wires that meet in the handle. Pretty good, but I find that the neck can sometimes become bent in the swing due to the inflexibility of the material, and you then have to bend it back yourself to regain some sort of balance (though it still won't be the same since it will often leave small bumps in the metal).

The plastic is a bit too flexible, but I've found that if I swing and draw back at the last second, I can create a sort of whip-like effect, adding a snappier impact. This also gives the advantage of the non-smearing kill, though that can be a bit difficult to pull off: Typically when you smack a fly on the wall straight on, it will be completely flattened and all of its intestines will smear out on the wall, but with the whip-hit, drawing back at the last second, you will only smack the fly and kill it, not plaster it to your wallpaper.

I've seen and tried electrical fly-swatters, but to be honest I haven't fallen for them. They seem more like an elaborate device for torturing bugs you've already caught. Too fragile to get really violent with, so it's not like you can slam a fly sitting on the wall with it, and if you're going to hit something out of the air with one, you'd probably have an equally good chance to get something killed with a regular swatter.