Looking back at 2010

Big Ben

So folks, it’s that time of the year again. That time where I look back on a year gone by and… no lets not kid around here – 2010 was about as muted and silent as it could possibly be to tell the truth.

After my Encephalitis scare in 2009, I returned to work in March a slightly different person, more arrogant and fiery tempered than I previously was – a side effect that is commonly observed from those who have suffered from it. I had to take things easy at work and I think my peers realised that, much to my annoyance at first. Work itself was rather challenging throughout the year though.

The biggest upset arrived with our new Government’s Security Defence review. Given that Sonobuoys are just one of our mainstream products we develop, the cancellation of the MRA4 Nimrod and Harrier jump jets were a huge blow to us and to the RAF. For us it meant an entire department being shutdown as the sonobuoy that was manufactured there was mainly deployed by Nimrod aircraft in the first place. I was upset as I had done a lot of work in 2008 on that very product. For the UK in general, it had lost one of the most iconic military aircraft it has ever had – the Harrier. I grew up playing with Airfix models of that stunning piece of engineering and I will miss it a lot. Edit: Final Harrier Photos at www.fast-air.co.uk.

2011 looks to be the most challenging year yet for yours truly and my company. After much thinking and head-banging over this festive period I am not really sure if I want to be a part of it anymore.

2010 Gaming

Assassins Creed Series – I finally got around to playing Assassins Creed 2 and what a title this turned out to be. I loved the first AC but the sequel just pulled out all the stops and for an 8GB title it had a great deal of gameplay, that is if you did everything of course. It’s follow up – Assassins Creed: Brotherhood came out just weeks after I had finished AC2 and this was almost as impressive – essentially this was almost the same game, albeit set in Rome with improved combat and the ability to recruit fellow assassin’s who were rarely used on the whole. These two titles were easily the best gaming experiences I had in 2010 by far.

Mass Effect II – The huge storyline of Mass Effect continues, sadly without the same strengths. You once again recruit new squad mates, none of which are particularly interesting and then trot around the galaxy trying to work out who these walking bumblebee winged aliens are and why they are kidnapping us hoomans. The gameplay remains rather strong, however the weapons/armour selection had been toned down hugely. I also just couldn’t bring myself to care for any of my team towards the end of the game, whereas in the first game almost every character was treasured. The third and final Mass Effect will be without a doubt one of the largest selling titles of 2011.

Mafia II – This was probably the largest ‘balls-up’ I have seen since Daikatana. Mafia 1 still holds the title as the best PC game I have ever played, with its deep storyline, and superb characters. It borrowed elements from every mafia film around at the time – namely Godfather and Goodfellas. Mafia II was strictly the opposite in every area. A very poor un-engaging plot from the start, boring missions, and a game world, which despite being large was just stale and empty with very little to do. What really hurt the game was that it was very short, and within days of its release 2K Games announced all ‘new’ downloadable content for a hefty price….’new’? Pull the other one. Almost the worst title of the year for me.

Fallout: New Vegas – Its predecessor Fallout 3 was an incredible title. So much so that I even wrote short stories of my adventures from my first day when I ventured out into the wastelands of an atomic fallout. The length of the stories however got out of hand so I never released them onto this blog. I wish I could state the same for this game. New Vegas was one of the areas, which wasn’t hit by the bombs so it was well preserved. Sadly so was the use of the Fallout 3 engine, which is looking incredibly dated in this day and age.

Every building, every room interior all looked like a Fallout 3 interior and I found one particular room to be an exact cut & paste slop job ripped out of Fallout 3. What really killed the game was that it was incredibly buggy on release and every review also stated the same thing. Random crashes meant that it was very hard to get into the game let alone venture anywhere, and boring quests and hardly anything new meant that this was merely an overpriced expansion pack instead of a new game it was marketed as. Worst title of 2010 for me.

Red Dead Redemption – Western themed sandbox game from the masters of the genre – Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto series). This title managed to grab of a huge number of awards all over the place this year. Quite how this was achieved I haven’t a clue because beyond the very good storyline, there is little else to do much alike Mafia II for the most part. It has yet another lovely world to venture around in and yet nothing compels you to actually do just that. Call of Juarez 1 was far better.

Supreme Commander 2 – (Sorry about this…) For the love of all that is bloody holy, what the fuck went wrong here Chris Taylor? You went from the most brilliant RTS known to mankind into a shitstink of a game, with utterly shite unit models with no detail whatsoever. The battlefield zoomed out even partially makes units look like un-identifiable blobs of fucking vegetables. You made Experimental units completely useless and you created a completely different game. Yet you hired one of the most talented AI developers to produce AI for the game but where is it? I see none of the AI traits that I saw in Forged Alliance. If I wasn’t so hyped for Mafia II in 2010, this would be the worst title for me.

An Apple A Day…

Bought an iPhone 4 in mid-2010 to replace my ancient iPhone 3G. The new model is a gorgeous work of art, and its operating system continues to be the one OS that all the others are judged against. 2011 will be a tough year for Apple, but Google’s Android with its fragmented arse-end should hopefully get itself sorted at some point. I’ve always kept a close eye on Android but even right now it just isn’t enough. HTC phones may have the better hardware in places but at the end of the day, it’s the user experience governed by the OS that matters and iOS is getting stronger with each release much to my surprise. That’s not to say work is still needed (Lockscreen Apple fs). It’ll be interesting to see how well Windows Mobile 7 matures this year as I find that more promising in the long run than Android.

I had long resisted the urge to purchase an iPad, deciding to wait for the second revision due in April 2011 instead. That urge crumbled in August/September when I purchased a 32GB 3G/Wifi model. I had good reasons to buy one though – my parents, who are technophobes love my iPhone 3/4. It is the first device that they feel confident using as I have mentioned many times. This is a common trend too as even young children pick up the simple skills to use the devices with startling ease so it is a great learning tool.

My parents can browse the web with Safari, use multi-touch gestures to bring up a huge collection of photos and they can use the TVGuide app to instantly see what is on the box, instead of having to use the newspaper with its small print. Best of all, it isn’t a bulky, unreliable beast like your average Windows based laptop with its poor battery life. They can’t break anything on the iPad due to its simplicity, and yet I can move them onto more advanced apps as their knowledge grows. They are slowly moving into the digital world. Must get them to dump the VHS recorder in 2011…

Another good use is for business trips, as its large 10″ screen and huge battery life means that my colleagues and I can use SatNav without getting lost in Gloucestershire, being chased by farmer Joe on his tractor followed by his herd of sheep. In addition being stuck on the bus as frequently as I am means I can just pull the device out and freely browse the web. If anyone looks like they’re about to grab it – the hard aluminium back makes a nice hooman bashing tool.

Twitter and Blog Stuffs

Twitter continues to be my driving force for getting through a working day. I know some amazing people on the network and continue to meet strange and amazing folk all the time. I have to say that without the existence of Twitter I’d have really struggled through 2010 as I wouldn’t have anyone to keep my brain alive after a long days work.

Aside from keeping up to date with friends, there is no better tool in obtaining realtime information on current events happening in our world today. On the negative side of things Twitter is to blame for the lack of updates on this blog!

Have a good 2011 peeps!

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