Monthly Archives: November 2010

Monday Night Catchup – Assassin’s Creed Complete

So this was more of a day catchup than a night, but hey 🙂

I have every Monday until Christmas booked off work due to having several more holidays free this year than Linda so I spent this last Monday putting some hours into a few games. I started out on Dance Central, grappling to the top of a couple of the leaderboards amongst my friends followed by some career progression in Forza 3 once my legs gave out, which let’s face it, wasn’t long.

However come the afternoon and I decided to return Assassin’s Creed to the disc drive and to push through the story, using the bare minimum of missions to get to each assignment. I must have had a good four or so of the achievements at the tipping point as they all popped for me during my standard play, things like killing so many with throwing knives, and so on which was a nice bonus.

One of the most fascinating things for my upon completion was reading through all of the emails on the laptops in the lab.Iin particular, and I don’t think this is really spoiling anything about the game, there were a couple of entries that got me thinking. One was that Africa seems to have become a wasteland, with only a few thousand of inhabitants left, though it was somewhat unclear why this was so. The second was that the US was clearly a third world power in this universe, with ‘American refugees risking crossing the strict border controls to escape in to Mexico’ Now maybe that was just a fun thing to say to mix it up, but what wasn’t too clear, perhaps deliberately, was whether that was the setting for the game or if my actions in the past had made the world that way. It was also at odds with another mail which talked about ‘Friends in DC’ which one would assume was Washington, however if the US is in such a state I was unsure what power people there would have. Perhaps it indicated another ‘DC’ that will be revealed in a future game?

There are still several achievements I would still like to pick up in the game, excluding the flag hunts which I have already ruled out. I’ve added them all to my ToDo list on True Achievements however like those in Red Dead and Fable II both of which I have completed in recent months I’ll pick them up when I’m in the mood. Or more likely on a points push. Which means I need a new game for my Monday Night Catchup as I’m considering Assassin’s Creed 2 to still be a current game so not yet part of my pile of shame and therefore ineligible for a catchup target.

The short list I have in my head is: Overlord; Batman AA; Dragon Age;

I’m currently favouring Batman as that really grabbed me at the time, but events transpired to pull me away from it having only just begun.

Play Outside

Unusual Activity

Now most of the time we conform to the stereotypical gamer persona of staying indoors, lounging around on the sofa and playing games, watching TV and films all the time. And we don’t have a real problem with that, it’s what we enjoying doing and we get to share all that time together. However with that comes a general level of unfitness and so from time to time we find ourselves needing to do something slightly more energetic, and no I’m not talking about popping in a Wii/Move/Kinect game!

We do also enjoy a good walk out in the country. It’s something I always did with my family whilst growing up, and for Linda who spent her teenage years in Norway, anything with a gradient of less than 45 degrees is ‘just a stroll’

Boots of +5 Walking

To this end, and knowing that we do enjoy a good walk, we had invested earlier in the year in some Solomon walking boots. We’d seen some reviewed on The Gadget Show by Brian Blessed a while back, and although our local stockists in Liverpool (somewhere on Bold Street, I forget the store name) didn’t have the exact model recommended we figured they must make good boots in general and so opted for the best they had in stock that fitted out budget. Those being the Solomon Exit Peak Mid GTX which we found to be very comfortable to wear, in our in shop trial at least, and also remarkably lightweight, both of us not having bought walking boots in about a decade we still recalled the immensely heavy walking boots of old. We did then spectacularly fail to actually take them for a good walk, though plans where made for various forays into Northern Wales just after the purchase. We are really quite well catered for from our home base of Liverpool, having the aforementioned North Wales and also the Lakes, Lancashire and West Yorkshire all within reasonable driving distance.

Location Selection

So with equipment all in place it came down to where to travel out to for our first proper walk in a number of years, having only participated in some post meal wanders whilst on holiday in Denmark and Norway in recent memory. Linda had heard a few people mention Ingleton Falls in work and how pretty a walk it was. I recalled the name from my dim and distant childhood and it seemed to bring back some favourable memories of having walked it once before, and so we quickly focused in and reviewed the website. Just over an hours drive; 8+ kilometres of trail; parking; eateries.. it all sounded like a good a place as any to rekindle our walking habits. It had also been quite a long time since we had gone out and taken some none candid photos having only really made use of our phone based cameras and the compact Casio in all of 2010, so we saw a chance to dust off the now quite long in the tooth Canon EOS300D, the original Rebel that started the DSLR craze back in about 2004.

The Walk

As it turned out the walk was really quite excellent. There was an entrance fee which seemed a little odd at first, but after we had seen the great condition in which the trail was maintained it seemed wholly justified with guard rails over some of the more precarious points and solid pathways. Perhaps this was a little over commercial for many, but for us on our return to walking it was a real boon. As you can see from some of the photographs which should be flipping away above there are some really beautiful spots along the route, and almost every time we turned around we saw another chance to try out a new shot. If I may break away into some camera talk for a moment, the lighting proved to be quite tricky on the day. With most of the trees still heavy with foliage, albeit of orange and gold in places, quite a lot of the shots where coming out dark when I used speeds short enough for hand held work. I did up the ISO for a few of them, however here I think the age of the 300D played against us and I had to trash most of them in the edit as the colour noise was unacceptable. Seems I will have to stick to ISO 400 and below with the Canon from now on, and then hope to lighten more in post production in Photoshop. I took them all in RAW format to allow as much manipulation as possible as usual thankfully, so I was able to rescue some that were borderline on the quality. Thankfully we had remembered to pack the ever handy Gorillapod so I was able to use that in a few places, making good use of the safety railings, to allow a much longer exposure and get a lot more light into the lens. I even had a go at the classic waterfall time delay shot, and it came out rather well for a first ever attempt I think.

The was a nice little cafe about two thirds of the way around the walk, in the direction we chose to take at least, which provided a timely stopping point. Some home made flapjacks and a couple of more commercially produced smoothies set us up for the final third, which proved to be a little less scenic with parts being back on roads, though we did pass an unmarked ruin of some kind which I have still to look up what it actually was.

The 8.8km passed quicker than we expected and we returned to the car just as the light was starting to fall away. We felt surprisingly unsore and actually quite energised by the walk, a great reminder of why getting out into the country is such good fun.

Next Time

Where we will venture too next is not yet known, and with the weather rapidly turning to winter in the UK this year, it’s possible we will wait until the new year to venture out again. If anyone has any suggestions for locations we’d love to hear them, just send an email using the contact form on the site.