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Archive for December, 2011

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5th day in London

Then it was sadly the last day in London and we had to check out by 11, so we got up kinda early and started packing. Managed to check out just after 11, which all things considered isn’t that bad. Funny to see how you always leave with more stuff than you brought with you, despite me losing my gloves and forgetting to pack some stuff again. We could leave our bags at the reception to pick them up later when we needed to get to the airport, so that was pretty nice.

Feet still hurting, we went to the main shopping street again and decided to check out the HMV as they have a big metal selection, and indeed they do. Ended up buying 4 cd’s and a DVD there. I was tempted to buy much more, but they are rather pricey. Nath also bought another 2 albums, one of which was a christmas metal compilation, which turns out to be pretty neat.

After that we checked to see if perhaps one of the metalbars was open since 1 of them also served as a pub, so we could have lunch there, but it was closed. So we ended up sitting down at a pretty traditional english place where we had some delicious pastries and Nath got a kettle of tea. The food was simply delicious so we took it easy and enjoyed it to the fullest. Approaching the time that we’d have to leave to catch our flight, Nath wanted to visit the bookstore across the street quickly where I ended up buying a book on the Celts and Nath one on Norse Mythology.

Then we finally headed to the hotel to pack up our bags and headed for the airport. Where we were supposed to switch from the metro onto the train that’d take us to the airport’s terminal, there was no rail service there at all. We asked some of the personnel what we could do instead and we had to get to another station from which we could get to the airport.

So we had to take a detour and make another 2 stops to get there. However as we had taken 1 line, one of these lines wasn’t going so we got recommended another reroute which we followed. When we finally got to the 2nd station to catch our train we noticed that it was departing at :22 and :52, guess what time it was? Yeah, :53. So we had to wait another 29 minutes and as such certainly missed our flight. So that sucked, on the plus-side, we had a nice talk with one guy who worked there. He again guessed my accent to be Canadian, which I again found funny.

When we finally got to the airport we booked for the next flight, which would be 12 hours later at 7am. So that then meant paying a lot for a hotel or staying at the airport and try and get some sleep there. We ended up doing the latter, charged up our phones at one of the cafes and sat at the burger king for a while doing some reading. Then we walked around to look for some benches/seating without armrests so Nath could maybe lie down and at least be somewhat comfortable. We managed to find the last one in the far corner of the airport and as such we dumped our bags there and sat down.

Nath ended up lying down with her jacket as a sheet and using my leg as a pillow, pretty much as comfortable as it could get, meanwhile near us there was a girl who was looking very angrily at us which had us laughing quietly. Just the smell/feel of jealousy was very fun. I have to say though that that night took forever as I wasn’t able to sleep at all, I was tired before.. but as I actually wanted to sleep, I was wide awake.

So that next morning I was dead tired as I had been up past 24 hours and we got back to my car and I drove to her home… not the safest, but I had to. We watched the Nightwish End of an Era DVD I had bought and then I decided due to circumstances that I should head home and that turned out to be not entirely safe, but I did make it home with some stops along the way.

That then ended my London trip, which I really enjoyed.

Articles

4th day in London

After a rather long rest we both felt better and decided we’d go to a meeting that Nath wanted to go to and I’d join in to keep her company as well. When we got there it seemed like nobody was there and the building seemed closed as well, so we hung around it for a while to see if people would show up for a while, but they didn’t. So we ended up going to Tower Bridge to fill up time until the next musical.

So we walked over to Tower Bridge and Tower Hill which was pleasant to look at, though I’m not a fan of there being a million and one tourists around. After that we decided to check out the London Dungeon briefly but on the way there, we derped on navigation which led to us wandering around the wrong area for a brief time when we realized that we didn’t have time to even lunch anymore before going to the theatre. So even if we hadn’t derped, we still wouldn’t have had time to actually go in and check it out.

As we got to the Dominion theatre we could go right in, order some drinks and popcorn and sit down for We Will Rock You. If you don’t know, you might’ve guessed it from the title already; yes, it’s the Queen musical. Now I expected it to surely have some queen songs in there and the story would be paper-thin. Turns out there was indeed a lot of queen songs, some of which I didn’t recognize, but there was also a lot of great dialog and likable characters. I found myself laughing quite often or otherwise just smirking at the remark or nudge towards other bands, songs, artists, etc. It truly was well written and the songs themselves did an overall great job too, giving me goosebumps occasionally. The songs just clicked with me and my emotions at that time, as I found myself looking away from the stage and towards Nath. :)

After that show we had planned to go join a jack the ripper tour/walk, when we got at the metro stop we found there were a couple of them and as we were looking a cleaning guy walked up to us to give us advice on which ones were good and worth going to. This then turned into a rather long and funny conversation and we got out of it with a recommendation for a walk and a nearby pub as well. So we went to the pub and ordered there and we were sitting next to the window giving me a nice view of the Tower Bridge, which was nice. The food also was pretty darn good and incredibly cheap, made us wonder why the hell we don’t have pubs over here. Ideal places to sit down and have a drink/meal at.

So then it was time for the Jack the Ripper walk which lasted for just under 2 hours, which was fun and kinda interesting. It was also the moment where it got to be pretty cold and I wanted to wear my Turisas gloves, which Nath has seemingly left at the pub we just ate at. I remember her trying to play it off as a joke, but it came out all sad and apologetic. Yes, I lost my gloves, but hell, they’re only gloves. I forgive ya (should you ever read this). ;)

The only downside of the tour was that my feet were absolutely killing me at this point and I really couldn’t stand still for more than some seconds so that aspect of it was rather painful. Along the way Nath also started having issues with her combat boots as it was scraping over her foot, which hurt a lot. But I’m still glad we did it though I had to explain some of the things the guide said as Nath couldn’t make out what he was saying. I reckon a bunch of people on the walk were having trouble with this too.

After that we looked for a bus to get back to the hotel as the tubes weren’t going anymore due to the strike, which ended up taking quite a while longer than we expected but then we found one line that would take us within a couple of blocks of our hotel, by accident. Good find that. :)

When we got to the hotel Nath was so tired that she just crashed on the bed and fell asleep lying next to me while I was still sitting upright, I found this to be very cute and as such took a picture of it which she hates. :D

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3rd day in London

After a lengthy night’s rest and a lunch we didn’t really have a solid plan for what we were going to do during the day. No public transport didn’t help much with that either.

We ended up going through Hyde park which was quite nice and full of squirrels, adorable little buggers. :) It really is a nice place to go for a nice walk and I’m glad we did.

After that we walked through some major shopping streets and had lunch. It’s rather funny to see it being a lot more quiet and peaceful in such a big town. I rather enjoyed the architecture on a bunch of the buildings, which you could now look up at more easily.

We then walked off Oxford street to sit down briefly at a church courtyard which had a very unique mix of old/new buildings around it which is very typical for England.
When leaving it we made a little trip past the British Museum when we sat down in a pub for a little. Had a talk with a guy at the bar who tried to guess my accent as “he’d never gotten it wrong before and he’s known for that”. After 5 guesses I had to tell him and he was completely shocked, which I found to be hilarious.

After that we went around some of the tourist traps such as the London eye, big ben and westminster abbey and took some pictures of them like everyone else there. After that we walked to Buckingham Palace and went through the park next to it briefly to get back to Soho where we’d look for some of the metalbars we hadn’t come across before, only to find them closed.

So then we sat down at a restaurant for a bit to talk and relax, to then walk back to the hotel since it had become late already and we both were very tired from all the walking.

Articles

2nd day in London

We got up late and ofcourse there was plenty of waiting to be done before heading out. Went to Soho and checked some recordshops and went to look for a metalbar which when we eventually got there it ended up being closed until the last day of our stay, bummer.

So we then got a late lunch and headed for camden. Camden is the alternative part of London with all kinds of metal/rock/whatever stuff. There we did some shopping and we got some more albums and clothes.

As it was getting pretty late and shops were roughly closing around that time so we decided on some fish’n'chips.

Afterwards we had a quick walk around Camden and headed for the Hobgoblin again as that proved to be rather fun the night before.

Stayed there for some hours and then headed back to the hotel with the hope of some good night’s rest.

We’re told that in the 2 following days there will be (practically) no public transport due to strikes and it being boxinh day, so that should prove to be interesting indeed.

Articles

My picks for Game of the Year 2011

This post is mainly sparked by this forumthread which had me first think about it and I figured I would write out why I picked the games I picked here. I have to say up front that I find it quite hard to pick one game above another as it at times really doesn’t feel fair.

1. Sequence

Sequence when it came out really seemed to go unnoticed, which for the most part hasn’t changed at all. So this may even be the first time you’re hearing of it, though I wrote a post about it before. Sequence is one of these hidden gems that needs to be shared with people. It’s a completely unique game combining DDR with RPG mechanics, clever writing and very enjoyable humor.

I’m struggling to even think of any downsides to the game, but I can’t think of anything other than me wanting to get all the drops and create all items, which isn’t necessary by far. Even the grinding for that was pretty minor all things considered. I can’t stress enough how much sheer pleasure this game has given me, while serving as a breath of fresh air in the release season.
As it’s such a unique game, it may not be for everyone, but at the cost of only a couple of dollars/euros, I really encourage you to give it a shot!

2. Portal 2

Now this one may not come as a big surprise to a lot of you, but I really enjoyed my time with Portal 2. The singleplayer was a lot of fun to go through, especially the voice acting was great. I’ve heard of a lot of people that they saw the twist coming, but I didn’t have that “problem”. I just played along with the puzzles and occasionally got stuck in between the actual puzzles as you had to move through the deserted facility. All around though, it was very entertaining and a fun experience that didn’t get frustrating.

The singleplayer’s fun and all, but the real fun lies in the multiplayer. I went through it with a friend while using voice communication (you really can’t do it without…) and it is immensely fun to figure out puzzles with 2 people. At times one will have an idea and the other will finish it, or disprove it.. or you might both be stumped for a while, which I remember happening on several occasions. I remember thinking “How’s Portal ever supposed to work with 2 players?” before the game was released and I don’t think Valve could’ve done a better job than they have.

3. Red Orchestra 2

Red Orchestra was one of the games that I had been hearing about for a while and that looked pretty interesting but I never got around to playing. Thus with Red Orchestra 2′s release, I hopped on the bandwagon and boy was I in for a ride. Tossing aside all conventions about teambased multiplayer first person shooters, RO2 is much more based around a realistic setting of the battle for Stalingrad in World War 2. This means that there will not be regenerating health, crazy weapons and over the top action, instead you’ll be lying or crouching around cover with your bolt-action rifle.

Because of this the action flows really differently in RO2 than in most other games. You’ll have incredibly tense moments that you won’t have in other shooters as the action feels completely different and more fast paced. While I’m not normally someone to take it slow in an fps, I have no problem actually doing this in RO2. It just feels right to be careful as it only takes a shot to blow your brains out. It’s a great immersive game that keeps you on your toes at every moment you’re playing.

4. Binding of Isaac

This little indie gem is the second biggest surprise this year. It has gotten a lot of attention as the setting is so unique and because of the way it was made, by a single developer in his free time. Despite that, it’s a a terrific game altogether. Though I have to say that I’m really bad at it, only having “completed” it once or twice. But that doesn’t matter, this is a game where you will die a lot and then just start over again immediately after.

This game also is a lot like Eufloria where it’s windowed and thus incredibly easy to alt-tab. The way the gameplay works it’s also perfect to just play for a couple of minutes and tab out again to return to it a little later. This makes it perfect for when I’m listening to music, talking with some people or maybe reason reading some things. This has caused my steam stats to say that I’ve played 56 hours of it at the time of this writing, but in reality it’s much much less. All in all though, this is a great indie game that is cheap and will entertain you for a good while.

5. Skyrim

I was going to put this at #1, but then I took an arrow to the knee. All kidding aside, Skyrim is a pretty darn good game and I feel that’s something that goes without saying. I hardly heard anyone seriously critique it. It’s a huge game with tons of things to do in it and it’s all around very good and solid. The leveling system in it is much improved over the previous games as skills go up by simply using the skill. This is a really intuitive system and a milestone jump from Oblivion’s system which was needlessly complex and tough to understand and min-max your character.

Furthermore I love the nordic setting and the mythology it’s based on, I even expected to see some actual runecarvings in there, but if they’re there, I haven’t seen them. The game still suffers from some scaling issues where you’ll run into an impossible opponent or will get one-shotted by an arrow, both of which are frustrating. Despite that, it’s a good game with a lot of content in it to keep you entertained. You really ought to pick it up.

Honorable mentions: Bastion, Dead Space 2, The Witcher 2, Battlefield 3, Trine 2

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1st day in london

Getting up real early kinda sucked, but we did catch our flight with ease. I’m really glad I could stay at my friend’s place

Only when I was in London/the hotel did I really get the feeling that I was away from home. After travelling we were tired so we decided on a powernap to rest up a bit since we wanted to be awake for the rest of it. Afterwards we went to Barbecoa (restaurant) which was rather chic, so Nathalie felt out of place because we were sitting there in generic metal outfits. To me that’s completely normal and I don’t think anybody really minded it too much. The food & drink there was great though and I can definitely recommend going there if you’re in London!

After dinner we went to the Phantom of the Opera musical which I had some doubts about as I hadn’t really been to a musical before so I wasn’t sure if it was my thing or not. I enjoyed it so darn much though, the story, the acting, the orchestra, the songs… all was great. I got goosebumps several times during the show and I would say that it’s something you simply have to experience even if you think you might not like it.

After that we wanted to go to Electric Ballroom’s Sin City but instead found it closed so we ended up at the other metalbar The Hobgoblin which was very fun indeed, Nath had more to drink than she ever had before in her life I think and proved to be a lightweight so I ended up pretty much carrying her to the hotel. She’s an incredibly funny drunk, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone laugh as much or for as long a time before.

Definitely a good first day. :-)

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Merry Christmas and a Happy Newyear!

As of when this post goes live, I’ll have left for my trip to London from which I’ll return shortly before new years. During that time I don’t think I’ll be online much, if at all. So hereby I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2012. I’ll see you guys next year. :)

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Sabaton @ Trix, Antwerp 12-18-2011

Finally it was time for another Sabaton concert, this time a final show of the tour in Antwerp. Where I had been twice before in the same week for 2 Sabaton shows. This show sold out in roughly 3 hours when it was announced, showing what kind of hardcore audience this really is. Sadly though this time one friend didn’t end up showing up as he was still hungover and a couple of hours away from the point where he was supposed to get picked up at. That didn’t change the fact that we were all really looking forward to this show and we couldn’t wait for him so we started the 2 hour drive it was from that point.

All in all we arrived around 3:30pm, so we decided we’d walk around town a bit and talk and get some food meanwhile. Turns out that we walked for a little while and got some food near the central station and then decided we’d go back and sit in a bar for a little while until it was time to go. I guess we can nearly call it tradition to go to that bar now as we’ve done that every time. When it was time we decided we’d go there and wait it out, turns out that we’d be waiting another hour for the doors to open.

Support: Blaze Bayley

Video 1: Ghost In The Machine
Video 2: Samurai
Homepage: Blazebayley.net

Not many people seemed to know who the opener was even supposed to be, not helped by the fact that the only mention of them was on the venue’s site and their name was misspelled there. So, not a lot of excitement for this one. To add to that was that Blaze (yeah, the band is named after the singer) was clearly on some sort of drugs, probably speed or something. Other than his arrogant attitude he did put up a decent show for an opener and the music at times was pretty good to headbang to.

Sabaton

Live 1: Official video by the band taken from stage
Live 2: Metal Medley
Live 3: The Final Solution
Live 4: Talvisota
Setlist: clicky
Homepage: Sabaton.net

Before Sabaton enters the stage there’s 2 songs that they play during this tour. The first being Europe’s The Final Countdown and the second is the March To War. During The Final Countdown you have to imagine the whole crowd singing along with it and with the March To War you have to imagine an insane amount of clapping and yelling along with that. I can tell you that when you hear that live, you’ll get goosebumps.

The entire show was energetic and fun as hell despite it being rather hot in the room before they even got on stage.  There was definitely some nonsense happening on stage such as santa’s running around, hanging christmas balls on the microphone stands and the drum kit. Also there were some balloon YMCA letters thrown on stage which resulted in them and us singing YMCA together which was hilarious. It was really indicative of the atmosphere that there was.

They played for 2 hours and 15 minutes and it was great to hear some of my favorite songs such as Talvisota and White Death again, especially the former they hardly ever play live. Whereas Union would’ve completed my favorite-songs-that-they-barely-play-live-list, I have no real issues with the setlist at all. It all worked out great especially for such a lengthy set and the amazing atmosphere.  Another fun note was that halfway through between songs I started singing the tune to Swedish Pagans, my friend joined in and so we started the entire crowd singing it and as such they smiled and played that song next.

Everything just clicked and was fantastical, including the singing of Jingle Bells towards the end and then finishing off the evening with the Metal Medley (2 songs in homage to other metalbands/songs). During those songs I felt like I could die a happy man.

At the end there was more of the crowd singing and tons of drumsticks, shirts and other presents getting thrown into the crowd as a thanks from the band and it was announced that there’d be an afterparty at a bar. So we went there and hung out for a bit, had a drink and then headed home. While at the bar I talked to 2 of the bandmembers and took pictures with them:

After that we drove home and we sang along to Alestorm and Powerwolf albums. I was the first to be dropped off, getting home just after 4am. It was a great day and woke up the next morning with a headache, muscle-ache all over and a sore throat. :D

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December Update

I figured I’m due an update on what’s been going on recently as I really haven’t communicated a lot other than through instant messages, twitter and the forums.

My holidays started some days ago on my birthday (the 14th), sadly this day wasn’t all good as one of my uncles passed away that day too. This gave me a very mixed feeling and it means I’ll be going to church for that soon in the middle of my holiday. Not all is negative though as overall life feels like it’s looking up all the same.

Trip to Belgium

I’ll be going to a Sabaton concert in Belgium with some friends tomorrow. Which should be pretty awesome, considering the crowd there has been insane the previous times I was there. As such I’m looking forward to it a lot and am also wondering what unique merchandise they’ll have this time. I still have and love my unique belgium shirts that they had made for just those 2 shows.

Since I’d be in Belgium I wondered if maybe I could meet up with Bustedwitch, since I’d be “in the area”, despite her still living quite a ways away. But sadly that plan fell through on her side. Would’ve been fun otherwise to really put a face to the name.

Trip to England

A couple of days after the concert I’ll be leaving for London for the Christmas period and I’m very much looking forward to that since I’ve never been to London before.  It should turn out to be a great time and will easily beat any previous Christmases I’ve had. Christmas has never really held any meaning for me, but now I’ve decided to go make something of  my life, going abroad with the girl I love, I hope that’ll change a bit and not leave me bitter around the holiday as years past.

Work situation

Then there’s another point that may be affecting the let’s plays in the future as I’m going to be working an extra day per week starting from January 1st 2012. Now this means I’ll have less time to record and as such I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up 3 let’s plays simultaneously as I have been doing. It may therefore drop down to 2 (periodically). I’ll just have to see how things go and make a decision down the line.

 

So all of these factors combined basically cause me to not be able to record, edit, render and upload in the coming period. As such I’ve recorded a lot in the past days to make sure there’s enough videos until at least 2012. For this reason I’m really glad I took the youtube partnership as I’ve already uploaded all the videos and set them to release at specific dates, then they should automatically appear in the playlists too.

I’ve also written out my top 5 Games of the Year and briefly explaining why which will go up in the coming days. I might just write a quick message or photo from London too.

Images

New albums

New albums

I don’t own many physical albums yet, but these are all classics. :)

For those wondering, these are the albums:
Turisas – Stand Up and Fight!
All That Remains – The Fall of Ideals
System of a Down – Steal This Album!
Chimaira – The Impossibility of Reason
Flogging Molly – Swagger
40 Below Summer – Invitation To The Dance