FInancially unFAir

I’m a big football fan and have been now for almost my whole life. And while there was a time when I didn’t pay to much attention to it it stayed with me until now – and beyond

But – and that may be due to my age and my broadened world view or whatever – I find myself struggling not with the sport itself or its rules or even fans (however annoying THEY can be) but with the officials. The ones trying to organise tournaments, leagues and cups. Those who say there interest is fair play and the idea of peace, understanding and equality through sports. I’m talking about FIFA – the Fédération Internationale de Football Association – with Sepp Blatter at their lead.

With the World Cup and the different continental tournaments only being around every other year one would think it’s mostly about the national leagues and cups in the meantime. Big transfers, losses, wins, fired managers and the like. And while all of this happened, probably the most talked about topic in football for several years now is a tournament eight years in the future: the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Blatter already said that the decision to have a World Cup in a country with summers around 50C was a mistake. That it took four years for that enlightenment is as sad as the alleged frauds concerning the original vote. Several millions may or may not have been paid to essentially buy the World Cup. It makes me furious that one of the most prestigious sport tournament in the world is nothing more than a sellout for a sell-proclaimed non-profit organisation.

I hate that football changed this much – or that I grew too old to believe that it’s all about the game and not the money.
I will root for Germany this year – like I always do – but I’m not sure I’ll remember the games as vivid as I remember Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal in 1996 which took us first to the final and then to European glory…

What a hack of a game (Watch_Dogs review)

So I was playing Watch_Dogs on my PS3 the last couple of days after I’ve waited a very long time for that game. And while some may say it’s advertises hacking – which is both stupid and untrue – I really enjoyed the game. And I really look forward to the next game in the series, because the game isn’t perfect and – like with Assassin’s Creed – Ubisoft proofed to be able to step up their work with second instalments.

So, what did I like about the game and what should be improved?
I like the size of the map and the different parts of the city – even if it’s not as big as the map of GTA V or the like but also not so large as to get lost or to have to drive endless times around the city to get from point A to B. A smaller map also means less loading and more processing power for my good old PS3 and there are way enough problems as is, so it’s better this way.
Hacking is fun and intelligently done. it’s both easy to understand and deep enough to not get to bored out immediately. Even better than the hacking is the combat or the ‘lack’ of it. Used to playing games like Metal Gear, I much prefer a stealth gameplay to running around gun’s blazing. And though Watch_Dogs is an open-world action game, it’s not forcing me to one style of playing. Most of the time I could just hack my way through several cameras, take out several guards this way and then – if necessary – make may way through the area with a silenced gun – from one cover to the next.
The story is good, too, but I don’t like the pacing that much. The first two acts are really slow and feel much longer than the last three which took me maybe five hours put together. Maybe I was just too focused on the story after the first act but in the end it still felt a bit of. Then again, I enjoyed the story and even if the speed of the story was a bit too high, it kept me on my toes and it was quite hard to put the controller down.
What came way too short, though, was Aiden’s past as the vigilante. Not even is there a whole year missing between the accident and the game itself but also his whole past before that. But maybe we’ll learn about that later?!
Also Ded-Sec. Though we have Clara and Defalt, the hacker group stays mostly in the shadows – as they surely want to act – but considering the ending it’s a bit weird Aiden isn’t interacting with them more in the main story.
Performing-wise, the PS3 is really pushed to her limits with the game even if the graphics aren’t as good as in other games – but I don’t mind that. What I don’t like, though, are random cars, pedestrians or even enemy soldiers popping out out of nowhere. Especially when you’re re-infiltrating a base after dying and the enemies don’t load instantly.
A minor but also frustrating thing is, that you can’t start mission while in a car or on a motorcycle.  It may seem silly, but after a while it’s getting really unnerving that you always have to get out of your car.
Otherwise, it’s a solid, fun game to play with a great story, very cool game mechanics and an idea which could work for several games to come. And as said at the beginning, Ubisoft has proven that they CAN improve new IP’s quite a bit and I’m curious to see where they’re headed with this new franchise.

Von Neuauflagen, Neuversuchen und Neuversionen

Haben sich in den letzten Jahren zwischen all den neuen Spielen immer wieder die “HD-Versionen” geschlichen, zeichnet sich seit einigen Wochen und Monaten gerade bei Sony ein neuer Trend an:

Die Neuauflagen aktueller PS3-Titel für die neue Konsolengeneration. Nach Tomb Raider (das noch dazu ja ein Reboot der Serie ist), gesellt sich nun auch The Last of Us, dem neben GTA V wohl größten Videospiel-Hit des vergangenen Jahres. Der wiederum möglicherweise auch noch für PC – und eben die neue Konsolengeneration – kommen wird. Und noch einige andere Titel sollen gerüchteweise eine Neuauflage bekommen. Darunter Beyond: Two Souls und die Uncharted-Reihe.

Wenngleich es mich natürlich freut, dass nun auch diejenigen, die die Spiele bisher verpasst haben, in den Genuss kommen werden, frag ich mich doch ein wenig, was das Ganze soll. Sonys Plan von Playstation Now ist es eigentlich, Spiele anderer Konsolen auf der PS4 und PSVita für einen bestimmten Zeitraum auszuleihen und streamen zu können. Im Fokus der bisherigen Medienkampagne stehen vor allem The Last of Us und Uncharted. Zwar ist noch nicht abzusehen, wann Playstation Now letzlich (in Europa) erscheinen und wie erfolgreich es sein wird, dennoch kann der derzeitige Trend doch nur kontraproduktiv sein?!

Wenn Sony nun all die Titel, die wohl den größten Reiz an PlayStation Now ausmachen würden, für die PS 4 neu aufgelegt werden, wer leiht sich die Titel dann noch aus? Vor allem, wenn die Spiele bis dahin bereits um einiges günstiger sein werden und der Ausleihpreis möglicherweise nur noch die Hälfte des Nuepreises ausmacht.

Aber vielleicht kritisiere ich die Neuauflagen auch nur deshalb, weil ich die Originale ohne Weiteres spielen kann oder es bereits habe und ich damit von den Neuauflagen nicht profitiere. Neue Spiele wären mir daher durchaus lieber statt dem zwar durchaus guten, aber bereits “durchgekauten”, alten Brei.

Ähnlich ergeht es mir mit den ganzen HD-Versionen – wenn auch mit einer Ausnahme. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker auf dem Fernseher spielen zu können ist ein deutlicher Fortschritt gegenüber der PSP bzw. PSVita und ich freue mich, dass es die HD-Version des Spiels gibt. Bei fast allen anderen Remakes frage ich mich jedoch: Haben die Entwickler keine neuen Ideen? Sollten sie sich nicht lieber mit Spielen beschäftigen, die keine zehn bis zwanzig Jahre alt sind?

Das vorhin erwöhnte Tomb Raider hat zumindest etwas richtig gemacht: Es ist eine komplette Neuinterpretation der bekannten Reihe und bringt durchaus neue Ideen ins Konzept – ob nun auf alten oder aktuellen Konsolengeneration.

Changes, choices and… courses

This will be just a little personal update after I haven’t written anything in weeks.

‘A lot’ happened in these weeks, which means ‘just a few more or less little things I normally wouldn’t consider small talk material.

My last school block is approaching and while I’m feeling quite good about the whole affair I couldn’t be happier once I’m through with it. Even if I’m not returning to the store I’ve worked at these part three years. I’ve agreed to transfer to a new one which opens Mid-June and I’m quite excited about that.
But it still needs time getting used to and the thought of having my last days at my current store is saddening.

Calling it mixed feelings would be an understatement.

In other news I quite my ‘job’ at ps4-magazin after figuring out that I’m just not interested in gathering news and basically copying them to another platform. I want to write original content, my own opinion, reviews, previews, thoughts or just stuff like this. Translating an article, posting some pictures and linking to the source seems way to dull for me. And the longer I tried to do that the more it seemed like a waste of time for me. And that’s while I spend my time watching Let’s Play or play video games I already played instead of reading or playing new games.


But with all that I actually do something productive, even if not as regularly as I liked. Learning Spanish via duolingo. It’s quite fun, I like the concept, the “level” system and basically everything. It seems more like a video game than like a language class and while I miss every other day I thing I do make progress. Slow progress but progress nonetheless and I enjoy it.


So, that’s it for today, I hope I’ll return soon with a actual topic to write about and I’m sorry for this rather dull post about myself ;)

Football’s coming home

I’m a football (or soccer, as Northern America likes to call it) fan for nearly twenty years now – which is basically my whole life because before that I was mostly a fan of eating, sleeping and keeping my mother busy.

I remotely remember the semi-final of the European Championship in 1996 where Germany beat the Czech Republic in extra time. It was the first golden goal in a European Championship and scored by Oliver Bierhoff with a header. Funnily enough, I can’t remember the final where Germany actually won the cup.

So, I’m a football fan more or less since then and even actively played for some time in a team. Nowadays, though, I only watch some games at home or play football videogames. Which – at last – brings me to the real topic of this post.

As with my deciding points for or against Playstation and XBOX (read here - it’s German, though), I mostly played FIFA and only recently got to play a bit of PES (2013, that is). While both are fun in their own ways, I find myself more and more entertained and challenged by Football Manager (Sega Interactive, not EA) where you’re not actively playing the games but sit on the sideline and instruct, train and motivate your team.

A manager game involves way more math, statistics and tactic, which suits me just fine. Building up my own youth team, looking for staff and trying to meet the board’s goal while making my players and the fans happy is quite a balancing act. And it takes time. Lots of time.

The demo version of Football Manager 2014 let’s you play half a season. I clocked in over thirty hours before I even made it to December and that was just the first team I managed. Even the classics mode of the game, which is a more basic version with less options takes forever to hit the half-season point. Playing for 30 hours on FIFA probably sees you in your second or even third season.

And the best thing about it is, you don’t even have to pay that much attention to the actual game or listen to commentary or such stuff. It’s like a side activity while browsing the internet, chatting or whatever. And who can say he won the league while doing the laundry?

Mid-April will see the PS VITA version of Football Manager and I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t really played the iPhone version because I’m not really a smartphone gamer but the VITA game… I’m curious. And I really hope it’s more like the classic mode than the handheld version. Some first impressions can be found here under the PS-Vita tab.

Endlose Fantasie? (Final Fantasy Review)

Mit der HD-Auflage von Final Fantasy X/X-2 frisch auf dem Markt, dem dritten Teil von Final Fantasy XIII Anfang des Jahres und der baldigen Veröffentlichung von Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn auf der PS4 haben wir drei ganz unterschiedliche Interpretationen der wohl bekanntesten Rollenspielreihe.

Das erste von vielen als letzter Klassiker angesehen, zweiteres fast schon als Untergang einer Marke verpönt und zu guter Letzt ein MMO, was ja so gar nicht ins Bild der Reihe passt. Und dass trotz Kristalle, trotz Job-System, trotz Krieger des Lichts – alles Elemente der ersten Teile und Dinge, die sich viele Fans zurückwünschen.

Man mag sich an dieser Stelle also fragen, welche Elemente ein Final Fantasy-Spiel braucht, um sich als solche bezeichnen zu dürfen. Sowohl die Story als auch die Welt sind in jedem Fall ausgeschlossen. Mit Ausnähme der direkten Fortsetzungen und anderer Ableger hat jeder nummerierte Teil völlig neue Interpretationen der Welt und bietet eine eigene Geschichte.

Auch das Design der Spiele unterscheidet sich grundlegend mit jeder weiteren Veröffentlichung und macht auch nicht Halt vor Menüs, Dem Ablauf der Kämpfe, der Mythologie und eigentlich allem. Zwar tauchen immer wieder bekannte Namen, Monster und Gottheiten auf, aber selbst diese werden immer neu interpretiert. Man sehe sich nur die verschiedenen Cid im Laufe der Spiele an, um eine ungefähre Vorstellung davon zu bekommen, wie unterschiedlich die Spiele trotz der Namensgleichheit doch sind.

Und genau das ist es, was Final Fantasy für mich ausmacht: die ständige Neuinterpretation, der Wille, immer wieder aufs Neue eine eigene Welt zu erschaffen und nicht einfach nur Altes zu wiederholen, nur weil es erfolgreich war. Final Fantasy lebt vom ständigen Wandel und riskiert damit eine Menge. In Zeiten von immer größeren Welten, immer mehr Nebenmissionen und Handlungen ist Final Fantasy XIII den entgegengesetzten Weg gegangen und erzählte gradlinig und actiongeladene seine – in meinen Augen – großartige Geschichte.

In welche Richtung die nächsten Teile gehen werden, weiß wohl nur Square Enix selbst und ich bin schon jetzt gespannt darauf. Natürlich hätte ich nichts gegen etwas mehr ‘Open World’-Feeling, andererseits tendiere ich bei diesen Spielen oftmals dazu, das Ziel aus den Augen zu verlieren und damit auch das Spiel nie zu beenden. Und auch das kann ja nicht Sinn der Sache sein.

I like big books and I cannot lie

As promised my reason for not having ‘must reads’ coming out this year. Or also called “all the books I should be reading right now while doing…. loads of other stuff. So without much further ado, here’s my pile of books I’m currently reading and still have to read:

Frank Herbert - Dune: That one is mostly because of a colleague’s possible departure this summer and my promise to finish it before she leaves. I mean, it IS a must-read for every Sci-fi fan and probably for everyone as well but it wouldn’t be quit as high on my list otherwise.
Great soft-Sci-fi novel, which is to say it’s full of political and religious themes. Highly philosophical and just overall a great book that isn’t as hard to read as some would make it.

Robert Jordan & Brandon SandersonThe Wheel of Time: I’m currently at book 11 which is prior to Sanderson’s involvement (as a matter of fact, it’s the last book done completely by the late Jordan) but it would be unfair not to mention Sanderson at all.

Only four books left in this series for me and with all the stuff I’m reading right now, I just don’t progress – at all. I really love the series and maybe something in me just doesn’t want to finish but then: I DO want to know the ending. And if I wait even longer before continuing I might as well start over completely as I’ll have forgotten everything….

WoT is a high fantasy series very much in the style of JRR Tolkien. So much so that it’s starting nearly the exact same way but evolves to so much more. Intrigue, war, friendship, necessity evil for a greater good and a lot of characters with way too many secrets from each other make for a great, great series every fantasy fan should try. Especially Tolkien fans.

George Orwell1984: Another of those ‘classics‘ and maybe THAT one book which is now scarrier – and closer to truth – than ever. Been reading it for a while now but it’s really not easy – and it shouldn’t be. Will finish it eventually but my focus right now is definitely on Dune.

The dystopian novel is the source of “Big Brother is watching you”. Hyper-surveillance, mistrust and degredation of language, speech and thought are the center of the book, but not all. Even amidst a world so dark, there’s still hope – as long as there are people believing in – and fighting for – their freedom.

Those are the “major” books I’m trying to read right now. Also on the list are – but not very high – are the Star Wars: Old Republic novels, Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season (a great mix of Orwellian dystopia and fantasy elements – and NO LOVE STORY so far, so yay!). Speaking of classical dystopian novels, I still have to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (and everything else by him, but starting with that one) and Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

Fantasy-wise I still want to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (but not before finishing WoT), Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller series, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series and basically soo much more that it’s hard to know where to begin.