Feeling Crafty in Fallout 4

A few days and many hours of gameplay on from this week’s earlier look at Fallout 4, and I don’t feel much better off when it comes to caps, fighting ability or even any progress towards the main objective.

However, it has given me plenty of time to look at the Workshop ability which I wanted to talk about today; the countless ways to create safe haven for other wanderers of the Commonwealth, and the extreme annoyance it creates when I’m forced to choose between sellable items and tubes of Wonderglue.

Fallout 4 pipboy


The Fallout 4 workshop

Once you’ve rescued the Minutemen from an ordeal with some nasty Raiders early on, you’ll be tasked with leading them to a new home – Sanctuary Hills. Once there you’ll be shown how to start rebuilding for a better future, using a bunch of craft stations for armour, food, and weapons. The other interesting option is the Workshop; an innocent-looking red workbench which will serve as the centre for your building projects.

Here you can provide shelter, beds, food and water for your Settlers, build generators to power the community, and even set up machine gun turrets to keep them defended against attacks by raiders and the wasteland wildlife. That last bit is especially important, and not just for keeping the wildlife out; the other night I got the fright of my life when a Settler sprinted off into the woods to try and kill a Yao Guai; if I’d not been there I don’t even know if he would have survived.

So far I’ve really enjoyed using the workshop feature in Fallout 4 to create the essentials for survival in the wilderness. Finding and clearing out a small space that I can make my own, and using it to provide for hard-working people who are just looking for a new home.

Crafting is in itself one of the essential components of any good RPG, but given my limited history in playing RPG games it’s only here that I’ve been able to appreciate how rewarding it feels to tool up and kit out my very own space. From my own gaming history I’m reminded of The Sims 2 – where recipes couldn’t be made up without the requisite ingredients and had to be cooked properly to avoid making your Sims ill.

Here on the Playstation 4 we’re in for a far more immersive experience than that, if only because the advanced technology means players can experience their builds from the inside – and not from that classic isometric camera angle, at which so many simulations of the mid 90s and early 2000s were framed. Theme Park and The Sims games are my favourite examples of this unforgettable period of god games.

Once you’ve decided on a few additional perks you’ll able to break down your weapons and armour into more useful components like screws and copper, which is quite handy because otherwise you’re in danger of the next huge pitfall.

Managing inventory space in Fallout 4

Every time I come across a new building on my travels, I open up my inventory and that of my companion (currently Codsworth the robot butler) and make a key decision that will add another 15 minutes to my game every time I do it.

fallout 4 inventory management

“Looks like I won’t be able to pick much up once I enter, better head back to a settlement.”

Once there I’m able to store all those Junk items – lighters, gas canisters, baseballs, the lot – and see if there’s anything I’m able to build that my settlers need. Once done and I’ve stored away a lot of actual useful items like clothing, armour and guns, it’s back to that building.

But it’s also during these explorations that my inventory soon fills up again, with clothing and guns taken from the enemies I kill – not to mention more safes to lockpick, computers to hack and endless cupboards full of crap just to complete the job. If I’m really unlucky I’m then forced to decide on which items to drop – this happens a lot.

So it’s down to choosing between the 10mm pistol (weight: 4) which would prove quite useful as either scrapped, sold or upgraded, and the roll of duct tape which provides Adhesive material for workshopping.

Decisions, decisions.

As mentioned in last week’s post, I find these choices quite annoying, but not as annoying as the amount they happen. I can’t visit one single newspaper office or abandoned factory without knowing that somewhere along the line I need to sacrifice another 15 minutes in order to get back to Sanctuary or the Drive-In and put everything down again. I mean, storyline-wise, I realise this stuff is essential to the needs of my newly-found community but does it really need to get so repetitive?

Inventory management in Fallout 4 has taken one of the series’ best-known features – if not in all of RPG gaming – and made it a matter of extreme importance by causing players some real headaches. I keep reading that there are ways to cheat the system and create an unlimited carry weight, but surely I’m above the level of cheating to remove any inconveniences.

Or am I?

Oh by the way, in regards to that earlier conundrum – everything you build needs Adhesive. So drop the gun and take the tape. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.

Three things which make Daniel Craig’s James Bond unmissable

Filming the latest Bond adventure took up two years of Daniel Craig’s life – so unsurprisingly the word’s gone round that he’s thinking of hanging up the tuxedo.  According to Entertainment Weekly he’d rather ‘slash his wrists’ than appear for a fifth time as James Bond. Hardly the reaction you’d expect from an actor who’s now world-famous for being one of the lucky few to play 007, but only time will tell as to whether he’ll be back.

If Spectre does turn out to be Craig’s last hurrah as Bond, then fans around the world will surely wish him well in future endeavours – while others may pray that he’ll change his mind and get back in the Aston Martin for another go round. While Spectre looks set to tie up a fair few loose ends – the identity of the mysterious Mr White who’s appeared in previous instalments for one – it’s this continuity that fans of previous Bond eras have come to love, which means that in this more gritty series of films, replacing Craig would mean there’s a huge disconnect in the realism that we’d previously given up for dead every time a new Bond swaggered into the room. Now that Craig’s given us a twist of realism not seen since Timothy Dalton and early Pierce Brosnan, who even knows how long it would take audiences to get used to another new face?

daniel craig to quit as james bond

Daniel Craig at the 81st Academy Awards

For me there’s three key reasons why Daniel Craig has done such a sterling job of his time as Bond – something which the box office-shattering records would concur with.

The modern Bond

For starters, it might just be that he fits a more modern sort of spy drama better than any past Bond actors would have. This point was actually raised by former Goldfinger “Bond girl” Honor Blackman, whose comments in The Mirror newspaper even went so far as to say Craig is a superior actor to Sean Connery (who’s widely viewed by fans and critics alike as the best Bond, at least before Craig’s stint (though I’m partial to a bit of Dalton myself)). Blackman reckons that Connery was a perfect fit for the original adaptations of Ian Fleming’s work, whereas Craig fits the more modern and Bourne Identity-like style that the series has taken on.

This makes a whole lot of sense, and explains why imagining past Bonds specifically in Craig’s films just doesn’t work. (Seriously, try it yourself: Roger Moore doing parkour. Yikes.) Basically, Craig matches the films they’re making for him to star in, which elevates both his own performance and the films themselves.

High stakes Bond

I also really like Craig’s version of Bond because he feels like a genuine high roller of sorts, as opposed to a spy who feigns sophistication, or even pretentiousness, when necessary. (Again, try it yourself: this time, George Lazenby turning his nose up at the hotel accommodation.) We appreciate Bond’s more brutish qualities, but the reason that those high class scenes are sprinkled throughout Bond films give viewers of a certain age something to aspire to.

Just think about your everyday life for confirmation: we take notice of fancy cars and people who use valet parking; we dream wistfully of winning a few hands of high-stakes poker, or having special drinks brought to us in casinos. Even in the online gaming community, Gala Bingo has taken to offering a virtual champagne room to tap into its players’ desire for high-end living – though that’s strictly a BYOB sort of scene. Whether it’s a real (or virtual) casino floor, or simply the outside of a popular restaurant where the cars are parked, we always take notice of high roller status—and Craig exudes it.

Imagining any other Bond in some of the Casino Royale scenes, for instance, in which Craig is playing poker hands worth millions of dollars, almost seems comical. (For the hat-trick: Pierce Brosnan going all-in with a pair of twos. Impossible.) But when Craig does it, he looks like he belongs there, and that elevates his status with audiences.

Bond in love

But more than any of these factors, and almost in direct conflict with the idea of Bond’s high roller image, a common word used to praise Craig’s performance is that he made the role more “human” again. Moviepilot expanded on this, stating that “he feels anger, fear, and love.” Indeed, these are some of the most basic of human emotions, and yet past versions of the character hardly seemed to notice them, too busy moving on to the next gadget, girl, or gun. (We’re ignoring Lazenby here, right?) Craig has arguably given us the first Bond who takes the time to express himself, often wordlessly but always profoundly, and that, in the end, is what’s sealed his iconic turn as Bond, James Bond.

Some of the flashier stuff we’ve been treated to in the rebooted movies so far—Craig’s Bourne-like pace and action prowess, or his ability to embrace Bond’s high life—is a great deal of fun. But it’s the emotion that gets to us, and the emotion that we’ll miss if Spectre is indeed Craig’s last film in the series.

Fallout 4: Feeling SPECIAL

I held off from buying Fallout 4 for my PS4 for all of…ooh, three days before I took the plunge and traded in my copy of Arkham Knight over the weekend.

In all my dislike of the latter game (a serious disappointment!) I’d forgotten that the long-awaited release from Bethesda was pretty much the entire reason I paid over three hundred quid for the privilege of a new console back in July.

So after a very late night getting to grips with the Commonwealth on Saturday, plus bumper playing sessions throughout this week, I wanted to talk about two things which have made the biggest impression on me during my gameplay so far.

fallout 4 please stand by screen

One is a completely new feature which was sort of previewed in the less impressive Fallout Shelter mobile game (and which I’d previously loved the hell out of in Animal Crossing: New Leaf – how’s that for a night and day comparison), and another old RPG favourite used in an interesting way.

Today I’ll talk about the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and Perk system, before moving onto Workshop and crafts later this week.

Fallout 4 Perk System

Before Fallout 3 I don’t recall having a fondness for the RPG genre (unless you count Legends of Valourwhich I do not) but the previous Perks system utilised in Fallout 3 and New Vegas always made me look forward to levelling up, when I could choose from a plethora of useful and less useful ways to enhance my abilities in the Wasteland.

I knew that big changes to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system were coming as soon as I watched the very funny intro video to each as the game installed, but I can’t say I was ready to ensure my character (who I’ve named Lucy) would end up being very balanced in each unique skill area.

In previous playthroughs of New Vegas and Fallout 3 I always, ALWAYS favoured Intelligence and Charisma over any other system, and would even reduce points assigned to Agility or Endurance in order to ensure that my guy or girl was the smartest and sassiest Wanderer around. It didn’t matter how nimble they were or how much damage they took because I’d always have some decent armour and plenty of Stimpaks to hand, whenever the going got tough.

Fallout 3 Special book

But the first thing that strikes me about Fallout 4, which ties in neatly to the topic next time, is just how much actual crap I need to be able to carry. The Strong Back perk can only carry me so far, and it’s especially annoying because I don’t like to focus on Melee Weapons, but I really need to top up my Strength stats. I’ve already had to leave behind a Junk Jet in the Institute because it’s too bloody heavy, and I’m afraid of what will happen if I go back in there. But not giving Lucy some muscle will come at a heavy price.

If I don’t collect all that junk, my settlements will go unstocked, and I will run out of valuable building materials. I’m actually dropping guns over aluminium cans just to be able to get precious resources to my settlers. In placing such emphasis on the need to scavenge (which you would do in this doomsday scenario, naturally) Fallout 4 has managed to turn one of its prequel’s interesting but ultimately useless features into an absolute necessity. That’s the kind of upside-down world-turning I like to see in video game sequels, because it has made this place a lot more realistic.

But now that levelling up seems to take bloody forever (and oh man I hope the level cap is, like, 1000), Lucy’s stuck with her mid-level intelligence, polite tone and rubbish bartering skills. Hardly a winning combination for wasteland survival.

New ‘Star Trek’ TV series announced for CBS All Access

It’s quite exciting news for Trekkers in the States, as CBS announced that they’ll be airing a brand new Star Trek TV series in January 2017.

Well, the first episode of it anyway, according to Hollywood Reporter, as all following episodes will be shown exclusively on their CBS All Access online service. In terms of boldly going, this decision to air online-only certainly fits the bill, but will a more casual audience be prepared to spring for the monthly fee?

star trek tv series 2017

Obviously this won’t be the first time that Star Trek has struggled to find an audience – the original adventures of the USS Enterprise were cancelled the first time around in the late Sixties due to low ratings. Syndicating the original series breathed new life into the franchise, leading as we all know to no less than four more TV series and a long-lasting series of films.

The last TV series, Enterprise, went off the air ten years ago, and it’s now felt that the time is right to re-introduce serial drama in the Star Trek universe. It’s being overseen by Alex Kurtzman, who has been among the higher-ups which revived the film reboot in 2009, leading to much debate as to whether the new series will follow the re-established timeline or go back to life as we first knew it.

50 Years of Trek

By the time the new show airs, we’ll have passed a massive milestone in the history of Star Trek, celebrating 50 years since it first came on the air. As a massive fan of the original films (well, the even-numbered ones anyway) and a fairly avid watcher of the subsequent TV series, this announcement does rather excite me. But seeing as I’m all the way over here in Britain, where and when can I expect to see the programme air?

That’s an interesting one. It’s become common for British on-demand platforms to win the exclusive rights to air TV shows – I’m eagerly awaiting the day my fiancée finally signs up to Amazon Prime so that I can see Mr Robot – but as of yet it’s a mystery. Come to think of it, the fact that different sets of Star Trek rights now belong to completely different companies is a whole other headache.

When Viacom merged with CBS in 2000, the rights to Star Trek TV and film were split between the two, tearing Paramount asunder, with CBS picking up the TV production privileges and Viacom getting films. CBS were first out of the gate by launching – and soon ending – Enterprise, while the film went into production in the mid-2000s.

Giving exclusive airing rights to a streaming platform in an attempt to convince Trekkers with their five dollars a month is an absolute no-brainer, but here in the UK where I’ve literally heard of All Access for the first time today, it’s hard to tell whether a more casual audience can be tempted.

I’m quite excited for the TV future of Star Trek ­– mainly because we all know by now what I made of the movie reboot – but it’s going to be a tough sell for many viewers.

WWE’s rock-bottom ratings mean new stars are desperately needed

I’ve just finished watching last night’s WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in something like reverse order; after I happened to be up late enough to see the main event of Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker last night, I’ve ended with the pre-show six-man tag match which pitted Dolph Ziggler, Neville and Cesaro against King Barrett, Rusev and Sheamus.

In a show which also touted Kane competing for a WWE World Title shot against Seth Rollins, and The Dudley Boyz against The New Day for the Tag Titles, I’ve become confused as to what the year is.

undertaker brock lesnar summerslam 2015

In the year 2000, you’ll have found D-Von and Bubba Ray, Taker and Kane all floating about at the top of the card against guys like Edge and Christian, The Rock and Triple H.

Hang on, they’re all ringing a bell too. Could it be that, 15 years on from the time that WWE became the hottest commodity in all of pop culture, they’re still hanging on to the same old names appearing on their programming in an effort to pop buy rates and ratings?

Yes it could. And while (spoilers), none of those more established names were able to get the victory, in kayfabe terms it’s all well and good giving the younger guys some of ‘the rub’ by getting the wins, but realistically none of these performers should still be in the mix.

But while those guys are staking their claims on the championship titles, it’s keeping out some of the younger talents – the best six examples of which (if you really must count Sheamus…) are stuck in the curtain-jerker spot, warming up the crowd with what was honestly one of my favourite matches of the night.

Cesaro Section

While I’ll concede that Wade ‘King of Bad News’ Barrett isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his character, he is a very good hand to have on your roster. But as for the rest of that line-up, I’ll single out Cesaro as the man who’s so deserving of a Prime Time (Players) spot on any given WWE card, that it feels criminal for him to be denied one by the likes of Kane, Taker and the damn Dudleys – again, all of whom I’m a fan of.

WWF Smackdown 2 Know Your Role

But the higher-ups’ reluctance to trust these talents with prestigious spots, or to have some patience when they did previously have the spotlight – Ziggler’s MITB briefcase win and two WHC reigns come to mind – is costing them dearly in fan reactions for two reasons.

Sure, you’ve got part-timers like Taker, Lesnar and even The Rock who are prepared to show up and do battle, alongside the likes of legends like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels to turn up and talk the talk, but we’re getting to a generational gap where younger fans – let’s just call them Cena fans and be done with it – won’t physically be aware of the days where these guys made their original mark. They won’t even have been born!

And more egregiously, as the same older names do turn up for the occasional run – Taker’s now wrestled as many times in 2015 as he did from 2012 to 2014 – they’re costing men like the aforementioned Cesaro, Rusev and Barrett their own run near or at the top. It’s this lack of opportunity to gain the biggest of big match experience that was partly why one CM Punk left the company after the 2014 Royal Rumble; one of the hottest heels of the past five years was jobbed out left and right to part-timers like Taker and The Rock – the latter for his WWE World Title which The Rock duly dropped to Cena during their second consecutive Wrestlemania main event.

The feel-bad ratings hit of the autumn

While younger fans are content to cheer and boo the appropriate performers, and buy up as much merchandise as they can carry, where it all really counts is the weekly TV ratings for their three hours on Monday nights. And ratings are down – Cageside Seats puts them at their lowest since 1997, in fact. Even this particularly star-studded episode (Michaels, Taker, Lesnar and Flair all appeared – as did Stone Cold Steve Austin) is indicative of the slowest WWE period since they were getting their weekly ratings kicking from the nWo over on TNT.

But what’s worse than the slow decline is the absolute dragging of WWE’s heels in trying to buck the trend. When even an Austin appearance doesn’t manage to perk up the points, maybe it’s time to try something – someone – new. Anything. Anyone.

Especially Cesaro and Neville.

CSI: Cyber – I can see for miles (past this crap)

I watched the first two episodes of CSI: Cyber over the weekend. It made me remember how much I used to really enjoy watching the other programmes which made up the CSI franchise, as they all performed well in different ways.

And now there’s CSI: Cyber which has…some of the laziest writing and awful plotting I’ve ever seen on a cop show. The amount of threadbare exposition and stumbling onto plot points that the Cybercrimes Division did in the two episodes I’ve seen, they make NCIS Los Angeles look like fucking Poirot.

I decided to write a review for the website; fortunately I haven’t been completely scared away from operating technology despite this programme’s best (worst) efforts.

CSI: Cyber

(Deserves better)

There’s a running joke on the Botchamania series that, whenever the wrestler Sonjay Dutt is featured, his intro caption includes the phrase “(deserves better)”. And that’s how I felt when I saw that the first season of CSI: Cyber is headlined by the trio of Patricia Arquette, Peter MacNicol and James Van Der Beek. (Though I’m not so surprised to see that MacNicol is no longer a part of the show as of season two.) Despite what my macho status otherwise indicates, I was a big fan of Medium, Ally McBeal and, yes, Dawson’s Creek as well; seeing the stars of all three in the same room saying actual lines like “this computer is an accessory to murder” made my heart hurt a bit. (Take a bow, Peter.)

Arquette plays FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan; a psychologist whose patient records were once hacked, leading to the murder of one of her patients. Her determination never to let something so awful happen again is what led her to head up a team of computer experts in the war against cyber-crime.

It’s a decent enough back story for our lead, and a good reason for her distrust of the scum that preys upon innocent people from behind a computer screen. This distrust is played up for maximum shock value throughout the cold open; in the case of the second episode we’re at a theme park where a ride is sabotaged, killing some of its customers.

The drama is ramped up; fiances are left ruing the day they brought their beloved here; officers of the law sullenly get statements, and our cast makes the requisite sad/shocked faces when presented with what happened.

And now, for my second Law & Order comparison of the week, a crime show done properly; you know when Ed Green turns up to see the guy murdered outside the fancy restaurant, and Lennie Briscoe cracks wise with a line like “he should’ve stayed home and ordered a pizza”? That is what years on the job does to you; desensitises you beyond all reasonable reaction.

Here at the rollercoaster crash, and far from getting on with their jobs at an efficient pace, our cast are practically on their knees, shouting “KHAAAAAAAN” at the sky like a bad William Shatner impression. COMPUUUUUUUUUUUUTERS!!!!!

Stop all the downloadin’!

From the beginning, and not helped by lines like “this computer is an accessory to murder” is the immense distrust they’re heaping on computers, coding, basically anything that you can plug in.

In the original series we got exposition of blood spatter, gunshot residue, even the paths that bullets take from gun to victim – all via fancy graphics that were scientifically sound, not to mention highly educational in an age where courtrooms were only just getting to know the fascinating side of forensic science.

Here, DER GREEN CODE IS GOOD BUT DER RED CODE IS BAD. Thanks, nerd guy – not at all patronising and fake. I’d feel better about this absolutely pandering mode of address if the programme were made 20 years ago, but here we are, being talked down to by a fat bloke wearing glasses because that’s what most computer programmers look like.


The investigation process/unfolding plot then takes some nonsensical liberties and horrible shortcuts to get us from suspect to suspect, each time presenting us with ugly, ugly men with big jumpers who obviously live in their parents’ basement. (They even make an ironic joke along those lines at the end of episode one, as if showing some self-awareness to try and disprove that trope – but sadly they seemed not to realise that the programme actually was banging that drum throughout the episode.)

How else do we know that tech is scary and dangerously unreliable? When we see scenes filled with numbers, letters, and diagrams that just come flying out of smartphones, laptops and big screens, all over each shot as our agents are faced with information overload. That’s pretty much every single scene. It’s actually sort of sad; those same bursts of information were hugely helpful in previous programmes when showing us a vital piece of evidence coming into play – here it’s just a massive headache.

And all that jargon! Bad enough when the cyber-geeks have to stop what they’re doing and explain it to MacNicol (presumably he’s only there so that we get the explanations as he does…no wonder he left), but even worse when they’re actually just factually wrong about something, or just talking absolute bollocks. If they’d just stop explaining it in overly simplified terms which still don’t make sense, we’d get to the result much faster.

If CSI: Cyber had debuted alongside its cooler older brother some fifteen years ago, when cyber-hacking was still a thing in Hollywood to make sci-fi movies from, you could at least forgive all the needlessly complicated and sometimes just plain wrong language, but all these years later it just comes off as cheesy and not interesting. And who even thought Cyber was a good suffix anyway? Actually, scratch that – it’s clear just from watching the programme that they’re painfully behind the times.

One to avoid – unless you really like CSI, especially when Ted Danson’s character joins for season two.

BBC drama ‘The Gamechangers’ – show, don’t tell

When I read that Harry Potter and Hudson from Aliens were teaming up to tell the story of the controversial battle between rebellious Rockstar Games and righteous attorney Jack Thompson in 2002, I had mixed feelings.

‘The Gamechangers’ was produced by the BBC as part of a season to promote some digital initiative or another, and aired last month to a general negative reaction.

While there’s certainly a good story to be told about one of the most controversial games of the new millennium, for me it needed to be drawn from as wide a range of sources as possible in presenting the tale of Rockstar’s ducking and diving, their colossal PR blunders and Thompson’s overzealous efforts to clean up the act of American pop culture.

Sadly, what we got was Jacked: The Movie Of The Book – less than that, even, considering its running time and what they had to try and cram in.

‘Jacked’ – poor source material

We’ve covered my issues with David Kushner’s book Jacked in a previous post; the lack of depth, the poorly-woven conflict between the two sides – so much that readers could be forgiven for thinking there was none – and, most damningly, the big Rockstar-shaped hole in the story due to their refusal to participate.

So when the quality of storytelling is found lacking in book form, god knows how the BBC thought it would translate to a 90-minute TV movie.

You can’t doubt the acting credentials of the two leads; Bill Paxton has turned in some fine performances of late including a first-season stint on Agents of SHIELD; while Daniel Radcliffe won me over with his brilliant performances in A Young Doctor’s Notebook. They’re competently backed by a cast including Skins’ Joe Dempsie and Ian Keir Attard, playing fellow Rockstar employees Jamie King and Dan Houser.

I mean no offence when I say their work was only ‘competent’ but there were some absolutely massive issues with the plot, pacing and especially the dialogue, which meant that nobody was going to come out of this one well.

the gamechangers bbc two gta rockstar

Show, don’t tell

I’m no expert but I do fancy myself a bit of a scriptwriter and storyteller, and for me the First Rule of Storytelling is (we’ll skip the Fight Club joke here) ‘show, don’t tell’.

I appreciate that, given the limited time they had to flesh out the characters and focus on an ever-developing plot, that there wasn’t much time to establish personality and relationships before we got cracking with the multiple murders and terrible programming montages.

But when Radcliffe turns to Attard and says something like ‘you were always the smart one, little brother’, it absolutely reeks of poor setup. Anything would’ve worked better here to establish the Housers’ relationship. “Sorry, this letter’s addressed to my brother Sam; I’m Dan.” There you go BBC, you can have that one.

I’m feeling generous so we won’t dwell on that particular example, but if you’ll allow me a little bit of presumption then we’ll head straight into the egregious violation of exposition that is Jack Thompson’s brief dalliance with preamble.

He’s in the garden practicing his golf swing one-handed, and he’s talking on the phone to someone called Margaret. And this is pretty much what he tells her – I’m paraphrasing but check for yourself:

“I’d love to help you out but I’m sort of a ‘toxic’ lawyer these days. Yeah, nobody wants to deal with me because I got Howard Stern and the 2 Live Crew rap album banned for violating obscenity laws, and subsequently, nobody wants to be represented by a kooky moral campaigner.”

“Why do I do it? What can I say, cos I’m Batman. And god rose this asshole up to do good.”

The woman he’s talking to is called Margaret.

Stick with me here, because here’s the presumption: how the fuck has Jack’s mate, Margaret, EVER heard of 2 Live Crew? Was that particular group ever popular amongst a demographic containing people called Margaret?

Secondly, how is it remotely believable of an everyday phone conversation that Thompson can refer to himself three times, using three different titles? “Kooky moral campaigner”. “Batman.” “This asshole.”

(Tell you what, I’m going to try this tomorrow at work and see what happens. “Yeah, thanks for sending that email, god knows this douchebag could’ve done with it sooner. What can I say; everyone loves working with a diligent researcher. I’m basically The Flash.”)

And thirdly, during this phone call with a woman named Margaret who’s just trying to hire a lawyer, does she really ask him the question “why do you do it, Jack?” No, she probably says “that’s nice, dear, but I have to go – my medical malpractice case won’t make itself.”

I’ll assume that what the script tries to put over here is Thompson’s wavering credibility for making those moral stands, and that he’s only repeating what he’s heard, rather than what he knows to be true – yeah, I’m that guy – because otherwise none of this has any fucking relevance in a real life phone call to someone called Margaret who just wants to hire a lawyer.

You can have this for free as well, BBC – try just running a few newspaper headlines past us while we see Jack practicing his golf or something, instead of this contrived phone call.

More like The Channel-changers

If you’ve read Jacked or know about this case, then you know what happens here; Rockstar gets into bother over some Hot Coffee, Thompson gets himself disbarred for an overly aggressive pursuit of the scumbags who made the game, rather than the people who committed the violent crimes it allegedly directly caused, and life goes on with a renewed focus on regulating the naughty stuff in the entertainment industry.

But as I’ve said before, there’s precious little overlap – and precious little detail when it does – between the two parties. Everything’s relayed to each character by a different supporting character – Houser’s colleagues and Thompson’s family – and there’s even a subplot about Dempsie’s burning out on the job just so there can be genuine interactions and feelings between characters, instead of reactions to things which aren’t physically happening in the room we’re in.

The whole thing was like watching an episode of Law & Order – you know the bit where Jack McCoy’s about to prosecute based on the findings of a blood sample, but then the extra walks in and dramatically hands him a motion to dismiss? Watching The Gamechangers was like we’re following that extra about for an entire episode while all the good stuff happens elsewhere.

I must admit I was intrigued by a new take on the dawn of a new era in gaming, but not even the decent casting helped get this patchy story off the ground.

WWF – the story of Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon

When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left the WWF in early 1996, nobody knew the kind of impact the two men would have on the industry, and particularly on the Monday Night War.

In re-joining WCW and eventually teaming with with Hulk Hogan to form the NWO, the whole business brought a rapid audience resurgence, with millions of new viewers to both products.

But a few months on from that shocking development, the WWF’s personal response to Hall and Nash was fairly bloody weak – and sadly this evening I’ve seen it in all its trainwreck glory.

fake diesel glen jacobs kane

Having clearly learned nothing from the Undertaker vs Undertaker debacle at Summerslam 1994, this all began when good ol’ JR, Jim Ross, began teasing a major announcement on the WWF’s Monday Night Raw in an attempt at his own (short-lived) heel character development. One day in September 1996 he would brag that he had secured the services of Razor Ramon and Diesel, and would be bringing them back to the WWF. Fans were led to believe that this meant the return of Hall and Nash – but the reality was much worse.

The Return of Diesel and Razor

Back when more people wrestled under aliases than they did their real, or ‘shoot’ names, it may have been more feasible to replace them handily. So when JR presented his new recruits, two men emerged as the Razor Ramon and Diesel characters – greasy hair, toothpicks, black gloves, the lot. Fans were understandably disappointed that the names alone didn’t guarantee the talent that went with it.

And while it’s fair to say that Glen Jacobs, who had previously dragged Bret Hart down in his Isaac Yankem, DDS guise, was an improving talent, the same cannot be said for Rick Bognar, whose Razor Ramon impersonation and mannerisms were so far off the mark as to be offensive. This despite his own claims that WWF owner Vince McMahon ‘heard [he] did a great Razor Ramon’.

Tonight I watched the two of them pair up in a tag match against the then-tag champions, the British Bulldog and Owen Hart, from WWF In Your House: It’s Time.

How I wish I hadn’t.

To Be The Man…

It’s said that the clothes maketh the man. If that were true then the t-shirt I’m wearing right now would see me dubbed Best In The World. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

CM Punk best in the world

The two men may look the part, but their mannerisms are terrible – and again, I feel bad for Rick Bognar, but Vince was a liar when he said Bognar did a good impersonation.

(To be fair, the story also goes that when Scott Hall showed off his bad Tony Montana ‘Scarface’ impression for the first time, McMahon had no idea Hall had lifted it from elsewhere.)

Terrible. But at least he was giving it a go; Jacobs barely raised a gloved fist in the entire match.

And while Jacobs had a passable Nash-esque moveset at this time, judging by the match I watched, Bognar Ramon spent a good deal of the match either a) doing moves which Hall had never done before as Ramon (including what was, to be fair, an okay exploder suplex), or b) getting the basics completely wrong. (He couldn’t even ‘paintbrush’ the back of Owen’s head properly.)

The crowd reaction was fairly negative from the outset; it took Owen and the Bulldog, two cheap and cheating, down and dirty heels, to play the endangered babyfaces for there to have been any reaction at all. Hart was always so brilliant at taking the bumps, while Bulldog as the powerful hot tag worked really well – he’d been a face for about 80% of his WWF run to this point anyway, so the tactics were still fresh in his mind. This psychology confused me even more than the crap impersonators, but it was necessary just to keep the match ticking over. Interference from Stone Cold Steve Austin and a couple of luchadores certainly helped distract from the below-average work of ‘Diesel’ and ‘Razor’ as well.

Looking back

In 2015, I’m not impressed, but even the 1996 crowd felt somewhat cheated by this terrible cheap trick to get some press going back the WWF’s way. Basically, the feeling was that because they had created these gimmicks, it didn’t matter who filled them. And while you can maybe get away with more than one guy playing the role of Doink The Clown, or even Sin Cara (the former got worse with each incarnation, while the latter actually improved), their popularity was nowhere near on the level of Hall’s and Nash’s star power.

Kevin Nash may have had a bad run of it as WWF Champion in 1995, but that was a matter of the opponents he was pitted against and the way his matches were booked. When he was Shawn Michaels’ badass bodyguard, his performances demonstrated a very high quality and popularity, none more evidently than his run in the 1994 Royal Rumble, when he basically turned face with each louder reaction, such was his powerful performance.

As for Scott Hall, his entrances would more often than not get among the loudest reception of each show, and his in-ring talent was helped no end by the character he’d carefully crafted into a confident yet slightly dogged brawler. (Speaking of brawling, Hall’s punches were some of the best things to come out of early-to-mid 90s WWF – Bognar’s not so much.) A World Title run would’ve been brilliant for Hall, but for this and many other reasons (cough money cough) he took the decision to join WCW once his contract had expired.

When the two men helped turn the tide WCW’s way, the WWF’s arrogance in assuming their expendability would cost them dearly for at least another eighteen months – and their replacements would not fare well at all in these roles.

It turned out alright for Jacobs in the end; he would don a different outfit and re-debut further down the line, but for Bognar, who retired due to a neck injury in 1999, it was his highest point as a wrestler. Poor sod.

The Samsung Galaxy VR – best enjoyed while drunk

On Saturday night, at a friend’s stag do, I saw a glimpse of my future – but enough about whatever my best man has planned for me, because I also got to try out some VR tech.

We’d just called it quits on our poker game for the evening – which I was definitely winning – and decided to have a game of Wii bowling. While the others were setting up, my friend produced a Samsung Galaxy VR headset from the storage room and urged me to try it out.

I’d made my feelings clear about the ‘fad’ that was VR only a little bit incoherently earlier in the night, when asked if I fancied a go. I thought to myself, it’ll be fun, and it’ll certainly be impressive enough, but will it really be a mind-blowing time?

VR Troopers

Best stag do ever.

Since everyone went spare over the Oculus Rift – and the ability to walk around a virtual copy of Jerry Seinfeld’s flat from his sitcom – I’ve felt fairly cynical as to how stunning the experience can really be.

I’ve been burned before.

Nintendo Virtual Boy

Not that I ever owned one, but the 1990s were a heady time for video game commercials. Convinced that getting myself a Cyber Razor Cut would be awesome, and that playing an Amiga 500 would be the greatest gaming experience of all time (to be fair, the amazing song is to blame for that, too), I’m glad I never saw this advert for the Nintendo Virtual Boy at the time of release because it would’ve been the end of me.

The nerve. Honestly, the gall of Nintendo to have people thinking this would be anything other than a disaster. It lasted less than a year and, 20 years hence, remains Nintendo’s lowest ever selling console.



Predating that shambles of a console by two years, was BBC Manchester’s shambles of a 1993 gameshow which attempted to bring the possibilities of virtual reality to the masses. Naturally, a similarly ahead-looking presenter was needed, so in came Craig Charles – between filming series of Red Dwarf down the corridor – to welcome us ‘cybernauts’ to the virtual reality bonanza.

I was eight years old when this played on BBC2. Even at the age of eight, I could see just how bloody clunky it all looked; from the awkward poses of the ‘cyborgs’ controlled by players using the early 90s equivalent of a Dance Dance Revolution mat, to the puzzles that were thematically poles apart from the game’s concept – “welcome to the future, cyborgs. Now pick up this virtual ball and throw it at that virtual hoop”. Even at the age of eight, I could tell we had a long way to go.


The Lawnmower Man

Don’t even get me fucking started on The Lawnmower Man.


Samsung Galaxy VR

So, back to our evening of revelry last weekend. Engage.

Finding myself in an empty cinema I glanced up at my entertainment options, and chose a little VR trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron – coincidentally, one of only two films I’ve ever watched in 3D at the cinema.

And as I followed the path of Thor’s hammer and Cap’s shield across Avengers HQ, snapping pool cues in half and crushing robot heads – all in slow motion, naturally – I was stunned. The AR capabilities were fantastic, as I looked up and down and all around me to see what else was going on in this massive battle.

I also watched a music video by Squarepusher called ‘Stor Eiglass’ which has been published on YouTube 360, allowing you to get the same immersive experience I did, only by moving your mouse rather than your head.

And again, I thought this was absolutely stunning. It helps that I quite like Squarepusher anyway so the music didn’t detract from the experience, but the relatively inexpensive piece of kit that comes from combining some goggles with a smartphone managed to massively surpass my expectations.

I was absolutely blown away by the tech.

Confession: I was also pretty drunk, so there’s a good chance my eyes were already fairly goggly, but I’d recommend this experience to anybody, just to see how far VR has come since the days of Mario Tennis and Craig Charles’ Cyber Zone. And with Sony’s Playstation VR set to hit the shelves in 2016, we could finally be in for that all-encompassing, all-conquering VR experience that the likes of Craig Charles and Pierce bloody Brosnan couldn’t give us before.

Will Seth Rollins turn babyface at WWE Night of Champions?

Sadly enough, it would mean Sheamus cashes in his Money In The Bank briefcase.

When Seth Rollins left Summerslam last month with both the WWE World Heavyweight and United States titles, fans realised that he would be booked to defend both titles on the very next event; Night of Champions, which is one week away.

And with two titles on the line – against John Cena in a US Title rematch and a defence against The Icon, Sting, Rollins will have his work cut out for him to hold onto both.

Current word on Smark Street is that the World title match will actually go on before John Cena gets his big return match for the belt which, to be fair, he has added plenty of value to thanks to the Weekly Open Challenge on RAW. Not only that, but The Champ reportedly has plenty of US Title t-shirts ready to sell during next week’s episode.

When merch means more than the belt, and the US title on Cena means he’ll sell more shirts, what could it possibly mean for the World title?

seth rollins wrestlemania 31

I’m not big on fantasy booking – mainly because my ideal WWE and the actual WWE grow farther apart by the week – but forward-facing fans are soon expecting a Seth Rollins face turn, which would be amazing.

Rollins’ betraying his brothers in The Shield was a pretty big moment, and he’s obviously had some fantastic matches during his heel run, but not many of those have occurred while he’s been world champion. As he’s not currently setting the world on fire in either capacity – baddie or world champion – the time feels right to set Rollins back on the straight and narrow.

Step one: get the World belt off him.

How this happens, and assuming it does happen at Night of Champions – which would be a tremendous disappointment considering the event’s pretty low reputation – there are two ways.

WWE World Heavyweight Title match: Sting beats Seth Rollins

As the lone warrior looking to crush The Authority, Sting’s rampage has to date included the shocking debut at Survivor Series, as well as the destruction of Rollins’ bronze statue, which the newly double champion had made to celebrate his achievement at Summerslam. He heads to Night of Champions determined to end Rollins’ reign of terror.

As much as I respect the work of Sting, who had an absolutely stellar decade with WCW and not so much of another one with TNA, his one WWE match to date ended somewhat flatly with a loss against The Terminator Triple H, and I don’t see a clean win against Rollins happening all that convincingly.

The first step of a Seth Rollins face turn would have to involve an Authority screwjob, and for that to happen it also needs to be convincing enough. He needs to feel weakened and embarrassed by The Authority, which means that, sadly, we would need to have Sting ridiculed for taking the victory against a competitor in the prime of his life.

Triple H can definitely pull that off – “you got beat by him? I barely broke a sweat against him at Wrestlemania!” etc. (This despite the fact that it took all his mates in DX to help him get the win.)

We’ll get to what may potentially happen to Sting as WWE Champion shortly.


WWE World Heavyweight Title match: Seth Rollins retains against Sting

Assuming that Rollins competes earlier in the night for his US Title match against Cena, and whatever happens there, he’ll be Super Weakened from taking on Super Cena, which will make him just that bit more desperate to hold onto some gold against Sting. Whether he admirably pulls out a clean win (an early hint at turning face) or uses despicable tactics to retain (a show of force that he still holds sway around the WWE), let’s assume that he does hold on to the belt…

…until that twat with the stupid beard turns up with his Money In The Bank briefcase.

We all know that Triple H is big on Sheamus – after all, he’s the one that brought him in, and if you looked closely enough on that Wrestlemania entrance, you saw that Sheamus was identified as one of The Terminator’s ‘targets’ in his HUD – even before he’d returned from injury he was still enough of a deal to get on that graphic.

So it could be, that in a vulgar display of power at Night of Champions, that Sheamus absolutely murders Seth Rollins to take away the WWE World Heavyweight Title after cashing in his briefcase, and replaces Rollins as the wrestling face of The Authority.

If Sting does win that title match, and is suitably weakened from an all-out Rollins assault (again, face turn hints may apply), then Sheamus can just as easily wreck The Icon in seconds and take the title. This way, Triple H is again satisfied that the man railing against The Authority is taken care of.

Either way, the prospect of Sheamus becoming WWE Champion at Night of Champions?

No thanks. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but it could be a big step towards turning Seth Rollins from an average heel champion into a determined babyface challenger – and that  particular journey is something many fans will clamour for.