Friday, 22 May 2015

E3: Please be fun

This year's E3 has a weird, mysterious vibe about it. Nobody really knows what's going down.

The consoles are completely bedded in now, with the XBO catching up to the PS4 in terms of market share and the Wii U predictably shirking away from the fight after it's head start. There's little on the cards for so many major players in the industry this year, however, that it's beginning to feel like we're being played. Either everyone is hiding something from us, or there really is bugger all coming in the next year. Here's a few logical expectations, based on my twisted, cynical mind.

Sony have several exclusives they've yet to show off. Uncharted 4 and Street Fighter V are almost certainties. Sony Santa Monica have also been incredibly quiet lately, and with a God Of War 3 remaster already confirmed you can bet they're still trying to pummel that horse. Forgive me, I loved the earlier games, but the genre has moved on. Sucker Punch are probably working on a new inFamous game. I wouldn't bet against Tony Hawk showing up, knee-pads and all, to flash his creased-up smile and show off the new Pro Skater on the Sony stage either. Bloodborne DLC probably earned itself a cameo with it's strong exclusive sales.

Square Enix have plenty to show off, but their timed exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Tomb Raider means they'll probably be wearing green rosettes this year. Final Fantasy XV is expected, but don't forget the new Deus Ex game; the last one came and went with unspectacular grace despite critical acclaim. There's also Kingdom Hearts 3, Just Cause and Dragon Quest in the works. I'd expect little of the former, a cinematic trailer of the middle and the latter to pop up in Nintendo's conference as part of their 3DS lineup.

Of all the conferences, I expect Microsoft to play it the most safe. They have their own GoW remaster to show off after leaked footage confirmed alpha testing on it was well underway. If I had to bet on Call of Duty appearing somewhere, I'd put it here. Halo 5 is a given following cryptic CGI trailers being shown on TV for months now. Other surprises could include first-party properties that we haven't seen on the new consoles yet (Crackdown, anyone?).

EA will do their thing with sports and shootin'. There'll be some celebrity trotted out to promote Madden or NBA. Kendrick Lamar, probably. Dragon Age's first DLC took a long time coming, so I would assume they have more in the pipeworks to promise. Bioware don't seem ready to show much of Mass Effect 4 yet, so I'd assume cryptic CGI is the best we'll get. Please fucking give us some Mirror's Edge 2 shit though. PLEASE.

Nintendo's big thing this year is Splatoon. Expect it. Zany live multiplayer gameplay! Young people and adults having fun! There has to be more big Wii U announcements coming though: Mario and Zelda are conspicuous by their absence. The 3DS should have a good year with the redesign's release: Dragon Quest, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy and more could get a whirlwind plug.

The world doesn't just expect Fallout 4 from Bethedsa, they're demanding it with such fervour you'd think they were able to squirt it into existence from their pores. So yeah, it's coming, but there'll be plenty of time devoted to their other big hitter. Elder Scrolls Online launches on consoles a week prior so updates and expansions are going to be pledged. With the main series taking a backseat to Fallout for a couple of years, I'd expect a HD re-release of either Oblivion or Skyrim too - it's surely too easy a cow to milk to not, right? We'll get more DOOM, but whether the world cares any longer is another question.

Ubisoft have Ass Creed. They have Rayman. They have Watch Dogs. They have Just Dance. Sequels to all of these things are more certain than the rising of the tides, the continuation of time or the inevitable heat death of the universe.

I can't wait!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Mandleson doesn't just Labour the point, he missed it completely

Since I last wrote, the unthinkable happened. Months of polling proved unanimously inaccurate as the Tories won a majority government at the expense of Ed Milliband and Labour, who suffered a catastrophic landslide of a defeat.

Reactions in the Labour camp were swift, with Milliband resigning at around midday on Friday, with over a dozen seats yet to declare. It has now gone from swift to utterly chaotic. The leaderless party is at a twenty-year low in terms of influence and popularity. New contenders are already puffing their chests out and making their names known in media appearances - Chuka Ummuna, Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt and (my personal choice of the current favourites) David Lammy.

Along with the new faces have come the old. Lords and Peers pouring out of the woodwork from all corners to lament the current state of the world around them. Amongst them was Tony Blair's own personal Grand Moff Tarkin, Peter Mandleson. Mandleson declared to Andrew Marr that Labour "had gone back to the 80's", becoming far too left-wing and abandoning the good work he and Blair did in 1997, changing Labour from an outside force into the biggest Labour majority of all time.

Mandleson's claim that Labour needs to lurch back towards the right wing shows a complete lack of understanding of why Labour lost so badly, however. The perception of Ed Milliband being a left-wing radical was absolute nonsense, successfully proliferated by the media despite Milliband himself being part of Mandleson's New Labour treasury in 1997.

The political leanings of a new leader don't matter, because it's the media that make or break them. If David Milliband had won the leadership contest all those years ago, we wouldn't have seen half as much personal nastiness and outright lies told in the press in order to destroy his character and deny him any chance of public popularity as a leader. Labour must pick the right person before the right policies. Milliband was painted as a dweeb, a man who probably wouldn't have been there if not for an old-fashioned leadership system, elected by Old Labour cronies to spite Blair's legacy. The next Labour leader has to cast off the old-new Labour dichotomy, and stand for progressiveness above all. Of the current favourites for the role listed above, only one is a white male - an encouraging sign of the increasing awareness within the party that Labour simply didn't offer a clear alternative to the Tories to win votes this year.

Mandleson's claim that the party needs to dive towards centrist values is incredibly stupid. Typically centrist constituencies, such as those in the Southwest, are usually a straight fight between Tory and Lib Dems. Labour lost the election not just because of their weakness, but because of the Lib Dem's weakness too. If the Lib Dems hadn't lost over 45 seats, there'd be no majority Government. Attempting to turn Labour into Lib Dem v2.0 wouldn't be worth it, because I haven't even gotten to the most important reason Labour did so poorly yet.

SCOTLAND. Everyone is talking about it like their ADHD nephew. "Oh god, she's running wild that one. Poor Aunt Kelso, she's being trodden on left right and centre. God help us if she grows any bigger and more willful. Whatever will we do?" The SNP won 56 of 59 seats in their country. Labour, who have been safe and sound there for decades, are left with one seat North of Hadrian's Wall.

The South continues to misunderstand why Scotland voted in the SNP in such a landslide. The media are keen to push this divide as "a surge in nationalism", a sudden fuck you to the English from a nation that voted to stay sisters with it just a year ago. Don't be misled. The SNP stand for much more than nationalism. They stand for a proper Scottish voice.

Scotland has always been Labour because Scotland are a nation of grinders. The weather is worse, and the culture is different. Grand, historic manual industries like fishing and mining make their economy tick, as opposed to the twinkling financial skyscrapers of London. It's completely logical that they require a different political position to us waxed and shiny Southerners. So why, when the party just lost a shitload of seats there, is Mandleson suggesting that Labour needs to become less appealing to the Scots by looking more like the Tories again?

Scotland didn't vote for the SNP because of nationalism, they voted SNP because the Labour party couldn't deliver a clear message for working-class people. They couldn't promise that they'd stop austerity, the spending and welfare cuts that have hit so many of the poorest so hard. They were in favour of Trident, Britain's needless, expensive nuclear weapons that are docked dangerously on Scottish waters. They couldn't promise action on the EU - not just an in/out referendum, but working with the EU on fishing and production law to make Scotland as productive as possible. Most of all, they couldn't promise that Scotland would be given a culturally representative voice in Westminster.

The SNP offered all of that, and more. Lord Mandleson, with all respect, is wrong. Labour doesn't need to lurch further to the right. It needs to lurch further to the left. Because as Scotland has shown, having an actual alternative that actually fights for your rights in Parliament is much more likely to win votes than having no alternatives to the status quo at all.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

30 reasons why you should vote for Rebecca Harris

Stuck on the fence on election day? Live in Castle Point? Here's thirty reasons to convince you why the Conservative Party's Rebecca Harris deserves your vote.

  1. Rebecca Harris has no opinion on Marmite, "Oh I dunno, I think it's okay on toast. But I'm a mustard girl."
  2. Rebecca Harris owns a copy of Queen's greatest hits and has had it in her hi-fi since 2003
  3. Rebecca Harris goes to her son's sunday league matches and doesn't cheer because she's embarrassed she'll cheer at the wrong time.
  4. Rebecca Harris didn't "get" Blur OR Oasis, but she pretended to like them both anyway.
  5. Rebecca Harris always takes her shoes off when she comes into your house, even if she's just dropping a birthday card round.
  6. Rebecca Harris apologises for being early to the school parent's evening
  7. Rebecca Harris stops you as you go to wash the car, "hold on a second lovely, let me check the forecast before you do that".
  8. Rebecca Harris doesn't understand why dogs and cats can't just eat the same food. "It all smells the same, doesn't it?"
  9. Rebecca Harris apologises to the rug after tripping over it.
  10. Rebecca Harris always refers to supermarket cashiers by their name when she thanks them, unaware that this unnerves them every time.
  11. Rebecca Harris replies "thanks, you too" when waiters wish her a pleasant meal.
  12. Rebecca Harris doesn't like spiders, but didn't complain when she got a tarantula for her 11th birthday because she thought her dad might just take it outside and kill it.
  13. Rebecca Harris' favourite curry is chicken korma.
  14. Rebecca Harris shreiks "I'M IN HERE" when someone tries to push open the cubicle in the pub loo, even though it's locked.
  15. Rebecca Harris always found Ed Norton more attractive than Brad Pitt in the film Fight Club.
  16. Rebecca Harris always orders rum and raisin flavour ice cream in Rossi, then always makes the same joke, "I better not eat this too quickly!"
  17. Rebecca Harris hasn't seen Mean Girls, but she always pretends she has whenever people post quotes from it on Twitter.
  18. Rebecca Harris doesn't trust e-mail, "how can you prove your message got there if a postman didn't see it?"
  19. Rebecca Harris phones in to vote on the X Factor final, but ONLY the final.
  20. Rebecca Harris started writing a screenplay about a down-on-her-luck PR agent who falls for a celebrity client, but she never got around to finishing it.
  21. Rebecca Harris always wants a coffee at the end of her dinner out, but doesn't order one because her friends want to leave.
  22. Rebecca Harris thinks Jack Whitehall is "cute, but a bit overbearing".
  23. Rebecca Harris gets stood up, but decides to complete all her planned date activities solo anyway.
  24. Rebecca Harris doesn't believe in astrology, but still checks the Mystic Meg column daily for some reason.
  25. Rebecca Harris found the plot of Lord Of The Rings "okay I suppose... A little far-fetched."
  26. Rebecca Harris hates how many notifications she gets, but doesn't know how you turn them off.
  27. Rebecca Harris carries a pack of Rivita biscuits in her bag at all times, "just in case".
  28. Rebecca Harris talks to herself as she leaves the house, "okay so I've got my phone, keys, purse... Let's go!"
  29. Rebecca Harris thought Picasso was alive before Da Vinci, "but this one is much nicer. Look at the state of the nose on that other one!"
  30. Rebecca Harris thought the hair on her default Sims character was a really nice colour, actually.