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Archive for April, 2013

Let’s Talk Squeenix

April 29, 2013 1 comment

While writing my glowing review of Tomb Raider recently, I came across news from publisher Square Enix that its sales were “disappointing”. This was a completely different reaction to the one coming out of the developers Crystal Dynamics, who reportedly were ecstatic with the sales. So what’s going on here?

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Ferret vs. The Video Games – Tomb Raider 2013

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

I don’t mention it often here, but I have been known to record myself playing video games for the Internet. In amongst all of this, I played a few of the Tomb Raider games, and that proved to be fairly popular. Of course, with the release of the reboot, I’ve had pretty much everyone who enjoyed those videos contacting me and demanding to know what I think of it. Well, I’ve finally got round to playing it, and here are my thoughts.

For those who don’t know, the Tomb Raider franchise follows archaeologist and adventurer Lara Croft as she travels around the world collecting various trinkets to contribute to her vast inherited wealth while simultaneously killing off the poor and needy. Part of that may be my own personal characterisation, although it’s hard to tell anymore.

Anyway, following the fairly subdued reaction to Lara’s first current gen outing, Underworld, developers Crystal Dynamics decided it was time to revitalise the franchise. They chose to do this by rebooting everything, casting a young and inexperienced Lara in the lead role and showing her progression into a battle-hardened badass.

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The Real Thatcher Legacy

April 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Today was the date of the funeral of divisive former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and naturally with a political figure this polarising, there is criticism. Let’s examine the last week of debates and tributes and see where the rising tension over the funeral has come from.

First of all, what was Margaret Thatcher’s legacy? Some are quick to point out that she was the UK’s first female PM, and that is a major accolade. Many have pointed out how much she stuck to her convictions despite major criticism. She did a few other good things too, apparently, but these all slip my mind right now.

However, let’s look at what made her so divisive. She engineered the closure of many manufacturing industries as well as the coal mines, creating an economic void in many areas of the Midlands and the North, a void that to this day has yet to be filled. She started a war with Argentina over a set of islands that we probably should never have claimed in the first place. She called those who opposed apartheid in South Africa “terrorists”, when all they wanted was the freedom they deserved. She privatised the energy companies, resulting in a modern-day situation where families struggle to pay their bills due to the private companies’ endless desire for excessive profits. She helped deregulate the banks, and the 2008 global economic crash is an indicator of what the legacy of that decision was. She also attempted to cover up the Hillsborough Disaster, where 96 people were killed when they were crushed by a poorly constructed metal barrier at a football ground in Liverpool.

And yet we’re told this is a woman whose legacy needs to be celebrated, when the evidence stacks up to show a leader who didn’t unite the country, but rather divided it. She helped widen the wealth gap and contributed to a lot of the major economic difficulties this country faces to this day. Sure, successive governments did a lot to help it all along, but she certainly started the ball rolling. When the current Prime Minister, David Cameron, openly states how much he admired her politics while simultaneously stealing money from the disabled, it puts her real legacy in stark contrast to the surreal “heartfelt” tributes coming out in the last week.

It’s difficult to see how she really helped the country. She certainly helped the richest, but it’s difficult to see what she did for anyone else. Sure, it could be argued that the coal mines had to be shut down, but Thatcher did nothing to help those communities (whose economies relied on those industries) get back on their feet. Fine, close the mines if they’re a problem, but is there going to be any investment in the local infrastructure so the communities can rely on different industries instead? No? Oh OK then.

Despite the media tributes and pushing for the nation to mourn her, the public have noticeably reacted differently. The ever-creeping rise of “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” from classic musical The Wizard Of Oz in the singles charts was proof of this, although the BBC seemed determined to silence this dissenting opinion by choosing to not play the song in any way beyond a short news clip.

The problem with this is that the BBC is supposed to reflect the public’s opinion, and especially in the charts which should just be a document of what the public is buying. By choosing to not play certain songs, they’re changing facts to suit themselves. They didn’t need to say anything to promote the campaign, and they could have added a disclaimer to indicate that the contents of the charts are merely a record of sales and not indicative of the BBC’s own views. Hell, by making a big fuss over the whole thing, they actually gave the campaign more airtime than they claimed they wanted to give.

It becomes even more ridiculous when they played a pro-Thatcher song at 35 in full, and then when people complained about this they claimed there was no editorial reason to not play it. The divisive nature of Thatcher as detailed above should have been enough to show that they should have either played both or played neither for the sake of balance. I recommend both, because I like to believe we have some degree of freedom of speech in this country (correct me if I’m wrong, though).

Now, on the subject of the funeral, we were informed that she’s not receiving a state funeral, but since her service looked remarkably like the huge ceremony Winston Churchill received for his, those claims seem a little difficult to believe. Not to mention government officials have been hiding the full figures of the public cost already, which doesn’t bode well. There already has been some level of public cost, however, in the £3,750 allowance holidaying MPs received for turning up to a pointless debate about her in Parliament earlier in the week. That’s £3,750 EACH, by the way.

Some may argue that Thatcher had the same level of impact that Churchill did. That’s kind of true, since they both enacted long-lasting changes within Britain. However, Churchill helped unite the country in a time of crisis, while Thatcher had the reverse impact, effectively splitting the country in two, making it a battleground between the obscenely rich and the impoverished working classes. Again, is this really supposed to be something to celebrate?

In all of this, I think the reaction to her death should have been a lot more subdued. The more the Tories try to ramp her up as a figure for worship, the louder the dissenting voices get, and it becomes a never-ending cycle of each party trying to drown out the other. A small and private funeral, no special discussion in Parliament, no furore over a simple song, and no silencing Big Ben, and there wouldn’t have been a major backlash from the many people that Thatcher upset during her lifetime.

Some say that she should be beyond criticism right now, out of respect, but it’s difficult to show respect for her when she showed so little respect for those outside her own little bubble. So I say let the criticism continue.