Back to Black

Very drole T-shirt design. If it wasn't so funny I'd cry.

No not a homage to the passing of Amy Winehouse. Far more tragic in fact; my Xbox recently passed away with the dreaded red ring. When I was considering song titles for the title of this blog I briefly entertained Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’, but in actual fact my reaction to my Xbox popping its clogs would probably be more accurately conveyed by the lyrics of some obscure death metal song, which is entirely made up of grammatically incoherent strings of swear words interspersed with screaming. Still the experience has had two immediate and largely positive consequences. Firstly over the last two weeks I have been rooting through my myriad belongings selling anything I can to save up for a replacement (and to be honest it’s high time I stopped hoarding junk and had a tidy up). Secondly I have temporarily gone back to the black monolith that is the PS3.

Although this enforced exodus has reminded me of all the things I dislike about Sony’s system – the flimsy control pad, the insipid interface, the lack of decent arcade titles, the long updates, and the dodgy communications infrastructure (the latter of which has resulted in my friend and I using Skype whilst playing online) – still I finally took the opportunity to fully complete Uncharted 2 on ‘crushing’ difficulty, thus bagging myself my very first Platinum trophy! The amount of pride I take in this is immense, considering I never thought I would go back to it having previously gotten very stuck on the train level (where you have to fight a gun totting Russian commando with unlimited ammo and a mean right hook). I had accumulated a massive pile of games on Xbox just waiting to be played and due to my recent unemployment I was looking forward to getting stuck in. Meanwhile I have very few games on my PS3, which I tend to just keep around for promising exclusives, so Uncharted 2 was my only real option. And so, because a gamer always needs targets (though not necessarily real life ones), I was determined to get it finished before the lovely looking Uncharted 3 arrived, shaking sand all over my carpet.

Childish I know, but I couldn't resist…
Where was this technique when I was fighting Zoran?

But my god, I didn’t count on the last fight of Uncharted 2 on crushing difficulty being probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire gaming career! Running around the tree of life closely pursued by an inhumanly powerful Russian warlord pounding you with shotgun shells and grenades, your only hope to turn at just the right moment and take out the explosive spores around the arena, is no picnic. It’s a mixture of memorising every inch of a fixed route and not deviating from it in the slightest as you flee for your life, whilst at the same time not letting your pursuer get too close or too far, and hoping all the time to get lucky and not be taken out by one of your enemy’s insanely accurate shots. I must have restarted the fight about 100 times (thank god there aren’t any load screens in the game), so when I finished it I was elated.

I’ll be getting a shiny new Xbox next week (trading the charismatic tofu block of the original for the sleek and slightly angry looking current model) but I’ll never forget my trip to Shambala saving the world with Nathan Drake.





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