Monthly Archives: June 2009

Reviewlet: Spook Country by William Gibson

I started reading William Gibson in the late 90s, by which time Neuromancer was a strange mix of past, present and future; possibly as a result I preferred his Bridge trilogy. When Pattern Recognition came out I didn’t pick it up; I’m not really sure why, possibly from a snap first impression that it was something to do with advertising. Spook Country, on the other hand, sounded much more like it; espionage fiction had been a bit quiet since the end of the Cold War.

Typically for Gibson, Spook Country kicks off in median res, the first few chapters being slightly hard work as you assimilate the main characters, then it’s off on the trail of a container via virtual locative art, medieval history filtered through tranquillizers and the orishas of Santeria, ending with almost as many questions as you started (albeit different ones). Gibson’s prose is as vivid as ever, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed Spook Country, though the “lead singer of a cult indie band” background of the lead character jarred slightly.

For a slightly more acerbic (but obviously spoilertastic) take, it’s also the feature of one of The Guardian’s rather excellent Digested Reads.

Thought for the day.

If there’s one thing you’re guaranteed to hear in Lord of the Rings Online it’s ‘Let us Hunt Some X’.


And where Us means You.

Honestly, it’s like the bastard offspring of Hemet Nesingwary and Hunter Van Pelt moved to Middle Earth and spent the First and Second age having an incestuous love-in, before finally unleashing the resulting deranged generations upon the world.

Time gentlemen, please.

One of the interesting debates with respect to Star Wars: The Old Republic, or TOR as it’s supposed to be referred to, but then I have to add “blimey Mahwey Poppin’s” after it, and then I break out into the whole Chim Chimney routine, which gets a bit dull after a while, especially trying to get back down from the neighbour’s rooftop for the fourth time in a row. Anyway, one of the interesting morsels of information that Bioware has dangled tantalisingly above our heads and let us jump for with clamouring maws is the fact that TOR (blimey Mahwey etc.) is set approximately three thousand five hundred years before the original films.

I wonder if it’s not perhaps a little too far back?

I understand that they’ve done this to give themselves room to manoeuvre with respect to the Star Wars IP, but honestly, how much room do you really need? Think of the human race’s history, from today and reaching back three thousand five hundred or so years. Consider all the things that have been and gone in that time. If, for example, there are starship manufacturers from the original Star Wars films back in the time of TOR, it’s like having Mr Horus’s Olde Egyptian Pyramid Shoppe still building pyramids today; admittedly they’d look a bit different now, they’d be all futuristic and cube shaped. However, the Star Wars universe has always been a very futuristic setting, it’s a weird mix of technology, religion and tribal shamanism, and it may perhaps be a reflection of the enduring nature of a suitably advanced intergalactic society. We have no experience of this, as of yet, so perhaps such a thing is indeed possible.

It’s amazing, however, that in three thousand five hundred years no manufacturer has managed to come up with a voice synthesizer chip for an R series droid.

The Jedi and Sith I can sort of believe, however. Ok, I think that the ol’ lightsaber might have been adapted a little more in the three millennia that we’ve witnessed it, and that the Grand Master Jedi Tailor might have come up with something a little more inspiring than incontinence brown for the colour scheme of the greatest fighting order the galaxy has ever seen in the meantime, but perhaps it’s something that can be happily overlooked. One just has to look at our religions, some of which have been going for a thousand years or more, to see that they are one of those rare things that man has invented which can endure across vast spans of time.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Bioware approach this problem, to make the game feel both Star Warsy enough and at the same time alien enough that fans will not begin to wonder when exactly they’re going to get to meet Darth Vader or fly the Millennium Falcon. Although in the case of the latter, the clue is perhaps in the name.

They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels.

Whilst browsing through the Battlefield Heroes FAQ I came across this gem instead of any useful information:

I took off all my Hero’s clothes. But when I enter the game, I’m fully clothed again. What’s the deal?

Even if you strip off all of your Hero’s clothing, your character will, by default, have the items applied to his empty slots when he enters the game.

If you want to play the game without a shirt, or in your underwear, you will need to purchase the Naked Chest and/or Naked Legs items from the Store and equip them in the appropriate slot.

Yes, they’re going to make you pay to take off your pants, it’s like a kind of strange inverse stripping where you pay to take off your clothes and horrify others with your fleshy extremities.

Welcome to the wonderful world of micro transactions.

Reviewlet: Guitar Hero Greatest Hits

In a shocking turn of events, the European release of Wii Rock Band 2 has been put back again. Current estimate from is 31st July; a Harmonix developer has posted “… we ran into several technical issues that required attention before the game could be finalized”, which I believe may be a code for “we sent a second raft to try and find the first, and located it beached upon the shore of the lost island of Atlantis. Namor the Sub-Mariner is looking a bit miffed about the whole business.”

Still, not to worry, I’ve still got the latter half of the Guitar Hero: Metallica setlist to conquer (quite chuffed about passing One the other day), and Guitar Hero Greatest Hits has just turned up in the post too. Known as Guitar Hero Smash Hits in the US, presumably renamed to avoid the kids/teen pop magazine connotations of the name in the UK, Greatest Hits follows hot on the heels of Metallica, but with less Metallica, and… er… more Hits. That are Great. With 48 songs taken from previous Guitar Hero games, Greatest Hits is probably one to avoid if you’re only interested in playing the plastic guitar and have played the other games extensively. If, on the other hand, you only came into the series with Guitar Hero World Tour, it’s a good way of getting a bunch of rather excellent songs, and with full band support.

Greatest Hits has all the good stuff of World Tour like customisable characters and instruments, and keeps the Metallica approach to the career in which you need to achieve a certain number of stars over all songs in a tier to progress, rather than having to play through absolutely everything, which works rather well. There seems to be some sort of plot involving the classic Guitar Hero characters being summoned to rock out across the world, or something, but plot in a Guitar Hero game is about as relevant as plot in a porn movie, something to rapidly skip through to get to the strumming.

All in all, probably not a mandatory purchase at full price unless you’re desperate for something new, but well worth picking up when they knock a few quid off.

The Norrathian Resignation

Steinbeck lured me back in for one last mission. I was tempted, blast it, damn tempted by the offer he put on the table, and I couldn’t say no. It went pretty well at first, we cleared the beach without too much trouble, accomplished the initial tasks, but when I reported in to Secondary Terkenil Niba’Xi like they told me, and he wanted yet another ten Haoaerans taken out, something snapped. I threw Mak`tu’s Mending Staff down on his desk and told him it was his own damn soufflé, he could use his own damn eggwhisk. It was over. Finished. Done with. Over and finished. Done over and finished with. Over. You understand? Finished over with. Done. I’m out. Finished out and overdone.

I can’t say I won’t miss anything from the old days: creating a new identity, the camaraderie, the Tesco clubcard points, but you can’t eat camaraderie and clubcard points when you’re stuck on a beach in Chrykori and Tykor Gi’Lok is busting your arse to take down a patrol of Haoaerans and haul a bunch of gravel around the place. Unless you cashed in the clubcard points for some groceries.

So. Yes. Steam suggestively waggled its cheap EverQuest 2 at me and I couldn’t resist, but playing up to level ten or so has confirmed I’m burnt out on MMOGs for a while. It’s not you, EQ2, it’s me; character creation offered a wealth of options, albeit something of a curate’s egg (excellent in parts), the starter zone introduces everything nicely, there’s much to look forward to, but… it’s an MMOG. There’s a red bar, and a blue bar, and skills and abilities that cause or heal damage, and I can’t muster much enthusiasm for killing ten bird-things or collecting five bits of rock or reporting to some NPC somewhere. I haven’t logged into Warhammer Online for any of the Land of the Dead stuff, or City of Heroes for even longer than that, so I guess it’s time for the annual MMOG break. On with the most excellent Empire: Total War, where Britannia are (in some regions) ruling the waves, and I’m hoping the delicate network of protectorates and trade agreements in Central Europe will hold while I continue taking more territory in the Americas.

Top Gear.

Some say that she can lick her own back.
And that she once opened a coconut using only her thighs.

All we know is that she’s called The Trib.

She's called Tri Badism.

Oh, and she fights in leopard print leggings. We know that too. With two swords. And high heels. And… I’ll be right back…

It’s a very pretty game, and I don’t just mean the character designs and their outfits. The whole world (that which I’ve seen) is fabulously realised and very attractive. However, having dabbled only in the latest beta weekend – and then only finding time for about an hours worth of play – I haven’t had enough opportunity to play in order to know whether it’s that sort of forced ‘beauty pageant’ beauty which is essentially vacant underneath, or whether it also has a PHD in complicated surgery, likes rugby, a good pint of bitter, is able to name all the characters from Twelfth Night and can kick one’s buttocks in Soul Calibur and in real life.

So far it’s very much of the standard fare from what I’ve seen: not a bad thing per se, but I’ll be interested to see if it has any tricks up its sleeves beyond the accomplished starter area shimmer and shine.

Don't be deceived, she's the one that will be doing all the stabbing.

It’s certainly one to keep an eye on. To find out if that outfit gradually transforms into a full-on ‘Olivia Newton-John in the Grease finale’ number, if nothing else.

It was sixteen years ago today

October 1993. Military forces stormed the Russian parliament, Benazir Bhutto was elected in Pakistan, and I’d bought an issue of Computer Shopper. For £1.49 it had a hefty 582 pages, much of it advertising in the era of catalogue adverts, companies like Software Warehouse and Computers by Post taking ten to fifteen pages to showcase their wares. Inside the front cover fold-out was the familiar Dell logo; their Dimension range started with a 25Mhz 486SX with 4MBb RAM, an 80Mb hard drive and SVGA for £859, and went up to a 66Mhz 486DX with 8Mb RAM and 230Mb hard drive for £1,819. Anyone who’d bought the “Pentium ready” machine from August ’92 must have been a bit miffed; still no sign of Intel’s latest uberchip, and Dan were selling a 64 bit “dantium” system, just poised to upgrade to a FULL BLOWN PENTIUM(tm) via a CPU card as soon as it became available, at £2848 for the 486DX2/66 model with 1.05GB hard drive. Amstrad were still going, with their 7486SLC coming it at a fairly reasonable £699; rather more intriguing was their “MEGA PC”, a curious hybrid of a 386SX PC and a Sega Mega Drive. I remember someone at school talking of this mythical beast, a PC that transformed at the slide of a panel into a console, and I thought it was their fevered imagination, but no, such a thing actually existed; this very advert was on page 511. Notebook PCs with beefy processors and colour VGA screens offered power on the move, but at a price; £2699 for a 486/33 from Mitac. More compact than that, Time were offering a Sharp Palmtop PC (though you’d need pretty big palms) weighing a mere 1lb, toting DOS 3.3, a CGA LCD screen and 1Mb RAM for £239. Alternatively, if you wanted to eschew the keyboard, Amstrad were branching out with the PenPad PDA600 for £229: “with the latest in technology Amstrad bring you the PenPad PDA600; a comprehensive Personal Digital Assistant which is as natural to use as a traditional organiser. Just pick up the pen and write on the screen!”

As part of a fairly thorough buying guide, the PriceTrack feature tracked average prices of some sample systems over the course of the past six months; as would be expected, desktop PC prices had been fairly steadily falling, but the column advised buying sooner rather than later, or holding off for a while, as an explosion at a Japanese epoxy resin plant caused a worldwide Ram shortage. Notebook PCs also fell in price over the six months, albeit by a smaller percentage, while printers had held steady, indeed the average 24 pin dot matrix had slightly increased in price.

After 276 pages of almost solid adverts, the news pages started. Microsoft were beta testing the final upgrade for Windows 3, codenamed “Snowball”, a stepping stone towards the 32-bit “Chicago”, at that point due to appear the next year as Windows 4.0, while Windows NT has finally arrived in the UK after many delays. IBM had announced a record quarterly loss of $8 billion, but hoped the latest round of cuts would return it to profitability. Apple had just unveiled the Newton MessagePad, the £599 price tag doubtless contributing to its subsequent lack of success. Colour LCD displays were taking off, Compaq being unable to clear an order backlog for its TFT-equipped laptops, prompting Philips to invest in a TFT LCD screen factory. Microsoft and Borland were duking it out in the 32-bit development space with Visual C++ for Windows NT and Borland’s C++ for OS/2; the caption of “yes, honestly, a third-party product for OS/2” suggests how well IBM’s operating system was doing.

With the introduction of Apple’s Newton, the Analysis section looked at the new buzzword in town: Stici. Pronounced “sticky” (apparently), it stood for “Self-teaching interpretive communicating interface”, the successor to the GUI. US analyst BIS Strategic Decisions predicted this would be the next big thing, with 60.4% of the US installed base of PCs and PDAs using a “Stici” interface by 1998. Maybe not, eh?

Group reviews included a bumper roundup of 21 386s, with machines from Acer, Brother and Watford getting the Best Buy nod, and budget databases, rounding up a number of packages under £100.

The “Using MSDOS” column in this issue was on creating multiple configurations in the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files, extremely useful for gamers when you had to juggle expanded, extended and high memory, along with assorted drivers for mice, soundcards and other gubbins, depending on the game. DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE RAM i=e000-efff x=A000-c7ff x=DC00-DFFF 1024, eh? Those were the days… Other columns covered Windows, programming, and, being a multi-format magazine, the Amiga, Atari and Mac. Although 99% of the advertising was IBM-compatible focused, it was often interesting to see what was going on with other systems, and this month’s Amiga column included news of the CD32 Amiga Console launch from July at the Science Museum that involved “drinking champagne and being sprayed with a water pistol by Chris ‘Big Breakfast’ Evans if we weren’t paying attention”. The basic machine cost £299.99, with a full-motion video (FMV) cartridge add-on for another £200. Phil South wasn’t impressed, though, having several problems with the name (“CD32 is a crap name with as much charisma as a boiled egg”), the case (“the CD32 is charcoal grey and all sharp edges like a cheap stereo out of a home shopping catalogue”), and the idea of the idea of music CDs also containing an FMV video. His suggestion: “follow the advice of a firm that Commodore consulted early on in the life of the CD32: make some really good soft-porn FMVs to pull in the adults, and have some really gory games to pull in the teenagers. Get some of the software banned and you won’t be able to shift the machines fast enough.” Wonder if that consultant was Jack Thompson?

Presumably some old charter or something compelled all PC magazines to have a section called “After Hours”, Computer Shopper being no exception. A whole two pages, this month saw reviews of Beauty and the Beast, a tie-in for the Disney film, Patience Games, 15 solo card games for DOS, and DesignaKnit. Not really the cutting edge of PC gaming, but no matter; though no one would have believed, in the last months of the the twentieth century (give or take seven years) PC gaming was being reported upon elsewhere in the timeless worlds of publishing…

The sparkling waves are calling you to touch their white laced lips

I’ve been cruising towards an MMOG break for a while now. Although the server move in Warhammer Online seems to have perked things up greatly on the RvR front I’ve scarcely logged in the last few weeks, and the prospect of the Land of the Dead doesn’t excite me greatly, though I should probably give it a try before dismissing it entirely. It’s been a good run, though. After getting a bit sick of it all almost exactly a year ago I wasn’t sure if I’d stick with another MMOG for more than a month, but I’ve been fairly active in WAR for six months or so, popped in and out for another three, and managed my first level capped character since hitting level 70 in The Burning Crusade. Time for a bit of a break, then, to recharge the massively multiplayer online batteries for Champions Online, or APB, or The Agency, or whatever next catches the eye.

Away from MMOGs, Grand Theft Auto IV is still fun to pop into now and again for a few missions, or a race, or just to cruise around the city looking for shiny cars to purloin. Empire: Total War is also excellent, I’ve been paying more attention to the naval battles which are quite manageable with a fleet of up to four ships (more than that and I find it tricky to micromanage them for optimal broadside-delivery). I’ve got half the setlist to go in Guitar Hero: Metallica, getting the hang of heavy strumming (Shortest Straw and Disposable Heroes passed), but the longer solos still need work. I’ve finally got around to playing Left 4 Dead’s Survival Mode with a few friends, and would like to try some more. For quick pick-up-and-play fun there’s Plants vs Zombies (I say “quick”, inevitably a five minute game somehow stretches out to a couple of hours…) Summer is traditionally a quiet time for game releases, which is good, I’ve got plenty to be getting on with. I really don’t need any new games.

Naturally, then, I’ve been buying stuff from Steam. First, it popped up the news that the two Freedom Force games were available for a fiver, just as I’d been reminiscing a bit during a podcast invasion, so I stuck the double pack in the shopping cart (after all, if you get one you might as well get the other… even though the boxed game of Freedom Force vs the Third Reich was sitting on a shelf not four feet away). And seeing as I was in the Steam store, sorting the options in ascending price order to see what else could be had for under a fiver… While doing my series of articles looking back at old PC magazines and thinking back to early gaming I’d remembered how much I’d enjoyed the original Civilisation but totally neglected the rest of the series, and the complete Civ III was on Steam for about £3.99. Two Freedom Force games and a boatload of Civilisation for less than a tenner, lovely! About the same price as a cinema ticket, and many more hours of fun.

To digress for a moment, when did a cinema ticket become the benchmark for hobby cost/time ratio, why not something else? Say, books? A shiny new hardback can run to somewhere around £20, you might finish it in three or four hours if you’re a fast reader… comparable to the cinema ticket, I guess, maybe slightly better value. You’d probably get it at a discount from Amazon or somewhere, though, or maybe in a three for the price of two deal, and you could always sell the book after you finish it, or keep it to re-read, and who only gets brand new hardbacks anyway? Poke around the charity shops and jumble sales, you can pick up plenty of stuff for 50p or less, radically reducing the cost per hour. Why spend money at all, in fact, a bracing walk around our delightful countryside is entirely free (as in beer, not necessarily as in speech, depending on the right to roam etc.) Let’s not get the ramblers involved, though, and lack of cost plays havoc with divide by zero errors in the spreadsheet. Tell you what, Sherbet Dip Dabs. 39p (in the shop at the end of the road, at least), and, providing you don’t go crazy and start chewing the lolly straight away, you can get ten minutes out of a packet, giving £2.34 as an hourly cost benchmark. That’ll do.

So, two Freedom Force games and a boatload of Civilisation for the price of three and a half hours of Sherbet Dip Dabs, and they won’t make you sick if you play the whole lot at once. The money isn’t really an issue, though, that entire previous paragraph was just an excuse to crowbar Sherbet Dip Dabs into the post in a desperate attempt to secure some kind of sherbet-based sponsorship for the blog (not Sherbet Fountains, though; liquorice, eugh!). I’m hardly lighting cigars with twenty pound notes, but then I’m not so boracic[1] that buying a few games here and there means I need to forego other luxuries like food or rent in a month.

Except money *is* the issue, if the Steam update had popped up and said “Buy either Freedom Force game for £19.99, or £34.95 for the two!” I’m reasonably sure I wouldn’t have bothered. Civilisation IV was available, presumably a better game than III, but for the massive sum of about £12.99 instead of less than a fiver. To the immortal question of Mrs Non-Gorilla, “What d’you buy that for?”, I can but plead “Oooh! It was a bargain”, and I’m hardly alone. As the figures put out by Steam show, major price drops result in kersquillions percent sales increases, particularly when they’re for a limited time.

Anyway. The result of all that was more games than I could possibly play plus three extra, but that was it. Whatever the siren call of the Steam bargain of the week, I’d plug my ears with cheese and lash myself to the mast, even if it’s Cheap MMOG Weekend. What’s that you say, Narrative Inevitability? It’s Cheap MMOG Weekend on Steam? Well, it’s a good job I’m taking an MMOG break not about to go and buy something just ‘cos it’s cheap.

So. Yeah. I’ve got a level seven Inquisitor in EverQuest 2. Oh come on, it was a bargain!

[1] Fun fact, etymology fans: I’d assumed the word was ‘brassic’, and somehow related to cabbages, perhaps being so poor they were all you could afford to eat; it actually seems to be rhyming slang, ‘boracic lint’ for ‘skint’.

Honestly, I put half a Mars bar in the glove box once and he chased me around the garden with a bit of wood.

In a move which can only be seen as a deliberate affront to a small collection of individuals who come together on a Tuesday evening to play console games, Microsoft have decided to update their XBox Live service today, taking it offline to apply the first of what I imagine to be a number of patches which will update the system with the shiny new features announced at their conference at this year’s E3, thus ushering in a new world order, global peace and hence delivering the catalyst to mankind’s colonisation of the stars. Or some streaming HD video and a new dashboard skin, depending on who you speak to.

This is doubly treacherous as the Console Club… No. Sorry, no. No, I just can’t do it any more. It’s that name – Console Club – it just does not do our little group of gaming geeks justice. It needs more power, more marketability. It needs to project the noble nature of our little band of beings. We need a name that other gamers will come to recognise with a mixture of awe and fear. Now, I’ve had a look around at the gaming industry and observed how their naming conventions work, and clearly the trend is to associate a brand name with the game’s title to give it more impact. I look at games like Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland or American McGee’s Alice and I see imposing, impactful names that strike a chord deep within the gamer psyche.

So where was I? Oh yes, so this update to XBox Live is doubly treacherous to Jon Shute’s Console Club[TM] because, since the time of our last gathering, that stalwart enabler of our eight-player tenuously co-operative pleasure, Burnout Paradise, has been updated with the new Big Surf Island downloadable content expansion. Therefore we have all individually been driving around, grabbing the time when we can to ‘burn’, and indeed ‘out’, around the new zone. We’ve all been twitterating about our enjoyment of the ludicrously large and improbably placed jumps that are dotted all over the island, but have yet to arrange a gathering of the eight regular players in order to experience that exquisite sense of enjoyment that only occurs when one leaps at one hundred and fifty miles an hour from the roof of a multi-story car park, only to realise too late that seven other people have had the same idea, but from an adjacent building and in the opposite direction. Paradise City doesn’t need traffic lights, it needs air traffic control.

So Burnout has been on my mind today, and in considering the joys of the game my mind wandered off the general path, got lost in the forest of ponderings, tripped on the roots of curiosity and fell into the thorny bush of idiosyncrasy. Eventually it made it back home long after dark, cut, bruised and exhausted but with a new outlook on the game, struck by the light of revelation as it struggled its way out of that dark place, and like a messiah it preached its new insights to me, to whit:

Where the blazing arse are all the pedestrians in Burnout Paradise?

The city of Paradise is indeed a meticulously crafted adventure playground for cars, but there are simply no people to be found. Not a one. This might not seem so curious until one considers that there is plenty of other road traffic. Oh yes, road traffic abounds, specifically it is to be found in precisely all the wrong places: on the apex of that corner you’re trying to negotiate at eighty miles an hour, sideways, whilst trying to fend off two other racers and looking in your rear view mirror for others. When you’re trying to take that intersection flat out in order to hit the jump beyond it at maximum velocity, why of course there’s a sudden surge of traffic all desperately needing to cross at a tangent to your path at the same time. And it often seems as though there’s always a city-wide emergency radio broadcast that all traffic must exit the highway at the exact same junction that you’re currently approaching at two hundred miles an hour, with your tail pipes on fire, and the entire offside of your car missing.

So here we have this detailed city, clearly heavily populated as evidenced by all the idiots in cars who just don’t seem to comprehend that you’re trying to get up enough speed to do a triple barrel roll over the railway and you don’t have time to mess about with petty contrivances such as driving on the correct side of the road, or even on the road. So where are all the pedestrians? One might think that they may not approve of these highly skilled street racing drivers who yes, admittedly, occasionally make the odd error in judgement and end up driving along the pavement. At one hundred and eighty miles an hour. On their roof. On fire. But there’s plenty of pavement in Paradise, surely we can all share? Perhaps it’s due to this slightly fiery cross traffic that the pedestrians are hiding in the buildings and making mad dashes from place to place when there are no Mad-Max-like V8-powered death machines within a ten mile radius. This most certainly isn’t the case, however, and I should know: I’ve checked out the interiors of many a building as I’ve shot through the front entrance in a flaming ball of gasoline and nitrous oxide, and there wasn’t a charred corpse to be found amongst the wreckage, no siree bob. There’s simply nobody around.

My theory? Zombie apocalypse.

No really, zombie apocalypse, it explains everything. Bear with me here. So at some point in the recent past there was a viral outbreak in Paradise City, now this makes sense from a dramatic point of view: where else would a zombie virus first make its way into the world than in a place called Paradise? It’s the sort of unoriginal irony that Hollywood bigwigs love to roll around and rub themselves in, like a small dog in horse manure. And in the grand tradition of all ‘great’ movies, I can then continue my exposition with “We’re not sure what happened next, how we came to be this way (because it would probably rip a horrid great hole in the plot of this film, and we’re condescending enough to think that you won’t see it if we don’t spell it out for you explicitly)”. So we’ve now established that there was a viral outbreak and that people were all turned into zombies. Except… for those in their cars! See? It’s brilliant! Ok, ok, so basically everyone lives in their cars now and all the zombies are dead because they all got run over by a car at some point or other. Nobody is brave enough to leave their car in case the virus is still out there, so everyone is content to just carry on their lives from within their car. Admittedly everyone being in cars all the time does make it more awkward for some: traffic cops are swamped with work, and this probably explains why the eight current regulars of Jon Shute’s Console Club[TM] get away with such highway hijinks without punishment. Pulling at a nightclub just isn’t the same, especially if you were hoping to stick your fuel nozzle in their petrol tank, as it were. Not to mention that when the recent preliminaries for the Olympic Games were held in Paradise City certain events had to be cut, including all swimming events after the first race ended in eight drownings. On a brighter note though, world records were smashed in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 800 meters, and the long jump finalist has yet to actually land. You’ve got to love those Burnout Paradise Super Jumps.

So there we have it, the reason for no pedestrians in Burnout Paradise is all due to a zombie apocalypse.

And the reason you had to suffer through this drivelling insanity is all due to Microsoft taking XBox Live offline on the day that Jon Shute’s Console Club[TM] convene for their high speed sideways shenanigans. If you catch my drift.