Mike Shaw who was both the director and starred as Westley plays Sir Samuel Grimes, Belinda Spangenberg (Buttercup) takes on a number of smaller roles including the vampire Dragon King of Arms, and Josh Mitchell (Count Rugen) plays both the titular golem(s) and the Dragon King's flunky. I knew I knew their faces, but I thought it was just from previous Discworld shows.
Shaw is impressive as Vimes, who I've always had a soft spot for, but the show is really stolen by both Kahlia Tutty who plays the City Watch's resident werewolf Angua and returning cast member Alycia Rabig as the Watch's newest recruit Cheery Littlebottom who goes through some changes.
Tutty really nails Angua's fierce yet sensual aspect and is very believable in those moments when Angua taps into her inner "bitch" (as she puts it in the show). And Rabig really plays up the comedy of Cheery's transformation from the outer dwarf to the inner dwarf without going over the top (the costume changes help).
And both Natalie Haigh and Aimee Ford who featured in Wee Free Men earlier this year as "No' as Big as Medium Sized Jock But Bigger Than Wee Jock Jock" and Wentworth respectively return with great comedy performances... Haigh in various roles including a gender swapping turn as Head of the Thieves Guild and Ford most notably as the Watchman who is more monkey than man, Nobby Nobbs. I also think that Hugh O'Connor is pretty much a perfect choice for the "perfect policeman" Captain Carrot... especially with that booming voice.
The set is also one of the more complex that I've seen from Unseen... including a pair of raised platforms, one for Lord Vetinari's (played by Danny Sag) palace office, the other for Vimes office, and between them a pair of doors. This also gives the opportunity for perhaps a wider variety of comings and going for characters, including coming out from under the palace office platform.
Often a lot of the setting is left to the viewer's imagination in Unseen productions, so it was nice to have a little more detail.
Likewise the costumes had some nice details, especially the aforementioned transformations for Cheery and Mitchell's orange foam golem costume (especially the head which had a lot of business to do and, I'm guessing, next to no visibility), but also Angua's gladiatrix-inspired look and Vetinari's robes.
As for the story, Feet of Clay isn't one where the original book really sticks in my mind, so while I know that they have, understandably, had to cut down a lot of the extraneous plot (although to be honest, the Wikipedia synopsis sounds pretty much spot on for the version we saw). But there were a couple of spots where if you weren't paying attention you may have missed a plot point here or there.
Overall though this was one of the better produced Unseen productions, if not one of the more memorable stories.
Starting from the top... my attempt to make "grown up" lunches (yeah, I know, making soup counts, but this was more complicated and involved multiple items instead of just shoving everything into one pot) as both successful (I made all the items, everything tasted good and lasted the week nicely) and less so (roast potatoes aren't that great reheated in the microwave and I should have undercooked the beans, and I kind of got bored by the end of the week). Will I return to that as an option... not really sure, if I do it will involve boiled/steamed potatoes and I'll probably coat the chicken in something a little more interesting.
And there was a lot more washing up for that style of lunch than there is for making a big pot of soup.
The rest of the week was fairly standard... by the middle of the week work had slowed down somewhat to pre-insanity levels. I did seem to suffer more this week from what is either this ongoing bout of hayfever or else some sort of end of Spring cold... but in either case I wish it would fuck right off and let me return to normal.
Then Friday I had two different art exhibitions to go to... the first at Peanut Gallery and the second a temporary Espionage show.
I did do some wandering around after I left work before the first show started, picked up some Assassins Creed pins at Zing and books from Greenlight and Dymocks, just for funzies.
When I got to Peanut I had a chat with the owner who recognised me from the Espionage days (not really a surprise), and after a circuit of the room I had that "hey, you there, you must buy me now" feeling that I haven't previously had since the says of Espionage. So I bought a piece. Just the one, and I think I know where I'm going to put it so that it's at least out on display.
I didn't hang around all that long, the gallery is quite small and fills up easily, so once that happened I headed off for the Espionage show.
Josh always outdoes himself with his shows and this was no exception. The show was themed around the Netflix show Stranger Things, and took place in a half finished basement of a building that was pretty much derelict not that long ago but is being refitted. And due to not being able to attach things to the walls, Josh had rented some wire fencing and used that for the artwork instead.
Plus he'd replicated the alphabet lights as well as putting together a complete replica of the Castle Byers cubbyhouse inside the lightwell/atrium. And of course, he'd costumed up as an employee of Hawkins Power and Lights, complete with lab coat.
I'll fully admit, while I absolutely give the show all the possible points and kudos for it's replication of the 80's era from the hair to the actors themselves to the clothes and the music... and all of the actors involved did an amazing job, especially the kids... the show just never grabbed me. My overall impression is that they took 8 hours to make a great 2 and a half hour movie. There's plot lines that go nowhere, unimportant back stories, repetition of ideas that are understandable the first time around. It failed to grab me within the first two episodes and never really made me enthusiastic about going back. Yes, the second half of the show is better than the first half... yes, I did watch the last three, maybe four back to back, but there were at least a week or more after the first couple of episodes before I could be bothered going back again.
Granted that may be happening with me and TV shows generally at the moment... I started Mr Robot, watched a couple, then a couple more... then I got half way through the season and have just gone m'eh. I mean I'll probably finish it eventually, but it's not making me mainline it like shows have done in the past.
Anyway, back to the exhibition... I wandered around for a while, spoke with Josh for a while, then one of the guys from work showed up and I chatted with him for a bit, then ran into a few other people I knew from the Espionage days. There were a lot of people at the show, and the point came where I'd seen all the art, spoken to everyone I wanted to speak to, and I was just tired and ready to head home.
But first I swung through the Central Market to get some dinner before trudging my way home. And I do mean trudge, since I haven't worn those shoes in about a year if not longer and they were 100% killing my feet.
And it wasn't that long after I got home before I crashed out and went to bed.
This morning I got up, sorted some stuff out and got ready, then when Ma arrived we headed off to the supermarket.
Given that the weather can't make it's damn mind up of late I'm going back to soup again this week... and I'm going to try a roasted tomato (actually the recipe I found is roasted tomato and bread from Jamie Oliver, so I'll see what happens there) soup.
After shopping we came back here, did the usual unpacking and whatnot, then headed out to Target to start with. The shorthand version is I picked up the last couple of Disney movies I didn't get last time... and now I have 22 Disney titles. Although the majority of it is from the Disney Renaissance onwards.
Then we headed into the city to visit Josh's Stranger Things exhibition so Ma could see it. And we got to catch up with Josh a little more than I did on Friday night, so that was nice.
From there we moved the car down to the other end of the city and headed off to run some errands. We stopped off for some sushi for lunch, then finished up our wandering and headed back to the car. Ma had forgotten something when we were at Target in the morning and they didn't have any in the city, so we ended up heading over to the one on South Road.
Then it was back to my place to kill some time before we headed off to see another play from the Unseen Theatre Company at the Bakehouse Theatre. We went off and had dinner at Fasta Pasta, then off to the play.
So a long day and a tiring one since I was still kind of knackered from all the walking the evening before, but a good one.
Okay, technically we did make some actual present headway, but I'm once again ahead of myself.
First, the bees never stuck around beyond Saturday last week... whether it was just a passing new queen and her boys, I don't know... or if the lower temperatures scared them all off. But they never reappeared when it warmed up again this week, so it looks like they're gone, which is good.
And the saga of the dripping cornice seems to be at an end. I was a little concerned when the water started dripping again on Monday night, given that the plumber was supposed to come and fix things, then I had a call last week saying that they were coming to address the issue on the inside of the apartment. Turns out the plumber didn't actually do jack shit.
So hopefully the person who came on Thursday actually did do what was required (and, side note, I called my land agent, I said "can you please find out who was supposed to be doing what and tell me, just so I know"... and did they, no they did not... is it that much to ask, really?). And hopefully they were better at fixing holes then they were at painting and decorating, because they just slapped some very white paint over some much less white white paint, potentially filled in the hole with some polyfiller and called it a day.
But it didn't drip at all on Thursday night, so that was good. I'm just concerned because last time they said "oh that's fixed" at the old house, water collected in the light fitting and started dripping onto the carpet.
I'm going to cross my fingers, assume that people actually did their job and put the house back the way it's supposed to be.
Last Sunday I spent some time putting together Ma's calendar for next year. As I said recently, we haven't really been anywhere for a while, and I've done things with a high level of sea or beach images... so I wanted something different. Thinking about it now, I've been threatening to do a street art themed one for a while... but that's more pictures of other people's pictures... so instead I decided on sculpture. A combination of Sculpture By The Sea, the Brighton Sculpture contest and some other random bits and pieces.
Normally this is the point I would post the cover, but I'm just going to live with it for a little while longer first, see how I feel.
Sunday night I made stew... as in I started out with the intention to make stew, and made stew... it wasn't just a really thick soup that got away from me. And it was really nice... maybe a little in need of more salt, but nice.
I'd suggested that after a week and a half of insanity, our workload would even out this week, probably around midweek. But no, it remained nuts all week. Much less of the "life and death" stuff (which, clearly was neither life nor death) that required us to drop everything... but still a record number of jobs.
And you can always tell when other parts of the place you work are perhaps less than efficient... when people buy your team cupcakes and chocolates just for doing your job in a timely manner. It did mean that I spent a large amount of Thursday hopped up on all manner of sugar.
I got notified this week that the tool I use to publish my blog posts to Twitter is shutting down, so I checked out one of the two they recommended as a replacement and went with dlvr.it (because heaven forbid that the name of an internet company has actual vowels in it's name). So, if this post happens to appear in my Twitter feed twice, that's why (because I can't switch the old one off, and it doesn't stop officially until the end of the month).
I also called into T2 on the way home to pick up the "free gift" they'd emailed me about (something to do with them redoing their loyalty program)... and I walked out of there two two additional boxes of tea and one of their tea maker contraptions.
Because I was a little worried about the repair to the roof and the rain on Thursday night, I didn't sleep very well. In fact I woke up at around 4am (I think the rain woke me to be honest), got up to check the wall and then couldn't get back to sleep properly. So that made for a fun day.
Friday was my chiro appointment, so like always, after I'd gotten my adjustment I went for a wander around the city, stopping at all the usual spots... Zing, Greenlight Comics (to pick up the two graphic novels I'd ordered) and Dymocks. And then I finished the evening off with an early dinner at Burger Theory.
And when I got home I found the two Welcome to Nightvale books waiting for me. I'd forgotten that I had ordered signed copies, so that was a nice surprise.
Today, like I said at the top of the post, was kind of the start of Christmas shopping... but mostly we ended up looking at stuff for ourselves.
But, starting at the beginning...
I was actually up and organised fairly early this morning, if only because I was having a bit of a hayfever attack laying in bed.
When Ma arrived, we headed off to the supermarket. I'm not doing soup, or stew, this week... I'm going to attempt doing something vaguely interesting with chicken breasts, roast potatoes, beans and possibly either roasted tomatoes or just regular ones. You know, like those grown-up, healthy type people make and post on social media.
We'll see how it goes anyway.
After we'd finished we plotted out what to do with the rest of the day. The first part of that involved a stop in the city for me to take a giant bag of loose change to the bank to run it through the counting machine and drop it into my account.
Unlike last time there wasn't any drama this time around... in fact I probably could have run all of the coins through in one batch, but after last time decided it made more sense to do it in two.
Once I was done, the coins came to the very exact total of $1075. And more than $700 of that came from $2 coins.
From there we went down to Marion for a few errands and also to see what inspiration we could find for Christmas presents.
A lot of the things we ended up looking at involved DVDs... and while normally I would have consigned anything I bought to the abyss of "away for Christmas", I didn't bother this time around as none of it was exceptionally exciting.
I did replace my now defunct frying pan with a new one... and as always picked up one that was on special for half price... although I swear that those pans are probably never selling for full price. And if they are, you have to be nuts to buy one when you could get it at half price.
Then we finished up with a poke around Kmart... and accidentally stumbled on a good idea for packing presents for Princess T and Miss Oh... big "beach bag" totes. Normally we just give them their presents in something pretty but useless, but we wanted to find something more useful this year... but that was hard to do until we knew what else we were getting them. But that really only matters if it's a box where you'll see the stuff... with these bags everything will just be inside, and we can always stuff the bottom of the bag with filler if we need to.
It also gives us a general colour and design language for both of them, which I always like.
We pretty much called it a day at that point, because how much better was it going to get than that... but we stopped off to have a late lunch at HOKOPO, which wasn't bad, but next time we may have to try the bowls rather than the wrap (and skip the fried chicken part of the meal deal, which was very average).
Then we came back here after they were everywhere... it got to the point where I had to shut both of the windows... and yet somehow I still kept finding them inside. Not fucking clue what the hell that was about. They've gone quiet now that the sun has set, and maybe they'll be quieter tomorrow when the temperature drops, but I'll definitely be reporting it to the agent on Monday.
I made a really good soup this week... chicken and vegetable using half normal stock and half Asian flavoured stock... and then I threw in some bow tie pasta. It turned out to be really tasty from the Asian stock, but not aggressively so.
This week generally was hard work. For some reason I just can't get my shit together as far as getting out of bed is concerned. Which means that a lot of my breakfasts have been me buying something in the city and/or me missing my regular bus. I know a couple of times it's been because I didn't go to bed until late, so woke up later than usual... but even on the days I woke up early, I still couldn't get my ass into gear.
And work was all kinds of nuts... we had far too many jobs come through that all had Friday, or this coming Monday, as the due date... and on top of that I ended up with several jobs that ended up much more complex than they should have, as well as dragging me into related issues.
So I was very glad that we had plans to go to the pub on Friday.
It wasn't a really late night and I didn't get really, really drunk... but it was good to see a number of our former colleagues.
I think I left the pub around 8:30 or so, but didn't get home until just after 10... but it wasn't like I was breaking any land speed records, and I did stop to get a pie on the way.
When I got home I pretty much just gave up and went to bed... after unfortunately not drinking enough water... and not realising that I'd put my glasses on the bed before getting into it and bending one of the arms. Dammit.
This morning was a little difficult... partly because I check on something I did on Friday that was supposed to go live overnight, but turned out not to work properly... so I had to get up at 6:30am and fix it so that it worked properly. And then there was the interaction with the bees, and I poked around on the laptop for a bit before getting ready.
When Ma arrived we headed out to the supermarket... I'm planning on doing something a little more stew-like this week. I know that the last time I tried to make a soup with beef in it it took about 100 times as long, I'll just have to start this one earlier.
Given that I'd slightly borked my glasses, we needed to head into the city... so that's what we did.
The nice girl at OPSM fixed my glasses and gave them a clean for me, so that was nice. Then we pretty much wandered around looking for some potential Christmas present ideas... and stopped off at the new Peanut Gallery to take a look at both the space and the exhibition. There were a lot of names I recognised from my Espionage days... but there wasn't anything that I really wanted to take home (not that I need anything, since pretty much my whole art collection is still in boxes).
We stopped off for something to drink at Two-Bit Villains... which is quite nice, if a little too vegetarian for my ongoing tastes (their soda is good though).
And after a bunch more wandering and some random purchases, we called it a day... then came back here to find the bee jamboree.
I am a little bit obsessed with Evie Frye right now. And by little bit, I mean she's currently my favourite character from the Assassin's Creed franchise (sorry Ezio).
I can also safely say that I haven't enjoyed an Assassin's Creed game as much as Syndicate since... well probably ACII/Brotherhood to be honest.
I'm getting ahead of myself though.
When Assassin's Creed Syndicate was first announced (as AC Victory... which I kind of wish they'd kept, although I suppose that "syndicate: a group of individuals or organisations combined to promote a common interest" is more indicative of the game than "victory: an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition"... because that's all games ever... but I digress) I was so into it. Victorian era London as a time period is totally my jam. And all of the rather minimal information in the original leak was exciting to me.
So much so that I pre-ordered the Charing Cross edition (the one with the Jacob statue and all the extras). I saw some gameplay footage with Evie early on, and was very excited about her "hide in plain sight" ability. But then I avoided all spoilers and game play footage and reviews when the game came out, I didn't want to spoil the experience.
But then, like with Unity, I'd put the PS4 and the game away for Christmas, because I'm totally an adult. And then I needed to finish Unity before starting Sydnicate. It was definitely worth the wait though.
A little like the difference between ACIII and AC Black Flag, the second game after they debut a new direction/engine/approach, Syndicate vastly improves on many of Unity's flaws. From properly unlocking areas of the map to the movement system to getting rid of all the multiplayer elements... it's a much better game overall.
One of the things I wish Syndicate did have though was the in-game stats that detail how many people you've killed, what your preferred weapon/method is, and because you play as both Jacob Frye (who's supposed to be the default character) and his twin sister (the aforementioned) Evie Frye, how long you've played as each of them. Although I did get an email from Ubisoft after I finished the DLC saying that I'd assassinated 321 people (not sure if that's just "assassinations" or everyone I killed though).
I can almost guarantee that my time spent as Evie was at least triple that of Jacob (in fact, I only did missions as Jacob when the game forced me to, everything else was Evie)... and my preferred weapon, without doubt, was the throwing knives. I've said before that in AC games (well, all games really with some form of shooting) my preferred play style is "sniper". Sit somewhere up high and out of the way then snipe all the bad guys without them ever seeing me. And because Evie is the master of both throwing knives and stealth, she was the perfect character for the way I play.
Evie's skill build has added stealth items that unlock over the course of the game, so playing as her just feels much lighter and quicker than playing as Jacob (who's skills favour face-to-face melee fighting). By comparison, Jacob feels slower and heavier, although I think that some of that is just in my mind.
So, getting back to Evie and my sniper mindset, I cleared whole zones of the map just sitting on the tops of buildings or in the rafters and flinging knives at people's heads (headshot for the win... it was my first achieved perk without even trying).
I much prefer Evie's personality too... she's smart and more measured than Jacob and his brash manner (although to be honest, that's all about the way they present in cut scenes, I played them in exactly the same way barring their main weapon choices). I do kind of wish that you could have chosen to play the sequence 8 missions as Evie though... I get the point of them being Jacob, it's much more part of his storyline, but the option would have been nice.
Evie's voice actor, Victoria Atkin, brings so much to the character too... and I could honestly listen to her all day long.
This was also the first game since AC Brotherhood where I've cleared every single chest, collectible and side mission in the main game. The map has been picked clean of everything but the recurring items. I even bought additional DLC, which I've never done in an AC game before, I either have played it because it was free with the game, or I haven't bothered.
When I realised I could just start unlocking sections of the map at my own pace (and could afford a number of the maps that show you were all the goodies are) I started clearing out zone after zone and finding all the collectibles as I went. I wish I'd realised earlier that the free downloadable content was available for the PS4, I could have worked that in as I went instead of doing it all at once just before the final mission.
This was also the best ending mechanic in an Assassin's Creed game as far as I'm concerned.
The final mission ends, then there's some denouement chatting between characters, and our two heroes just run off into the proverbial yet not literal sunset. And instead of having to endure about half an hour of credits that you can't skip, the game just drops you back into the world, shows a brief info screen that explains that you can keep doing the non-story missions (all of which I'd already done) and that there are now some new missions to complete, and then you're back in your chosen character.
Such a nice change from the endless crawl of all the previous games. Bless you Ubisoft, please never change this mechanic in future AC games.
While we're on the topic of the way the story fits together, there are minimal "real world" sections this time around... and these are presented as cut scenes where you as the gamer within the game are watching recurring AC universe regulars Shawn and Rebecca complete a mission to recover the Piece of Eden you discover. It's slightly more memorable then the Unity sequences (and finishes on an interesting note for the ongoing series), but it's still mostly unobtrustive to the overall story.
Gameplay is very much what I've come to expect from Assassin's Creed... that is, except that this game has two protagonists.
The story missions are split into two Jacob missions and two Evie missions (which can be played in any order) per chapter. And the zone, or borough, unlocking I mentioned before isn't bound to those stories, which I thought it might be (since the first missions are actually tied to unlocking that area).
The borough tasks are pretty standard AC fare... sneak into this location, take out all the bad guys, free these good guys, etc.
There are four types of tasks... Gang Stronghold, Bounty Hunt (kidnapping), Templar Hunt (assassination) and Child Liberation... and then once you've completed enough of those per section, a Gang War appears. They've worked an interesting mechanic in between the Stronghold and War missions though... the leader of the strongholds shows up when you've cleared it and you're given a brief skirmish where you can try to kill them before they get away. If you fail, they show up as the boss in the Gang War task, if you succeed in getting them during the stronghold sequence then you just have to kill off the lower level goons.
It might have been interesting if they'd expanded that either across all four tasks... maybe each leading to the next somehow, or with the recurring "boss" character showing up in each spot and hightailing it before you can catch them.
But while each of the tasks is essentially the same thing repeated across the whole map (just with increasing difficulty levels and number of goons), they never felt boring (slightly grindy, yes... boring, no). Mostly that was because I was trying to complete each one by picking off all the goons without being detected. Each new task was an opportunity to either repeat or better my previous success.
Of the four tasks, the most different from borough to borough are the Hunt missions, especially the assassinations as they allowed for different optional bonuses (for example, "kill only the target", "kill the target from cover" or "use air assassination").
The missions are also connected to your various NPC allies (again, where the meaning of "syndicate" comes into play), and completing them gives you more "influence" with that ally which unlocks various weapons or gear.
One of these allies is Ned Wynert, a transgender man, which is kind of amazing especially since it's never even mentioned by anyone that this character with a clearly female voice is presenting as a man. So big tip of the top hat there to Ubisoft.
The new gear mechanic in this game is the hidden blade gauntlet. It includes a grappling hook that allows you not only to leap up the sides of buildings but also create your own ziplines between various points. It really does open up the city and I did love that ability, particularly going up the sides of buildings quickly when escaping, but the fact that you can't use it from the top of moving vehicles was occasionally annoying.
I found that it broke the flow of my travel much more than the freerunning did in Unity. Or at the very least, changed the way I travelled through the city. There was also often an inconsistency with which spots it would allow you to attached to, sometimes it would cover giant distances, other times only the next building over. It might have also been interesting if it could have been set up to yank enemies off spots or just used as a retractable killing weapon much like the rope darts from ACIII (although I never really did get them to work properly).
Not that I didn't appreciate the gauntlet, especially for traversing the distances between fast travel locations and objectives, or just getting the hell out of the way when things went south, but the grunting noise both characters make when they launch themselves into the air is something I could probably live without hearing again for a while.
It was also nice to see that the assassin's "whistle" ability is back after it was mysteriously absent from Unity (although they really need to let you whistle while hanging off the side of a building, mostly so you can throw people out of windows or off the top of roofs). Having said that, I didn't use it in Syndicate anywhere near as much as I have in the past, or needed it in the previous game.
One of the things I do very much miss though are the sleep darts/bombs from previous games. There were more than a few times when I would have liked to just knock out palace guards or policemen instead of killing them, but the game really doesn't give you that option beyond a much closer "knock out", and I'm still not sure if that killed the NPC or not.
The game also has the usual "optional" missions... starring none other than Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and (eventually) Queen Victoria... and the Dreadful Crimes, which are much like the Murder Mysteries in Unity.
In fact, all of those missions are very similar to the way the Paris Stories missions played out in Unity, although this time around they're grouped into four distinct storylines linked to the historical figures.
I think my favourite ones of the original three were Dickens, since there's a lot more rushing around in the Darwin ones and some of the Marx ones are a little irritating. Then there's the DLC missions, The Last Maharaja, which is centered around Duleep Singh (who I didn't realise was a real person until I started to write this... although given that the rest of the mission characters are real, it's not really surprising).
Overall though, the Dreadful Crimes were the most interesting, they weren't quite as obvious as the ones in the previous game and often hung on one small clue or noticing the discrepancy between two stories. And the clue text that hovers in the air in Eagle Vision mode is really beautifully done, especially when the game uses it to provide additional information or lead you from one place to another.
There's also a whole additional "memory sequence" outside of the main game, which I assumed was going to be like the World War II missions from Unity, but turned out to be a self-contained adventure with a new character. I won't say too much about it so I don't spoil it, but it just appears on the world map at a certain point, and it's well worth the time to go and play through... while I don't think they'll do a whole game in that time period, this definitely shows that it could work. And I was a little sad that the outfit from that time period doesn't become a playable outfit in the game.
As I said before, I bought both sets of DLC for this game, The Last Maharaja, which is just a set of in game missions, and the Jack the Ripper chapter which takes place 20 years after the main game.
The majority of the Ripper game place is focused on Evie, although it seemed really weird to me that she had lost all of her skills from the previous game, such as the hiding in plain sight ability. Surely that's the place you start from and then build additional skills on top of it, especially if you've just finished the game with all of those skills.
There are also instances where you play as Jack, but they felt compelled to add a visual demonstration of his insanity by shaking the screen and making the controller buzz, which was a little irritating. I know it's supposed to unsettle the player and make his view disturbing, but it was mostly annoying the way it was done especially when you're trying to line up a headshot on someone from a rooftop. It was also really jarring being thrown into Jack the first time, suddenly being given a whole new set of skills you have no idea how to control. But by the end of the game I did kind of enjoy it, especially his fear based ability to shout and scare people away.
Playing him also feels very heavy and solid. I think it's the sound effects they put in around him, the swish of his leather coat and the thump of his boots, but it makes the character feel quite heavy to control. Again, I think that's just the audio clues and he's not different from the others, but it's interesting that they can make me feel that with a very small change.
He also doesn't play in a significantly different way from either Evie or Jacob... yes, you can charge in, screaming fear into the hearts of those around you (which is possibly the way the game thinks you'll play him), or you can go the stealth route, or something in between, which is usually what I ended up doing.
Evie has some new non-lethal fear based skills as well, and new gear in the form of "fear spikes" and "fear bombs", but I don't think I ever bothered using the spikes other than just testing them out. And her fear skill-tree didn't feel like it really added that much to the game beyond amplifying the ability of the gear.
The story missions are focussed on Evie tracking down Jack, and make heavy use of the clue detection mechanic from the Dreadful Crimes missions.
There are also additional activities centred around killing off Jack's lieutenants, driving carriages as slowly as possible to save people suspected of being the Ripper (a great alternative to the usual time limit racing), as well as helping prostitutes either by rescuing a brothel from being held hostage, or finding a guy who is beating up a working girl and dragging him through groups of people to "shame" him (much in the style of the kidnap missions from the base game). These feel very much like the borough unlocking missions from the main game, and are really just there to bulk out what is a fairly short main game.
And playing as the same character 20 years later is interesting, not least of all because the majority of the game you play as Evie. And what was the last AAA game where you play as a woman over 40? The older version did look a little odd though... and she doesn't move or sound any different (but really, do we actually sound that different between 21 and 41)... which is weird when she's flying up the sides of buildings with the same ease she did as a much younger woman.
The image of Evie in the menu seems to show her holding two chakram, but annoyingly they're not a playable weapon, they just seem to be the bracelets she wears. Or those bracelets turn into weapons when she's doing a the new brutal takedown (it's hard to tell exactly what she's doing during those moves), but in either case, a little disappointing.
The other thing that was slightly disappointing to me (and here we stray into some spoiler territory) was that the game didn't follow the specific facts of the case, instead transforming the women of the real case into assassins and Jack into an assassin gone both rogue and insane.
I completely understand why they went that way with the story... it gives Evie a reason to get involved beyond just helping out Abberline, but I feel like they would have accomplished that with the kidnapping of Jacob, and that each of the Ripper's victims could have been a much more important plot point than they were.
I'm not completely sure it was worth $22.95 though... but it was an enjoyable end to the Syndicate experience.
Then we come to the visuals of the whole game.
I loved the way that Paris looked in Unity, but Syndicate's London just blows it out of the water. It's so incredibly beautiful, from the grubby slums of Whitechapel through to the opulent Buckingham Palace, everything looks so rich and detailed. And for the first time there's signage and advertising spread through the city that adds to the detail.
Locations like Big Ben, Picadilly Circus and (only sadly available in side missions) the Tower of London are all incredibly iconic and have clearly been created with a lot of love. And the fact that the whole of the River Thames is one long playable area which allows you to either run from one side of the river to the other using moving barges or (if you have enough patience) travel from one end of the river to the other using one of the boats is a definite achievement.
And getting up to the top of Big Ben and just looking out across the river and the city at the (admittedly smoggy) sunrise or sunset was just amazing.
Like with any game of this size, yes there are often repeated details, be it building interiors, rooftop details, layouts and the like... but like Unity, the range of different kinds of location throughout the city is fantastic.
There's also quite a bit of replication in the NPC characters... I think there's a mix of about a dozen body shapes, voices, faces and walk cycles which are mixed and matched in numerous combinations. However I did notice in more than one instance that often the character's location and outfit didn't always match up with their walk cycle or voice.
One notable instance of that was stopping in Hyde Park and hearing a very well dressed couple have a conversation in voices and content that would have been much more suited for Whitechapel. Or watching the heavy washerwoman character model walk like a duchess. And I think there were at least a couple of instances of misgendered voices and bodies (not that there's anything wrong with that).
But those are really very minor quibbles in an otherwise amazing game.
As for the next one, I'm hoping for one of three things... 1920's New York, 1800's Japan (Meiji Restoration period... think The Last Samurai) or Ancient Egypt... but we'll have to wait until 2017 to find out.
Sunday was quiet, I made the best pea and ham soup I've made thus far. It seems the secret is lots of other vegetables for thickness, taking some of the broth our when you're clearly making too much and spinach for that deep green colour. Plus I bought a big chunk of ham at the supermarket and put that in along with the chorizo... so much porkly goodness.
Monday was a public holiday, so I was aiming to settle down for a big fat day of doing exactly nothing. I mostly achieved that, but the fact that the roof starting leaking again and actually got worse, starting to leak nearer to the powerpoint wasn't exactly how I wanted the day to go. So I shoved more towels in place, moved the table in that corner and switched off the electricity. It did mean that I was constantly freaking out every time it started to rain again, and couldn't completely relax the whole day.
Given that I couldn't turn the TV on (well, I could have used an extension cord, but I couldn't be bothered), I ended up watching the entire latest season of So You Think You Can Dance. Well, I say the whole thing, but given that it was "The Next Generation" starring kids between 8 and 14 (which I wasn't really in favour of, I mean the cringe potential is way too high), I skipped all the auditions and ended up skipping almost all the judging comments. But I was still watching it from around 2pm until about 10pm or so. And I cried like a little baby in more numbers than I have in the entire history of the previous 12 seasons. All thanks to JT and Robert who did the most amazing things all season.
I also totally forgot that it was Daylight Savings until around noon... not really surprising since I'd been doing things on my phone and laptop all morning, and those were showing the correct time, and I'd never reset the microwave or the oven clocks after last week's blackout, so it was only when I saw the bedroom clock I realised.
Since I'd already logged the issue with the ceiling leak with my agent but hadn't heard anything, I called them Tuesday just to see what was what, and actually got to speak to someone who seemed to actually know something. In any event, there's a plumber coming out to look at the roof on Monday (although, I know plumbers know about water and stuff... but you would think they'd send a roofer...).
Thursday was Haircut Night... which was also pretty standard... except the colour that Tink originally picked out for my hair was way too dark, so we ended up going over the whole thing with a lighter colour, so it's closer to what I was looking for.
Work has been reasonably okay this week... most of the days went pretty quickly, Friday was kind of quiet, but also frustrating... which put me in a fairly grumpy mood by the end of the day.
Today Ma was getting her hair did, so I went to the supermarket by myself... I was intending to make something other than soup for lunch this week, because while I really did love the pea and ham soup, since the weather had turned a lot more summery than it has been, I was kind of tired of soup by the end of the week.
But my brain was all fuzzy this morning and I really couldn't come up with a workable alternative... so I'm making chicken soup again.
It didn't take me all that long to do my shopping, and I got back, put it all away and was just tidying the place up when Ma got here.
Ma wanted to see what was going on at Flinders Street Market... to which the answer was "not much". There still seem to be some stalls there, but the actual markets themselves are closed until they find a new venue. Which is weird and interesting... and begs the question, if the actual markets are closed, where are those few stalls coming from?
But after that we went to IKEA. Mostly because they launched their Christmas range, and it's always interesting to at least poke around that and see what's what. I also wanted some more candles, just to have on hand in case of a future black out. Granted, the likelihood of that is probably kinda small.
We didn't grab that much stuff, just a few other odds and ends, because while neither of us really needed anything, it's almost impossible to walk through IKEA without coming away with something.
And that was mostly it... we called off at Tony and Mark's up the road to find something for lunch... it's actually kind of a kick ass place... especially if I was after something a little bit fancy.
But backing up as usual.
I'll be honest, I really have no actual memory of last Sunday beyond making chicken and chorizo soup which turned out to be really, really, really good.
Also, I finally got around to doing my tax, only to discover that I owe the ATO $60... in a word, rude! I mean I don't expect much of a rebate while I'm working, but owing them money is pretty much a kick in the balls. And proof that (older) single folk are generally the ones who get fucked over when it comes to tax. I mean my tax return is never complicated or whatever, but do I get any breaks, no I do not.
Anyway, it is what it is.
Wednesday they'd forecast all kinds of wild weather, and while parts of the state were getting hit pretty hard, here in the city we had some rain, but mostly it seemed to be the proverbial storm in a teacup.
That was until 3:48pm... I was planning to hang around a little later at work to try and avoid the next wave of rain, when all of a sudden the power flickered and then everything went dead. We weren't plunged into total darkness, there were a few lights still on as emergency lighting, but all the computers and most of the lights went dead.
We didn't realise it at the time, but almost the whole of South Australia had lost power... Ma called me pretty much straight away and given that her office as well as their other offices had all lost power pretty much told us that the whole state was down.
So, what is there to do when there's no electricity to do your job... you go to the pub, that's what. Not everyone, just five of us, but it seemed like a better idea than either walking home in the rain or trying to find a cab when the entire CBD was trying to leave while none of the traffic lights were working.
We only managed one drink before the bar wasn't serving any more because the taps were starting to warm up, but it was long enough for the next wave of rain to pass.
Walking home was just plain weird. Partly because there were far more people out on the streets than usual, but likewise the traffic was much heavier. And then a number of the intersections had police officers directing traffic.
When I got home it was very, very weird... no power, no hot water (it's a gas system but with an electric starter), I only own one candle (the one that La Cousina bought me last Christmas) so I lit that up, and found my torch. Because the candle has a weird wooden wick, it was more than a bit fluttery... so the light wasn't really conducive to doing much of anything. I ended up having cold cereal (I could have cooked, but couldn't be bothered expending the energy), doing some dishes which I'd left soaking in hot water that morning... and then going to bed.
I wasn't really all that tired, so I just lay there and tossed and turned for a while, answered text messages as I got them and generally aiming for the general direction of sleep. I didn't get power back until 11:30, which was better than I was expecting... and when I did I ended up playing around on my phone until I got sleepy.
When I got to work on Thursday morning power was still out to half the building. I think it was just that the breakers got tripped, because it was back up within a couple of minutes of me arriving.
Thursday was a much more wild and storm day... walking home was definitely less fun than the night before... but at least I could cook up a hot dinner once I got home.
I did discover part way through the night though that there was water dripping down the wall by the front window. So that's two apartments with dripping water within two years. I put towels in place and crossed my fingers essentially... moved all the electric cords and whatnot off the floor, turned off the power in that corner and hoped that it didn't get worse during the night.
It appeared to have stopped the following morning, and even though it rained on and off for most of Friday, it didn't appear to have started again when I got home. I'm hoping it was the fact that the wind was blowing the proverbial gale and it may have been blowing the rain into places it didn't normally go.
However I did report it to my land agent on Friday... and marked it as urgent. And nothing... not a phone call, not a return email, nothing. Seriously, you have one job, maybe try doing it properly once in a while.
Today was somewhat standard... we started with the supermarket... I'm going to do another pea and ham style soup this week... but I'm going to try to end up with actual pieces of meat in it this time (I may need to remember to get some chunks of ham tomorrow though... I got some chorizo, but that may not be enough).
And because it's both the long weekend and today is the sportsball grand final, there just seemed to more people than usual in the supermarket.
Afterwards we decided to head down to Target, which is not a major event rather than just something we do for ten minutes after we leave the supermarket.
But in any event, we wandered around for a good long while, I picked up a number of the discounted Disney Infinity figures... it's really a shame that the game was cancelled, because they really are the best made character figures/statuettes, especially for the cost. And I do love their visual style. I ended up getting Spot from The Good Dinosaur, Nemo, Yoda and Obi Wan. I mean it would make more sense if I actually owned the game, given that I now have ten of them.
Then we dropped into Big W on the way back and I picked up Carrie Hope Fletcher's new book... well, two of them, one for me and one to give to Miss Oh for Christmas. Whether she'll love it or not I don't know... I don't even know if I'll love it, but I do like to support the people when I appreciate and enjoy their free content.
I do need to do some sorting out of my bookshelves though... between all the new books and all the graphic novels I've been buying, I really need to do some rearranging... maybe sort some things to get rid of too. But that's a problem for another day.
And that's about it really.
What I'm hoping for next week is a really, really dull week with no major surprises.