Thursday, 19 June 2014

Brazil 2014: First games Round-up part 2:

Well, I did say I was going to pick this back up, so in the words of Lord Flasheart, Let's Do-oo-oo It!

This one seems to be resolving itself so far, with France making short work of Honduras on their way to an expected first place in the group, with bit parts from an expectedly large Newcastle contingent, considering their transfer policy of the last 3 years. The only possible problem for France I would feel would be keeping Pogba's temper from boiling over, but so far, it's a huge improvement on 4 years ago, where the side isn't even falling into outright mutiny like we've seen of French sides before.
I'll be honest and say I can't really remember much of Switzerland's game against Ecuador, but they came from behind to win, so getting the result has helped them in what would probably be the game they needed to win in order to go further. They have sprung surprises before, but I don't see them topping the group unless France melt down, even with the potential of avoiding Argentina as the prize
Ecuador will struggle to claw back the head start the Swiss took off them now, they showed potential in the friendly against England in Miami, but they will need a minor miracle to progress from hereon in.
Honduras... It would require a lot for them to meet the same standards as their Northern & Central American compatriots, and simply don't show the level of quality that would be required. For them to get a point in their final games would be a decent return for them.

After their win against new-comers Bosnia, the job of winning the group is pretty much there for Argentina, in what's probably the easiest draw they could have hoped for. Messi scoring the winner will be a big boost to his confidence as well, and with arguably the toughest game dealt with, two more comfortable victories and they should have a fine vein of form for the knock-outs.
Even after losing, Bosnia should have enough about them to join Argentina in the last 16. Dzeko and Pjanic look to be more than a handful for the games coming up, and I would expect Begovic to be reliable at the back.
Iran's game against Nigeria was the best cure for Insommia I've seen in years, and to imply that either side had enough about them to pose a threat to Bosnia or Argentina would be fairly comical in itself, sort of like trying to kill a Dragon in Skyrim with a wooden sword. Nigeria did do a little better when veteran strikers like Odemwingie and Ameobi came on, but then they hardly could have offered less in attack.

This has not disappointed so far, with a German blitzkrieg of Christiano Ronaldo's entourage and a tightly run affair between the USA and Ghana, leading me to think while Germany should win this group, there's nothing between the USA and Ghana for second place, although it's fairly clear Asamoah Gyan's finishing has lost a little of its edge through his time in the UAE. Both sides look good, and I'll always have an appreciation of Ghana's support, as they are to date the only group of fans who have made any international in Wembley a pleasant atmosphere, but I sense the USA will just about edge this, even if it will be close.
Portugal were poor, and I took great entertainment out of a Brazilian press headline which translated as "You lost, Playboy". Three guesses as to who that was aimed at with all the subtlety of a chainsaw to the knee. You need 11 players working together to win, lads, not 1 ego.

After a rough start, Belgium were able to wrestle off Algeria's approaches, and so look in command of that group, especially with the shakiness of South Korea and Russia's goalkeepers. I'd personally like to see Korea progress, as the far eastern "manic ferret chasing a mouse" brand of football is a lot of fun to watch,  but again, it could be any of those other 3 to go through.

None-football related service to resume soon, people. Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Brazil 2014: First round impressions - part 1

Quick spoiler warning: This is going to involve more football talk, so if you're not interested, then this may not be a good read.
Any way, just thought I'd make some kind of passing comment on this whole shin-dig going on in Brazil, and rather than going in-depth, best way I can see it going is if I take a quick cursory glance after each round of games. So with less waiting around than a gerbil near a food-dish, let's get cracking with groups A-D. I'll polish off the other 4 groups at another time.

Brazil look decent, if not outstanding, their first win against Croatia showed they're not slouches, but at the same time, if last night's draw against Mexico shows anything, it's that they could use a change of tactics as the tournament moved on, Fred in particular living up to his name-sake as utterly unremarkable. They seem to start slowly and turn the tempo up later on, perhaps relying on the conditions to wear their opponents down rather than actually playing them off the park. Whatever happens, some new ideas would be useful. They should top the group, especially if they confirm my suspicions by showing what they have in reserve, which they may have to do to avoid another struggle against Cameroon.
Mexico, you could say similar of, although they had 2 incorrectly ruled out against Cameroon, so there is potential there. I don't see them going beyond the last 16, especially as they have one of Chile, Netherlands or Spain to face up against, but they were solid against Brazil, Guillermo Ochoa in particular showing what he can do. It's not out of the realms of possibility for them to top the group, but they would need a big goal-difference swing or Cameroon to pull a big upset.
Croatia were lucky to go ahead in the opening game, but I don't see them getting out of the group stage, they've got more about them than Cameroon, but it's an upward struggle to get any further, with both been must-win games. While I'm always impressed with the regular performances of a nation that's not been independent for 25 years yet, I suspect they'll be 3rd in this group.
Cameroon did not impress against Mexico, I have to be honest. The 1-0 score-line was a little flattering, and while they did get close a couple of times, I felt Mexico had them under control. Eto'o looked past his best, and there wasn't too much that intrigued me about them. They may bring some new ideas against Croatia, and they could well have to if they are to stand a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon of the group that I suspect has their name on it at moment.

Obviously the big result here was Netherlands' 5-1 drubbing of Spain in their first attempt to defend the title they won in South Africa. Granted, normally dependable keeper Iker Casillas had more off moments than many have come to expect from him, but at the same time this was not so much a poor showing from Spain as it was the Dutch finding a higher level of play Spain had no answer for. The main problem the Spanish seem to have is trying to work a central forward into their style of play, which their borrowed Brazilian Diego Costa didn't work well into, and while Torres did wonders in that role in Euro 2012, his time at Chelsea seems to be taking its toll. 
Spain against Chile should be a spectacle in itself, especially after the Dutch should overcome Australia to book their place in the next round, with both sides knowing who-ever wins that game should be through, with Chile having to face Netherlands in the final round of games. Even with Spain's final game against Australia in mind, I'm thinking Chile to go through, as on performances so far, they should be able to be an equal to Spain, and goal difference is in their favour.

Both of these games went completely against how I was originally gauging them, with Colombia brushing Greece aside with nary a second look, while the Drogba effect inspired the Ivory Coast/Cote D'ivoire (delete as appropriate) to come back against Japan, leaving those two in the driving seat. Greece are one of a few sides in this tournament that pride themselves on been well organised in defence with the hope of sneaking a goal on the counter, but it's only worked when fortune has gone in their favour, so unless their two remaining games improve rapidly, it's safe to say they won't be needing to have a quiet whip around to extend their stay. 
I would like Japan to go through alongside Colombia, as they always bring an energetic style of play that I enjoy to see, but without the ability to see out a result, I expect Ivory Coast will take the second knock-out place, and perhaps be the only African team to progress.

I will say this one to get it out the way - watching England in the recent past has bored me. I will say I wasn't able to see much of the Italy game, as I was otherwise disposed of at the time, but I'm tempted to think a close, but no cigar performance against Italy, even and Italy without Buffon seems encouraging going forward. What really impressed me was Costa Rica dealing with Uruguay the way they did, that throws the scrap for second place behind I expect Italy in the group wide open. 
I'm sensing the final game between England and Costa Rica will have a similar feel to Spain against Chile, with the winners going through. I'd expect England to come out on top, but I wouldn't be too annoyed if Costa Rica manage it instead, although that may be my personal wishes for an underdog to go far speaking.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Polka-dot Core... Huh?

Just a quick thing today - I've not come across any more E3 news that I can put a decent line of argument to, there's no point in me discussing the imminent World Cup, either. Although if anything intriguing or amusing comes up, you can bet your arse I'll try and get something out for it.
No, today's post is something a little... Stranger. I'm sure we've all had those moments where you're killing time on something or other and you hear a brief clip of a song that just Utterly confuses you, but at the same time, you have to know what's going on? Well, that was me today with This-;

No, I've no idea what's going on, either. But I had a great time listening to it, trying to work out what the hell it is, so hopefully so will some of you. Have a good day, people!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Yager Bombs - One developer doing interesting things at E3

Now, normally I don't take much stock in the trailers for games for E3, especially now pre-rendered ones. I think of them are fireworks displays for a party - very pretty, a good show, but good look in having any useful parts to properly represent the occasion, unless one of the bombs was loaded with roses to commemorate a wedding or something, but I digress. This makes the following two points on interest a bit of a contradiction in terms, but the hell with it.

Now, first of all, Dead Island 2: A series known for pre-rendered trailers designed to tug our heart-strings, only to fall flat on delivery and wind up with a decently functional game with a story-line and mood straight from a B-movie that thinks it's guaranteed an Oscar or two. Taken with a pinch of salt, I got a fair bit of enjoyment from the games, I just wish the developers Techland would realise the improvised weapons and hand to hand combat in the original holiday resort was their strong suit in both mechanics and looks, and I just wish it didn't take itself seriously. Which brings me to the trailer underneath this sentence.

(Credit to Playstation's Youtube channel for the vid)
Now, normally my thoughts would be "Oh, crap, another zombie game, just what we need. And it's Dead Island, so it'll take itself far too seriously". But as trailers go, this is quite a departure, and I feel it's all the stronger for it. Okay, yes, it's pre-rendered, but it looks like it's having a little bit of fun with its setting, and it's almost a little self-aware and even goofy to me. Not quite in a Dead Rising 2 way, but at the same time, the overall vibe reminds me of the opening cut-scene for Borderlands, in an odd but welcome manner, particularly in the choice of music for it. You won't see me oiling my palms for that pre-order button, but I'll keep an eye out for anything else for this. 

The main reason I sense for the sudden yet welcome change in tone? The change in developers from Techland who started the series off to Yager, hence the title of this. I found Spec Ops: the Line fantastic, mainly because it turned my expectations on my head throughout with the way it presented the story throughout. If they manage similar here, we could have something astounding, but I'll hold my breath for now. While this is been played by Sony's hand, I hope the PC version is up to par.

Anyway, moving on to Yager's other project coming up, by the name of Dreadnought. Again, we only have a pre-rendered trailer for this, but again, it's above the typical mire.

My first impressions to this is that it could be a spiritual successor to the Homeworld series, which were an RTS in space with a giant bloody space-ship as your base. I loved those games when I was younger, even if I wasn't very good at them. Again, something I'll be keeping an eye on from Yager, as they look a capable studio going forward.

(Finally, I'll give credit to Adam Smith of , as it was from his articles that I drew the idea of for this quick post - okay, if it wasn't for those, I wouldn't know these games existed, but what the hell. Let it never be said I don't give credit where it's due)

Spanish InChrisition: Revelations - AKA the Shameless Reboot

All right, time to admit I'd be a world class Procrastinator if I could ever be bothered to get around to it. I'd made a couple posts in the spring of 2012, with an aim to make a few posts week on Various things, and then completely forgot about it. So yeah, time to try again - just whatever catches my eye enough to say something about, really. Throwing blogs on the internet is like throwing buckets of water into an ocean any way, people only notice if you wear the bucket on your head like a silly hat in any case.

Now, I'm not even going to try and make an outline for plans going forward. My guess is it'll be video-games, association football (or soccer for short), maybe some motor-sports, some music, some films - again, Whatever takes my fancy. I will say this in advance, when it comes to layouts, I am useless at this. So things are difficult to read, or it hurts to do so, let me know, it'd be much appreciated.

So, urmm... Yeah. Welcome back. There may be monsters, but that's how we like it.