Month: August 2017

Year of the Console, August Review. Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Welcome back to the TLYW Year of Console Gaming. I cannot believe we have already reached the end of August, Month 8 of our specially extended 14-month year. The game of the month has been Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) on the Xbox 360. Even though my gaming time was limited by work and business travel, Asylum proved to be easy to learn, engaging and much more enjoyable gameplay than I expected. I managed to complete about 8% of the game on my own at the start of the month, then Harry stepped in to help last night and pushed it forward a bit more before we ran out of time. Super helpful. I am glad he wants to be supportive of my gaming. I really had no idea that the Year of Console Gaming was going to feature real-life falling in love around Month 8. Didn’t see that coming.

As you know, we are following a dramatic historical trajectory throughout the year. August was the month in which we ended the first half of the 20th century; Batman’s story and aesthetics derive from the 1940s. At the start of the game, Batman spawns on a relatively small geographical area, being an asylum for the criminally insane and its grounds. The asylum belongs to the fictional Arkham City. It has been taken over by The Joker, and other familiar characters such as The Riddler and Commissioner Gordon make an appearance.

Once again, we have both screenshots and real gameplay.

Here I am in character as Batman, beating up some thugs in a corridor. Harry picked out this clip.

Batman swoops, grapples and soars around the room, gliding down to drop-kick bad guys. This was as much fun as the horse in Red Dead Redemption back in June.

Batman gets involved in an exciting boss fight.

Screenshots

Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady Studios (2009), Xbox 360. A third-person action-adventure game concerning Batman and a familiar cast of characters. 

Plot and setting: Batman run, swoops and glides around a dark and spooky hospital/high-security prison which has been taken over by The Joker and his gang of criminal buddies. Batman must rescue personnel, take out bad guys and solve puzzles and problems.

General remarks: As readers may remember, I really didn’t like God of War 3 back in March because I am not used to platform gaming and I found it linear and constraining. There was too much puzzle-solving while being trapped in one room or even one spot. I was afraid of having the same problem with Batman: Arkham Asylum, but even though there are puzzle-solving elements and more than a few platforms, I needn’t have worried. Asylum gives you the feeling of considerable freedom as you jump and glide around large buildings.

Thumbs up: Excellent graphics considering it was 2009. The physical mechanics of Batman’s movements are incredibly satisfying and he can fly, swoop and glide long distance with ease and grace.

Thumbs down: There isn’t much to criticise, this is a light-hearted and fun game. I suppose if I wanted to find fault, I could complain that it felt a bit shallow. This is family entertainment, based on a comic book character, in the form of a very sleek platform game, it was never going to have the same adult moral dilemmas and open-world, sandbox complexity of Skyrim or whatever.

Return to?  I might return to the Asylum, in the futureIt didn’t feel like the kind of game you would commit to for months or years but it did offer accessible and light-hearted Batman fun, just right for a bit of casual gaming here and there.

It’s almost September and time for a new Game of the Month! Coming this Friday.

Real Food Market at King’s Cross, London

I was passing through King’s Cross between business meetings, and happened across the Real Food Market.

Bread, cheese and cheesy bread formed the basis of a couple of delicious meals with Harry. I was completely enchanted by the doughnuts and bought several, which I then realised I could not sanely eat, as I am already the size of Mariah Carey and I am supposed to be trying to look attractive for my new boyfriend, albeit not in a spangly leotard, so I took them downstairs to my neighbours.

Here’s a link to the official website. Recommended if you are in the neighbourhood.

http://www.realfoodfestival.co.uk/real-food-markets/kings-cross-market/

Dear old Mariah. Here she is, in fine voice in 1990. I didn’t listen to this kind of music back in the day, I wanted Biggie Smalls, Snoop and Ice Cube, but in retrospect I can appreciate what a great voice she had and that she was only about 20 or 21 at the time of this recording.

Apparently she has a new single out tomorrow.

Mariah Carey: Vision of Love (1990)

I have been travelling and there will be more food and travel news soon.

Camden Lock

A date with Harry. We went to the market at Camden Lock. It rained, because we like that in Britain, in the summer. It makes a change from the winter sleet.

Lunch. Obviously very important. I had a chicken katsu burger and sweet potato fries.

General outdoor scenes. Harry and I are falling in love and it is turning into quite a serious relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up living together or even getting married, if his parents can handle the shock of the considerable age gap.

A hipster selling moustache wax and beard butter.

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The fancy tea shop. Harry is a big tea aficionado.

The Japanese shop.

A stall selling candles. They all looked and smelled delightful but I couldn’t have any because they are paraffin and my lungs don’t get along with paraffin candles. I discovered this after I bought a huge sampler pack of miniature Yankee Candles in all different fragrances, so I sent them to my sister-in-law who I don’t particularly like.

I love the photo of this lady and her husband. It was very clear that she desperately wanted one of these candles, if not several, and spent ages looking at them, but her husband did not take the hint. Then she tried passing them to him in an attempt to get him to take an interest, but he was not having it. As you can see, he is not even looking. I felt bad for her. We had a little chat about how nice the candles were, because she needed somebody to agree that they were nice.

And that’s all the news for now, as I am super busy today. I have lots more photos to share with you, but they will have to wait for next time.

Stamppot

Food is a huge part of my life since I met Harry. We eat out. We cook at home and try out recipes. He is a good cook and is encouraging me and giving me confidence. This afternoon, I cooked and he wasn’t even there. You don’t see that happen too often outside of Xmas.

At work, I am learning about Holland so I had a go at making Stamppot, which is a Dutch dish. Stamppot roughly translates as ‘pot of mashed vegetables’. Here’s my amateurish cooking. The results were quite good and I even put some in plastic tubs in the freezer for later consumption. I felt very domesticated and quite victorious, even though I made plenty of mistakes and cooking has never been my strong point.

The essence of a stamppot recipe is this: get some root vegetables, eg potatoes, boil and mash them; get some green, leafy vegetables, eg kale, boil and stir into the mash; stir in fried onion and bacon pieces. Season and serve with pieces of smoked sausage.

Here’s my amateurish version that I did today, with extra bacon instead of sausage.

Realised that I needed to use up a bunch of interesting-looking vegetables from the farmer’s market, including these carrots. img_3928

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Chopped up a potato. Chopped up a red onion. Vaguely fried everything in butter in the saucepan for a while, with no clear idea of what I was doing, then developed a sense of purpose and transferred the onions to a frying pan. Left the carrots and potatoes in the saucepan for boiling.

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Looked around for more of the market vegetables to throw in the boiling pan. Cauliflower. Red cabbage.

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Chopped up another onion and fried with some bacon pieces and too much oil. I always use too much grease and have much to learn about frying.

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Don’t forget to boil some kale. Later realised I should have put the cabbage in with the kale, note for next time.

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Make sure everything’s cooked.

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Mash the potato (cauliflower, carrots, etc), add milk and seasoning – big spoonful of Dijon mustard gives it a kick. Stir in the leafy veg, bacon and onions. Yum.

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I loved everything about this recipe and will definitely make some different versions of it to try out various combinations of ingredients and also to get good at cooking bacon and smoked sausage, a subject of which I know little.

There will be more food posts soon. As I mentioned, it’s a big part of this romantic relationship I’m suddenly having. We are cooking and eating while getting to know each other. I’m quite fat but that’s not really Harry’s fault and is mainly because I secretly eat cake when he’s not around.

 

Church.

Diljit Dosanjh is an Indian actor, singer and all-round celebrity who works in Punjabi and Hindi cinema and the Punjabi music industry. I am mainly posting this for the excellent dancing, Indian culture excels at dance, particularly for men. Dance requires men to be strong yet agile, not so bulked up with inflated, balloon-animal muscles that it reduces their mobility. This is why you don’t see Captain America dancing.

Diljit Dosanjh: Sweetu (2014)

 

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady Studios (2009), Xbox 360. A third-person action-adventure game concerning Batman, Gotham City and its cast of characters. 

Welcome back to the unstoppable TLYW Year of Console Gaming in which we dramatically swoop through 14 games in 14 months. Today is 1 August, it’s Month 8 and we’re into the second half of our 14-month year! The year began with two months of pre-history in the form of dinosaurs and primitive early humans, then continued through Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, the American Wild West and finally plunged into World War I in July. Here we are in August and the natural next chapter would have been World War II, but frankly I could not face two world wars back to back, which is probably how people felt at the time. As a result, I looked around for another game that was more or less set in the 1940s and alighted on the DC Comics hero Batman (who first appeared in 1939, with his own comic book beginning in 1940).

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a critically acclaimed game that won several awards. It spawned a series of well-regarded sequels from 2011 and was remastered for the PS4 and Xbox One in 2016. I’m going to play the original 2009 version on the Xbox 360.

This should certainly make a change from Battlefield 1. I don’t think there will be much driving of tanks or crawling around muddy fields with a large, antique gun. Instead, I believe I can expect a month full of swooping, jumping, grappling, climbing, running, using throwing weapons and engaging in hand to hand combat. Arkham Asylum has Batman running around a prison for the criminally insane and his foes will include The Joker as well as half a dozen other super-villains. There’s some puzzle-solving and I’m slightly concerned that this is going to be uncomfortably close to the rather linear God of War 3, but we are committed now so let’s see what August brings.

It might be amazing; let’s hope so. Here’s a trailer so you can see what I’m in for.