Tuesday, 29 January 2008

"Burnout Friday"

A couple of weeks back a friend and I were reminiscing about how the release of a new album from your favourite band no longer carried quite the same excitement as it used to. You see, there was a time when people would line up outside HMV on Oxford Street before the store opened because they had to be one of the first to buy the new release, rush back home and hear it as soon as possible.

Now, with digital distribution, everyone can just sign in from wherever they are, download and hear it within a minute of it's release. That's great. I've always been all for this method of distribution, and if you really want the printed artwork, well there's plenty of time to get it later - when you next walk past a record store. No rush for that, you can still view the new artwork on-screen while listening to the album. Hearing the music as soon as you can is still paramount.

I would spend months, sometimes even years rummaging through second-hand record shops and fares in search of elusive, deleted LPs or rare 12"s. Stuff you just couldn't find on your high street. Once the relevant online community got their act together I was able to download most of those tracks and discover new gems along the way. Bye bye record fares. So the convenience of online distribution and access to a library of tunes with more hours of listening pleasure than you can cover in a lifetime is, in my mind, a fair trade for that excitement of a new release and being the first kid at school to have the casette (yes, casette).

The discussion moved on to video games, partularly the big releases for games consoles. While digital distribution is slowly picking up for games, the big ones still only come out in stores. And if you're a fan of a particualr series, the release of the latest installment can carry that same level of excitement as new albums used to.

That's one long-ass prologue.

Last Friday Burnout Paradise was released for the PS3 and Xbox360. I'm not a hardcore gamer, barely a casual one. I've far too many other distractions in a day to make proper time for the lengthy gaming sessions I'd have as a student but seeing as Burnout 2 was one of my favourite games on the PS2, I was looking forward to Paradise. Not least because my PS3 is starved of decent game titles.

To see how the day went from just any typical Friday to "Burnout Friday", let's turn to the doodles in my Moleskine: (Storyboard Pocket Sketchbook)

Burnout Friday 01
In my lunch hour I had a go on Burnout Paradise at the PS3 stand in zavvi (formerly virgin megastores) on Tottenham Court Road. I was impressed.

Burnout Friday 02
They were selling the game for £50. Steep.

Burnout Friday 03
I was determined to buy the game, but prefer to give my money in support of my local independent game shop and not the corporate giant. L8r.

Burnout Friday 04
Back at work. The wait was long, drawn-out and boring. I wanna play Burnout.

Burnout Friday 05
I had two reasons to rush. One - the game shop shuts at 6.

Burnout Friday 06
Two - must get some gameplay in before going out again later.

Burnout Friday 07
Made it to the shop...
Burnout Friday 08
.....just in time.

Burnout Friday 09
My fellow geeks were raving about the game. I felt reassured.

Burnout Friday 10
8 quid cheaper too!

Burnout Friday 11
Still time for a session before my m8's birthday do...

Burnout Friday 12
Whoa. This game really is pretty damn good.

Burnout Friday 13
At the party me and Dave talked about fun stuff
Burnout Friday 14
Until boring PR bird and uppety city boy showed up.

Several hours later...

Burnout Friday 15
Burnout Friday 16
This game is such a laugh.

Burnout Friday 17
It's got some scary moments and close calls.

Burnout Friday 21
At times, tense

Burnout Friday 19
and really gripping.

Burnout Friday 20
A bit brutal in places...

Burnout Friday 22
...usually down to your own mistakes though.

Burnout Friday 18
Best of all, it's like any big new release you can remember being excited about, that actually delivered on the hype - worth getting it as soon as it's out. It's all-out fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. Surely that's what a game should be.

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