25 February 2007

A Weekend in Dundee (United)

It all seems so long ago now, but last weekend was a holiday of sorts. I had a 4 day weekend (granted, 2 of those days were spent on trains, but mustn't grumble, eh?) and was spirited away to the far end of the country and beyond.

Of all the places to end up, I disembarked the train at Dundee. I've been before, and I've got friends there, so it's not like this was a great surprise. What was slightly different (and I will always feel a little guilty about - and equally grateful for) is that I didn't pay for the trip: Garry and Rosa, in the aftermath of Christmas and knowing my somewhat precarious financial footing, basically decided I was going up there for a break and fronted me the tickets.

This trip was unique in another way, too: no hangovers (at least not for me)! Oh, and the cat, Guinness, who G&R are certain I scarred for life but I maintain I did nothing but fail to "cave to the cuteness"; finally there was the indoctrination that is Scottish football as we took in the game between Dundee United and Hibernian. A dire goalless affair in truth (and overpriced for the lack of spectacle), it was an enjoyable experience all the same and I am now forever cursed with the morbid fascination that is following the Tangerines. United had the better of the game against a truly disappointing Hibs side and really ought to have won but alas - perhaps typically I go to watch Scottish football and have all my stereotypes and prejudices confirmed! I kid because I suffer.

The no hangovers line is deceptive; this trip was every bit as alcoholic as the others I've made up to not-so-sunny Scotland, its just that for whatever reason (probably connected to my being so knackered on the Friday night that I crashed out at the reasonable time of 1am) the copious beers didn't get to me as much as on previous occasions. Other nights were as sleepless as ever - on Saturday Garry and I were up until some ridiculous hour shouting at the TV while playing imaginary football and drinking beer, and on Sunday night it was progression in co-op Gears of War. If anything will ever convince me that the financial layout on a next-gen console is, in fact, worth it, then this was it: GoW is simply stunning. Yes, the visuals lack colour but that is a feature, not a bug; the game is so beautifully designed from both gameplay and art direction points of view that even though the TV was not HD it was by some margin the prettiest game I have ever played and the game truly felt like it was designed for two. Unlike many co-op modes where the second player feels tacked on (in the campaign game, at least), in GoW teamwork in videogames hit a new high from my (albeit rather sheltered) perspective. Not least because of the cover mechanics. The old one moves, one covers staple of oh-so-many buddy cop (and other) movies is actually a viable method and this alone made the game fun for me. The banter associated with bailing each other out was a bonus though.

But perhaps the best GoW moment of the weekend was watching the raving Scotsman get decimated by the English lawyer in a 1-on-1 versus via Xbox Live on a lazy Sunday morning before the fitba (oh god, I've started writing Scottish!). Oh how I laughed.

No comments: