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Zombies - Explain

I finished the Gears of War 3 campaign a couple of days ago and since I was asked to review it for the Genuine Gamers site I started thinking about the story content.

It's one of those apocalyptic scenarios, everything that's cheerful, save that our planet isn't called "Earth" and the landmasses are a little different.  Big deal.  Anyway, all civilisation has collapsed in the wake of the Locust Horde, an underground race that has apparently been dwelling in the depths of the planet's crust (along with a plethora of other savage subterranean beasts), who have come upstairs to overthrow humans as the dominant sentient life forms.

The story isn't that impressive in itself, but I still remember thinking, "Thank Christ there's no zombies in it."

And we all know that any game or film out there is made much more cooler and appealing by the addition of some rotting, shambling (or, as has lately become the fashion, running) corpses.  Even TV series are guilty of this practice!  I don't watch Smallville but I did catch an episode recently where a 'virus' turned people who fell asleep whilst infected into raging lunatics with pale skin, bloodshot eyes, and a distinct lack of care for self-preservation.  Supernatural also decided this was a good idea, with their demon-made 'Croatoan' virus making its infected victims look more than a little zombie-like in the closing episodes of season five (and yes, I am a fan of that series, I suppose).  I'm quietly hoping Grey's Anatomy will succumb to peer pressure and have a zombie episode soon, but somehow I doubt it'll happen.


Games are now all about zombies, even the games where the presence of zombies makes no sense whatsoever.  Red Dead Redemption, a Western-styled romp through the early days of the Frontier where you play the part of a William Munny type ex-outlaw, copped out to popular demand and released a game add-on, Undead Nightmare


Which of these is the biggest cop-out?

Call of Duty: Black Ops had a separate co-operative multiplayer element in the form of a zombie killing survival mode.  I'll throw the Mass Effect series into the line-up for the sake of balance; at least their zombie stand-ins have a plausible albeit disturbing scientific explanation, though given the nature of their masters I do question whether or not their cost outweighs whatever benefits they might provide.


The Science-Fiction approach to Zombie Bullshit

Oh, wait a minute!  Gears of War 3 does have zombies in it!  Well, not zombies, not in name anyway, but nonetheless we have screaming, moaning, shambling, and crawling human-shaped abominations whose only purpose is to charge at normal people and claw their guts out.  I won't deny it, I did lose just a small amount of respect for the creative artists who decided it was a good idea to include them.

Zombies have never resonated with me.  I don't understand them.  Why would they want to eat our brains or flesh or just rip us apart?  There's an absurd amount of lore attached to these creatures which attempts (rather poorly) to explain their behaviour, but for the most part it comes down to 'a hatred for all living creatures'.  Right...So, how can they chase us so eagerly with their muscle and bone tissue decaying as it does with all corpses?  Writers often try to get around this with 'living zombies' like those in 28 Days Later, but that fell flat on its arse for me when these supposedly rage-filled individuals refused to rip each other apart as they were doing to the non-infected humans.

I'll lay it out nice and simple: the best example of 'zombies' I ever found was in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.  Described as 'wights', they are born from the fallen warriors, wildlings, and animals, who inhabit the frozen northernmost tip of the continent 'Westeros'.  If you haven't yet read those books, you'd be an idiot not to give them a try at least.  The zombies in this story (and it's not all about them) genuinely do leave you feeling uneasy.


Game Review: "Warhammer 40K: Space Marines"


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Relic Entertainment tears up the rulebook.
 
Based on the popular dice-rolling strategy games involving nerdy kids, rulebooks so thick you could be made bulletproof just by carrying them, and a lot of paint, Warhammer 40000: Space Marines is something of an odd duck when laid against its predecessors.  By breaking away from the core mechanics which made previous Warhammer games so popular with its fan base – namely, the real-time strategy and resource management – and plonking down a gauntlet of third-person hacking and slashing and shooting, it’s clear that THQ want this latest release to appeal to a wider audience. 
 
A bit of a risk, you might say, but you also might wonder whether or not it’s paid off.  So, has it?

We may kick ourselves secretly for saying this at a later date, but it might have been more prudent of Relic Entertainment to include a cover system for Warhammer 40K: SM.  Every game seems to have a cover system these days, but this game doesn’t.  The characters feel positively naked without the comforting press of steel and concrete against their chiselled jawbones. 
 
Following the HALO sentiment that power armour beats everything, we’re expected to manoeuvre the bulky form of Captain Titus around the debris-laden battlefield with nary so much as a crouch button, let alone a button which sends him hurtling shoulder-first into the nearest slab of environment.
 
Although there’s no cover system and Titus moves at the pace of a typical teenager at nine o’ clock in the morning on a Saturday, the A button controls a nice little dive-and-roll move (again, like Gears of War) which can get you out of trouble as quickly as it gets you into it.  Also, pressing the left thumb stick allows you to sprint indefinitely at pace.  This can be turned into a brutal charge in conjunction with the X button, useful for scattering most enemies.
 
In terms of keeping everything fresh and interesting, it’s best to view Warhammer 40K: SM as a relentless linear charge through swarms of enemies who are for the most part just fodder for your melee weapons.  It is fun, if that’s what you’re wondering, but there’s very little depth to it and the sections which break up the regular gameplay don’t have a great deal more to add.  There are three ‘jetpack’ areas which provide some respite, ultimately failing to add much spice to the chunky hack, slash, and blast, segments of the game.

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WTF 'append ta propa english, like, innit?

Apologies for the title - irritating, isn't it? If someone said that to me I'd be hard pressed not to punch their lights out.

The other day I was watching BBC News and I witnessed something both hilariously out of character and monstrously wrong. Some 'Breaking News' came through about a madman in Australia who had barricaded himself in a government building (think it may have been a court house) and claimed he had explosives strapped to him. It's likely all over by now, but the incident itself isn't what offended me - just another day in the ongoing saga of humanity, right?

The gentleman reporting on the scene was into his fifties, wearing a suit and tie as I recall, and spoke with an unerring pronunciation of every relevent syllable. All well and good, nothing too out of the ordinary if a little on the boring side, but then...then! This sentence just...ERUPTED from between his teeth.

The newscaster asked our man on the scene whether or not it was known what the man's motives were for locking himself in a government building with an explosive device. The answer was spoken thusly: "[Well, we don't really know as yet what the motive might be], it's possible this man might have some beef with the Law[...]"

Some...BEEF...WITH THE LAW?!

What, did our explosive-happy maniac share a steak dinner with Australian litigation services? Did they divide a cattle ranch up between him and his lawyer?

Needless to say, the illusion of the sensible British reporter was shattered for me and all of mankind when those words escaped this dickhead's lips. Honestly, I think he needs to monitor himself for watching too much of The Wire, or perhaps CSI is a more likely candidate (less cerebral, more in line with what this cretin would enjoy taking his English lessons from).

Some 'beef' with the Law.

Let's clarify this, people. Beef is a meat. It comes from a cow. You may not be familiar with these animals or the fine meat they produce (especially since most people who seem to use the word 'beef' out of context are likely customers of MacDonalds). Don't believe me? Go ahead and find a dictionary - an ENGLISH DICTIONARY - and look it up for yourselves.

Oh, silly me, of course you can't do that. The dictionary doesn't have any pictures.

Here's to hoping this plague of gangster American-inflicted phrases comes crashing down around the ears of the cretins who use them. And you, reporter, whoever you are, congratulations for doing your bit to mutilate our language. Well done! You stupid, suit-clad cunt.

ROUND THREE - FIGHT!

Is it surprising we play games centred on the idea of conflict or that we take them perhaps just a little too seriously? Hell, no. We’re at our best when we’re aggressive and want to win, just look at what Manchester United can do when they put their minds to the Beautiful Game. So it is when the hardcore elite of the FPS genre sit down and play a few games of Call of Duty or Battlefield. Hobbyists can sit around and get shot all they like – we’re in it to win and face down an enemy (through the scopes of our sniper rifles from a camping spot twenty miles away, probably). With the advent of Call of Duty and Battlefield gaming has been elevated from sitting on the comfy chair knocking back beers with a few mates for a laugh to sports league status.

Okay, I’ll state it from the outset so you know which side of the tracks I speak from – I am predominantly a Call of Duty player. That’s not to say I dislike Battlefield, which couldn’t be further from the truth. My first warfare multiplayer experience was on the original Battlefield 1942 on the PC and I still enjoy the odd game of Battlefield 1943 on Xbox Live. Battlefield is the ultimate squad shooter for contemporary war games, without a shadow of a doubt. To win you need strategy, you need to adapt to long-term conditions as well as short-term, and most importantly of all you need to know who in your team is doing what and where they are. On the other hand, Call of Duty is a game virtually anyone can be good at by themselves. Obviously it helps if you’re in a team of friends who know what they’re doing, but it’s not necessary to win games as long as your team of random people aren’t completely useless. Class systems are a little more flexible, the games are generally faster-paced and take less time to finish, and you’re guaranteed to get a few kills by simple luck alone.

So every year the lads at EA and Activision release their latest creations into the fluid wild of the online gaming community…and for the months preceding this there’s the usual rambling fan boys, screaming at each other with badly-spelt comments in videos, gaming forums, and sometimes literally through the microphone when we’re trying to enjoy a quick game online.

If any of you CoD or Battlefield crusaders are reading this blog, I’d like you to take away the following message to your respective brethren: Give it a rest. Please. For the love of all things thumb-stick related. In fact, this video sums you up quite nicely and should be applied to all fan boys regardless of their CoD or Battlefield backgrounds:


FANBOY RAGE

Of course the developers are baiting each other with barbed words in press releases – can you guess why? Because it’s their job to! They point out the flaws in each others’ products while simultaneously praising their own. It’s nothing new and it can be a good thing. A little competition does tend to mean we get some bloody good FPS games from EA and Activision. But listen closely, boys and girls, for though you can type in caps until your fingers are little wotsit-sized stumps and scream until your throats feel like sandpaper, these developers won’t give a monkey’s pubic hair for how big a fan you are. The only people developers tend to listen to are the ones who suggest ways to improve their games rather than the ones who complain how crap their games are compared to someone else’s.

Now I like Call of Duty, we’ve established this, but I still bought and played Battlefield (and Halo:Reach, though for some reason it doesn’t count in this argument) and Battlefield is an excellent game. What’s so great about it is that it slows down the random run-and-gun mentality prevalent throughout the CoD series; if you run around aimlessly looking for enemies, expect to get shot out of nowhere. Don’t talk to your squad mates? Get shot. Refuse to give covering fire while your team assaults an objective? Watch them die…then get shot. Battlefield is a thinking game, more so than CoD ever was and possibly ever will be, and those teams who can pull out a win almost every time are rightly proud of it.

Dig a little deeper into Battlefield and you’ll find other ways in which it stands out from just about every other console FPS multiplayer experience. For starters, you’re playing on dedicated servers. That alone is reason enough for even the most stalwart Call of Duty fan boys to stop mouthing off and give Battlefield a try, especially the ones who don’t have pristine broadband connections. Have you ever wondered what it would be like for you to fire your weapon at an enemy and actually hit the little sod when he’s in your line of sight? Battlefield players have never had to wonder about this. They also never have to wonder about camping to get ‘killstreaks’, since all the vehicles they need are on the maps and ready to drive providing you have the skill to do so – and can secure them in time! Battlefield also lives up to its name in an appropriate fashion, given that up to twenty-four players (on consoles) can duke it out across vast urban and rural areas, and all this with almost completely destructible terrain!

Call of Duty has happened to surface as my favourite for no other reason than time constraints and a personal sense of impatience. If I want to play a quick game, I want to do it now for a few minutes before the girlfriend gets back from her yoga class or whatever and starts nattering on about trivial things, like work and bills. It’s the gaming equivalent of fast food. Want to shoot something? Gut a man with a combat knife? Then jump on CoD, my friends, and enjoy the unpredictable slaughter of the ‘Ground War’ playlist. It’s not exactly brain power that’s required here, you just pick a weapon you like to use and aim down sight at the nearest corner. It doesn’t make it any more or less entertaining than Battlefield, just different.

There’s a lot to be said for Call of Duty’s levels of customisation. Between weapons, ordinance, ‘killstreaks’, and a tiered perks system, there’s so much destructive power packed into that game disc it’s a wonder it doesn’t explode on contact with pure oxygen. What makes it more compelling still are the promotion and prestige ladders embedded in the CoD philosophy. Think you’re pretty good, don’t you, making it all the way to level seventy? Now do it again and see what else you can unlock along the way! Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but if you use the same guns over and over again how can it not be repetitive? Call of Duty encourages near-ludicrous play styles, enabling us to dual-wield shotguns and submachine guns, jump off high ledges and snipe opponents before landing unharmed, run around with high-calibre light machine guns, and throw bladed weapons across the maps to land in an unlucky enemy’s skull. Almost any kind of play style you want to use, no matter how strange, can be created. Doing well with your play style… that’s another matter.

The CoD franchise may not have the highbrow strategies of Battlefield, but it does take skill to be a good player and it is this which gets people coming back for more every time. Can you improve your record with a shotgun? How many ‘nuke’ killstreaks can you get before the game is over? Have you done all the challenges for your favourite assault rifle? These questions will make your thumbs twitch. You will crave that moment in the game when you feel virtually unstoppable after tearing through a team of six by yourself in the space of five seconds.

Fans are great to have, of course. Where would anyone be without them? They are what encourage developers to try harder and do more to justify their heavyweight sales records. But sometimes fans are annoying, squealing little busybodies who go out of their way to make these games seem dull and unnecessary. They need to shut up. Most importantly, they need to buy both of these upcoming titles with the number “3” proudly emblazoned on their shiny game cases because, as you’ll see in our previews, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are the best ‘realistic’ FPS games out there.

At least, until the next CoD and Battlefield games come out…

DLC Review: "Kasumi: Stolen Memory"


(Click for full review)

Kasumi Goto: saboteur, tech specialist, art and culture expert…and master thief.  Thanks to Sheppard’s benefactor, the Illusive Man, Kasumi might just be interested in joining your mismatched crew of psychotics, super soldiers, assassins, and HR staff.  Not least, because she needs the help of a certain SpecTRe to pull off the heist of the century.

Kasumi can alter the field of play significantly with her two unique powers as well as providing some familiar back-up with the ‘overload’ tech ability.  One of those unique powers you will have to unlock by completing her loyalty mission, but it’s the instantly available ‘shadow strike’ power you’ll want to make the most of.  Select a target at range and Kasumi goes into stealth mode, crossing the distance within a second or two and unleashing a potent melee attack that often knocks said target over.  Apart from felling enemies with a single blow, ‘shadow strike’ tends to distract the rest from Sheppard for a few seconds, giving you time to implement a well-placed sniper shot or some heavy weapon fire.  If you choose to invest her experience points in this and her ‘Master Thief’ class skill, Kasumi becomes the ideal partner to have around when the bad guys are swarming. 
 
The bulk of the content comes in the form of one Donovan Hock’s private estate.  A sprawling complex on the human-centric planet Bekenstein, close to the Citadel, where a crowd of the richest and most unpleasant individuals humanity has to offer are celebrating their wealth and success.  Hock, it seems, has done something to incur Kasumi’s ire and she’s more than prepared to return his discourtesy by stealing one of his most valuable possessions.

After you’ve made it past the tedium of Hock’s party and infiltrated his vault the gameplay finds its way back to more familiar territory.  Biological and mechanical foes assail Sheppard and Kasumi, and with no third party member you’re encouraged to make the most of her impressive skills.  The big finish for the mission, a boss fight with a gunship, feels like ground you’ve already covered in the main story albeit with a small twist in how you triumph, and some players will no doubt be scratching their heads.


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DLC Review: "Project Overlord"

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One science team and a lot of deactivated Geth – what could possibly go wrong?

Sheppard gets a message from the Illusive Man asking him to investigate a Cerberus research station they’ve lost contact with. Upon arriving, Sheppard and his team find a lot of corpses, berserk security mechs, active Geth, and a very frightened Chief Scientist, Dr. Gavin Archer, who claims that he and his team were looking into merging human consciousness with virtual intelligence.

Guess who gets to clean up the mess.

This mission is about two to three times the size most primary missions in ME2, so you’re getting a good chunk of gameplay for your money.

Assuming you’re familiar with the procedure in BioWare’s sci-fi squad shooter, you’ll have plenty of enemies to blow up and a lot of obstacles to vault over, and it’s by no means an easy assignment. In terms of the on-foot sections there’s nothing here we haven’t already covered in the rest of the game and, in spite of some great new environments, the length of time you spend doing the same run-and-gun act may grate after a while.

Your assignment to shut down “Project Overlord” gets started at a primary base of operations, where Dr. Archer will have Sheppard disable the base’s communications array. Afterwards, your objectives take you to a huge open area wherein you have three stations to clear of synthetic aggressors. Two of these stations, “Vulcan” and “Prometheus”, can be accessed immediately while the third, “Atlas”, is unlocked after completing them.


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The Matter of Losing 'Oomph'

Oomph is amazing, truly the reason most of us get up in the morning.  Well, that and the prospect of earning money and getting laid.  Sadly mine seems to have gone for walkies and is clearly enjoying the sense of freedom and lack of obligations.

Back when I was trying to achieve something I had plenty of oomph, enough to push me through the frustration and stress of my father going through cancer treatment and early stage parkinsons (should that be capitalised?  I can never remember what diseases have this right to noun infamy).

Today, for example, I had plenty of time to do all the things I needed to do and pay a much required visit to the gym.  Seriously, I'm starting to get more than a little soft around the edges and it was nice to have all that energy before my apathy set in for all things gym-like.  I didn't go in the end.  Sure, I could blame the ham and cheese toasted sandwich I had for lunch, but really...it's the lack of oomph.

What to do about this?  Well, what better way to improve my oomph levels than to pay a visit to my much neglected martial arts classes this weekend and get the shit beaten out of me?  That should provide some incentive.  If you're losing or have ever lost your oomph, please feel free to drop some tips for oomph maintainence.

Article: "Video game reward schemes"

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Do you really get what you pay for?



A few years after the die was cast by big league video game publishers and developers looking to recoup some of the profits they were losing to the second-hand and download markets, it looks as if the dawn of in-game reward schemes has truly broken for console users. Some people are happier about it than others, seemingly from all sides of the ongoing debate.


THQ are doing reward schemes. Electronic Arts are doing reward schemes. With Modern Warfare 3 in the near distance it seems Activision isn’t too far behind with its “Call of Duty Elite” system. And now Ubisoft have announced the beginning of their own reward scheme, an addition to the “Uplay” system they introduced back in 2009, which will come into effect with the release of DRIVER San Francisco.


In the case of all four companies, their efforts to control how and when users have access to specific in-game content have been met with approval, distrust, and intrigue, from consumers and analysts alike. And this is what all this reward scheme business is about, really: market control.


To be more specific, and in case your head has been buried in that high-definition television screen you’re so fond of, the big publishers and developers are all a bit miffed about the second-hand market and the fact that their games are being sold two to three times over without them seeing any profit for it. We can blame ourselves for being cheap consumers, of course, but it doesn’t take much in the way of sense for most gamers to look at the price of a new game, compare it to that of a second-hand game, and think, Yep, that’ll do. Why not pay less for the same content?


Cue the reward schemes.


These little incentives to encourage consumers to buy new copies of games included all manner of extra content at first. Small things, like character costumes, extra weapons, items, art cards…the list was pretty extensive, but none of the bonuses were what you might term essential. Over time, however, these bonuses have grown to encompass entire characters, levels, extra downloadable content, and are now known almost universally as the Online Pass System. It all goes by different names, for sure. THQ’s WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 has “Online Axxess”, while EA’s Mass Effect 2 has the “Cerberus Network”, and a lot of Ubisoft’s titles connect to “Uplay” which offers extra content based on how well you perform in their games and is soon to offer paid-for content.


There are good reasons for mainstream publishers and developers to adopt this new marketing strategy, but there are also growing concerns for the rights of consumers who feel, understandably, that once you pay for the intellectual property it should be entirely yours.


We should probably take a step back from this mess and look at the forest before starting to cut down trees with our usual righteous fervour.



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Game Review: "Mass Effect 2"




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Will Commander Sheppard survive this massively effective sequel?




 As far as sequels go, the Mass Effect series had it easy.  Unlike a lot of successful new games, like Halo: Combat Evolved, Gears of War, Fable, or Dragon Age: Origins, it was pretty clear to critics of the widely praised yet flawed Mass Effect what it needed to address in order to make it a better game.



Let’s be blunt from the outset, it’ll save us some time. Mass Effect was a great game, but not so much for its combat gameplay. While the enemies were competent enough and the means by which you could dispose of them eclectic, Commander Sheppard was a little awkward to control and the tactical element of over-the-shoulder gunplay somewhat negligible. What you will find with ME2 is that the combat has had its joints oiled, a fresh coat of paint, and so much visual polish your eyes will be slipping over every tiny detail in an effort to take it all in.


First things first: the class system. Do you remember how in Mass Effect you could choose a class based on expertise on tech, weaponry, and Force-like ‘biotic’ powers? It was a neat idea and certainly it made you approach enemies differently each time, but when all was said and done you could still charge at enemies with high-powered gear, guns blazing, powers bursting from your omni-tool or fingertips.


Not so in ME2. You still have the six classes to choose from with the same rough descriptions of their abilities, but each class has seen little tweaks of refinement. They now have unique powers which can be activated at the touch of the Y button, each designed to offer a different tactical advantage over your enemies. The Soldier class can activate an ‘adrenaline burst’, which slows down time and gives you precious seconds to aim your shots with frightening precision, taking down one or several opponents in the blink of an eye. If you favour the Infiltrator’s tech abilities, you can generate a temporary stealth field and ambush foes with a sniper shot to the cranium, or beat a hasty retreat if you’re flanked. Do you like fights up close and personal? Then you will enjoy the use of the Vanguard’s ‘biotic charge’. Press the Y button on a targeted foe and Sheppard will cross vast distances in less than a second, slamming into and stunning them in preparation for a shotgun blast to the torso.


These differences in the way each class operates are prime examples of how much more importance BioWare has placed on the use of tactics in combat sections throughout the game. You will need to adjust to the environments and use your class skills wisely, especially on the harder difficulty levels where one wrong move can land you in serious trouble.

Riotous Arguments

A lot of people have been talking about this whole riot thing in England. My friends have been talking about it, my online friends have been talking about it, what caused it, who was involved, why, and blahdy blah-blah-blah. I wasn’t going to talk about this; Heavens know there are enough pretentious cretins talking about it as we speak, but I’ve been hearing some very antagonistic things about the English class system lately (not from friends, I should add, but from media sphere commentators). Let’s see if we can set the record straight from and Englishman’s perspective.

A friend dropped me a comment yesterday when I briefly acknowledged the riots that had happened while I was away from dear old England, asking me what I thought of the whole class dialectic and the gap between rich and poor, as well as about the young man who was shot by police (whether it was justified or not) shortly before this whole mess got started.

My response was the following:

“The 'class' system of the UK is vastly exaggerated in a lot of foreign countries. There's no doubt we have a lot of poor people living here, but no more so than in the USA, Europe, or Canada. In the case of many other countries, in fact, it's fair to say our people in general are much better off than other poor demographics. Everyone has access to basic education, everyone has access to healthcare, and the benefits system has been more than generous in supporting the so-called 'poor' with free housing and access to non-essential goods (videogame consoles, broadband internet, huge TVs, etc.).

The people whose shops and livelihoods were attacked in the riots weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, any more than the rioters were comprised of people who were poor. A lot of these thugs have jobs, or are in school, a lot of them did it for purely selfish reasons, and not a single one of these gatherings began with any kind of political agenda. It was a bunch of gangs and individuals who saw a chance to take advantage because they know our police are severely restricted in what they can do to stop them. More so than what the American cops would have been able to do; an armed gang of vandals would have been warned, then put to flight with live rounds if tear gas and water cannons didn't do it. Our police weren't even cleared to use those!

As for the shooting of Mark Duggan, it looks as if it was unjustified, but I honestly don't care if he was or wasn't threatening the police. Too often men like him get off with light sentences for acts of brutality and the police don't do anything to stop them. I won't be shedding any tears for a dead gangster, let alone one who had a gun in his car, not when so many of them get away - literally - with murder.

Anyway, that's more or less my take on the subject. I think English people in general would like to see a more hardline approach to things like this. Political protests are one thing, but this was something darker entirely: a herd of scum who embarrassed us as a nation and themselves as human beings."

While I stand by what I said, I think a couple of points deserve some expansion as it’s easy for most people to condemn what happened in London and other major UK cities without looking at the overall picture.

Basically, the democratic and meritocratic systems are flawed. There’s no getting around it. They, along with Capitalism, just happen to be the best thing we’ve got going for a stable social structure at the moment. Perhaps one day this will change but it’s a LONG way off, well beyond my great grandchildren’s lifetimes (should I choose to overpopulate the world a little further). The opinions of the rich and influential are inevitably more recognised than the opinions of the poor and unrecognised, and this is largely due to those individuals within the former demographic being representative of (or perceived as promoting) a group opinion.

The outcomes for this process, combined with the divisive nature of Capitalist superstructures, can only lead to a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. This is true of any country, including all of those within the Western Hemisphere.

What I’m trying to say is that I acknowledge the gaps between rich and poor exist in the UK and I sympathise with the people caught at the bottom end. HOWEVER, I also believe that out of every major political actor on the scene the UK provides their poor with a number of resources other countries have not or will not provide their own. These have, to a large extent, taken their toll on the middle classes more than anyone else. That’s not to say everyone gets to benefit from them, but they do exist.

I subscribe to one man’s theories in particular, the British political and social philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who believed that humans in their natural state are savages hell-bent on individual survival at the expense of others. In order for us to exist in a society, we have to give up a degree of our natural freedoms (the freedom to kill or the freedom to go wherever we want to, for example) and exchange them for consented laws. I do not think the laws in the UK (or certain laws, at any rate) are enforced with enough conviction on the part of our governments. The men and women who lead us are weak-willed, concerned about upholding that all-destroying concept we know as ‘human rights’ which has traded the rights of the victims for the rights of the criminals. Humans, as Hobbes has portrayed us quite accurately, are no better than animals on a leash. I believe that sometimes we need to know when to give ourselves a good kicking as well as a reward for our noble efforts. A little brutality would not go amiss, I feel.

But the police held back and the rioters, like rabid dogs let off the leash, did what their nature compelled them to do and acted out of their own self interest. Inevitably, it all died out once people realised others were getting killed and that was when a bit of social decency kicked in. Not for everyone who was involved, but definitely for most.

So it annoys me when I see talking heads on TV talking about how the underprivileged are striking back at David Cameron’s economic policies. It’s bollocks. The riots happened because people saw an opportunity to take advantage for their own benefit.

If you doubt these words, go and look at the footage or the photos of the UK riots – there’s plenty of them. If you find one where a crowd of people is waving placards or chanting messages of discontent and their faces aren’t masked, please feel free to correct me.

Food for thought, people. Big, greasy mouthfuls of it!

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