Quick Update

I’ve been appallingly bad at blogging over the past couple of months. What can I say, life gets busy some times!

In the world of all things Digital Salad, I’ve been promoted at work. I’m now officially a Manager in charge of a team. Not bad at the tender age of 24, but now it’s the hard work of actually proving I can do it!

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Work hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been up to though. Although I’ve got the time to game, and even the money to put into it if I wanted to, I’ve been more and more of a ‘filthy’ casual gamer recently. I’m still in a bit of a transition with my gaming, but a quick run down of what’s been happening:

  1. I uninstalled GTA V pretty spontaneously back in August and haven’t looked back since. I took a hard look at whether I was actually having fun and decided it was far from it! Not to say it’s not a good game, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I uninstalled it and haven’t looked back, I’ve not wanted to play it for even a second since – which is far less regrets that I thought I’d have about it.
  2. Guild Wars 2 has made a come back! I’ve reinstalled it and been playing it for the first time in two years. Not that much has changed and I’m really enjoying taking it easy and playing a little bit here and there. giphy (1)
  3. I’m also really looking forward to the full release of Prison Architect this Tuesday. I’ve been following the game in alpha for ages and it’s great to see it finally reach the finish line. I’m looking forward to setting up a new prison full of gangs and (most likely) a lot of chaos.
  4. We’ve also invested in a PS4. A little late to the party, but better late than never! We’ve been really enjoying getting back on to the console gaming train. In particular we’ve been enjoying Assassin’s Creed Unity, which although rightly ridiculed for being so buggy on release, is without a doubt the most fun Assassins Creed game to date if you ask me. I’m really enjoying powering through it, and the multiplayer is even quite fun!
  5. Now that we have a PS4 I’ve also been looking into the many games which are slated for release prior to christmas. I’m definitely interested in Assassins Creed Syndicate and Star Wars Battlefront, as well as some others, but I’m going to wait and see how they’re received on release. I’m a patient gamer these days! giphy (2)

That’s the run down of my gaming, but I’ve been up to far more besides! I’ve been reading Joe Abercrombie’s first book The Blade Itself. I originally discovered the series from the stand-alone sequel The Heroes – which is one of my favourite books ever. I thought it would be a good idea to read some more of Abercrombie’s stuff and I’ve not regretted it at all – I love Abercrombie’s fantasy worlds. I’m hoping to do a review once I’ve finished it.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek Deep Space 9 on DVD. I’ve blogged before about my love of Star Trek The Next Generation since childhood. Aside from TNG I’ve only watched the occasional episode of other series in the canon, so I’ve set to watching Deep Space 9. It’s no Next Generation, and Sisko is no Picard, but its been fun. I’m also hoping to do a blog post about my thoughts on Deep Space 9 once I’ve finished it as well! 
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Last but not least, Life As A Digital Salad has a new look which I’m excited about! Hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me soon.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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TMGR [6 + 1]: GTA Online

This 20min review is more of an add-on to last week’s, hence the 6+1! I played this 20mins straight after I played the 20mins of GTA V’s single player. Baring in mind how much I didn’t enjoy that 20mins, that’s probably affected how I felt about this 20mins in comparison.

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I spawned into the same world as before, but after a much longer 4 minute loading time (not as bad as feared but certainly way too long!).

The first noticeable difference was, I was me, DigitalSalad in his biker jacket with his bright pink guns. I was playing as my guy, with the personality I gave him and it felt so much better than the single player straight off for that reason. I’ve definitely been spoiled by the level of personalisation out there in games these days. I completely understand why GTA V’s single player restricts it in the name of the narrative, but GTA Online’s customisation options felt like a genuine relief in comparison. 

First thing, I checked what the daily was. ‘Steal a vehicle from the military base’ popped up – one of my favourite things to do whether it’s a daily task or not. Cue a few minutes drive to the military base in my armoured car, a jump over the fence and I was away in a stolen fighter jet – part 1 of 3 for the daily done. Someone else was around in their own stolen fighter jet from the base as well, so we had a quick dogfight that ended up with both of us dead – good fun with another player which I’d begun to lose hope with all the hackers about.

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Part 2 of the daily I chose to do was a ‘Flight School’ mission. I chose to do one where your engine cuts out in a jet plane and you have to land safely on a runway without power. Quick and easy – I always love trying to land planes in extreme conditions on GTA. The flying is one of my favourite activities, alongside the off-road driving.

All of that stuff done and I still had a big chunk of time left! I filled this up with a mad rampage (what can I say!).

A little flavour of my mad rampages
A little flavour of my mad rampages

All in all, GTA Online felt so much better than the single player experience I’d had in the 20 minutes beforehand. I actually had a good experience with the other players as well for a change. That said, I really need to learn that I can play Online solo. It seems to me like that’d be a good option as my go-to play style for GTA V. I much prefer playing Online – but I can do that without other players irritating me or hacking the game!

As always, it’s time for the score.

Compared to the single player experience of GTA V, Online was miles better. It also helped that I had a particularly good experience in this 20mins of Online compared to a pretty rubbish experience of regular offline. If GTA Online could always be guaranteed to be as fun as it was in this case, in such a concise and time effective way despite the huge load in time, I wouldn’t hesitate to load it up again for many more 20min sessions. The trouble is, in reality I know it isn’t always that way. The rules are the rules though, and my rating is based purely on the 20mins of play that I had.

For this 20mins I’m going to give GTA Online a very well deserved 4.5/5. GTA remains a great game even this long down the line, and still has some great moments. I was lucky enough to have one of them in my Online 20mins.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

TMGR [6]: GTA V

I’m no stranger to GTA V, I’ve completed the single player before on the Xbox 360. I’d never done GTA Online before I picked up the PC version of GTA though, so that was the biggest pull of the PC version for me. That said, I really wanted to give the single player a go and do it ‘properly’ – crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. This is my 20 minutes with the single player, offline, PC version of GTA V.

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Giving myself the 20mins time limit was not only damned difficult on GTA V but also a real eye opener. Besides the obnoxiously long load in that anybody who has played GTA V will attest to (in this case over 2mins for the single player), I only got one mission and one rampage done.

I loaded in as Franklin, went to a gun shop, bought him a delightful pink gun, did a really short mission where you shoot up some gangsters in an alley way, got into a fight with the police, died … and then time was up!

When it comes to things GTA, I really enjoy the missions Rockstar have created, but I only play it in short stints. I’ll do a mission or two and then do a mad rampage or two until I die and call it quits – I don’t take it too seriously.

In my 20mins I only managed a segment of the relatively small amount I usually do, so it seems GTA is far greedier on my time than I thought – even when I was only doing single player. I like my spare time, I don’t like games that greedily try to steal it from me! It’s certainly not a feature you want in a game when you only have 20mins to spend with it, and that’s without even considering the massive load times!

It was also kind of boring playing GTA single player again, I hate to say. I’d done the mission before on the Xbox, but I fear it’s a bit more than that. I’m worried I’ve been spoilt by the personalisation of GTA Online. For all the negatives of the GTA Online game and community, the world they’ve created there is more dynamic and more fun to play in. It’s a shame, because I really want to do the single player through again but the 20 mins has actually left me wondering whether I have the stamina and patience to go through it all again!

Unpopular Opinion Puffin time!

I realise I don’t really like any of the pretty universally adored characters in the single player story. I don’t even like the support cast like Lamar or Lester. I’m not totally sure why either, but rather than the mesh of like and dislike that Rockstar try to make you feel for each character, I just find that they all irritate me. Maybe that’s more me though!

Any who, as with all 20min reviews it’s time to do a score.

These scores are always based on the rigid 20mins I have with a game, and this 20mins wasn’t a good one for GTA V’s single player.

Combine being at the start of the game, with a boring experience (which was partly the luck of the draw of missions) and I have to say it’s not all the game’s fault. I know part of it’s me as well, especially having done it all through once before. That said, despite all that I still don’t think GTA V’s single player is a good game to play in a small amount of time. It wants to draw you in, and if you’ve not got time to do that it leaves you feeling pretty crap when you tear yourself away part way through something.

So, all said and done GTA V’s single player gets 2/5. Stay tuned for the GTA Online TMGR soon!

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [27]

This week’s screenshot is from GTA V.

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That’s me doing one of the things I enjoy the most on the game – taking my off-road vehicles and tearing around the swamplands in them until they’re completely broken. In this case, my car had lasted most of the way across the river pretty much totally submerged before cutting out just then when it was within reach of the opposite bank. So close, yet so far.

That’s the other reason I decided to choose this screenshot for this week, because it’s a nice illustration of how I’m feeling about GTA at the moment. I feel like I’m starting to drift away from it. I’ve had some fun on my own, I’ve had some great fun with friends. I’ve even very occasionally had fun with random people I met in the game! I’ve now got to the same stage as a lot of people though, and I’m fading away from it.

The game is fantastic, but as it stands it’s just like my car – broken down within reach of dry land. Such a good game, but the completely free hand that hackers have online is ruining the experience. Any server you join will have a hacker either spawning millions of dollars, or killing everyone for the giggles. The hackers operate with impunity, and it’s just not fun any more as a consequence. I really hope they fix it, and fix it soon, but it doesn’t look like things will change soon.

As for me, I’ll keep going with GTA for the time being, but I fear that I might be completely going off it. I’ve recently done a 20minute review of the game though, which I’m hoping to publish in the next week or so, and I have so many screenshots I might also do a special bumper Saturday Screenshot of my favourites at some point. So keep tuned!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [24]

This screenshot is a little late in the day for a very good reason – it was captured not an hour or two ago! I feel it should be accompanied by a success kid meme.

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This is GTA Online Digital Salad during a cut scene of the second GTA Heist – the prison escape. I’m playing a prisoner, smuggled in with another player pretending to be a guard. Another player circles in a stolen plane waiting to pick us up, and the last heist member circles in an attack helicopter. We need to break out the guy in glasses safely.

For whatever reason this heist has been a sticking point for me. I’ve done it so many times with loads of different people, from level 9 up to level 140ish. Every damned time we failed – sometimes for reasons I couldn’t even fathom. A few times I had people disconnect, and plenty more rage quit. I like to think the rage quitting wasn’t usually because of my work!

I always tried my best, but it wasn’t good enough to get the “hiest complete” message pop up I was eager for.

Tonight I’ve finally managed it though and finished the heist, so I’m really chuffed! I never thought it was possible for a long while, but I kept working at it, and my persistence eventually paid off!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [21]

A slight lull since my last post, please forgive me as things have been busy! Without further ado though, straight back into proceedings with my regular Saturday Screenshot feature!

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This week’s screenshot is one straight from my adventures on GTA Online. Technically, it isn’t me in the screenshot. Well, the rocket’s mine – fired from my fighter jet. The very scared person on the motorbike is my friend CJ – who I’ve mentioned before. CJ somehow managed to survive this, but not before getting the awesome screenshot.

Playing with friends on GTA Online has been a real blast – as has the extra customisation that comes with Online compared to Singleplayer. This is probably one of my favourite in game ‘jobs’, I forget its name though sadly, but it’s essentially cat and mouse between a motorcyclist and a fighter jet – with some real nail-biting moments along the way.

The one thing I will mention off the topic of the screenshot is the really sad state of most public servers on the PC version of GTA Online right now. It’s become pretty much unplayable for the amount of hackers on these servers. I’ve had it recently where I’ve joined a server where you insta die repeatedly – that’s a hacker trick that’s popular at the moment. I’m now only playing with friends on closed servers or in a solo server if I really want to play in the Online world.

It’s clear that the hackers shouldn’t be doing this, but there’s some blame to go to Rockstar here too for not making the pc version of GTA Online as watertight against hackers and exploiters as it maybe needed to be. The PC community is uniquely well equipped and resourceful at taking advantage of any gaps in the armour of a game. It’s a real shame that ordinary players have the suffer in the meantime while Rockstar hopefully work on a fix.

Besides my slight soap box moment there; I still really highly recommend GTA V and Online for PC, even if right now I would probably stick to servers of people you already know. Here’s hoping it gets better soon.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Plays GTA Online [2]

I’ve already introduced you to DigitalSalad, Grand Theft Auto style, and now it’s time to revisit to show you what else I’ve been up to. 2015-04-25_00007

This screenshot’s probably the best place to start with. The loading screens for GTA Online are crazy, I think my stats are something like nearly half my time in game has been spent in loading screens. Whether that’s after I’ve been kicked from a heist lobby by players who only want elite players with them (I can’t blame them for that if they really want to power through the heists!) or whether its struggling to connect to a stable server of players – every time it’s loading the whole dynamic world.

I can’t help but wonder if there’s a better way to optimise the loading for GTA Online, but I understand why it is like it is. It’s a big, dynamic and beautiful world – it would be a real shame if there was a quick initial load and then you hit a loading wall as you flew over the mountains from the city into the up-state.

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In other news, I bought the armoured Kuruma!

It’s become my go-to car for cruising round since then. A good all round vehicle with decent speeds and cornering, added to being almost entirely bullet proof make it the perfect go-to car for GTA Online. That doesn’t stop me being blown up by the wide variety of trolls out there though – many of whom seem to be roaming about in Insurgent APCs dropping grenades and sticky bombs like they were candy. Apart from run-ins with those types, the Armoured Kuruma has stood me in good sted so far!

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I became a hipster briefly. The temptation was too great. I now have all sorts of weird and wonderful outfits in my wardrobe!

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Things somehow escalated into me running around in my pants robbing stores. I had only just met Trevor at this point, so I’m blaming the Trevor effect for DigitalSalad going so off the rails afterwards!

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I tried out some off-roading too. I love the off-roading experience in GTA V and Online. They’ve got the driving realism/arcade balance perfectly right and the scenery is ready to be conquered by your favourite 4×4. This was my first outing in a Karin Rebel I got hold of. It was a little disappointing for one of the player favourite off-roading vehicles, so I’ve since set my sights on getting hold of one of the jeeps the military use – the Merryweather Mesa. It’s still great fun taking the Rebel out to go climb a mountain in the meantime though!

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I found quite possibly my favourite race ever. Up to 14 players (we had 6) in a very clustered race for big jets. It was utter carnage – and I’ve never been so pleased to be knocked out of the sky by another player. No weapons, just the brute for of one plane shunting another. Real skill was needed for this one, and it was a real conundrum which plane to choose. I opted for big and brutish one to push everyone out of the way, but the lucky winner had picked a smaller agile jet that managed to avoid our big scuffles and edge out to win it. Definitely would recommend this race!

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Last but not least I managed to meet up with a good real life friend, I’ll call him by the name CJ seeing as that’s what he uses in GTA Online, and we caused some serious chaos together. We robbed as many stores as we could with my armoured Kuruma, and then we hatched on an idea to steal a fighter jet from the military base.

CJ hopped into a helicopter and flew in to the military base as low as he could. I’d never managed this before, always going too high and being caught by the base’s brutal anti-air missiles. CJ was a real pro gamer and pulled off the impossible, he flew in just metres off the ground and made it to a fighter jet. We were now set to cause even more chaos.

5 or 10 mins later and I was at Los Santos airport in my armoured Kuruma; CJ circling above. The plan was set and I started us off – gunning down anyone I could see in the aim of getting as high a wanted rating as I could as fast as I could. 4 stars popped up in seconds and I raced across to one of the airport’s hangers to draw in the police and take cover.

Below is the destruction of just one run of CJ in the jet, massacring the hordes of police bearing down on me in the hanger. This is how GTA Online was meant to be played!

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That was the finest bit of flying I’ve seen in a video game. It was truly epic to be sat there while CJ strafed the police attacking me. All good things have to come to an end though, and eventually enough rouge bullets caught his plane to bring him crashing down in the sea. Picking him up from miles out at sea was a more difficult challenge though!

 Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Plays GTA Online [1]

I’ve already introduced you to the Grand Theft Auto Digital Salad in last week’s Saturday Screenshot. Now, I wanted to take a little more time to let you know what I’ve been up to now that it’s been a full week since GTA released on PC. I’m going to take you on a journey through my week’s best screenshots! 2015-04-14_00003 So DigitalSalad was spawned late Wednesday night. I gave the game a while to settle in, let the release day crowds die down, and see what it was like once things got a little more normal. So far, no major server or connection problems.

There’s been a few problems I’ve read about, especially with Steam and Rockstar Social not talking to each other (no big surprise really), but so far I’ve been ok.

One thing I will say though is that I haven’t been glitch free. I’ve had a strange glitch every so often, which I think might be server lag related, where I just hover outside the door of a car I’m trying to steal. I got a handy screenshot of it the first time it happened: 2015-04-15_00007 He’ll just stand there and refuse to actually get in the car. The poor owner of it probably thinks DigitalSalad is some kind of mime doing street art.

Another weird glitch has been when I lose in a round job or mission (I’ve lost more than I’ve won, I have to be honest) my screen gets stuck on the losing screen of DigitalSalad looking sad. The game plays on but I can only see glum old DigitalSalad until I’m killed in the next round. Very frustrating, but I’m guessing that’s something to do with the servers as well – that’s apparently what’s causing all the freezing loading screens across the game.

Nothing major broken, but there’s some real frustrating freezes in places. For a big release they’re minor, but they’re still damned irritating.

So, back to the game! I pre-ordered, which gave me a hefty £800,000 to burn on my first character. The first thing I did was buy a high end apartment as soon as I could, so that I had a heist planning room to do heists of my own. I chose one a little bit out of central Los Santos, over towards the beach, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a beautiful apartment which I’m happy to use as my base for the game. Here’s the living room: 2015-04-16_00001 It also came with a very handy 10 car sized garage, which I’ve filled up with these so far: 2015-04-20_00001 I definitely have a liking for the motorbikes of GTA V, but they’re sadly just not as useful as a car for serious missions like Heists. Still, 10 spaces gives me plenty of space to play around with and I have a wishlist of 10 vehicles for my garage which I’m working on. And yeah, I have a van in there ‘cus you never know when that’ll be useful!

Once I tinkered about on the game and got to a high enough level, it was time to use that heist planning room for the first heist – the Fleeca Bank Job. My beautiful pink shotgun saw some action so to speak. I must say, DigitalSalad dressed up pretty well as a bank robber, he really looked the part! 2015-04-18_00005 And … last but not least I cycled down Mount Chiliad – and lived! 2015-04-19_00008 That’s it for this week in GTA Online. Plenty of fun things to talk about, and there’ll probably be plenty more to come, so stay tuned!

 Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [15]

Last week we had my own pet city in Cities: Skylines. This week, I couldn’t let the big release go unmarked – I’ve been playing in the city of Los Santos on GTA Online for PC.

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Say hello to DigitalSalad GTA style. I really quite like he turned out looking. It can be a bit of a raffle with the funny system of picking your parents and editing the sometimes horrific creation that produces – but DigitalSalad worked out pretty decent!

My very first experience in GTA Online (and I must say so far, fingers crossed, a relatively stable and crash free experience) was intriguing. Me in my suit, looking like something of an accountant spawned into a tutorial mission with two real people who had chosen to be skin-head gangsters. They had the two front seats of a big four by four and I sat in the back. Entering Los Santos in king-pin style or what! Even gangsters do tax returns I guess??

GTA Online has been a genuine pleasure so far. Even been thinking while playing, if it’s not too boring, I’m hoping to make a fairly regular GTA feature where I share an interesting screenshot and story from my time playing as Salad in the red specs. Let me know what you think!

For now though, I’m gonna go watch the amazing view from my newly purchased penthouse near the beaches of Los Santos. See you soon for more Salad happenings.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Grand Theft Auto (PC)

Its coming out in exactly a week, on April 14th, and pre-loads have begun today. The long long long awaited PC release of GTA V!

There’s been a lot of agro out there about the much delayed release. If you take it from initial announcement we’re talking 3 or 4 official delays to the release date for the PC version, which really ain’t great for a company’s PR!

I’m a big GTA fan, and I’ve blogged about GTA V quite a bit before. To sum up my feelings from the Xbox 360 version (offline only sadly) is that it’s an amazing game with fantastic replayability – I just wished they included some Gang Wars in GTA V’s single player, like the GTA IV dlcs had. I have been very excited to play GTA V online though, as this is where GTA V really opens up and becomes truly awesome.

We don’t have a Next Gen console in our home, and I don’t have Xbox Live either (never really seen the value for money in it for me). So the PC release is my first chance to get stuck in to GTA V as it was meant to be.

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to enjoy GTA V before the PC release and I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who’s been waiting all this time for the PC version. Maybe because I’ve already been enjoying some of what the game has to offer, I haven’t been too bothered by the delays.

I do wonder whether working in a hospital has made me a bit immune to delays. At least that would make up for all the second hand colds I pick up off the public!

I guess I sit with the camp that says that its better they delay it than release a half finished game – to name but a few recent culprits, AC: Unity, M&B: Viking Conquest, Civ: Beyond Earth. Trouble is, I know that it’ll struggle on release day. Online will crash for days, but that’s more a volume problem than a problem with the game. It seems like that’s just a feature of modern gaming releases – days of delays and frustration as you try to log online with it. I really hope the extra waiting was worthwhile though, I don’t want to be left feeling like those months were pointless waiting.

Either way, I’m looking forward to GTA for the PC. Hopefully the release will go as planned next week, but even if so I’m probably gonna hang back and not play it until that weekend to let the creases get ironed out. Patience will be my ally!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com