GTA IV: The game that changed my life


In 2008 my boyfriend came home with the bright idea of buying a PS3. Never one to think about huge purchases, I soon agreed and it wasn’t long before we were in the town centre figuring out which deals were best, and eventually the console was purchased.

One of the games we’d bought was GTA IV. I’d dabbled previously in GTA games but never really persevered with one long enough for it to have made much of an impact. GTA IV was a different story. From the moment I saw it being played I knew I wanted to be involved.

I spent most of my free time playing the game after that. When I wasn’t doing work for my university course, or at classes, I wanted to be playing GTA IV. I became so ridiculously immersed in the game, I started talking in a Russian accent just like Niko. My flatmate said she always knew when I was playing because she’d hear me shouting and swearing at (and with) the game.

GTA IV is the first game I can remember getting emotionally invested in on such a level that I just didn’t want to play the game anymore, as much as I was enjoying it. Why should I get to play God? Can’t Kate and Roman both live? The choice seemed obvious, family first, but Kate might be the one. I know in the past I’ve harped on about loving games that have decisions in them, but this seemed to be one decision too far. I downed controller shortly after the decision came up. I needed time to think about this.

The decision that followed I have erased from my mind. I think I chose to kill Roman, but I can’t say for sure.

On the cusp of GTA V, I wonder if any game will ever have as much of an impact on me as GTA IV. I can safely say, without it, I wouldn’t be as remotely into gaming as I am now. GTA IV was a real platform for me and launched me from being a casual gamer to whatever I am now. Time will only tell about how GTA V will affect my life, but it sure is exciting waiting to find out.


The four film cinema trip


Cineworld Unlimited cards are great. £15.99 a month, and you can see as many films as you like, as many as you can cram into one day. While a working week often puts a dampener on any mid-week cinema plans, the weekends are made for abusing the Unlimited card.

Last Saturday I went to Cineworld and made myself at home. Armed with my Unlimited card (premium now, so 25% off snacks) and a meticulously planned film schedule, I settled in for the long haul.

Not one to ease myself in, I launched straight in with Elysium. It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, but good none-the-less. A stand-up sci-fi film, though it does contain some much used clichés (countdown timer anyone?). I found it quite refreshing that for a change the protagonist was less concerned with saving the world, and was all about saving his own bacon. Altogether, I had expected Elysium to be more visually spectacular with a more strongly driven story. Though I hadn’t expected much from the film, I had anticipated it being a bit more revolutionary and out of the ordinary. Elysium was a thoroughly standard film, just not entirely what I was expecting.

Out of Elysium and straight into We’re The Millers, which could not have been a more different experience. Whilst We’re The Millers doesn’t stand out as being a brilliant comedy, it is by no means a terrible film. Unlike Elysium, We’re The Millers basically lived up to my expectations. It did have funny moments, but now, some five days after seeing the film, I’m struggling to remember a single joke that I laughed hard at. At times, the chemistry between Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston seems a little forced, but again, better than in some films that I’ve seen. There are some awful, cringeworthy moments, but these are soon over with, and the audience are left with an average comedy as a result.

Two films in a day is more than enough for most people, but for me, it was a mere halfway point. Time for an important break, lunch and some much needed fresh air (which would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn’t pouring down with rain). For anyone considering the four film trip, I would recommend having a nice long lunchbreak, trying to stay away from screens of any kind (my iPad, iPhone and the It Box in the cinema and pub opposite meant I probably struggled with a headache for longer than I needed to).

Out of lunch and (almost) straight into film three, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This was probably the film of the day I was least looking forward to. A sort of pseudo-Twilight teen fiction film, The Mortal Instruments tried to dip itself into a few genres and tick off a few of the core plot fillers. I think the film spread itself a little thinly over a lot of plot, and tried to cram in too much. Whilst there have been grumbles with other books being split into two films, often it is necessary, especially in instances like this when a whole new world and mythology has to be introduced. Having said that, the film moved quickly and didn’t lack action, but perhaps would have benefitted a little more time with characters, learning their motivations and allowing us to feel more of an affinity to them.

Partway through The Mortal Instruments is when I hit my film wall. My bum was numb, I was getting fidgety. I could feel the mother of all headaches coming on, and I was in no mood for the next film to be complicated, or anything that required me to concentrate too hard on. Luckily, the fourth and final film in my day of cinema was Pain and Gain. Thoroughly ridiculous, and frankly, totally unbelievable as a true story, Pain and Gain is the story of three bodybuilders who seek to take the wealth and lifestyles from their rich clients. I had expected the film to be more about the trio enjoying the wealth they have acquired, but there is a lot of focus on the planning and the actual acquisitions. The plot of the film has obviously been dramatised, and it makes you wonder how much of the story has been fabricated; how would it be known that one of the characters fed his toe to a dog? Again, another okay film, for what it is and as a piece of cinema which is designed purely to entertain and not to evoke any strong feelings, it sets out what it aims to do.

An enjoyable day out, in all, and a variety of films watched; I’d say if you’re considering doing a four film day the key is to mix it up with different genres and film styles. The Unlimited card meant instead of spending £36 on cinema tickets per person, we got our month’s money’s worth in one day, anything after that is just a bonus.


The Last of Us: Be as good as me!


My superior Last of Us multiplayer skills have led to an article request for tips on how to be as good as me at Naughty Dog’s latest hit.

So, just for you, here are my five top tips for Faction superstardom:

1. The shiv is your friend

Stealth is key to getting through most multiplayer games. I always have a shiv in my loadout, ready for those stealthy attacks. The name “jadeypops” is feared throughout the Last of Us community for shivving prowess alone.

2. The art of “sly bastarding”

Mic up, britches! It’s time to learn the “sly bastard”. This sneaky move makes full use of gaming headsets, or if those aren’t available, Skype. The “sly bastard” essentially involves using one team member to lure opponents to a window or doorway, then the remaining team members pop out from said window or doorway, and obliterate the enemy. The sly bastards. This one needs practice, but reaps major results.

3. Supply raid over survivor when it counts

Of the two multiplayer modes, I have to say that I prefer survivor mode. It’s quicker, more exciting and everything can change round by round. Supply raid is good for practicing when you’re just starting out in the multiplayer world as you get more respawns and therefore more chances to practice. It is for this reason, I would suggest opting for supply raid when you are faced with a mission that threatens 100% of your clan. More respawns means more chances to hit the criteria.

4. Hold out for the sweetest win

There’s two of you, one of them and a minute left on the clock. You should run and find them, right? Wrong! You should find a safe corner, hide and wait for the timer to run out so you win by default. Winning by default, the sweetest win.

5. Listen!

God gave us ears so you could see a fuzzy white outline of your enemy from far away. So use them. Hold that R2 and listen. Don’t know where the enemy is? Have a cheeky listen. Can only account for three enemies? Have a listen. LISTEN!

Disclaimer: This article could not be more tongue in cheek if I tried, and was written completely for fun. I am fully aware that I am completely average at this game. Should you wish to test how average I am, add me on PSN, username: jadeypops.

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum series: Where to start


Write about what you know, they always say. Well, what I know is trophy whoring, and you know what? I don’t even care. I’m here to share my wisdom, so that we all might learn and help grow our trophy scores. This series of articles features top tips for choosing your game, a suggestion of selection of games to get you started on your platinum journey, and games to definitely avoid if your goal is 100% completion.

So, to get us started, this week are my top tips for trophy hunting.

1. Do your research

I cannot emphasise this step enough. You wouldn’t believe the amount of games I’ve nearly played, thinking they’ll be a walk in the park, an easy platinum (or an “EP” as we in the trophy trade call them), only to find out it’ll take 40 hours, and I’ll probably never get the platinum due to a potential glitch. This stage is where PS3 Trophies is your friend. Search any game on the website, and you’ll find a guide created by a fellow hunter detailing the best route to the platinum, along with a difficulty rating that has been voted on by those who have played and an estimated time of completion. Whilst perusing the website, it is key to search the forums. Many a time I have come across something which I think looks doable, only to find out that many other gamers have struggled through parts of the game.

2. Source your games

LoveFilm was a real friend of mine in my heaviest stage of platinum farming. After searching a number of lists for the easiest and quickest platinums, I had a shortlist of games to attempt. I selected a LoveFilm package which allowed me to get a game and a film at a time, and added the whole host of games to my rental list. The key to getting my money’s worth was to make sure there was a quick turnaround of games, this also benefitted my platinum cause greatly. Unfortunately LoveFilm has decided from August it will no longer offer a games rental service. Quick research shows Blockbuster are still offering game rentals on a similar package (£9.99 for unlimited rentals, two discs at a time) – their website even declares “We Still Rent Games!“ If this Blockbuster service isn’t an option, you can always try buying secondhand through Amazon or eBay, then sell the game on once completed, though you may lose money through this route.


3. Plan your route

Before you start the game, unless you mind playing a clean-up game, it is a good idea to read a roadmap of the best way to proceed. The roadmaps on PS3 Trophies are designed to guide you through the quickest route to the platinum trophy, along with guides for collectables and any pointers for missable trophies. Search forums of games on the website to see if there are any glitches which can be used to your advantage, as they are possible.

4. Enjoy the game

Or try to, at least. I find that if I know I’m going to get a platinum, it makes playing a game I wouldn’t ordinarily play a little better. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to traipse through a game you really hate, so make sure you think you’ll be able to put up with whatever you play before you start. Nobody likes 2% trophy lists.


Predicting the 2013 Oscars


With the 2013 Oscars ceremony taking place later tonight, I look ahead with my predictions of some of the categories.

Best Picture
I don’t think this category can be much tighter. This year has been a great year for nominees. Given the absence of a Best Director nomination for Ben Affleck, I think Argo will be given the Best Picture award.

Best Actor
Another close run category here I think. Whilst Daniel Day-Lewis is being lorded as the favourite to win, I’ve gone with Hugh Jackman in my own predictions.

Best Actress
Given all the awards success for Jennifer Lawrence pre-Oscars, I’m giving my prediction to her.

Best Supporting Actor
I’ve gone with Tommy Lee Jones to win this award. A controversial choice, perhaps, but I stand by my decision.

Best Supporting Actress
I think there can only be one winner in this category, and if I was Anne Hathaway, I’d have been practicing my acceptance speech for weeks. I think it’s going to take some real upset for her not to win this award, but stranger things have happened, right?

Best Animated Film
I’d be happy with any of the nominees winning the award in this category, I’ve truly enjoyed all of the films on offer here, but I’d really like to see Frankenweenie take the award home.


Ten Favourite Couples in Pop Culture


With Valentine’s Day in the past, and love lingering in the air, I’ve been thinking about my favourite couples in popular culture. As a belated Valentine’s Day present from me to you, I’ve even written them down! As ever, I don’t seem to be able to write anything without ruining it, so spoilers ahead!

1. Robin Scherbatsky & Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

Robin and Barney are possibly one of my favourite couples ever. I feel like I’ve invested so much in their relationship. Tears have most definitely been shed, and I could not be happier for them now they’ve locked each other down.

2. Ferris Bueller & Sloane Peterson (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Real life couples make the best on-screen couples, as is evident from some more entries on this list. Sloane Peterson has it all, and I want to be her. Her and Ferris are the coolest couple in school, and they’re just so darn cute together.

3. Cameron Tucker & Mitchell Pritchett (Modern Family)

Cam and Mitch are probably my two favourite Modern Family characters, and by happy coincidence they’re also together. Hurrah! Part of the reason I love Mitch and Cam is that they prove that gay couples don’t have to be portrayed in a stereotypical manner, and their relationship is just so lovely and natural (and hilarious).

4. Calvin Weir-Fields & Ruby Sparks (Ruby Sparks)

Let’s get this straight. My favourite part of this couple was when Ruby first came onto the scene, when her and Calvin were really happy together just as they were. Before he started changing her and making her jump all over his house. The end of the film brings me hope that they’ll be able to get back to the same level. Aside from the fact Ruby was brought to life by a seemingly magic typewriter, this real-life couple create an on-screen couple who you can really believe in.

5. Sylar & Elle Bishop (Heroes)

Sure, Sylar and Elle’s relationship didn’t go down the traditional route, but which couple doesn’t have problems? Pre-killing, you could really tell they were into each other, and had Sylar been in a better place, I feel they probably could’ve gone the distance. Maybe.

6. Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games trilogy)

My favourite type of love story is one where someone’s been secretly in love with someone, then they get together. A nice resolution for everyone. In this instance, all it took was a simple fight to the death (or two, or three) and some memory loss, and Katniss and Peeta became Panem’s number 1 couple.

7. Nick & Norah (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

This is a sort of backward love of this couple, because there’s one point where Nick is still mooning after Tris and I just feel like punching him. Him and Norah are perfect together, their personalities really seem to compliment each other and their chemistry is evident.

8. Juno MacGuff & Paulie Bleeker (Juno)

I could never understand why Juno was so mean to Paulie. He just wants to love her. Why won’t she let him? Why do people always leave it too late? Another prime example of how invested I get when Michael Cera is part of an on-screen couple.

9. April Ludgate & Andy Dwyer (Parks & Recreation)

April and Andy are easily the best-suited couple in television. They have so much fun together, and are so easily suited. They’re living proof (sort of, they are fictional characters) that relationships can be fun and work at the same time.

10. Seth Cohen & Summer Roberts (The O.C)

The couple that really shouldn’t work, but do. Proof that opposites attract. Proof that hot losers can bag the hot girl of their dreams. And another real-life (at the time) couple.

To end, I also thought about four pairings which should most definitely happen. Please, just let me have these, okay screenwriters?

1. Carol & Daryl – The Walking Dead
2. Daenerys & Jon – Game of Thrones
3. Annie & Jeff – Community
4. Magneto & Mystique – X-Men: Days of Future Past (or beyond)


My favourite plot twists


Last week I treated myself to a marathon session of Gossip Girl, fitting in the final series in two night time sittings. The end of the series left me in shock as it was finally revealed after six seasons in the running.

The reveal got me thinking about my favourite plot twists in popular culture, and I’ve picked my top five as listed below.

Obviously, this article contains spoilers, so be warned.

1. Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl)

Not the obvious choice, but I definitely didn’t see it coming. There was a brief moment where the thought entered my mind I thought it could be possible, but discarded the idea, because “It’s Gossip Girl.” I was definitely left with my mouth wide open when it was revealed that it had been Lonely Boy all along who was the words behind Manhattan’s favourite gossip hound.

2. Scott Shelby is the Origami Killer (Heavy Rain)

Another reveal which came and hit me straight in the face. Heavy Rain enthralled me from the get go, and I enjoyed the narrative style and the playing from the viewpoint of the four main characters. It never occurred to me that the man we were all trying to hunt down was in fact one of the protagonists.

3. Cole Phelps dies (L.A. Noire)

After playing through an entire game as a character, I like to feel that I’ve bonded with them. Sure, I might not approve of all of their life choices (having an affair, Phelps, really?), but nevertheless, we’d been through a lot together. Imagine my surprise when Cole Phelps, out of nowhere, was washed away by a flood in the sewage system. What a way to go. A definite jaw-open, controller gripping moment, and I’m pretty sure a lot of expletives left my mouth in that moment.

Cole Phelps meets his demise

4. We’re all infected (The Walking Dead)

I didn’t find out this gem in the Walking Dead series in the conventional manner. I was a little late to the party on this one, and found out through playing the Telltale Games series rather than through the graphic novels or television show. I was seriously shocked when this bombshell came hurtling my way, and was left worrying about the characters in the television show and the game. It was interesting knowing the information before the television show characters, but boy, was I relieved when they found out. I can’t handle that much knowledge on my own.

5. Eddard Stark is killed (Game of Thrones)

I’m not going to lie to you – I was devastated when the Stark patriarch and all-round hero of Westeros was beheaded in season one of Game of Thrones, and I was devastated again when I read the book. I think it’s just one of those things I’ll never get over, like when Heroes was cancelled. I soon learnt the harsh rules of this game of thrones, and each death gets a little easier.


My name’s Jade, and I’m a trophy whore…


I have a problem, a real problem. It’s not one I’m ever likely to do anything about, but just as long as we’re all aware of it. I’m a trophy whore.

My platinum trophy addiction started basically the moment I got my PS3. I had already been made familiar with the trophy system, as I had been sharing my boyfriend’s console, but by the time I got my own way back in 2009, trophies were compulsory for game developers to put in, and that’s really where it all began.

To begin with my addiction had started as a bit of a joke between myself and my boyfriend, then as more of my friends started getting PS3’s there were more people to compete with. I would do anything to make sure I had a better trophy level than them.


As time went on, and I became more desperate for platinum trophies to add to my collection, I was becoming less discerning with my choice in games. This remains a standing joke for my friends. LoveFilm has become a real friend of mine, providing me with an endless source of games.

This spirit of competition is still what drives part of my never-ending hunt for platinum trophies, but it has become much more than that.

Platinum trophy hunting really makes you get the most out of a game. Sure, I didn’t need to collect tons of feathers just to see how much effort had gone into making Assassin’s Creed 2, but I did and I got a bronze trophy for it (even if at the time I thought “A bronze trophy? Are you kidding me?”). Trophy hunting means you see more of the map, spend more time in different game modes, basically stretch the game for all it’s worth and squeeze every last ounce of game-play out of it.

Trophy hunting serves to make me a better gamer. Would I bother playing the game on the hardest difficulty if I weren’t going to ultimately get a nice gold trophy for it? Probably not, let’s be honest. I push myself to my limits for trophies – the limits being ability, and more importantly patience – there have been a lot of growling and throwing the controller on the bed moments.

Trophy hunting has also led me to play a lot of games I wouldn’t play which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d never heard of Sly Cooper until one day when I was perusing a list of “Easy Platinum Trophies” (it really is a lifestyle choice), but was glad to have played, and enjoyed it even if it seems a little dated in terms of graphics.

Do I have any regrets? Only one – Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, a real drain on the enthusiasm I had for gaming and only an 8% trophy score to show for it. If you haven’t played this game – don’t. Everything about it is terrible. I couldn’t wait to get it out of my house.

For all my talk about trophy whoring, you’ve got to remember that I am a gamer, and I do play serious games. There’s no way you’d ever catch me not playing a game because I won’t be able to platinum it. I know there is basically no chance of me ever gaining the platinum on most of the games I play, but I play them anyway, platinum trophies don’t rule my life.

Trophy card

To end with an anecdote; imagine me, in my summer of unemployment, returning to Blockbuster to renew my rental on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1 (the game):

Blockbuster man: “You can just put returns in the postbox.”
Me: “I’m not returning, I want to take it out again please.”
Blockbuster man: “I didn’t think it took that long to complete.”
Me: “I finished the storyline, but didn’t get all the trophies.”
Blockbuster man: “Oh! You’re a…. platinum lady!”

Yes, that’s me. The platinum lady.