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Arms 3: Same old, same oldSunday 23rd March 2014
I have finally gotten round to playing Arma III. The next in the line of games that are the spiritual successor from the classic Operation Flashpoint series. I am pleased to say that the game runs a lot smoother than it's predecessor, Arma 2. The feel of the game hasn't changed since Operation flashpoint. The UI and mouse movements seem reluctant and imprecise.

I've only had time so far to play a bit of the single player campaign but the same old gripes are there as from the original Operation Flashpoint (2001). And that's mainly the AI. They have improved in their tactical movements, moving from cover to cover and the such but you still land up shouting at your screen in the hopes that they'll hear and action your repeated pleas.

The enemy AI is still capable of spotting you in a hedge from a mile away they'll refine their fire against you so you don't die instantly anymore, but it's only a matter of time. Whilst the friendly AI also engages in battle across monumental distance, always opting to open fire on specs in the distance that haven't noticed them instead of moving in closer for an easier affair.

Of course, under fire the AI "hit the dirt", or, lie down in the middle of a geometric plane to become a sitting duck. During battle there is no concept of running for cover or breaking the line-of-sight.

In one particular mission you have to cross a valley full of mortar fire. It seems random whether you get hit - and of course, have to restart. The AI squad will stay in rigid formation and stop whenever something of interest pops up, irrespective of incoming mortars. In fact I had to restart the game as somewhere down the line my squad leader had injured himself so could only walk. So everybody else was at a crawl and we keep getting wiped out by mortars.

The only way to heal an AI unit is hope they get stuck behind an object for long enough so you can complete the healing animation on them. Whilst selecting it is easy, they'll always walk off before it completes and the action is cancelled.

Hopefully multiplayer will offer the enjoyable coop of previous years.

Skyrim: Imperials vs StormcloaksSunday 16th March 2014
Part of computer game Skyrim you have the choice of siding with the Imperial Legion or the Stormcloak rebellion. Well frankly, I didn't want to join either. It's a role-playing-game, I played the role of somebody who couldn't care less about uprisings and political ideology.

Fortunately, you don't have to join either - you can't avoid the war altogether as the main quest line does touch on it - but you should be able to come out neutral. I thought I had, but it seems not. It could have been this - it could have been mean sympathising with a prisoner somewhere. I'm not sure.

When I approach a Stormcloak camp, the guards were immediately alerted and told me that I was trespassing and I should back-away. A bit annoying given all the effort I had gone to to not take sides. The Imperial camps on the other hand didn't have any issue with me.

The fix luckily is very easy, this game is very easy to tweak or mod if you like. To set yourself neutral you need to remove yourself from those factions.

# Switch to third person view
# Open the console (that's the key in blighty, ~ in yanksville or just the key under the Esc key)
# Click on your character (a bit of text should appear indicating that something has been selected)
# Type in each of these followed by Enter:
addfac 00028848 -1
addfac 00028849 -1

This will set those faction IDs (the imperial and stormcloak respectively) ranking to a negative number for the currently selected character (your avatar). The negative number removes your rank entirely.

I have no idea if this will mess things up later in the game, or prevent you from siding later if you choose. Use at your own risk.

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