Tag Archives: Apocalypse

The Last of Us

The Last of Us

The Last of Us

I’m afraid I am going to be yet another reviewer fawning over Naughty Dog’s latest work of utter awesomeness. The Last of Us is absolutely brilliant. Not entirely flawless. But brilliant nonetheless.

Here’s the story. A virus infects the world and makes everyone turn angrily batshit. The game starts with a father and his daughter chilling out at home when the virus hits. This is really well done. You initially play as the daughter and are basically just wandering around getting scared by the news, then an explosion outside, then the neighbour going psycho and getting killed by your dad, and then a chase outside where the roads are full of panicking people and infected and carnage and… well… exciting stuff happens. Shit goes down and you get really involved with the characters and the story from the start.

Then The Last of Us skips 20 years ahead and you’re the dad, Joel, who is a smuggler in the quarantine/military zone of Boston. Joel and his partner take on a job to smuggle a 14 year old girl called Ellie to a group of rebel types. Things predictably turn unpredictable and Joel and Ellie end up having to cross a post apocalyptic America that is full of bandits, psychopaths and infected mutants. I won’t say any more as part of the joy of the game is the way the story unfolds and some of the events and scenes on their journey are pure genius.

Post Apocalyptic prettiness

Post Apocalyptic prettiness

Like Naughty Dog’s Uncharted┬áseries, The Last of Us is a superbly crafted game with an engrossing story, great characters, and superb game dynamics. It is also ever so pretty. This is a more serious game than Uncharted though and a hell of a lot darker in tone. Think The Road as opposed to Indiana Jones. Some parts are just downright fucked up.

You generally spend the time either sneaking around or shooting the crap out of everything. Due to a lack of resources, you normally end up doing a mixture of the two. The game dynamics, fighting, weapon handling and so on are brilliant. If one way causes you to die instantly (which happens a lot) you are constantly forced to re-evaluate your tactics. Which is a good thing. The way the weapons fire, the levelling system, the ability to upgrade weapons and make new ones are done flawlessly and are intuitive. This is a well made game.

the-last-of-us-shot-oneMy only gripe would be that the AI can be a bit dumb sometimes. It’s also quite predictable. Don’t get me wrong. It is easily as good as other games, its just that the bar has been raised so high by the rest of The Last of Us that anything short of near perfect is a slight let down. You may not even notice.

The Last of Us is one of the best games I have ever played. I still occasionally daydream about the world and the characters and suddenly find myself trying to remember the name of the series or book or film where ‘that thing’ happened that was really cool and then remember it was this game. As they did with Uncharted (which are all also the best games I have played) The Last of Us is a finely crafted piece of interactive entertainment. It is yet another example of why I pity those who love a good story – be it book, TV show, movie, comic, etc – but don’t play modern games. Interactive storytelling, when done well, can tell a story in a new and incredibly absorbing way. The Last of Us cannot be recommended enough.

Here is a trailer just to give you a taster of the character dynamic and the the sort of dark survival stuff you can expect. Enjoy.

’48 by James Herbert

48 by James Herbert

’48 by James Herbert is the most exciting book ever written. Probably. It’s certainly the most exciting book I have ever read (although Conan and the Road of Kings comes close.)

The story is set in 1948. Hence the title. When the Second World War was coming to an end and Hitler realised that the good guys were going to win, he implements his final solution. This involved firing a load of rockets that contained a deadly virus that pretty much wipes out the whole of mankind. Everyone except people with AB negative blood in fact, which is about 3% of the population. It’s the ultimate in spitting your dummy from the pram.

’48 begins with an American pilot who was stationed in London but is now just trying to survive. He is perfectly healthy because of his blood type. Not everyone got a full blast of the virus, so some are dying slowly. In London, most of the remaining ill-types happen to be blackshirts. British fascists who were fans of Hitler and had consequently been in the out-crowd for most of the 40s. They also happen to be slightly insane and want some healthy blood.

So we have the setting for a chase with diseased Fascists, lots of guns, all through a post-apocalyptic London. Which is pretty awesome.

As I said, this book is buttock clenchingly exciting. The first line is: ‘What the hell was that?’ There then follows an epic chase during which the main characters are established (our hero meets some friendly people), as is the setting and the premise. All while bullets fly, things catch fire, stuff explodes and buildings crumble. The first bit even resembling a moment of calm doesn’t arrive until about a third of the way in. Then it kicks off again until the end of the book where there is an epic showdown at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

48 isn’t flawless but the flaws don’t detract from what the book is trying to do. There isn’t a lot of plot but there rarely is in post-apocalypse tales, they are tales of survival. There are a few other questions such as why the blackshirts seem to have survived in such great numbers and are all diseased. Everyone else in the book has AB negative blood and is ok.

James Herbert’s ’48 isn’t deep but is just great fun. Highly enjoyable action/occasional horror fare. The characters are great and the action is relentless and well done. It should be a movie but I suspect it will give people heart attacks. I loved it and this was my second read of it.

In conclusion:

Most. Exciting. Book. Ever.

Doomsday

Doomsday

In the future of a few years ago, a highly contagious virus starts killing people in Glasgow. There is no cure and it starts to spread rapidly, too rapidly to contain. So the evil English build a huge wall along where Hadrain’s Wall used to be and make Scotland a no go zone. In what seems to be a few minutes, the Scottish go feral. The whole of Scotland is left to its own devices.

Cut to modern day London, the year – 2035. The place is a bit of a mess. Politicians are devious and self serving and there is mass poverty, riots and unrest. So things are really different from now ok?

The virus that struck Glasgow is suddenly discovered in London and everyone starts to shit themselves. But a secret has been kept from everyone. Satellite imagery shows that there are people in Scotland. Lots of them. Somehow they have survived. An elite team headed by the hot but hard Eden Sinclair are dispatched to Scotland to see how they survived. They have 48 hours or London is fucked.

So that’s the plot. Sounds like a mix of a lot of films doesn’t it? Well it is.

Doomsday starts like a zombie film, then becomes Escape from New York (possibly Escape from LA too but I have successfully repressed all memories of it). When the elite team arrive in Glasgow, it is suddenly Aliens with Scottish people playing the role of Xenomorphs. Then it becomes Mad Max 2/3, then a violent Robin Hood, then Mad Max again, then back to Escape from New York. There again is the plot, but told in a different way.

The thing is, while this film teeters on the edge of being bad, (sometimes very close to the edge), it doesn’t quite fall. It a blatant mix of a ton of other films and genres but it’s a fun, violent mix. Doomsday was written and directed by Neil Marshall who wrote/directed Dog Soldiers and The Descent. Both of these similarly mixed genres and movie types and were both gory entertaining fodder. If you enjoyed them, you will like Doomsday. I did.

 

 

Flood by Stephen Baxter

Flood by Stephen Baxter

The book starts in the year 2016. It begins superbly with the main protagonist, Lily, bound and gagged in the boot of a speeding truck. Her and some other hostages are being held in Spain after the country has pretty much broken down. They are then rescued by a billionaire called Nathan Lammockson who takes them under his wing. After their five years in captivity, the world has become a strange place with rising water levels and flooding in London.

Then the London barrier is overwhelmed and the city is pretty much screwed. From this moment onward people really start to understand the threat posed to human civilisation. As the water keeps rising people are forced to ever higher ground. This is not global warming, it is something else and the rise may not stop before the land runs out.

I liked this book, it reminded me of the ‘cozy catastrophe’ type of novels written by people like John Wyndham. The book is structured as a serious of jumps in time spanning decades. The main characters are a group of friends that spread over the planet and meet occasionally to swap info. This works pretty well although it sometimes feels a bit too much like a device to simply blast out a load of information. The science is apparently pretty solid and there really are hidden reservoirs of water deep under the land.

Where the book really gets good is in the disaster moments the characters get caught up in. When there is a storm surge and a huge wave rolls through London the story really comes alive. Another great moment is a gunfight in a sports stadium in the Andes mountains.

Unfortunately there are not enough of these moments. Baxter skilfully portrays an epic tale of global disaster with events occurring at locations ranging from Tibet to Peru but as the principal characters are shielded by the billionaire, the reader always feels a bit distanced from the action. There is also the fact that the characters are slightly cliched and never really come alive.

On the whole though, I found this a highly enjoyable read. Unlike a Wyndham novel the disaster truly feels global. But also unlike a Wyndham novel, the characters lack depth and the story lacks an element of charm. If you like disaster novels give it a go though, it’s remarkably good fun.

How to survive the Apocalypse

Sick bastard that I am, I often fantasize about the end of the world. Obviously it would mean billions would die, there’d be no more internet, no restaurants, no pubs, no online PS3 wargames, no pizza delivery, and so on. (I suppose hospitals and government and things like that deserve a mention too.) I mostly dream about it when I’m bored or fed up at work because there’d be no mortgages or pensions or accountants or taxmen to worry about either.

When I think about how I will survive, my mind basically thinks this:

My entire plan

Me, guns, and a dog. That’s my plan. (Plus my wife, obviously.)

In reality, I might have to end up in a cave eating berries. The above picture would be how I’d start out but I’d probably end up like this after a few months:

Piss off, those are my juniper bushes!

Piss off, those are my juniper bushes!

Obviously a bit more planning would be required. Some fellow on the Ask Reddit website has thought this out. So if there’s a zombie holocaust/alien invasion/ robot uprising/ triffid or kraken attack, or any number of cool possibilities, here is a plan you can print out and laminate in advance. In reality, it will probably be a mutated flu virus that everyone ignores because there have been so many that turned out to be crap.

So print this out and get prepared. That way I can turn up in cool leathers and shoot you and steal it all.

Thanks to www.viigo.im

Here’s how to survive:

I’ve played this over in my head before and decided there are two lifestyles. Nomadic and Static. The following considers staking out a territory for a “home base” where one is secure for the rest of his days. It also assumes “the grid” is down. No electricity or internet, some plumbing works.


Pre-Phase Phase (I’m not good with phases)

  • Before Anything: Eat Exotic Fresh Fruits while they are around. They come from so far away that, odds are depending where you live, you will never ever get to have Banana, Pomegranite, Starfruit or Mango again in your life. Savor every bite. Make Fruit Leathers and Freeze what you cannot stomach to consume. You will also need to bone up on Vitamin C while you’re doing the most work.
  • Unless you plan on maintaining and protecting cows for the rest of their/your life… you’re unlikely to have a fresh glass of cold milk ever again. There are dehydrated milks (Klim) but it’s not the same.
  • Bacon. Eat all of what you can find. Cook it all up and dehydrate what you cannot stomach. Even if you hate it. You may never have the opportunity to eat bacon again.

Phase 1 – Fuel for your Future

The world is going to be vastly different in only 5-years time. Buildings will collapse from non-maintained roofs. Cars and Trucks won’t operate off of stale fuel. Uncut lawns will overgrow and cripple streets along with freeze/rain cycles. Animals will grow unchecked and rampant predation will resume. Insects will rule the fields. There is no more weather channel, internet or food store. It will become an inhospitable world very shortly, you need to prepare.

  • Refined Gasoline and Diesel will be useless in 2 years. You CAN make your own fuels (Combustion/Steam, Biodeisel) but there is a much much simpler answer.
  • Propane is everywhere and it’s shelf life is longer than yours. Walmarts, Home Depots and Millions of Tanks behind people’s homes, half full from the previous Summer’s BBQ Season. Safely, stockpile the conventional tanks (using trucks while they’re still useful) making sure to properly maintain them.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be near gas stations with those huge above ground tanks, secure passage to them and secure their protection. Map out every one of them in a 50-mi radius. Expend the furthest ones first. O-Rings and valves can corrode and fail on the conventional ones, but the big boys aren’t as likely to fail. Don’t ever think about moving them.
  • Store canisters away from your domicile but within reasonable distance with good ventilation. Keep Oil-Based paint nearby and paint them every few years to stave off rust.
  • Go out and find Propane Powered Appliances. Forklifts, Bobcats, Refrigerators, Lanterns, Ovens, Weed Wackers, Generators.
  • Yes, if you really want to you can dick around with Solar Panels / Wind Turbines and work on a battery farm and keep some modern conventions. DVDs will work for 10-40 years depending on the press and plastics involved.
  • Keep growth down inside the compound. The rest of the world will become overgrown, last thing you want are a ton of thornbushes and poison ivy invading your space. Keep your paths clear with weedwackers and machetes. The roads won’t completely overgrow in your lifetime, but at least clear the cars out of the way with bulldozers while you still can.

Phase 2 – Secure your Food

There’s a ton of food still around in the world that’ll be good for the next decade. Rice and Beans, Canned Fruits and Veggies. The Average Domesticated Human relies on these foods and cannot subsist “off of the land.”

  • One of the first things you should consider doing is getting a freezer farm up and operating off of generators (or using propane freezers which can be found for RVs.) Scour the lands for processed meats, hoping that they’re still in a frozen state. Fruits, Veggies, Variety. Nobody will be farming these things anymore and odds are, the world will eventually become too inhospitable for you to maintain a farm without insects plaguing it.
  • Sysco Trucks are refrigerated and can probably stay cool a week or two, and are likely chock full of the meals you’d otherwise be served after they’ve been microwaved at Olive Garden, Johnny Carino’s, Applebees, TGIFridays, McDonalds, etcetc. If they haven’t been looted already, they’re a great solution to a “freezer farm.” Now that you have all the time in the world, figure out how to use RV Propane Freezers to keep these trucks cool. Move them to your home, reinforce them in concrete and keep them free of bugs and animals.
  • The Nearby Ocean may become tarnished in 2-5 years as runoff from humanity’s downfall pours off the coasts and out of the unmaintained sewers. If you’re a sailor and can sail out a couple miles for some mahi-mahi to freeze, that’s awesome. Also, after the death of Gasoline, you can probably rig a Propane-Powered Weed-Wacker to be an Outboard Motor for a boat.
  • Hunting is useful if you know what you’re doing. Avoid protein poisoning by eating fats. Cook well-done, always. There’s no cure for food poisoning now.
  • Find a nearby river where no humanity is upstream for your water source. Use a Propane Forklift to carry a water back in a large container. Treat it with Chlorine Dioxide, Bleach or use Ceramic Filters. There’s probably still usable water in water towers but no telling if whatever killed humanity has contaminated those.
  • Incinerate your leftovers (there shouldn’t be any…) to keep down on insect infestation.

Phase 3 – Home Compound

Insects and animals will grow plentifully without humans now. Wild Dogs, Bears, Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Feral Cats are all now the enemy. Malaria, Lymes Disease, Bebesia can be carried by insects and with Rabies, will likely grow out of control without human intervention.

  • Secure an area, preferably within a high-walled region to keep bears and other predators away. Chain Link Fences need to be painted to prevent rusting. Paint them with motor oil a couple of times in the summer (if you don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment now)
  • Drive Vehicles over to your Compound while they still work. Mobile Homes, School Buses, Fire Engine Tankers & Ladders, Electrical Contractor Cherry Pickers (for Hunting Blinds), Flatbeds, Box Trucks.
  • If you can do it singlehandedly, transport the biggest few Yachts you can find to your compound. Ever see the inside of those things? Home away from home. Might be a nice place to spend the night if you need to feel like you’re civilized again.
  • Construct a cinder-block-based shelter away from Hurricane-Prone or Earthquake Prone Areas. Something very secure that’ll survive hard rains, winters, and can keep out animals and insects, but simple to maintain and secure.
  • Use Carbon Monoxide Detectors hooked up to a battery system. All this propane will generate Carbon Monoxide.
  • If you can remove the septic tank, use RVs for their bathrooms then drive out with the forklifts and dump it somewhere… downwind.

Phase 4 – Self Preservation

  • Stockpile Medicine. Most pills will lose effectiveness after 2 years. Painkillers should be kept nearby. Doxycyclene for Lymes Disease will (effectively) last 2 years. Some Pharmacies may have Mepron which is for Malaria.
  • Treat every wound as if it’s going to infect and kill you. Alcohol Wipes and Topical Antibiotics in small packets are long-lasting as well.
  • ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Learn to brush your teeth with Baking Soda. Toothpastes will inevitably harden in their tubes or liquify into an unusable congealment. There are no dentists anymore. If you get a cavity, you’re probably screwed bigtime and will need to take care of it yourself.
  • Hone your skills. You’re now the worlds only Mechanic, Electrician, Farmer, Hunter, Gatherer and Doctor. Books are a remarkable resource.

Phase 5 – Recreation

  • Find the closest highway and burn all the gasoline you can syphon out of all the cars around in a Maserati, Ferrari or Ford Focus by risking your fucking life. This insane maneuver might help you keep some sanity… but in 2-years-time gasoline will have gone stale and most cars will sit where they were.
  • There are some propane based cars and Go-Karts. Offhand, I don’t know where I’d find one around here so I’m in a bad position… the internet will be down and “propane go-karts” won’t be found in phone books.

Phase 6 – Keep your mind busy

  • Write about what you’ve done. Every day. Write your thoughts, your transgressions, your hopes, your angers. As you fill books, put them in some permanent enclosure of sorts, sheltered from the elements.
  • Gather up Atlases, Medical Books, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Put them all in the same place. Who knows what evolution has in store? Perhaps in a couple hundred million years, some badger learns to make fire and read. It’s your legacy and you can’t accept the fact that this is the end of intelligent life. Write for them. Explain what transpired. If only to keep your mind busy and your heart steady.

Final Phase – Seal your fate.

You are the last of your kind. Evolution may replace humans with another Sentient Creature capable of interpreting the past, but for now, this is it. As representative for humanity, you do not want to suffer. No sense in bleeding to death over the course of several days pinned underneath a mountain of rubble.

  • Always have the ability to kill yourself nearby. Holster a classy 6-shooter in your shoulder, at your ankle or your hip at all times.

This all came from:

http://viigo.im/2HRa

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