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Wings Over Sealand

Shopping with Burke and Hare

Posted on March 08, 2012 by RevStu

To be honest, I thought I was bound to have missed the boat. When you hear about fire-sale bargains on the internet, you tend to find that they're long gone by the time you actually get to the shops, cleared out by swarms of discount locusts. But when I took a wander into Bath city centre today after reading of GAME and Gamestation's last-throw-of-the-dice stock clearance, I didn't exactly have to fight through crowds.

That didn't, by any stretch, mean that they were out of the good stuff, though.

I'd mostly been hoping to pick up a copy of Gunblade NY/LA Machineguns on the Wii (which I've come close to buying several times when it was in a two-for £12 offer) for £1.98 but it was one of the few things that actually was out of stock instore as well as online. But even someone like me, whose interest in the mainstream console market has almost completely died and who can't tell any of the 5000 grey space-marine-'em-ups apart any more, managed to spend some cash anyway.

First stop was Gamestation, where I effectively picked up everything in the picture above for nothing, as I had £12 left on a store card from an abortive attempt to trade in stuff so I could buy a preowned Super Mario 3D Land or Mario Kart 7. (Abandoned because even when I got money on the card they never had any preowned copies of either game in.) Since it seems overwhelmingly likely that GAME is heading down the dumper, it needed spending anyway while it was still worth something.

The full £11.90 list is FIFA 11 (98p), Bulletstorm Epic Edition (£2.99), Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (£1.98), Forza Motorsport 3 (£1.98), Battalion Wars (£1.98) and Mario Strikers Charged Football (£1.98). I left other stuff on the shelf, like Bionic Commando at £1.98 and Dark Void at 98p – the prices were so silly I even came within an ace of buying a WWE Smackdown game (at 98p) just for giggles before I came to my senses.

Then it was off to GAME to try out some of the big-name franchises that have completely passed me by in this gaming generation. There was plenty of choice, and again I left a ton of stuff behind, but I ended up with these:

That's Gears Of War (actually meant to buy the sequel at the same price, doh) for £1.99, Killzone 2 (48p), Fallout 3 (£1.98), Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (£1.98), Soul Calibur IV (98p) and PES 2011 (£1.98), for a total outlay of £9.39.

That's around £500 worth of top-rated current-generation gaming at original release prices, for £21. And perhaps more pertinently, for £21 that I'd never have spent in GAME normally. I never even go in there these days (unless it's raining), because I'm never going to buy anything so why bother looking? In the last two years I've spent maybe £500 in the App Store, so it's not a lack of willingness to hand over money for games. I just don't like being ripped off.

And yet still, neither game retailers or publishers have learned that the vast majority of their products are ridiculously overpriced. For every Call Of Duty that makes a billion quid on day one, there are about 500 other releases that basically have no chance of getting anywhere near enough people to spend £40-50 on them to recoup their development costs, and that casino-economy idiocy has brought us to the situation where it doesn't look the multi-zillion pound videogames industry is going to be able to sustain a single dedicated High Street presence.

Meanwhile, Apple is selling top-quality games for 69p and is worth more than the whole of Poland, and richer than the US Government. It's a mystery, eh viewers?

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24 to “Shopping with Burke and Hare”

  1. bananaphone says:

    Is that Fallout 3? I think you're going to hate it :)
    Bulletstorm was great fun though. Tongue in cheek man-shoot silliness with fun weapon mechanics and, weirdly for a game like that, beautiful level design.

  2. Furyboy says:

    I think you dodged a bullet (by cowering behind a low wall) by getting the first Gears of War game instead of the sequel. I really doubt you'd like either one, but there's less chance of you getting bored with the first before finishing it, as the second just keeps on going and going and going.

  3. asdasd says:

    Mario Striker Charged remains the best fun I've had on the Wii.
    I found that the key is to play it in a bastardised, self-made co-op mode: like many of the other Mario sports games (Golf, Tennis, Kart), the single player game is well-constructed enough (in terms of challenge and fun provided by the AI) to almost stand up to the superior multiplayer, but the 'wrapper' of competitions, challenges and unlocks around it is somewhere between uninspired and derisory. All you do is plough forward from one match to the next, and then to the next, which soon leads to that strange Sunday-afternoon sensation of equal-parts boredom and fatigue.
    So you have to make your own fun. If you have a couple of friends handy, it's nothing short of a revelation to simply pass the controller around, one player per match. At three minutes, matches are short and (on hard mode) astonishingly intense, so the five minutes or so downtime between each one is perfect (necessary, but no more than necessary) for revitalising your appetite for another.
    Plus, when you've got other people counting on you to hold up your end in a shared campaign, it's surprising how tense things can become. The prospect of staring down the a defeat in the semi-finals of a fifteen-game tournament, of letting not just yourself down – but also Tom, who aced his games in the group stages to give you a favourable play-off draw, and Chris over there, who less than five minutes ago turned over a two goal deficit in twenty golden seconds with the inspired use of a power star – only to turn things around with your own last-minute moment of glory, transforming the whole room's despair into euphoria – well, there's not much I've encountered like it in gaming.
    The game itself is a lot fun. Like I mentioned, it plays out a blistering rate (although perhaps to an arcade vet it would seem less so) so you're hanging on by your fingertips at times. There's a surprising amount of depth too, with team selection and player types giving you a lot of strategic options for building the play-style you want, and the robust set of interactions between the games' skill-shots, character abilities, power-ups and random stadium events allowing for a pleasing balance of pressurised tactical play-making and chaotic happenstance on the field.
    Add booze, snacks, maybe a cheeky eighth into the mix and the game becomes some kind of slacker Nirvana.
    Sorry, I don't gush about many games but I guess this is one of them.

  4. Tim says:

    48p for Killzone 2? Man, you got burned.

  5. Elevitate says:

    I'm going to arrogantly assume that the Bulletstorm purchase was due to my going on about it a lot last summer. It's nearly-actually-great. And in advance of you disliking it: Shut it, Grandad, it's smashing fun.
    Totally agree that you'll hate Fallout 3, though it's superb for what it is. And though Gears of War 2 is hugely better than its predessor, Furyboy is right. You'll hate the first one less for being rather shorter.

  6. Irish Al says:

    Fallout 3? Well, it's a big time investment. Big. Also sort of still bugged to hell.

  7. Bad Ambassador says:

    Reports of cheapo pre-owned consoles today, including (original) Xbox consoles for as little as £1.98.  Surely the staff would buy the lot to flog on eBay? 

  8. bananaphone says:

    If you see an Xbox for £1.98 buy it immediately and mod it, they're fantastic emulation machines.

  9. Marc says:

    I doubt you'll play Fifa for more than five minutes.  Funnily enough, I picker up '10 for 49p yesterday, and after half an hour, I'm convinced that footy games have never been further away from what I actually want from them.  I would suck Konami's collective dick for an I.S.S. HD.

  10. Marc says:

    Oh and Bulletstorm is fun for two/three hours, so not bad for three quid.

  11. RevStu says:

    Picked up Halo 3 and Project Sylpheed today for £1.98 each too. And apparently they've got excellent deals on MS Points cards, so will probably grab some of those tomorrow if they've got any left.

  12. asdasd says:

    So this story proved a siren, and I was duly lured into the centre of Derby by the sweet, sweet promise of cheapo games.
    Obviously what  I was immediately confronted with (the centre of Derby) did much to convince me that I'd made a terrible, terrible mistake. And when I did get to the one, lonely gamestation, it wasn't quite the paradise of frugality I had hoped for. Big name games were still outlandishly pricey, and most of the obscure stuff that you'd hope to be cheaper was either long gone, or simply never there.
    There were still some bits of grubby silver among the rubble, though. I don't think I did quite as well as Stu, but Pikmin WIi, Punch-Out!!! and House of the Dead: Overkill for a tenner seems like a reasonable return for the bus fare and the highstreet Sky TV salesman/international pan pipe franchisee gauntlet.
    Was tempted by a £35 DS Lite (I've never owned one, and with the rechargeable battery and backlit screen it'd be a great replacement for my GBA even if I never bought a game for it) – but second-hand hardware seems a little riskier than discs.

  13. Bad Ambassador says:

    Pikmin is wonderful, and fairly underrated.  Can't go wrong with that.

  14. Jon says:

    I hope you enjoy F3. I played it through on my Xbox and loved it; before selling my Xbox on.  I'd consider picking it up for the PS3 at that price, even though I've seen ~70% of the content already.

  15. Grumpy Smurf says:

    You should totally do a Gears of War review, six years after the hype.  

  16. The Nixon Administration says:

    The Hook ("and") Pull Gang.  Download this handy ZIP and tell me what the awesome live track is called?

  17. Coyote says:

    Yeah perhaps unsurprisingly GAME Oxford St isn't quite at the level of firesale seen here, presumably being one of the closest to profitable around thanks to location, but I did still get Disaster Day of Crisis for £1.98, which I've wanted for ages. So far it's great fun, and an absolute steal for that price.

  18. RevStu says:

    "Download this handy ZIP and tell me what the awesome live track is called? "

    I'm 98.5% sure that's "Hang Loose". I still want to know what the Janice Long track is called.

  19. Coyote says:

    In less ideally located Nottingham Gamestation, I picked up quirky curiosity 'Let's Tap' for 48p. 48p!!

    Considering it's basically a really fun ipad ap that's a pretty good price point I'd say.

  20. Lucius says:

    Wow, great haul there. As Coyote says, the Oxford Street store didn't have quite the same range of bargains, but I did pick up a few quality games in Camden:
    I really hope the newly arisen Game will learn something from the mistakes of its predecessor, but I somehow doubt it…

  21. Alastair Doggett says:

    Hook n Pull Gang – awesome band, much enjoyed (and recorded live) by me when I was up at Edinburgh University, they then supported the mighty Gun Club at a memorable gig down in London in December 1987 which to this day is the best gig ever seen for sheer power.  The live track is indeed Hang Loose and remains my favourite track of theirs.  The other track is not one I ever heard them play live, but reading an old interview with them they refer to a track called "Foostie Love", which Janice Long incorrectly called "Footsie Love", I think this is that track.
    Cheers, Alastair

  22. RevStu says:

    Cheers for the info, Alastair. Don’t suppose you happen to have any of those recordings kicking around…?

  23. Alastair Doggett says:

    Hi there, I do, I taped at least three of their gigs, including the one supporting the Gun Club.  They are all audience recordings, complete with my nonsense chit-chat over the top.  I will dig them out and see if I can get them converted – I'll let you know how I get on.  Cheers, Alastair

  24. RevStu says:

    Awesome. Keeping my fingers crossed – most of those songs are totally lost to history.

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