I Quit Sugar
 

Seasons End

On Sunday I took part in Born2Tri’s 3rd and final event for 2017, the Notley Autumn Duathlon. I did the Spring version of this back in 2015 when I was a stone and a half lighter posting a time of 01:40:47 – this time around I really struggled with the 4k runs, especially the 2nd one and my final time was 01:46:23. In some respects a backwards step but mostly serves to encourage and motivate. The bike leg once again salvaged some time for me and probably stopped me from finishing last! 🙂

Back in 2015 I might have been lighter but I did practically no training for any events. Now, I am training regularly and am back on the calorie watching and feeling great. My left side of my right knee is very sore today though, will see if that eases tomorrow but if not a sports massage will probably be in order.

My plan now is to train properly throughout the Winter months and I aim to have lost the weight I put back on and go further than before. I have a single goal for 2018 and that’s to complete my first full Olympic distance Triathlon. I did two thirds of one in 2015 at the London Triathlon relay!!! As always it’s the running part that concerns me, but slowly but surely things are improving in that department. I think with less weight to carry backed up by disciplined training, improvements will come.

I have already said it but once again a massive thanks to all the organisers for a faultless event and to all the fellow club mates doing marshal duties for spurring me on.

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Fitness  Leave a Comment

Heapy Nap Yewr!

I made my normal new year’s resolution, and that’s not to make any goddamned new year’s resolutions. I firmly believe if you are having to make resolutions, it’s stuff you should be doing anyway.. so just do it! Okay? Anyhoo, first blog entry for 2017 .. hurrah! That is all.

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Year in Summary

So, 2016, what a quite fantastic year for me personally, but I can’t write this blog update without mentioning the sheer talent loss we have all experienced throughout the year. Perhaps most heart-wrenching for me was the death of Colin Vearncombe aka Black, mostly famous for ‘Wonderful Life’, but to his fans this was just a small taster of the song-writing genius he was. Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ coming on random play had me in floods of tears, making me realise just how much his music also meant to me in a much more subliminal sense. Then there are the acting talents of the likes of Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman that mean we will no longer get to see these familiar faces on our screens save for the great legacy they have left us. Ultimately a lot of these heroes and heroines of ours are a decade or so older than us, since they were our idols when we were younger, hence they are also prone to the rigours that age puts us through.

This year has seen the wife and I quit sugar, and move on to a low Fructose way of life – probably the best thing I personally have ever done from a dietary perspective. I feel more ‘in control’ of what I eat; I don’t ever crave sugary snacks and cook fresh 90% of the time. This is the first Christmas I have had that I haven’t eaten Christmas cake, even though we have a box of cake bars, I actually just don’t want to eat it. I allowed myself a small mince pie as something that I used to eat far too often for my own good, but I found myself eating it and not enjoying the taste anywhere near as much. This in turn has fuelled my desire to commence proper Triathlon training throughout the winter months in readiness for June’s Blenheim Palace Sprint distance race. I have enlisted the help of one of the Born2Tri coaches to devise a training plan and more importantly make me accountable to someone else other than me. So far I am loving it, feels good to have an aim, and getting exercise back into my daily routine and making it part of what I do. With any luck I will have lost weight and be fighting fit for the event, but this goes much further beyond for me, I want to keep this going for as long as I am able – push myself for a Standard (Olympic) distance Triathlon, and who knows what lies beyond.

The year saw my daughter Lucy compete in dance finals in Blackpool and coming in the top 20 for Ballroom and top 30 for Latin in her age group. She is developing into a very bright young lady with a constant thirst for creativity and a very good singing voice for one so young. Monty continues to grow at a rate of knots, and is most certainly the more mischievous of the two. Both make me so proud in both similar and very different ways.

I started up my own company this year as part of the requirements to contract where I was placed in March 2016, but has always been my view that I wanted to make it something that I can carry forward in its own right eventually. It was very daunting to begin with, the perceived uncertainty of contracting rapidly dissipating as I realised it’s no more vulnerable than a permanent position. The point that did cause concern was towards then end of the initial 6 month contract – relief abounded as this was extended by 3 months due to my reputation and attitude. I have also been renewed to the end of 2017 since too, huge relief and gives me great pride that the quality of my work and my aptitude are clearly assisting me here.

…And after watching it from the first episode, I have finally put Eastenders to bed – I have watched it out of habit for years rather than actually enjoying it, but storylines recently have been utterly rubbish to the point of disbelief! With quality TV such as Westworld, Game of Thrones etc.. being commonplace now, there is very little time for anything else. I also have very little time for non-quality TV with my training and also my guitar practice for the band I’m in www.blackwaterechoes.com – despite our excellent lead guitarist Mark leaving the band, we now have a similarly amazing talent in Anthony. I am loving playing  and just cannot wait to get out gigging again. I am also hopeful of an acoustic duo set up, but more on that soon.

As I look back at the year just gone, I am thankful to the support of my wife who basically pressed the red button for me back when I was mulling over whether to resign my previous post or not. We have such a great life together, making sure most of what we do is centred around our two gorgeous children, but also ensuring we both have our own social avenues and on the rare occasion actually going out together without the kiddies! I don’t often express it, and probably should do it more often, but I am hugely thankful for the privileges I am afforded – a roof over our heads, food on the table etc.. ya know, the simple things in life that a lot of others either simply don’t have or those that have that don’t appreciate it. Okay, that’s about as soap-boxy as I get! Having kids has definitely mellowed me with age and made me a lot more introspective and appreciative.

So what does 2017 hold for me? Well, my gig anti-bucket list sees a few more artists/band ticked off the list (Kraftwerk, Green Day, to name but two), but I am also looking forward to seeing where my fitness regime takes me to. Who knows I might even start enjoying running! I am also looking at doing things I have never done before, even if it takes me out of my own comfort zone – one of the most obvious examples of this is my accepting to do a speech on Information Security in the Financial Service sector in front of around 500 delegates. Daunting isn’t the word, actually exciting is.. Exaunting? Dauciting? Other than that, I just want to continue to be a great Dad to the kids, as non-irritating a husband as I can be to the wife and just enjoy this short life we all have to the fullest.

So long 2016, you’ve been a good one, if not a little bit over-generous with the celebrity culls! See y’all on the flip side.

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

We Graduated!

Okay, the IQuitSugar 8 week programme has long since finished, so how are we doing? Well apart from not being too brilliant at meal plans we are doing great, and are still sugar-free. Interestingly both of our desires for the sugary things in life has all but dissipated entirely, with Ruth finding that her appetite is far less than it used to be, ie she gets full quicker. This was always a natural reaction to taking Fructose out of your everyday eating, but she is finding it more so now than when we were during the programme.

It is now engrained in me to not shop sugar, I know the stuff that is bad and what is acceptable – one of my favourite things now is Avocado on corn cakes! Sounds utterly dull right? So bloomin’ tasty though. One of the things I was concerned about as mentioned before is the initial ban on fruit and the reduction of intake thereafter – having been a 5 plus piece of fruit-a-day kind guy it really was something that I thought I would never be able to handle. How wrong I was, I actually don’t crave fruit at all now, in fact the only fruit I have had (other than Avocado) is raspberries on a sugar-free cheese cake I made for our Halloween party. The cheesecake was yummy incidentally, but not sure about the ground almond base to be fair – I will research an alternative! To be clear here, fruit isn’t bad, in fact IQS encourage the eating of it, particularly berries as they provide the most benefit with the least Fructose – the simple fact is I no longer desire it, instead choosing a handful of nuts if I am feeling snacky!

I need to knuckle down now and work out meal plans around our social lives; a mistake I made in the 8 week programme was to not factor in nights when I am out and hence not around to cook. Being as I do the vast majority of the cooking that’s a bit of a problem when you are carefully devising lunch and dinner meals. Some of the recipes I have learned are now etched on my brain so I can recreate these at the drop of a hat, and the Sarah Wilson policy of using up what you’ve got in the fridge is such a simple concept but oh so very awesome. Grab all that veg from the fridge, lob it onto an oven tray with some extra virgin coconut oil, herbs of your choosing with some potato and onion wedges, bung it in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 180-190C et voila a very tasty and filling meal for dinner and lunch tomorrow. That’s just one of the takes from this experience, there are many more. Basically I am JERFing like you wouldn’t believe!! As an IQS graduate I feel I am qualified to use that term, but if you are reading this and doubting its merits – give it a try, and not just because clicking those links and signing up gets me commission either. It’s a better way of living, eating and promotes much better awareness for your entire family too.

Next step is to get physical, something I am guilty of not doing as part of the IQS programme primarily due to knackering my Planter Fasciosis in my right foot. I am signed up once more for the Blenheim Palace Triathlon in June next year, but this time I want to be well prepared, a lot more  lean and actually compete with the group I do it with. Now I feel I have my food diet in check, it feels a natural progression to take it up a gear on the fitness front. I have enlisted the help of one of the Born2Tri coaches, to get some much needed accountability in there. Let’s do this!

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Fitness  Leave a Comment

The Final Furlong

We are now nearing week 8 of the IQuitSugar ‘experiment’ and I have to say it has been a thoroughly enjoyable culinary ride. I do feel better for it, of that I am certain, and it is quite bizarre how I don’t crave any sweet stuff anymore – not that I had a particularly sweet tooth, I am talking about crisps (laden with sugar except for most plain crisps). I walk into the canteen at work and see the chocolate bars, desserts, cans of drinks and just don’t miss them – at all! It’s a strange but liberating feeling to not be a slave to the unhealthy snacks anymore. If there is something that I am probably not getting right at the moment is the in-between meal snacking. I buy corn or rice cakes for snacking but am finding myself unable to stop at just 2 or 3 and nearly always polish the lot off throughout the day! Probably not the best idea! However, I am still the same weight four weeks in a row, having lost 9lbs since starting on this regime.

Interestingly the blurb for week 8 says it is now whether you decide that you want to continue your sugar free life or not, I guess they want your money again when you drop back into your bad habits. The last 2 weeks have been pretty challenging from a consistency point of view with a lot of evenings out and business trips meaning that I have been faced with multiple eating out conundrums and not having the organisational skills to cook up multiple plan meals in advance. I think I have done very well, and I know the wife has also been extremely diligent in her eating habits. All of this combines together to make me realise that we can continue this journey, it’s easy really and if there’s the odd slip up here and there it’s no biggie, just jump back on it. I am finding that my taste buds have changed too; a steak I had the other night (without any sauce of course) was just divine, it’s like my buds have found a new lease of life and I am tasting things anew!

So what now? Well, first we have to get through week 8’s yumminess, but after this I plan to revisit all of the meals that both Ruth and I enjoyed, and concoct our own monthly meal plan. We also have the IQuitSugar recipe book which has over 300 recipes in it, so I will make things fun by throwing a few of these into the mix also – also have Davina McCall’s sugarless recipe book and already know how awesome a lot of these are. Cheesecake anyone? Once you get over the cooking every single day aspect out of your system, it’s actually really easy, the results are astonishingly good meals and all are very filling.

You may notice banner ads for the IQS plan throughout the site, I am now an affiliate with them – so if you are thinking of joining up or buying any of Rachel Wilson’s books, order through my site by clicking the links please. It’s so worthwhile, and I would love to hear how you  are finding the journey or if you are just embarking upon the path to Yumsville!

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Fitness  Leave a Comment

Sugarless Path

(Big Brother Geordie accent) It’s week 3 in the Sugar Free house (/end) Ruth and I have made it to week 3 reasonably unscathed and I think feeling the benefits already. It’s certainly got me cooking a whole lot more, like daily, like Breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner, plus snacks too! How are we coping? Well, for me I had the usual 2 days worth of head-achy nausea that I experienced in my mock lent sugar abstinence.  But those were early on in the programme, by week 2 you are supposed to be completely off the sugar, but I had already started this three days prior to week 1 to get ahead, and Ruth joined me on the first official day of the plan. Neither of us have been particularly observant of the limiting of alcohol to one a day, but I have generally stuck with weekend drinking only.

So what is the food like? In short it is absolutely gorgeous, I haven’t had one meal yet that has made me feel like never cooking it again, and because we initially started on the omnivore plan this included a nice mix of veggie and meat meals where I substituted appropriately. We are now totally veggie from week 3 onwards and if I fancy having that meal with meat I can do.  I am actually quite happy to eat veggie anyway, so it’s no biggie. Breakfasts have been superb, particularly the weekend ones where we have so far had the Curried Carrot Hash with Boiled Egg (totally yum) and last weekend the Mushroom on Sourdough bread topped with Hazelnuts and Feta, which was just awesome. The only thing I’ve cooked up that I haven’t liked is the water chestnuts in coconut oil – they weren’t bad, they were just not that good! A highlight of the lunch and dinner options so far has been the BLATT burger (Beetroot, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato and Tahini) and for a meat option the Turkey San Chow Bow was just scrumptious!

The upshot with all the meals is that they contain all the necessary food groups and nutrition you need to sustain you; a lot of the time they will look like they won’t fill you up in a month of Sundays – but they do! It’s bizarre finding yourself eating a chicken salad in Giraffe (an eating out test aced by me thank you!) and not actually being able to finish it! This is when you realise how much Fructose plays a part in not telling your brain you are done eating! Crazy! I have to admit I have become a bit more snacky in latter days, but I think I put this down to psychological than actual need. Still, when water doesn’t sate out come the Macadamias or Rice Cakes to take the edge off things.

Will we continue? At this time, we are fully committed to the 8 week programme and definitely will see it through to completion and see where we are then. I have ordered Sarah Wilson’s recipe book that has over 300 recipes in it so that we can then devise our own meal plans, including highlights from the 8 week plan. It’s got to be beneficial to us, and I’ve even introduced the kids to some of the recipes, the Salmon tray of loveliness being something they devoured without too many questions or protestations.

I feel slimmer already, confirmed by both work and leisure trousers being more loose and no more belt holes to use. The scales are also confirming this to the tune of 7 lbs so far. A happy accident in an experiment that seems like it has got legs. It’s funny, the instant assumption that you are doing this is that you are unhappy, and that you should just enjoy life as you’re only here once, so eat, drink and be merry. Hmmm, I’m here once, I want to try and extend my stay if I can, doing this will no doubt help with that – and with the quality of the food I’m cooking up, the fact I can drink coffee and alcohol (both I don’t need as much of now as another happy accident) and the cash savings from take away food plus using up all that stuff in your fridge and freezer – it all mounts up to a tidy little lifestyle change, one that is manageable, enjoyable and sustainable. The three ‘ables’, if you like.

I will check in again at week 6, but in the meantime if you’re reading this and thinking of giving it a shot, but have questions or concerns, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to help. If you want to try the programme for yourselves click on the banner below:

Embrace the Fat and ditch the Fructose. :O)

I Quit Sugar

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Fitness  Leave a Comment

Sugar! I Quit!

So since my ‘Frankie Say’ post, although I have modified my eating behaviours somewhat (not enough in other words) and exercise a little more (not enough in further words!), I am still losing weight but in a very slow manner. This isn’t a problem, I’m not gaining after all, but I need to kick-start the mentality process that needs to be addressed to truly succeed at this. In the past I have done my mock Lents and given up caffeine, bread and even alcohol, but by far the hardest was last year when I chose to kick out added sugar from my diet for 40 days and 40 nights. This, was, HELLA tough! It’s only when you are forced to scrutinise each and every packet in the supermarket is when you realise just how much extra sh1t is chucked into our foods – this of course makes them more appetising and Fructose being something the brain just never tells you that you’ve had enough of, makes it quite frankly dangerous to one’s health. The strain this puts on your liver firstly and the body’s natural way of dealing with the excess, turning it straight to fat and shoving it wherever it can – mostly on the belly! It’s little wonder that obesity is such a problem not only in the UK but most of the world over.

So… What to do? Devise your own sugar free plan and go with that? Yes, you could do that, but I suggest you try just doing it for 2 days and see just how frickin’ hard it is! I am massively thankful I did my sugar free mock lent; it really helped me understand what is going into my body and how much damage my eating was doing. To give you some idea of what you are up against; when I did the Mock Lent, I went into M&S to buy some chicken slices and was hoping to find something to go with it. Firstly, the chicken slices had brown sugar in them, I know right! Secondly the only thing I could find in the entire freezer section was a tray of Egg Fried Rice, everything else had some form of added sugar content! I have to say that since that almost rage inducing day M&S seem to have introduced a lot more healthier ingredients to their meals. Another example I can give is only yesterday I was ingredient shopping for the IQS plan and a tub of Red Cabbage and Beetroot caught my eye – That will make a nice quick snack I thought, I don’t need to check the ingredients do I? Do I? Yes, you do, unfathomably this little tub of vegetable loveliness had added sugar in it!! FFS!

Nope, we’re gonna need help on this one I feel. Hence we have enlisted the, admittedly not cheap, ‘I Quit Sugar’ (IQS) 8 week programme that aims to get your body into the detoxed state it needs to be in to continue on and kick the sugar habit once and for all. When a plan says it’s okay for me to have the odd drink and that caffeine is okay once a day, then this opens the door – both are key things that I love and enjoy, and don’t want to give up – ever! So IQS has received my money, the wife & I are committed to doing this, and with the added bonus that we can control to an extent the amount of sugar our kids are ingesting. Of course we can’t stop this entirely, kids are kids, sweets are commonplace, but if we can nurture the mentality maybe there’s a hope that we can steer the ship in the right direction.

I have never had a particularly sweet tooth, but I am not meticulous enough about checking what I am eating; things like the vast majority of crisps (chips to my US friends) are absolutely loaded with added sugar for example. Happily beer contains Maltose which the body metabolises fine, and wine contains minimal Fructose with red wine being the best to consume on a sugar-free regime. However, on the 8 week plan you are to restrict this down to a drink a day or eradicate it altogether – I only drink at weekends so this isn’t a hardship and I may even opt to go dry. So far I cooked up two of the recipes, the Paleo Veggie Bread is particularly good and the Crispy Cauliflower Tacos are to die for – even though it was an utter ball ache mission to find Tortilla wraps that don’t contain added sugar!! You may be worried you’ll be eating a plate of leaves, which wouldn’t work for me either, I love my food and it has to be interesting or I simply won’t follow the plan. Tonight is Beetroot burgers that look utterly gorgeous. (Update: They were!!)

A natural ‘side effect’ for a lot of people that have followed the IQS plan is weight loss, and calculating the calories intake for a couple of the days that would ring true as taking today for example it has me around 250 calories under my recommended. Throw in some exercise and that’s a great net cal value, and the site has a list of appropriate and accepted snacks both for general snacking and also for boosting post workout. Breakfast was my only real concern, but in fairness most days I have porridge, and this is sugar free, I am now just following the IQS version that has lots of added yumminess, almonds, coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon, to name but a few options. Due to the need to change things up, you are more or less forbidden from eating fruits for the first 4 weeks – this made me frown somewhat as I love my fruit, but I fully understand as these are rich in sugars and the point of the programme is rid your body’s addiction to sugar completely and to recalibrate. They then reintroduce fruits as part of the programme – they do recommend low fructose fruits if you need to eat them and one’s to avoid that are high, but I am going to follow the IQS programme to the letter here. To avoid at all costs from here-on-in though is dried fruits – all the water has been sapped out of it leaving only concentrated sugar! So, that no-sugar muesli you’ve been eating (I’m looking at you Tesco), actually all the dried fruit in there is giving you your daily fix and more. Bosh!

Okay, it’s expensive at £79, but I figure is it really that steep for what is in effect a complete assisted lifestyle change. I am at an age where these things concern me, and should’ve concerned me a lot earlier in my life, but now I have kids my mind-set has definitely recalibrated. On paper it all makes sense, feels like something I can follow and stick with. I will update you midway through the programme and let you know how it’s going and what improvements I have noticed.

If you are interested in the programme click on the link below:

I Quit Sugar

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Fitness  Leave a Comment

Tomorrow’s World

There was a short, blink and you’d have missed it, news article on the BBC website on Tuesday heralding the creation of the last ever VCR maker. The article is here > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36896924 but although only two paragraphs in length I read it with a (un)healthy tinge of sadness and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. It doesn’t seem that long ago (though it totally is) that I was extoling the virtues of Sony’s pioneering Betamax video tape solution. The quality was so much more superior to VHS and yet because of a combination I’m guessing of bad marketing and price tag it was doomed to failure. A lesson Sony would still not learn with DAT and mini-discs both becoming Sound Engineering favourites, and the former a very popular backup media.

My dad (the Lord Jack Daniels rest his soul) always seemed to go for the cutting edge, but ultimately doomed platforms – Betamax being one example, the BBC Micro Model B being another! Yes we were THAT posh, but all my school mates had Spectrums and Commodores, and a vast array of games to play on them! I guess I followed in his footsteps investing in a mini-disc player later on in life, but in my defence I used the unit a heck of a lot for recording my own music. Anyway, where was I, kind of lost my thread there for a second. Ah yes, so the last ever VHS-playing VCR has trundled down the production line and no more will be produced. I wonder how many households still have a drawer or cabinet full of VHS tapes that they can’t quite bring themselves to admit are poor quality, made poorer over the years of natural magnetic deterioration. And I wonder how many have moved the denial dial on a notch and tried to flog them at a car boot sale! I mean, yeah, vinyl I can understand, but VHS tapes?! Does anyone actually buy them now? I remember doing a boot sale with my mum and she had lined up about 40-50 VHS tapes, including her prized Charles and Diana wedding tape. I told her that of the 40-50 VHS tapes she had, she will *still* have come packing up time. I was of course right. Meanwhile, my collection of music CDs and computer games were selling like the proverbial hot cakes!

So this article (actually remembered the point of all this now) got me to thinking that one day we will be pouring similar sentimentality upon the likes of Bluray (a tech Sony actually got right). It doesn’t seem possible right now, but did anyone think that DVD would be surpassed upon it’s inception? This constant evolution is evident in all areas of tech, only this week SEGA announced the release of a new handheld console that will contain 80 games built-in (http://thenextweb.com/gadgets/2016/07/25/987741/#gref) and only the other day we were all discussing robot hoovers and the recent arrival of the robot lawn mowers!! Suddenly those far-fetched sci-fi landscapes and technology doesn’t seem that unrealistic.

However, if any of that tech should say “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” I would suggest bolting for the nearest exit and never stop running.

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Doom Review

So, my first review of something in ages, I should do it more often really. My focus this time is on the cross platform Doom ‘re-boot’ as played on the Xbox One. I have to admit to getting rather giddy with excitement when I saw a bus-stop and then a bus itself emblazoned with the familiar Doom text logo. Promising to be a straight up FPS in keeping with the original Doom that was to launch a thousand first person shooters and capture the imaginations of millions. I can’t really begin this review without first touching upon the history behind it all. Put simply, the original PC based Doom is and probably will always be the closest I’ve ever come to gaming heaven – stunning graphics (for then), scary as feck monsters, awesome weapons and an adrenaline rush from the first level to the last. It was to spawn an inevitable sequel (Doom II, imaginatively) and an absolute mountain of custom made maps and mods from the public domain. Back in them days the game didn’t allow you to jump, nor did the maps allow for true three dimensional levels of play, you could just move sideways to dodge incoming fire with the most ludicrous head bobbing movement that if I watched someone playing the game made me feel quite bilious!

Enter the next generation take on the Doom world, and with it vastly improved graphics, depth of play arenas and… you can now jump and in a beautiful homage to Quake 2, intentional or otherwise, you can also double jump – when you get the right boots on of course. I was a big fan of Doom 3 when it made its next gen appearance, but there was far too much emphasis on the creepy factor for it to be truly classed as Doom – it felt for me more in keeping with the fear and dread that Dead Space induces than the immediate in-your-face carnage that Doom should be serving you up. Indeed, this is where I can cunningly begin my comments on Doom 2016 – referred to simply as Doom from here-on-in. We catch up with Doom guy, eponymous marine hero of the day, tethered to an operating table of some description, blood and gore all around him. Somehow he gets free and rather than be tempted into a tense and stealthy approach, Bethesda just launch you straight into the fray. From here, it doesn’t really let up… ever!

I’m not even going to insult you all with a little of the back story, it really is superfluous – you are on your own, there is no help, there are lots and lots and LOTS of demons in 36 different guises, there are lots of bad-ass weaponry and there is but one objective – survive for the sake of mankind etc..blah..blah, and all set on a combination of Mars and Hell itself. Yeah! My kind of game, just disconnect that brain, and get shoulder and knee deep in the gibs! To help you on your way there are frequent health, armour and ammo strewn throughout the levels, along with old favourites such as mega health and armour that are usually in hard to reach places. Again this is where the game pays beautiful homage to the original, with lots of secret locations to discover some of which will get you access to enhancements for your body suit and helmet, while others will take into a classic Doom graphical world which looks awesome when viewed from within the next-gen visuals. There are augmentations to be found as well that will permanently increase your health, ammo and armour capacity along with weapon enhancements. Perhaps the most enjoyable of all though are the Rune mini-games that will give you certain bonus capabilities, with up to three (eventually) selectable, such as the ability to move in the air while jumping or widening the automatic collection radius of dropped items from enemies. The mini games as you imagine range in difficulty, from the stupidly easy to the ridiculously hard – air killing Barons anyone FFS?!

There has been criticism of the pace of the game, ie you have all the weaponry and discover all the monsters far too quickly, but for me it worked at exactly the right pace. For example, the first time you meet a Hell Knight, apart from soiling your breeches, you will also find him a tough cookie to take down. As the game wears on and your guy gets more capabilities and capacity for stuff, so these battles become easier – but never for once do they get any less chaotic! This is what I loved about the original, and this has transferred beautifully to the modern adaptation. No matter how kick ass your Marine has become, there is always some demon or a marauding group of them that can take you down. One of the bestiary that regularly scared the bejesus out of me in the original were the Pinkies and their genetic-experiment-gone-wrong-almost-invisible-cousins the Spectres. Both feature in the game and both have caused a quick pause of the game on a few occasions to recover one’s heartbeat. Cacodemons are every bit as annoying as the original too, and frequently you’ll be patting yourself on the back on a job well done getting the room mostly cleared and forgetting about your airborne assailants! Perhaps the most striking of all though is how fabulously rendered the bestiary look – pick up secret Doom guys and you’ll get the extra ability to view some of these animations in isolation – the work that has gone into the detail and movement is staggeringly good. A particular favourite is the Revenant, who I loved in the original, with their individually rotatable shoulder mounted rocket launchers. Some of the enemies are exactly the same in style as their original counterparts, whereas others have been given a bit of an upgrade – and there are couple of entirely new foe to play with too. The game runs flawlessly on the Xbox One, with absolutely no slow down even in the most busy of battles – I can see how they have achieved this with distance drawing being reduced noticeably, but it doesn’t spoil the look in any way and I’d far rather play something smooth and slick than a juddering death fest!

Weaponry as you’d expect has been well thought out too, and most if not all from the original make an appearance. The chainsaw is no longer unlimited as it was in the original, you have to collect fuel to re-use, but they have taken a leaf out of Quake’s book and given you an unlimited pistol/blaster instead. As with all the weapons the pistol can be upgraded, and ends up being quite the useful gun when all others are out of ammunition. All of them have secondary firing modes and are upgradeable via pick-ups from fallen foes or by felling certain waves of monsters. A particular favourite of mine is the fully upgraded Chain Gun , oh my “!$!”$!” God!

The game certainly warrants its 18 certificate, pulling absolutely no punches in terms of its gruesomeness – check out some of the ways the different type of demons toy with your deceased body for example! Geez! It’s fast, it’s frenetic and at times seemingly really REALLY unfair, but again the game level design pulls a master stroke as most of the time a seemingly impossible section can be made more simple by finding one of the really quite well hidden power ups! In my experience you normally discover these as your falling to your death! Power ups are also extremely good fun, with the original Berserk mode making an appearance along with Quake inspired quad damage and haste power ups. The question is when to use them, and this usually requires learning the spawn sequence of the enemies to get the best out of the limited time you have with them.

I’ve not even touched upon the awesome sounds that accompany you throughout the game, setting you on edge when you hear the familiar sound of a Cacodemon, or just the odd whispering that you witness from time to time. All of this backed by a kick ass heavy guitar score that kicks in at appropriate battle moments. Everything has been so intricately thought through and executed with aplomb. There are times where you wish the scenery was a little more interactive and destructible, but that’s just the bull in a china shop in me I guess – ultimately it’s not that kind of game.

A lot has also been said of the multiplayer and it being seemingly bolted on for the sake of it, but in fairness I have yet to sample it and to be honest I doubt I ever will. Doom for me is a single player experience, if I want multiplayer carnage games like Gears of War lend themselves far better to this than an FPS in my humble opinion. But what an experience this is; it’s the games simplicity that makes it shine, with old school gameplay oozing from every pore – it’s been a while since a game has been this maddeningly addictive! You still have the levels with the cunningly placed coloured key (or skull) in a nice open room with just enough ammo and health dotted around to suggest that taking said key will trigger something of a riot. Even this simple mechanic has been given the next-gen lick of paint, prizing said keys off fallen victims and even retrieving one from underneath a bloody and battered demon! Little things like this take the focus away from ‘get-key-find-door’ mundaneness.

To carry on extoling the virtues of this game would probably introduce a fair degree of spoilers and I’ve probably already given a couple away here, but have tried to stick to stuff that you will have likely have read about elsewhere anyway. If not, I apologise. There is so much cool stuff going on in this game that you just simply need to fire it up and play it to experience for yourself. If you want a story to drive you through the game, don’t buy it. If you want something that will challenge you with complex puzzles and strategies, don’t buy it. If however, you want to jump in, lay waste to anything that moves and ask questions later with as much kick ass weaponry, blood and guts as you can handle, and not have to do any thinking whatsoever – you owe it to yourself to have this game in your collection. My only hope is that it is not the last of its kind.

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page
Category: Games  Leave a Comment

Minus a Molar

Everyone has a bucket list don’t they? It stands to reason therefore that there is such a thing as an anti-bucket list, ie things you don’t really ever want to experience in this humble life. Just like your bucket list can be extraordinarily long, so can your anti-bucket list – I would hazard more so. So, I thought it would be fun (or anti-fun) to concoct a top 10 list of things I don’t ever want to happen in this life.

I should probably start with a little context – you see, at the weekend I experienced the rather odd and thoroughly unpleasant extraction of a tooth. Don’t get me wrong, my dentist is great, very calming and she explains everything so that even my brain cell can comprehend. The procedure itself was entirely painless courtesy of the six injections I had to the nerves leading to my molar root. What you don’t prepare for is the yanking and manipulating that occurs along with the macabre snapping of pieces of the once proud and undamaged adult tooth. Over the years, crap brushing and eating/drinking the wrong stuff gradually took its toll on this tooth to the point that eventually root canal procedures (3 in all) reduced it to a stub with a crown sat on top. For the past 2 years an infection has gradually set in and was steadily worsening to the point it was starting to damage the bone itself – not good. It’s been fun popping the bubble on my gum whenever it gets full of gunk, but my dentist explained that it really was time to get rid or suffer untold pain from abscesses and worse. Uhm, okay then. Killjoy!

So, numbed up I am invited back into the chair of doom to lose an adult tooth – that is quite sobering to be honest. You ain’t getting any more new teeth, that’s it, gone, unless of course you have the misfortune of active wisdom teeth – thankfully I don’t! So much drilling occurs as she whittles the remains of the molar away in preparation for pulling each part out one by one. At one stage a piece snapped, pinged out of my mouth and smacked against her visor! I had a strange urge to laugh there and then, but felt that could be quite detrimental to my oral health being as I had a drill being held in there. Not sure how I didn’t!

So, an hour in the chair later, I am minus one tooth and under strict instruction not to rinse or spit over the next 24 hours. Apart from fishing out two fairly large chips of tooth from my numbed mouth (quite some doing that took I can tell you!), everything seemed fine. The socket had clotted nicely she said, which I took as a good thing and the whole thing would have healed in around 10-12 weeks. Holy molars! Anyway, 2 days on and I’ve not experienced any bleeds, just the occasional jabbing throb that a dose of Paracetamol soon fixes.

So, my anti-bucket list. You know, I’ve gotten to the end of writing about my extraction regaling and I actually don’t want to consider stuff that I don’t want to happen. Amazing how a seemingly cool idea becomes one of shuddering avoidance in the space of 3 paragraphs.

Look after those Penelopes people, you only get one set!

Sharin' is Carin'Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page