Posts by OliverKatz:
This is the first entry in the series of activities to do before you die. Well, or just before you become too frail and decrepit to do them. If you are scared of the unknown, have a phobia of heights, or just don’t like being injected with adrenaline (not literally), stop reading now! Well, please don’t stop reading, because this is a great read and I have poured my literary prowess into it. Maybe just don’t try these awesome activities. However, if you answered ‘No’ to the above questions, then get ready to feel a roller coaster of emotion in this thrill-ride of a series. Thinking about it though, it’s ironic how the top 5 activities to do before you die are the very things that could potentially kill you… Nevertheless, ONWARDS!
5. White Water Rafting
Let me set the scene. It’s early morning in Utah, the sun is just starting to peer over the vast canyon walls and the orange dirt is glowing in its harsh rays. It’s a perfect day for white water rafting. Everyone’s knees are weak and arms are heavy, but on the surface everyone looks calm and ready… to go rafting. Everyone is then issued with a life jacket and helmet, in an attempt to remind you that you cannot swim, and your heads are easily crushed. If this happens, the activity then becomes known as red water rafting, if you know what I mean.
It is then that you get your first glimpse of your ride. This isn’t helping since it looks like a Brighton beach inflatable boat jacked up with steroids. The overly jovial staff will attempt to liven things up with a light-hearted safety talk, the purpose of which is only to stop people suing. Now that you are sufficiently terrified, and dressed up like a goon, you will traipse one by one into the jaws of hell, I mean, your dinghy. The natural beauty of the canyons and river is enough to get you to entice you. An untouched world; only your boat and the river. As you float down the winding canyon, all you can hear is the whisper of the wind and soft sound of the river in the distance. The calm before the storm.
-JUMP CUT. PERSPECTIVE CHANGE-
“OK! We’re coming up to the first rapids! Everyone ready?” No. The mist of the raging torrent appears on the horizon as I turn the corner. My heartbeat increases 5 fold as we sail ever closer to our fate (Is it too late to remind everyone that it is not recommended to raft if you have a weak heart?). We all grab our oars and hold them over the sides of the boat. 3, 2, 1… and we hit the first wave. The adrenaline rushes through me uncontrollably, like an 11 year old boy, the first time he sees Pamela Anderson (this happens to everyone, right?). But before you have time to think, you hit the second one and the third and before you know it, it’s all over and your floating downstream with the raging torrents behind you, dripping with excitement and, um, water.
But fear not, the epic journey is not over. There are many more pockets of rapids before the day is up. There is also the choice of numerous excursions that take longer than the day, in which you camp over night, sleep under the stars and get a taste of the wilderness. I definitely recommend this if you don’t just want to see the edge of the river, but something further afield.
Even if you decide not to go as far a field as America, there are some stunning places a lot closer to home and at a fair price. Throughout Europe, there are some highly rated places, such as the Noce River in Italy, or the Coruh River in Turkey. However, if you’re looking very close to home, and for what is considered the most extreme, try the Rumba Rapids at Thorpe Park in Surrey. But the best places to go if you have the time and money are North or South America; you just can’t go wrong!
So in conclusion, you will experience everything from nervous laughter, to pure adrenaline, to a small tear trickling down your cheek as you realize you love life (be sure to wipe that off quickly). But one thing you will not feel is regret. Strong currents, jagged rocks, people crammed into an inflated piece of rubber, what’s not to like?
Apart from, you know, the strong current, and the jagged rocks.
Want more from this author? Try A review of Rage
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Rage is usually a term that brings to mind violent, uncontrollable anger. Like when you get killed by a 12 year old camping on Call of Duty, or when you go to Subway only to find out they are out of Hearty Italian. Luckily, though, the video game ‘Rage’, developed by id Software (Doom, Quake), is a much more enjoyable experience. Rage is a first person RPG, and offers everything from wasteland racing, where you win certificates to upgrade your buggy, to card games which enable you to win in-game credits. However, at its heart, it’s a first person shooter.
Rage is visually, one of the best games ever created. Built using the id Tech 5 software, you quite often find yourself just looking around at the stunning scenery. The experience is smooth and flawless, partly because it runs at an unbroken 60 fps. But the artistry in this game is staggering, from a ray of sunlight hitting a pile of rubble, to the comic, yet realistic expressions of the in-game characters. Enjoying the game is easy, caring about the plot and characters is a little harder.
It starts off with a cinematic opening of space. A large meteorite blasts through anÂ astroid field, spinning uncontrollably whilst taking a chunk out of the moon, before finally entering Earth’s atmosphere. The screen goes black and then your transported into The Ark, a room created to save people from the meteorite. You know, kinda like that Fallout game. You play the role of a nameless, speechless man (No, he’s not dumb, that would be an odd plot device. You just never hear him speak), who has just woken up into this crumbled, wasteland of a world. Throughout the 10 to 12 hour campaign, you are taken through a series of missions and quests revealing little by little the bigger picture. However, you never really get completely immersed in the world. The characters are less like wasteland survivors that should be filled with mind-blowing tales, and more like simple jesters.
The missions that attempt to bring you closer to the characters never go more in depth than a couple of sarcastic lines. No compelling villain ever emerges, instead you are always fighting pockets of mutants, bandits and the authority, a mysterious organisation that you are striving to find more about… and eventually meet. There are occasionally very strange characters that offer a little more, like the overweight presenter that delivers a show called Mutant Bash TV, which gives you the chance to dispatch mutants for some cash. I guess you could say it’s a killer game show!
…Sorry about that.
The environments are always beautiful and diverse. From the rusted look of Wellsprings, to the bandits’ shacks dotted around the vast wasteland. But this game is mainly about shooting things, and it does a very good job at it. AI are very responsive to bullets (if you point your crosshairs at a victim, they will dodge out of the way, or even lunge for you) and the guns don’t disappoint either. They are meaty and there is a vast selection, not unlike a butcher’s. You also get the chance to buy upgrades and use your engineering skills to make turrets, personal robots, medical supplies etc. To get the most out of the game, you can part take in races and an assortment of mini games including card games, side quests and even being a delivery man for the world.
Rage also offers the chance to show off your NGA (that is, natural gaming ability) with its online multiplayer. Although it is a little odd in that it only includes car combat in theÂ multiplayer, the game modes offer a lot of fun, and unlockables.
Ok, so I may have been slightly harsh on the main story. Overall, the game does what it is designed to do; keeps you wanting to play more. It’s a good first person shooter with stunning visuals. And if I haven’t said it enough already, it is STUNNING. If you want a game that has broken records in the graphics department, or something to fill your time before the big boys are released, this is the game. But don’t expect to find a Lord of the Rings of the gaming world, more of an Avatar, amazing visuals but an archetypal Cowboys vs Indians storyline.
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