ConkerEvery gamer knows that summer is inevitably a dry spell after the sensory barrage of the E3 convention, and particularly so this year with all attention focused on the upcoming release of the next-gen consoles. However, there has been one ray of light that’s kept me going: Conker. The foul mouthed, money loving squirrel started life on the N64 with Bad Fur Day being much loved but released right at the end of the console’s lifecycle so that very few people played it. All dolled up, Rare’s masterpiece is now one of the best looking Xbox games to date and adds a in-depth multiplayer component to what overtly seems to be a cutesy Frogger-esque platformer. It’s not. Our introduction to Conker is him vomiting in the street after a particularly heavy night out and the story twists through creative movie references and amusing vulgarities peppered with Conker’s charismatic wit. And if you’re a Conker fan, make sure you head over to the official site and check out the Celebrity Squirrel trailers in the top right (turns out Conker was Bungie’s first choice for Halo…).

The other notable gaming news was the announcement of a sequel to Sin. A great first person shooter from Ritual, it had the misfortune of being released at the same time as another little game called Half-Life. Ritual wanted to retain full creative licence over a possible sequel, and after pitching their ideas to several publishers without success their saviour was none other than Half-Life developer Valve. They’re allowing Ritual to use their Steam system to distribute Sin Episodes. Released episodically, the way the game is played by the community will direct further development of the game, including continual updates to the game engine which can then be applied backwards to the previous episodes. The engine is none other than Valve’s Source engine but Ritual are giving it some serious upgrades. Definitely one to watch.

Meanwhile things are looking pretty bad in Louisiana with hundreds, and possibly thousands, dead in New Orleans. Stephen is requesting donations to FEMA since it can provide relief swiftly and time is now of the essence with the currently slow arrival of aid to those affected. Perhaps this will be a wake up call as to just how skewed our countries’ budgets are when it is believed that billions can be poured into wars abroad but we cannot look after our own people when it is needed. Jenna has said that with so many people living in tents around Baton Rouge it’s beginning to feel unsafe going out after dark, and petrol stations are running out of supplies. Americans must be disappointed not only with the country’s slow aid response but also with the behaviour of their own citizens. Much as they may wish to believe they would rally together in a time of crisis, New Orleans is instead experiencing violence and looting. Taking food is understandable, but one new Wal-Mart was stripped of its entire gun section. Attempts to airlift people out of the Superdome were halted yesterday after shots were believed to have been fired at a helicopter. I cannot say that the reaction here would be different, but it is both sad and incredibly disappointing to see.