Archive for July, 2005

Freddie Ljungberg extends contract with Arsenal

July 29th, 2005

Freddie Ljungberg has extended his contract with Arsenal up till 2009. I’m glad to see he’s pledged his future to Arsenal. Hopefully we’ll see more goals from him this season. Full story here at Arsenal.com.

Freddie Ljungberg "99 per cent" certain to sign new deal with Arsenal

July 28th, 2005

As reported on Arsenal.com, Arsène Wenger stated after Arsenal’s game against Utrecht on Tuesday that a new deal with Freddie Ljungberg is “99 per cent there”. This is good news, since it is vital that Arsenal hold on to as many of the experienced players as possible for the next few years, to help the younger players come up through the ranks. I’ve always admired Freddie Ljungberg, right from his debut as a sub when he promptly scored against Manchester United :) It will be good to see him in the red and white (or even redcurrant!) of Arsenal for the forseable future.

Arsenal extend pre-season run of victories

July 27th, 2005

Arsenal extended their winning run on their pre-season Austrian trip with a 3 – 0 win over Dutch side Utrecht. As the match report on Arsenal.com points out, this match was against tougher opposition than the previous warm-up matches against lower-division Austrian sides. However, Arsenal were well up to it, with a penalty from Pires, and two more goals from Reyes and Henry. Arsenal move on now to the Amsterdam tournament this weekend, where once more they will face tougher opposition.

Campbell to miss the start of the season

July 26th, 2005

Sol Campbell will miss the start of the 2005/2006 Premiership season with Arsenal due to a calf injury. Arsène Wenger insists that Sol still features in his plans for this season, despite reports indicating that the defender is looking to move away from Highbury. Full details in this article on Arsenal.com.

Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack

July 26th, 2005

Bungie have recently released the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack. This is a set of multiplayer maps for Halo 2 that are also available as premium downloads via XBox Live, but packaged up on an XBox disk along with some bonus material, some of which you cannot get anywhere else. While the maps will all be available for free download from XBox Live by the end of August, this disk is a cheaper way to get the maps if you have more than one XBox, or the only way to get them if you don’t have a XBox Live subscription.

The pack includes nine new maps – Warlock, Containment, Turf, Sanctuary, Elongation, Backwash, Relic, Terminal and Gemini. Warlock and Elongation are essentially remakes of Halo 1 maps Wizard and Longest, but the others are all new, and set in various locations from the Halo 2 campaign. There are various walkthroughs of the new maps available on-line, but I haven’t had time to check them out yet. Red vs. Blue have some good ones apparently. However, you do get a look at all the new levels through a bonus movie on the disk. In this, various Bungie team members talk about the levels that they worked on, and there are some fly-throughs of the levels. You also get an overview of each level in the manual that comes with the disk.

I didn’t get to play more than a couple of games on the new maps, and can only give my impressions of Warlock, Backwash and Relic. I liked Backwash, it was small enough that you could find the action quite quickly, while at the same time the low visibility meant that you could get close to the other players without them seeing you – if you were careful.

Warlock is fun, and I’ve played several games here – including one game of Oddball which was a blast! The dark areas around the edges of the central arena make it very hard to see anyone, and the bodies often pile up quickly there. As with all the maps, knowing where the weapons and power-ups are helps tremendously :)

Relic is big, and we ended up with only four players staying on the game. This led to a bit of wandering around, looking for opponents. I did get to play matador to someone trying to run me over with the warthog, and I was quite pleased with myself at my attempts to evade them. However, in my panic I forgot which button you use to board, so I missed the chance to try that feature in anger. Eventually my opponent gave up and drove off to find someone easier to squash!

I’m looking forward to trying out the other maps, and playing more Halo 2 on Live. I’m especially looking forward to checking out Terminal, where a train speeds through the middle of the map from time to time.

Apart from the maps, the MMP disk includes the autoupdate that changed the Halo 2 game engine to fix some of the balance issues, such as underpowered grenades. Most people with XBox Live will already have this. You can tell by looking at the bottom right of the main menu screen. If there’s a “1.1” there, then you have the update. However, users without XBox Live won’t have received this, so it’s a welcome inclusion.

The other bonus content on the disk includes the behind the scenes video I mentioned earlier, and a new cutscene created exclusively for the MMP. This features the ODSTs on the third Pelican that headed down into New Mombassa, and what happened to it after the Scarab opened fire when approaching the city. This is a great little piece of backstory, and is very well executed – though I did feel that some of the movements were a little slow at times. Bungie are not releasing this video online (at the moment), so the only way you’ll see this (legitimately) is if you buy the disk.

There are two other videos – the 5.1 audio test video featuring a Grunt and a Hunter that also was included on the limited edition version of the Halo 2 disk, and the original E3 2000 demo of Halo. I had never seen the latter, and it’s amazing to see where things came from. It’s essentially a (very long) cutscene. There’s some features that remained essentially unchanged – the design of the Pelican and the Energy Sword for example. However, other stuff never made it to the final version, such as the dinosaurs and the gold Elite’s shield. A nice piece of history to have.

Overall, I think Bungie have done a great job in putting this together. With the release of the MMP, there are now 21 multiplayer maps for Halo 2. From Major Nelson’s interview with Sketch on his most recent blogcast, it would appear that this is the end of the road for new content for Halo 2. The playlists will continue to be tweaked, but no more maps will appear. Also, a comment on the behind the scenes video states that these maps will help “wet the whistle for what’s to come”, a clear indication that Halo 3 is going to be developed – as if there was any doubt about that :)

Wenger bemused by Pires transfer speculation

July 25th, 2005

Arsène Wenger has confirmed that there have been no offers or expressions of interest regarding Robert Pires this summer, contrary to the speculation linking Pires variously with Valencia, Galatasary, and Juventus. According to this report on Arsenal.com, Wenger has said:

“We have had no interest in Robert and we want him to stay… I want him to stay and that is it.”

So, it looks like he wants him to stay then :)

Arsenal beat Ritzing 5 – 2

July 25th, 2005

Arsenal continue their winning ways in their pre-season matches with a 5 – 2 victory over Austrian side Ritzing. Bergkamp, Henry, Reyes, Hleb, and Larsson scored for Arsenal. I saw the goals on Sky Sports News last night, and Hleb’s goal was great – he just dribbled through the defence and rounded the keeper before slotting it into the net past two desperately lunging defenders. Hopefully, a sign of things to come :) A full match report can be found here at Arsenal.com.

PPL Progress

July 22nd, 2005

While I’m catching up with the past couple of weeks events, I should mention that I’ve had my third PPL lesson with Sky Trace. I had a different instructor this time – Dennis, from Lille I believe. We did a lot of exercises this time round, since he was pushing me to see where my boundaries were. Both he and I were pleasantly surprised to find that I could take all that he threw at me – which to be honest is not that much really, but for my third flight I think I did OK :) I’m becoming much more comfortable with the motion of the plane, and at one stage I had the plane trimmed and flying level with no hands on the controls!

I can’t wait to get back in the cockpit, but I’ll have to. This weekend is busy, and then August’s weekends are already booked for camping trips. So, it looks like September will be the earliest I can fly again. In the meantime, I’ll start reading the PPL books by Jeremy Pratt. I ordered these online from Play.com, who seemed to have the best prices – roughly €25 per book, delivered. I’m still waiting on one of them to be delivered, but the main one I need at the moment is book 1 – all about learning to fly :)

Arsenal beat SC Weiz 5 – 0

July 22nd, 2005

Arsenal continued their pre-season winning ways with a win over Austrian side SC Weiz. Two from Henry, and one each from Flamini, Bentley made it 4 – 0 at half time, and Bergkamp added a fifth in the second half. A full match report can be found here on Arsenal.com.

In his post-match comments, Wenger indicated that it was 50:50 whether Baptista would sign from Seville, that he was not interested in Guti from Real Madrid, and that he feels confident that the Robert Pires situation will be sorted out soon.

Cole, Reyes and Clichy extend their contracts with Arsenal

July 21st, 2005

Ashley Cole, Jose Antonio Reyes, and Gel Clichy have all extended their contracts with Arsenal. Ashely Cole has signed a one year extension which allegedly doubles his wages, and keeps him with the club till 2008. Reyes and Clichy have signed longer extnesions, which should seem them stay with Arsenal till 2011 and 2010 respectively. There’s still no sign of Pires or Ljungberg extending their contracts, with Patrick Vieira allegedly trying to persuade Pires to follow him to Juventus.

The official press releases can be found on Arsenal.com here and here.