2446: We’ve Reached Peak Idiot

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At least, I hope this is peak idiot: I present to you an actual article that appeared in the actual business section of the Washington Post, which sported the headline “Is your dog’s Halloween costume sexist?”

No. No, your dog’s Halloween costume is not sexist. It is a costume for a dog.

Between this and Vice’s recent monstrosity of an article about Forza Horizon 3, in which the writer proceeds to spend 1,500 words using the Australian setting of Forza Horizon 3 (a game about nothing more than driving pretty cars very fast around pretty scenery) as an excuse to go off on a tirade against Australian politics in general (actual specific references to the game come in just two out of the article’s 13 paragraphs), it’s hard to imagine if online journalism can get any worse. It’s even harder to imagine exactly why there are people out there who still defend this kind of garbage.

I’ve been continuing to read old back issues of Page 6, Atari User, ANALOG, Antic and ACE recently, and one thing that repeatedly strikes me whenever I read any of these magazines is that the writers know their audience because they are part of that audience. And in the case of all those magazines, that audience is computer enthusiasts; who better to write for them than fellow enthusiasts? Should be a no-brainer, surely.

Nope; instead we get dross that reads like it was written by a recent Social Sciences graduate and which inevitably takes a negative tone of some description — usually of the “Here Are All The Reasons You Should Feel Bad for Liking the Things You Do” variety — rather than performing what, I believe, is a much more valuable function: bringing people together under the banner of the things they love, celebrating those things and perhaps teaching them some intricate, specialist details.

Take the old Atari magazines. Every single one of these, without fail, opened its first issue with a comment from the editor about how Atari computers are far more than just the games machines that people at the time apparently assumed they were. The stated aim of Page 6, ANALOG, Antic and Atari User alike was to explore the length and breadth of titles available for the Atari computer, teaching enthusiasts new things along the way. These old magazines had type-in BASIC listings with full breakdowns of what was happening where in the program, memory maps of the computers so you could learn to program in machine code, special techniques that could elevate your programming from “eh” to “wow!” and all manner of other stuff.

The most negative things ever got was in the editorial section, where editors would occasionally vent their spleen about Atari’s repeated failures to market their own products, or about how they had been let down by industry contacts. This was always framed as an explanation of why, say, the issue didn’t have a feature that readers might expect, rather than being the sole point of the article. The articles themselves were all positive in tone, often educational and far less frustrating to read than the daily garbage modern online journalists seem to be expected to churn out to order.

Times have changed, of course. Magazines used to be published monthly or, in some cases, bi-monthly. Internet publications are expected to be updated on a daily basis, otherwise they are seen as “irrelevant” and “not up to date”. With the amount of pressure on Internet writers, it’s little surprise that they pluck something out of their arse that they know will “get people talking” (i.e. is contentious for one reason or another) rather than spending the time to do proper research or to enthuse about the things they are passionate about.

There’s too much negativity in the world as it is, and it’s coming from all angles: both traditional media and social media. Negativity begets negativity, and the longer it goes on, the more cynical we get. We’re at a stage now where many people simply don’t trust the online press to cover things as an enthusiast would, and that’s going to be hard to recover from. Meanwhile, the Men In Suits see outrage-bait like the articles linked above as “successes” because they bring in the clicks and consequent advertising revenue.

Advertising impressions lie, however. An impression on an article in the commercial press doesn’t mean someone liked what the author had to say. More often than not, it’s the result of someone having a look at an article out of sheer disbelief that someone really wrote an article about dogs’ Halloween costumes being sexist, or about how Forza Horizon 3 depicts a “better Australia than [Australians] deserve”.

I wish it were possible to just make this mess stop, and for us all to go back to a world where enthusiasts write about the things they are knowledgeable about rather than everyone, everywhere trying to make everything somehow “political”. There’s a time and a place for politics, and, unless you are reviewing a game that deals with political issues — either through its narrative or its mechanics — then that place is emphatically not in the games press. Certainly not in an article about a driving game; and certainly not in an article about a driving game that exists solely to revel in the sheer joy of driving.

Also, you can dress your dog up however the fuck you like so long as you’re not hurting it. Make it extra slutty, take loads of photos for Facebook and immediately unfriend anyone who whines about sexism. You don’t need dickholes like that in your life.

2445: The Best Music of Final Fantasy XIV

Since I appear to be on a Final Fantasy XIV roll at the moment thanks to the excellent new patch, I thought I’d devote today to some of my favourite tunes from the game as a whole.

I respond very strongly to music that I enjoy — so much so that any time I think about hanging up my Eorzean adventurer’s shoes for good, it’s pretty much always the music that gets me coming back time after time. Or, if it’s not the only reason, then it’s certainly a leading reason as to why I keep coming back.

So let’s look at some great tracks from the game.

“Patch 3.4 boss theme”

I don’t know if anyone knows the actual name for this theme yet, but it’s an excellent one. It seemingly became tradition with A Realm Reborn that the last couple of patches in a cycle would use different boss music from the ones we had been enjoying previously, and Heavensward is continuing — or, perhaps more accurately, confirming — this tradition.

This boss theme mixes two important themes from the game as a whole: Heroes, which we’ll come to in a moment, and Penitus, which we’ll also come to in a moment. To put it another way, it mashes together one of the most recognisable musical motifs from Heavensward with one of the most recognisable musical motifs from A Realm Reborn to produce a track that very much feels like a “reward” for people who have at least been playing since 2.0.

Heroes

This theme, played during vanilla Heavensward’s final boss fight against King Thordan and Knights of the Round, brought the already exciting story of FFXIV’s first expansion to a climactic head. While the fight was a bit easy even when it first launched, people still enjoy running it today just to enjoy this music and the spectacular graphical effects throughout the battle.

Penitus

I was already thoroughly wrapped around this game’s little finger by the time I got to level 50 and was faced with the two 8-player story dungeons that wrap up vanilla A Realm Reborn’s storyline, but getting into Praetorium and hearing this wonderful piece of music — snatches of which had been heard in a variety of different styles right the way through from level 1 all the way to 50 — got me absolutely hyped to see the story through to the end.

Ultima

And then the game goes and throws this incredible track on you for the Absolutely Definitely Last Boss, Yessirree (Not). I’ll let this one speak for itself.

Thunderer

Ultima is followed by this little wonder featuring one of the best key changes ever. Sadly the first time you hear it, it doesn’t last anywhere near long enough because everyone absolutely obliterates the Real Final Boss, Definitely Totally For Real This Time in a matter of seconds these days.

Thankfully, Square Enix clearly knew they were on to a good thing with Thunderer, as it was reused in a couple of places — most notably in the Chrysalis trial which was added in one of the content patches, and, for many people, its most iconic appearance in Turn 5 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, in which you fought the dread dragon Twintania, and which in the game’s vanilla release acted as the “true” final boss. (Of course, this later all changed with Second and Final Coil, but still.)

Footsteps in the Snow

Shiva was one of my favourite Trials to be added to the game almost entirely because of this excellent piece of music that opened the fight and ran until the phase change. This music was first heard in the trailer for patch 2.4Dreams of Ice, and got everyone well and truly hyped.

From the Ashes

Raid dungeon The Final Coil of Bahamut was, for many players, a highlight of the game due to its fascinating story — which, unlike the narrative of A Realm Reborn itself, which span off in a different direction, followed up on how Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 ended. Turn 12, the penultimate turn, is often cited as a particular favourite by many players simply due to this unique music, which was a highly dramatic, spine-tingling take on A Realm Reborn’s main theme song Answers. The whole of The Binding Coil of Bahamut had featured music based on Answers, and this track felt like it was bringing everything to a dramatic conclusion.

Answers

And, having mentioned Turn 12, it would be remiss of me not to mention the way Answers was used in Turn 13, the absolutely definitely positively totally final boss of the game, or at least of the raids. I present it here in context, including battle sound effects, to show how it is used in the fight itself. The incredible crescendo during Teraflare is made of goosebumps.

I’m yet to do the new Alexander raid — my item level isn’t quite high enough yet — but I understand the grand finale is suitably spectacular. T13 is going to take some topping, though.

2444: Wondrous Tails and the Accursed Hoard

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Spent a bit more time with the non-story aspects of FFXIV’s 3.4 patch Soul Surrender today, so here’s a few thoughts with that in mind.

First up, I finished my first Wondrous Tails journal, albeit rather poorly, so I have a good handle of what that’s all about now.

Wondrous Tails is a new weekly quest where you acquire a journal from the adorable young Miqo’te Khloe Aliapoh. Khloe wants to hear all about your adventures, so you agree to help her out by filling in her journal with tales of some of your exploits. You are then presented with 16 different challenges for the week, nine of which you need to clear to complete the journal.

On the opposite page to the challenges you are to face is a 4×4 grid of blank spaces for stickers. You acquire these stickers by completing the challenges — one per challenge, though you don’t get to choose which sticker you get. Fill a line in the journal and there’s a reward separate from the one for completing 9 challenges. Fill two lines and there’s another reward. Fill three and there’s another still. These rewards are significant, at higher tiers consisting of Allagan Tomestones of Scripture, the current “top end” endgame currency, and even item level 250 armour which, while not the best in the game at the moment, is certainly pretty good.

They are not, however, easy to accomplish, as I’ve discovered this week. It’s not completely random chance as to whether or not you fill some lines — by helping new players complete duties for the first time, you earn “Second Chance” points, which can be used in one of two ways: firstly, to mark a completed challenge as incomplete while marking an incomplete one as complete. This effectively allows you to do something again while removing the need to do something you don’t want to do. You can choose the complete challenge to make incomplete, but not the incomplete challenge to make complete. Alternatively, you can spend two Second Chance points to shuffle the entire board of seals (including the ones you’ve already placed) in the hope that you will get a more advantageous arrangement. In order to make three lines with nine seals, you need their placement to be absolutely perfect — a horizontal, a vertical and a diagonal. As such, it’s a bit of a gamble that you can’t necessarily rely on.

I gambled and failed, ending up with no lines at all by the time I had nine seals — you can only use the shuffle option when you have between three and seven seals, so you can’t just shuffle a completed board around. Still, I at least got the reward for completing the journal for the week, which is meaningful in itself, and there’s always next week to try again.

Next up, I jumped in to the randomly generated Palace of the Dead in an attempt to finish my Aetherpool weapon and get something to take the place of my outdated i210 Anima weapon until I can finish the upgrade process. New to Palace of the Dead in this patch is the addition of the Accursed Hoard, a series of hidden treasures that can only be located by using Pomanders of Intuition, which last until you unearth a piece of the Accursed Hoard. Your party banks the pieces of the Hoard until you complete the tier of the Palace that you’re on, and like everything else, if you party wipes you lose them.

Assuming you successfully completed a tier, each piece of the Hoard the party acquired will reward you with a sealed sack which must be taken to a new NPC in Quarrymill to appraise. There then follows a gacha-style appraisal sequence, during which you can anticipate how good the item you’re about to get is via the animation that plays (or not!) during the appraisal sequence. There are some decent items available through this system — in my first batch of three sacks, I got a paissa minion, the expensive Thavnairian Bustier top and a firework. In the seven other sacks I acquired throughout the evening, I got more fireworks. It seems fireworks are the default “normal” draw, at least from the common bronze sacks, but there seems to be an above-zero chance of getting rare items from this, too, making Palace of the Dead a worthwhile activity for reasons other than acquiring the weapon.

There’s obviously a lot of RNG in both of these systems that I’ve described, and some people don’t like that, preferring a predictable goal that you can take aim for and always see your progress towards. Final Fantasy XIV has always been heavily RNG-driven, however, and so these two systems, while having the potential for enormous frustration, are firmly in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from the game to date!

2443: Soul Surrender

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Final Fantasy XIV patch day has come and gone, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts. I’m going to mostly talk about the Main Scenario quests in this post, so I’ll put in a Read More link for those browsing the front page who don’t want to accidentally see spoilers.

Continue reading 2443: Soul Surrender

2442: Planning for Patch Day

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It’s Patch 3.4 for Final Fantasy XIV tomorrow, so naturally any players of the game have been poring over the patch notes, which were released in their entirety today.

Different people have different priorities when it comes to MMO patches. Here’s what I intend to get up to:

Main scenario

Whenever a new patch comes out, I always do the main scenario quests first, because these usually 1) unlock at least some of the new content and 2) mean that I can’t be hit with inadvertent spoilers from loose lips.

In the case of Patch 3.4, it’s an exciting time for the game, since we not only get to find out a bit more about the mysterious “Warrior of Darkness” — seemingly our dark counterparts, and possibly even something to do with the character used in all the game’s CG cutscenes — but we also start the run-up to the next expansion, which is set to be revealed in the not too distant future.

The smart money is on us finally heading to Ala Mhigo in the next expansion, as it’s a place that has been frequently referenced in the game lore, and which is of particular importance to Raubahn, who has been a major character in the entire storyline so far. Our visit to the Ixali region of Xelphatol in 3.4 would seem to indicate our overall “journey” heading in that direction, too, but ultimately the truth remains to be seen.

Dungeons

Since I’m probably going to romp through the main scenario stuff first, I’ll probably complete Xelphatol first, with The Great Gubal Library (Hard) coming afterwards, since it’s just a sidequest.

I enjoy Final Fantasy XIV’s dungeons, but they’re always a bit too easy for my liking. This is almost certainly deliberate, as a means to make them friendly to casual players rather than hardcore raiders, but it would be nice to have some new dungeons that the majority of the playerbase don’t vastly outgear the moment they step inside.

At least if nothing else the new dungeons will provide some gear to help people “catch up” to the cutting-edge item level, and dungeon boss fights are always memorable experiences. I can’t honestly say I’m hugely excited about either of the dungeons coming up in this patch, but I will reserve judgement until I see them for myself!

Sophia, the Goddess

A new Trial is always enjoyable, because although they’re just single boss fights, they tend to be absolutely spectacular, with some of the best music and graphical effects in the game. The preview footage for the battle with Sophia looks to be no exception to this; hopefully it won’t become another Sephirot, where people moan and complain every time it comes up in Trials roulette mere days after it being released. (I actually quite liked the Sephirot fight!)

Alexander

I’ve been underwhelmed by Alexander throughout the 3.x patch cycle, but then, I wasn’t anticipating it to be particularly up my alley from the moment it was first announced. I’m not a big fan of steampunk and the comic relief that the Goblins generally provide in Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t lend itself well to the sort of epic conflict that raids, for me, need to be truly exciting. Also the music in Alexander up until now is awful (although admittedly in keeping with the Goblin theme) and I hope to God we at least get some suitably epic music for the final battle.

All that said, I’m particularly interested to see how the Alexander cycle ends. We were promised some sort of interesting encounter involving time manipulation, so I’m very interested to see where that goes. Beyond that, I hope the team have learned some valuable lessons from Alexander’s development and the lukewarm to poor reception it has had from the player base.

Squadrons

This content caught my eye when it was first announced, and it’s probably going to be little more than glorified Retainer Ventures — i.e. wind up a minion, send them on their way to do something off-screen for 18 hours, then check the results when they get back — but I like the idea, nonetheless, plus there’s potential for it to be expanded in the future. In fact, the developers have specifically said they’d like to make it so that players’ Squadron members can be taken into dungeons, so that will immediately make this stuff worthwhile.

Wondrous Tails

I’m intrigued by this: a randomly selected series of weekly objectives with some significant rewards on offer for completing them. What I’m most interested in is exactly what content is going to be involved with this. Are we going to see something that expects us to do Extreme difficulty trials and The Binding Coil of Bahamut at its original difficulty level? (Or, at least, not unsynced with level 60 gear and stats)?

Mechanically speaking, Wondrous Tails sounds like a way to make old content relevant again, something which has historically been accomplished with the Relic weapon quests. Wondrous Tails is divorced from all other aspects of progression, however, so it can be tackled alongside whatever route you want to go with, be it raiding, Relic or a combination thereof.

Palace of the Dead

I like Palace of the Dead a lot, and it’s getting some tweaks in 3.4, the exact details of which haven’t been given. What I’m most looking forward to is it being extended to the full 200 floors in patch 3.45, with floor 100 being the end of its “story mode” and floors 101-200 being effectively a “hard mode”. Palace of the Dead already offers some worthwhile rewards in the form of weapons; I’m interested to see what the deeper floors will offer.

Apartments

Since they’re set to sell for just 500,000 gil, I’ll likely finally get my own piece of personal housing in the form of an apartment. It’s a pity you can’t do gardening in them, since gardening is one of the key benefits of having either a personal or a Free Company house, but I’ll enjoy having a space to call my own that I can fiddle around with and decorate.

The onward grind

I’m making decent progress on my Dark Knight Anima weapon, and will continue to do this throughout 3.4; hopefully the new additions to the game will make this process more varied and interesting.

Beyond that, I’ve been levelling White Mage and enjoying it, so I might try my hand at a bit more healing than I have been doing in the past, though naturally gearing WHM up will have to be balanced with gearing DRK, which is still my main.

Overall, I’m really interested to see where 3.4 takes the game, and especially interested to hear the first details of the new expansion when they finally arrive. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a tease when it’s revealed!

2441: That Racing Game I Always Wanted

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The more I play The Crew, the more I like it, and the more I’m surprised that it only got middling reviews which, consequently, led to it being one of Ubisoft’s lesser-known, less popular games. (Actually, I’m not at all surprised about middling reviews, because we all know how (in)accurate reviews are these days, and how meaningless scores are.)

Fortunately, Ubisoft doesn’t appear to have taken these middling reviews to heart and neither does the player base, as there always seem to be plenty of people online when I boot up The Crew, and its second expansion Calling All Units is due to hit in November.

The Crew is pretty much everything I’ve come to want from a racing game over the years, and very few games have successfully provided for these wants so comprehensively. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that The Crew is probably the only racing game I’ve played that ticks pretty much every single one of the boxes in my imaginary checklist for my “dream racing game”.

First up, let’s talk about the open world. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of open world driving games ever since I played Test Drive II on the Atari ST and wished that I could go off the predefined routes to explore. I never got to play it, but I was particularly enamoured with the idea of Test Drive III’s move to open environments, as primitive as they were with their early untextured 3D polygons. Then open world racing games actually became a thing with the Midnight Club and Need for Speed Underground series — the latter of which set in place a formula for the series that it hasn’t deviated from ever since.

The Club takes the concept of an open world racing game to an extreme level, offering a world that represents the entire United States. Unlike a full-on simulator, this depiction isn’t entirely true to life and is scaled down somewhat — you can drive from Key West to Miami in two minutes — but this makes sense for the purposes of fun. Real driving isn’t fun, largely because it still takes a very long time to get anywhere; video game driving, however, needs to be fun to keep people interested, and to this end The Crew provides an open world that is manageable in size but packed with enough hidden bits and pieces to make it well worth exploring rather than just proceeding from mission to mission.

The best thing about The Crew’s use of a miniaturised United States as its open-world setting is that it allows for a hugely diverse landscape. There’s the wasteland of Arizona. There’s the swampland of the Deep South. There’s the twisting, turning, tree-clad mountain roads of the central mountain states. And, of course, there are the various cities, each of which have numerous landmarks present and correct. It’s a delight to drive around and a pleasure to explore in search of data uplinks and hidden car parts.

So open-world driving is one box that The Crew ticks. What else do I want from a racing game? Well, as much as I’ve tried to enjoy the Gran Turismos and Forza Motorsports over the years, I came to the conclusion a while back that I’m just not a driving sim kinda guy. My taste lies with arcade-style handling a la Ridge Racer, in which it’s possible to slide sideways around a corner with just a hint of a tap on the brakes.

The Crew very much delivers in this department, and with some variety, too. Each car you get in the game can be specced out with different “classes” ranging from full stock (the basic model, no modifications) through “street” (tuned for street racing), “dirt” (more suited for rallying), “perf” (high-performance, particularly suited for street and circuit racing) and “raid” (super-strong and eminently suitable for complete offroading). Each of these specs feels very different to drive, too. The perf spec cars are fast and can pull off some impressive drifts, but don’t get much air if you fly off a jump and do not do at all well if you leave the tarmac. The raid cars sit high off the ground but provide an enjoyably bumpy ride as you ignore all the roads on the map and just leap over hills at every opportunity. The dirt cars get convincingly filthy and throw up dust clouds as you power them around unpaved roads, sliding sideways around corners like a pro.

It’s not at all realistic, in other words, but at no point is it trying to be. It wants to be fun, and by God it succeeds at that. I love driving in The Crew. It’s just fun to drive around the map, even without a mission. Throw in the fact that the missions are accompanied by dialogue and dramatic, cinematic-style music and you have an absolutely thrilling game.

Which brings us on to the story aspect. The Crew’s storyline is cheesy and stupid, just like The Fast and the Furious, but it’s entertaining and does its job. It has some good characters including some loathsome villains, and the protagonist (played by the ever-popular Troy Baker) does a good job of deadpanning his way through some genuinely amusing lines.

I’ve been hungry for a “driving game with a plot” ever since I learned of the existence of Racing Lagoon on the PS1, and endured the subsequent disappointment that it never got localised. (I understand that it was supposedly not that good in the first place, but I would have liked the opportunity to judge for myself.) Various games over the years have toyed with adding a plot — most notably EA’s Need for Speed series — but they always seem incredibly half-hearted, all but abandoning any attempt at storytelling once the game gets going.

The Crew is different, though. It keeps its plot flowing at a good pace, and you feel like you’re taking part in a Fast and Furious movie. As I say, it’s dumb and stupid, but it’s good dumb and stupid — the sort of summer blockbuster fare that would get you munching on your popcorn as if your life depended on it. It draws you in and makes you interested, and rewards progress through the game with satisfying (and impressively realistic) cutscenes.

Finally, there’s the “RPG” aspect of the game. The one thing I always liked about Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo was the part where you earned money and bolted bits on to your car to make it better. Where that part fell down for me was in the tuning aspect, where the game expected you to understand how cars worked in order to fine-tune all the settings to their optimal levels. Fine for true petrolheads; less good for people like me who just want to power around a course and feel cool while doing it.

The Crew adopts an almost Diablo-esque loot system in which every event you complete in the game, big or small, rewards you with a part that you can either stock or equip on the car you’re currently driving. Parts come in bronze, silver and gold variants, with the gold versions naturally being considerably better than the bronze.

You don’t need to know what a “differential” is in order to enjoy this system, though, much as you don’t need to know exactly what the purpose of each piece of armour is in a loot-whoring RPG. Instead, each part simply affects one of your car’s core performance stats — acceleration, top speed, braking and grip — and contributes to an overall “level” for the car. The higher your car’s level, the better it is — and you can leave it at that if you so desire, or you can further customise and specialise your car by mixing and matching parts in order to emphasise a particular stat if you so desire. It’s a simple but effective system that allows even non-mechanically minded people to enjoy a feeling of progress and advancement without ever having to touch a gear ratio menu.

The Crew is marketed as an MMO but I must confess I haven’t dipped my toes into the multiplayer at all as yet. The story is enjoyable enough in single player — and feels like it’s been designed with single player in mind, with the possible exception of the “takedown” events, which would doubtless be much easier with four people — but it looks as if there will be more than enough things left to do in multiplayer once you reach the end of the story. It has its own “endgame”, if you will, which I can’t comment on with any authority just yet, but I’m interested to explore, particularly the “Summit” events that were introduced with the Wild Run expansion.

If you haven’t yet grabbed your free copy of The Crew from Ubisoft, you’ve got until October 11 to do so — head on over here to do so. What have you got to lose? And if you are already playing, do feel free to add me as a friend via UPlay — my tag there is “AngryJedi” — and send me a message if you want to try any aspect of the game’s multiplayer; I’m keen to give it a go!

2440: Baffled by Food

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Andie’s been watching a show called Great British Menu, and that show frustrates me in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s one of many, many shows that overuses the “Great British” thing. It’s okay to just say “British” sometimes. (You definitely don’t need to say it at all when talking about the “great British public”. It’s just “the public”.)

The main way it frustrates me, however, is I just don’t understand the appeal of the food these people are cooking. The show claims to celebrate the “total transformation of British cuisine during the Queen’s historic reign” (and they don’t let you forget that, repeating it roughly eleven thousand times each episode) but all I see is food that has become less about, well, food and more about, as they put it “theatre”.

I’m a simple man when it comes to food. I like a good ham, egg and chips. I like a chilli. I like a spaghetti bolognese. I like a steak. I like a good roast dinner. Those are all good dishes that taste nice. They may be “uninteresting” to the refined palate, but they do fine by me, and more importantly, they are easily scalable according to how hungry you are and how many people you’re catering for.

The “total transformation of British cuisine during the Queen’s historic reign”, meanwhile, seems to be all about compressing and pureeing everything, then sticking it in a box with some dry ice underneath so the plate of food ends up resembling a rather sparsely populated ’80s rock concert more than, well, a plate of food.

One of the things the chefs on the show are fond of doing is offering “a new take on [x]”. In the last episode I saw, there was “a new take on bacon and eggs”, and “a new take on Eton Mess”. Again, both of those things are fine as is. I certainly don’t need an onion puree and an onion tuile, whatever the fuck that is, with my bacon and eggs — even if I did like onion, which I don’t. And I definitely don’t need my Eton Mess to be “interactive” by being hidden inside a meringue shaped like a cricket ball.

I don’t know. I’m probably just being grumpy about this, although I have had food with “theatre” and enjoyed it — when I went to the Ninja restaurant in New York, the food there was served with plenty of theatrics and dry ice, but importantly, they gave you an actually decent plate of food as well. The stuff the chefs on Great British Menu come up with looks like something you’d serve as a starter to a Spartan.

If this is how British cuisine has transformed during the Queen’s historic reign, then I’m just grateful that the local chippy is still open for business.