Right, I'm not actually dead. I thought I'd posted already this year but forgot I, er, hadn't. I'm not very good with passage-of-time stuff - I have in fact been 33 years old twice due to a clerical error of exactly this type, which I choose to interpret as time travel rather than idiocy.
I won't bore you with my New Year's Resolutions again, as they have been drafted in a complex tree structure this year which employs a bastard hybrid of Platonic Essences and object-oriented programming, and frankly even I don't understand them fully as yet.
This year already tastes different to 2011, which is good. The new series of Sherlock was a good way to start it, and Spartacus: Vengeance is shaping up well so far, at least on the blood-and-fucking front. Good old HBO. One day our generation will look back on this age of pre-hologram entertainment and lament the pale and odourless drivel that passes for modern drama.
In keeping with past habits, I have been led to appreciation of an American sport via a videogame. Previously I became an NFL fan through playing Madden and a NASCAR fan through playing Dirt To Daytona - I'm not sure why, but I appreciate easily-gamified sports, perhaps because they emphasise skill and strategy over brute force. There are no good sprinting videogames, for instance. The hundred metres does not require any strategy more complex than 'run like hell for ten-ish seconds'.
Fighting games usually bore me, for the same reasons that fighting sports usually bore me: they're overcomplicated and overspecialised. A fight isn't a fight if it takes half an hour, allows only certain kinds of punch, gives you ten seconds to shake off a concussion, insulates you from cuts with padded gloves while exacerbating brain damage with the same device or includes anything resembling a kamehameha. Fights should be ended quickly and decisively, by any means necessary, with a minimum of pouting and performance. It's why I lost patience with boxing, and it's what drew me to experiment with UFC Unleashed (the 2010 one, not the new version - that's two weeks away, hence the price drop for previous editions).
It's surprisingly down-to-earth for a fighting game, perhaps because it's not an EA one. Developed by Yukes, who have plenty of experience in wrestling game engines, it's a complex and tactical game rather than a showy one. Engrossing enough that I tuned into UFC 142 to see if the reality matched the simulation.
I was pleasantly surprised. Only three rounds, no fear of blood but very careful to avoid real injuries, and most of all respectful. The fighters didn't spit venom and pretend to hate each other's guts in interviews. They touched gloves before every round. At the end, they patted each other on the back and showed gentlemanly respect. UFC is everything boxing fails to be, in short - an honest fight.
I'm no fighter - I talk my way out of violent situations, mostly successfully, and am too short to uppercut reliably - but the engineer in me appreciates elegant solutions, even the ones I wouldn't choose.