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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…2
“Perhaps that might actually work better.” Agent Rack agrees, after all, he’s been looking at the list of team members and their departure points. I’m the only one from the Middle East, the rest are from Russia, Europe, or places way up north.
“Rack, let me look at the grouping of team members”, I say, “There’s got to be something better than your fly and schlep scheme.”
‘Fine, Doctor. It is, after all, your project.” Agent Rack relates, “Email me with your updated ideas and itinerary.” He says and hangs up.
“Damn”, I snipe, “I knew I should have asked for more than 3x my day rate. No trip is worth this much all fired ready aggravation…”
I get a new cigar, refresh my Greenland coffee, and get to the list of folks I’ll be working with for the next few weeks.
“Sindy?”, I ask my computer, “Open ‘Agent Rack mail #2’ please”.
There’s a grinding of hard drives, satellites are linking up in outer space, computer banks at NASA are lighting off. There's a teletype in Virginia annoyed at being awoken at this ungodly early hour.
A few minutes later, I am reading over my list. Quite the collection.
Two geologists: A Russian, Dr. Morskoy Utes, and a Brit, Dr. Clifford Swandon.
Two geophysicists: A Russian, Dr. Volna Sglazhivaniye, and one Swede, Dr. Aktiv Vågformme.
Two Reservoir Engineers: An Dutch, Dr. Vijver Monteur, and Portuguese, Dr. Graciano Guimarães.
One geomechanic: A Bulgarian, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev .
Two geochemists: A Canadian, ‘eh, Dr. Erlen Meyer, and a Russian, Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik.
One Petroleum Technologist: A Finn, Dr. Joonatan Vedenalaiset
And one Petrophysicist: A Canadian, Dr. Dax Aceron
And yours truly, Dr. Rocknocker, The Motherfucking Pro from Dover, makes for 12.
Such a nice, round, woody number.
OK, let’s see, before we get to particulars.
Countries of origin: Russia, England, Sweden, USA by way of the Middle East, Finland, Bulgaria, and Canada.
All northern hemispherical types; for the most part.
Great. We can all meet in London and fly British Airways directly to Beijing. Then, it’s Air China to Pyongyang. Besides, I’ll still get my frequent flyer miles and I don’t want to fly Aeroflot if I can avoid it.
I send Agent Rack an Email defining my ideas. He writes back within an hour OK’ing the plan. He will make plans for all of us to meet in London, spend a night at the airport Hilton Garden Inn, then off to Beijing. Then, after a quick layover, on to Pyongyang, Best Korea.
To history. And beyond!
However, there are a few logistical problems that need to be overcome.
With this Cheap-Ass Mexican Beer virus crisis, there’s no flights out of my present home country.
How will Esme make it back to the states and I to London, where there, at least, they’re a bit less ridiculously paranoid, and I can catch a commercial flight out to China?
Calling Agent Rack and Ruin…
With a bit of Agency of intervention, Esme and I are to be transported via one of the military’s flying war machines. It will deposit Esme in Abu Dhabi where she will catch a direct flight to the Windy City.
They say they may slow down before they kick me out in Dubai to catch the BA flight to London. They already know me from previous adventures.
There. All done and dusted. I love flying first class, as it were.
Esme is packed and ready to go in less than an hour. Most of her luggage is stuffed with gifts and other sorts of Middle Eastern tat for the folks back home. We haven’t been back to the states in quite some time; there will be much rejoicing.
However, I will have to hear of it second hand. I’m going to Best Korea and have no idea what the climate’s like other than its Oriental Continental. Most of North Korea is classified as being of a humid continental climate within the Köppen climate classification scheme, with warm summers and cold, dry winters.
Currently in the upper teens centigrade, winds light and variable 10 to 130 kilometers per hour, it’ll be a nice day if the tornadoes stay away.
Well now, that’s like mail from home. Equable weather in an unequable land.
Hawaiian shirts? The most garish. Exploration vest? Of course. Field boots? But of course. Ah, hell, the usual travel wardrobe. Into the silver aluminum travel cases go the Scottish high-calf woolen socks, Stetson, cargo shorts, one pair of long chinos, the usual undergarments, spare lighters, cigar-cutters, emergency flasks, flint and steel (just in case), generic Northern European Armed-Services knife with built-in cigar cutter, a couple of fueled Zippos, a couple of different sized Cow-Hide Men tools, a handful of cheap-o butane lighters, bags of beef and camel jerky…just the absolute necessities.
In my day pack, which never leaves my side, are my cigars, cigarettes for gifts, some emergency rations; like a spare pint of bourbon, one of vodka, and some Dammitol in case of headaches. Plus, field notebooks, pens, pencils, hand lens, various geological-geophysical cheat sheets, tickets, visas, tourist passes, and all that other world-traveling guff.
Looks like we’re both ready to travel. I get on the horn with one or the other of my favorite agency denizens and tell them we’re ready to go.
Agent Ruin notes positive and tells us he’ll dispatch our transport to the airport forthwith.
I’m out in front of our villa and the whole city is a god damned ghost town. Virtually no road traffic and absolutely no air traffic. It’s eerily quiet. The whole city’s taking a siesta. Or in a coma…hard to tell which.
I’m scanning the roads looking for our taxi to the airport when the still silence of the scene is split by the sonorous resonant THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of a heavy helicopter.
Not just any “Oh, look, Mummy. Up in the sky”, helicopter.
This is a huge black US military transport helicopter and it’s FUCKING LANDING IN THE EMPTY LOT ACROSS THE STREET.
Remind me to be slightly nice to the collective agents next time we meet.
Once the sand, grime, and assorted desert dust settles down, I’m locking the villa as two Airmen are storing our luggage aboard the large black ominous-looking black transport black helicopter.
They escort Esme and me to the passenger compartment. They could see me being crestfallen when they refused to let me ride up front. I mean, I am a fully licensed helicopter pilot.
“Oh, insurance rules and stuff. Right”.
We don our new 3M™ Peltor™ Hummingbird™ Headsets and are asked, very nicely, to strap in as in mere moments, we will be taking off for the local airport.
I smile at Esme and beam: “I told ya’. Stick with me and you’ll go places.”
The way she smiled back at me sustained me throughout my trip above the 38th parallel. I resolved to do my damnedest to bring her back something very nice.
With a smooth, graceful leap due up, we’re airborne. The few neighbors that came out to see us off waved briefly and rapidly became as ants as we titled forward, opened the taps, and hauled ass to the local International airport.
No “International or Business” this time. We landed way the holy earthenware fuck over on the north side of the airport. That clandestine place where all the strange and secretive military aircraft were parked and surreptitiously maintained.
We flared in and, light as an anvil landed. We waited the proscribed few minutes while the airship spooled down and we were allowed egress.
Out of the chopper, across 150 meters of tarmac and into the waiting abdomen of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Our luggage was already being stowed in the belly the beast, and we were ushered into the cavernous interior of the plane.
This plane, as I was told, could carry up to 90 passengers, 72 troops, or 65 paratroops.
Today, it would carry Esme, me, and a skeleton crew to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
We’d be landing first at Abu Dhabi to get Esme sorted out, then wheels up for approximately 5 air-minutes, then back to feet dry at Dubai International Airport. There I would be unceremoniously tossed off the plane and left to my own devices.
The flight crew were fully briefed and truth be told, I’d met several of them in varying circumstances over the years. They knew I was mostly harmless, but somewhat of an eccentric VIP, hence the flight, and they gave me no end of shit about it.
For that, I really appreciated and liked these guys and gals.
I walked Esme to the local international airline's flight desk in Abu Dhabi, business, of course, and deposited her luggage.
“Guess this is it, hon. Have a great time in the States and don’t let the Covids bite. Be sure to give the girls my love.”
“When will you be back, so I can plan my return trip?” Es askes.
“No earthly idea. It could be a month, could be three. I’ll get word to your mother, you guys will be checking in with her all the time anyways. Let’s play it loose and have some fun with all this. Now, off to the Lounge with you; get a massage, and relax. You’ve got 8 hours to burn before you even load up.” I said.
We embrace, kiss smoochily, even though we could get put away for PDA (Public Display of Affection) which is still a misdemeanor here in the lovely, cosmopolitan Middle East; an electric courtesy cart arrives to take Es to the combined Emirates First and Business Class lounge.
“See you soonest”, I say as the cart whisks her away. She waves and tries to camouflage her wiping her eyes. She’s always emotional before I travel to strange places around the globe.
I saunter out the door and back across the tarmac to my transport ship. I’m getting this Captain Kirk vibe being the only one being transported on the flight, and decide to christen the Herkybird “The Enterprise”.
Now, do I go all Bill Shatner or Patrick Stewart?
I arrive at the loading platform and there are a couple of airmen lolling around smoking cigarettes. They’re well away from the aircraft and legal, although I thought the military would have kittens if they knew of this.
I have some 5 hours to kill before my flight to London. I wander over to chat with the airmen and fire up a cigar. Since we’re probably not going to be leaving for a few hours, I offer them tots from one of my emergency flasks.
But, with the Modelo Virus about, one airman begs off and returns moments later with some small, disposable paper Dixie cups.
Necessity, the mother of invention.
We chatted, swapped stories, and they were amazed that I was actually looking forward to going to Best Korea.
They basically informed me that was a post no one wanted. It was a place where one went to watch their military career die.
It was tedious, yet tense.
Important, yet mundane.
Above all, it was massively boring.
Nothing of any substance even happened there and one hoped for that to continue. Yet, some long stripers would relate that even a small thermonuclear exchange would be welcomed to break up the tedium.
I parted with a couple of cigars as we felt and heard the engines of the Hercules being rekindled back into life.
We all scurried onto the plane and after some preliminary warnings, we were wheels up and headed to Dubai International Airport.
And then we were taxiing to the VIP arrivals terminal some 8 minutes later.
Fuck, I hate these long flights. Sure, I could have cabbed it from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, but they were headed this way anyways, so…
Into the arrivals area with all my baggage and a very nice US female airman accompanying me to the British Airways desk. She was wheeling my gear. I felt like such a cad, but I rapidly got over it.
We were at check-in, she made certain I had my passport, visas, tourist and landing cards, and everything else necessary for the trip.
“Yes, thank you, Sr. Airman Mother”, I joked.
She actually blushed a bit. I could have been her grandfather.
Gad. I hated writing that sentence.
She made certain everything was A-OK and a go. We shook hands, and she departed back to the waiting Hercules and back to their local home here in the maddening Middle East.
The airport was dead. Really dead. In fact, I’ve never seen it deader. Call in the bulldozers. Turn this place into a parking lot…
Dubai International is usually a fucking madhouse. It has always been nuts - a shopping mall trying to be an airport. Today, one could have held RC plane flight races around every concourse.
No weird-ass disenfranchised form god-knows-where bums out bothering and panhandling you. No madding crowds trying to sweep you against your will to a far and distant, not to mention, unusable, terminal. Duty-Free shops. Some closed, but the cigar and booze kiosks are open.
Whew. That’s a relief.
I’m checked in flight-wise and the nice BA gate person has to ask me why I’m going where my baggage says I am.
“I’m an agent of the United States, on a super-secret mission to find oil and gas in the best Korea on the planet.”
Her look and raised eyebrow said “Oh, pooh.”, although she smiled and said “Ah. That’s nice.”
Hey. I was telling the truth…
Well, I had some time in an almost deserted airport with a load of pre-flight cash, a hungry look in my eye, and a cheeseburger in my pocket; but that latter story will have to wait for a later time.
My bags were ostensibly ticketed to Pyongyang, but also Beijing. I’d have to check and see if they got transferred to Air China once we arrived. No worries, we should have plenty of layover time in China.
So, off to a leisurely stroll through Duty-Free.
“Oh, this looks nice. Oh. And this. Hmmm…Wild Turkey 101 Rye. That’s a two’fer. Ah, here’s the Duty-Free humidor. Camachos? By the Great Horn Spoon! They have triple maduros. 4 boxes of these go in the cart.” I giggled like a giddy old aunt.
A few bundles of cheap-ass cigars to use as gifts and bribes. Oh, yes. They love to smoke cigarettes in Best Korea. I load up three cartons of Sobranie pastel-colored Cocktail cigarettes.
At least, this way I’d know in an instant who I’ve already graced with my munificence.
Thus sated, I pay for my prizes, and decide to wander off to the Business Class lounge. I have hours left and well, boredom was settling in.
Or, I could go, as I have for years, to the Irish Pub, have a pint of nitrogen-charged Guinness, a bowl of ‘authentic’ Irish Stew and a nice smoke afterwards. I think it’s one of the few places left on the planet where you can actually sit at a bar, have a drink, and smoke without everyone going all C. Everett Koop on your hapless ass.
Oh, sure. In Business class everything’s free. At the Irish Pub, I’d have to pay.
Fuck it. I made a beeline to the Irish Pub.
It’s damn near-deserted. So much so, in fact, I’m seated immediately.
This is odd. It’s never happened before. This place is usually SRO.
Of course, I order a nitrogen-charged pounder of Guinness, a bowl of Irish Stew, a side of their famous real onion rings and a couple of shots of genuine rye whiskey just because.
Sated to the gills, I was feeling fine as I watch the abbreviated sports review on the telly. I dug deep into my recent purchases and drag out a triple maduro Camacho cigar.
No, I’m not shilling for Camacho cigars, they’re just one of my favorite go-to brands. However, if there’s anyone out there that’s affiliated with Camacho cigars, or Wild Turkey Rye and Bourbon, I’d certainly listen to any ideas you might have for sponsorship of this little forum.
Anyways, I was talking with the Sri Lankan bartender, Tharushi. I was, of course, regaling him with one of my endless supply of rude and ribald jokes when I hear a voice say:
“Why don't you save that rapier-like wit for the cheeseheads back home, Rock?
“Tharushi, did I ever tell you of the frustrated petrophysicist Dr. Dax Aceron who’s legendary prowess with a fishing rod is such that he couldn’t catch a cold buck-naked, sitting in a freezer with his feet in a bucket of Moscow river water?”
“Dr. Dax? How the hell are you?” I spin to see my old petrophysical buddy from many long best-forgotten global campaigns.
“Dr. Rock. I am doing fine. Better than fine. I’m going to Best Korea and I know personally the team leader. How the hell are you, you old troublemaker?”
“Dax. What are you doing here? I thought we’d meet up in London.”
“Yeah, that was the plan”, he explained, “I let them think I was still in Calgary. I was actually over here in Dubai doing a little side work. Totally under the table. Completely off the books. You know, the usual. Now give me a cigar and buy me a drink. I do believe it’s your round.”
“So, Dax”, I say, “Flying BA to London in”, as I look at my watch, “three and a half hours?”
“Yeah.” He halfheartedly replies.
“Problem? “I ask.
“Yeah”, he snorts, “Going baggage class. Can’t afford Business. Work’s been kinda thin on the chin lately.”
“Pish and tiddle”, I reply, “Tharushi, please call the BA front desk for me, if you would”, as I slide a US$20 across the bar.
“Yes sir, Doctor Rock, sir!” he rapidly replies.
<RINGRINGRING> “BA front desk”.
“Yes, hello. This is Dr. Rocknocker. I’m sending over one Dr. Dax Aceron with my BA Rhodium Thunder Frequent Flyers card. Please upgrade him to Business on BA Flight 106 to London departing in some 3.5 hours. My security code is <mumblemumblemumble>. Got that? Great. Thank you.”
“Here Dax”, as I hand him my frequent flyer's card, “Go to the BA desk and get yourself upgraded. I’ll sit here and keep the bar from running away. Now, begone with thee.”
Dr. Dax is all smiles as he lights off for the BA desk.
Oh, I could have gone and handled it all, but there was this one crucial problem.
I didn’t want to.
I order another Guinness and light up my cigar anew. This already had the earmarks of an epic adventure.
After a beer or eight and associated shots, I pour Dr. Dax into the courtesy cart and we’re whisked off to our departure gate. Normally, this would take full portions of an hour, the crowds would be so thick. Today, we’re at the most distal of the departure gates and we made it there from the Irish Pub in less than 7 minutes.
The plane was mostly empty. The ground crew did a desultory check of our passport and visas and told us basically to ‘sit wherever you want’.
“We’re already business class.” I replied.
“I hope someone else was buying your tickets.” Was the response.
Dax and I got to our Business Class seats and get comfortable.
We looked around and First Class was full, Business Class had one or two open seats and coach? Well, pretty much empty except for those souls who wanted a whole row to themselves to rack out on the upcoming 7.5-hour journey.
I asked if could get my Dr. Dax Business Class upgrade miles back.
The flight attendant said that ‘she’ll see’. It was more of a rhetorical question, based on the absurdity of international flights these days of scary infectious diseases and global idiocy.
The plane was probably 1/5th full. If we played our cards right and Dr. Dax and I could have our own private airline cabin attendant.
With a minimum of fuss and puling, after the obligatory “Please. Just sit back, enjoy our flight and don’t do anything stupid” lectures, in English, Arabic, and Dutch for some reason, we pushed back, rolled out and were heading off to our take-off position.
It’s Zombie Apocalypse time out here; without the drooling creatures lusting for brains; which is odd, even for Dubai. The airport’s dead, few ground vehicles scurrying around, and very, very few planes doing much of anything. We rolled into takeoff position, sat for less than a full minute, and suddenly went 110% throttle.
“Adios, Dubai. See you on the flip side.” I said to no one in particular, saluting the city one digit at a time.
We were wheels up so fast, I didn’t even get the obligatory “Welcome aboard, Dr. Rock, here’s your complimentary pre-takeoff drink”.
I sought to alleviate that sordid situation straightaway.
We leveled out and were headed generally north-northwestward when I waylaid the unsuspecting cabin-crew worker.
“Hello. How are we today? Good. Good. Might I trouble you for a drink?” I asked, sweeter than 1.23 kilos of jaggery.
“You’ll get a drink when I’m good and ready to get you a drink”, she barked back like an Alligator Snapping turtle with tertiary clap and barbed-wire undies.
“Now, now. See here, Miss. There’s no reason for all this. All I’d like is...” I tried to continue.
“Yeah. We know. ‘Vodka. Ice. Sliced limes. Bitter Lemon’, right? We’ll you’ll get that when I get around to it. Not before.” She snarled back.
“Evidently my reputation does precede me,” I said, somewhat perplexed and a bit miffed. I never am nasty to those who serve my alcohol, so I was genuinely perplexed at this turn of affairs.
“Yeah”, I hear a familiar voice from the back of the plane, “Everyone in existence knows of the one and only Dr. Rocknocker.”
What the actual fuck?
I swivel around and standing there with a shit-eating grin some representational three kilometers wide is Toivo.
“Toivo? What the actual flying fuck? What the hell are you doing in Dubai?” I asked.
“Paying the cabin crew real money to give you a hard time.” He laughs, as the red-faced cabin attendant hands both me and Toivo a drink.
Toivo is sputtering along in delighted laughter.
Dr. Dax is out like a light, snuffling his way westward.
“That still doesn’t answer my question, Toiv: what the blinkered hell are you doing in Dubai?” asked again.
“Well, you know I own an oilfield service company. Most everyone is in a global lockdown, but I can afford to fly where I want when I want. Only ‘essential’ employees are at the office. What better time to drop by some oil companies Middle Eastern HQs, make an impression, and try to drum up some business? If nothing else, they’ll remember me when the need comes for oil field servicing.” He laughs.
“Well, I can’t argue with the logic, but I might with the execution. Why not move up here into Business and we’ll catch up?” I ask.
“Nah, Rock. I’m bushwhacked. I got a nice, little row of four seats all laid out as my own, private Idaho. I’ve got in-flight entertainment, a patented ‘Dr. Rocknocker’ never-emptying glass and a desire to count high-velocity aerial sheep. Give me a few hours kip and I’ll come back and we can catch up. Deal?” he asks.
“Sure. No problem. Just don’t ask what I’m up to because it’s super-secret, really dangerous, and ridiculously ‘Eyes-only’ confidential. Have a nice nap.” I smile and turn back to my drink.
Toivo slowly rises and head back to his nest, shaking his head over what I was on about this time.
“Fuck with my beverage service? OK. I fuck with your head”, I smile quietly to myself.
“Why, yes, I’d love another. Could you make it a double?” I ask the flight attendant, who has now recovered her previous bit of Toivo-induced embarrassment She was well on her way to redeeming herself mightily in the eyes of this grizzled world traveler.
I spent the flight time writing up my field notes. I devised a brand-new form of encryption that no one would be able to break; except for me, of course. I planted primers through the coded entries to remind me how simple this code was, but how unbreakable the code would be if the people trying to decode it weren’t, well, me. There were little asides and personal accounts linked to the decryption key that would be impossible, I fervently hoped, for anyone without certain key pieces of history, to unravel.
I’m going to a primitive and paranoid place, and I’m the one sweating the encryption of my hand written notes.
I built up a file system on my really cheap ass-looking Toshiba laptop that would prove to be impenetrable to anyone short of a batch of NSF Crays with nothing to do for the next geological epoch. It was an old, beat-up looking, field notebook computer, circa 1999.
However, looks can be deceiving.
I had it juiced with all the latest computer gizmos and gimcracks that brought its guts right up to 2020 or possibly beyond. It had 6 TB Samsung 860 PRO, 2.5" SSD, with all the attendant bells and whistles according high-juice operating systems today. It runs on Win 7 because I hate Win 10 but it also runs on Windows XP. I had my computer guru do whatever it’s called so I could run both systems simultaneously so I could show it doing XP things to a concerned TSA agent when it really was running Win 7 covertly in the background.
This thing could, in a pinch, process raw seismic data.
The logic? Well, I show customs and that crowd, and it’s an old, beat-up geologist’s field electronic notebook. In the hotel room, I can activate it’s alter ego and have access to all the goodies I need that frankly are equivalent or better than my workstation back home
Truth be told, it’s an old ploy that Rack and Ruin suggested. There are even some packages of ones and zeros that had originated from some shady place in the hills of the East Coat of the US swimming around the guts of the thing. This makes for the ideal situation to keep prying eyes where they belong and yet still allow me to have the access to all my latest geological, geophysical, and petrophysical software; as well as communication and snooping programs.
We secured permission to bring in one laptop or iPad per person on this trip; so I decided with the paucity of the internet in the place I was headed, I’d bring along my satellite lash up and the necessary computer to drive it. No one, unless they’re really tech-savvy, which I‘m not, would realize I have a fully functional satellite Internet machine in that old beat up Toshiba notebook facade and those couple of bags of adapters, wall warts, and patch cords.
That all done, I ordered another drink, pick a bit at the Full English Breakfast I thought sounded good until it arrived, and read some of the latest newspapers.
COVID-19! ALARM! RUN IN CIRCLES! SCREAM AND SHOUT!
Toivo finally arrives back from his little trip to the land of Nod and sits down in the unoccupied seat next to mine. We have some time and need every minute to catch up. I must say, thus far, it was the most agreeable part of the trip. It was good to see an old face from back home.
Toivo’s staying in London for a few days, trying to drum up some North Sea business, then he’s back to Houston via Mexico City and overland to Matamoros. The things as citizens that we’re forced to do under the guise of security.
We’re readying for landing when Dr. Dax finally wakes up. He just has time for his morning ablutions before we land in sunny ol’ England.
I had printed out the list of attendees and first thing, after we deplaned, went through all the passport and customs folderol, got to the hotel, checked in and had a couple of drinks. Then I’d requisition a conference room in the hotel for all of us to meet before our flight out to China the next day.
That’s why I get the big money. I can plan logistically like a motherfucker.
Dax and I get through all the entrance formalities and I arrange for our baggage to be sent to the hotel, which is connected to the airport Terminal 4. It was a near thing, though, as we were some of the last guests who were allowed to stay at the hotel before it closed due to the whole Bad Mexican Beer virus absurdity.
However, our rooms wouldn’t be available for a couple of hours, but they’d keep our bags for us until we decide to show up. So, with time in an airport to kill, where else do we go?
Off to the nearest bar.
It was a long walk to our hotel, and since we didn’t care to walk after being locked in an aluminum tube for the last 8+ hours, we found the first pub right after we sorted out our bags with BA. It overlooked the international arrivals area, and had a ringside seat to the comings, but not goings, of international adventurers.
So we were sitting in the Pogo Lounge of the London International Airport...in the patio section, of course, drinking Singapore Slings with mescal on the side.
Dax and I ordered several drinks as I wanted something different for a change. We sat back, got comfortable, and wanted to fire up cigars, but here in the Northern Hemisphere of late, that would probably be an executable offense.
“Y’know, Dax”, I said between sips of a really fine cocktail, “We’ll probably be seeing all our compatriots walk right on by us here. We should let them know that we’re here.”
As another aside, all the team members of this little excursion spoke English. I didn’t mention that until right now because I didn’t think it important, but I suppose it is. With the translations to the native language, to and fro, of where we’re going; additional languages would have just fuckered our timetable, which was long enough as it stood.
Dax agreed, procured some crayons, literally, and a paper placemat and ginned up a fairly credible International Union of Petroleum Geological Sciences (IUPGS) logo and our names for all to see.
So much for anonymity, inconspicuousness, and clandestineness.
Ha! With this bunch? Hardly…
Dax and I ordered another round which arrived expediently, as we pretty much had the lounge to ourselves.
It was weird hanging around a place that I’ve never before seen without bustling, hustling, thronging mobs of people. There were a few fellow travelers, but it was like after a great conflagration, a reverse decimation, where instead of only 10% of the population being laid waste, it was 90% and we were part of the lucky 10% of survivors.
“Yes, thank you. ”, I said to the smiling barkeep. I didn’t know you could double a Singapore Sling. The more you know…
Dax and I sat there enjoying our libations. Well, I was. Dax was having the damnedest of times keeping up; not that I asked him to or challenged him in any way. I was itchily lusting for a good smoke; those Dubai Camachos were taunting me just a foot or two away in my field pack.
To be continued…
Battlefield 1 - Review Thread
Game InformationGame Title: Battlefield 1
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Trailer: Reveal Trailer
GamesCom Gameplay Trailer
Developers: EA DICE
Publishers: Electronic Arts
Release Dates: Early Enlister Deluxe Edition - October 18th, 2016
Standard Edition - October 21st, 2016
Review Aggregator: OpenCritic - 87 [Cross-Platform]
MetaCritic - 88 [XB1]
MetaCritic - 88 [PS4]
MetaCritic - 88 [PC]
ReviewsAusGamers - Joaby - 9.4 / 10 (PC)
The things I've complained about with Battlefield One--collision detection, Suez as a map, people who play Scout, matchmaking--these are all ignorable issues. And the fact of the matter is that DICE has created one of the flat-out best multiplayer games in years. And with 60hz servers from the get-go and no noticeable issues with hit detection, it has clearly learned from Battlefield 4's launch. The campaign is worth checking out, Operations delivers clear forward thinking for Battlefield as a series in a way I think Rush never really did, and the maps are absolutely spectacular. Battlefield One is utterly brilliant.
Battlefield 1 does a service to the series’ core fanbase with a unique, yet strangely familiar take on World War I.
No one makes more beautiful shooters than DICE, but their gameplay still leaves something to be desired, despite what appeared to be a total refresh with the WWI setting. Fans of the series may look past these faults or even embrace them, but some of them are hard to get past, and can define the entire experience.
Battlefield 1 isn’t just a great addition to the series, it arrives as a thunderous explosion that will impact the military shooter space for many years to come. A memorable single player campaign in an FPS is a rarity, and it delivers that without compromise. Operations is an instant classic for multiplayer lovers, while the other modes will keep you invested, supported by fantastic gameplay. Visually breathtaking and fun to play, DICE has delivered an instant classic that has raised the bar.
EA’s shooter franchise goes back in time to the end of the imperial age with spectacular results in both its single and multiplayer experiences.
Battlefield's tried and tested multiplayer feels wonderfully at home in the WW1 setting, and the solo campaign tells interesting - if historically lightweight - stories.
Like a bayonet charge to the face, Battlefield 1 packs a serious punch, and it looks damn good while doing it. With a revamped, emotionally charged campaign, the single-player experience is, without a doubt, the franchise’s best. The multiplayer combines solid classics and unbeatable mechanics with new modes that fit the WWI setting brilliantly. Could this be the Battlefield to end all Battlefields? It just might.
Putting to rest any qualms about the World War I setting, Battlefield 1 is a true Battlefield game with everything you’ve come expect from the franchise.
The First Word War setting feels a little less daring than you might’ve hoped, but as a complete first person shooter package this is one of the best of the generation so far.
While the campaign’s experimental short stories may just be the most interesting thing about Battlefield 1, this is not a niche experience to accurately portray the history its borrowing. This is a Battlefield game, and that means World War One in the Battlefield style, with all the compromises therein.
Small issues aside, Battlefield 1 marks an impressive, risk-taking reinvention for the series. That the multiplayer is as good and distinctive as it is is less surprising than a campaign that takes a difficult setting and navigates it with skill and invention. The end result is a shooter than succeeded far beyond my expectations, and one that exists as the best, most complete Battlefield package since 2010.
Usually I would not recommend a Battlefield game on the strength of its single-player, but Battlefield 1’s War Stories have toppled this tradition like a well-placed mortar to a windmill.
On the whole, though, Battlefield 1 is a fantastic game. If you want a shooter that replicates the epic scale of two armies at war, or one that prioritises tactical thought over twitchy trigger fingers, this is the FPS for you.
Operations mode is the standout addition to the multiplayer, bringing together the behemoths, the destruction, the hellish screams of people charging into the fight. I do wish that the single player had been able to push on and draw more from that excellent opening, but stepping back to the First World War helps to give Battlefield 1 a refreshing and invigorating veneer to the game, and it’s lost none of the series’ explosive gameplay in the process.
Ultimately, Battlefield 1 goes back to move forward and it’s a delight to experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a video game that dares to throw you into the horrors of a Great War and yet Battlefield 1 feels modern, something one might assume to be oxymoronic considering the setting of 1914-1918. Whilst other FPS games this year and in previous years have switched to jet-packing and wall-running, Battlefield 1 feels like its reinvigorated a genre that I had grown tired of in recent years. By making this risky decision, DICE and EA actually have proven you don’t need to go futuristic in-order to reinvigorate a genre. In fact, DOOM as well as Battlefield 1 this year prove to me that sometimes reverting back to the basics can be one of the most refreshing experiences possible.
In general, I think there's a lot to like about Battlefield 1. It retains the best parts of the series—the vehicles, the scope, the weightiness of the action—while shaking things up just enough to be interesting. Whenever I start to grouse about it being too modern, I see a horse gallop past or a biplane fly overhead and I smile. This is Battlefield as it should be: a chance to dive into a series of historical battles and have fun.
DICE should be praised for taking the risky move and turning back the clock with Battlefield 1, both in terms of the era and the direction for the franchise. Very often these moves can cripple a series, but thankfully for us – and DICE – it’s a move that has revitalised the franchise.
Battlefield 1 is the definitive Battlefield game not only of this generation, but this decade. By focusing on moments and emotional realism, rather than a continuous campaign, it’s crafted the best single-player experience of any Battlefield game, and backs it up with stellar multiplayer. Operations is the best addition in years, and the returning favourites suit the World War I theme to a tee.
I’m glad to say that it’s a refreshing take on a single player campaign and its refined and robust multiplayer mode has thoroughly impressed me. Simply put, Battlefield 1 is the best Battlefield game yet, and I can’t wait to see what direction DICE and EA take the series from here.
A stupefyingly gorgeous first-person shooter.
Warfare has never looked so good. Battlefield 1 is brutally beautiful, even if you're just admiring the emotional power of a shelled-to-shit landscape that was once a picturesque village.
DICE has done something impressive with the War Stories, even if they are a little cheapened by the repetitive death of the multiplayer.
We love the new Operations and War Pigeons multiplayer modes too, as they add some much needed variety to our usual rotation of Rush and Conquest.
It's easily the best Battlefield we've had in years.
Battlefield 1 is a fine take on the formula.
By bringing the series to World War I, DICE has created a tighter, more intense take on the Battlefield formula.
All things considered, Battlefield 1 is a refreshing, gorgeous shooter that breaks up the monotony of futuristic action games with solid mechanics and a setting that has never gotten the attention it deserves.
A shift to shorter, more intimate stories alongside the impressive visual and audio presentation make Battlefield 1 one of the more enjoyable single player shooters from DICE in quite some time. While multiplayer is far less ambitious than we've seen in years prior, it still scratches that itch for Battlefield fans who crave the chaos and cooperation that only this series can deliver.
Battlefield 1 shows progress for the franchise in single-player storytelling, evolving from an experience that should probably be skipped over in favor of multiplayer, into something that everyone should play through at least once. Though there’s only a short amount of time spent with each set of characters, they carry the story well. What truly sells it for me, however, are the epic moments contained within every chapter. Of course, multiplayer is the real home of these epic moments, with “Only in Battlefield” experiences making Battlefield 1‘s player versus player modes unique and fun to play. Though the “1” in its name may officially stand for the Great War, it could also represent the rebirth of a franchise that took a bit of a beating with Battlefield 4, went down an awkward path with Hardline, before finally rising as the Battlefield title that simply all shooter fans must buy.
Battlefield 1 manages to break up the monotony of current first person shooter trends by offering a fresh setting. Despite some issues, it offers one of the better Battlefield campaigns and a robust multiplayer component that will keep you hooked up for quite a while.
I feel crazy saying this, but I actually want more of these stories. I hope that the Battlefield 1 season pass doesn't just include multiplayer content, but instead has more glimpses into the various lives of combatants throughout World War I. If EA DICE can maintain this quality, I'd like to see more of this documentary-style approach to storytelling.
Battlefield 1's solemn campaign and over-the-top multiplayer may feel like polar opposites, but the complete package is all-around excellent.
If you’re looking to buy only one multiplayer FPS this year Battlefield 1 is more than worthy of cash – I honestly can’t envisage anything being better.
Special super-powered boats and airships also appear in Conquest mode, but only when one side dominates the other. As a result, they're not as impactful. In practice, they feel like a Mario Kart blue shell thrown at a racer who's already on track to winning a race handily. Conquest is a purely symmetrical battle, where both sides have equal shots at claiming and maintaining turf control. In the beta, super-powered craft turned the tide too severely and too often in Conquest; now, it's just a light perk to help way-behind teams have a little more hope in at least racking up XP or knocking out badge-related goals.
A few minor shortcomings aside, Battlefield 1 is just the type of reinvigoration that the franchise needed.
Battlefield 1 is a bold reinvention of the Battlefield series, proving not only that DICE aren't afraid to move in brave new directions, but also that they have a genuine understanding of what makes a Battlefield game really tick. Series veterans will feel immediately at home in the multiplayer, while those scared by the online battlefields will find the campaign, while short, provides a great diversion and a good way to ease yourself into the chaotic world of Battlefield.
It is safely good. Even with the addition of Operations mode and the behemoths and the return to a more instinctively dramatic setting, it still feels like Battlefield.
Battlefield remixes the formula for its move to WWI, resulting in a patchy but playable campaign and outstanding multiplayer.
EA DICE came through in the clutch and provided an engaging title that’s both entertaining and challenging. Battlefield 1 is certainly worth your investment and should carry you well past fall and into the winter.
The player has full control of each character, but not their fate, and so the senselessness of war always sticks out.
By returning to the past, Battlefield 1 feels renewed. The best game in the series since Bad Company 2.
The World War I setting is a refreshing change of pace to the space shooters currently dominating the landscape