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Archive for July, 2010

Starcraft II Single-Player Review

I have been waiting for Starcraft II since finishing Brood War.  I wasn’t waiting to get back online and get my rear handed to my by a bunch of Korean kids however.  My eagerness was in continuing the fantastic story set up in the original games.

Blizzard always has a way at weaving tales and character development.  It’s actually impressive that in a game where the characters are just a few troops in an army, they can stand out so well.  They all have depth and they progress and develop as the story goes on.  Added onto that is the fact that Blizzard has one of the best CG teams in the business which helps flesh everything out that much more.

Let’s look at how they did this time around in regards to the story.  This is going to be the first in a trilogy of games which follows the RTS story pattern they have done before.  First you play one army, that leads to the next which picks up the story, and so on.  Unfortunately they couldn’t manage to complete it all fast enough so they just decided to split it into three games.  I can see a problem arise with the fact that the majority of people bought the game for the multiplayer so they will have to work hard on additions in order to entice the multiplayer fans to pick up the successive installments.

Wings of Liberty revolves around the Terran portion of the plot.  We pick up with Jim Raynor where he is attempting to re-ignite his rebellion against the Dominion and the traitorous leader Mensk.  Eventually Jim meets up with some old friends to go after the empire and tango with some Zerg along the way.  You’ll pick up some friends and they will each give you their own little storyline of missions.  Each mission rewards a new unit, and some research data on the Protoss or Zerg that can be used to purchase benefits or extra units for the Terran forces.  This is a very interesting way to let the player feel more progress and specialization as the game goes on.  Each level of research gives you two options and picking one foregoes the other so you can truly customize your army to you playstyle.  The side stories are interesting, but really don’t bring much to the main story which doesn’t develop till much later in the game.  Once you pick up a series of missions where you control the Protoss, the plot of the game really gets revealed.  The sad part is there are only a few missions left after this, so this installment in the trilogy only real serves to set up the rest of the series.

Possibly one of the best additions to fleshing out the story and characters is the in-between segments when you’re selecting your next mission.  You can cycle through a series of rooms including the laboratory, armory, bridge, and cantina.  Here you can talk to people you have picked up along the way.  This gives freedom for even more character development for those who desire.  There’s also a lot of just “fun” elements.  Examples being the 2D shooter arcade game you can play, trophies on the wall, the Terran Marine iGun iPod parody commercial, and covers of classic songs.

As for the gameplay, it’s more of Starcraft with some slight variations.  They didn’t really mess with the formula too much which others have stated is due to the fact that the fanbase is too set in their ways to accept a lot of change.  So if you like RTS games and harken to the classic ones before heroes, rpg elements, and other ideas, you will be in for a fun ride.  Visually the game is stunning and all the minute details of the maps and world are so elaborate that people will be noticing things for a long time coming.

There’s a lot more to say about the game, but I really wanted to focus on the single player experience.  More to come as I venture into the map mod and multiplayer waters.

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Categories: Gaming, PC Tags: , ,

DCU Online!

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

This makes me want to play DCUO and I’m not that much of a DC fan at all!

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour Review

The finale to the Scott Pilgrim series has finally arrived just in time to pre-empt the movie.  The final chapter of the book revolves around Scott having to come to grips with Ramona’s disappearance and him sulking and hiding in video games instead of confronting Gideon who has arrived in town.  This reflects the overall premise of the series and the idea of growing up in general.  We watch Scott grasping at straws as he attempts to cling desperately to the life in his past rather than move on with his life.  It’s incredibly awkward and uncomfortable and it works so well.  Becoming an adult is never a smooth process and the allegory here carries that in splendidly.

I was hoping that Gideon would be a bit more evil when we finally get to him.  While he does express himself as a total jerk, he still fall flat a little I feel.  I think part of this might be due to the fact that O’Malley may have rushed this through to be out in time for the movie.  The final battle has all the flair of those that came before it and you feel it climaxed pretty well.

The only real issue I had is that the side characters’ plots didn’t finalize as well.  It felt like they were there, and then just took a backseat to the rest of the action that was going on.  I suppose I shouldn’t be bothered as they were just side characters, but I blame that on O’Malley’s excellent ability to give every character a sense of personality and life.  I also worry because the way Scott goes about the women in his life it makes it feel like they were all just stepping stones and I’m not really sure how I feel about that.

Overall the ending felt right, but a bit rushed.  I foresaw a number of ways this could end, and though the way it ended was further down on my “most likely” list, I enjoyed it none the less.  If anything, the final book has made me even more excited to see the different ending that the movie will have.  I’m also greatly looking forward to the next series by Mr. O’Malley.

Zombies on TV?

July 17, 2010 5 comments

Since ol’ Master Zombie scooped me on the Green Lantern pics, I have decided to scoop him on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Bonus points if you can name who's dead in the comics!

Owned.

Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern Revealed

I have to say I’m not really a fan yet.  I knew I wouldn’t be the second I heard that the costume would be applied with CG for the entire movie.  It seems like they tried to make it look like muscle fibers that are laced with green light.  I’ve never really enjoyed bio-suits that weren’t full armor so I’m really not sure if this is more of a taste reason or if the outfit just looks weird.  I also don’t understand why it was too hard to make him look good in spandex and much easier to spend a fortune on plastering a costume on him with computers for the whole movie.

Nikola Tesla’s Birthday

Today marks the celebration of Nikola Tesla’s birth.  Let’s take a moment and look back on all the wonderful things he’s developed and conceived of.

-AC Current and the electrical engine foundations that paved the way for how we use power today.

-Remote controls

-Radar concepts

-Work in developing the foundation for the Radio

-Foundation ideas of Computer Science based on original robotics and concepts of Logic Gates

-The Tesla Coil, which continues to entertain high school science classes all the world round.

-Polyphase Systems

-Ideas and building blocks for Wireless energy transfers which now are used in induction battery chargers.  Though Tesla’s concepts would allow for distances of miles rather than inches.

-Death rays and other world dooming devices

Head on over to Wikipedia to learn more.

In honor of Tesla I present John C. Reilly playing the titular roll in an astounding rendition of Drunk History.

Categories: Science Tags: , ,

World of Warcraft – Real ID Anonymity Attack

One of these things is not like the other, One of these girls' a dude.

Currently there has been a big ruckus for World of Warcraft fans. Recently Blizzard implemented the Real ID system, which allows you to maintain contact with friends across all blizzard games and character accounts. This system reveals your real full name to those you add as Real ID friends.  Blizzard did this as a stepping stone to create a social network among their games.   Then they prepared to launch a new system by tying the Real IDs to the WoW forums.  The result of this would find people being forced to use their real full names on the forum with every post. Upon hearing this, a storm of rage spread across the Internet. There are a number of issues that have come up in regards to this, and they all are tied to anonymity and the Internet in general.

The first key issue is the fact that people on the internet prefer to be anonymous.  This is part of what draws them to the computer in the first place.  The ability to freely express oneself without repercussion beyond being flamed on a forum is a privilege that we embrace whole heartedly.  This pleasure would be taken away by requiring people to take full responsibility for what they say online.  This is seen as both good and bad.  One can see it as good in the way that people may be required to think before posting something online.  Perhaps this might dwindle the number of trolls and overall negativity.  One may ask though, how does this force responsibility?  Well here’s where the bad comes and here is where we find the big problem with this change.

We now live in an era where privacy is non-existent online.  I can assure you that anything you believe to be private that exists online only remains so because someone doesn’t care enough to find out what it is.  This is a time of social networking and, thanks to Facebook, this often leads to our personal information being laid out upon the web for anyone to access.  We see the problem arise by the fact that Facebook processes everything by your actual first and last name as the key method of finding people.  Now let’s say you’re on the WoW forums using your real name.  It’s a simple bit of logic to find the people with that name on Facebook.  Then you can narrow down the regions of the search by examining their characters and determining which servers they are on and thereby their timezone.  Then you can take the time to look at those individuals and search for hobbies that probably include WoW or even easier is if they use the Facebook app that updates with achievements their WoW characters get.  Now if they are too open you can easily find out their address, phone number, friends, and family.  It’s fairly scary when you consider some of the people you come across on the Internet.

Perhaps a greater issue is that of kids who play WoW.  Will their information be revealed on the forums as well?  I don’t recall if the WoW forums have an age requirement to post, but I imagine most accounts are filled out by parents anyway.  Kids are allowed Facebook accounts and many are a little too open about their personal information because they simply don’t know any better.  This could lead to sever problems on Blizzard’s part legally should anything happen as a result of someone tracking down kids information.

Another matter that arises is simply the fact that people do disguise themselves on the internet because it makes them more comfortable.  Men pretend to be women because they may be going through life changing issues or simply trying to manipulate other men into getting them free stuff.  Imagine the shocker when you find out the night elf you’ve been flirting with is a forty year old man.  Women also pretend to be men because they don’t want to deal with the massive attention and different treatment they get when someone finds out “zomg a gurl plays WoW.”  I, for one, play all of my MMO characters with different personalities.  My tank characters are older, wiser, and are concerned with making sure everyone’s ok.  I have dark magic characters who are generally jerks.  I have other characters that simply like to tell really stupid jokes and have a laugh all the time.  This doesn’t really effect me being concerned about people knowing they are all the same person, but I myself am bothered a bit by the idea of my real name being forced out there without my choosing.

Blizzard has since come out and stated that they are backtracking on their decision to force real name publication with forum posts.  There was an addendum of “at this time” at the end of their decision to not implement though so who knows if we’ll see it again.  I imagine it’ll all end up in the End User License Agreement that everyone signs along with the parts that allow Blizzard to examine all the data on your computer and prevent you from knowing what they’re looking at, but that’s an issue for another day.

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