DOOM WAD Retrospective – The Portal

December 29, 2012

No, it has nothing to do with the 2007 game, probably because it predates it by ten years.

The Portal is a Wolfendoom WAD, ie a Wolfenstein themed mod for Doom (2). The author, Laz Rojas, made an entire series of these. I’ve played quite a few of them, and although I thought they were really awesome when I first played them, looking back, not so much. These WADs were made in the late nineties and the early 2000s. Most of them require a BOOM-compatible port (Legacy is recommended by the author- GZDoom remains my recommendation). Everything is done with DeHackEd patches and the gameplay remains largely the same- use switches and keys to advance, shooting everything in your way. No DECORATE or ACS here.

Premise-wise, Portal is a prequel to the Astrostein series (reviews coming soon). It’s set in the Wolfenstein universe, and you play as B.J. Blazkowicz (sp?). Not Chell. The Nazis have found a Stargate time portal under the sands of Egypt. You’re sent in to destroy it before they can accidentally the timeline. This is all explained in the readme, of course- as far as I know storytelling in DOOM mods was nonexistent at the time. Remember, no scripting. Read the rest of this entry »

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Men In Black 3 Movie Review

July 3, 2012

I also watched a good movie recently. Since I tend to accentuate the flaws rather than point out what I liked, this review will likely be far shorter.

Men In Black 3 consists of a time-travel plot where an alien K imprisoned in 1969 escapes and goes back to finish the job. Like usual, the entire Earth is at stake and only the Men In Black can stop them. Although, it might be more properly called the People In Black, because there are now women in the organization. Initially I thought this was a recent change, but it’s probably a retcon since there are some even in 1969, though not as agents. Only one plays anything even close to a major role, however. All the others are just background characters.

So Jay goes back in time to help a younger K. Yes, I am inconsistent with my abbreviations. The younger version is a lot different from the newer one- still with the same recognizable traits, but a lot more talkative and open. It’s very well done, actually. Something happened that caused him to become bitter, something which ties into the plot and characters nicely but something I will not spoil. There’s a really interesting support character that can see possible futures (it’s better when you see him) and plenty of laughs, some playing off the technology and culture of the era. It’s hard to describe, but the best way to describe it is very well done.

It’s not perfect, of course, and I was left with a few questions. It also missed a very appropriate opportunity for a Portal reference. So I give it an almost perfect

9/10

Brave Movie Review

June 30, 2012

Yeah, I know it’s been a few months and the Mass Effect 3 feature is nowhere to be seen. I’ve been rather busy IRL and I decided to hold out for the Extended Cut DLC. I’ve also decided to play through the entire series, hopefully gaining some perspective on it. With that aside, I just watched the movie Brave, and I’m going to share my impressions in what might become a recurring feature but probably won’t. Beware, there may be spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mass Effect 3 Feature Coming Soon

April 14, 2012

I know it’s been over a month, but I’ve been busy with some other things. Well, one of them was playing the game. Over the course of this month, I plan to do a series of posts on Mass Effect 3 – a detailed breakdown and review. I’ve been a fan of the series for, well, years now, and have been waiting eagerly for the conclusion since I finished ME2. My overall impressions are mixed, with some things impressing me and some… not so much. I’ll go into that in detail, but for now I’ll leave it at this: I don’t like the new FemShep and the ending is absolutely terrible.

Modern Warfare 3 – First Impressions

November 10, 2011

So, I preordered MW3 on Steam a while back. There’s an interesting story to that, which I may or may not get into later. To put it simply, I was going to go for the other big shooter, but didn’t want spyware on my PC and didn’t want to give money to a company that is so evil. So I bought MW3, and have been playing it since it came out. I’ve played through the entire campaign, but my online experience is limited to a single match, so keep that in mind. A surprising proportion of players simply buy the game for the multiplayer, which is very disappointing. In my opinion, the singleplayer campaign is the best part of the game.

I won’t spoil the plot, but I must say that it starts off feeling more like MW 2.5 than MW3. The game begins right on the heels of the second one, not several years later like the first one. As the plot progresses, it starts to separate a bit and feel more like a true sequel. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that they screwed up the ending of MW2 and had to tidy up the loose ends before moving on. Anyway, the campaign feels pretty good overall, and although it’s heavily scripted and extremely linear, that’s what makes it great. It feels like an interactive movie, almost, a cinematic ride through the theatres of war. It does that even better than the first two games, but seems a bit lacking and repetitive at times. We’ve done the AC-130 how many times now? I think it’s a good thing they’re ending here, because after the stuff they pulled in the second title, it’s kind of hard to top that.

And here’s the bad news- Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t really do it. There are some pretty epic moments, and the conclusion is amazing, but it just doesn’t do the shock and awe thing as well as the first two games. There’s lots of explosions, sure, but they don’t have any impact. However, in terms of Action Movie Quiet Drama Scene, MW3 has quite a few, and they are well done. I know I’m going to piss off a lot of people by saying this, but if you’re looking for video games as art, start with the Modern Warfare series. The visuals are stunning, not necessarily because of the quality but because of what they are. I’m a PC guy and can’t say for the console guys, but MW3 looks great. Yes, there are probably better looking games, but it’s well presented. The sound design is equally excellent, and really rounds out the game. This was Medal of Honor’s failing, if anyone remembers that.

Remember how I said that this feels like MW2.5? That is reflected most in the menus, which are nearly identical. Control configuration is much the same, and the graphics options seem to lock certain settings for some reason, forcing me to override from the nVidia control panel. The game closes and starts a different executable when you switch to multiplayer, which is very glaring especially for Steam users. The campaign completion meter is totally useless- it doesn’t measure how close you are to the end of the campaign but how many achievements you got, or how many intelligence briefcases, or something. I thought I was less than halfway through, when I was really almost done. Multiplayer-wise, at least the dedicated servers are back but as I said I didn’t really try it much.

At the risk of sounding like a Straw Feminist, I’m going to bitch about one last thing before I’m done. WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE WOMEN?! There was a pilot that you don’t see, some civilians that you barely notice, and a hostage. I am not joking. I could understand the first game, which was all about special forces, but still wish it didn’t have the sexist subliminal messaging. The second game was a serious mind screw. Yes, I know they are not allowed in American combat units. Are the lines really going to be that clear cut when your country is being invaded? The Russians are here, all men to the front lines! What the hell are you doing, I said all MEN! Go back and cower in the bunker. The situation is similar (though not exactly the same) in Modern Warfare 3.

Although the story arcs are definitely concluded, there are still loose ends after Modern Warfare 3. What’s going to happen in Russia? How is the Western world going to recover? What’s the story on Israel and the Middle East? What about Asia? There’s room for more here, but I don’t think Infinity Ward should do it. It would only be more of the same, and the horse is pretty tired now. Do Future Warfare. Embrace the near-future sci-fi shooter, and take the same cinematic approach. Walkers, powered armour, space combat, that sort of thing, but big and epic like the other Call of Duty games. We’ve had two Captain Prices, let’s have a third for some continuity. Make her a her this time.

Last but not least, did anyone notice that the Occupy Wall Street?

 

Save Default Female Shepard

August 8, 2011

Seriously, BioWare, what the fuck? First Ash’s new “armor”, and now this.

BioWare wants you to vote for your favourite new FemShep, out of six candidates. This will be the new default female for ME3 and appear on the alternate cover of the collector’s edition. While I love that Sheploo’s Distaff Counterpart is getting some attention, and that they are asking fans for input, I don’t agree with that at all.

First of all, all six concepts suck. Open them up in another tab and follow along. The first three have either really short hair or a bun, I can’t tell from the angle. They’re kind of ugly, but don’t look badass. Number three isn’t as extreme as the other two, and isn’t too bad. Still, they look kind of pale and look like they are wearing makeup. Number four looks like a pop star or maybe a prostitute, not a galaxy saving heroine. The first three at least look the part… mostly. I like the face of number five, but the hair is way too messy and long. I actually wouldn’t mind her face as a reimagining of the original FemShep, as long as the long blonde hair goes. Seriously, will that even fit in a helmet? As for the last one, just no. I don’t know if it’s the black hair, the hairstyle or the dark skin, but I don’t like her look at all.

That’s not the biggest problem, though. The biggest problem is that we already have an official, default, female Shepard. Why not just pretty her up a little and use her? To some of us (well, me, anyway), the green-eyed, redheaded woman is just as iconic as the default male model. Changing that is akin to putting a different guy on the cover of Mass Effect 3, or giving Chief blue armour for Halo 4, or making a version of Minecraft with realistic terrain. Maybe not the latter, but it’s still ridiculous. We have a default Shepard already, why change her?

Mass Effect 3 – My Wishlist

July 5, 2011

So, the epic conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy is coming. I’ve been a big fan of the series since I first played ME1. It was a bit tedious at times, and the combat could have been better, but I enjoyed the epicness and storyline. By that time, ME2 was already out, and I bought it and played it too. I found it darker, more focused, and less epic, but having improved gameplay overall. I’m hoping ME3 will be the happy medium between the RPG-heavy, epic ME1 and the shooter-heavy, focused ME2. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Post- SGU Cancelled

January 2, 2011

I’ve been too busy to post about it sooner, but I am so happy that SGU has been cancelled.

For those that don’t know it already, I hate Stargate Universe (SGU). I’m a huge fan of the prior two Stargate shows, but SGU just left me disgusted. I forced myself to watch it hoping it would get better and eventually gave up. Later I tried again, then gave up again. I made my opinion absolutely clear- SGU sucks. Read the rest of this entry »

PunkBuster Sucks

December 3, 2010

Everyone who plays PC games online knows what PunkBuster is. Evenbalance’s anti-cheat software is used in virtually every online game. Why? I have no fucking idea.To put it simply, PunkBuster sucks.

Supposedly it updates automatically, but I’ve had to update both CoD4 and BFBC2 manually. If you don’t have it up to date, you get kicked with a cryptic message. Why doesn’t it update automatically? Is this deliberate or just bad coding?

Apparently the method PunkBuster uses to identify cheaters is dubious at best. One group injected a stream of characters made to look like a common hack into an IRC stream while playing. The result? A ban. PunkBuster also has the (in my opinion scary) ability to PERMANENTLY ban cheaters from ALL PunkBuster enabled servers.

All this would be forgivable if PunkBuster did a good job of stopping cheaters. But it doesn’t. PunkBuster is woefully ineffective. I’ve played against so many aimbots and wallhackers it’s not even funny. And I’m not the only one experiencing this. There is no replacement for a good server admin.

PunkBuster is terrible software. And the guys at Evenbalance seem to be flaunting it like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Why are game companies incorporating this shit? Are they simply too lazy or cheap to implement their own, proper anti-cheat software?

Codecs, Media Players, and Web Browsers

October 24, 2010

During the last couple of days I’ve been screwing with my media players more than usual.

A while back I installed K-lite Codec Pack. It’s a pack consisting of DirectShow filters, splitters, and a whole bunch of other stuff I had never heard of before. Any DirectShow player- WMP included- can take advantage of it and play anything. So, in a nutshell, I no longer needed QuickTime and I can play things in formats I didn’t even know about. Unfortunately, I had to keep QuickTime around since Premiere Elements relies on it for MPEG 4 support. I never use it, though.

So, just recently, I decided to try Media Player Classic. I liked the amount of control it gives you. You can select codecs, change rendering settings, and apply shaders. I found that changing settings doesn’t really do a lot, at least not the ones I changed. The interface was okay, not great but usable, it was a bit slower to load. It doesn’t have any media library functionality. Though I rarely use that stuff, I at least want to have playlists handy. Which is something MPC can’t do. Basically, the only thing I gained over WMP is .vob support (you can get .vob to work in WMP by changing it to .mpg, by the way), so I ditched it after less than a day. It was interesting, but I missed the familiar interface and playlists.

On to web browsers. I’ve been getting screwed by IE for a while now. It messes up the order of pages- what I mean by that is sometimes if you go back a page, forward a page, it screws up the order they are in so you go back two and they are swapped. A minor problem, but really annoying. And of course, it doesn’t display certain pages correctly. And crashes sometimes for no apparent reason. So I decided to make the switch to Firefox.

Overall, Firefox is a better browser. The interface is pretty much the same, though a few things are in different spots. It’s faster. It has a lot of addons, some of which I use. At first it refused to import. Oddly enough, if I import things one at a time (favorites, cookies, internet options, history) it worked fine. Dealing with imported bookmarks was a nightmare. The bookmark manager felt awkward and is slow as hell. I got over the awkwardness but it never sped up. I actually had to reimport my bookmarks/favorites once because I deleted half of them. But I got it all sorted out eventually. I was annoyed by the lack of clicking sounds when browsing- an addon fixed that. The download system is a bit odd, but I’m getting used to it. I’ll probably make the switch if I can get over the little quirks.