Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mannowdog chronicles

Sunday on eve of Labor Day weekend. I am back from jogging and playing my level 44 lock, Mannow dog. I tried to get Tim (a.k.a. Rickilake) back on to run some quests. But alas no such luck. I'm now running around the badlands like a little tinker gnome mining mithril for materials.

"World of Warcaft" is full of little tasks.

Late update:

I managed to best a Dragon Kin elite but was unsuccessful against six of them. Go figure. Some mithril ain't worth the trouble.

Too Human's Nothing Special

















This was supposed to be the big rpg on the 360 before Fable 2 hits in November. I played the Too Human demo and decided to check out the full version. I kind of wish I hadn't, but hindsight's 20/20. The game isn't bad, but I expected it to be better.

You play as Baldur, son of Odin, and you have to protect humanity from Loki and his robot armies. You have five classes to choose from: Berserker, Champion, Defender, Commando and Bio Engineer. They all have strengths and weaknesses, Champion being the most balanced. If you are an aggressive melee player, you’ll want to choose the Berserker; if you prefer ranged combat, you should go with the Commando. Each class wields a melee and a ranged weapon, but I found myself relying on melee attacks throughout most of the game, no matter which class I played with.

Combat takes place in real time; enemies attack you in hordes, most rushing at you while a few hang back and fire missiles. The fighting is good, but it sometimes feels awkward using the analog sticks. Combat gets repetitive after you’ve found a successful strategy; you rarely have to change because enemies attack you in the same fashion over and over. You get new skills like Spider powers (their name, not mine) and Battle Cry, but nothing makes fighting overly exciting.

If you die, you get rescued by a Valkyrie, and you start at a spot close to where you were killed, with no consequences for dying. When games do this, (see Bad Company) it instantly changes the player’s strategy from “Let me find the most efficient way to win this battle,” to “I’ll take as many of them out as I can, get killed and do the same thing again until I can move on.” If the player isn’t powerful enough to kill those enemies at that point in the game, put less enemies on screen and/or make them less powerful rather than making it impossible to lose.

When you level up, you receive skill points that you can use to raise abilities. This system would work much better if your choices weren’t so limited; you can go down one of three paths on the Skill Tree, each focusing on one particular combat area such as increasing gun abilities or aerial attacks. A few more combat features you could level up would have been nice.

There is a ton of equipment to find in this game, but you are constantly picking up better equipment. You could’ve just bought or crafted—using blueprints and bounty (money)—new weapons or armor and you look in your inventory ten minutes later and see you've picked up a better piece of equipment. After I realized this early on in the game, I didn’t buy equipment the rest of the way and did fine.

For some reason, they decided to put online multiplayer in an rpg; I didn’t get to try it out because I don’t have Xbox Live. Too Human is the first game of a planned trilogy, so Silicon Knights has a few more shots to get things right. Overall, this is a pedestrian sci-fi action rpg and it gets three out of five buttons.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Treadmill race across Azeroth

These guys hooked up a treadmill to their mouse and actually make their World of Warcraft characters run while they run. Not the worst idea in the world to be honest :)



The full blog entry is here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Braid is bold


Microsoft promised to provide hit after hit this summer on the Live Arcade, and so far they have delivered. Geometry Wars 2, Bionic Commando: Rearmed and the upcoming cooperative slugfest Castle Crashers are all worth your hard earned spacebucks (Microsoft points). However, one game seems to stand out above the others. I'm talking about Johnathan Blow's time-bending platformer/puzzler titled Braid.

The game is indeed a platformer at heart, but the real innovation comes in the ability to manipulate time in order to solve puzzles and fix mistakes. Now I know that rewinding time is hardly a new element of video games, but this is not a "Blinx: The Time Sweeper" quality game. Braid does everything well including gorgeous hand-drawn characters and backgrounds along with a wonderful musical score. I've hummed the tune from World 2 for the last several weeks. The story is also a strong point in Braid. The life of Tim and his Princess is surely one that will have you thinking ahead.

Let's get back to the gameplay. The game is pretty much the standard Mario-esqe 2D platformer of yesteryear. A quick jump on an enemies noggin' will take them out. A simple rewinding of time will fix any booboo that Tim might get from a foe. This obviously means that you cannot "die" in Braid, but the solving of puzzles is the focus point here. There is plenty of challenge to be found.

Obviously the manipulation of time is crucial in solving the games puzzles. The real treat is that each world has a different gameplay tool that you must learn. For example, if you rewind time in World 5, a shadow clone of Tim will appear to act out the motions that you had just previously done. You are given a ring in World 6 which will slow everything down in a small radius. The smart implementation of these tools makes it easy to look forward to the start of a new level.

Braid is a hard game to put a length on, mainly because a few of the puzzles could have a gamer stranded for hours. It took me around three hours on my first playthrough for those wondering. The replay value is pretty good for a Live Arcade title, as Braid features a speed run option. The challenge time to beat for the full game is 45 minutes, which is cutting it close.

I strongly recommend Braid to any puzzle/platform loving gamer with an Xbox 360. The title is fairly expensive by Live Arcade standards at 1200 points ($15 US), but is more than worth it. The game will appear later this year on the PC, and I'm also crossing my fingers for an eventual PSN release. Braid is a solid 4.5 buttons out of five.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So long, farewell

My friends Josh Weiss and Mike Faulk are over here smacking each other around on "Super Smash Brothers Brawl." They're also playing some Wii Play, a game which got horrible reviews, but came with a Wii mote, so there.

Josh will be leaving us for a job in Georgia. He was an intern at The Star over the summer and took some amazing photos. We wish him well.

Back to level grinding on WoW.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anthony's test post


Doing a little training exercise for the blog don't mind us....


We saw this cool post on

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Batman hits $400 mill


I'm proud some of my money was a part of making this happen.













'Dark Knight' shoots to $400M mark in record time
Associated Press


LOS ANGELES — Add another entry for "The Dark Knight" in Hollywood's record books: The Batman sequel has climbed past $400 million at the box office in just 18 days, the fastest pace ever, a studio executive said Tuesday.

As of Monday, "The Dark Knight" had taken in $400.03 million domestically, according to distributor Warner Bros.

Jeff Goldstein, general sales manager for Warner, said the film hit that mark in less than half the time it took for the previous record-holder, "Shrek 2," which crossed the $400 million level on its 43rd day of release.

"The Dark Knight" is now No. 8 on the all-time box-office charts, and it should move up to No. 7 on Tuesday, passing the $403.7 million haul of the original "Spider-Man." That will make "The Dark Knight" the top-grossing comic-book adaptation ever.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Watchmen!

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Imax?

Ok, so maybe I was unaware of what Imax actually means. I thought it had to do with a screen that surrounds the audience like a dome- but apparently, its just a really tall screen that adds an extra five feet to either side of the movie, at times.

I think The Dark Knight in Imax is the biggest rip off- don't do it.

...

Saw TDK for the third time this weekend. Think I'm getting sick of it? Nah. I actually would love to be a part of helping it smash the record set by Titanic- a movie that's probably the most overrated film of all time.

On another note, The Watchmen trailer is just awesome. You can't go wrong with the Smashing Pumpkins. Even if this movie really bites it will still have one of the best trailers I've ever seen.