Archive for March, 2009

27
Mar
09

Umm fuck yes.

When EA announced Battlefield 1943 I was pretty excited. A digitally distributed multiplayer remake of an existing property with a more casual friendly approach; sounds like something I’d suggest.

I have an unwarranted fondness for digital distribution, allow me to summarise.

I like to own things, and having disks and shit is nice – but having a hard drive packed with games is nicer – I prefer to navigate the XMB rather than the living room.

So how do I react when potentially given the opportunity to forgo a physical console? Sceptical, and a little scared.

I’m referring of course to OnLive, which might as well be called the future. This is cloud gaming  – no need for a console or gaming PC in front of you, simply log on to OnLive and their machines do all the work, and stream the audio/visual to you. Xbox, PS3, Mac, PC – doesn’t matter. Pick a game from whatever platform and play it on your low spec PC or television.

It sounds good if not a little fanciful, but I’ll reserve my judgement until I see it in action and see what they expect to charge for the service.

Now for news that inspired this post’s title, I’m happy to say some of my dreams came true this morning.

It’s not official yet, but the original Call of Duty is coming to PSN and Xbox Live. Nostalgia ahoy, I’d had some amazing time with that game and I can’t wait for the excuse to jump back into some multiplayer action.

I’ll admit I am a little concerned how the game will fare without a keyboard and mouse, and considering the scoped Mosin Nagant was my weapon of choice and I rolled with the handle Vasily Zaitsev, I may have trouble returning to my prior awesomeness – sniping with an analogue stick is a skill I’m yet to master.

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17
Mar
09

Resident Evil 5 taught me to share, and to care.

Narratively, Resident Evil 5 is no more than a fucking pikelet. There is preciously little to comprehend, but like the pikelet, it’s consumed fast and with ease. It’s easy to look at Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil comparatively, so I guess a food analogy is required for the former. The Metal Gear Solid storyline is a four course meal. It’s a fucking investment, and you’re not going to want to eat afterwards – although you could probably still fit in that pikelet.

Resident Evil began as a B Grade type horror story, and although the dialog has been smartened up a little, subsequent releases have still retained the simplism and slight absurdity the original title built it’s narrative around.

It’s a hallmark of the series, and it’s good to see it hasn’t been lost in the 5th instalment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving the game cookies for it’s basic storyline – it’s just incredible to see what happens when you make a triple A title and put gameplay above storytelling. Yes, Video Games can challenge books and movies as far as crafting a mature, thoughtful, immersive story; Resident Evil 5 just shows you don’t have to – you can have massive boss fights and crazy locations instead.

Don’t pay too much attention to the storyline’s details, it just hurts your head. Instead, take a drink every time you see something Capcom have hand altered to remove any ammunition racists (you know, those ones who hate whites, wont get off our back about it and almost come off as colour envious) might have over the game.

I don’t know why Chris looks so worried, having white skin is your ticket to survival in RE5. No black character would dare to attack a while character – every time someone white gets attacked or dragged off it’s a white or random Hispanic dude that is the aggressor.

But you do have to giggle at one of Shiva’s early dialog lines, as she explains to Chris she’s accompanying him just to appease the Africans. Personally I would have removed that one, and because I don’t have a segue lets talk about Wesker. 

I guess Wesker’s steroids don’t shrink his balls, but his brain.

I should have killed you years ago Chris! He yells out as the finale begins to play out.

Yeah Wesker, years ago.. or last chapter where you had us owned but decided to just run off instead.

I could poke holes in Resident Evil 5’s story for a thousand more words, but I think I should stop now. Stop now, and begin explaining why despite it’s absolute disregard for storytelling, Resident Evil 5 may find it’s way into my top 5 games list.

RE5 offers the definitive co-operative experience. Sure, Dead Space 2 will attempt to topple it, and with hindsight and a couple of years over RE5 it should succeed, but until then I have hopes RE5 will be the go to game. What makes it so great? Well obviously Capcom’s risky decision to include co-op from the ground up plays a big part. I say risky, not because adding co-op is a risk per se, but limiting their access to many of the series fundamentals (scripted scares, feelings of isolation etc) is a big call. This decision was spring cleaning in a way, anything that doesn’t work with co-op is out, ready to be replaced with something that does. What we are left with is more simulation than game – the simulation of surviving this fucking bizarre scenario.

When you’re playing with a friend sitting beside you, the game’s narrative dissolves. What is left is two friends trading ammo and items, looking for the smartest way out and the most efficient way to survive. The weapons you have determine your situational strengths and weaknesses – instead of feeling like two players in a single player game, you’re both given a role, and a chance to shine. I guess there is a lot to be said for ineqality between co-operative players.

10
Mar
09

some kind of palsy

I’m building a PC. That much is settled. I guess step two was supposed to be tracking down what specs I need. Well no battle plan outlasts first contact, so I guess fuck that – I’m going for the biggest, baddest machine that I can afford. And by can afford I of course mean can’t afford. I’d like to say I’ve nailed the big three, but it’s probably more accurate to say they’ve nailed me. You see, I’m confident in the components I’ve selected. And this is the crux of my concern.

I’ll go on record to say there is no best component – one might be a little faster, one might cost a little less – when computer components are in the same league, they are much and much. So if there is no best component, how can I be confident in my selection?

It’s obvious I’m acting under some outside influence, possibly fulfilling ancient prophecy. I guess there are other explanations, Charles Darwin wrote ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge, so what am I ignorant of? Am I ignorant of the fact that component selection for a new PC isn’t exactly a life or death situation, that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter what I select? Can I even be ignorant of a fact I’ve just stated?

Is it my knowledge of this fact that has me so confident?

That went somewhere unplanned, I guess that’s stream of consciousness for you. Either way, here are the components with that mystical allure.

 

Intel Core i7 920 Processor

Asus P6T Deluxe Motherboard

Zotac GTX280 1G AMP Graphics Card

 

I must also admit I am quiet smitten with the Thermaltake Soprano DX case, and for the price I don’t think I can go past this Kingston RAM.

I just hope these components like each other as much as I like them.

Oh, and if you are looking to buy or build a pc online in Australia I suggest umart – I’ve done a few price comparisons and they are the cheapest (usually by a healthy margin) against all competition I could find.

06
Mar
09

wherefore art thou Windows 7?

Lets just say I’ve never added the cost of an OS into the equation when purchasing a pc. In the past, this hasn’t been a problem. But I’m growing more and more complacent with frequent updates and security patches, and it’s a nice feeling to not worry about that shit. In other words, I’m not paying for Windows – that can be found online – I’m paying for the piece of mind. Does this resolve the issue? Well no, in fact it creates more issues for me to contend with. Windows 7 will come sometime soon and I want it. The rumor mill suggests we’ll see her debut in October, but Microsoft have stated the release date will be determined by “product quality”; I guess they’ve learnt from Vista. Of course I could install the W7 beta that’s floating around, but I don’t want to run a beta OS on my brand new machine, so where does that leave me for the interim?

From my vantage point, my only recourse is to ‘borrow’ a copy of XP for use until W7 is released. Fuck it’s going to be strange asking for an operating system for Christmas. But that’s cool, and might actually get me into a routine of formatting annually or so, keeping my pc in tiptop, and by using external storage I avoid a majority of the data loss issues that make formatting such a kick in the nuts.

05
Mar
09

You’re a handsome devil. What’s your name?

So I guess I’m in the market for a new PC. Usually not a daunting task, but it’s been hella long since I’ve had even a passing interest in PC specs. What are we upto, 6GHz? Or do we just count the number of cells now.

I don’t really need a new PC, but I don’t really need clean water either. I haven’t purchase a PC since my AMD 2100+ was hot shit, and I guess it’s about time for a new one. I’ve got a lot to think about and weigh up, and as soon as I know enough to fill the Umart custom pc form, I’m sure I’ll fall off my chair at the price.

Maybe I shouldn’t go custom. Maybe I should stick with a prebuilt system, possibly paying more than what it’s worth, but saving myself from going overboard. If I’m going for a prebuilt system, why not a laptop? It would be useful ­- especially to keep me social and from locking myself in my dungeon every time I need to google something – but it could hardly be used for gaming, and I could get a fuckpile more bang for my buck if I stick to PC and avoid the portability tax.

Things used to be simple, but I feel like I’m on the bounds of being out of my depth. Yes, I can throw a pc together with no real trouble, but I’ve been out of the loop and don’t want to make any dumb choices; if you’re not informed your making uninformed decisions.

Take hard disk drives for instance. My initial reaction is to drop two WD 500GBs in the box. Fuck yea, a terrorbyte – I had a mate in the day who had spent a thousand bucks trying to get that kind of space, he built an array of ten 80GB drives (at about $120 a pop) and needed a server case to house them in. But is this a smart decision? Do I really want all that space locked away where only this single, selfish machine has access to it? Maybe I should go for a smaller internal drive, and rely on an external LAN accessible enclosure for the majority of my storage needs? Will my PS3 talk directly to this, or will I need to media share through the PC to access the content? Questions I don’t have the answers to. Yet.

So I guess I have a bit of homework, I need to catch up and know my shit, and for this expedition to be a success I’ll need a bit of motivation.

I’m going to need to save for this , as well as track down what specs I need/want and research the best way to achieve them.

To motivate myself, I’ll be posting my progress here. It wont stop me from failing miserably, but at least I can laugh at myself along with my sporadic cast of readers.

Until then, see you over at Tom’s Hardware.

02
Mar
09

My weekend in Burma

So I collected my copy of Killzone 2 from JB. My attempt at scoring the game early fell through when the Game Traders store manager I’d sweet talked into handing over a copy once stocked arrived took the day off, so I waited until Thursday like the rest of us. Hey, I saved $20 (apparently JB’s retail price is lower than GT’s cost price) and also picked up Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Awesome Collection. That was probably a mistake, as I had planned to use this space to give my impressions of Killzone. What happened next surprised us all.

I more or less shunted both games for a book.

The book in question is Shadow Warrior, the autobiographical tale of Dangerous Dave Everett. His story starts the same as a lot of people’s – leave school and join the Army as a trade, a mechanic in Dave’s case. Dave’s story steps up tempo when he is accepted into the SAS, but the real meat is in how he puts his newly acquired skills to use.

When I applied for SAS selection back in the early 1980s, I was a skinny young apprentice mechanic who nobody thought had a hope of getting through the gruelling course. Not only did I get through, I managed to achieve an above-average score to boot. Life in the Regiment was great for a young digger, but I quickly became frustrated with the lack of action. While on leave investigating an SAS mate’s suspicious death in Burma, I became caught up in the plight of the ethnic Karen of Burma, and joined their fight against a totalitarian military regime. In the unforgiving jungles of eastern Burma, I experienced the harsh realities and horror confronting the Karen people. On my return to Australia, I went outside of the law to raise money to help the Karen cause.

It’s really amazing stuff and I’m surprised how much it’s affected me. The book plays out similar to a gritty, realistic Burn Notice (without the beaches and bikini clad babes), and it’s exciting to have something real-world to contrast Hollywood’s interpretation of special forces and what happens in the shadows.

Shadow Warrior is certainly a compelling read. I’m unsure if I related because I’m aussie, because my dad has a military background, because a lot of places visited in the book are familiar, or because I see authority in the same transparent way, but I highly recommend this book to anyone; especially those not convinced – Dave is likable, funny and very human. He doesn’t break the law, he disregards it; but his motives are so clear and innocent you’ll accept his actions rather than judge them.

For those looking for a taste, a chapter omitted from the book is available to read here.

Continue reading ‘My weekend in Burma’




Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.
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