Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
When it was time to discuss lunch, my group decided to order food from this Italian pizza shop called Milano. I had just finished collecting everyone's orders and monies when Bernie came over to ask us where we were getting lunch, and that she was also ordering from Milano.
We decided that we're just order separately, since we both wanted to pay with our credit cards. Bernie and I looked at each other, expressions of realization and competitive determination forming on our faces, and then we both dashed for our phones, each determined to get our food order called in first.
I got my call in first, and I was giving the lady my order, I could hear the phone ring in the background. I quickly said, "Don't answer that! It's someone else from my office! I want my food first!"
This made the lady laugh, and soon I could hear Bernie across the office yelling, "WHY AREN'T THEY ANSWERING!" Danielle was on the floor in tears from laughing so hard, and she ran over to tell them what I had said.
When Bernie finally did get through, she says to the lady, "Did you just talk to a guy named Steve? Cancel his order!" This made the lady crack up even more, and I'm fairly certain we totally made her day.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I will digress that these days there IS a lot of crap out there. *Looks at Justin Bieber.* *Looks at Rebecca Black.* *Looks at any so-called singer who uses Autotune.*
But while I won't argue that point, I will argue the fact that despite there being a whole lot of crap out there, there is also a whole lot of very good, high quality music being released. Just because there's a crap song with 30 million views on YouTube doesn't mean it's the whole representation of today's music. You'd be an idiot if you thought that.
On the contrary, there's more diversity when it comes to music these days than ever before. There's probably a genre for ANYONE, and all you need to do is find what you like. It isn't too hard.
So while I do enjoy listening to my favorite stuff from my teenage years, my childhood, and even from before I was born, I'm equally enjoying brand new music that's coming out every week. I'm consistently surprised and thrilled when I hear a brand new song and it becomes my latest favorite -- something that too many people seem convinced will never happen for them again.
It would only take a small amount of effort for them to discover that that is probably not the case.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
When entering a one-lane construction zone, the following things occur when it is the slow lane that is the closed lane:
1. The human will irrevocably forget that despite the fact that currently there is only ONE lane to drive in, there are actually TWO available lanes to utilize once the construction zone ends.
2. The human will also be too stupid to notice that when the construction zone ends, there's a nice, shiny lane to their right for them to drive in (too fucking slowly, I might add).
When entering a one-lane construction zone, the following things occur when it is the fast lane that is the closed lane:
1. The human will remember that two lanes do exist, even though currently there is only one usable lane within the construction zone.
2. The human will be COMPELLED to immediately move over into that shiny open lane as soon as the construction zone ends, and drive so fucking slow in it that I'm then compelled to run them the fuck over.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Red Dawn is basically the exact same premise as Homefront — America is invaded and the story focuses not on the overall conflict, but on a small group of resistance fighters and their story. THIS idea can make a great game, it really could. But, sadly, the story of Homefront doesn't capture that, and instead comes across as just another Call of Duty clone.
I'm further frustrated by the fact that the gameplay makes me want to punch babies. I swear to the fucking gods, if I randomly die one more fucking time without warning I'm going to stab someone. One time, I was in the back of a truck with all my other companions AFTER I HAD FINISHED THE LEVEL. Then a rocket blew me up. I reloaded and did it again the EXACT same way, and it didn't happen again. What the fuck is that shit?
I'm trying really hard to like this game, but I'm failing miserably.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I wanted to wait as long as I could before making a post about this game, mainly because I wanted to play a lot of it before deciding if it was worth my praise. I think I'm far enough through it to justify a post. Besides, I have the time right now and this will serve as a much needed distraction.
It's obviously impossible to go into this game without making comparisons. First, you'll compare it to the first game. That's a given. Secondly, you'll compare it to all other single-player epic fantasy RPG games. Also a given. More obtusely, I also found myself comparing it to Bioware's other RPG franchise, Mass Effect, specifically comparing DA2 to ME2. So I'll share my comparisons of each of these three.
Hawke in the prologue, maxed out with lovely looking gear.
When compared to Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II is far and away a superior game. Everything has been improved, to include the graphics, the voice acting, the combat, the user interface, and the story telling. I honestly wouldn't even call this game a sequel. It's more of Bioware saying, “Ok, so you see what were did with Dragon Age: Origins? Well, look how much better we made it now!” The previous game is only mentioned sparingly, and DA2 takes place in a totally different area than the first.
In regards to the graphics, I was utterly impressed when I loaded up the game for the first time. And, the fact that Bioware has made available, for free, a 1 GB texture patch to make the game look even more outstanding on the PC just shows how much attention they gave the PC market on this one. It looks incredible.
The voice acting is top notch, and a lot of people will be thrilled to learn that your character will properly have a voice in this installment, rather than being the mute hero from Origins.
The combat and user interface is where I saw the most improvements. Everything is so very slick now, it's a pleasure to navigate through the menus. Half the excitement of my character or one of his companions leveling up is just so that I can navigate through the pages and use the buttons. It's that well designed. The combat is quite similar to the previous game, where you can pause combat and give your character and his companions orders, but it's been improved upon and streamlined very well.
The game's “tale-within-a-tale” has you fighting Darkspawn right from the get-go.
When comparing this game to other single-player fantasy RPG games, it takes a rather different approach. What made Oblivion so fantastic was that you had this huge, sprawling world where you could go anywhere, at any time, and do any thing you wanted. DA2 is more stringent that than, and you're limited to where you can go. The entire game takes place in and around Kirkwall, with some areas being reused more than twice. For example, a certain system of caves is used for some escape mages. Then, three years later, that same system of caves is being used by smugglers. That's not to say that's a bad thing — it's simply a different way of presenting this genre. But I can understand how many fans of this genre will take exception to that. Oblivion has spoiled us, and Skyrim will probably spoil us further in that regard. I don't feel that this takes anything away from DA2, though.
Now, in the comparison between DA2 and Mass Effect 2, there's one thing ME2 does better, and that's the overall story. DA2 is filled with a rich culture that has loads of different types of people with their own individual stories. You have the mages, who are constantly hunted by the Templars. You have the elves who are constantly looked down upon by the humans. You have the politics of the humans and the troubles that come with them. You have the mysterious Quanari. You have the treasure seeking dwarves. And so much more. It's a world that is alive and in motion and Bioware did an excellent job of making you feel like a very small part of a really big world. And perhaps that is the problem — you feel so very small and insignificant. What exactly are you doing, and why are you doing it? Sadly, there's no big, huge threat that looms over everything. You don't have the Darkspawn blight from the first game. So yes, Mass Effect 2 did a better job at making you feel like a central hero in an epic story. Those looking for that in DA2 will be disappointed.
That's not to say the storytelling here isn't good. It's fantastic, actually. So I suppose the correct statement to make here is that while the STORY may be a bit weak in DA2, the method in which that story is presented is superior to any other game I've seen. Though, admittedly, sometimes it does get rather difficult to keep track of everything, especially when you have so many quest lines branching out in different directions. There were times when I'd go finish off a quest, and a name would be mentioned, and I'd have NO IDEA who the person was nor when/if I had ever met them. That could be just my inability to pay attention, though.
Living up to the game's name, here we have a dragon.
The bottom line is, this game does a wonderful job of drawing you into a fantasy world and making you feel a part of it, albeit a small one. You can lose yourself in this game, and as any regular RPG fan will tell you, that is exactly what an RPG game is supposed to do to you.
The Qunari are very grumpy.
The combat makes you feel epic. Especially when you're a mage.
Some of the environments are awe-inspiring in their design.
There are plenty of “OMG WTF” moments, such as this one.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Varric tends to talk to his crossbow. He named her Bianca.
By the power of Greyskull! (Sorry, I had to go there.)
So a bat and a spider loved each other very much, and then…
The Fade makes my eyes hurt.
Friday, March 11, 2011
It seems to be having a weird affect on our customers. We had a conference call at 10:00 AM this morning with one of our customers, and she was very zen about the bugs in the system, for once. She was praising our efforts, and even mentioned that she realizes she needs to work with us to resolve them. She also mentioned that what happened in Japan could have happened to anyone. Human nature is so weird. This catastrophe compelled her to be a more reasonable customer, at least for now. I just find that fascinating.
On a more humorous note, we got a company-wide email from one of our employees who lives and works in Japan. The email was fairly simple: She was just saying that she is fine, and thanked everyone for their concern. She lives in Tokyo, which is "relatively" safe. A few minutes after that, a reply to that email came. (Yes, the person replied-to-all. We have that problem a lot around here.) This email was in mandarin. (The people around me assumed it was in Japanese, but they attempted to translate it and it was gibberish. I looked at the sender, and the name looked Chinese to me, so I ran it through Google Translator for Chinese instead.)
It basically said: "I didn't realize it was that big. I got a phone call about the earthquake earlier, and can feel the after-shocks now."
I replied, but not to all (because I would have probably gotten in trouble). I put just my fellow co-workers on the email, because I knew they would appreciate my humor. Since they said, "I didn't realize it was that big.", I naturally went back to Google Translator and translated "That's what she said" into Mandarin, put it in the email, and sent it.
Lots of laughing in the office ensued. I win +1 internet.
When I got back from lunch, I instinctively paid attention to the door as I closed it, and it did not shut properly once again. I mucked around with it a bit, and could not get it to close. It was as if the latch on the door was broken and failing to catch.
So, I called the dealership and scheduled an appointment for Thursday. This means I got to work from home, which is always a welcome change to the daily routine. It turns out the lock on the door was faulty, and the dealership fixed it. My car is still under warranty, so it's all good.
That was sort of a boring story, I realize, but something interesting did happen on my way to pick up the car that night. It was around 10:30 PM, when my sister and her husband were leaving to return home. (It was the monthly poker night for my Dad, in which my brother-in-law participates.) I simply rode with them to pick up my car, since they live only about a mile away from the dealership.
It was snowing pretty heavily at this point -- the ground wasn't covered yet, but it definitely wasn't going to be long. The cars all had a thin layer on them. So we're driving down McCaughtry Run road, which is the road I live on, heading towards the highway. We round a corner, and please keep in mind these three things:
1. It was fucking cold outside.
2. It was snowing very hard.
3. It was 10:30 at fucking night. As in the DARK kind of NIGHT.
So we round this corner, and there in the middle of the road is some maniac with a flashlight. He was out for an evening stroll. Yes a stroll. At 10:30 at night. In a fucking blizzard. In the middle of the damned road.
We all gave a collective, "ARE YOU A FUCKING IDIOT, IDIOT?"
The rest of the drive was rather uneventful.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
I've discovered a bit of a flaw in my current raiding schedule. Specifically, raiding on Tuesdays sucks because that's when new games are released. Heh. Dragon Age 2 comes out today, and I won't be able to play it until probably Friday. (Tue-Wed = Raiding and Thu = Poker Night)
But, if there's one thing I've learned very well, it's the art of patience. (This is mostly due to two things: First, that I'm in a relationship with someone who lives thousands of miles away, and second, he does not possess any patience whatsoever. *grins*)
In any case, Dragon Age 2 is out and I already know it's amazing because I read PC Gamer's review on it last week. I also read something interesting this morning: Bioware has a "high-definition graphic/texture pack" that you can download from their website and patch into your game to make it even look more amazing. The patch is 1 GB (holy shit). I haven't seen this done since Valve patched the original Half-Life into their (then) new Source engine shortly after the release of Half-Life 2. It'll be interesting to see just how good the game looks with it.
Monday, March 07, 2011
However, I think that the construction aspect of the game will sort of make up for the lack of firearms. I just don't know if I can tolerate the game long enough for me to get to that point -- I've been playing an hour already, and all I have for weapons are an axe, a broom, and a pair of scissors. Ooh. >_>
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I had a bit of a disaster at work yesterday. It was one of those more humorous and entertaining spectacles, thankfully, and not the stressful kind. I prefer the former.
I went to lunch with Danielle and Matt, and we ate at Arby's. As and aside, I haven't been to Arby's in at least a half a year. It was a nice change of pace from the usual lunches I have. In any case, we at there and I bought my drink back to the office with me. It was a large Dr. Pepper.
We get back to the office, and I return to my desk. I set my drink down beside me and start going through all the emails that had come in since I'd left. One of them was an email from my boss, requesting that I go see him after lunch. Having read that one, I stood up, grabbed my drink, and turned to go see him. As I turned, I caught my drink on the corner of my cubicle. This simultaneously popped the top off of the drink and knocked it out of my hand, sending it spiralling towards my wall, where it landed and exploded. I had Dr. Pepper on the wall, on my white-board, chair, keyboard pad, floor, and just about everywhere else. It was running down the marker tray of the white-board like a mini-waterfall.
I was in such awe in how much of a disaster that one cup made, I just stood there looking at it for a while. Danielle was outside at the time, and she came back to her desk (which is right in front of mine) while I was standing there gaping at the destruction. She looked at me, then looked at the mess, and just said, “What…how…the hell?”
Then, she helped me scrub down the wall.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
So, riding along this train while being chases by a giant wheel, gyrocopters, dune buggies, and another traincar. Fun stuff. In this shot, I'd just blown up the enemy train.
Yes, I'm controlling that thing. Yes, he's huge. And yes, it was fucking awesome. I have my own personal Godzilla!
The evil bandits are being massacred by even eviler cannibalistic bandits. Oh noes!
Yes. She said, “I will kill your dicks!”. That line is so stupid and so irreverent…but still, I laughed my ass off. And him REPEATING IT…
“What? What does that even mean? You're going to kill my dick?” I…have no words. Bahahahaha!
Ok, so, now I should explain the part of the game that made me squee like a little girl. I walked into this area with a sniper, took him out, and naturally grabbed his sniper rifle. I then took aim through the scope and shot at an enemy rather far away. I expected that to be it. Instead, my camera started following the bullet, and the game informed me that I needed to control the bullet with the mouse.
GREATEST. GIMMICK. EVER.
And that is all.
I can't remember the last time a game made me squee louder than a female tween who just saw Edward from Twilight walking down the street. And that's a pretty fucking loud squee. I'm quite glad no one was around to hear it.
Bulletstorm is a game that takes everything fun about a shooter, condenses it into a nice little package, and serves it to you in one big serving. Covered in chocolate. With whip cream. And sprinkles.
You get the idea.
Ok, first the premise. The premise is that this game is so much fucking fun who gives a shit about a premise? But if you insist –– two guys crash land on a planet after driving their spaceship through a larger spaceship, and they now have to escape while also maybe perhaps at the same time seeking revenge for assassinating innocent people on the orders of some old, ugly guy who swears more than Richard Pryor.
But none off that really matters when your shooting bad guys in the ASS with a SHOTGUN. And getting rewarded for it!
The whole gimmick of Bulletstorm is that the gain rewards you with skillpoints for performing certain “skill shots”. These range from simple (perform a headshot), to utter WTFuken complex (Stun a boss then go behind him and knock off his armored helmet before shooting him in the ass).
You can then buy cool stuff with these skill points from Dropkits that are so plentiful that a spaceship the size of Neptune filled with the things must have crashed on the planet. Once, I totally restocked on ammo at one of them, then got the next one before firing a single bullet!
Not that I care. I was having too much fun shooting people in the ass.
And getting chased BY A HUGE METAL SPIKY WHEEL THING! WHILE BEING CHASED BY CARS. AND HELICOPTERS! AND TRAINS!
If there's one thing this game is good at, it's going utterly over the top in every thing it does.
The game is also gorgeous. It uses the Unreal 3 engine, so it has that…unrealistic sci-fi…look about it. (The kind that makes you look at it and say, “Wait, that's not how that's supposed to look…”) But it's still damned pretty.
And yes, the pistol in the above screenshot is my favorite weapon. I'm quite certain I was a gunslinger in a former life.
Or a future one. Depending on your point of view.
In any case, I'm tired. I'll have more to say about this game tomorrow, including the moment that caused the above-mentioned squee.
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