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Showing posts from June, 2010

Not so very Big Daddy: Bioshock 2 initial thoughts.

Thanks to Steam's Summer Sale generosity I am currently working my way through Bioshock 2. Initial thoughts: It feels very like the original so far (about two hours in). Although this story is set 10 years after the original the city of Rapture doesn't look any better or worse than it did in the first game The setting and ambience are almost identical. Even the story line has a familiar feel. Just as in the first game you are trawling through the ruins of an undersea city seeking to undermine an evil overlord (who happens to be a woman this time) while getting advice from a benefactor by intercom. At this rate I fully expect them to try and replicate the famous storyline twist! More of a good thing is not necessarily bad however so I am enjoying the game. I do have one gripe though. The main novelty in this second game is that you the protagonist get to play as a Big Daddy. When I discovered this I expected to be a near unstoppable pounding grinding force of destruction. You

(Summer Sale Madness) Warning - don't visit STEAM today...

... if you don't want to spend money. Steam summer sale is on and they have a truck load of silly prices on some excellent games. Best of all are their one day only offers - today I picked up Bioshock 2 and the complete Overlord pack for less than €20 all in. I assume that a new round of today onlys will kick in soon so be quick . I have commented on the complete unpredictability of PC game prices before. A game that costs €50 today may be available for €10 tomorrow. I wonder is this the new reality or is it a temporary phenomenon. I am sure these sales are making money or else they wouldn't be repeated so often but surely there comes a point at which they cannibalise full price sales. I know that I personally almost never buy a game a full price any more - instead waiting for the inevitable sale. If everybody does that won't game companies lose out or will the increased volume of sales more than compensate for the discounted prices? Could this possibly herald in a new

A tale of two shooters Call of Juarez and FEAR

Now that I have abandoned all pretense at keeping up with modern gamign I can happily write about the old games I am actually playing :) Finished both Call of Juarez and FEAR this week. Both games are based on strong complex storylines that leave the player guessing right up to the end. CoJ's story in particular was clearly scripted in advance and could easily form the script of a movie in my opinion. FEAR's story is a little more confused but nevertheless engrossing.   Slow motion (bullet time) features strongly in the combat of both games but the impact is different. CoJ's quick draw mechanic is a bit annoying to use (you need to holster both guns and then draw to activate it) but is very powerful giving pistols the accuracy of a sniper rifle in slow motion. It feels almost like an "I win button" allowing you to pop three or four enemies with head-shots in a single activation. FEAR's fast reflexes mode seems more balanced, mainly because the enemies a

Has Open Office finally come of Age?

A few months back I got a new laptop but due to a hiccup in the IT department of the organisation I work for there was a delay in getting Microsoft Office installed on the machine. The Laptop was no use to me without some Office Program so I  installed the latest version of Open Office as a stop-gap for the couple of days it would take to sort out the IT issue. Here I am three months later still using Open Office version 3.2.1 on the Laptop. It just works and it works well enough for me not to be bothered about replacing it. I use a word processor, spreadsheet and a presentation programme on a daily basis and the Open Office equivalents do everything I need them to do and are just as easy to use as the Microsoft versions. In fact I slightly prefer the default style and menu layout of Open Office Writer while I think Power point still scores slightly in usability over Open Office Impress. Overall its a tie. Most impressive is the compatibility. A few years back I experimented with

Who is the real hero in Ferris Bueller's Day off?

Ferris Bueller's Day Off  is an iconic teen / young adult movie from the  1980's. Watching the movie again on telly last night I was pleased to see that middle age has not dimmed my appreciation. Certainly the film does not have the level of polish that we have become used to a quarter of a century later and the script seems to wander a bit in places but Bueller remains a multi-layered delight.  Indeed watching the movie again with adult eyes I realised that it not even clear who the real hero of the movie is. The obvious choice is Bueller himself of course, the teen wonder who bends the adult world to his whim and who can do no wrong. Of all the major characters however Bueller is probably the least well fleshed out. There is  little exploration of his emotions or motivations and he is really more of a symbol than a fully developed character. On top of that is the fact that Ferris is not a very likeable hero. He comes across as manipulative and selfish. He is down right abus

I'm sorry but i probably didn't read your email

I suspect that young adults of today have already moved on from email to more immediate forms of communication but it is still an important tool in most work scenarios. It is with some regret then that I must finally concede that the general volume of Spam / CCed email across multiple accounts and on multiple computers has risen to the point where I can no longer guarantee to read every email that is sent to me. I make some attempt at triage when the daily flood comes in and I do endeavour to read and reply to those emails that look important or even just interesting but many mails will never be opened even if they have made it past multiple layers of spam filter. Email has become a very low grade form of communication. I may read emails sent to me or I may not. If there is something that you absolutely need me to read  then you will have to use a different form of communication, sorry. I have been implementing this policy for about a year now and it has caused me surprisingly few pr

Rome Scipii Campaign update: The Bitter Taste of Victory

Scipii Campaign part 1 Scipii Campaign Part 2 Scipii Campaign part 3 Scipii Campaign Part 4 This is  Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part) Carthage was the first to fall to my legions but Spain, Numidia, Gaul and Britain all fell in their turn. The Germanic savages faced their own annihilation as my legions marched towards their last few towns and the once mighty Egyptian Empire still clung to life only because I couldn't be bothered to make the trek across the Arabian desert to root out their last few hovels. With a blue swathe right across Europe and Northern Africa I had 45 regions under my control. Just as important as the military victories was the micromanagement of my domain to ensure that all of these towns were contented (but not too contented) and contributing positively to our cause. This had been a slow drawn out campaign with every step analysed and re-analysed but now  the greatest prize of all was ripe for the taking. My military victories had won me the adora

Ghengis Khan versus the Romans who would win.

Anyone who has ever played an RTS knows that horse archers offer a great combination of firepower and mobility that is very difficult to counter. Ghengis Khan's Mongol hordes proved this in real life when they carved out a vast empire in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Romans however relied more on the strength of their footsoldiers armed with Pila and short sword when they carved out their own vast empire more than a thousand years before. So who what would have happened if these two great forces clashed across the span of time. Who would win a war between Mongol Horde and Roman Empire at the height of its power? Personally I vote for the Romans to win the war although I could see the Mongols winning the first battles. The Mongols were superb tacticians and the mobility of the horde would prove difficult to counter. The composite bows of the Mongols could be effective against Roman armour. In the long run though Rome was not just about the prowess of individual armies it was

Scipii Campaign quick update.

Scipii Campaign part 1 Scipii Campaign Part 2 Scipii Campaign part 3 This is  Scipii Campaign Part 4 Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part) Northern Front - Only one British town remains on mainland Europe and it will soon be mine. The German Barbarians  tried to back-stab and grabbed one of my settlements in a sneak attack . I fully expected this and will make them regret it. After careful consideration I decided to cross the channel and eliminate the British completely from their home Island. They are no longer any threat but as I move into end game I need the provinces and three easily defended provinces are not to be sneered at. Apparently I will need to hold 50 provinces and  capture Rome in order to win the game. I already hold 36 provinces and the Plebians have made noises that I would be welcome to capture Rome from the hated SPQR but I am trying to hold off. By sucking up to SPWR and complying promptly with every one of their demands I want to postpone the Roman civil w

Are you an extreme gamer?

Interesting NPD survey of 18,800 US gamers linked here , here and here . It identifies a small group of extreme gamers who meet the following characteristics (my answers included for reference): Characteristics of Extreme Gamers: Play an average of 48.5 hours per week. Goodness knows I try sometimes but even when i am stuck into a game 30 hours is about my limit.  Is 29 years old. Well...I was 29 once. Is one third female. Ahem ... last time I checked I was all man.   Plays console more than PC. Consoles? I've heard of them. Must check them out some day.  Purchases 24 titles every 3 months. I am not that extravagant but thanks to Steam and other online give aways I sometimes hit one new game a week.    I am a bit surprised that mmorpgers don't feature more strongly in the extreme gamer segment. I suspect that 48 hours a week would barely qualify you to get into a top raiding guild. Interesting also to note that the PC is one again the largest and fastest growing gami

Scipii campaign update.

Scipii Campaign part 1 Scipii Campaign Part 2 This is  Scipii Campaign part 3 Scipii Campaign Part 4 Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part)  With all of Gaul conquered and pacified my Northern legions turn their attention to the celts of Britain who had carved out a fair chunk of territory in North-Western Europe. Like most Barbarians their eagerness for battle is matched only by their lack of understanding of tactics. The British King commanding almost 2000 troops tried to hold off my legions but his massive army of footsoldiers had no cavalry support and presented easy pickings for a smaller co-ordinated Roman force of foot, horse and archers. Only the Kings own chariots presented any real threat of resistance but happily I discovered that lightly armoured skirmishers fare much better against chariots than heavy infantry and the British king met an untimely end when his chariots became entangled in a troop of velites. This victory leaves the British overseas territories virtually

Spartacus: Blood and Boobs

Coinciding nicely with my current Roman empire binge I managed to catch the first two episodes of Spartacus Blood and Boobs Sand . This heavily advertised series scores strongly on graphic violence and nudity scales. The violence in particular tends towards the ridiculous with the mildest of blows cleaving through sinew and bone like butter, and literally filling the screen with volcanic spurting of blood. It took me a while to cotton on to the fact that this is actually graphic novel style transposed to the screen. Once you realise that the over the top style makes a lot more sense. The series has strong characterisation and the storyline seems to be developing nicely even though we all know how it will turn out in the end. There is plenty there to keep me watching. I do have one gripe about the stilted "oldie worldie" accents that all of the cast affect. I guess they are trying to portray the terseness of Latin expression but none of the actors are able to pull it off to

Rome Total War - Scipii Campaign Report

Scipii Campaign part 1 This is  Scipii Campaign Part 2 Scipii Campaign part 3 Scipii Campaign Part 4 Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part) With only a single province on the Roman mainland at the start of the game the Scipii are forced to look to the West for conquest. Kicking Greece and Carthage out of Scicily created an early base from which to begin my domination of the Mediterannean region. A hastily briefed diplomat was dispatched Athens to patch up relations with the Greeks but there was no peace to be made with Hannibal's Africans. A devastating early assault with Hastatis, velites and archers put Carthage out of the game before they could muster up enough of their fiercesome war elephants to pose a serious threat. Dismantling Carthage's empire gave me a toehold in Spain so I pressed on. Spain's armies were weak and disorganised so it was easy enough to destroy the faction and capture the entire Iberian peninsula with a small expeditionary force. Although t