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Showing posts from February, 2013

Dark Sector

Just finished Dark Sector in my PC. Enjoyable third person shooter available very cheap. Game go mediocre reviews when first released and it does have its flaws: patchy story, bland palette, uneven difficulty in places and  perhaps too many repetitive battles against hordes of enemies. Nevertheless there is some very enjoyable combat in the game and quite a lot of variety once you get into it.  It is fairly short, perhaps 10 hours so I recommend it for a few hours of  budget shooting entertainment.  The mouse and keyboard controls seem perfectly functional but I used an XBOX360 controller as I find it preferable for third person games in general.

PS4 controller touchpad is in the wrong place.

I think the inclusion of a touchpad on the new PS4 controller could have been an inspired move but the prototypes I have seen suggest it is in the wrong place to be really useful.The touchpad  should be positioned under the right thumb to effectively replace the right thumb stick for most games. Instead it is put at the top of the controller where using the right thumb to control the touch pad will be a strain.  I spend about equal amounts of time gaming with an XBox360  pad as I spend gamign with a mouse and keyboard. While the dedicated game controller is better in many respects the combination of mouse and keyboard still has two undeniable undeniable advantages: More buttons and much much better aiming in shooting games. The inclusion of a touchpad could have removed one of those advantages if it was moved below the right stick. The root of the aiming problem is that the joysticks on a game pad control a rate rather than a position directly. This is fine for movement which is

How Important are retro games?

I note that the recently announced PS4 will not initially be backwards compatible with PS3 games but Sony are looking at ways that might make it possible to play PS1, PS2 and PS3 games play on their new console. That made me think about the importance, or lack of importance, of older games and retro gaming. Do older games actually matter at all? I play a lot of older games myself (witness my recent sojourn in Baldur´s gate) but I am an old curmudgeon. I remember when these classic games were released so they have significant nostalgia value for me. I am also fortunate that my gaming platform of choice, the PC has unparalleled backwards compatibility. This is not representative I suspect. I guess that the majority of gamers have neither the desire nor the mechanism to play ten year old games. Are retro games important from a business perspective? I guess not very. Sure there are websites and forums dedicated to retro gaming and at least one company ( se

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

(but  not in that order) I recently wanted to print something from my Android tablet to a printer. The process turned out to be more convoluted than I expected.  Android uses a service called Google Cloud Print for printing.  What this means is that in order to  send a file  from my tablet to my printer I first had to send the  file over  the internet to a Google server which then sent it back via email to my printer.  This despite the fact that my tablet and printer were less than two metres from each other and both connected to the same wifi network.  Such a roundabout route offends the engineer in me. I guess it is just another part of the price we must pay for all these great services companies like Google give us.  The more of my data goes through Google's  servers the more they know about me for the purposes of advertising. Privacy advocates can freak out at this point but I have long since reconciled myself to that trade off. I was while I was still pondering this tra

Horse Riding Hilarity: Two Worlds 2

Before I begin let me say that I am actually enjoying Two Worlds 2. It looks great has an interesting world to explore with lots of stuff to do. The game does have its flaws however so you do need an open mind and a certain willingness to put up with things until you get used to them if you are going to enjoy this game. Nowhere is this more evident than in the implementation of horse riding. I got my horse as a quest reward and things looked promising at first. Facing the beast I was told to press button "A" to mount and that worked as advertised. A message flashed by suggesting that I press the left trigger to gallop but being very much of the opinion that one should learn to walk before attempting to sprint I decided to start off slowly by easing the left stick in the direction I wanted to travel. Nothing happened. The horse didn't move or turn so I tried the right stick. Again nothing happened. None of the other buttons seemed to do anything either so I decided to hol

A real retro gamer.

While visiting an elderly relative in a nursing home to day I spotted another resident, who I know from previous visits to be in the advanced stages of dementia and pretty unaware of her surroundings. Imagine my surprise then to spy this nonagenarian lady flicking through the pages of a magazine called "Retro Gamer". The magazine was probably left lying around by a visitor or staff member but as I am currently immersed in the 15 year old retro classic Baldur's Gate it felt a little bit like the Truman Show.

"Camaraderie, adventure and steel on steel. The stuff of legend! Right Boo?"

Nothing to relate really but I just wanted to mention my favourite quotation (above) from Baldur's gate. It is one of many phrases regularly repeated by the nutty claymore wielding ranger Minsc. Boo is his pet hamster who Minsc claims is from outer space. Minsc may be missing a few screws but he certainly knows how to capture a moment and that line pretty much sums up the reason I play rpgs.

Browser Hijacking Blues

Last week the browser on my daughter's laptop was hijacked by an apparently legit web service that one of her friends used to send out Birthday invitations. The hijacker took over the home page (on Chrome), installed a toolbar and redirected all search queries to a different search engine. While my daughter may have foolishly ticked a box which said yes to this hijacking I am pretty damn sure she didn't consent to the way this intruder buried itself in the operating system in order to make itself very difficult to get rid of. Resetting the home page or search engine would be overridden by programmes embedded into Windows start up. Today I had a similar experience on my own PC when updating a utility I had used before without problems.  For some reason that legit company allowed a hijacker to install itself into my browser. Again it proved very difficult to remove as the normal methods of setting home pages and choosing search engines were surreptitiously over ridden. In bo

Baldurs Gate Thoughts

Over the last few weeks I have been immersing myself in the original Baldur's Gate saga. Although I have played several of Bioware's later games I never had a chance to try this classic before so it feels good to finally play it. Of course it is a hugely deep complex game I can see how so many players were enthralled by it. It is not without it's frustrations though. I think my biggest bugbears relate to the limitations of the AD&D 2nd Edition rule set. In particular I am hugely disappointed by how little character customisation you get to do in this game. Levelling up is practically automated with fairly minor choices left to the player after character creation. The limited options for gear and the scarcity of high end equipment also reduces any chance of exploring your characters skills and abilities. I like an rpg where you gradually develop your character over time exploring different options along the way. In BG1 it sometimes feels like you need to know where you