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Sunday, December 28, 2014

What can I expect from Star Wars as a gamer?

Sorry about the last post. Weird stuff going on... Anyways, I thought I'd talk a bit about my favorite series of all time, Star Wars. Being a gamer and a huge Star Wars fan don't gel together well often. "What, are you kidding?" most of you will say. "Knights of the Old Republic was a MASTERPIECE." Lets go ahead and say why that doesn't count. Yes, Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor) IS a masterpiece. Its a well thought out game with a narrative that basically screams "this is why the extended universe kids ass at times" and its garnered its own devout fan base and rightfully so. Bioware is a company I hold dear to my heart as being both well rounded, conscious of their fans but also delivering a solid and sometimes movie worthy narrative in their video games. Why doesn't it count? It was a one time deal. See after that, not much else. Kotor 2 came out and... it wasn't good. Sure, it wasn't terrible. But it was buggy to high hell and there's so much cut content it'd be like if I took the B, L or T out of a BLT. B, L and T make up 33% of the actual sandwich and it wouldn't be the same without one. Fans have gone through the content and released mods putting that content back into the game. And this isn't like on the level of side mission, rather important parts or otherwise things that only made the game better. So, Kotor was lighting striking once. Great game that unfortunately didn't gain momentum.
Sure, there are other games that are decent with Star Wars attached to them but they never really did anything for me. The Jedi Knight series I hear is good, but ultimately I've only played one game of it and I thought it wasn't bad. Of course, there was the mess that was Star Wars Kinect but that's a cheap shot. Personally I don't hate Force Unleashed because I really like the actor who played the main character. "But what about Battlefront!" Ah yes, Battlefront. Good game that boils down to little more than a Team Fortress shooter. Sorry, but it is. The most you can get is the campaign and that does little more than send you around to different battles. Sure, the battles are epic but there's not much variety. When it comes down to it, space battles are the only thing I feel really gets me going for those games. The lightsaber combat is just as clunky as it was in the Knight series but somehow with even less of the depth. So sue me. I'm not really looking forward to the new Battlefront game, most of all because EA.
Oh, EA. Punching bag of the industry. I'm not going to get into this too much. EA can certainly do a good job at being a good company but when it really comes down to it, their track record speaks for itself. I still play The Old Republic from time to time, which is EA's wet dream basically. Star Wars plus MMO. I've probably quit the game at least twice now for a bunch of reasons but they're usually the same. What's to stop them from making Battlefront into a FPS MMO? I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say, no. Its going to be more like Battlefield and Titan Fall. Just pay and you've got the game. Of course there will be DLC, which I'm fine with to be honest. I think EA is handling DLC better now and in fact, handling it better than Steam in their own ways. With Steam I have to jump through a few hoops to see if I've got the DLC and then get puzzled if I don't have it. Then I need to go on some forums to see that the DLC I didn't get with my Season Pass doesn't include that, which sucks a whole lot. Origin has their DLC in a nice secluded window and you can see what's downloaded, what can be downloaded and what has to be purchased all with a simple click of the button. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer Steam if only the fact that Steam has at least a thousand games for sale as well as programs while Origin probably has just barely hit the triple digits in their library of games.
The hope I had for Star Wars games was punched in the face when Lucas Arts was dissolved and 1313 died along with it, kicked on the ground when I heard EA would handle all Star Wars games and thrown into a grave when I found out that there was going to be a Darth Maul game that was going to be dark and focused on stealth. I just feel like I'm never going to get another Star Wars game I can be proud of. Bioware is sure to be at the helm of any further Star Wars games so I have a sliver of hope. Oh well. I just hope the movies are good.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lionhead! READ THIS

Hello all. Hope you had an excellent holiday before we all inevitably have to go back to work. Sorry for reminding you.
Steam sale! So awesome. I love these things. I get to pick up a lot of games I would have otherwise overlooked. One of the games I picked up was Fable Anniversary. A game that was panned across the board on its 360 exclusive release which was then ported over to PC when they realized it was a stupid idea to keep people from giving them money. The ironic thing about this being that when it first came out, Fable pretty much flopped. Peter Molyneux, for all the crap I give him a lot of it deserved, was pretty much the sole reason this game both succeeded and failed. Giving grandiose lies about how advanced the game was at the time, which if all of what he said was true then the game would still be advanced to this day, which ultimately got people interested in it. Eventually we all played it and it was not the experience we were hoping for. It was generic, with a bit of humor, but all in all it wasn't terrible. About a 7 for me. Somehow, and thank god, the game got a sequel... and then another game. Weirdly enough, the games were endearing. Garnering its own following by a select few that even got it a terrible Kinect game which cannot nor should not be forgotten.
So I got a game that was an HD remake of a game panned and the remake ITSELF was panned by critics and some fans alike. I am a Fable fan, and I can't tell you why because its impossible. Since I was not of age to buy the first game, I had to get it later knowing full well the scrutiny and I liked it. Liked the second game too and... I loved the third. Don't get me wrong, the series has its glaring problems. I'm not going to list them because anyone who's played the games will immediately see them. The games have been polishing themselves as time went on... save for the Kinect game. Every game afterward came with some new improvement that changed the last. Fable's arrows and crossbows were slow, so in came guns. Guns were pretty much just flintlock and rifle, so they became better. Instead of buying new weapons that quickly became useless, you bought the next best one or found a better one and got rid of the other one. Eventually that got old hat too so they added the ability to have a weapon that got better as you used it. Story was a bit thin and bland first game so it stretched a bit in the second game and became even greater in the third game.
If you want to become a game designer, I really suggest you look at Fable as a series. There's a lot of bumps in the road for a somewhat decent series. Eventually what it comes down to is progression in both good and bad ways. As the games went on, even the morality choices (which people have a problem with in this day and age for some sensible but most stupid reasons) got less Black and White (wink wink), making for a more sensible game. Of course, they are black and white for their own reasons. Steal from your treasury which will basically allow your citizens to live from an impending attack, obviously that's bad.
But really, why am I talking about this? The answer is simple: Why can't I buy Fable 3 on Steam? Pretend I said that loudly because I'm sort of mad. No seriously, I am. My favorite game in the series is no longer there because of that stupid Windows Live. Can't use my 360 anymore because its broken and I'm not going to sink money into a basically dead console or buy a new one either. I want to give them money for something I like. Its weird when I can't give money to people. Windows Live, you are the bane of my existence. I either can't play a game because you are doing something so idiotic it either makes it impossible to play or my patience can't handle you, you annoy me constantly and even after your death you take things away from me that I like. The only use I found for you was in Dark Souls, making it so I could send hateful messages to people who invaded me.
"But, by your logic, shouldn't Fable Anniversary be the best of the series? Since it came after 3 and therefore has learned from its mistakes?" No, its not. Its an HD remake of an inherently broken game which didn't really fix any problems. Can't get to the extra content cause you didn't kill your sister and take the evil path? What the hell, why would I still want that? It makes no sense. Combat is clunky, magic is... well its decent. Pretty good actually. Enemies are cheap and stupid. Had a guy literally juggle me into an inescapable combo of me getting totally fucked. I only got out of it because of a spell I had the foresight to buy.
What am I trying to say? Its after midnight, after Christmas and I'm being weird. I just want Fable 3 I guess. I would pay 20 bucks for the game, not including the DLC. Weird of me? Eh. People have their favorite games. Some bad, some good. This game isn't even my favorite, I just love it a lot. So, put it back up, I will give you money for it and we all walk away happy, right? Also is there a Fable 4 soon? I'd definitely buy that. Call me up, I've got a few tips for you.

Have you got any weird games that you love secretly or otherwise? Why not tell me about them. Or you can rant and rave about how this post makes no sense.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This War of Mine PC Review - 8.5/10

Merry (almost) Christmas! You know what I need? Some depressing games! Wait no... that's not what I need. Its kind of weird. I never heard much about this game. I saw a preview for it and I knew I wanted to play it. Luckily I had some left over cash after Christmas shopping and it was pretty cheap.

The Good:
The ascetics of this game are really superb. Background noises of artillery fire, bullets being shot. A drab and dreary look to all of the graphics. Really brings home that this is in the middle of a war. Instead of being 'White-Man McProtagonist Bullet Sponge', you're a random person. Actually you're not even a person. Sort of like the godlike creature that controls The Sims where you tell people where to go and what to do. Makes for a better sense of 'outside looking in', where people aren't constantly babbling on about the horrors of war, more or less talking about their shared experiences. A few times I walked into a building to scavenge and a character had a personal story about the place. "I used to come here with my parents when I was a kid," or "I heard that when the bombing started the children were still in class." No character really has a 'woe is me' mood, more just trying to drive home these are normal people simply trying to survive.
Each character has their own thing that makes them better at something than others. I had a guy who was good at cooking, a guy who could run fast and a woman who was a decent barterer. It wasn't that they were stuck in these roles, more that I had a better idea of who to send to scavenge if I wasn't sure if there were enemies and who to send to barter.

The Bad:
Combat is really bare bones. The one time I really got into it was when I sneaked into a place where there were enemies and I got caught. I got taken out pretty quickly as they had guns and I had only my fists. Basically, all you can do is click to hit someone. Click, click, click. As weird as it is, I wish there were some elements of stealth combat. At least being able to take out people if you are unseen. It would add a different layer to the game.
All characters have the same stats. Like there are static characters and their stats won't change if you have a new game. This doesn't seem really sensible to me. Some characters will arguably have better skills while some have 'Loves Children' which probably does absolutely nothing.
There's not a lot of choices to be made. More or less its just what are you going to do during the day or night. There should be a lot more choices in my opinion. Say, since my home keeps getting raided maybe there should be a new crafting choice that allows you to rebuild and fortify your home. Or perhaps, since you've already searched your home you could move your group to another. Or maybe when you've searched the entire area you can go to a new location with new places. I know its to force me into making more horrible decisions as a commentary on war, but its kind of messed up when I have to go ahead and murder the old man and wife just to get at their precious food supplies. I wish there was a way to get replenishable food, say a garden or a nursery for animals.

If anyone knows anything about my reviews is when I have a lot to complain about the minute details about a game, it usually means I like the game itself. Its a good game, don't get me wrong, but it could have been better.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cheap Tablets are Never Good

Everyone secretly wants an iPad. No matter what people say, they would gladly take and use a free iPad, if given one. Unfortunately for most people, an iPad's price is not reasonable enough. Corporations know this and have taken advantage of this market, thanks to Google's open-source operating system, Android.

A co-worker at work asked me to take a look at her Coby Kyros MID1125 tablet because it won't turn on for her. She told me about how she bought this tablet about two years ago and it worked for about a week then suddenly stopped. She said she contacted Coby to get a replacement, but Coby told her that she'd have to pay $15 and ship it herself to get a replacement. She never went through with it because it wasn't worth it to her. But since meeting me, she felt like maybe I could fix it for her. I agreed and took it home tonight.

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret of mine, but when people come to me with issues with their electronics, I usually first Google (Bing) the device's name, model number and/or name, and the issue I'm experiencing. Unfortunately...there's not a lot of information on this particular tablet model and many more Coby tablets like it. No manuals, and not much other information such as rooting, but lots of people with similar stories like my co-workers'. It's really aggravating, to be honest.

I found a lot of other people who are seeing the same issues with their Coby tablets and them just not turning on. There's a reset button on a lot of these tablets that's supposed to fix issues like this, but it does no good for me or many others seeing these issues. Knowing about Android devices and button combinations, I tried a few button combos as well as long-pressing buttons for 5+ minutes with zero luck. I'm guessing the issue must be hardware-related and my friend said I could open it, so I opened it.

Boy oh boy...by looking at the price tag on these things (not cheap cheap, but cheap for tablets), I wasn't expecting a top of the line processor or other hardware, but mannnnn, this is some straight up garbage! Wires are taped all over the place, with stationary tape, no less, old, sticky glue stuck all over the place and my hands, a battery that's soldered onto the board...just crap on top of crap on top of crap...

Feeling sorry for my friend, I decided that I'd personally see if Coby would make an exception and give her a replacement for free. I was going to raise hell even for a 2 year old device because I think their business standards are pretty crummy. I Bing'd "Coby" and came up with, what appears to be their official website, www.cobyusa.com only to find this:
There's absolutely nothing else on the page except this logo. No links, nothing. And after inspecting the webpage, there's no other designs or links, even hidden in the page. So I did some extra digging.

I came on this news website that had some shocking details for me about the company: http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/coby-electronics-warranties-now-worthless
I suppose that it's not entirely shocking or surprising, but it was pretty disappointing. A company as disgusting as this was allowed to just go away under bankruptcy and leave all of these disappointed customers with broken devices and no hope of any reimbursement or replacement. Another company buys the brand name but doesn't have any obligation to take over the concerns and complaints of the prior company.

Coby isn't the only company out there like this. There are many more companies out there making cheap tablets and poor design and quality isn't the only concern, unfortunately.

Over the past holiday after Thanksgiving came Black Friday and Cyber Monday which are supposed to offer great deals on various products. Many of these products were cheap tablets from makers like Coby and it seemed like each of these stores had their own cheap brand.

News media outlets got wind of the news and spread it like wildfire during the two deal-days. One of the other concerns besides these being poor quality devices is that they also pose security risks. Not to sound discriminatory, but a lot of these cheap tablets are made in China and Chinese electronic devices aren't known to be made well or to be trustworthy in not containing some sort of malicious software like adware that either spams you with advertisements and/or attempts to steal your identity. It's the price you pay for a cheap device. The company feels like they need to make their money back and then some.

The next time I see my co-worker, I'd like to recommend to her, and to anyone else considering these cheap devices: do not purchase these. Save up for a more decent one or choose to safely buy a used device from Craigslist. And if you do buy a cheap device, use it cautiously and don't rely too heavily on it. Use it just for gaming and light web browsing. Do not ever use it to log on to your bank account, to make any purchases of any kind, and I wouldn't even recommend you to log into any e-mail accounts or even social media websites like Facebook.

The cheap tablets were a nice idea to help customers who want an iPad but can't afford the price tag, but the execution is extremely flawed and ends up hurting these people who just wanted a little premium entertainment.
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