Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This hit my humorous bone

It starts off slow, but it really had me laughing at the games I used to think were fun. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent on games like these. If your 20+ years old, I'm sure it will make you feel nostalgic.

Here's to the 90's!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Medal of Honor (PC) Muliplayer Review

  Unlike the single player campaign, the multiplayer version of Medal of Honor was produced by DICE, the developer behind the Battlefield series. So it has a different feel to it, it has the same shooting mechanics but seems to be more polished and better outfitted to allow player vs. player combat. Along with the slight combat tweaks you will also notice that the prone position and "peak" moves are also changed, by changed I mean not there. I applaud this decision to eliminate those postures in the name of fair game play,  a sniper in prone is a sniper unseen, and those assholes shouldn't be given such a small body profile!

 Speaking of snipers, this game now renames the class to "Recon" along with "Assault" and "Spec. Ops.". Each class has a very different feel to it, while the Spec. Ops. and Assault characters both posses full auto assault rifles, the former has properly imposed limits to allow it to play a backup roll to the shock troop Assault class and keeps it from taking the lime light in person to person combat. The Spec. Ops class however does exceed any other class in long range vehicle demolition, courtesy of its ridiculously accurate rocket propelled death grenades. When used properly these weapons can be used to sharp shoot medium range targets very successfully, I would almost call it unfair but it's just part of DICEes balancing act. Even though the 2 shot RPGs are very accurate, its assault rifle has a pitiful starting range and seems to allow it a limited chance at taking out distant targets harassing it. So far I would say that this game is fairly well balanced, which can be a difficult task in any multilayer game.

 Even though the game might be balanced, it does have it's hiccups. One of the most infuriating ones is its hit detection, not only can it cause you to lose your (Call of Duty like) kill streaks, it will cause you to kill yourself and your team mates if you don't watch out. This applies to your traditional weapons and also your, for the lack of a better term, laser targeting binoculars. Multiple times in a match I will find myself peaking out of cover in a hail of distant gunfire to attempt to silence my enemy with an artillery strike, only to have it target the wall 3 feet to my right, FUCK RUN! I have gotten into the habit of targeting something and then running away, just to be safe.

  If I was to compare the single player and multiplayer games, the multiplayer would defiantly come out on top.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Medal of Honor Review (PC): Part 2

 There I am, deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, fighting off what seems like hundreds of rebel fighters cascading down a steep mountainside. I can hear the deep meaty burst from my rifle and the resulting flashes of crimson littering the rocky landscape. A sharp contrast to the deep blue of the sky and virgin white snow on the distant mountains. It's moments like this that make a game feel intense, being outnumbered and almost alone, when for the stories sake, I would be proud to see my fighter die defending his last trench. I could not think of a worse ending to this scene then to see a Hollywood last minute ace in the hole save you from certain death. That is where Medal of Honor looses its respect from me and unfortunately it happens a lot.

 The audio and visual work put into this title is beautiful, it serves its purpose to pull you deep into the game. The game play on the other hand is lacking the punch you would expect from a reboot with the title of Medal of Honor. During the game I find myself constantly being pushed down one path to execute a predetermined game plan and waiting for predictable scripted explosions and action scenes. The title itself just appears to be designed from ideas that were innovative in 2001 and lack the appeal one would expect from a FPS built for today.

 With all that is negative about this title though, you will still find a resulting positive characteristic to pick up the slack. The sound detail is excellent, the guns each have a very distinct and powerful punch, the voice acting never once pulled me out of the story and though the graphics are not on par with Crysis, they scale very well while looking up to date, and that gets a thumbs up from me. All in all I would be able to recommend this game with the understanding that it will be short (3.5 hours on normal for me) and you should treat it more like an interactive movie.

 Story mode aside I am still getting the hand of the multiplayer, I will let you know what I think!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Medal of Honor Review (PC): Part 1

  It's been 3 years since the last release from EA concerning their potentially greatest historical FPS, Medal of Honor. For 3 years I have been awaiting the arrival of the next chapter in the series and looking forward to some new, but old, World War throw down with the Germans. To be completely honest I was hoping that EA would learn from their mistakes and use Airborne as a step to reach a more polished game, but alas this is not true.

  Watching me during the summer is like watching a junkie without his fix. I don't know why, but publishers see fit to make people like me squirm during the summer, with no new games and only old multiplayer modes to keep me busy, it's easily the slowest period in PC game production. So when I caught wind of a new multiplayer Medal of Honor closed beta being released I did everything in my power (which includes removing my credit card from my wallet and typing in the numbers) to pre-purchase the new release in order to gain access to the beta. In doing so I was given the mighty access key so that I may partake in their closed beta, what a let down that was. The beta wasn't bad at all for a beta, it was the people playing it that annoyed me, anyway I digress, this is about the finished product, not the beta.

  Work has been pretty slow for me, so when Wednesday rolled around (10-12-2010) I rolled straight out of bed and hopped onto Steam. After a grueling 2 hours of downloading and installing I was granted access. I closed my office door, turned up my new speakers, set the DPI on my mouse and got ready to fight the new exotic Taliban instead of my old familiar German foe. The high mountains of Afghanistan are a welcome change to the farmlands and cities of classic Europe,  high snow covered peaks and drastic changes in elevation set the mood and old wooden shacks and shepherds replaced the cobbled streets of France. Admittedly, this game has a very strong cinematic feel, multiple times during certain action scenes I remember getting that hair raising feeling when being strongly outnumbered or finding yourself in a no win position, but that's where this game starts to reach its limits. Just like a Saturday morning cartoon, I always end up having the upper hand, some how.

 That's it for today, I'm currently writing as I am playing, so stay tuned for more!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Treasure Hunt

 My wife and I, especially my wife, enjoy Fall more that any other season. The vibrant colors of the maple and oak trees, the smell of damp earth, the cold nip at your cheeks and the beautiful fields of corn and pumpkin, it brings out my spirit for adventure. Now since we need some Fall decorating material for our house, we decided to go for a drive out to a pumpkin patch and grab a hay bail and some gourds. The pumpkin patch was great, full of pumpkin cannons that shoot a half a mile and neat animals, this was a great part of the day, but not the best.

As we were pulling out onto the old road to home, the adventures spirit struck me. To my wife's delight I decided to turn towards the mountains and not back home, off we went on a journey through old gravel roads and up through the forests. Since I can remember I have always wanted to live up in this area, it's so quite and alone, dependent on no one. It took me 5 years but I finally convinced my wife to succumb to my dream of acreage and today was no better time to look for property!

We explored a lot of cool things while looking for a house, an old cemetery founded in 1840, an iconic small-town white church (bell included) in the middle of nowhere, great views of sprawling metro areas in the distance, a lot of cool things. While we were cruising down an old gravel road we came upon a sign, "Estate Sale: Today Only", who the hell passes up an estate sale in the middle of nowhere?! Speeding down the old un-kept road we drove for 10 minutes when the tall trees began opening up onto an old, but taken care of house. The house was full of people, "garage sale people", you know, the people that find these sales like geese find the south, some how. My wife and I poked around up stairs and downstairs finding nothing but old lady things, I then stumbled upon a mix match of old computer items and speakers. That's where I saw them, NEW SPEAKERS! They weren't to shabby either, they were Logitech X-230s, surely the old bats running the sale would want $500.00 for them. I began searching around the gently used speakers for a price sticker and, and, only 15 bucks, what? Thats right, this once $200.00 speaker set was only $15.00. I was skeptical so I plugged them into my phone and they burst forth with beautiful ear candy, they sounded like champs.

 After our adventure we sped home, had a glorious meal of grilled roast beast sandwiches, jellied cranberries, potato soup, hot fresh apple cider and pumpkin pie. And now here I am, listening to the meaty guitar of 10,000 Days and happily slapping away at my keyboard with a full belly. That's a day worth writing about.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stupid Phrases

This is a short list of phrases or words that when I am king of the world, if used, will result in a public flogging. They will call it "Flogging Friday". Now, I know some of these may be petty, but when I hear them it completely distracts me. I start to repeat the word or phrase in my head and try to make sense of it instead of listening to my conversing partner, very counter productive.

Here they are:

"A.T.M. Machine"
Also known as the Automated Teller Machine, machine.

"I could care less"
This wouldn't be bad if it was used in proper context, but it's not. This phrase is used most often to imply that one could not give a shit, when in fact, they are saying that they very much do give a shit.

This is a real word, but it confuses me. "Ir" makes the word a negative too regard, but "ir" also implies the same as "less", so are we not regarding what we wouldn't regard?

"Ya know what I mean"
Often used as a statement and not as a question, ya know what I mean? Besides being an over used phrase it also demands as much respect as "Git'r done!".

"Hot water heater"
I'm a plumber, I hear this a lot, please stop it. Let me explain the insanity of this phrase with a simple question; why do we need a device to heat hot water?

"Don't look at me in that tone of voice"
Uh, what?

"Touch base"
Fortunately I don't have the pleasure of hearing this one that often, but when I do, I have flash backs to Office Space. Myredstaplar.

That's all for now, but there will probably be more to come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blue blazing lasers, Batman!

 I can really melt my face for only $200.00, no way! I honestly don't know what to think about the Spyder III Arctic from Wicked Lasers. I think like most people with a technology fetish they are going to be met with mixed feelings when it comes to this 1W laser, do I buy it or do I buy goggles for protection from the kid next door?

As a comparison, the red laser pointer that everyone is familiar with is but a scant 0.5mW, simple math will tell you the Artic is 999.5mW stronger. For those of you not familiar with what power like that can do, here is an official warning from Wicked Lasers:

"Warning: Extremely dangerous is an understatement to the power of 1W of laser power. It will blind permanently and instantly and set fire quickly to skin and other body parts, use with extreme caution and only when using the included eye protection. Customers will be required to completely read and agree to our Class IV Laser Hazard Acknowledgment Form."

.."instantly.. set fire quickly to skin".. Uh, what?

For your viewing pleasure I found a small video comparing what was once a "high powered" hand held laser and the new Arctic.

I'm not a psychic but I know that the Arctic and its price point will with out a doubt get the FDA's attention, quick. I guess you should buy them while they are legal. Still, I can't help but get the giggles when I think about how small this laser is going to be comparatively in 5 years.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Plantronics GAMECOM 777 Headset Review

 An hour ago I was sitting at my computer pondering about what to write about next, when I hear a large crack! It's the sort of crack that makes geeks cringe, the sound of hard plastic being snapped, the sound your Game Boy makes when it gets run over or the sound your game controller makes when you whip it against the wall in a blind fury. It didn't take long to realized it was my 7 month old headset, as I type I'm still trying to get the super glue off of my finger tips. Now before this review turns into a hate story I intend on going over the positives first, because there are a few.

  I want to start out this review with an admission of a novice, I know my way around headsets but I am not an "audiophile". Headphone reviews can be tricky, because not everyone has the same sense of hearing and although I think mine is superior, I am sure that you think the same of yours. For this reason I am going to focus more on the features than getting gritty with pitches and bass.

 This is what I expected from the GAMECOM Headset from Plantronics, I expected it to last more than 1 year, have decent surround sound, be comfortable and have a quality mic. That's not to much to ask for a $60.00 headset and it so far has met 3 out of 4 of my expectations.

 The headset, though tight at first, is reasonably comfortable. I can go into 8 hour gaming sessions without much discomfort to my head, the sound variances on the other hand can make your ears ache a little. Now that I think about it, most of the features on this headset follow the same outline of providing a decent experience but having little nagging issues to bring it all down. The in-line volume control in the form of a circular adjuster provides quick and accurate adjustments but causes static when moved. The mic has a fold away feature which has been designed well, enabling it to disappear into the head support, but the input quality is average at best. The "Dolby Headphone Technology" selling point does a decent job of providing surround sound when it works, but can be extremely buggy. Each perk seems to have an evil twin dashing this Sets hopes of performing with the big boys.
 When I purchased the GAMECOM 777 I had read all of the user reviews and knew most of the issues before I went in, even the possibility of early plastic fatigue, but I though that I was more gentle than the average bear. As an example you should see my original Game Boy screen, it looks as clean and unscratched as the day I took it out of the box! Anyways, my point of being gentle with this headset in the hopes of prolonging its life was simply misguided optimism. The design is flawed where the head adjustment and phone arm meet and there is not much you can do to help this headset along. I'm just hoping the super glue holds until I scratch up enough cash to upgrade.

 To sum it up, if you can't afford Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones or need a mic that the Ear Force HPA2 provides then the GAMECOM headset will give a decent experience for a sub $100.00 price point.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Design Scheme: "simple tone, retro urban tech"

It did not take me long to decide that I have no interest in what is available to me from various blog design sites, I guess its time to roll up my sleeves and roll out MS Paint. Since my knowledge on web design and HTML is limited at best, this blog wont have a lot of interesting new features, but instead it will have a kick ass background and color scheme. I will update the background with my progress, and since I used to do a lot of hobby work designing retro games this will all be done in a short period of time, so be sure to check in often!

If you are curious as to what the finished product will look like, I guess the best way to describe the new background will be; "simple tone retro urban tech" ...I hope that clarifies it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

R.A.T. 7 Review

 Even though I consider myself a high end PC builder, it's very rare for me to spend the extra money on any of the peripheral items. Keyboards, mice, headphones/speakers and monitors have all taken a back seat to my large case fetishes.  Recently however I have been purchasing all of the above, probably because my 6-7 year old gear is kicking the bucket. It started with new headphones, which are good, then a new ASUS monitor that I absolutely love and then finally my topic for today, the R.A.T.7 "mouse".

 The R.A.T.7 takes on more of the appearance of a gimmick to lure in feature crazed fanatics then an actual, useful, item for every day use. But appearances can be deceiving, especially for this flashy item. With 5 programmable buttons, adjustable palm, thumb and optional pinky grips, this mouse fits even my long freak fingers/stubby thumb combo. I was sort of secretly hoping it would also help with my early stages of CTS but some how I think its actually making that worse. For it to fit the easy access weight system it has installed, MAD CATZ raised the palm rest just a tad bit to high for my hands which affects my wrist, but I'll admit that I have bad wrist posture anyway.

 Along with the varying degrees of customization, this mouse has great DPI (5600 DPI @ 6 mps). You might say "who the hell is going to need that?", and your right. That's why it has 4 customizable DPI modes that are adjustable on the fly. The R.A.T.7 also has one other secret little button that I'm sure you haven't seen before, it's a little red delight. Now, if your like me, you hate FPS snipers with a passion. I know they have their place, and I have even been accused of staring down a 50 cal.'s scope a few times, but if your one of those sniping ass-hats you will love this button. Located on the thumb rest, this red button drastically lowers the DPI while pressed to adjust for scoping. Although I'm sure this was designed with Pvt. Jackson in mind, I've found this very useful while sighting a pistol or assault rifle. BOOM, HEAD SHOT!

  Like I mentioned before, I dont buy a lot of mice, but over 18 years I have used my fair share and this one takes the cake. I must stress though that this is an enthusiasts toy and if you spend your day surfing.. well actually, if you get creative you can set it to perform any function on your browser that you can also assign a hot key to. Like setting the thumb scroll (up) to refresh and (down) to go back a page or close a tab, so never mind.

 Overall I have been very impressed with my new gadget, but be warned, before you go out to grab one be prepared to drop at least $80.00. This isn't a Microsoft mouse.

 -Beefy aluminum chassis
 -5600 DPI
 -Adjustable grips
 -Contains an actual laser, not a cheap L.E.D. tracker
 -Braided cord
 -5 Programmable buttons
 -"Sniper" button
 -Optional pinky rest
 -Neat weight and gear case
 -Soft "velvety" body texture

Not so nifty:
 -Tall palm grip
 -Heavy (I only use 1 weight out of 6)
 -Finicky programmable user modes
 -The forward and backward buttons along with the palm rest have a cheap "plasicty" feel.

As a side note; this mouse comes in a very beautiful package and case, I can't help but feel that the price could have been $20.00 cheaper if less was spent on the extra items.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Company of Heroes: Online Beta (PC)

 Why in the summer time do game releases always wither down to almost nothing? I know there is a perfectly good explanation but I don't want to hear it! It's during this time that one usually has the most free time and what better to waste that free time on then grinding a character or buffing your K/D ratio. Anyway, I recently found a new game to entertain me during this rather slow period in PC gaming, Company of Heroes: Online.

 If you remember playing the old COH a few years ago you will be very familiar with the game play. You still don't have to waste time collecting resources and it makes excellent use of squad combat and geography to mold your battles throughout the entire game.
 Now even though the battles might be the same, the navigable interface and GUI is a drastic change from the original, focusing more on online match making, obviously. Relic Entertainment's core business model has changed also, it looks to be trying to tap into the recent trend of in game micro transactions instead of a monthly fee, and for the first time ever I might buy into it, might.
 So far in the games beta phase the option to convert your hard earned money into "COHO Cash" has not been present and relies on what is called "Supply" which will work in conjunction with COHO Cash when the game is released, I assume. It is a point based reward given to each player after a match and is earned through game play and performance during the match. I believe this is Relic's answer to supporting a large, free, player base while offering perks to those who pay.

 So what exactly do you spend these Supply points and COHO Cash on? Well, a lot of different things, you may purchase advanced troops, special abilities, "Heroes", and various little perks that effect game play. I was very skeptical at first, due to game play balance between the "Allied" and "Axis" teams, which has always been a sore topic for the COH series. But it looks like COHO is actually doing a rather good job of making it all work, for a beta.

 The battles might play out the same way with the "Victory Point" and "Annihilation" games, but how you wage your war and the various tactical opportunities that are now present are too vast to cover in this article. I intend to write another to cover basic strategies and perks but for now I recommend you download this beta and give it a chance. If you were a big fan of the original Company of Heroes or enjoy medium paced RTS you should fit right in, once you navigate the interface.

You can find me on the Allied front as "Akearix".

The Rundown

 The time I spend in life can be dissected into a few very large chunks, one of the biggest albeit least important chunks falls under the category of Gaming. It is some thing that has dominated my childhood, my socially awkward teen years and now my early 20's and I do intend to continue this flashy life style trend deep into my elder years.
 Though my wife might find it distasteful, I have distant visions of myself "knifing n00bs" with futuristic Bio Feedback systems attached to my frail withered body and sporting the screen name; wrinkly_warrior135. I'll undoubtedly need the 135 because I know I won't be alone!
  It all started with the mighty Nintendo, moved up to the Sega Genesis, moved backwards to the Atari, switched to my trusty Magnavox HeadStart/SX  for a little Commander Keen and Castle Wolfenstien/3D, back to the Super Nintendo, flew through the many Game Boy iterations for the Pokemon craze, jumped up to PlayStation/PlayStation 2 and landed firmly with a shiny new Dell I had begged for one birthday. That Dell PC started a trend that would follow me to this day and most likely to my deathbed, PC Gaming.

 Lets keep things on track though, I don't intend on making this page only about PC gaming or even gaming in general. There are so many Blogs out there specializing in one area, and to be frank, its boring. My intent here is to discuss a whole variety of subjects, PC hardware, adventures, discoveries, recent reviews on items, current game tactics, tools, wanton selfish ideals, inane chatter and of course plumbing. Yeah, plumbing. Smack dab between the worlds of tools and computing you will find me. Its a small little niche I have carved out in this big life and I intend to share it, and what better place to find an audience then on the Internet!