Category Archives: Featured Article

This is where shit goes if you want it to show up in the “Featured” window.

TitanFall PC Impressions

Well, I was able to snag a Titanfall beta code…about a day before they just opened it up to everybody. But, that is usually how it goes now doesn’t it?  I figured I would give my initial impressions as a level 7, indicating I’ve played for a few hours at least.  It’s hard to cram all the time I want into the game given my life schedule, but I’m trying.  The first thing I’m reminded of while playing this is Call of Duty, which is fitting given the studio behind this game was started by the former head of Infinity Ward, the studio that arguably brought CoD into the forefront with the first Modern Warfare.  But enough about that, let’s dig into Titanfall and how it feel on the PC?

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N4L: The Freemium Conundrum

 

candy-crushWith the explosive popularity in smartphones a new arena was born for gaming to spread out onto and show new innovations in areas such as play-style, look, and most disturbingly, new pay models.  While you can still just buy a game right out and play until it’s done, that seems to be the shrinking minority of how publishers are deciding to release their mobile games.  More often these days a game is released in 2 variations, a paid-version which is just the usual method of play.  Buy, play and that is about it, or you can download a free version that is riddled with pop-up ads or or few things that cripple the game such as a slower means of advancing or a limit on advancement.  More like an extended demo then a free version with ads.  The other, more disheartening means of getting a game is called “Freemium” and you essentially get the game for free.  No ads and it’s the full game, most the time there isn’t even any other means of having the game, it’s Freemium or nothing and this is a huge problem that I believe is hurting the very foundation of gaming.
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Asphalt 8: Airborne Review (Android)

Asphalt has been a staple in the mobile gaming market for a long while spanning all the way back into the “dumb” phone era.  Remember those?  Of course you don’t, nobody does.  With each new release, like most any sequels, the developer crams in more things to do: A prettier look with increased textures/polygons or even the intro into 3D, a tweak to the action or sometimes change it entirely, and while several things have been tweaked and changed from the previous version this really isn’t a huge revelation from Asphalt 7.  So, should you bother dropping a gigantic Washington on this?  Should you loosen the purse string and spend ALL that MONEY?  It’s SO MUCH MONEY, isn’t it?

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Gentlemen, We can rebuild him [the PS3]: Pt.1

2012-03-01 08.24.11

 

 

 

Cue the *whoawhoawhoawhoa* jumping sound of the Six-Million Dollar Man!.

In case you can’t tell what that is over there to the left.  That is the Motherboard of my 1st generation CECHA model 60GB Playstation 3.  It’s a beautiful and gut wrenching sight, isn’t it?  You may be asking yourself: “Why, for all that is holy or unholy, would you rip apart such a beast, such a monument to modern gaming, you monster.”  And I will respond with: “That’s hurtful… *sad face*”  But I digress; the reason I took apart my PS3 was to bring it back from the brink of death.

I’m going to go through some of the things I did and how I took it apart to hopefully help others with the older model PS3’s in keeping their systems from uncertain death.  While the PS3 didn’t have the same failure rate as the launch day Xbox360 models, it was still a hot running system that had it’s share of deaths.  While Microsoft kind of manned up and handed out a 3-year warranty, The PS3 kept it’s 1yr warranty.  What muddies the situation for PS3 owners is the fact that Sony will not repair these older consoles.  If you are outside of the warranty, and frankly, if it’s a “fat” model, you are.  You will be forced to pay a $150 fee to get a replacement or full price at a store.  That replacement will be a slim model, no if’s and’s or but’s.

Saving these majestic creatures is our only hope for a rich and fulfilling future for our children and our children’s children.

 

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Top 5 movies that SHOULD have a game.

So, I get this link in my email with a ringtone from Hangover from my girlfriend where one of the characters is singing about there lost friend and if he’s been murdered by meth addicts that they would be “shit out of luck” and I instantly thought how cool this movie would be as a game.  and I laughed to myself and started wondering what other movies would make awesome games.  Not just the obvious “cool movie=cool game” theory…that never works, well..up until this year it seems.  But, I decided to make a list of some of the more tilted, obscure, underground good movies that should get a cool game to go with it.

Another note, these are movies that will I believe are best suited for a game.  Sure, there are other movies that would probably make very interesting games, but may have to be shoehorned, I think these are easy-ish fits into a game genre without much lose to the integrity of the story. Also, I’m trying to stay away from movies that are already like a game.. I thought of other movies, but also was able to quickly think of a game that was much like the film.   So, here we go!…
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Crossfire, Eyefinity and You.



31502_1311688796823_1368725465_30768315_5327779_n_thumb.jpgRecently, I upgraded my computers video card from a GTX275 to dual 5870’s to, hopefully, increase the framerate and overall enjoyment of having 3 monitors.

Prior, I was using SoftTH for 3×1 gaming.  While the software was extremely flexible and, personally, a more preferred method of Mult-monitor gaming as it allowed far more customization.  The 5xxx cards are MADE for multi-monitor gaming thru Eyefinity.  Sure, it sounds like just a gimmick, given that SoftTH proved just about anything could do it.  But, the Radeon 5xxx line was designed with this in mind, with the ability to hook up 3 displays to one card, and a hefty amount of streaming units to help keep those higher resolutions running smooth.  Going from SoftTH to the built in Eyefinity setup, I gained anywhere from 20fps to 50fps.  Some of the negatives of Eyefinity are few, but substantial.

First, in order to use bezel compensation, the ability to “increase the screen size past the bezel around the viewing screen.” so you get a more seamless, window like view is only allowed when you have 3 of the same monitor.  Second, all monitors must be pointing the same direction when using 3 in a portrait fashion.  May not sound like a problem, but not all monitors are symmetrical.  some have larger bezels at the bottom, or even curved, non-uniform bezel bottoms near the base, making it impossible to get a clean, gapless look between the monitors unless you swivel one of the end screens the opposite direction.  but this isn’t something you can do with Eyefinity, you could with SoftTH.

And the single biggest issue I am having right now with Eyefinity actually has to do with Crossfiring 2 cards together.  Not too long ago, Crossfire simply didn’t work at all with Eyefinity.  When Eyefinity was enabled, Crossfire was ignored.  Until the 5970 was released (2 5870’s on one board.) with that, ATI released the 9.12hotfix drivers that allowed for Crossfire+Eyefinity (Cross-finity)  But this had issues, and to this day, it is still far from spectacular… lets face it, it’s just about useless.

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The TRON Story

 

We start our story how all good stories should start; with deception, greed, lies and the underlining sense that the person on the other end of a phone call has no clue what they are in for.  Before I started college, I worked as Technical Support for the Xbox360.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  I was the guy you would call if you had issues with online connectivity, billing, hardware malfunction, etc.  I would fix it as best I could over the phone. There was something else that I got on the phones sometimes, “Phishers”.  A Phisher, as defined by FreeDictionary.com, is someone who requests confidential information over the Internet under false pretenses in order to fraudulently obtain credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal data.  These people who call in trying to get me to slip up and tell them the smallest amount of information they could use to later call back and get access to the account with.  This is a story of one of those incidences my friends and I have labeled “The TRON story”.

In case some people don’t know, TRON is a cult classic from 1982 featuring some of the first instances of computer-generated imagery, also known as “CGI”.  The movie, about a computer programmer/hacker accidently gets himself stuck in a computer world called “The Grid” and he’s forced to play gladiator like games in order to continue living, was critically panned and a box office failure, but like other stinky cheeses, aged well and picked up a strong cult following that allowed it a sequel called Tron: Legacy set for release in late 2010, which is where this story officially begins.

My phone beeps, indicating I am about to receive a call from some I’ve likely never talked to before, and will never talk to again.  The automated voice announces the category of the customer’s problem before I actually start talking with them.  *BEEP* “Xbox Live—Billing” *BEEP* the cold, synthetic woman’s voice announces.  I begin my greeting: “Thank you for calling Xbox Customer Support, my name is BJ, what can I do for you today.”  The voice on the other end of the line replies nervously: “Yeah, I need some help getting into my account; I think a friend changed the password, can you help?” I can tell he’s in his teens, possibly younger, because his voice doesn’t sound fully developed and he has no sense of ownership of the situation at hand. “Of course I can” I replied with confidence. “Can I get your Gamertag from you and I’ll be happy to assist!” His response will echo in my mind for eternity. “Yeah, it’s TRON.”  The instant that word left his side of the phone and entered my headset I knew there was something going on here, but to be professional I continue. “OK, can I get the name on the account?” His response to that question affirmed my conclusion that something was awry.  “Oh, I think my friend changed everything when he took my account and my phone’s battery is about to die, if you can just give me a Reference Number so I don’t have to go through all this when I call back that would be great because I have to go!” I physically dropped my head in embarrassment at what this kid was trying to attempt.  A week before the release of Tron: Legacy and he’s trying to steal TRON from me, from ME!  I made this personal.  “Absolutely,” I happily respond, “do you mind if I place you on hold for a moment while I look over the information and generate your reference number?” He begrudgingly agreed, reminding me about his phone.  I press hold, almost unable to contain my laughter as I waved for my cube mates to come listen what I am about to drop on them.  “Guys, this guy is trying to phish the TRON account.”  All stare at me in wonder at his level of incompetence.  “You’re kidding right?  How do you know he doesn’t ACTUALLY own it?”  I open the account on the screen to find it’s connected to one of the developers of the first Xbox7 console from 2001.  The account actually pre-dates that systems release, impossible for anyone but its creators.  At that point, we all agree that this is obviously not that person.  We also agree that we can’t simply give him the typical rehearsed line about “Being unable to assist further” and disconnecting the call.  For his actions, he must pay.  At this point, the “customer” is on hold for about 8minutes.  Over the hold time we are graded on, but this is the first of many he will be placed in. “Thank you so much for holding and I apologize for the time that took, before we continue, can I get that account one more time, I seem to have lost it.” I ask sheepishly.  “Yeah, it’s TRON… Tee, Are, Owe, En, and please hurry, I think the friend that took my account is coming through the door so if I can just get that reference number that would be great.” He replies, noting once again that he wants a Reference Number. “Ooooh, Tee are OWE En.. I put in Tee are ZERO en. That’s probably why I wasn’t getting the account again.  You’re very lucky getting that Gamertag, I would have assumed it was taken long ago!” I state, in full knowing as to when it was first used.  His response drives home the fact that he is not the owner of the account.  “Oh, yeah I got lucky… I just started the account a couple years ago and it wasn’t taken.”  I think to myself: “a couple plus a few more, before the original Xbox was even released to the public?” I let him know that I need to reboot the system because I am still not able to get into the account and ask if I can place him on hold one more time.  Again, he states his phone is about to die, his friend is coming through the door and to hurry so he can have that reference number.  I place him on hold and chuckle.  “Ok guys, what do I do with this guy, seriously.”  A cube mate, Ben, decides it’s his turn to talk to him.  Something we are never supposed to do,  but with the circumstances how they are, I let him get on the line.  “Thank you so much for holding, so, got the system all back online and ready for that account again, what was the name.” Ben spills out with confidences and purpose.  “Uh huh, ok… and can I get your name?” He asks with a slight amount of a patronizing tone. “Ooh that’s right, your friend changed it.  Well, that is against the T.O.U. so here is what needs to happen.  He need to lock this account, we are going to do a full investigation into how he was able to obtain it and we will be contacting the original owner, presumably you…right?.. Right! Contacting you with our findings.  This will require a Supervisor though, let me get him on the line. Please hold”  Ben places him on hold and hands back the headset.  Holding back tears of laughter, I wait for him to disconnect.  Any normal person trying to steal something would hear Supervisor, investigation, account lock and assume they’ve been had, right?  6 minutes rolls passed, then 8, then 10.  He isn’t going to hang up.  I get back on the line with him to finally let him go. “Thank you for holding I—“ he interrupts with “This is really bad customer service, I’m just trying to get my account back and have been on hold a lot.. I don’t want you guys to lock it ok, I’ll just talk to my friend, I mean, you don’t have to go through all that ok?.. just, give me a reference number that is attached to that account and I’ll call again later.”  There it was again, wanting that number, I knew what he was going to do with it and I wasn’t going to allow that.  “Ok sir, have a pen ready?”  I quickly close the account and open a window that contains no account.  I enter notes at the bottom of the reference to let the next customer agent he talks to what his true intentions are.  I write “This person is not the original owner of this account, he asked repeatedly for a reference number to the TRON account of which he would not even attempt to verify ownership of, the only bit of information he gave me was completely wrong and set in stone.  He is phishing.”  I thank the customer for waiting and give him this reference number.  He again asks “Now, this number is connected to the TRON account, right?”  “Of course it is, sir.” I respond with a heavy hint of sarcasm.  He disconnects finally, thanking me for the number.  I log off of my phone and go home, 15 minutes past my shift, but well worth the overtime.

Silent Hill: A Look Back on the Madness

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If you thing that finding  yourself mysteriously stranded in a fog and steam ghost town explicitly inhabited my Marilyn Manson stage props is your idea of a good time, I have the perfect game for you! The long running series places you in the most terrifying, heart racing and utterly nightmare educing town of Silent hill, (or in some cases, around the town.) spanning from 1999 to 2012, There have been some hit and misses, but when they hit, they made sure it was going to stick with you for a very, very long time. Talk is heating up about the latest Silent Hill title in development-Silent Hill: Downpour. Articles, screenshots, and music clips are leaking.

“Leaking”…”Downpour”. See what I did there? Terrible! Anyway, lets take a look back to where it all began, and explores the origins, impact and groundbreaking influence of Konami’s turn of the millennium masterpiece.

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In Danse Macabre, an excellent discussion of horror in literature, television and film, Stephen King raises the concept of ‘the Bad Place’ : a dreaded building or location inhabited by pure, unadulterated evil, where people fear to tread. The author points out that this archetype is to be found far and wide within folklore and works of entertainment, and has provided the foundation for a great many stories of terror and unease. Literature and cinema have given us Dracula’s Castle, Hill House and King’s own Overlook Hotel; by the turn of the millennium, video games also had their own established line of ‘Bad Places’, predominately taking the form of sinister, shadowy abodes such as Mr Barrows’ Clock Tower and the Umbrella Mansion. None of these, however, have become as synonymous with outright terror, or as enduring in legacy and infamy, as the town of Silent Hill.

 

In 1996, when Resident Evil was making waves and it became apparent that Western audiences had acquired a new-found taste for atmospheric, Japanese-developed horror games, the new owners of Tokyo company Konami decided to launch their own substantial American hit, and swiftly assembled a development team for this purpose.

Headed by project director and designer Keiichiro Toyama, this group of unconventional individuals, dubbed Team Silent, took an unusually leftfield and creative approach, spending a great deal of time experimenting with various concepts and ideas. Knowing that their aim was to capture a chilling experience that would play well in the West, they poured over the works of popular American writers, searching for inspiration in terms of setting and story.  Konami’s visionary team conceived a small, New England settlement that had become a deeply twisted, horrifying place; corrupted by a prevailing supernatural force and now alternating between two separate dimensions, one of which was only marginally less nightmarish than the other.

This creation was a vision of suburban familiarity plunged into a deep and illogical hell. Streets shrouded in thick fog hid prowling, winged beasts; a cryptic message in a blood-soaked dog kennel directing you to ‘go to school’. To follow this instruction invited a whole new realm of chaos; the school’s environment visibly transformed into a rotting, mocking husk as it shifted to the dark Otherworld, which brought creeping, deformed Halflings lurching out of the shadows.

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