Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Improved Shooters

A few weeks back I finished Operation Flashpoint: Red River which is the sequel to Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (and totally unrelated to Operation Flashpoint: Fire Rescue). These games are semi-realistic in that one bullet can see to your quick death, yet still has the convenience of "magic" first aid kits you can use to stop bleeding and repair yourself. Don't worry, it's rare that you will be able to use them and survive anyway. :P

Dragon Rising had a steep learning curve (for me anyway), with enemies who liked to hide in thick foliage and objectives that if failed could end your game prematurely. The night time, stealth missions frequently come to mind. Also it was a bit jarring given that you cycled between different characters in different units each mission. While this opened up the variety of missions you could do, you never really got to know who you or your guys were, or why you were doing silly things like capturing a village on the far side of the map.

Red River fixes most of that and is basically a more polished and more user friendly game. As a marine grunt most of your sorties are all out strategic adrenaline pumping firefights - just the type I like but most importantly it also gives an easier to follow story. While your overall general sounds like a bit of a douche during the mission briefing screens, the true star of the piece is Staff Sgt. Knox who is out on the field with you giving you tips, assessing your performance and generally telling you how it is with often funny foul language.


Follow his rules to stay alive!
 
Another first person shooter that has seen some nice improvements is Orion: Dino Beatdown, now called Orion: Dino Horde. New maps, new dinos, new vehicles all add to the fun but it still has its fair share of problems. In my case it doesn't like my mic, lags a bit with four people, nor can it sync with my steam friends list. Despite that it is a very fun romp trying to make those dinosaurs extinct once more. Honestly, they've been the ones winning every round I've played so far. :P

Monday, 29 April 2013

Wizardry Online: Cartography Project

Since the maps in Wizardry Online are more than a bit lacking in detail I thought I'd try manually draw out each floor to help other adventurers better plan and prepare their forays into hostile territory. The scale is not exact and I'm sure there are errors or things I've missed somewhere so please advise me when you find them so I can fix them up!

Also, I'm more than happy to put up maps done by other people here to try collate them all into one place. If you have a map you want included please let me know. Alternatively if you want to read about my experiences in game you can do so at A Touch of Wizardry.

Completed Maps:
Caligrase Sewers
Kaoka Parrej Ruins
Deltis Keep
Trials of Fantasy [incomplete]
Golden Dragon Ruins First Floor
Golden Dragon Ruins Second Floor
Chikor Castle (thanks to Quark for helping with this one!)

Donated Maps:
Descension Ruins First Floor by Dremlock

Since I'm not active on Wizardry Online at the moment I thought I'd put up map kits containing the base maps and icons I've used in the above if anyone wants to continue the cartography work. Please feel free to use the below.

Map Kits:
Caligrase Sewer Base
Kaoka Parrej Base
Deltis Keep Base
Golden Dragon Ruins Floor 1 Base
Golden Dragon Ruins Floor 2 Base
Chikor Castle Base
Trials of Fantasy Base
Icons Base

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Devils in the Torchlight

Been going through Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 (pretty much a Diablo clone) on and off with my guildies and I've gotta say these two similar games so I thought I'd write up a quick comparison review.


Style and Story:
While both have the mostly unchangable eagle-eye camera view during gameplay, Torchlight 2 takes the more cartoony approach to its graphics and very rare (and flash like) cutscene(s). I prefer the sharp grittiness of Diablo 3, and the cool story and uber awesome cutscenes that go with it. Blizzard has pretty much perfected that part. :P

Places to See, Things to Do:
D3 has a mostly procedurally generated map. It and the baddies repopulate each time you start a session it seems. This is cool in that you can run into some interesting traps and people you haven't met before. However given it's nature, there is no real point (other than farming) to enter non-main story related instances. Even if you do it's not like it will matter because that dungeon you cleared may not even exist in the next session anyway.

T2 has a set map, even for its dungeons I think which means you can memorize paths and where secret rooms are etc. The baddies actually do respawn (not sure on the timer, possibly 1hr or some other trigger) within a single session, but the difference is that every dungeon actually has a purpose, a quest, or quest item that you need/probably want. Sure the monsters can respawn after and you can go back to farm but once you're done with a dungeon there's that sense of accomplishment that you don't need to go back in there again. For me T2 wins this section.

Party and Levels:
In D3 it allows for a party of 4 to face the demons of hell, give or take some NPCs depending on your current quest. Also, XP gain is scaled so that a lev 20 party killing low level scum will get minimal XP. Unfortunately if you have a lev 1 joining the lev 20 it means the lev 1 character will also get minimal XP, which actually encourages people to play solo instead of co-op.

T2 on the other hand seems to adjust XP gain based on an individual level (instead of a party level like D3), meaning it's easier to level up a low level buddy as they are getting full XP for each critter kill. It also allows up to 6 people to party up. This doesn't really affect single player people but for us where we like being in a team (and levelling up our allies to our level) this method obviously works better.

Difficulty:
As a group neither game is actually overly difficult. Had more deaths in T2 simply because it lets us go straight to the "elite" mode that we enjoy. D3 however forces people to play through "normal" mode first, and upon each completion of the game unlocks a harder tier. Tobold put up a post on Unlockable Difficulty and I pretty much agree with him in that it's a stupid idea. Once I've finished the plot line, what's the point in playing it again? Grinding numbers?

The D3 developers were either very lazy, or very arrogant in thinking theirs is the only game in town in this regard. With so many other games to play, I've seen no reason yet to replay this one. T2 definitely wins this category.

Bonus Stuff:
D3 has the Auction House which is pretty nifty though self defeating in my opinion. After looking at the wares available I've concluded that crafting, buying stuff from NPCs and grinding through all the random, non essential dungeons is a waste of time. Why would you bother when you can deck yourself out in full unique gear for an ultimately paltry sum of gold? Still, I like it since it saves time and puts all those coins to work.

T2 has no auction house or crafting meaning all those loot drops are slightly more important because you WILL need to find better gear (encouraging you to venture into all those dungeons). However what it does have are PETS. Everyone starts with a cute pet NPC who helps carry stuff, fight, and most importantly can go back to town on their own to SELL AND BUY stuff. This is frigging fantastic since it means the flow of combat doesn't need to be broken by merchanting runs back to town.

So, in the end while both games are pretty cool and both fun, in the end I think Torchlight II is simply better designed overall, which is kinda wierd when you think about it.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

House Wars II

I just had a somewhat expensive weekend having to do upgrades on the house, with more maintenance bills to follow. Our main water heater exploded (literally) so that needed replacing since cold showers in autumn are generally not a good idea. Replacing all the old taps on top of that is a hefty drain on the wallet but  hopefully one I won't need to do again any time soon. Also after defeating the germanic bug tribe that was our problem last year, nature is now sending its second army in the form of plant life. Creeping vines, spidery weeds and heavy branches used as highways by the local possums all encroach into my territory and in some cases are beginning to dislodge the stone and woodwork. Taken to hacking the damned things back, but I'm beginning to suspect poison is again going to be the best answer - at least for the weeds. Gotta say it's pretty good exercise though. :P

Also just for fun some random blog stats as of this posting:
- 245 posts (wow they really pile up)
- 10101 page views so far.
- Top 5 countries where visitors view the site from are Australia, USA, UK, Russia, & Canada.
- 6 comments (half from me, no surprise there)

What is intriguing though is that the most searched keywords that lead here are:
"Skyrim Hamburger" and "pile of ash"

Not sure how that works, but I found it pretty funny. :)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Dangerous Assistance

Part of the journals from Wizardry Online! You can view the rest here!

Good news - I finally got past the watchman last night and retrieved the soul gem from the Temple of Oblivion, but I must admit it wasn't through my doing at all. I finally gave in to Thanam's suggestion of using a magic ring I received for free from a girl (Aika Lakuza) handing them out in town a few weeks back. When worn the ring lets you communicate with everyone else wearing one, and the amount of chatter I was hearing at the start was enough to go crazy. Still, I asked for help while in the depths of the temple with Quark and his human mage friend Westy and to my surprise someone offered to help - a dangerous (ooc: level 30 O.O) female criminal thief called Winter2 Silence. I was a bit wary of her arrival since I heard from the chatter that she liked to kill people after she helped them.

Fortunately this was not the case as she had a personal rule about not murdering in the temple. I don't exactly know how she handled the watchman, but basically she told us to stay out of her way. A few minutes later she called us in, standing over death's corpse.

He didn't look happy at all.

With the barrier down it was easy to take the soul gem we came in here for. Winter2 was amiable enough as she sat and recovered in preparation to face some forsaken priest elsewhere in the temple. Probably don't want to run into her again outside this place though. Selenka on the other hand did meet a super friendly criminal porkul lass called Cheeky Loli a few days ago at Chikor Castle. She's the first criminal status adventurer I don't think we'd mind meeting up with again.

Speaking of Selenka she's also had a crazy (and dangerous) idea of mapping out each dungeon in detail for new adventurers. Given the 37 deaths last month and the lower number of adventurers in town lately this is probably a good idea. I ran it by Quark and he agreed it had some merit so we'll get that cartography project started shortly and let you know how it goes.

-Caanon

Monday, 15 April 2013

Boston Bombing

Sad news this day with the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Slightly intrigued that they setup the bombs at the finish line though as I'd imaging you would have hit more people just before the start while they are milling about, though maybe that was intentional to hit "less" people - or maybe the location at the finish was just more accessible. I guess since most people were keeping their eye on the North Korean missile threat they didn't see this one coming. Will be interesting to see if Obama links it to North Korea regardless (get some NK patsy to take the blame), prompting a swift and decisive military action into that country. Not like they've done that before right?

Also wondered why anyone would willingly "take responsibility" of such an act since it would generally be painting a big target on your face and affiliations. Maybe they want to be heard. Maybe they want a challenge. Most likely they're just crazy. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Jin-e fits that description of crazy.
 
In much quieter news seems America was doing some bombing of it's own today too. They just kinda missed.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Age of Conan: the Single Player MMORPG

My brother was toying with the idea of trying out this game since it is free to play now and just for the hell of it, I decided to download it for myself to check it out and put my findings here. You start out as an amnesiac slave/prisoner (just like all the Elder Scrolls games eh?) and the opening cutscene is basically your character drowning to their death. Sort of. I won't spoil anymore but the story seems to be pretty solid from what I've seen so far anyway and you will be bombarded with quests of a non-repeating variety through mostly voiced conversation (no wonder the download is huge). I've read that after the first zone not everything is voiced as per MMO standard but even so it's very well done in that you don't actually -feel- like you are grinding for EXP. Better yet, if you need to collect bits from foes you don't have to kill 10 frogs to get 1 frog eye for example (damn you Wizardry Online :P). Provided you have a relevant quest, each (and every) critter will drop exactly what you need until you get your quota.


I don't need friends!

Some quests are even single player specific, taking you into the nighttime instances of an area which is basically solo mode. Daytime is the default multiplayer sandbox, but from what I've seen there has not been a good reason to team up with anyone else (possibly because it is not grindy). Sure it helps when other people are in a zone killing stuff that would get in your way but given the quest structure it would be rare that they would have the same goals you do. This is perhaps the biggest question mark for me as basically Age of Conan feels like a single player game that happens to have other people running about.

The graphics aren't as crisp as GW2 but they are pretty good, and the draw radius for the expansive zones is awesome - they just blur as they get farther. When you get to the Acheronian Ruins valley and are told "you have to get to the top of the temple", you can actually see where that is from the very distant opposite side which I find very cool. The mechanics of climbing and sneaking about are also passable with a little "light" gem ala the Thief Series to indicate how stealthy you are. Climbing is also fun (and mandatory later on) though my character doesn't actually use the hand and foot holds provided, instead preferring to climb the air 1 foot away from the wall. It looks silly but it's minor and is preferable to clipping inside the wall.


But it's an MMO? Looking for Party!

Combat is a bit clumsy with button mashing to the max (it is about a barbarian after all), wherein you are trying to attack your opponent on their least defended side (indicated by shield arrows) to do more damage. There are evasive sideward hops like in Wizardry Online but so far I've found it to be a it's a useless mechanic in this game. Death penalizes you with stacking gravestones that make you weaker for a penalty time, unless you can get back to it and tap it. A nice feature for me is once you are a set number of levels over the local monsters they become "white", meaning they give you only 1 EXP when slain but that they will also not bother attacking you anymore (at least not without aggressive friends) as they know they will lose. It also pushes players into harder areas since they can't grind the popcorn mobs.

I think the main multiplayer aspect is meant to come in the form of guilds in the end game (max level 80), wherein groups fight for territory, gold, fame and probably most of all out of boredom. I could be wrong, but if the story is as good as I think it is then it should have a proper end. Still, it looks like a nice ride to get there though - and apparently the titular character himself is in the game somewhere. Afterall, this is the age where he is King.


I will governate you.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Reviews & Tutorials

Just thought I'd compile a list of all the "review-y" stuff I've written about to make them easier to track.

PC Game Reviews:
A Dark Room
A Valley Without Wind
A Valley Without Wind 2
Age of Conan
Age of Wushu
Assassin's Creed 3
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag  
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Assassin's Creed: Rogue
Atlantica Online
Attack on Titan - Tribute Game
The Banner Saga I and II
Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham Origins
Battlefield 4: China Rising (Single Player Experience)
Battleground Europe: World War II Online
Blameless
Bleach Online 
Blood and Jade
Broforce (Early Access)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Call of Juarez: The Cartel 
Candy Crush Saga
Card Hunter
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Crysis: Warhead
Damned (Alpha)
Dead Island: Epidemic (Beta)
Deadlight
Deathtrap
Devil May Cry
Diablo 3
Dino Beatdown
Dino Horde
Dishonored
Disturbed
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
The Elder Scrolls Online (Beta)
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - The Forgotten City (Mod)
The Endless Forest
Escape the Game (Intro)
Eternal Senia 
Farcry 3: Blood Dragon
Firefall (First Impressions)
Forced (Revisited)
Gauntlet (Revisited)
Hand of Fate
Hearthstone (Beta)
Helldivers
I am Alive
Insurgency
Kabod Online
League of Angels
Limbo 
Lost Planet 2
Mabinogi
Mabinogi: What the hell G19?
Magerealm 
Mark of the Ninja
Metro Last Light Redux
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Necrovision: Lost Company
Neverwinter Online
Neverwinter Online: Alliances are Great!
Neverwinter Online: Curse of Icewind Dale
Neverwinter Online: Day of the Dungeon Master
Neverwinter Online: Tyranny of Dragons
Neverwinter Online: Rage of Demons
Off-Peak 
One Finger Death Punch
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Operation Flashpoint: Red River
Papers, Please
Path of Exile
Payday: The Heist
Payday 2 
Peggle Deluxe
Rambo the Video Game 
The Red Solstice (Early Access)
Redshirt
Running with Rifles
Scarlet Blade
Serena
Shadow Warrior (2013) & Viscera Cleanup Detail
Shadowrun Online (Early Access)
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Slender: The Eight Pages
Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army
Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army 2
Sniper Elite v2
Space Hulk (2013)
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Star Trek Online
State of Decay  
Super Meat Boy
Thief (2014 Remake)
This is the Police
Thomas was Alone
To the Moon
Torchlight 2  
Ultima Online
Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior
Vindictus 
Warframe
Warframe: Archwing
Warhammer: Vermintide
Wartune
Watch Dogs
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings  
World of Warcraft: Starter Edition

Movie Reviews:
2 Fast 2 Furious
300 | 300: Rise of an Empire
47 Ronin | Bunraku
A Good Day to Die Hard
Adam Chaplin
Alien vs Predator 
Alive
The Amazing Spiderman 1 & 2
American Sniper
Ant-Man 
Attack Force
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 
Battleship
Ben Hur (1959)
Birdman
Bridge of Dragons
Captain America: Civil War
Captain Phillips
Cast Away
Chappie
Cinderella 
Command Performance
The Darkest Hour
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Deadpool
Divergent
Dracula Untold
Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker
Dragon Age: Redemption 
Dragon Blade
Dragon Crusaders
Dragon Eyes
Dragons of Camelot
Edge of Tomorrow
Elysium
Epic
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Fantastic Beasts and where to find them 
Fast and Furious 
The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast Five
Fire and Ice: The Dragon Chronicles
The Flight of Dragons
The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
For the Emperor 
Frozen
Fury
Furious 6
Furious 7
GI Joe: Retaliation
GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra 
Godzilla (2014)
Gone Girl
Good People 
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I and II) 
Hercules (2014) 
Highlander: Endgame
The Host 
Hotel Inferno
How to train your Dragon 2
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney)
I, Frankenstein 
Idiocracy 
Infini
The Intership
Interstellar
The Interview
Into the Woods
Invincible
Ip Man 3
Jack Reacher
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
John Wick
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic Attack
Jurassic City 
Jurassic Shark
Just the 3 of Us
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kiss of the Dragon
The Last Stand
The Last Witch Hunter 
The Lego Movie 
Life of Pi
Lucy
The Machinist
Maleficent 
Man of Tai Chi
The Martian 
Max Payne (2008)
The Maze Runner
Mirror Mirror
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Mr. Popper's Penguins
My Best Friend's Wedding
The New World
Noah (2014) 
Non Stop
Parker 
The Passion of the Christ
Pitch Perfect 1 & 2
The Prince of Egypt
Pound of Flesh 
The Proposal
The Raid and The Raid 2
Red Scorpion 
Riddick (2013)
Rise of the Zombies
Robocop (2014)
The Rum Diary
Run all Night 
Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Movie
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends
Sabotage
Safe
Safe House
The Scorch Trials 
Seven Samurai (1954)
Seventh Son
Sex Tape 
Snowpiercer
Star Wars: Rogue One 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Sunshine 
Taeter City
Taken
Taken 2
Taken 3
Tangled
Ted 
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator: Genisys
That Thing called Tadhana
Tower Heist
Transformers: Extinction
Underworld
Underworld: Awakening
Underworld: Eternal War
Underworld: Evolution
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Unknown  
Versus
The Water Diviner
Wild Card
The Wolverine 
A Walk Among the Tombstones
A Walk in the Clouds

Series Reviews:
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc
Dragons: Riders of Berk
The Pillars of the Earth

Board Game Reviews:
Descent: Journeys in the Dark
Eldritch Horror
Forbidden Desert
The Legend of Drizzt
Lords of Waterdeep
Operation Flashpoint: Fire Rescue
Pandemic
Police Precinct
Settlers of Catan
Temple of Elemental Evil
The Witcher: Adventure Game
Wrath of Ashardalon
Xenoshyft 
Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak

Other Reviews:
Aldnoah.Zero
Chi's Sweet Home
Deathtrap Dungeon
Game of Thrones HBO Series
Game of Thrones: Battle of Blackwater
Masterchef Australia
StormSlayer
Van Von Hunter
Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Tutorials:
Watch Dogs: Beginner Tips
A Tale in the Desert: A Gearbox Lesson
Neverwinter Online: Vigilance Quest Guide
Vanquishing Vindictus: Tutorial Compilation
Feng Lee's Attack on Titan Tutorial Compilation
Neverwinter Online: Tiamat has arrived!
Neverwinter Online: Grey Wolf Den Boss
Warframe: Trinity's "Secret" Combo
Warframe General Tips
BlogSpot Blog List Tips
Neverwinter Online: Fast Campaign Strategy Tips
Folding Plastic Bags
State of Decay: Tips to reach Level 10 Breakdown
BlogSpot Header Issues (css fix)
Mabinogi Classes [8 Jul 2015]
Simple Cure for Hiccups
Better Portrait Photos - a Tutorial by Peter Hurley
Ultima Online Classes [9 Jul 2012]

I'll keep this list updated as I write more. :)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Crushing Candies

Unlike my grandfather I'm not really one for "little" games that involve a lot of thinking like chess, mine sweeper or solitaire but thanks to my wifey I've been introduced into the somewhat addictive yet highly frustrating Candy Crush Saga. This simple facebook app plays pretty much like ye olde Bejewelled where in you have to match 3 identical items in a row to clear them from the grid. However while only some challenges are timed (just like Bejewelled) majority instead have a set number of moves wherein you must complete whatever task is given to you - be it reaching a score, lowering ingredients, or most commonly (and annoyingly) eliminating jelly squares from the board. You learn to hate those really quick, and given the board is hardly ever a proper square it can be challenging to clear them from nooks and crannies where they hide.


The "Saga" part is how often it makes you fail.

Indeed often times the only way to win is to orchestrate (or get lucky enough) to combine four or five candies into super powered ones that can clear whole rows. With hundreds of levels and a max of five lives which regenerate by one every 20 minutes (faster if your friends gift you some) it certainly has a lot of content. In my case the low life count is good though, because it means I can attack it for a little bit and when I'm out of lives (which is often) I can move on to "better" games. I just wonder then if they are "better" given that I play this one first? Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, or maybe I'm just addicted to candy. :P

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shabang! Awesome Portrait Photo Tutorial!

First saw this video on Joci's Blog  and it is well worth the 15 minutes of watching for photographers and people that get photographed alike (isn't that all of us?). Summarized version is: move your ears towards the camera for a better result! I'll leave it at that as Peter Hurley's video does a good job of demoing and instructing you further.

All about the Jaw. It deserves a watch!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Watching the Wall of Death

Part of the journals from Wizardry Online! You can view the rest here!

Been a very monotonous set of weeks since our last report. I'm taking a break from immolating these pesky venom beetles at the Aria Reservoir right now but I don't seem to be gaining any ground. The same is true for Mr. Caanon and Quark who advanced into the deepest parts of the Temple of Oblivion and are seemingly blocked by one final barrier before being able to retrieve the soul gem itself. Guarding it however are powerful spirits and the embodiment of death itself, better known here as "the Watchman". Overpowered by this horrible foe they've been training up again with the cursed coins deeper in Aria. Thanam has also taken up a more direct combat approach and is training with them having multi-classed to a fighter role as well while still keeping some of his thief skills making him a bit more versatile than old white hair. ;P

Lastly I came across this amusing graph made by the other veteran members at the adventurer's guild, and so far it seems accurate.


Wish I had better news (or simply more news) but for now all we can do is carry on and train up until we can defeat that Watchman waiting in Oblivion.

-Selenka

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Oro!? When did Kenshin come back?

I was a little dubious when I heard that a live-action Kenshin movie was being made, we all know how Dragonball went after all. This left me pleasantly surprised when I actually got around to watching the 2-3 hour film recently (yes I am super late to the party). They follow the series quite well but obviously had to make changes to fit in the budget/time constraints (and sort of highlighted how much filler crap there was in the series). I was a little miffed one character was missing but afterwards I could see it was a good call because giving him and his buddies very little development and screentime would be a bigger disservice, especially since it went so well that they are making a second movie. :D


These people look familiar...

The fight scenes are pretty good and go up to awesome. The actors for me work well too, mostly. Kenshin is good as the hapless rurouni, not so much as the "angry face" hitokiri though. Kaoru and Megumi for me are fine and Sano is ok, though his zanbato is hard to take seriously. Poor Yahiko looked the part but had nothing to do - more or less an extra/throw away. Everyone's favourite cop in that era does an amiable job of being a badass, though I hope we get to see a rematch like the one at the start of the Shishio Arc in a future movie. As for the baddies the guy doing Kanryu overacts a bit which is absolutely fine for a drug smuggling a-hole. Jin-e was perfect. The other two "mini-bosses" don't really have a ton of development but they play their part of combat opponents nicely. Everyone else comes from the stock-standard demonized pile of losers on the street (literally).

There are some questionable story holes too (which usually happens when you cut a large part of the story out). Just a few being: Megumi willing to go out to dinner at a restaurant though she's a hunted person. She also doesn't tell the nice people she's staying with about her problems. Why Kaoru lets anyone and everyone stay at the school. What exactly happened to her dad. Why people think the battousai comes from her school. Why all the psychos actually "work" for Kanryu? They could just kill him and take the loot (he doesn't really come across as a savvy business man in the flick, more like he inherited some wealth). Why Jin-e massacres a whole bunch of nobodies and sets fire to a shrine he's sitting in for no good reason (I guess being a psycho covers it). Why, if it is illegal to carry a sword, are all of Kanryu's men armed? Sano too - does he just claim it's a large bandaged bread loaf? Not exactly the easiest thing to conceal. Most importantly why people think a sakaba sword is not a deadly weapon? "Oh, it's blunt metal like a crowbar at the front and only razor sharp at the back. It's not like he can turn the sword around when he feels like and really - crowbars haven't been used to kill people. Ever."

Also, who is missing you ask?


Beshimi... Hyotoko.... Shikijo.... Hanya....

Still very minor things in an otherwise very enjoyable movie. I can see Aoshi working with Sano's bomb-making friend instead in the sequel. Not sure how they'd fit the entire Shishio Arc without condensing the cast and/or mixing them around though. I mean adding Hiko Seijuro himself should probably eat up one third of the movie if they do the whole training thing. Not much we can do but wait. Till then though, you can and should watch the movie! Too lazy to find it yourself? Here you go. Enjoy!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Flame, Frost and Donkey Kong

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

ArenaNet has been pushing out its Living Story the past few months with all the pace of a sun-bathing glacier. Basically the proud Norn and warlike Charr are getting their butts kicked by a Dredge and Flame Legion alliance (aka "the Molten Alliance") so badly that they are mostly withdrawing not just to their capitals, but all the way to the karka infested isle of Southsun Cove. Well, supposedly. Sure, the molten dudes are popping out from magic portals and APCs here and there but there are still lots of towns out there that haven't noticed this supposed on-coming force; Butcher's Block is still in endless party mode and that place up in Wayfarer Foothills where they cook wurm eggs and have dozens of snoozing patrons hasn't changed one bit. Maybe they're just too drunk to notice anything wrong? Seems the only people actually affected come from previously unknown areas and I suspect part of the reason they are so pathetically weak is due to their unnatural clumsiness.

Or maybe they were also just drunk?

With their meager possessions (being refugees) lots of them still manage to "misplace" them along the various routes they took to run away while defacating themselves like the cowards they are. One of the tasks given to the COMMANDER OF THE FIRE-TRUCKING PACT is to go poke the mounds of dirt and feces left behind by these losers to retrieve them. Yep. For some reason this is one of the "highlight" activities of this story arc. Shovelling shit. Thanks ANet. As for the molten alliance themselves there are hints laying about in another scavenger type quest that indicate it's not Primordus driving these two armies together but something else. Popular theory is it is the Consortium, the competitors of the Black Lion Trading group. Their previous actions included happy things like letting the karka invade the mainland and opening the irritating and unstable fractal dungeon which now requires eternal vigilance lest it destroy reality. Far as I'm concerned all these pirate scum should die. May as well wipe out the barbaric Charr and soulless Sylvari while I'm at it too.

What's that? The Asura? No I love those little goblins, especially since part of the April release was the Super Adventure Box! Personally I feel this is ANet's best content since the Mad King (I did miss Wintersday so maybe that one was good too) which is ironic given all of its 8-bit Mario-ness. There's definitely a certain charm in the nostalgia, and for someone who absolutely dislikes the dungeons in this game I find the Super Adventure box to be awesome. No idea why, but it's a strong enough reason for me to get back into GW2 for a bit. Hopefully it sticks around and doesn't vanish at the end of April like ANet has said, because if it did - they really would be April fools.

Belated Happy Easter too! :)