Saturday, 28 February 2015

Vindictus: Titles and Special Potions

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

To be the best you can be, you must hunt titles. I didn't realize that for a long time, thinking that like in Mabinogi - only stats of your active title are given to you. Nope, ALL the stat boosts of EVERY title you earn applies immediately regardless if you are "wearing" any title or not. Press "c" to open your character tab and then you can click the "titles" button to see what you already have. The ones that you have learned about but not yet earned are grey, but clicking on them will reveal what you need to do to earn it. Be sure to check with Aislinn at the general store for the equipment set quests too as those also give titles.

Speaking of stores Ernmass at Colhen inn sells some neat stuff for AP, the handiest I think being the Merc Heal potions. Unlike regular potions that have a drink animation and are less effective when moving, these heal the full amount immediately. Alas the other two handy potions I've only seen from Level Up gift bags - the Lion Roar potion which basically nukes all spawned minion enemies and the Dead Run potion which doubles your movement speed for 30 seconds. These also have no drink animation and activate immediately. The Dead Run is pretty handy to out walk attacks that are otherwise difficult to avoid.

Easily out walked Shadow Shaman Ingkara's explosive tracking spells.

As a bonus tip for Crossgun Kai players, you can shortcut your way through Ainle by placing grenades at the wrong side of locked gates and detonating them. The explosion radius is large enough to trigger the switch saving you a little time and usually an encounter or two.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Vindictus: Executioner Pantheum

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

There are a number of Raid missions in the Twilight Desert and Executioner Pantheum is probably the easiest one there for a Kai. As a raid though, the rule of thumb is go with a full party just to make things go faster. Pantheum has his own large arena which features four corner pillars around an open center stage that actually does him no favors. For starters, all his regular moves match that of any reaper you've previously fought so you should know how to evade if he gets up to you.

Use the pillars as cover during the fight if possible as they block Pantheum's movement and attacks. When Pantheum goes into "lightning" mode, he becomes invulnerable unless he walks within a set radius of an active pillar. Make sure you are using the same pillar the rest of the team is while you do this as the pillar activation times are much shorter than his lightning mode (and each pillar has a long recharge time) meaning you'll need to displace a few times if all is going well.

Just pretend you are in an FPS. Use cover!

When he goes into "Fire" mode the central stage lights up with damaging flame. Continue combat as before, using pillars as cover from his fireballs but keep an eye on the stage. As soon as the central flames go out, get in there because everything outside will pretty much die in a big explosion. Rinse and repeat until you win. :)

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Vindictus: Bosses of the Summit

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

Since we already covered the easier enemies of the Misty Summit, its on to the main targets of the zone. The first one you run into will probably be Excavator Gianoo, a flying drill wielding gremlin who happens to be one of the hardest for me. He comes with many annoying adds but really only has one move that will put you in danger - a long drill charge which is surprisingly maneuverable. I'm assuming you know to keep away from his wild swinging at close range and triple stomp hop that many previous bosses have shown before. The hard part about his charge move is reading it because he has one that's much shorter. Either way you need to evade at the last second, or it will hurt. A lot.

Gianoo was troublesome for me because of this, until I found out that he simply cannot catch you if you run. Yup. Run circles around him and drink potions to full. That was my solo strategy anyway, because I'm one of those guys that carries 100+ healing potions at all times. :P Much further up the mountain you will encounter Crazy Masaka, a chainsaw wielding version of this guy - but he is much easier to read as he does an aerial backflip before charging. Just remember to dodge at the last minute and be patient as you whittle him away.

This is how close before you should dodge.

Of the wood men bosses, Venukan is probably the first you'll encounter and you'll recognize him from the bristling array of weapons he carries. His fighting style varies depending what he wields (eg. axes = gnoll) and is most dangerous when up close with his sword, but you can still multi-dodge-dance around him. For an easier time keep your distance and convince him to change to spear/bomb stance, which he will try hurl at you but are easily evaded. Stay at the same distance so that he doesn't feel inclined to switch to something else.

Foreman Markan is the next wood man boss you'll meet, and his fight is in an enclosed room (Twilight Desert reaper tomb) and all his moves are basically denial of space. He summons exploding poison shrooms (which will get in the way of your arrows), do an easy to evade double roll, glow green for a bit then shoot a trio of green spinners (harder to evade) but most dangerous of all - he will stomp after you which I'm pretty sure needs three+ dodges to evade. There's nowhere to go in this fight so you need to out DPS him in whatever space the shrooms don't occupy. Evade as best as you can. Steel Muspell is another angry stomper who fights in a small arena. He is a lot easier to read after he throws his hammer at you, but while he wields that massive tool you need to be on your toes to evade the purple seeky orbs he can shoot which is best evaded by going under it I think (towards him). For both these fights I recommend being ready to transform.

Lastly we have Quick-Hand Seira, a bomb throwing gremlin who can do some serious damage if all her grenades connect with you at short range. The solution for her is pretty cheesy for a Kai though. In the area is a ladder to a high perch. Despite having wings she can't actually fly or attack that high so once you get up there just snipe her at your leisure.

Better safe than sorry.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Vindictus: Misty Summit Minis

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

Home to fat gremlins and slow moving wood men, Kai players will find this area easier than the Twilight Desert. Even when on thin cliff sides and such, you will have plenty of room to eliminate all the normal baddies without taking any damage.

That leaves bosses and the "mini bosses" who show up every now and then so lets get those "minis" out of the way first: Observer Morgue, Xaehawk, and Scout Surtr (who only looks imposing) are morons. Just treat them as normals with slightly more health. The Drill Rants can be easily sniped with a longbow. Ghireal is my favorite, he tosses giant (low damage) baseballs at you. Kick them back at him to defeat him.

You can also let your cute pets deal with them!

This leaves Overseer Chiakal, a giant hammer wielding wood man who likes to slam the ground with his hammer. Strangely, the slam isn't so bad. It's 2 seconds after when the ground explodes that you have to dodge or get literally blown away by the massive but fortunately low damage explosion. The other "random" boss is the spirit of Vengeful Langro who is basically a golem that forms after you kill ANY boss in this zone.

Just like in Mabinogi, Vindictus golems are made up by the random stuff nearby which can either make him really easy or really hard, depending on his hit box size. Keep at a distance, strafe, and prepare to dodge for when he tosses junk at you or jumps. Any time any boss jumps, you'd better be dodging. :P

That's it for the mini-bosses. Next up will be the main (non-raid) adversaries of this area! :)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Today I Smiled: FPSing through Vindictus

So, I decided to play Vindictus on the Australian server (starting from scratch) and chose to be a cross-gun Kai this time around and have found it to be remarkably fun since it plays very differently - almost like a shooter. I'm find myself curious what a full team of soldiers with ranged automatic weapons with grenades and grenade launchers could do to the club wielding foes in the game. :P

Pew pew pew!

I've also tried and tested my "Game 5" board game which is pretty much a mash up of all my favorite boardgames to date. It plays pretty decently (hard) but ultimately doesn't make sense thematically - and kinda feels like a mash up of games - so I'm going to be moving on from that idea. Hope I'll eventually have one that works better and that I can eventually produce! Maybe "Game 6" will be the answer, whatever it is? If only I had an office with cats.

Blog wise I've had a pretty good run of daily posts and have finished Project Zomboid "End-Times story". That's going to be slowing down a little bit in the next few weeks due to real life stuff. Good to see some talk about the next NBI too. I'd like to be a part of that again. As usual I need to have a musical entry here and I think this time, Lady Gaga's Sound of Music Medley at the Oscars does the trick nicely.

Lastly I just got a supply of these delicious chocolate crinkle cookies. OM NOM NOM NOM. If you ever are in the Philippines, I highly recommend visiting Becky's kitchen. That's it for now! Hope you all have a wonderful day! :)

Monday, 23 February 2015

The End-Times: Peace and Quiet

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
Just before opening the last can of beans I checked the garden and to my surprise found carrots ready to be harvested! In the following days the broccoli and potatoes too. I was having a feast of vegetable salads that improved my mood, only I knew now that I had over planted - and that much of the fresh produce would spoil eventually.

Maybe the plants can be turned into defensive weapons?

By God's grace I harvested seed-bearing crops, meaning I could plant again. This time using a cycle methodology, which despite getting mildew, flies and fungi still provide a sustainable food source with only rain water from the heavens to sustain it. My water is still conserved using only the neighboring house taps. While it is true that two of those houses are now "dry", they have sustained me here for three whole months. Furthermore, my base home itself still has water in the upper level that I am reserving for emergency, just like my as of yet unused "travel bag".

The zombies are still around. While I've only had to kill two who loitered too close to the garden in the last few months, I still hear machine gun fire and screaming in the night. For now I just have to be patient and quiet, and with prayer perhaps this storm will pass.


[Still alive: 3 Months - Stopped playing due to it becoming an Idle Game. Thanks for reading!]

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The End-Times: My name is Earl

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Earl Parker, Unemployed
Got the hell out of the train yard long ago and began walking... and walking... and walking. My hand has healed but now my feet hurt and I'm suffering from tunnel vision. I also think I'm going in circles and seeing zombies rise out from the ground! That's how tired I am. Still beating up the cute looking ones when I get a chance, so I can take their clothes and use it to bandage my ever bleeding arm. It's going to be all for nothing if I don't find something soon though, because I'm out of water.

...

Hey, this road looks familiar. Is it? It is! The "I Has Beer" Tavern! I'm saved!

...

SHIT. In my haste to clear the tavern, I got jumped by a pair of closet hiding dead heads and one of them bit my arm. I tried to bandage it and sleep it off but upon waking I feel sick. That's it. They got me. Now I'm turning into one of them, I know it! Damn pieces of shit. After emptying the remaining alcohol from the bar into my belly I've decided to take as many of them down with me as I can. Left all my gear at the tavern as I wasn't going to be needing it any more.

Found a shotgun and ammo in a nearby warehouse. Perfect.

Right outside in a parking lot was small swarm of dead heads waiting for some lead. I'm going to go out there and blow them all away. All of them!

Obviously it didn't go to plan.

[Dead: 26 Days, 15 Hrs]

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Pandemic

Deadly viruses are on the loose and it is up to your team from the CDC to stop it!


This game plays out on a world map where little colored cubes represent deadly, nameless, viruses that are spreading rampantly across the globe. If you run out of cubes of any color, or have too many outbreaks (which usually comes down to bad luck), or run out of player cards to draw (two of which are drawn each turn), you lose. That last, yet simple condition is excellent design for me as it pretty much guarantees that each game you play will only go for 45 minutes to one hour simply because you WILL run out of cards by then.

Having a "set" play time makes it easy to plan around, unlike some other games that can go on for a long while. Having multiple uses for those all important player cards also is good design in my book, as it will require coordination to actually come out on top to find a cure for all the plagues and win the game. While we have only played beginner difficulty games so far it has already been exciting with close calls and even one loss. The adding of Pandemic cards (which make the plagues burst from already sick locations) dictates the challenge level.

And if that isn't enough the "On the Brink" expansion adds three optional challenges in the forms of virulent strains, mutations and even a playable bio terrorist. We haven't tried any of those so far as the base game adds quite enough of a challenge, however that expansion does come with a better "box" to contain all the components from the first game as well as interesting new roles and cards which allow a fifth player to also join the team.

It's fun, easy to setup, easy to play, and as challenging as you want it to be. I give it four outbreaks out of five.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gauntlet

This top down, four player co-op game sees a party of adventurers entering the titular Gauntlet of some really bored yet powerful being who enjoys watching blood sport. At least he's nice enough to leave a ton of gold and food (health) lying around as incentive to push forward into danger that scales slightly and has maps that also alter a tiny bit to keep you on your toes. Said gold is automatically shared among the party, regardless of who picks it up, which is a good system for co-op stuff. It can then be spent either on fluff items or a small selection of upgradable relics that can help in your adventures.


Those relics tie in to the rather different potion system in this game. Food is health and is consumed (or destroyed) as soon as it is touched. Potions you can carry around but they don't heal you. Instead they let you use the relics you are carrying. Got only one potion? Well, tough you can only use one of your two relics, once. Kinda annoying that you can't trade these sorts of things in game but if you have voice chat going (which I don't think is included in the game - big minus for me) it's easy enough to try organize.

Another thing you might need to organize is who plays what character at the start, as there can be no duplicates and all of them play very differently. I think the Wizard is the most powerful of the four, but is also the most complicated to play with all the spell juggling. He's very handy against the all too frequent "monster spawning stones" that appear though. Death on hard mode and above also requires a Skull Coin to pay for a revival. The only way to gain these is by killing a ton of monsters and since the Skull Coins are shared between the party there might be a lot of downtime for killed members since the levels are kinda on the long side.

Fortunately there are save points after every chapter (3 levels) so it immediately is better than Forced, which plays very similar to this complete with the annoying "shared screen" style. I'd personally prefer closer save points too but what can you do. All up it's a fun game for an already organized group to play. I give it three summoning pillars out of five.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The End-Times: Cold and Dark

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
Managed to plant all the crops and scavenge some more food in this sudden cold break. At least the rains and thunderstorms should be good for the plants. Not sure how long until they bear fruit though. God willing, it will be soon. As of day 14 the power has stopped working, so I am thankful that I have cooked as much food as I could have and am now eating the things in the fridge before they spoil. Even if those go bad I have at least six cans of beans, numerous bags of chips and an assortment of chocolate to tide me over.

More worryingly I have noticed the downstairs tap has run out of water. I have built up a decent supply of it, but I don't know how long it will last. The large pots I previously used for soup certainly last me a few days but for some reason cannot catch rain water. To this end I am preparing a "travel bag" with some supplies should I be forced to move on from here but for the time being, quiet meditation and prayer has seen me this far, so I will stay until God tells me otherwise.

Earl Parker, Unemployed
The lights are out!? SHIIIIIT! Now I've got all this uncooked food that I don't have heat sources for. Worse, I've had no luck finding a needle, tweezers or thread to properly fix the cut on my arm. It isn't healing at all. I'm getting pretty good at bandaging it though, and washing the bloodied rags for reuse. Not much else I can do other than change the bandage.

As much as I dislike the idea, I'm gonna have to move on. There's simply not enough food here that I'm willing to eat. Uncooked chicken vs rotten vegetables? Fuck that. I'm out of here. Had my fun with the girls anyway. Typical, it decides to rain just as I'm a good distance away from the house. No going back now.

...

I'm exhausted, and now I find myself in some... fenced area as night falls. There's an office but it's locked up tight. No choice but to break the glass and gain another cut on my hand. Damnit! At least I can refill my water at the john, and peacefully eat my pack of chips in the upstairs office. I even find a new golf club and some shotgun shells. No shottie though.

Sleeping in an office chair is uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as realizing in the morning that I am in a rail yard, and it is crawling with zombies.

Not the hot kind either.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Nameless: The Deal

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Nessa slowly woke to the rhythmic beating of a drum and the smell of strange spices. As she slowly sat up she realized she was again in little more than rags but all her injuries were bandaged. To either side of her were her companions, still sleeping and also in the same state of undress. Just as she was thinking they were fortunate to be sheltered under a tent, the flaps opened and a middle aged woman with curly black hair and equally dark, piercing eyes entered, pausing in her stride as she saw Nessa sitting up.

"Feeling better?" she asked as she lightly walked, barefoot, to a nearby table - pouring water into a clay cup. Despite wearing colorful, silken clothes and a collection of bangles on her neck, arms and ankles, Nessa could count at least two small daggers poorly hidden behind them.

Nessa nodded, keeping quiet as she gulped down all the water in the cup offered to her.

"I am Drisana," the lady said with a friendly smile. "You are lucky your friends ran into an acquaintance of mine on in the wastes."

"Friends?" asked Nessa questioningly as she looked to Indas and her sister.

"According to Notaku, they were people you saved from the sewers and again at the soldier's camp. I understand they traded some nice pieces of equipment to pay for your well being and transport here. When you are feeling better, you can find some clothes in the chest behind you and take a walk around. I assure that you are quite safe here."

"And where exactly are we?"

Drisana smiled and pulled open the tent flaps fully. It took a moment for Nessa's eyes to adjust to the brightness outside, before realizing that she was seeing dozens upon dozens of colorful tents with people in all sorts of garb going about their business.

"Welcome to the Sand Market."

It was much later that day when Nessa was joined by the now recovered Nerith and Indas before the tent of the caravan mistress, the entrance of which was flanked by two heavily armored men. Nessa's earlier walk around the Sand Market had been had been uneventful, with little in the many stalls actually catching her interest. She was surprised by the number of visitors that came to purchase things in the middle of nowhere though, and equally surprised by the number of scimitar wielding guards patrolling the boundaries for desert creatures and trouble makers.

"Enter," came a singing, female voice from within and as the three of them stepped in they found themselves standing before the lady that had been checking on them in the tent, Drisana.


"Hello again," she said in a friendly tone. "Don't look so surprised, apart from being a healer I am also the mistress of this caravan. Thank you for accepting my summons. From what I've heard, I could use people with skills like yours - specifically in dealing with some bandits that have been troublesome as of late."

"What's in it for us?" questioned Nerith hesitantly. "You aren't going to turn us in are you?"

"My dear, if I wanted to do that you would already be back there right now. The wizard king is planning something big. Over the last few days he has been gathering his soldiers and recruiting many more for war. I believe he intends to purge the sands of all the slave villages as some show of might. As it stands, with all the villages divided and the lack of equipment to go around, it will be a massacre. Now I can't help unify them, but I can help supply them ... I have already instructed our craftsmen and artisans to build enough weapons and armor for an army. If you agree to deal with the two bandit groups I have in mind, and prove they are dealt with, then the equipment will be delivered wherever you wish."

"Why wouldn't you just supply the slaves regardless? You don't sound like you would just abandon them," said Nerith.

"I don't want to but our traditions are that of trade, not of generosity. Either way, before that army moves this caravan will be crossing the ocean to safer ports of trade. If we happen to have a lot more equipment to sell purely depends on your decision."

"What makes you think we even care about all this?" asked Nessa coldly, much to the chagrin of her companions. "We just want to be free."

Drisana just smiled back at her and then looked to the other two women.

"We'll do it!" exclaimed Nerith finally, giving her sister a challenging stare. Indas nodded her silent approval. "It's what Ash would have done. You don't have to come, Ness."

"But she will," spoke Drisana unexpectedly. "Because you are her sister, and because she wants to keep you safe."

"What she said," grumbled Nessa.

"Then we have a deal," smiled Drisana as she bowed ever so slightly.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

One Finger Death Punch

Perhaps the epitome of "Keep It Simple, Stupid".

Got this neat little indie title as a present and while it has no real story and all the characters are stick figures it is surprisingly addictive. It's also nice to see tool tips that thank the player for playing and supporting the product, as I can't remember the last time I've seen that. Game wise, basically you go around a pretty big, multi-path map beating up everyone with your two button kung fu which is amplified by unlockable skills that activate after killing x number of opponents. I quite like that they have a pretty good (though small) sound track in the background and that each stage is quite small, the largest maybe taking 5 minutes, and easily repeatable if you fail or just want to get a better mastery rank.

Interestingly, mastery is counted via your number of misses so if you want to be the best stick kung fu dude each punch must connect. Difficulty wise there are three ranks which you will have to go through in sequence to unlock the next (the type I don't like, ala Diablo), on top of the Speed tracker between each stage shifts slightly to either increase the enemy speed (if you keep winning) or decrease the enemy speed (if you keep losing).

While there are differing "stages" like mob rounds, throwing weapon rounds, defense against throwing weapon rounds, boss rounds, surival rounds, etc. they all really come down to bashing something to the left or right. Repetitive? Yes. Addictive? Yes. The only time I've found new controls is in the funny final survival mode of "No Luca No". Overall I give it two and a half fingers of death out of five as it is a pretty enjoyable way to lose a few hours. :P

Guess who Luca is.

Vanquishing Vindictus: Tutorial Compilation

After posting that Attack on Titan Tutorial Compilation I decided to do some house keeping with my Vindictus guides and whack them all here. As I often point out in the posts themselves, most of these are for a Kai (archer) type, but hopefully you will find some of it useful regardless. :)

Newbie Guide
Lessons from Vampires
Monkeys in the Snow
King of the Trolls
Oversized Enemies
Sewer Sniping
Snake Worshippers
Pirates of the Graveyard
Reapers of the Twilight Desert
Misty Summit Minis
Bosses of the Summit
Executioner Pantheum 
Titles and Special Potions

Monday, 16 February 2015

Design: Credits

[Whacking it into the Design folder just so I don't lose track of it later.]

More of a Single Player game failure here: Unskippable Credits might enforce the idea that you really want to give credit to everyone involved (like Assassin's Creed 3), but what actually happens? I leave them running while I go off to do other things. Like poop. Is that what you want? For people to walk away and take a dump while your credits roll? I'm sorry, I don't need to waste my time reading whoever did what in your game.

Compare this to the interactive credit roll of Black Flag or better yet, in Devil May Cry 3 (spoilers link!). At the end of that awesome game, there's a small emotional moment and then the player then continues to fight a whole bunch of minor demons while the credits roll to rock music. That is how you do it. Sure I don't remember who did what there either because I was busy enjoying myself, but at least I sat through it.

Movies, while lacking the interactive part, can and should have a credit opening that advances the story - or if not, at least be entertaining. Best openers off the top of my head would probably be Lord of War and possibly some of the Bond movies. Bad one from recent memory is Taken 3. That is a good example of how not to do opening credits!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The End-Times: The Bad News

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
The last house I tried to scavenge sounded an alarm, summoning the putas from all over. I am upset that I couldn't forage anything today, so instead just decided to begin digging up soil in the garden in preparation for seed planting, something I seem to have plenty of. In the process I collected some earthworms who now live in a burnt TV dinner inside the house. They may not say much but at least I have company.

Earl Parker, Unemployed
Damn it. Something came through house in the night, judging from the broken windows it just came through one side and walked out the other. Good thing I sleep upstairs with the dorm "harem". I wonder how I can fix the... OW... SHIT! Stupid stupid stupid! Now I've got a cut on my arm with tiny pieces of broken glass inside. It hurts like a biiiiiitch! Good thing there's a lot of spare clothes here I can tear up into bandages. I'd better do that before this gets infected.

Shaun Jones, Security Guard (beginner)
I couldn't sleep. The excitement was too much. Despite the rain, I decided to raid the school for supplies but got more than I bargained for when I was jumped by three zeds in the toilet. One of them managed to bite my ear! Fricking Mike Tyson zombie. I ran away and made it back to the tavern to rest, but when I awoke I was just feeling sick.

Ok, maybe it wasn't a zombie?

Now I'm back in the commercial district, quickly losing strength as I go through this line of shops looking for medicines. Already had to ditch a number of items from my pack just so I can walk! So far I've only found a fast food joint, a book shop and "Jewel's" beauty parlor where I am currently resting while writing this. Total BS. Why don't they have a clinic or something nearby? Well... I'm too tired to continue searching at the moment so I'm going to rest up here a little.

[Dead: 7 Days 8 Hrs]

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Nameless: Experience

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

A short hand signal behind her back was all Nessa needed to do as the soldiers advanced from both ends of the short canyon. In a sudden flurry of movement the sisters threw knives upwards to the waiting archers, only injuring one slightly but certainly making them miss. Indas hurled Ash's old spear again and that found its target true, sending the impaled body down onto the advancing line at the rear. Making the most of the distraction, the huge woman followed through with her heavy hammer smashing skulls and bones through helmets and armor.

The sisters charged the front line, with one attacking high and the other low - interchanging as needed. The round shields of the guards were not enough to cover both. Those that parried high had their legs cut out from beneath them. Those that parried low had their throats cut. One poor sap even got beheaded. The girls were not invincible though, and they too were taking their share of cuts, wounds and bruises. Indas even took two arrows to the same shoulder. She responded by knocking the archer off his ledge with a thrown helmet followed by angrily stamping on his face until his brains exploded out of his skull.

Such was the problem of having soldiers with no one to fight: training doesn't match actual field experience. They were making little mistakes, deflecting attacks into allies, not taking into account how the wind would affect arrow trajectory, and simply losing their nerve at the sight of comrades dying. When only a quarter of them remained, their morale broke and they turned and ran - with even more of their number getting killed in the process.


The announcer tried to flee at that point too, but Nessa managed to knock him down and get atop of him with a particularly dull knife. His screams of suffering echoed across the sands as she brutally stabbed him so many times that at the end it appeared there was a large, bloody hole in his chest.

With her fury spent she finally, painfully stood and looked at the small camp the soldiers had come from. There were cages with familiar people trapped inside them. The sewer folk. Nerith was already there, limping slowly around and trying to open the cages. It took all of Nessa's will to do the same, nodding slightly to words of thanks as more and more of them were set free. Finally exhaustion got the better of her and she just slumped down to rest a moment against one of the opened cages. Everything went black.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Today I Smiled: Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day all (yeah I'm probably one day early)! :P Regardless if you are spending this with someone or on your own I hope to have something in today's post that will get everyone smiling. I figure I may as well start with "things cats do that'd be creepy if you did them".

Not a cat person? Well, how about learning of the people volunteering for a one way trip to Mars? Honestly, a few years ago when I first heard of this mission, I would have loved to be one of them.

On to game related vids, I'm not sure if you saw my Attack on Titan game tutorial compilation post but this opening, made from Feng Lee's tribute game is pretty damn cool. Another game that seems to have been getting upgrades without my attention is ye olde Sherwood Dungeon! I remember trying to reach the bottom with Juris via running - obviously we never made it. :P

As usual, I have to have a paragraph about music in here since it is one of my passions and I was super pleased to hear that Australia is joining Eurovision this year as a contestant. Also I've recently come across a strange instrument called a hang drum (because I don't get out much) and thought I'd share this clip of it in a solo by Daniel Waples.

If that's too zen for you then I also have a newly released piano solo by Animenz of "Unravel" from Tokyo Ghoul. No idea what Tokyo Ghoul is, but man does that look hard to play. And if that looked tough, here's one more appropriate for today... Animenz's "My Dearest" from Guilty Crown.

Anywho, that's it for me - hope you all have a wonderful day! :)

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Nameless: A Step Ahead

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"I'm sorry for your loss," said the smelly old man solemnly as he and the remaining Sisters of the Sand watched the last of the sewer folk escape through Dagolar's tower and into the darkening wasteland beyond. "I have nothing to offer you but our thanks."

"Where will you go?" asked Nerith quietly as she shifted her gaze to the sunset on the horizon.

"I've heard of villages out in the wastes - villages formed by escaped slaves no less, the most successful having the most ludicrous name of Tea Kettle," replied the geezer. "You girls would do well to find one and live free. Don't worry about me, my leg will only slow you down."

"It's dangerous out there," began Nerith but the old man cut her off.

"More dangerous if you go in an unprepared, large group like that lot," he said ruefully as he looked at the fleeing sewer folk. "That's just asking to be caught again, or worse. Come now, it's time for you to go. Besides, nothing is going to eat something that smells as bad as I do."

Nerith felt a pang of guilt leaving the old man behind as the trio made their way out into the desert, packs of food and supplies on their back. It occurred to her that they had never even bothered to ask old man's name. After more than two hours of hiking after the sun had set, the girls were making their way through a narrow canyon between two rocky cliffs when a familiar voice called out from in front of them.

"Going somewhere?"

Not these guys again.

Nessa, who was in the lead, stopped suddenly as a line of six soldiers previously hidden by the rock face marched into the canyon, blocking their path. Another half dozen soldiers began marching into position behind them, and atop the cliffs a trio archers stood up with bows drawn. From the safety behind his soldiers, the green garbed arena announcer grinned at his prey.

"Surrender now slaves, and I may yet be merciful."

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The End-Times: The Good News

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Shaun Jones, Security Guard (beginner)
I'm saved! I stumbled across a two story tavern called "I Has Beer" in the early morning, stocked with some food and lots of drink! After clearing out the few zeds within and taking a long nap in one of the windowless rooms through a thunderstorm. The next morning I decided to look around more and found a commercial district nearby leading me to think that there will be a lot of good stuff to loot on future runs, provided I can continue to avoid the undead.

I've begun building up the tavern as my base, planting a few crops across the parking lot outside. With any luck this might serve as my new home for a long while.

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
I found a small two story house and thankfully have enough drapes to cover all the windows. I know they won't stop the cabrones from getting in, but hopefully they will never know I am here, like a ninja sheep in a pack of impaired wolves. I've gathered quite a lot of food now so I'm cooking up a storm and gathering water in a few containers. By the grace of God, I will have enough to outlast the dead.

Earl Parker, Unemployed
The good news? Zombie disease isn't an STD!

Mmm sexy!

The bad news? I'm out of booze. Time to go looting the nearby houses. There better be some heavy drinkers in the area.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

This game has taught me why Sauron is the Dark Lord. He sends forth the BSOD! :P

After the first 10 minutes which serve both as a tutorial and a quick story segment to let you know why a wraith possessed ranger of Gondor is sneaking about Mordor you quickly get into the guts of this Assassin's Creed like game, only this is better than almost all Assassin's Creed games I've played to date. You only get three weapons: a sword, a knife, and a bow that easily runs out of arrows but with just those and the unlockable skills you get you can interact with the open world in so many cool and violent ways. Oh yes - super violent ways which gives it a huge tick of approval from me. Not only do you dismember your foes but you can make heads EXPLODE.

This is one of the -tamer- finishers.

And you can make orcs flee in terror. Yup, an often missed behavior pattern in most AI these days (outside scripted events) the orcs actually can do a bit more than flee and die, especially as they climb up the ranks of Sauron's army to become war chief. These mostly randomized bad guys have names, behavior patterns, remember what you've done to them personally, have effects that make them stronger and immunities but also have weaknesses to be exploited. Each one different enough from the next to have an impact when you meet them. Maybe this one hates fire and the other one loves fire and is immune to everything but stealth. Obviously getting caught by them unawares in the open world is bad.

The protagonist is quite godly once you max everything out, but nowhere near the AC curb stomp heroes. Here just the sheer numbers of normal foes can take you down if you aren't careful. Death also has some meaning here as it passes time, which in turn begins refilling the ranks of orc captains you were probably busy emptying. Orcs that kill you and captains that survive the encounter gain in power, making them more dangerous the next time you meet!

Music wise it is ok but its the voice actors that really shine here. I found it clever that the loading scenes have story fragment voice overs which help piece together the past. The story is very cool too, especially for Tolkien fans. I was also impressed by having mountable critters and being able to fight while mounted. All of this makes for a really great game except for two things: a disappointing final fight and that the graphical requirements caused a LOT of restarts for me (PC Version), obviously impacting my overall experience with the product. I stuck with it to the end though, and can safely give this four elven arrows out of five.

Would have been perfect without all those crashes. For anyone else having NVidia issues what I did is put everything at the lowest setting and changed the Win 7 color scheme from Aero to Basic. This cut down the crashes by half.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Nameless: Ashes to Ashes

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Their patience had finally paid off. Ash, Indas, Nerith and Nessa had not only successfully ambushed a squad of Dagolar's guards but by using their armor as a disguise, managed to infiltrate and quietly clear the underground watch post just outside Dagolar's domain. Now all dressed in metal scale and armed to the teeth they approached the huge, black double doors decorated with eye balls that seemed to move on their own accord. As they drew near all the eyes suddenly focused on them and after a few, disturbing seconds, the doors magically creaked open by themselves.

Gripping their weapons tight, the girls entered the huge hall adorned with iron cages all along the sides. Each cage contained various forms of misshapen beasts, often in  a deteriorated or dead state, and beside each cage was a small table atop which sat parchments upon parchments of notes. Before Ash could examine any of them the doors suddenly slammed shut on their own, blowing out most of the lit candles and torches.

"Welcome," boomed a voice from the darkness. "What fine specimens all of you are."

"Show yourself and surrender, Dagolar. All your guards are dead!" threatened Ash.

"At least we hope all of the guards are dead," muttered Nerith under her breath.

The voice laughed as the room suddenly grew very cold. Dark figures began moving at the edges of the fire light, darker than the shadows themselves. One of them suddenly spirited towards Nessa who instinctively sliced through it with her sword. The blade sailed right through it as the creature touched her shoulder, like a freezing cold lightning bolt that suddenly sent her flying across the hall. Filled with concern her sister Nerith bolted right after her, with Ash and Indas following close behind.

"Fucking sorcerers," muttered Nessa groggily as she got back to her feet.

Ash saw another shadow racing towards Indas from behind her so she hurled her spear at it but missed, instead hitting one of few lit torches on the pillar next to it. Surprisingly, the monster seemed to evade not the spear, but the light itself as the torch fell to the ground. That wasn't enough to stop it though as after circling around the creature jumped onto Indas' back and using its painful touch, sent her screaming and stumbling forward into the darkness.

"Use the light!" screamed Ash as she grabbed the nearest lit torch and leaped to Indas' rescue - driving off the shadow creatures from her quivering, curled up form. They had got her good in those few brief seconds. Ash suddenly realized the room was growing brighter as Nerith and Nessa had begun lighting up the room with not just other torches but anything and everything that could hold a flame. She decided to do the same, taking her torch in the opposite direction as from the other two.

Just as Ash lit up her second torch she suddenly found herself standing in front of a bald, bearded man with a ludicrous mustache and a cruel smile, holding a large glass cube.


"SURPRISE!" yelled Dagolar as he opened the container towards Ash. Almost instantly a greenish slime sprung forth knocking her off her feet and to pinning her to the ground. To her horror, it also began to burn painfully as her armor quickly began to corrode and melt. She cried for help desperately as Dagolar just stood there laughing manically, watching as the slime began entering her mouth and covering her face - silencing her for good as it began melting her flesh.

"Ash!" yelled Nerith, as she and her sister rushed from the other end of the hall. They would not make it in time.

Dagolar's laughter was suddenly ended as Ash's spear flew into his chest, sending him sprawling back. It had been thrown by Indas who was by then, back on her hands and knees wracked by the pain caused by the shadow creatures. Dagolar's demise did cause the shades to dissipate, but the greenish slime which had just finished feasting on their friend was still in the room, slowly advancing towards the injured giantess.

Thinking quick, Nessa motioned to her sister to help with a nearby large, burning table that they tossed upon their liquid foe. Her guess was right in that the slime could not consume the flame which instead burned it into a bubbling mess before vaporizing entirely. Whatever means the smoke from the torches previously escaped the room was now overloaded, and the remaining girls began coughing from inhaling too much of it. With no time to spare the sisters dragged Indas back the way they came and into the sewer, leaving the bones of Ash behind.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Attack on Titan: Tribute Game Tutorial Compilation

Since I posted this elsewhere today, I thought I should do it on my own blog too! :P

Feng Lee's Attack on Titan browser game is awesome, has lots of updates, and is doing so well that other people have decided to try make their own versions of it. If you don't know what Attack on Titan (aka Shingeki no Kyojin) is, then I suggest either watching the anime or reading the manga first to avoid spoilers.

You can play Feng Lee's game here.

Now, Feng's game does come with a steep learning curve though so I decided to compile a bunch of tutorials to hopefully make things easier for you. :)

A few tips from me first!

-You'll probably find your mouse goes crazy once actually in a game. Press "C" to toggle the camera until it is one you are comfortable with.

-Spacebar fires two un-aimed cables. Don't use it. Use Q and E to launch individual cables, or press both to launch simultaneous cables.

-You can alternate between Q and E to "walk" up a tree or the back of a titan. Remember: their only weakness is the back of the neck.

Ok, onto the video tutorials. I've tried my best to arrange them in order of easiest to what I think is the most difficult.

Characters Specials
Characters Stats 1.1
Titan Training Basics
Sparrow Strike
Spring Pocket Strike Part 1
Spring Pocket Strike Part 2
Air Equator

That's it! Hopefully we can meet up to save humanity some time! ^_~

The End-Times: Surrounded by the Dead

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
Only by the grace of God am I still alive. Twice I had already been saved yesterday. Most of the zombies I had been fighting ran off to chase a speeding police car. Then, while resting in the evening I awoke in a sweat to one of the putas breaking in through the window to my bedroom! I killed him but broke my holy plank in the process. I know this is the word of God, telling me to move on. As if by fate I found a frying pan labelled "Jesus" which I now wield in his holy name. I don't have many resources other than this, so I will have to scrounge the nearby area for supplies and a suitable new home. I know that God will provide.

Earl Parker, Unemployed
Ohhh yeah... this is the life! Now where did I put that beer?

Shaun Jones, Security Guard (beginner)
Tired. So tired. I can't believe the rail tracks went nowhere. Now I'm following this long... endless road. Heard lots of gun shots followed by a woman's scream from the nearby forest, so I don't dare to stop. With this heat it is no surprise my water is running low. It would be ironic to die from something other than zombies in a zombie apocalypse. They're still around, but very few out here where I am passing. Easy enough to evade, and those that come close I put down with the old homestar runner.

The baseball bat, not the character.

Jennifer Reed, Police Officer (last stand)
I thought I could lose them by turning off the sirens in the forest, but it seems they've followed me all the way to the hunting cabin. I hear them all around and with night falling fast all I can do is get all my weapons ready and hold them off for as long... something is at the door. They're here!

...

Pistol's out of ammo ... there's more coming from the tree line... Shotgun was taking them down in groups but that's out of ammo too, I'm running for the kitchen to get a knife! Killed two more but they've cornered me in the attic, and I'm stabbing as many as I can while they come up the stairs...

Shit! The knife broke! Running to the nearby window and hopping out to the roof below. The bastards are still chasing me! I've got to jump down into... there's a sea of them down there! What do I do? I need to... Aaaaaaaahhhh!

*Zombie behind her pushes her off the roof into the mass of groaning flesh eaters below*

[Dead: Wave 7 - 83 zombies killed.]

Chuck Gray, Angry Fireman
Unbelievable. My AC unit doesn't work and the temperature is just rising. I've also somehow eaten all my food and read all those books I was reserving. What the hell is taking the army so long in getting this mess cleaned up? I'm going to have to risk sneaking to the next house. Damn, it's locked up tight. Hey, what's that sound? A helicopter!?

"HEY! OVER HERE! HEYYYYYY!"

Are they blind!? I'll run out into the open so they see me!

"OVER HERE YOU PIECES OF SHIT!"

I can't believe they are flying away. What bastards! They didn't even see when I threw those pots and pans at their helicopter! And... what's all the moaning around me? Oh. Great. Zombies. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU....

[Dead: 2 Days 3 Hrs]

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Birdman

After hearing all the awards this has been nominated for I decided to go see it the other day without any real expectation of what was in store for me. Yes, it's not really a superhero movie, it's about an actor who happens to be famous for a previous movie role (the titular "Birdman") trying to make a successful stage play. That in itself sounds incredibly dull, however the method that it is delivered is pretty cool, having just one long camera shot (via movie magic) almost the entire span of the movie. I dread to think how much rehearsal time and takes it took for everyone to get each sequence correct.

As you would expect, the acting is superb. Not just from lead Michael Keaton, but from all the others too - again probably perfected through the fires of stress and repetition due to how the movie is shot. Despite having many funny moments the story is a pretty depressing one but that didn't really bother me so much. What did bother me was the choice of music, or lack of it - in favor for many percussion solos (which are cleverly injected in some shots, complete with drummer and everything). Sure there are some parts with a solo cello playing some dark tunes but usually it's the drum guy you hear even in the opening and ending credits. If the point of that was to make me uncomfortable, it worked.

Do I make you uncomfortable?

From a technical view point, this film is great. Did I like it? That is a different question. Let's just say, I give it three out of five soliloquies. Despite that I can't really recommend it unless you like that technical aspect in film or just are a fan of Mr. Keaton.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Nameless: The Magic Number

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The sewers were much bigger than Ash thought they would be, so tall in fact that Indas could actually stand upright in most places. She was just glad that the huge, muscular woman could actually fit through the garbage pit near the arena's kitchens. It had been a few hours of walking blindly through the smelly, maze like tunnels since then but what was around the next turn would make all of them stop in their tracks.

Small campfires, makeshift tents from refuse and filthy, disheveled people going about their business - until one by one, they too suddenly saw their new visitors and stopped to stare. It occurred to Ash that having four women wearing close to nothing might cause some problems so she instinctively readied for combat with her companions following suit. It never came though as all the strangers just continued to stare silently with more than one leering pair of eyes scrutinizing every inch of their flesh. After a long, awkward silence an old man with a long bushy beard and plagued skin hobbled forward on his table-leg cane.

"Hello, fine ladies!" he coughed out with spittle spraying out of his mouth. It was hard to imagine how he managed to smell worse than the sewers they had already been traveling through. "It is rare that we get any visitors to our little community down here. I assume you are ... or were gladiators of the arena, yes?"

"We're just... passing through," answered Nerith from somewhere behind Ash. "Do you mind pointing us to the way out?"

"I'm sorry my dear," shrugged the old man. "You have just traded one prison for another. You see, there are only three ways out of here and all of them are heavily guarded, the first of which being where you came from."

"That doesn't make sense," interjected Nessa. "I thought the sewers ran through the entire city?"

"Not these ones," grinned the old man as he leant heavily on his cane. "These were special built. Weren't you curious as to why the guards didn't pursue you down here? It's because there is no need. They simply keep us in here for Dagolar."

"Dagolar?" asked Ash.

"He is a sorcerer working for King Tectuk, as you might expect since the Wizard King made it a point to execute all the sorcerers that refused to work for him. Dagolar is also our host, if you can call him that. He ensures we get food down here. Scraps really, but there's only so much one can forage here. In exchange a few of his guards take some of us every so often. Those that are taken are never seen or heard from again. That also happens to be the second way out."

"What's the last way out?" asked Nessa quickly. It was clear she didn't like the old man's odor.

"The tunnel to your left eventually leads to the farm land just outside the city, but as I said that too has no shortage of soldiers guarding it. Too many even for us," the old man gestured to the camp behind him.

"We still have to try," muttered Nessa as she began heading for the left tunnel.


"Ness wait," ordered Ash. "We can't just leave these people here!"

"Why not?" Nessa hissed back. "They've clearly already given up."

"Would you want to be stuck here forever?" countered Ash. Nessa let out a sigh of defeat.

"So tell me old man, how many guards does Dagolar send here at a time?"

The old man feebly raised four fingers and grinned.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Today I Smiled: Video Update Temple

A video-link heavy post today, mostly thanks to my late viewing of the Superbowl related stuff! Apart from Katy Perry's halftime show (yeah, I'm a fan), my favorite ads were the ones for Clash of Clans, Snickers, and Esurance's Say my Name. I quite liked the Toyota Camry one too but for different reasons. Guess I'm a sucker for "dad" ads now.

Seen all of that? Maybe you'll enjoy Penn and Teller's anti-anti vaccination vid, or these Japanese commercial featuring sizzling maids or this ... other weird one. Tired of vids? Maybe this article on Iceland building a new temple to the Norse gods is what you need.

I've also revisited Forced recently and found that in now has coop save points, making it much more playable than it was before. Also updated is the link to the Neverwinter Nights module by my brother, Dragonlord, which had moved to the NWNVaults awhile back. In bigger update news Feng Lee's Attack on Titan game has gotten some awesome upgrades. If you are a fan of Shingeki no Kyojin I suggest you give it a try, though be warned - the steep learning curve hasn't changed one bit!

The graphics got better, but not quite as good as Tybee Diskin sitting in a tree. :P

Lastly I've added 12 new blogs on the Paths I Travel link to the right, mostly taken from Massively's farewell page. Always good to have more things to read. I'm also interested to see if  they can withstand my simple "rule".

Hope you all have a lovely day!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The End-Times: Suddenly, Zombies

[This is part of The End-Times (Project Zomboid) story.]

Jennifer Reed, Police Officer (intro only)
No one knows where they came from. They suddenly appeared everywhere. There's no choice now. For any others still alive I have to lure away as many of these ... things ... as possible! They seem to be attracted by sound so I'll use that. Hopefully I can take them away from the city and lose them in the forest.

Shaun Jones, Security Guard (beginner)
I knew moving to Kentucky was a bad idea. I haven't been here a week and already there's some zombie apocalyse going on. Good thing I didn't really unpack yet. Seems to me the dead heads are attracted by noise so it's better to leave quiet like with my pre-prepared pack of supplies and water. I saw some train tracks on the way in. The plan is to follow those and get the hell out of here.

Nick Hernandez, Construction Worker
JESU-CRISTO! Is this how the world ends!? I might only live in a trailer and my whole life spent only in building things, but by the grace of God, the almighty Father, and this handy two by four I am going to smite all these ugly cabrones that threaten my home! Bring it on, pendejos!

Kimberly Ward, Park Ranger
Woke up to some loud sirens racing past the house, so I look out the window and what do I see? OMG - Zombies!?! I don't know what's going on! The TV doesn't work, and I picked a really bad time to start that diet! There's literally no food in the house, just designer handbags and fashion magazines. Think brain, think!

I know! I'll just raid the creepy fat dude's house. He's fat, so he should have lots of food. Right? This can be payback for all the times I've caught him perving at my bed room window...

What luck - he's not home to get mad at me for breaking his window. Or taking some of his food! I'm sure he wouldn't care about me burning some bacon in his microwave either. I was distracted by this shiny pistol I found in one of his drawers. NICE. Oh look, the fat bastard is out on the street... he's one of them? Hah! Serves him right!

Wait, no I got a better idea. Let me get this door open... "HEY YOU, FAT ASS!"

Haha, he's even uglier now as a zombie. He so has this coming as I point his own gun at him and pull the trigger with a satisfied grin on my face.

*click*

Eh?

[Dead: 1 Day 6 Hrs]

Chuck Gray, Angry Fireman
When will that stupid bitch stop screaming? Ah there we go. Serves her right for confronting one of those with an empty gun. There are zombies. So what? Not my problem. I'm just going to shut all my curtains, read my books and cook some food from my well stocked fridge.

Earl Parker, Unemployed
Wow, everything's going to hell eh? Well unlike that Mexican motherfucker with the two by four defending his "home" I'm not really attached to this caravan. It's my third ex-wifes really. I only inherited it when she accidentally fell onto some bullets and rolled into the lake tied to a concrete block. Sure looks like it's everyone for themselves now, and if I can choose which house I want to be mine next... it would be that one. The pink, two story one. Aheheheh!

With a bag full of booze and a golf club I once found on some rich, fool who was killed in a hit and run by a car I happened to be driving at the time, I'm headed over to claim my prize.

Turns out it was well guarded, but not well guarded enough. The window was easy to open, and killing the five cute, zombified dorm girls inside was actually kindof... arousing. Aheheheheh.

The End-Times

For those who have been following since last week, you've probably read that I got a free copy of Project Zomboid (Beta) from Isey. I've since played it and thought that it would be a pretty good game to make a short adventure journal of, so here it is! If you like reading about zombie related stuff I also encourage you to take a quick look at my old Dead Island diary too. :)

Note: All characters are on Survival mode, unless otherwise stated.

Chapters:
Suddenly, Zombies
Surrounded by the Dead
The Good News
The Bad News
Cold and Dark
My name is Earl
Peace and Quiet

The End-Times tale has ended for now! Thank you for reading! :) 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Payday: The Heist

I once said I'd never play this, then I got it as a gift and guess what? I like being the bad guy. :P

I had a quick look at my review list to see any non-MMO titles where you actively played as a villain, at least in part of the game. As of this post, I found four: Black Flag (Kenway's a Pirate), Thief (Garret steals stuff), Shadow Warrior (Lo Wang is a bad dude and works for a bad dude), Necrovision: Lost Company (Nazi Zimmerman unleashed a zombie plague). This is the first coop shooter I've played where you are the bad dudes. Four misfits trying to get rich quick.

AKA - Four stupid clowns.

While there are Heists which let you walk around and case the places first before going into the "action" segment, most missions actually just drop you right into the action where something just went wrong. By rule of thumb something ALWAYS goes wrong, mainly because the "fifth" member, an NPC strategy guy comes up with the most ludicrously hilarious plans to get your objective and get your team out. It also helps that you are penalized for shooting civilians and are actually encouraged to take hostages from both them and the police force.

Hostages can be traded later to get downed allies to respawn quicker which is a pretty clever idea. Also clever is the "fairness" of the police AI. They don't swarm you like hornets unless you are standing near a camera or making a lot of noise. They actually go hunt you down slowly, albeit in ridiculous numbers. Their special forces are also cool, from the tanky shields and bulldozers to the agile tazer dudes and wall running spec ops guys that down you instantly if they reach you. It is to the point of being comical which is what gives this title a free pass into the bad guy zone.

Also impressive is the "drop in" capability of letting friends just join a game in progress, and while lag is slightly present when I host it is still very playable and enjoyable. I also very much like that the worldwide success rate for each map is shown during mission selection, and that no rating is currently higher than 30%. So far my brothers and I have won 2 maps but there are plenty to go. There is a slight lack of customization I've found, but that might be remedied by gaining more experience/reputation.

All up, I'm glad to say I shouldn't have judged this book by its cover and give it three and a half bullets out of five. I recommend it especially to those who already have cooperative game teams.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends

The direct continuation from Kyoto Inferno, this film wraps up the "Shishio arc" in the anime quite well, but obviously with big differences in locations and plot due to the time constraints of a two hour movie. This means you don't get to see all of the ten swords fight, which might be a good thing. The few you do see who haven't been introduced with a speaking line in the previous movie are understandably very pale comparisons from their anime counterparts that had episode upon episode of character building. Instead they just become oddly dressed fodder. In exchange they creators just made Shishio a hell of a lot stronger.

Bandages are armor?

As usual, there are some questionable plot points especially when it comes to the government people but these are easily overlooked while you get amazed again by the fast paced, beautiful and brutal fight scenes. I also really like whoever they got as Kenshin's master, he fits the role perfectly. Better than the last movie? Hmm, I think it is about the same - or maybe better by just a little. The very first movie is still the tightest plot wise since they didn't deviate around too much. Not that it matters because you are going to watch all of them in order right? ;)

Highly recommended for Kenshin fans regardless, or fans of Eastern action movies.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Nameless: No Freedom from Fate

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With one final push, the large metal gate finally broke from its hinges, collapsing with a deafening crash inwards into the torch lit hallway behind it. The gladiators were now in uncharted territory but there was no time to be cautious as the heavy foot falls of the armored guards drew closer from all directions. Gigal, bow in hand, quickly leaped ahead of everyone, her slender long legs letting her reach the upcoming intersection first and following her nose, turned right. The kitchen contained the means to their escape.

For all her speed she lacked the reflexes to evade as a door on her right suddenly opened with shield-bearing guardsmen charging through and knocking her off her feet. She screamed in agony as one of them then stabbed her in the thigh with a stone sword while the rest of his companions rushed down the hallway to combat the other escapees. In desperation Gigal flailed wildly against her bearded attacker but the man simply caught her hand and after staring down at his beautiful, scantily clad prize for a moment, dragged her helplessly back into the room he had come from and locked the door.

The rest of the Sisters of the Sand along with the slowly dwindling numbers of Scar's group were being pushed back by the sudden appearance of the guardsmen - their numbers compensating for the lack of skill. Seeing that it was a losing battle, Scar suddenly whistled and he and his two remaining men broke from combat and ran in the opposite direction leaving Ash and her girls to handle the ever growing number of enemies.


"We have to fall back," muttered Nessa with gritted teeth, just as she parried away an enemy blade. Ash knew that but without a clear opening not all of them would make it. It was then she saw the dilapidated, secondary support beam above them.

"Indas! The beam!"

The towering woman knew what Ash wanted and right after pushing back a pair of guards, jumped up and slammed on the aged timber with all her might, sending it loose from its bearing and right into the line of guardsmen, knocking them all to the ground. Before Ash could give another order, Nessa and Nerith tumbled over the downed enemy line and quickly slit as many throats as they could. Only three of the guardsmen made it back to their feet with Ash spearing one through the face and the other two having their skulls crushed together by Indas' huge hands.

The sounds of battle ringing down the hall signaled that Scar's escape hadn't gone so smoothly either. While the brunette sisters looted what gear they could, Ash and Indas reached the door the guards had come from and, seeing Gigal's bow lying on the floor as well as hearing her cries and whimpers from the other side, they tried desperately to break it down.

It did not budge.

Screams of death followed by marching feet indicated that they were out of time. With tears of frustration on her face, Ash signaled the rest of her team to keep moving; towards the smell of roasting meat, towards the kitchen, towards freedom and leaving Gigal to her fate.