Friday, 31 July 2015

Nameless: Easy

[Day 1 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Why do we get to be the bait again?" grumbled Nerith to her sister as they cautiously approached the tall mouth of the large cave, lit torches in hand. A deep growl followed by heavy foot falls from within confirmed that the beast had seen them and in mere seconds advanced angrily out of the shadow and into the moonlight, letting the girls get a good look at its gigantic claws, heavily scaled back, and hideously ugly beak face. It was so focused on the two intruders in front of it that it never detected Indas and Chaya, patiently waiting above with a rather heavy looking boulder. With a large thud and a splat, the boulder found its mark right on the beast's head, killing it instantly.

"Hah, that was a lot easier than I thought," mused Chaya as she watched Indas climb down to her friends. Just before they vanished into the darkness below Chaya waved to them and gave the old arena hand sign for good luck.

The initial cave interior was pretty spacious and littered with the bones of whatever the rampager had been eating. There were higher ledges though which Indas was key to reaching, helping her smaller allies climb up the slippery and mossy rock faces. Those higher passages narrowed into a maze of cobweb filled tunnels, and more than once did the girls see the big, black spidery shapes skittering deeper into the darkness. Choosing the paths that had less webs and an an upward incline, they found a draft of cool air blowing into the caves and following that eventually found another exit near the top of the mountain which led right beside the old and crumbling stone castle.

The cold air was a good change from the sticky and hot ascent through the caves but they were given no chance to rest as a loud bell began ringing atop one of the towers: an alarm. Tossing the torches aside, the three women quickly charged towards the nearby castle walls to do what they did best - darting in serpentine lines to avoid incoming arrows and easily finding holes in the crumbling walls to breach into the ancient courtyard. The defenders were so unprepared for an attack that they were easily dealt with as they trickled in, even while Nerith climbed the crumbling parapet to get rid of the archer pair above. After a few minutes of slaughter no more reinforcements came. The girls grinned to each other, covered in blood while standing over the bodies of over a dozen bandits and a few, now mangled, wyverns, the only surviving beasts still locked in their cages - blankly staring out behind the bars.

Amidst the bodies Nerith spotted an oddly carved flute that must have belonged to one of their victims. Curious, she bent down to pick it up but before she could do so Indas quickly stomped on it - crushing it into dust. The caged wyverns suddenly all began to frenzy, as if only realizing now that they were prisoners.

"Bad magic," said the big lady in a low tone.

It was rare for Indas to say anything, so Nessa and Nerith didn't question her when she did. They considered what to do with the trapped wyverns for a moment but since it was equally dangerous to let them go or kill them, they ultimately decided to leave them where they were, letting the fates decide which ones would be strong enough to escape and which would simply die in captivity. The irony wasn't lost on Nerith as they returned through the tunnels to Sedrite to report the good news to an overjoyed Chaya.

"Our village can now rebuild properly," said the thankful woman. "We owe you our lives. We would be more than happy for you to stay of course!"

"Sorry," apologized Nessa "We still have things to do, but maybe one day you can return the favour."

After some hugs and final goodbyes, Chaya watched as the three girls walked out into the wasteland they had appeared from.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


"The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate."

A military experiment goes awry when the most average army dude (Luke Wilson) and average "private sector" lady (Maya Rudolph) are cryogenically frozen, forgotten about and by sheer luck wake up years in the future... a future where the IQ of the human race has dropped like a stone. It's soon discovered that army dude is the smartest man on the planet and is tasked with fixing the world.

He's a Mac.

Yep, this comedy has a stupid premise and is full of swearing and low brow humor. There's also passable CGI (surprising that its of that quality actually) and a lot of really dumb shmucks running around. There's really not much more I can say about it than that but as silly as it sounds, it is surprisingly entertaining and probably worth at least one watch. I give it two Brawndos out of five. Watch it again? Ehhh, I think not.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Good People

There are always monsters guarding pots of gold.

An American couple (James Franco and Kate Hudson) living in England happen across some "bad money". Due to their financial difficulties they choose to try keep it from themselves. This obviously becomes a problem when the bad people who want that money come knocking. That's the plot in a nutshell and there's nothing really more than that going on, yet it kept my attention throughout.

There's a fair amount of violence in this film but I felt it is used sparingly and instead relies on the thriller aspect of how the couple can get out of the mess they get themselves into.

"Let's just run away!" probably would have been a valid option.

Good performances all around and when the action parts come in they are quite exciting and sometimes brutal. No extra stuff or crazy car chases, just very character focused and to the point. Even if it's a somewhat predictable point. That's why I quite liked it, and give it two and a half hidden stashes out of five. Would I watch again? Surprisingly, yes!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Today I Smiled: The Revenge of Blaugust!

Heads up everyone! Bel is running his Blaugust event again and once more I am participating. Seems I've been posting daily for a fair bit anyway. Hopefully this will also refill some of the "bleed" (aka blogs that I've been culling due to inactivity) which is currently on 15 this month (34 total since the last NBI). Be advised - I plan to be hitting my Nameless "Creative Writing Experiment" pretty hard during Blaugust. I know it's probably not everyone's cup of tea so just giving you advance warning that there might be large slabs of it coming up. I'll still try break it up with movie reviews though. :P

In other news, lumber jacking and getting wood from trees is pretty common in MMOs right? Well I had my first taste of it recently and it is definitely different in real life! While it definitely takes time (doesn't help that I'm a novice) it's also much louder than say... the sound file in Ultima Online. Way bloody louder. Also, vertical cuts are much easier than horizontal cuts which is great for branches but since trees generally stand upright I'm not getting any joy there.

Also doing the "wedge" cut is pretty tough! Doesn't help that my accuracy with the axe is not the best so I was ending up with deep "U" shaped things. Cutting half way into the target with the wedge cut is not enough. At least not with the things I'm trying to cut. It almost needs to be broken right through before things start to give. Next time I think I'm going to try a saw!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Jupiter Ascending

Time is the most valuable commodity there is.

Jupiter (Mila Kunis) is Sci-Fi Cinderella. Being an illegal immigrant, she and her Russian relatives work as maids and are struggling financially. This changes when various aliens arrive to try kidnap and/or kill her as it becomes apparent that she is the reincarnation of someone important and related to the space villains of this film, House Harkonnen. Oh wait. Wrong movie. Eddie Redmayne does make an interesting soft spoken villain though, very different from his Pillars of the Earth character.

Can you hear me now!?

There's a LOT of action in this movie and most is done with very cool, high budget CG. Mila goes through a whole bunch of outfits in the course of the film so kudos to the costume designers too. There are a number of plot things I'd question though, like how one dude can breathe space in one part but not in another, and why don't more people use hover skates as they clearly come in handy and must be affordable to all the bad guys if they are that "rich".

The most annoying one for me though is that Jupiter is basically a passenger for most of the film. She really has no say in what's going on with her for almost the whole movie. Not sure if it was intentional, but that's how I perceived it. Still, it's a fun watch so I give it two and a half gravity skates out of five and yes, I wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Today I Smiled: Second Lie of bs-ter

Looks like I've been Liebstered a second time, this time by WolfDragon who generally suggested having a search field somewhere on here... so I've plugged on in on the left, just underneath the Library section! Just like last time, I'm going to kill the chain here after answering WolfDragon's questions. I think I'll have a go at the 11 random facts too, though as I mentioned last time - there are already around 31 facts I put up in last years Blaugust (starting from this post and ending here).

Eleven Facts that you may already know about me:
  • I draw and have made cartoons in flash. Kinda bummed with the recent news for that product.
  • The pic in my profile is what I actually looked like before.
  • I compose music and mainly play piano.
  • I love boardgames and want to make my own. So far, this has been unsuccessful.
  • Always wanted to make a computer game that was good enough to sell (for the price of a hot chocolate). Will be trying that in the future.
  • I wear glasses when on the computer as I am far sighted.
  • When I was younger, a german shepherd managed to pounce and pin me to the floor - it then licked my face!
  • I sometimes take cold showers just for the hell of it. This is most interesting during winter.
  • I'm a chocaholic!
  • I watch a lot of movies. (Duh)
  • Since March, I've been on a not so strict "avoid carbs" diet. Lost 7 kgs so far.

WolfDragon's Pop Quiz:

If you could have any vehicle of any type from a game, which one would it be?
Giant Robot. One of the humanoid looking ones from either ZMR or Mech Warrior.

Does your current nickname (or character name) have a meaning? If so, what is it?
Yes - a very silly one! My Skyrim actually came from when I was learning to play basketball, during an age where I was so young that I could barely shoot from the freethrow line - it was far! I thought it would be so much easier if I could walk on the sky, upside down no less, because it would be easier, as the only upside down player, to shoot, not need to dribble (because I'm flying right? no traveling violation there) and be able to dunk (jumping is inverted) and touch the ring as my taller and at the time, way fitter brothers could. While the elder scrolls totally "stole" my name, at least theirs had a more awesome connotation to it. :P

Do you like to collect things in game? If so, what is your strangest collection?
Healing potions. Not really a very "out there" collection, but in games that have healing potions I normally use them pretty fast. It isn't uncommon for me to bring 500+ of the strongest type I can get my hands on.

Have you ever been drawn back into an MMO because of an email they sent you?
Nope. If said emails had instant rewards attached to them then they'd have a better chance. Hasn't happened yet though.

What game achievement are you most proud of? (It can be a “real” achievement or a goal that you made up for yourself.)
Playing piano and singing at my cousin's wedding - as the only musician. First time I ever did something like that, and it was awesome. :)

Have you ever lead a group of people in a game (such as a guild)? If not, do you think you could?
Yes, and still do as part of the triumvirate leadership for my guild. It's a lot easier with co-leaders I think.

How do you express your love for games? Writing? Art? Posting on the forums?
All the above PLUS also making content for games that allow me to, such as Neverwinter Online (Foundry) or when I was a GM in various Ultima Online shards.

Has gaming helped your life in any way? If so, how?
It certainly sped up my typing and reading.

Describe a moment where you very badly wanted to do something that went beyond the limits/physics of a game. Such as save a favorite character that was otherwise destined to die.
Any time you are -required- to have more than one person to do anything: from fight a boss to open a door, that is stupidity. True heroes get stuff done on their own!

Ever wanted a pet from a game? Which one?
In real? Well, there are many cool ones in my Mabinogi stable, but if they poop then I don't want any! Hrm, maybe the flamesteeds would be ok - they do seem mechanical anyway. Mechanical and ... on fire. :P

And most importantly: cake or pie?
Cake! Especially the chocolate variety. Pie is often filled with fruits. Bleh!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Walk Among the Tombstones

The boring version of Taken.

Liam Neeson is back as a private investigator trying with an alcohol troubled past who is convinced to help some criminals catch other criminals who are hacking up their loved ones. There's a fair bit of sleuthing around and talking and not a lot of fighting / gun play which makes the story move a little slowly. Also, the body count again is quite low (for me) and Liam spends most of the time talking his way out of fights (which would make more sense).

So... I literally just walk around for most of this film? Screw that.
(My version of what should have happened: Walking Away from the Stupid Movie)

My problems with the film are Liam's filler "sidekick" who is quite irritating, that there are lots of stupid people who fail their observation checks (except for Liam), and the fact that the "victim" criminals don't want to call the police for assistance. That just shows to me the "victims" care more about themselves than the actual "victims" and aren't worth helping in my book. Anywho its a "meh" story, not one I want to see again, and I give it one shot glass out of five.

You should give this a skip and instead watch Unknown or even better, the Taken series which I believe are much better movies of a similar type.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Game Design: PvP in "Story-Based" Games

[Part of my MMO Design Folder.]

I quite enjoyed playing through single player mode in the Assassin's Creed series as well as the Batman: Arkham series. As you probably know I am always behind in terms of keeping up to date with them because of my spending habits on games (ie. I don't). I keep finding though that some of these games have a small PvP section to them, like bonus content. Sometimes these sections also sound pretty cool.

The problem I'm seeing though, perhaps because I'm on the older games, is that almost no one is playing these modes. Not enough to even start up a match from my personal experience. I have to question then the wisdom in spending resources in developing a part of the game that is surely going to be unplayable over time. Surely it makes more sense to dispose of it and completely focus on the story campaign? I've found cooperative modes often follow the story line as well like in the Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army series so that's not really an issue. If you have allies cool. If you don't you can still go ahead.

It's just the logic of the PvP thing I don't understand. As a mainly co-op player it's quite likely I am mistaken, so I ask you dear reader: In games like the above, how many hours did you spend playing through the story and how many hours did you spend playing in the competitive PvP modes? Surely Call of Duty guys clock more PvP hours than story hours right?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The New World

Pocahontas as you've never experienced before, and with any luck - never will.

Basically this is the Pocahontas story without any singing, though it mostly follows male leads Colin Farrell (1st half) then Christian Bale (2nd half) and their "love" for the native princess. On the positive side, the sets and costumes are fantastic. The score a little lacking but I can see what they were trying to do with a sweeping string piece for the ship shots, a piano piece for Farrell and a piano piece for Bale. Alas most of the time, the music doesn't match what's taking place.

Also, Pocahontas seems to be tripping balls for 30% of the movie.

Worse still is that the movie suffers from very odd cutting, inserting random geography shots (which by themselves are nice), and definitely too much of "he looks at her, she looks back" shots - sometimes around ten in a row. This, in combination with quiet internal monologues from each lead plus a general lack of action makes for an incredibly dull tale as the plot moves along at a turtle's pace. A turtle climbing Mt. Everest, while missing two legs and carrying seven anvils. If you want to waste almost three hours of your life then this film is for you, otherwise I deem it Not Worth Watching and give it one sailing ship out of five.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

ZMR: Zombies Monsters Robots (F2P)

In this Free to Play FPS game, players are mercenaries who go on various missions against all sorts of bad guys. Yes, there are zombies, monsters and robots (some of which you can ride) but there are also spirits and valkyries and dinosaurs that shoot rockets! As you can imagine it is pretty crazy, and possibly why there always seems to be more PvE activity rather than PvP, which is awesome for me. As your character ranks up or when you complete quests you are also rewarded with better gear (later on, just a chance for better gear) but if you are impatient you can head over to the cash shop to spend real money or in-game gold for upgrades, most of which are "rented" and expire after 7 - 30 days depending on how much you pay.

There are a good number of maps each with unlockable difficulty levels (which I usually hate but its forgivable here), and you can also drop into a game midway which is great, but remember that your bonus loot comes from your position ranking at the end of the match. If you get downed and are unable to be saved by a team mate you will need to spend a revive token to respawn. When you join any map you have 3 for free (doesn't stack, and you don't get to keep them) which for the normal difficulty is plenty. On harder modes you might need to start spending the extra ones you gain as rewards because the bad guys start doing some serious damage.

Bullets and lasers everywhere!

Most missions fall into one of three categories: survive waves of enemies (more waves per difficulty), defend a portal to prevent enemy waves from escaping, and assaulting a location which doubles as story mode complete with high adrenaline boss fights, decent tunes and questionable voice acting. Despite the number of maps it doesn't take long to feel the grindiness but it is still a pretty fun shooter regardless. Also, because PvE is cooperative there's less of a balance issue with pay to win guys as you are all on the same team. I also find it pretty cool that you can pick up the weapons of your enemies, which is another way to gain those high powered guns, albeit temporarily.

All up I give ZMR three and a half sexy, sword swinging valkyrie dinosaur pirate spirits out of five and is an easy title to recommend to FPS fans - especially those who are more interested in cooperative play. You can find it on steam and as I said at the start, it costs you nothing to try it out!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Pillars of the Earth

Wait, this isn't a movie...

I'm bucking the trend today be reviewing a mini-series which basically follows the construction of a cathedral and quite rightfully spans many, many years. At first it might feel a little bit involved (unless you are a Game of Thrones fan) with following the stories of the builder's family,  the priory monks, the noble families fighting for the crown, the lesser nobles vying for Shiring Castle, and one masterfully manipulative and ambitious priest played by Ian McShane. He does a really fantastic job and every scene he is in is great, which is pretty good for the villain! It's also the first time I recall seeing Eddie Redmayne, who also does a decent job in his role.

All the people. :)

There are a few "weaker" actors but for the most part they can be overlooked, and I can't really complain about the wonderful sets they had there despite some "stones" seemingly being made of lighter material. Really the only two negatives for me were some of the very plain names for main characters (such as "Tom Builder" and "Jack Jackson") and that some characters age and some don't.

Also "aging" to some of the cast also just involves putting on a ludicrous looking wig so they get a little funny to look at but all in all it's a decent story which manages to tie up all the threads a little too cleanly at the end. Regardless I highly recommend it and give it four stones out of five. I also wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Eternal Senia (Free Game)

This is a free little game that's available on Steam and was built on the RPG Maker system in which the player controls Senia as she searches for her "sister" in the Tower of Eternity. It might sound pretty plain but thanks to the developers reworking of the system it plays more like an action RPG than the standard type, which means you'll be more: evading red areas on the floor and less (actually none): taking turns with enemy groups to hit each other.

Instead every time you bump into an enemy you exchange damage. It sounds weird but it works, especially when you start gaining special moves and it makes for a much faster and fun game play. There's also a fair bit of crafting you can do to upgrade your gear and bonus quests that encourage you to find all the secrets or kill all the monsters. I found it pretty clever to put the quest givers at the END of a level too, meaning you may have already completed the things they wanted you to do by the time you get to them. If you want to go back for completion or press on through the game is entirely up to you.

Makes the grinding less grindy!

While there are some slight translation problems in that some of the lines are poor in grammar or spelling it tells a pretty decent story and one that is easy to follow. Highlighting that "games should be fun, not work" every single boss fight has a selectable difficulty level too (easy, normal, hard) and you are not penalized in anyway for whatever you choose. All up Eternal Senia is a fun game to play, earns three and a half little fairies out of five, and is easy for me to recommend to any gamer out there looking for an easy "down time" game. You should give it a try. As I said at the start, it is completely free!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

You've probably already seen a movie with Jack Ryan but didn't realize it.

The film opens with a pretty quick background on protagonist, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) who is clearly a clever and driven guy. As with most things Tom Clancy, he is soon recruited into a secret organization and embedded undercover where he can put his intellect to work. Soon enough (*cough* after a time skip *cough*) he uncovers a potential terrorist plot and happens to become the pointman in stopping said attack which also puts a strain on his relationship with his scary face girl friend (Kiera Knightley). I normally find Kiera to be really pretty, not sure what happened to her here...

There are a number of funny bits and a few action sequences in the film, though nothing over the top though and I'm actually surprised with the rather low body count. I guess it's because he's not really meant to be field-ready? Anywho, he's in luck since the bad guys here are rather stupid. Two of them actually let him win / escape. Around 35% of it is also in Russian, but that's ok since it's pretty entertaining. I give Shadow Recruit two and a half out of five hidden files, but am not really keen on watching it again.

He's a man of many faces.

More interestingly, this Jack Ryan (albeit a rebooted version) is meant to be the same Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October (Alec Baldwin), Patriot Games (Harrison Ford), Clear and Present Danger (Harrison Ford) and The Sum of All Fears (Ben Affleck) - so he clearly has a lot of ground he can (re)cover if they decide to make a series with him. He'll need to up his combat game to make it interesting though.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2

Don't worry if you haven't played the first game, because the "escape" finale there is nullified as the heroes are sent back into the heart of darkness to try put an end to the undead horde - meaning there's a bit more story this time around. Much of what I liked from the first part is still here too: the jump scares, the head shot requirement to kill zombies, and the pretty scary atmosphere which is uberly amped up in some spots. Enemy wise, there are a few new types I've encountered that join the list of your old favorites from the previous outing.

Don't let them get close!

Many maps that I've played through are again re-purposed from the previous games (Zombie Army 1 and Sniper V2) but changed enough to be quite a new experience. What they do a lot this time though is to block off any escape routes you had just before a big fight. Game play wise this means a bit more running and gives higher importance to the shotgun and its excellence at close quarters, but programmatically it also frees up the memory from all the zones you've already cleared making it a much more stable experience, especially in coop mode which is fantastic. Sure, you cannot fall back to the very beginning of a map any more but it's a small price to pay in the scheme of things I think.

Currently around half way through and am enjoying it thoroughly, giving it 4 bullets out of 5.

Here's a clip of some zombie killing action for those interested. I'm the guy with the hat.

Friday, 17 July 2015

The Host

Aliens have taken over the world and only a handful of humanity remains.

Sounds like the start of some epic, carnage fest right? Only these aliens are parasitic, white furry caterpillars that float pretty slowly and must be introduced to their victims via a careful incision at the nape of the neck. Furthermore they are pretty benign in that by taking over they have achieved world peace, they never lie, and they only improve on the technology already available on the planet they conquer. It's a good explanation why "aliens" are just blue eyed people who use various forms of pepper spray and common vehicles like motorcycles, cars and *gasp* - helicopters.

The story of how a host then tries convince the alien to ally with it is ... ok, and makes for some funny scenes as they start talking to themselves and the audience gets to hear "the voice inside" but the ultimate problem is that much like the floaty caterpillars the movie goes VERY SLOWLY. The actors are actually all fine for me here, but the script is just lousy. Nothing happens! Expecting at least an interesting final showdown? NOPE. I guess I should have expected it from Stephenie Meyer.

What the was the writer thinking!?

Most importantly, how the hell did such stupid critters take over the world anyway? The armed forces of every country just rolled over and died from laughter? That's seriously the only logical explanation I can come up with. Do yourself a favor and avoid this one - I give it one caterpillar out of five and would rather watch any recent Steven Seagal film instead of this again.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Batman: Arkham Origins

The summary version of an Arkham game.

In this prequel to the previous Arkham games, a large bounty has attracted a bunch of assassins to kill the Batman on Christmas Eve and the only presents handed out during the course of the game are painful beat downs to all parties involved. Much like the previous games, controlling Batman is for the most part extremely fun - even if he is adverse to swimming. The combat system plays pretty much the same with a few new variations (for me anyway) which is great. I also quite liked the expanded use for detective vision in solving the mini crimes that come up during the course of the evening.

Breaking necks for great justice (I'm sure he's still alive)!

The map itself is composed of reused, redecorated sections of previous games but feels a lot smaller possibly because you can also use the Batwing to fast travel around the place. This also makes for a short game, main story wise as you can finish it with probably less that 40% total completion (the rest of which is filled by challenges and collectibles). Then it uses the "Diablo" method of locked difficulties to tempt people to replay which for me is utterly moronic. What's the point if you already know what's going to happen?

The other thing I find irksome is again some hard to reach collectibles - specifically the ones that break the rules of the game just to make it challenging. Like, Batman will refuse to grapple to a specific spot because that would be too easy, you have to find a way to glide there. In my book, that's not just bad design - its moronic. What, Batman decided to be inefficient all of a sudden?

Those things aside, it is still a pretty fun game (single player wise) and I give it three and a half batarangs out of five. Keep in mind you can probably clear it in around two days. Obviously take this into consideration if you are purchasing it because there is no way in hell that something so short should be charged the same as Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for example (which has given me 333 hours of play).

I should also mention there is a pretty cool sounding PvP multiplayer mode over four maps where players are either Batman / Robin or gang members of Joker or Bane. Unfortunately you probably won't get to play it as you are required to have 8 players to begin, and simply put - not enough people are playing it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Machinist

"If you were any thinner you wouldn't exist."

This movie serves as my example of what a good opening credits sequence is. It's a still shot in which a skeletal Christian Bale is rolling up a body in a carpet and then having a smoke. Nothing fancy and no stupid helicopter shots of a city. Anywho, that aside this movie has one main driving force: intrigue. Bale works as a machinist who suffers from severe insomnia and general unwellness.

If only I could find that fridge...

Things get much worse when his condition causes an accident at work and almost the entire world seems to turn on him. It's an interesting movie, and all the puzzle pieces mostly fall into place at the end but there are moments that range from "uncomfortable" to well beyond the realms of "WTF".

The quote above is said to Bale's character a few times but it could also be said of the underlying plot. Despite the film's best effort I still can't help but give it only one and half post-it notes out of five because it simply isn't as entertaining as some of the other movies I've already seen. For that same reason I have no desire to watch it again nor can I recommend it to anyone. :(

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


If you ever wanted to feel like a clone, this is the game for you.

Magerealm is another "adventure" browser game that has mechanics almost identical to Blood and Jade, Bleach Online, and League of Angels. To its credit, it actually surpasses all of those in terms of gameplay and loading times as well as having less eye candy for male players (which might be a plus for some but I actually find a severe negative for this genre). However at its heart it is an idle game, with options to auto navigate to quests, auto fight through dungeons (but this time only those on your main quests - extra dungeons you must control yourself! How mean!), and meditate (AFK) for XP. Yup, you can gain levels by not playing. So... what's the point right? :P

You are unique, just like everyone else.

Where it goes lacking once again (if it wasn't lacking enough) was the single tracked quest path meaning you will see doppelgangers of yourself (other players) doing the exact same thing you are doing. The other games I mentioned try negate this somewhat by taking you out to other mini games, battle maps or having a pretty big map with a bunch of different objectives players can do but here it doesn't even attempt to hide just how on the rails it is. Also, I have to question the art assets being used, or perhaps re-used I should say. For the sake of being nice let's just say a lot of them feel like de ja vu?

Can you feel the originality?

In the end I give still only give this game one winged clone out of five, and recommend everyone give it a miss. If you really must play one of these types of games, League of Angels is still the best in my book - and that only scored two out of five.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Jurassic Shark

Yesterday's post was a bit heavy so back to more light-hearted stuff today!

There's a shark... in a lake... and it eats people. :P

LOL. Just from the title you can imagine what type of movie this is! It's amateur hour all round with mandatory wooden performances, poor script, laughable CG and equally poor camera work. I think there's around five minutes of opening credits with just water lapping up onto a lake shore which is utterly stupid and takes the prime spot currently for "worst opening title sequence ever".

To summarize, some secretive company who have no offices as all their shots are filmed in random hallways or staircases are drilling for oil on an isolated island with a lake but they dug too deep and somehow freed a megalodon... Into the lake. Mandatory stupid people are there for ridiculous reasons, such as a group of robbers who escaped the police by crossing the lake? On an island? What? Also almost all the female cast have long undressing shots. It's just like it sounds.

Shh, I'm being very very sneaky!

I was also confused as to how a giant shark could survive in a lake, especially in some of the shallower parts, but hey - it survived in some ice apparently from the prehistoric period so I guess it's tough? Anywho, I give this movie 1 out of 5 computer generated sharks and declare it "Not Worth Watching"!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Don't let the World get you Down

Not my intended entry for today but I decided to go with it thanks to Bel's "Be Stronger than Me" post on Aggronaut. Unlike him, I've been lucky on the "not having people in my immediate circles commit suicide" front. This doesn't mean I remain unaffected.

This is Laura, a pretty, 17 year old student with decent musical talent. In December 2012, she jumped in front of a train near where I lived.

I didn't know her. I didn't know her family or friends, but I saw them holding vigil on the railway bridge. I saw them leaving flowers day after day. I saw them cry. I saw their pain. It's not my business, but for some reason I kept thinking what could have been done to prevent it? What could -I- have done to prevent it? Probably nothing right? I'm a stranger.

On the last Ultima Online shard I played, I was equally dismayed when one day I learned that one of the players also killed himself. It was a small shard so while you may not have befriended everyone, you certainly knew who was who. Especially as a GM (Game Master) - like I was, invisibly watching the ones who would just play, even in the slowly emptying world as the population dwindled, raging against all the monster spawns alone as if they were actually seeking death. Perhaps I should have paid more attention?

It's unlikely we can do much for strangers but we can at least help, even just a little bit, the people we know.

How? Just talk to them! I'm not sure if the "Are you Ok?" thing is world wide but regardless, its just a phone call or text message for you. It's worth visiting their site too. Especially with social media these days it should be easy for you to find people that you care about and haven't been in contact with for a bit. It's also important to spread the word, which is kind of the point of this post. That way you might actually inspire someone else to do it and so on.

Australian readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are feeling keen on offing yourself, then you certainly have nothing to lose by calling those numbers first.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

300 / 300: Rise of an Empire

This is SPARTA!

"300" follows the story of King Leonidas, from his childhood when he is brain washed and trained like the rest of his male kin to become fearless warriors and focuses more upon his command of three hundred Spartans defending a narrow pass against the uncountable armies of Xerxes, the incredibly tall and gifted with a poor sense of fashion. The plot has a narrator which is forgivable for me in how it is used here, and it also calls for a lot of violence, decapitation, awesome FX and combat routines and a tiny bit of sex.

They probably deserved some Maccers after training to look like that!

But what it has the most is: slow motion capture. Yep. That dude getting hit by a spear? Slow mo! This guy getting hacked to pieces? Slow mo. Sex Scene? Slow mo. Guys walking / traveling from point A to B: Slow mo. That last one irritated me a little as it's basically just filler. Also filler is the majority of Lena Headey's role here. She and the council bit could have been entirely cut or at least been tied in better to the one eyed guy who basically is the one who gets shit done in the end.

Also, while the fighting scenes really take more than a few liberties in that the Spartans hold a phalanx for... oh around 60 seconds in the entirety of the film and spend most of the battle out in glorious solo combat like Highland berserkers, Leonidas' decision to "not use" the hunchback doesn't make sense. Yes, he's no good in a phalanx but that's not exactly what you guys were doing anyway! Still I give this violent and bloody film three and a half swords out of five, and wouldn't mind watching it again.


The sequel "Rise of the Empire" again makes use of a narrator, not so well this time, and follows the Athenian champion Themistocles (who ironically doesn't have the charisma of Leonidas acting wise). It also acts as an origin story about the war and Xerxes himself, how he was a normal dude before jumping into a magical pool of godliness. Erm? Also, the "bad guys" look less hideous this time around, while the "good guys" are less buff (makes sense since they aren't Spartans) - which also smells a bit like saving some cash for the props and training department.

While most of the combat here focuses on ship to ship combat it is still a brutal and bloody affair. There's also less slow mo which is better for me as you can appreciate the fight choreography more. Alas some of that goes out the window with the feats of jumping, throwing, and magical sniper-archery involved but perhaps the worst plot part is the "we need to put a sex scene in". The scene itself is nice (hello Eva Green!) but just ... story wise, you'll see what I mean. Anywho, I give it two and a half out of five heat-seeking arrows and also wouldn't mind watching it again (though the first one would be preferred).

F*** you, physics.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Mabinogi: What the hell G19?

So, I've been one to always (usually) sing praises about this cute little game especially on its core combat mechanic which is like a more complicated rock-paper-scissors affair where the skill of the player can often make up for a weak character. Guess what they did in Generation 19?

They've thrown that out the window for the new story line, and have made the majority of the regular spawns have heavy stander. For those that don't know what that means: If you previously countered an enemy, they would get knocked back. If you defended an attack, they get stunned. If you smashed them, you knocked them back and bought room to prepare a defense or counter again. Heavy Stander negates all of that.

Now you counter, you do damage but they continue to attack. You defend, it blocks one attack but they continue to attack. You smash, they take damage and continue to attack. Ehhhh?

This does give new weaknesses for the AI when they defend though because usually a knock back triggers the AI to change their move. Now when they defend, you spam smash and when they counter you spam windmill.

But that's just the normal spawns. Wait till you run into a -full powered- Gigrashiy (winged form), the first of whom you must beat in a solo mission. Definitely way worse than Glas!

Wearing a pink sea bream robe probably didn't help. 

  • It is an HP sponge.
  • It has a strong staff swing (evade by being behind it)
  • It poisons you from range (unavoidable, hits through mana shield).
  • It can pick you up and stab you with the staff (unavoidable).
  • It can freeze you in ice which does damage when it explodes (unavoidable).
  • It can fly up and land right where you are, dealing damage (unavoidable even if blocked).
  • When <20% health, it summons a shade of yourself where you are which runs towards it.
  • If your shade reaches his hit box he gets healed, and you die. Instantly.
  • He can and does spam all the above. 
  • You need a specific skill set to fight them which you won't have yet at this fight.

Not sure who thought up of changing the combat system like this but I for one hate it. No point in thinking what to do, nor can you have fights where you take no damage if you time the correct moves. Now it's just "use your most damaging attacks". Yep, just like all the other mmos out there.

Correction: I think I found who thought up of this change.

Stupidest design decision ever. Way to kill your own uniqueness, Mabinogi. If I want to just DPS my way through fights I'll just go play Neverwinter Online.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

How to train your Dragon 2

Much less training than the first movie, guess they're improving! :P

Five years have passed since Hiccup's last adventure and the gang are all a little bit older now. The explorer in him has taken over though, and on his quest to map the world he's run into some new adversaries. Much like the first movie I think this one is fantastic. The art is a little cartoony but having various and cute dragons who behave like a mixture of dog and cat is fun to watch. The humans of the tale also strike a chord making the entire movie engaging.

There are cute bits, lots of action bits, plenty of funny bits, some sad bits and generally has something for everyone I would think. Just not so much training of dragons but I guess they needed to keep the title. I definitely recommend this to everyone, and give it four and a half fish out of five but also recommend you watch the first movie... first, because it sets the scene very nicely, and is in its own right a great movie. Would I watch this again? Yes!

Also, if you are a fan of this series you should take a look at their short stories too (which chronologically happen in between the two movies):

  • Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon - a mix of 3D and 2D cartoony stuff, funny but not movie quality.
  • Book of Dragons - lots of reused 3D and mostly 2D cartoons. Again pretty funny but mainly aimed at child fans I think.
  • Gift of the Night Fury - all 3D and fantastic, my favorite of this lot which I consider movie quality. Highly recommended!
  • Dawn of the Dragon Racers - all 3D but I feel they skimped on the texturing a little. Still pretty good though.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Mabinogi: Iria Sagas 1 and 2

[Part of my Mabinogi Tutorials.]

I know I'm incredibly late with these but really, if you've played through all the generations in order there shouldn't be much here that would phase you, what with your transformation and demigod skills. Half the time you are role playing someone else anyway so dying is not really a biggie, just a learning curve. Furthermore, it's all completable solo (and I think mandatory solo too). Still there are a few tips I can think of to make life easier:

How to Start:
Just pick an episode from this button. You can only have one episode active at a time.

Monster Lag and Space
Sometimes you enter a mission and all the NPCs seem stuck in place but you are free to do whatever. This is more prevalent in quests with lots of NPCs and big spaces. I believe it also happens more often in busier channels so if you want a helping had on hard quests try start it from there. Regardless if they are moving or not most of the quests give you a lot of room to work with so bring a bow or whatever ranged attacks you like and be proficient with your pet revolver and mount summoning / stuns / knock backs. Yes, this makes some really tough fights pretty inconsequential. Especially if you have a strong spirit bow. Muahahahaha. It won't happen all the time, but just be aware you have some control over it.

Shyllien Nature Reserve and Hillwen Mine
You have to go into these two for the first saga to collect stuff. Both have lots multiaggro enemies so be prepared and be careful. Lure and kill. You can even bring friends to help if you like.

Retreat to Vales (S1 E3)
In this mission you must escort NPC engineers from the mine to the city and it obviously won't work if they are suffering from Monster Lag (above). Get into an instance where they can walk and ignore the large skirmish against the White Dragon, you'll get to fight it soon enough. Patiently kill all the goons that appear in your way (they might be late) and you will be fine.

The End of Bhafel (S1 E6)
One of those annoying role play missions, make sure you use the potion to run faster and put up mana shield. Also knowing when to final hit is key. Try save it for the last two pillars (or patiently wait for the recharge) as those ancient ghosts will get annoying.

Macha (S1 E10)
She's a bit of a pushover for an end boss. Pet revolver or using a mount to kick her while you are landing fast attacks will take her down in no time (61 hits and she's done). Shylock's step and final hit with little knives will probably do this fastest.

Last Attempt (S2 E1)
The most irritating shadow mission of the entire saga, you play as yourself with no powers and crappy stats. So crappy that any of the boars can kill you in one or two hits. Way to go hero! While giants and elves might be fast enough to actually do the stone throwing thing and then climbing ladders this is what worked for me as a human (slowest race in game) - without throwing one stone:

  • Look straight ahead, lure single boar off to the left and open with defense. Combo three hits and it leaves. Now switch to weapons slot 2 (bare hands).
  • Get attention of 1 boar, climb up ladder when it gets close.
  • Immediately jump back down as it loses aggro and rush it with your fists (fast hitting). Combo three and it leaves.
  • Repeat until boss boar appears at which point you should switch back to slot 1 sword and shield.

Aliens and Balloons (S2 E3)
When you encounter the alien blobs, only target the alien map eater as all damage you do to all aliens hurts yourself too. Be prepared with health pots. Also for the balloon part, you can get away with using the "forward ballista" (1st one where wyverns spawn) then switching to the one to its left when you are out of targets. Don't move from that position, instead swivel the gun from side to side to gun down the enemies. When the enemy balloon appears you might need to switch again.

Snowfield Pursuit (S2 E4)
This skiing mission looked like it would be fun if it didn't make me fail after 5 seconds of entering with the enemy distance of ???. How to get around it? Use Ch1 and monster lag that sled for a 5 second win.

Dian Cecht (S2 E5)

I've spotted a weakness in her defense! *drool*

With her poor armor choice the only thing defending her really are her magic crystal shield generators. Just break those (faster with a pet) and then you can do what you want with her.

Final Fights (S2 E6)
There are lots of tough fights in the final episode of the second saga. Cessair's Heart, the Cessair Army and Ruairi. Guess which one is the hardest? If you said the Cessair Army you are correct. Handling multiaggro in this game is tough, and tougher still with dozens of respawning enemies who can use advanced magic, wire pull and final hit. Be prepared to run as your allies aren't enough to distract all the bad dudes.

Ruairi can be problematic because of his dopplegangers (again multiaggro) so try lure and fight him at an edge where fewer of his shades can find you. Also, you should abide by his decision and go all out. I found him more dangerous in his first form than his second. For all the aforementioned, I suggest you get ready to demi-up.

Cessair's Heart on the other hand is a decent fight but she's alone so your regular transformation should be more than enough to get past her.

Grinding EXP And Gold
You can replay episodes for 5000 gold, which also means you can grind their rewards. The two "best" ones I would think would be:

The Missing (S2 E2)
You need to: Solve easy puzzles, travel in Uladh (gates open all the time now), argue/fight easy pirates, fight dragon (which you don't need to live through)
Reward: 100K+ XP, 50k Gold

Heroic Path: The Choice (S1 E7)
You need to: Do 1 talky RP mission, 1 combat RP mission, 1 shadow mission of running away, travel a little in Iria (best with flight + gate timing)
Reward: 100K+ XP (Daily Bonus on Thursday and Weekends gains another 100k XP and 30k gold)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


A case of stolen identity.

Liam Neeson arrives in Berlin with his wife to attend a conference but due to a pretty bad plot device of forgetting a bag at the airport, he gets into an accident and subsequently finds out that his identity has been taken by someone else AND to make things worse is no longer recognized by his wife! It's pretty tough to be in a foreign country without an ID and it only gets worse for him from there.

Apart from that first silliness with the bag, the rest of the plot is actually fantastic and the CGI effects are again at a low, relying on the more risky stunt people and cars routine which is much better for the realism factor of the tale. It's a good mix of action and suspense which I can easily recommend to everyone, and while he's not as murderous as his Taken counterpart, Liam here is still fun to watch. I give this movie three and a half forgotten bags out of five and wouldn't mind watching it a second time.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Sojourn at Entropia: Accidental Disciple

[Part of my Sojourn at Entropia story.]

Having become Sara's "accidental" disciple, we head back to Port Atlantis for some basics. I also learn I am her sixth student so far.

Her custom mentor page shows what skills she teaches.

Combat is our main focus as she wants to get me "battle ready", though should I be scared that none of her disciples have graduated? :P She teaches me how to trade the metric ton of BLP ammo I've been collecting, but have no weapon for, into Energy Cells. I can almost perpetually recover your ammo usage she says.

Her method of fighting reduces all the "action" into a highly efficient three key stroke press. "Next Target", "Auto use tool" (ie. fire gun indefinitely), "Loot"

A target that you've locked on and killed but keep shooting at doesn't eat up any more ammo. Also, with this I can't really misfire and hit something I wasn't aiming for.

We're soon out in the field where I'm practicing this new way to fight and learn a few more things.

1) I still have to make sure to ID the targets before opening fire
2) I must not walk backwards from an enemy. Ever.

This reduces the chance of accidental multi-aggro and more importantly develops Dodge and Evade skills.

Since training is going to be a grind, I'm going to stop the journal here for the time being. Thank you for reading and I hope this series has shed some light on the Entropia Universe for you! :)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Into the Woods

A waste of good singers.

Since there's more singing than talking here it's safe to say this musical is about how a bunch of well known fairy tale characters cross paths with each other (continuously) in supposedly a huge and sometimes scary forest to make all their dreams come true. While everyone is a good or good enough singer, they don't actually have many (actually any in my opinion) good songs to sing. Hell, Eurovision had more memorable songs. Also, the girl who plays red riding hood is borderline in the acting department.

Egads, make it stop!

The tale itself is not too serious with a few funny bits. However it is also pretty dark and there are a number of mutilations and fatalities though all off screen. It's like they wanted to include gore to be dark and broody but chickened out to try still be "kid friendly". The entire thing also has a narrator, which I always find to be a cheap way to move the plot forward and when the third act comes around I just wanted the entire cast to die already so the movie would end. Annoying, unnecessary tedium!

Pity since the visuals were pretty good, especially for one of Cinderella's solos, but it's nowhere near enough to save it. I give this movie one and a half magic beans out of five and recommend that every stay the hell away from going Into the Woods. Obviously I have no interest in watching it again.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Sojourn at Entropia: The Outback

[Part of my Sojourn at Entropia story.]

Being low on ammo I decide to do another messenger quest with my Sleipnir. Not sure what this Deer building of New Oxford is, I'll have to check it out on a return visit.

This huge land mass out in the styx is mostly PvP land so I suspect it's used to store criminals. Amethera Outback = Australia? :P

Reach the destination running on fumes (again). Not sure how I'm going to afford future fuel.

Due to fidling with my friends list during the flight though I accidentally requested mentorship from Sara Serenity. She laughs at my mistake but is willing to actually mentor me anyway. I think, why not?

In typical fashion, she shows up in style. Because, a bright gold car that stands out is exactly what you want to drive in PvP land. :P

Friday, 3 July 2015

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Don't eat the fucking candy.

I must admit I did not have high hopes for this movie from the get go, perhaps that's why I was somewhat surprised by the end result. So, the movie follows Hansel and Gretel after their encounter with the Gingerbread House Witch. Yep, filled with rage they became witch hunters - obviously! Just from that you can probably tell the tone of this flick is not too serious which actually plays into it's favor.

Kill witches with fire. Bring auto crossbows and gatling rifles to look cool.

There are ludicrous guns, story twists and some stupid characters but these are easily overlooked for me as the very violent and sometimes gory fight scenes against the witches (who all have cool powers) are pretty amazing to watch. Yes, there's a little bit of swearing and cheesiness in the movie but really, anyone who is ok with that level of gore would probably be ok with that minor detail. I give this film two bolts out of five and actually would like to watch it again. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sojourn at Entropia: Rifleman

[Part of my Sojourn at Entropia story.]

Seems sci-fi goblins exist here too.

My old rifle finally broke mid combat but fortunately I had bought another one for 4 PED. While the new one does more damage it also eats more cells per shot. >.<

They were certainly out in force though, so I decided it was time to get out of there. Especially since my rifleman skills are lacking! (lol, queue Running with Rifles theme)

I went back to Camp Icarus for rifle training.

Like in most MMOs, getting multi-aggroed is bad!

The end result is I can properly use that rifle Caligula gave me now! My previous skill level made it pretty much a pea shooter. This means I have two usable rifles, and around one hundred bullets to share between them. Great. :/

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


Angry men in a tank take their anger out on Nazis in a most violently entertaining fashion.

This movie follows an American tank crew during World War 2, and depicts how dirty and evil war can be - but at the same time I was so entertained by the copious amounts of violence and gore present in this movie. In fact, the one quiet part they added which involved an awkward dining scene I found to be a detraction and unnecessary to the rest of the story. That part aside, the rest of the movie is great!

We have a tank and you want us to do a "quiet" scene?

Fury, the name of the main tank, is also an apt name as to the feelings of Brad Pitt's squad towards all the Nazis, especially the SS which I fit well with the theme. The tanks are awesome, the cast is good, and all the battle scenes are fantastic. Indeed only the hill billy character had me slightly worried as it was hard to understand some of his lines but that wasn't really an issue for me. I give Fury three out of five explosions and would definitely watch it again, though probably using that silly dining scene as a toilet break. :P