Some things I've learned....
(2) "Puff" - unimportant; insignificant; unworthy of study by engineering students; waste of time
(3) It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than to open it and prove them right!
(4) Blockwork people and concrete people can never work on the same site... Apparently they don't like each other....
(5) It's official; I'm fantastic!
Saturday 18 October 2008
Now playing Bioshock on PS3. Oh yeah....
SWTFU follows the story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice – Starkiller – during the period of time between Episodes III and IV. The story is without a doubt one of the games strongest assets, which fits well into the canon – if stretching it just a little – but still leaving the player with a satisfying finale and a worthy respect for the games protagonist. Starkiller’s journey fits across 9 stages, from Felcuia to Bespin and even the under construction Death Star. As with all Star Wars games nowadays you are faced with the standard “Light or Dark” choice close to the games end. The twists seem believable and the actions of the cast feel real, certainly showing that there is some originality left in the Star Wars name.
The levels themselves are quite enjoyable in my opinion. The are quite long and expansive though they do force you down one specific direction. The design is fantastic in some places and lacking in others. That’s not to imply that the levels get worse as you go on, it’s just that some areas feel like they had more thought put into them than others. For example moving through the Sarlaac on Felucia is certainly interesting, whereas the Bespin seems rather bland and ultimately uninspired, with no memorable moments.
The game does have its moments though. My best memory is the segment where you have to pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky using the force. The boss fights are ok aswell, though they can feel very straightforward (but not repetitive if you know what I mean). The problem with the boss fights is that when you reduce your opponent to a low health, you then trigger a quick-time event, which will continue to loop even if you get wrong, meaning there’s no consequence to hitting the right button. The actual action that occurs during a quicktime event is quite impressive, and is definitely the most entertaining part to watch in a boss fight. Having said all that the boss fights are real battles of the force, with the challenge only becoming more of a battle as you raise your difficulty level.
Using the Force is fun, I mean come on, who doesn’t like picking up a helpless stormtrooper and fling him miles into the sky. Or how about leaping in the air, raining sith lightning down on the people below. The combination of using the force with your close combat attacks works well, with a good variety of combos. Coupled with the variations of force powers using the Force has never been so much fun. Going with the new manipulation of the force was the much hyped molecular matter programming, which was designed to make materials react realistically to the conditions, for example wood splintering where its cut, or metal bending according to the reactions its put under as opposed to the game being pre-programmed to respond in a certain way. This technology was very evident in the Prologue but didn’t seem to feature as much as I thought it would as the game progressed. It’s quite possible that the tech was simply too expensive to impliment into the whole game. The only times the tech is seen is when you really have to use it (like bending metal panels so you can jump on them or force pushing your way through a door). The levels are a physics fun house, but just not as much as we intitially expected.
Naturally giving you all this power would make killing stormtroopers and co a little easy, but the game appropriately confronts you with enemies that have means to at least temporarily resist the force or are simply to large for a force push to knock them over. These enemies require you to change tactics, meaning you don’t need to resolve to the same old combos for success. Further incentive to vary the combos is that you’re rewarded for style. You get more points the better style you use. When you achieve a certain number of points you level up, allowing you to upgrade force powers, combos etc. You can also pick up upgrades in the form of Jedi Holocrons, aswell as new lightsaber colours, crystals and robes. The main problem here is that when you obtain new upgrades you have to open a menu to carry them out. And there’s a bleedin’ load screen in between!! This seems totally unneccesary and evidence of shoddy design. The game isn’t without its glitches either. I’ve gotten stuck on terrain, or was half floating of the ground during an in-game cutscene and there is sound clipping left right and centre. Boss fights can be a pain in this repect aswell, as during the first fight he stood protected by a force shield indefinitely, not letting me land any blows or nothing.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, certainly give this game a look. The story is interesting enough to at least give it one playthrough, and collect holocrons adds a little replay value. The lack of Trophy support is pretty inexcusable, especially considering the PS3 was the lead platform.
Ultimately though, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a good experience, which just about gets by even with all its technical glitches. It’s hard to shake of the feeling that Lucasarts have put out such an unpolished game, but they know it’ll sell…because it’s Star Wars.
Monday 13 October 2008
Pirates & Ninjas:
With more likely to be announced such as Nathan Drake from Uncharted and Nathan Hale from Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2.
Grinds My Gears returns soon!!!!
Friday 3 October 2008
So what is Bioshock???
Bioshock is a shooter, though by no means is it a regular run of the mill shooter. I'm not going to talk too much about why it's different - I'll be saving that for the review. What I can say though is Bioshock stretches the boundaries of freedom of play in a game. The fictional city of Rapture was designed with open world freedom in mind, thus eliminating the fatal flaw of modern shooters where it's all running and gunning down corridors. What's also special about Bioshock is the plasmids, which are special powers that can shock people, set them on fire, lift them up and throw them and so on. The combination of using different plasmids in different situations coupled with the various weapons and customisations means that no two players will experience the game identically.
After downloading the 1.8GB demo from the PS Store and playing through it I can certainly say I'm quite impressed. The visuals are great, the atmosphere is astounding and above all it's fun. The details on everything will come in the review but here is the breakdown of the demo:
The demo begins with you (Jack) sitting in the seat of a plane smoking a cigarette looking at a picture of what I assume is himself and his parents. (This is the 1960's remember). Suddenly, the plane crashes and the screen is mirky from the water, a handbag sinks past your eyes and as you scramble upwards you can see the carnage around you. A wall of fire surrounds the area and directs you towards a lighthouse. Inside is dark and as you go inside the door shuts.
You are then directed to a capsule which leads you down to the city of Rapture, built entirely underwater. A presentation is shown on the way down, telling you about Rapture and why it was built. As your sphere emerges up into the "Welcome Area" (I guess) you are momentarily trapped in the sphere with a splicer (one of the enemies) trying to attack you. It's here you're brought in contact with Atlas, who communicates with you via a radio. He guides you out of the area and towards you're first plasmid "Electro Bolt". As you inject yourself, your hands begin to shake, with bolts of electricity crawling up your vains and arching from one hand to the next, your vision blurs and you fall over the railing to the floor below.
Here, in a sort of dazed state, you see some other splicers who examine your body and are then introduced to the eerie Little Sisters and Big Daddies (more next paragraph). As you awake and leave the room is suddenly very apparent that something is very wrong with Rapture. When you enter the "Kashmir Restaurant" you can see a huge sign saying "Happy New Year 1959" and can hear a couple arguing on the floor below, something about who owns the "Adam" - more on Adam in the final review. Killing the man out front prompts the wife to come out to see why he's not talking. You can also pick up and audio diary from a woman celebrating New Years when there is possibly some sort of explosion. The woman has clearly had too much too drink, prompting "Wait - I'm bleeding...." before the message ends.
Leaving this area you are then properly introduced to the Little Sisters. These little girls - if you could call them that - have some kind of ability which lets them harvest the DNA of the dead. Shortly after entering this room the Sister is attacked by a splicer, wanting to steal her Adam. Here, the Big Daddy comes crashing through, killing the splicer mercilessly. The Big Daddies protect the Sisters, so if you want their Adam you have to kill the Daddy first.
The demo ends with the lockdown confrontation before you enter the Medical Pavillion. The encounter lets you practice with the two plasmids available - Electro Bolt and Incinerate - and the three weapons you pick up - the Wrench, the Revolver and the Machine Gun. The closing part of this piece has you trapped in a room where Andrew Ryan - the creator of Rapture - tries to have you killed - or at least that what it seems like to me anyway.
So there you have the preview, Bioshock is currently set for release in Europe for October 17th, so the final review will be some time after that. Until then, here's a few gameplay videos from the PS3 version of the final product:
Wednesday 1 October 2008
As I mentioned above, right now Dubai and (to be more general) the Middle-East, is the capital of modern 21st century Engineering. Given the buildings currently under construction, as well as countless projects that I haven't even mentioned, and all the other projects in the design phase, Dubai will most certainly be the home of the skies for decades to come.
In past centuries, engineering - and indeed architecture - has left the marks which shaped those time periods in the history books. After the 20th century was scarred by conflict and war, the outlook for the 21st is promising, especially with so many things being built for people to leave their mark on the planet, showing prosperity and a desire to achieve greater and greater things, further bridging the gap between the impossible and our imaginations...