Some things I've learned....

(1) An Engineer can do with 10 cent what a fool can do with a Euro.

(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!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Updates and Delays

Apologies for lack of blogging but I have an unbelievable amount of work on my hands at the moment. Too much in fact. So here's a list of things on the horizon:

AVGN: Philips Cd-i Parts 2 & 3
LittleBigPlanet Review
Resistance 2 Review
Top Ten I'm On Setanta Sports
Top Ten Theme Tunes

On the verge of meltdown.... :(

~The Damo

Thursday 20 November 2008

Resistance 2 - Preview

Are you going to make your last hours count?

Resistance 2, the sequel to 2006's best selling PS3 game Resistance: Fall of Man finally makes it way to Europe on the 28th of November. Why it was released in the US on the 4th is beyond me, nevertheless the wait is almost over, and its time to kick some Chimeran ass again!

Resistance 2 picks up directly after the events of Fall of Man and continues the story of Nathan Hale, the sole survivor of the American led re-invasion of Britain after the Chimera invaded. Hale is resistant (hence the name of the game, clever eh?) to the Chimeran virus and much of why this is the case is set to be revealed throughout the sequel.

The sequel is set this time in the United States, as the Chimera launch a bi-coastal assault on the last free nation on the globe. What adds more to the story is that we learn - from the trailers - that Hale has only 19 hours left to live.

As well as the single player the boys at Insomniac have set about creating a 2-8 player online co-op campaign which is separate from the game's main story and up to 60 player multiplayer mayhem!

I'll be leaving the rest of the talking for the review, but for now here's a host of trailers and gameplay footage.

First Teaser Trailer:

E3 2008, Henry Stillman Trailer:

Last Hours Trailer:

Target Practice Gameplay:

Crash Landing Gameplay:

Reactor Gameplay:

The Chimera are Here:

Oh, and they also promised BIG FUCKING BOSSES!!!!

Rise. Stand. Resist.

~The Damo

P.S. LittleBigPlanet Review soon....

AVGN: Philips Cd-i Part 1

Do you remember the Philips Cd-i? No? Don't blame you. Watch and see why.

Plus we get a little taster of the history of the PS1.

~The Damo

Saturday 15 November 2008

The Great Debate

After much consultation with a colleague, and by consultation I mean a brief chat and by colleague I mean Bren, I now find myself with the difficult task of deciding whether I want to get either Guitar Hero: World Tour or Rockband 2 this Christmas.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of both it’s important to know a few things. The people who originally made Guitar Hero are now the people making Rockband, and the crowd now making Guitar Hero are better known for making the Tony Hawk games. The latest installments include the full kit – guitar (with solo buttons), drums and mic. These were all standard in the original Rockband and are now included in Guitar Hero for the first time.

So down to the facts. As it currently stands, Rockband 2 sits with an average metascore of 92/100 compared to Guitar Hero’s 85/100. After watching and reading several reviews it is undoubtedly clear that the latest Rockband is the “better made” game. From what I’ve ascertained you can import songs from the original Rockband into its successor but this feature is not available on World Tour because of the new instruments included – which were standard in the original Rockband. It’s unfortunately very limiting, considering that Guitar Hero has had more games and the current iteration doesn’t support them.

However, Guitar Hero includes a feature to make your own songs – albeit highly complicated – which once people get to grips with will undoubtedly result in some great tracks to play, and techincally an infinite number of tracks so long as people continue to support the user created content. Also in Guitar Hero’s favour is the release of Guitar Hero: Metallica in February-March ’09. Naturally this release holds a special place for me and would be another reason to favour the Guitar Hero brand.

Having said that though, the team behind Rockband are the most experienced at this type of game and more likely to improve the brand with each new release. Also in Rockband’s favour is the option to make it impossible to fail a song, a VERY useful feature for the musically challenged such as myself – I are n00b.

So what should I do??

~The Damo

AVGN: Frankenstein

The Nerd finishes his Halloween two-parter with a review of all games about Frankenstein's monster...or Frankenstein himself/itself since some of them don't really seem to know what the fudge is going on....

Apologies for delay, just very busy.

~The Damo

Saturday 8 November 2008

Grinds My Gears!! - Issue 17

200th POST!!!!!

I can't believe it's been so long since my last GMG blog. Perhaps I'm mellowing out? Or am simply ignoring things that annoy me? Or is just that I wasn't arsed to type about anything up till now cos I'm a lazy bastard????? I'll let you figure it out...

Regardless - Issue 17 is here NOW!

Is Student Unions, or more correctly how they work. Don't get me wrong now before I start, I understand the benefits SU's have such as book shops, normal shops, exam help services, study services, counselling, health screening etc. but I'm not working up a sweat over those things. It's the other things....

It has been my experience of SU's, and from the people I've spoken to prior to writing this, that in general SU's seem to think they are more important than they really are, specifically when as a naive first year you may be confused into believing that the SU actually run the college. The best example that comes to mind is the elections, which are easily the most farcical (sp?) display I have ever come across. In my three years now there has been no difference in the manner things are run under the SU. The candidates would lead you believe that they are making a difference, as though they are somehow going to change the world. In fact, they change nothing. All they do is occupy a space, carrying out their respective duties, but they change nothing!! Obviously I have a somewhat biased opinion on this matter, given that I'm an Engineering student and the general consensus is that we (Eng Students) have no time for SU stuff (and by that I mean dedicating time to volunteer to work for them).

Don't confuse what I'm saying with societies, where they generally do change with administration changes. I just can't help but feel that the SU (in general, across all 3rd level institutes) is there simply because it can be there, not because it needs to be there. In my three years here I cannot recount one occasion where I "needed" the SU.

Perhaps the most evident example of how little I care for the SU comes in the shape of the "Coke Ban" - and is in fact the reason I'm writing this blog. No, not "coke" as in cocaine, I'm talking about Coca-Cola. It was my understanding upon going to UCD that Coke was banned outright, little was to know that it is in fact only banned in SU shops, and is widely available in vending machines and other shops across campus. The Coke ban is perhaps the most in-effective thing I have ever seen and the recent "scandal" (parenthesis used for good reason) of Coke being sold in a SU shop has only illustrated how sad the whole thing is. This was such an important item that it made the FRONT PAGE (complete with picture) of the Observer. Furthermore, the President said he was "really shocked" upon hearing the news. What had actually happened was a vending machine attendant was filling the machine, had a few cans left over and offered the staff the cans (FOR FREE) to be sold in the shop!!! I mean how sad can people get to feel offended by this. The majority of the UCD campus doesn't even know why Coke is banned in the first place, and if it's "banned" why can we buy it in the other shops. What a fuckin' joke!

The Coke story in the paper summed up and confirmed just how much of a joke the SU are. I can't take them seriously for anything, do they really think they are making a difference? I also highly disapprove of the SU organisation of protests at practically anything and everything that goes on around campus or in Dublin. If it's not about some politician it's about some former porn-star talking to a society about his/her experiences or some other stuff like that. This falls right back into my GMG about protesting, and it makes me wonder do these people have anything better to do with their time??? I have absolutely no problem with protesting for a just cause, and I certainly don't disapprove of a demonstration regarding fees, but if I cared enough I would go of my own free will, not under the influence of emails and texts sent to me or reminded of in person by speakers that it was on and that we should all go!

The fact that so few people voted over the last 3 years in the elections, and that the majority of those who voted were first years further illustrates just how little the student body cares about how the SU is run, and hence it's existence. I'm not saying it should be eradicated, no, that would take away the good things they do, but I do think they should have a serious reality check, and realise that no one cares. The SU are rarely - if ever - going to change how the college works. The college administration run things, not the SU, and they need to realise this - as do young and naive first year students.

If they didn't act like they were running the world and they are the ultimate source of everything just and righteous things would be fine, but they do. If people have a problem with "Shell to Sea" or whatever let them worry about it in their own time, not sending out emails or posters advising us to storm Dail Eireann and piss people off. It should be illustrated that SU's do not speak for all students.

~The Damo

Bioshock - Review

When Bioshock first hit the scene this time last year, reviewers hailed the game as one of the greatest experiences ever made, so you can imagine my disappointment when this was an Xbox 360 only game. Now, a year later, the PS3 version has hit the shelves, but does this game truly deserve the accolade of 2007’s Game of the Year?

Having now completed the game once, I can certainly say yes, it does. Even though the game may be a year old, it’s still as good as (and indeed better than) most of 2008’s big games. Bioshock is set in the fictional underwater city of Rapture (deep in the Mid-Atlantic), created by the sole imagination of it’s grand architect, Andrew Ryan. You’re character, Jack, survives a plane crash and enters a mysterious lighthouse which transports him down to the city via a Bathysphere (the main mode of transport across the city). Upon reaching the city you are greeted by Atlas via radio, who acts as your guide for the game. It is apparent almost immediately that something is severly wrong with Rapture, with its inhabitants boosting up on Plasmids and ransacking the city clean. Not only that but it seems as though the city itself is falling apart. The game’s approximately 20 hour experience takes you around several key areas such as a Medical Pavilion, an Oxygen forest, the Central Core and a shopping district to name but a few.

Each level is perfect in design. It’s clear the designers put a lot of thought into both the architecture and planning of each zone, creating an incredible atmosphere, making you feel like you are truly exploring a new world, though still making it feel familiar with the 1960’s art style. The atmosphere is consistent throughout, enhancing the experience on the whole. The audio diaries which you can pick give you a taste of the events leading up to whatever it is that happened to Rapture, and answers several questions you may have been asking yourself as you progress through the story.

While the game ultimately forces you down a particular route in the grand scheme of things, the areas are so massive that you will spend a lot of time exploring, especially if you want to find all the radio diaries, plasmids and gene tonics. What’s more, you’re free to return to these areas if you wish later on. This non-linear design keeps the gameplay interesting, which can be a problem in some first person shooters. Fortunately Bioshock manages to keep the first person shooter experience interesting from start to finish by the use of plasmids, gene tonics, weapon upgrades and enemies.

Plasmids are special abilities that rewrite your DNA, and thus allow you to unleash spectacular powers like shocking someone with a bolt of electricity, freezing them where they stand with a blast of ice or even swarm them with a horde of bees. The variety of these plasmids allows for different playstyles, and given that you can equip a maximum of 6 at a time means that no two players will use the same plasmids for the whole game. In addition to these are the gene tonics, which enhance your abilities, such as being able to resist fire based attacks, or allow you to turn invisible when standing still. With 3 gene tonic tracks – Physical, Engineering and Combat – and 6 slots in each, the game allows a whole host of different combinations, further dispersing the likelihood that any two people will progress through the game in the same manner.
In order to expand your plasmid and tonic slots, you need to collect ADAM. As it so happens, collecting ADAM is easier said than done. The Little Sisters harvest the DNA of the dead, and convert it into ADAM. But these girls are protected by the Big Daddies, and as their name suggests, they’re quite a handful to take down. When you do take down the Daddies though, you’re then faced with the binary choice of harvesting or rescuing the Little Sisters. Harvesting gives you maximum ADAM but the girl dies, Resucing gives you a reduced amount of ADAM but the girl lives. This choice tests the players morality, something which isn’t done that frequently in video games and makes a huge difference in the course of the game. While collecting ADAM from the Little Sisters isn’t mandatory save for one or two occasions throughout the game, not collecting ADAM will make the game very difficult.

Throughout the game you will encounter a variety of enemies, including automated turrets and security bots as well as Raptures inhabitants which could be anything from the ranged combat Lead Splicers to the vanishing teleporting Houdini Splicers. Naturally when you enter an area it will be populated, but just because you killed them first time round doesn’t mean the room will be empty should you return. Rapture is a living city, and the movement of its inhabitants keeps you on your toes, and ensures that moving through any one particular area is neither uneventful or labourious, regardless of the amount of times you pass though it.

The game does help you on the way to taking down your enemies. During the progress of the game, you receive a research camera, which you use to take photos of your enemies. A little bar at the bottom of the photo indicates how far along your research is. The quality of the photo determines how much the bar moves, and of course there are a bonuses and penalities which will either add or subtract from the score your photo receives. Researching your enemies grants you damage bonuses when attacking them or may even unlock gene tonics which are specific to that class of enemy.

There really is a lot to Bioshock to fully experience the game. The story, the atmosphere and gameplay is so fantastic; it’s hard to imagine how its sequel could do any better. With the addition of Playstation 3 exclusive downloadable content coming in November and the inclusion of Trophies to the mix, you will certainly have more than one reason to keep making that fateful trip to 400 fathoms below.

Graphics: 10
Gameplay: 10
Sound: 10
Longevity: 10
Presentation: 10

Overall: 10

One you don't want to miss!

~The Damo

Friday 7 November 2008

Teeny Weeny Update

Ok I've been REALLY busy the last few weeks.

6 Blogs this weekend.

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