Blaz Blue Calamity Trigger Review

For the past few days I’ve been playing quite a bit of Blaz Blue. I’ve been through the story mode a few times, played through the Arcade mode, and done some Online as well. The online mode especially is so much better than any other online fighting game I’ve played. I like how you can have multiple people in the room and have even more spectating. Now for someone like me who is awful at this and fighting games in general, I don’t necessarily want people watching me lose, but its nice to know I have the option.

The story mode is, as they said in the Giant Bomb quick look, “aggressively incomprehensible”  but who comes to these games for story. The fighting is where it counts, and Blaz Blue has that shit down. The combat is deep and rewarding, and the characters all feel very different. Litchi for example can put her staff into the ground and you can use that at any point to attack, or you can use it to stand on top of and get out way of the enemy’s attacks. If you like great 2d graphics and fast paced inventive fighters you should give Blaz Blue a try.

They say that bad things happen in threes.

Lets hope that it ends there. Over the past several weeks I’ve had to deal with a lost-in-the-mail camera lens, a double charged iPhone + applecare plan, and now today a sickly computer. I would very much like this to be the last of these events.

Today Liz was playing LOTRO and the computer started crashing. I assumed it was a driver issue so I updated them. No good. Looking inside the case to make sure that the connections were solid I noticed a dust issue. Maybe the CPU was overheating. We went and got some canned air at Best Buy and I blew out the inside of the case. According to CoreTemp that dropped the CPU temp by about 7 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately it didn’t fix anything. I uninstalled the drivers in safe mode and let it reinstall them on its own. It seemed to work, but a few hours later when she went to play it flipped out again eventually crashing to a blue screen. Even after restarting the computer was flashing green and pink and showing hundreds of flashing squares ( had to reinstall the drivers again to get it to stop). I ordered a cheap new nvidia video card (which will probably still be more powerful than my now 4 year old 8800 GTX). If this solves the problem awesome, if not… maybe its the RAM? Whatever, that’s cheap too. Past that though… They say that bad things happen in threes.

iPhone 3Gs Review

iphone

For a long time now I’ve had an iPod touch (1st gen, and 2nd gen), the iPhone’s semi-retarded cousin. With the release of the 3Gs I decided that it was time to move up to the real deal, so yesterday I stopped by an AT&T store near work and picked up a 32GB one. Half way through the transaction the computer crashed (just my luck) and I ended up getting charged twice for the phone and the apple care plan. Awesome. I am still getting that double charge sorted out.

I love the device itself, despite the trouble that getting it has been. It is a great iPod, movie player, GPS, and a decent phone to boot. I’ve noticed that the amount of signal I get can be finicky. Sometimes I’ll have 5 bars and other times I’ll only get 1 in the same exact place. Overall I get better signal in my house and at work and most of Chicago has 3G so I can browse the internet and download shit quickly no matter where I am. Its pretty convenient.

The camera is kind of weak in low light, but outside or in well lit interiors it works fine. I am pretty impressed with the video and the auto focus and tap to focus stuff.

Last night I was playing around with the voice recognition stuff and its pretty awful… oh well, I’ll never use that anyway.

I have been working on getting some videogame ringtones on there. So far I have stuff from crystalis, mario 2, zelda 2, and team fortress 2. I found this website that lets you convert an mp3 into the correct file type for iPhone ringtones then you just drag it into the ringtones section of itunes.

Demon’s Souls

demons-souls

I imported the Asian version of From Software’s “Demon’s Souls” a few weeks ago. I’ve been playing for about 10 hours so far and I feel I’ve gotten enough playtime I’m to formulate some feelings on the game. The first thing you’ll notice about Demon’s Souls is its difficulty, which will be extremely polarizing. You’ll either appreciate the challenge and work really hard to overcome it, or you’ll be turned off by it and never want to see this game again.

Now a bit of back story. Demon’s Souls takes place in the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, a once great nation now being ravaged by a demon scourge. As a result, people who die are trapped in what is called The Nexus. After a brief tutorial level you are thrown into a battle with a gigantic boss, who proceeds to kill you in one hit. This sets up the game’s story and gives you a bit of a taste for just how challenging the game will be. The Nexus is the game’s main hub where you can teleport to the various stages, buy or store items, and learn or upgrade skills (after you beat level 1-1).

When you start the game the only level available to you is 1-1. This serves as a time for you to learn the combat, and the basic skills in the game like dodging, attacking, and blocking. Over the course of the level you open up shortcuts which let you get back to areas deeper in the level without having to fight through the whole thing again if you die (which you most likely will). There will be enemies you just cant beat in the beginning so these shortcuts act as a path to get to various parts of the level to revisit these super enemies. Anyway, at some point in level 1 you open a large gate to the first boss. Once the first boss is dispatched all 4 other areas levels become available as well as the ability to go deeper into level 1 (and giving you a second entry point to the level in the process), it also opens up the ability to purchase skill upgrades and magic. Enter souls. Souls are the game’s money–they are used to upgrade your stats (strength, endurance, vitality, etc), buy or upgrade and fix your weapons, and purchase magical spells. Part of this games difficulty comes from the way in which souls are handled. You gain souls by defeating enemies. Weaklings can give you 6-60 souls, and bigger guys and bosses can give you thousands. If you die however, all of the souls you have at the time are dropped, but you can fight back to where you died and pick them back up, but if you die on your way there a new set of souls drop and the original (usually larger) sum disappears.

There are also various online features to the game including 4 player co-op, and a sort of MMO style online mode where you can see other players as ghosts in your world. You can also leave messages on the ground for others to read and to warn them of danger or of secret items. If you see a message that you find helpful, you can rate it which will give some life back to the person that left the message. You can also leave messages if there is a part you’re having trouble passing and passers by will be able to lend a hand by rating your message and refilling your life. This is why you’ll see a ton of “This is harsh. Evaluate me.” messages. There is even a PVP system in the game where players can force themselves into other someone else world and stalk and kill them as a phantom.

I am having a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls so far, and I cant wait to see some of the later areas in the game. Though, I think I’ll level up a little bit more first.

Metal Gear [5?] Wallpaper

mgs-countdown1

As Metal Gear fans around the world watch Kojimas Countdown > Countdown > Countdown the anticipation for the next game in the series grows. In the past few days there have been reveals of several “familiar faces” including a raiden look-alike with brown eyes and what appears to be big boss. I threw together a quick wallpaper (1920×1200) using some of the counter’s image assets. Enjoy! (click the image to get the full size or click below) You cant really see it in the preview but it says MGS5 very faintly in the top section and has a diagonal line pattern.

Click me for badass MGS5 wallpaper!

MGS5 Confirmed?

mgs-countdown

Kojima’s Countdown has finally revealed something other than a field and numbers slowly ticking down. In today’s countdown update after several lightning strickes Big Boss’s face emerges. I cant wait to hear more about this game. I just hope that it is a full game for PS3 and not some PSP game.

Online vs Offline – Buying things.

cf-orgy

I’m going on a trip in a few days. My step brother is getting married so I figured I’d be taking a lot of photos. Right now I just have a single 2GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card, while the card is great, it doesn’t let me take all that many photos. Today I realized that I may need additional cards. I looked at Best Buy and Walgreens and both placed had 2gb cards for around $40. I went online to adorama.com (my new favorite camrea stuff store) and right on the front page they had a sale on 5 2gb SanDisk Extreme III CF cards for $50. WTF!? Even though I wont get them in time for the wedding, an additional 8GB of storage for $10? yes please.

Seriously, buying stuff in stores is fucking dead to me.

The Brothers Bloom – Fucking Amazing.

brothers bloom

Before I begin, I feel that I have to give a little but of a warning. I’m going to be pretty much be gushing over this movie for the next few paragraphs, I loved it, so with that in mind, keep reading.

The Brothers Bloom, right from the start, made its way onto my list of “favorite movies ever”. Almost everything about it is exactly what I want to see in a Con-Man movie. It keeps you guessing, and just when you think you know whats going on it pulls the rug out from under you and you’re left wondering how you were so wrong. Its smart, funny, and beautifully shot and has intelligent people in unpredictable situations reacting in very smart ways, plus it has a really hot asian lady, that doesn’t hurt either.

The first thing I noticed when the movie started was the camera-work. This is not taking place in our world. Its some world where these people and Amélie Poulain live, where everything looks breathtakingly beautiful, and everything is framed and cropped just so. The scenes have a great depth to them. Characters walk  down a dark path in one part of the frame, and some lights will flick on in sequence in the background. There is just so much to take in. I feel like I could watch this movie a hundred times and still see new things with each subsequent viewing.

Mark Ruffalo, Adrian Brody and Rachel Weisz are charming, witty, and immediately likable characters. I really liked how they managed to show the differences between the two brothers and how Bloom (Brody) is always getting crapped on while his brother Steven (Ruffalo) is coasting through life without a care. They manage to distill this down to simple use of props at times like the interaction with the sugar shaker. Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), even though silent for the majority of the movie, has tons of personality and her fair share of charm as well. Plus shes really hot.

I really cannot recommend this movie more. It was awesome.

Cooliris – Awesome Firefox add-on

cooliris

I rely on quite a few firefox add-ons for day to day use of the internet. Delicious Bookmarks, Colorzilla, Web Developer Toolbar, Firebug, Measure It — Most of my them are pretty practical. Tonight I stumbled upon an add-on that is just down right cool and I had to install it.

It’s called Cooliris, and transforms pages of images like flickr or google images into one long 3d wall of photos. It has nice smooth animation and allows you to look at all the photos without having to click next page over and over. You can also click on any image and it zooms in and downloads a higher resolution version of that image. Using your mouse wheel zooms the camera in or out so you can see either more or less of the thumbnails at once.

Its just sooo cool! Give it a try!

Demon’s Souls

Back in the day of the original Playstation King’s Field was one of my first games. I fell in love with it, despite its slow plodding pace, almost complete lack of story, and brutal difficulty. Demon’s Souls, a new PS3 game by the same developers, is out in japan/asia, and I’m thinking of importing it. The asian version has english voice/text so it should be easily playable, and I dont think they are bringing this guy over to america. decisions…

Modern Warfare 2 – June Game Informer Cover

modernwarfare-2The upcoming June issue of Game Informer magazine has a 10 page cover story for Modern Warfare 2. There have been a few small teaser trailers so far including a 15 second gameplay movie, but really, this game is a mystery. It looks like I’m going to actually have to pick this up. I loved the previous Modern Warfare, and played the multiplayer for a long time. Hopefully this time I can get my friends on board.

New Medicom Metal Gear Figures

metal-gear-figures

Medicom, makers of the 12″ Raiden and Old Snake figures, are making some new Metal Gear figures. These ones are much smaller, about 6″ tall, but look like they are a lot more detailed than the other 6″ figures that came out. The new set has Vamp, Raiden, and Old Snake from MGS4, and Naked Snake and The Boss from MGS3. Badass. They also look like they are a little more stylized, which is kinda cool.

They come out in September and will retail for 3500 yen (About $35 USD). They’ll be available at Hobby Link Japan.

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Windows 7 RC1 Impressions

windows7-7100

Back in the fledgling days of  2009 Microsoft released the Windows 7 Beta, build 7000, and it was pretty awesome. I’ve used it on my laptop quite a bit in the last  5 months and its returned the favor with rock solid performance and stability.

Enough of this “past” whoo haa! These are cutting edge times, my friends! These days build 7000 is for LAME-O’s all the cool kids have Windows 7 build 7100 (or RC1 ). I just finished installing it and I’ve done very little on it, added firefox and a few plugins, changed the wallpaper, looked around the control panel. The speed of version 7000 is definitely still noticeable. There have been a few UI tweaks and the default backgrounds have been refreshed.

There is some new software included with the install. A built in “snipping tool”, which helps you grab screenshots (either full page or selected area). Nice to finally have something like this built in. the old “prnt scrn” button has always been a pain in the ass. One thing lacking in the snipping tool is a scrolling capture for long web pages. Probably not a big deal for most but for those of us that make millions of PDFs out of web pages… Fast Stone Capture it is. I’ve been told on twitter that this was in Vista but for the life of me I cannot find it. So slap this one in the “new to me” camp.

There is also an updated magnifying tool built in standard. Works really well.

Finally, a Windows XP mode for those of you that do not live in modern times like the rest of us.

Build 7100 really has me excited for the release of Windows 7. It will be the first version of windows I’ll purchase not pre-installed on a computer.