Wednesday, June 27, 2007

And the beat.... er, beta... goes on

One of the more anticipated team and tactical based games coming out is now in limited public beta. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a game based on the Quake2 universe and runs on the Doom3 3D engine. However, its gameplay is fundamentally based on Return to Castle Wolfenstein's free add-on modification called Enemy Territory. As a result, the game is familiar to those who have played the first Enemy Territory. However, there is a group that are coming from the bug-ridden Battlefield series, which includes me. Having tried several rounds of gameplay, I am starting to get the feel as to what this game is intended to be and how it plays. Granted, it took me a while to adjust due to its immense difference in style as well as default key controls. But one of the top priorities of testing is to see how the weapons are designed and how it plays out in real combat.

The key element that changes everything is in the game's speed. It is fast. Maybe too fast. It may be due to my lack of quick reflexes or that they (the other players) are just simply better. Who knows? However, I stand firm on how I view it objectively, so that I can convey the experiences as a player coming from an entirely different franchise.

One of the interesting things about Quake Wars is the common set of weapons present in virtually all of the soldier classes. All but the Sniper class contains a standard-issued assault rifle and a shotgun. The sniper class gets a slightly modified assault rifle and a specialized sniper rifle. Each class has a specific role that can be used to complete a mission objective, which is required in order to advanced further into the round and potentially win it. This means it all boils down to having the right combination of soldier classes and enough skills and determination to get through. And because the entire round is based on completing an objective, getting the most kills won't matter.

A small, yet crucial, feature in Quake Wars is native widescreen support. For a while, I have been advocating and pushing both EA and DICE to implement this feature into the Battlefield games. To this day, I have heard nothing from them -- the silent treatment. I have posted on their forums many times and I have posted numerous times regarding the same issue. All of the responses I have received are either from those who also wish to see it implemented and those who believe that EA will sit back and do nothing about it. Multiple times I have received responses where the reason behind not supporting widescreen is unfair advantage. I have argued otherwise in a calm manner that such a reason is ... well, unreasonable. And multiple times I have pointed out various aspects of the game that would give any individual an unfair advantage in such scenario. Still, the responses have been silent from EA and DICE.

In the end, these are two completely different games with two completely different pacing. I do not know if I'll continue playing both games. Both have some good qualities while both have their faults. Sadly, if one were to tally the faults, EA/DICE's BF2 and 2142 games would come out on top.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Psychothera-wha...?

There's just something missing when it comes to traditional animation produced by American companies or writers. One of the things that has plagued animation for the longest time is its generalization to make it viewable for everyone, including children. In today's day and age of paranoia and protecting our own little ones from the dangers of bad influences, you don't see animations that requires a higher level of understanding. You don't see complex stories, mysteries, or things that reflect real life. That's the biggest problem plaguing Disney today. While they try to write new stories that attract all audiences, none of them push forward to challenge the mind. None of them try to ask the difficult questions that can come up from time to time. None of them touch on the little things that some people go through. Sure, Miyazaki's works are now published and released in America under the Disney brand. But as we all know, Miyazaki doesn't write for Disney nor does he really follow Disney's philosphy of writing.

At first glance, Paprika did not seem much from the trailer. It looked like your typical adventure film. What the trailer lacked was the kind of things that can make or break future sales. Visually, it looks interesting. But there's nothing much else in terms of the story's premise. That's one of the key elements that is needed in order to attract viewers.

It's hard to describe what is Paprika without spoiling. Instead, one should just watch the entire movie. Unfortunately, no date has been set at this time on when this movie will be released on DVD. This is a worthy addition. And if you're one of those people who has adopted Blu-Ray early, snatch up the Blu-Ray copy while you're at it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

To the pain!

One of the great things about fandom is that somewhere out there, an individual has an idea to make a fan-made game based on a different game. Normally this should come as no surprise. Fan-made games and the sort is common in today's day and age of Flash, Java, Shockwave, DirectX, OpenGL, and so forth. However, the game which this one is based off on isn't exactly made for the general public. In fact, those not of a certain age isn't permitted to even view its content. Yes, it's one of those type of games. But this fan-made game isn't like that. It's entirely different, using a 2D fighting theme that reminds us all of the golden days of Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and, yes, Street Fighter 2.

The game is Big Bang Beat - 1st Impression. To those who have played various other 2D-based games such as Guilty Gear, Eternal Fighter Zero, or Party's Breaker, this may feel familiar. The system is solid and shows so much promise in many ways. One of the character, Zinnai Heita (J-name ordering) didn't show much potential as a character. It wasn't until boosting his ability into "Super Mode" that his abilities begin to shine. He is faster, more powerful, and adds a couple of new techniques. Remember the Raging Demon? Super Heita has one similar. Think it eats up a mere 3 meters of Boost/Super? Nope, it requires 9 -- the whole 9 yards. Yet while this move is particularly devastating to use, it isn't guarantee to completely destroy any opponent. The damage isn't set in stone and it varies in a certain range. Despite that, there are other more useful ways to fully utilize 9 meters worth of special abilities.

video

After some experimenting, I finally came up with the above series of moves. Will there be a chance to ever do this? Maybe. But there are ways to mix things up and create something different. As a footnote, this combo is not strictly corner-only. This combo can be done from one end of the screen to the next and the opponent will still end up in the corner regardless.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Smoking Gun

Today a package arrived via UPS. Inside is something that probably would have easily passed by US Customs, especially for a single order item. However, due to a certain federal law, many of the online stores selling this would opt to have this piece modified to be suitable and guarantee a pass through Customs, or even sell in the first place.

As I made a random check to look up an URL as reference, I found out that my MP-05 preorder is in jeopardy. Being a collector, I am choosing to have Megatron stay in his sealed box state. Knowing that he'll be opened and be touched by people's hands that are not mine disturbs me. I waited a bit, to see if I will get a notice from HLJ about the small change in the order description. What I had originally ordered was Megatron: unchanged, unmodified, untouched. For them to change the description and the condition of which to ship this to USA without telling me in the first place is rather poor business practice. I have ordered many things from them and I have had no problems, until now. Undeniably, they have the best prices compared to other reputable stores. But sadly, I cannot be a customer for them that time.

I eventually canceled the preorder and went elsewhere. That lead me to Ages 3 And Up, a store located in Canada that can deal with American customers as well as ship to American addresses. I placed the preorder and paid up front accordingly to their terms and conditions. The release day came and went. The store would not get their shipment until late April. It would not be until late May that I would receive an email from them informing me of my tracking number for UPS. Finally, it was on its way...

As expected, they delivered as promised that their shipment of Megatrons would be untouched and sealed. Unfortunately, they lack any fancier packaging that would make keeping Megatron in its pristine state easier. Despite that, I am relieved that I do not have to endure waiting for this wonderful masterpiece to arrive at my doorstep.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Semi-New Beginning

Finally...

It started on November 26, 2006. And on May 30, 2007, I have reached the end of a road. The rank of Brigadier General isn't much. But it shows that I have achieved one particular goal. Yet it doesn't all stop there.

The points don't matter much to me anymore. I have reached the summit of scoring altogether. One road ends. And a new one begins. This time, the road is different. It's rough, with some curves. It's also a long one and I do not know how far it'll take me. This road will put me on a path where the first stop along the way is the War College Ribbon. Things are going fine, with a few bumps here and there. And the only real problem is clocking in the time as Commander.

I do not know what's next after the first stop. In all honesty, I've no idea on what to achieve next, as the scenario constantly changes when I play. But I do know one thing. My win/loss record is still in a manageable state and I am definitely sure I can reach this goal. The only ingredient to the mix... is simply time. "It is inevitable..."