Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review: Assassin's Creed

Finished Assassin's Creed today, and I am impressed. This is the first of the games that I have played from Ubisoft Montreal. I skipped the Prince of Persia's (at least the semi-recent ones), so I think this is my first introduction to the Havoc engine and other miscellaneous bouncing off the walls that the character is able to do. In Assassin's Creed, you play two roles. First off you play as Miles, the descendant of a famed Assassin clan from during the Crusades. You have limited interaction while playing as Miles and must glide around the room frequently to see if you can interact with anything. It would be nice here if it would highlight so you could see you could interact from a distance. The second character you play as is Altaïr, Miles' ancestor. Basically the game story centers around the fact that Miles is captured and must relive his ancestor's life through some sort of DNA memory. While this is a little hokie, but if you can suspend your beliefs past that part, you are in for a treat. The story is filled with conspiracy theories, alien technology, and ancient battles, not to mention getting to play as an assassin in a critical time in human history.

The graphics and sounds are executed well and give you a very immersive environment. You get the sounds of battles, plus the sounds of merchants hawking their wares. You get to see swirling dust and flying insects along with copious amounts of blood. The cities are beautifully rendered with tons of space to explore and tons of stupid flags to find.

The gameplay suffers from a few things. Many popular reviewers found this game to be repetitive and I can see where they are coming from. Your bare minimum mission consists of:
  1. Arrive at city
  2. Visit bureau
  3. Do 2 of 6 investigations
  4. Visit bureau
  5. Kill target
  6. Visit bureau

But that is the bare minimum. If you want there are high places to explore, and citizens to save. There are also 6 total investigations to do which all lend to the story and enrich it. Plus if you really would like to get into the role it is helpful to do all the investigations so you can see marked guard placements and good routes to the site. For me the most monotonous part was flag hunting. I got it into my head that I should find all the flags, but after trying to do so in Damascus for 3+ hours, I decided I would just collect the ones I could find (as they are save points) and that would be all.

Another clunky combat / gameplay point is that sometimes it can be a tad grabby. If you are running away from the guards sometimes your character will do very non-elite assassin sort of things like just grab onto a wall or accidentally fall into the water. These end up being very bad things.

But bad things aside, they really didn't detract much from the game and I still had a fun time playing it. In fact I recommend it just to watch the story.

Back to healthy

Well everyone is mostly healthy now. Miranda completely healthy and her parents, well, they are recovering. She is eating again and the vocabulary is increasing, we just don't always understand. But that is alright. Now I just need to take more pictures so my parents stay happy :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lions part ways with Shaun Rogers

Reports: Lions decide to part ways with Rogers

It's really hard to say letting go of a pro bowl player is a good thing. But there was also the frustration of seeing nothing produced out of him for 7 of the 16 games this season. See you Shaun, may your next team work out better for you, and may your replacement show up 16 games.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sick kid

Miranda has her first real cold with fever. We have been lucky before this with 1 other light cold, but this one looks to be a big one. So yesterday I spent an hour and a half in Walgreen's waiting for the prescription that was supposed to be faxed in earlier. Either way, that sucked at I would have got home at 5:30, but instead got home around 7pm.

Add that in with Miranda not sleeping well and we aren't sleeping well and you have a barely functioning household.

But the prognosis is ear infection with a secondary infection that seems to be the flu. Antibiotics for the ear infection and lots of fighting to get her to take the meds, take the tylenol, and just eat or get fluids.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bad parent addendum

Well, puking didn't end the day. I ended up getting pooped on to. Sigh.

But it looks like Miranda has the flu. Hopefully get her into the doc today and make sure we can do all we can do for her.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yup. Awful parent award winner for this year too


Who the hell says timeout works? I would really like to know so that I could throw up on them. So my daughter is 20 months. We have been working with her to help understand things and also some of the things that are acceptable and not. So this morning she dumped food all over the floor. Fine. So I ask her to pick up the food and put it back in the bowl. She refuses. So I put her in her chair for a while.

Next I go to clean up the mess and she comes over. She helps a bit. Then when it is back full, she grabs and dumps it. So back in time out, but this time in her room all alone, for 20 seconds. I come in. I try to calm her down so we can talk. She throws up on me. Every time I do timeout with her, I get thrown up on. So how the hell do you do corrective actions when you are doing all you can to get fucking calories and nutrients to her and then have her regurgitate it?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Video Game Review: Open Season

I recently picked up Xbox 360 Holiday Bundle from Amazon for the low price of $20 (although it has gone up) for the reason that it was a great deal. I wasn't sure if the games would be good or not, but I figured that Miranda would appreciate the bright colors and hopefully easy game play of these games. So I finally decided to try Open Season first and what I found surprised me.

I am used to most movie tie-in games and whatnot to be atrocious, but what I found here was something simplistic but at the same point very entertaining. Now this game is used by many "hardcore" gamers to gain achievements or "nerd-cred", but I went in with that as secondary. The basic plot follows that of the movie where you play as both the bear (Boog) and the deer sidekick (can't remember) and Boog transformation from pet to wild animal. The majority of the missions are played as Boog and basically put you "on rails" running through the forest scaring off hunters and loggers. There are a couple of missions that are out of control "river runs" where you attempt to not run into too many things in your path. The controls are good. The camera is not annoying. And in the end, I found that I had fun.

About the only thing that bothered me was what felt like uninspired voice acting. I would hope that they wanted to do this in addition to just picking up a paycheck. But the general storytelling was well laid out and the writing was good and lead to a few chuckles.

In addition to the game, which is 3-5 hours to beat and very, very easy, you also get a number of multiplayer mini-games, as well as slideshows from the movie and various nature trivia facts.

Book Review: Forever War

In The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, you are given the story of a soldier fighting a far off enemy for reasons he does not understand. But in fighting that enemy, he is rapidly alienated from his own species by the progress of time and his lack of aging due to relativity. There are many direct associations that can be made between this and the Vietnam War (for reasons of the Author's involvement) and many have made comparisons between this and Starship Troopers by R.A.H. where the focus of the comparison has been on Starship being more optimistic while in Forever War there is a general sense of dread and then just resolve.

This book was excellent. This is the first time, in my relatively short time of reading Science Fiction, that a book gave me very real sense of dread about the future. On the main characters first trip back to Earth, he is faced with a very different world that has been changed in the 30 years he was gone by food shortages and rising class violence and lawlessness because of how food is handled. Just reading the causes and effects that Haldeman lays out still gives me chills at how very plausible it is.

Of course this trip back to Earth really sets forth the desire for the main character to re-enlist just to leave behind an Earth he does not know. And for then on out, you are given glimpses into the way that the worlds change as our hero finds himself out on longer and longer missions, where he just loses touch with what humanity has become.

Overall, this is definitely a book I can recommend. Don't be put off by the timeline as it is still an amazing story and setup. Also I recommend to make sure you get the latest author definitive edition as that covers alot more of the negative future aspects.