tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

I’m watching anime again

Which anime, you ask? Well…



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Tonight on IRC

[18:57] <SonicTempest> so anyway
[18:57] <SonicTempest> something funny happened to me today
[18:57] <SonicTempest> I went to a bakery to get a sandwich for lunch and they gave me a sandwich with sausage in it even though I asked for a vegetarian one
[18:57] <SonicTempest> I made a snarky comment about it on Twitter
[18:57] <SonicTempest> and within a few minutes they found me on Twitter and offered me a gift card
[18:57] <SonicTempest> I was like lol wtf
[19:00] <bonta> lolz
[19:00] <bonta> how the fuck did they know it was you
[19:05] <SonicTempest> I mentioned the name of the place in my Tweet
[19:05] <SonicTempest>
[19:06] <SonicTempest> http://twitter.com/GrandCentralSEA/status/22831925439
[19:07] <bonta> hahaha
[19:08] <SonicTempest> WEB 2.0 HAS CHANGED THE WORLD

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This is awesome

That said I don’t know that Sonic 2 is necessarily the best game to show that stuff off…it’s pretty streamlined compared to some of the other games.

Oh well, still funny!

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Just over ten years to the day it was released…

…I finally beat the original Deus Ex. And it makes me want to kick myself for not playing it back then.

To illustrate why this game is so important, it might help to make a few comparisons with more recent titles.

There are tons of games out there (mostly Bioware and Bethesda games) that advertise the fact that you can make choices in-game that have consequences. However, most of those consequences are fairly minor. For instance take Fallout 3 – one of the quests early on lets you decide whether or not to spare the town of Megaton or not by defusing or detonating its resident unexploded nuclear bomb. How you resolve this quest certain has consequences – for instance, it decides where your ‘base’ will be early on, and it will change certain characters’ attitudes towards you. That said, pretty much all the story quests are unaffected by this – they unfold in exactly the same manner, and you experience the main storyline the same way over multiple playthroughs. Sidequests might change, sure, but the main plot never does.

Deus Ex, however, has no such limitations. You can kill off major characters way before they’re supposed to have a major impact on the plot, and doing so will prevent those events from ever occurring (I actually did this). On top of that the decision making is thankfully free of the binary good versus evil distinction – heck, in most situations the options available to you aren’t really apparent unless you explore the areas and invest points in the correct skills. This even extends to the game’s conclusion – unlike Fallout 3 and so many other games that tout choice as a major selling point, there is no distinction between a ‘good’ ending and a ‘bad’ ending – once again, just choices with consequences, and you’re left to decide which choices are the most palatable to you. Believe it or not, it took me something like 30 minutes to decide which ending I wanted to go for.

Given that this game came out ten years ago, way back in 2000, it’s amazing and thoroughly disappointing that no game has managed to improve on it – not even its own sequel, apparently. Deus Ex 3 is on the horizon, but given that it’s being handled by a completely different development team, and that Warren Spector is busy making Mickey Mouse games for Disney, I’m not going to get my hopes up too much.

I’ve just started on Mass Effect 2, whose developers insist that the way the game unfolds will depend on how you beat the original Mass Effect. We’ll see, I suppose.


It’s their line, and they’re awesome at it

Went to see Whose Live Anyway this past weekend. I’m a big fan of Whose Line is it Anyway? (both the British and American versions, before you ask) so being able to watch this show was a real treat for me. It’s hard for me to pin down what my favourite part of the show was, so here’s a quick list of greatest hits (no pun intended):

  • Drew Carey being a secret guest performer (although I should have guessed he’d show up, given that he’s the part owner of Seattle Sounders FC)
  • Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops making a reference to the ‘Africa’s a continent’ incident from Whose Line
  • Chip Esten and Jeff Davis taking the song title ‘Home Alone’ and turning it into a song about a prostitute called Malone
  • Chip playing ‘The Ghost of Billy Mays’ during Celebrity Improv Jeopardy
  • Jeff doing his Christopher Walken impression during the same game
  • Ryan’s ‘WTF?’ face after someone in the audience suggested ‘Bangkok’ for the category ‘Names of places in China’

Actually, I don’t think I can remember all of them…it was generally a good time all around. Now I just need to hope that the Colin and Brad Show makes a stop around here sometime soon…

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I’ll post more thoughts about BlazBlue later

For now, let me just say ‘omg the netcode in this game is really good.’

I just played 5 pretty much lag-free (or lag-really-well-hidden) matches. Lost 4 of them, but I’m a crappy player so that’s to be expected I guess :p

If you have the PS3 version, hit me up with an invite if you see me online. PSN ID is SonicTempest.

And yes, I use Ragna the Sol Badguy.


My game collection just got 200 times manlier

Played through the first level – pretty damn great.


Left 4 Dead is bloody brilliant

I’ve been getting my ass kicked (with friends) in the first campaign, and I love it. It’s the first real FPS I’ve played that relies on co-op so much, and it does co-op really well.

We reached the finale of the first campaign a few times today, but never managed to hold out until the rescue chopper arrived. A truly ridiculous number of zombies assails you at that point, coupled with numerous boss zombie spawns (at one point we had a Tank, a Boomer and a Smoker all running around). At one point the Tank climbed up to the vantage point where I had been sniping from and basically punched me off the building.

Good times.

And now, it’s time for some screenshots from the full game!

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20:08 PST – Obama 297 – McCain 145

I only have one thing to say:

That said, 2010 will be an interesting election to watch, given Obama’s lofty goals (as set out in his platform).

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Razor sharp

A demo for Mirror’s Edge hit PSN today, so I took it out for a spin.

The demo consists of a tutorial level and what I assume is the first level of the game, that takes place on a series of building rooftops. Incidentally, this is the same level that was shown when the game was revealed for the first time.

Amazingly, I must say, the demo lived up to my expectations. Somehow DICE has managed to craft a first-person platformer that feels right. It reminds me of old-school (read: Genesis) Sonic the Hedgehog games a whole lot, as in there are multiple intertwining routes you can use to navigate the level (although the progression is still very much linear) and there’s a heavy focus on maintaining momentum through good timing and using it to pull off platforming stunts in the game world.

Where it differs, of course, is in elements like combat (which, again, focuses on disarming and incapacitating your opponents quickly rather than engaging in shootouts with them). Combat is fairly simple, in that you have a single button for melee attacks and another button for disarming. The trick is to combine your melee attacks, jumps/slides and disarming moves in such a way as to get the opponent out of your way as quickly as possible – in other words, to minimise their impact to your momentum.

In addition, there’s a mode called ‘reaction time’ that lets you slow down time briefly, allowing you to execute maneuvres like frontal disarms or precise jumps with more leeway. This ties neatly back into the core platforming since the ability to use reaction time is granted when you successfully manage to maintain your momentum for an extended period of time.

If I had to nitpick, there are a couple of things I would mention:

  • The game uses Unreal Engine 3, meaning that things like dynamic shadows have aliased/jagged edges, which impairs the look of the game for me somewhat. On top of that, while the NPCs are modeled and animated extremely well, they seem rather crap at emoting, much like Mass Effect and other UE3 games I’ve seen.
  • I found it a little tricky to use the right analogue stick to line myself up correctly for precision jumping – this is probably more of a personal preference, though, and I imagine you can tweak the sensitivity settings to get them exactly where you want them.

Overall, though, if the final product manages to maintain the quality of the level design through to the end, this should end up being a pretty damn good game. I imagine time trial nuts (myself included) will have a blast exploring the levels, trying to find that one improvement to their route that knocks precious seconds off their best times.

(Speaking of time trials, the demo also has a time trial mode, but to unlock it you need to have preordered the game on either Xbox 360 or PS3. I’ve already decided to wait the extra two months for the PC version, so I wasn’t able to try it out)


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