Archive for August, 2009

I have to admit, I had given up on finding a game that could keep my ADHD mind interested enough to play it for days on end. But thanks to my boyfriend who added Prototype to my Gamefly queue, I was able to waste a few hours of my life without regret.

The game starts you off as some guy in a hoodie and an abnormally Final Fantasy-ish leather jacket with godlike powers that’s being chased by the military. I thought to myself “Wow, this is pretty trippin’… I run up walls at top speed, jump higher than a mutated grasshopper, glide like a flying squirrel on steroids, and best of all, I can slice and dice anything (or anyone) in my path!”

And the only logical subsequent train of thought had to be “I wonder how long this is going to last…” and soon enough I had my answer. All right. So after the intro you end up playing Alex Mercer at the beginning of his adventure with a significant reduction in available powers. This is the usual “Here’s a taste of what you COULD have if you keep playing the game” but I have to honestly say that the start-up powers aren’t that bad. By forcing you to have to learn your powers slowly throughout the game you definitely tend to remember how to use the moves more thoroughly as opposed to being thrown in the game with a huge arsenal and having to remember them all at once. In fact, at the beginning I only managed to use three or four powers because I wasn’t aware of all of the other ones I could have used.

So, without spoiling the game for anyone that hasn’t played it, I am going to give you a little review.

One of the first things that kept me going was the awesome powers available and the horrible things you can do with them. I enjoyed slashing or absorbing random pedestrians, policemen and helicopter pilots. It was quite satisfying to grab someone by the neck and then drag them up to the top of a building to then fling them off from the highest point down to their doom. I really enjoyed going down after the body as it was flailing through the air to see if I could find it before it hit the ground. It was quite addicting to bash through cars, trucks and playgrounds in shield mode while watching people flying up into the air or dashing through the streets hopping from car to car and quickly running up a wall and then go from building to building. Ok, honestly, I mostly enjoyed terrorizing the city instead of completing missions but who hasn’t spent hours on GTA stealing cars, crashing them and trying to kill as many people as possible?

I did like to infiltrate the police stations and learn needed skills by absorbing those people with a DNA symbol above them. Once you absorb everyone you need to then you can proceed to kill everyone else and take down their defenses for a while. Hijacking vehicles such as helicopters and tanks is actually very useful and enjoyable especially when you have to take down other vehicles.

As for the missions, they weren’t too bad. A bit repetitive but were still pretty challenging. As long as you keep upgrading or getting new abilities you should be able to finish the missions pretty quickly — but be ready to have a very sore right index finger. I found myself having to dash almost all the time, if it wasn’t because I was being chased by the military, it was because I was being chased by a zombie mutant (or chasing them in some cases). I often had to switch to my middle finger while holding down the trigger because of sharp pains shooting through my finger joints but at least the game didn’t cause any kind of physical damage like the infamous Mario Party thumb stick palm blister.

One thing some people seem to complain about is that it is hard to stay incognito while walking around the streets especially farther into the game. Often times the task force is deployed which results in Alex having to interrupt what he was doing and hide. I have to say I never had any issues myself since I always wandered around in the form of a pedestrian. You can get away with a lot before the police notice you. Just make sure you don’t absorb, or kill or destroy anything around any authorities. You can safely dash through the street and even hop on cars and run up walls without inciting much suspicion. Even if you do end up with the task force after you, it isn’t that hard to get away from them as long as you climb up as high as you can and then quickly drop back down in a relatively enclosed area like an alley and quickly switch to another form as soon as the icon tells you to.  Another complaint that people seem to have is that the graphics aren’t that great. I am actually pretty impressed considering you have a lot of things to explore.

All and all, this game was fun and has some re-play value. The story line was the usual zombie/secret weapon plot and didn’t bring much to the table that hadn’t already been brought by other games such as Resident Evil but it was good enough to keep me engaged. I might not have been as critical of the game as IGN, but I honestly enjoyed this game and was happy to have found something that maintained my interest for that long. I’m still more of an old school gamer — I definitely enjoy the classics from the Megadrive (Genesis) and Nintendo/Super Nintendo a lot more than any pretty face the next generation consoles have to offer, but I just can’ t just use my Xbox for movies and TV shows only. It would be sort of a waste of a 47 inch 1080p HD television if I didn’t play any games on it, wouldn’t it?

I wouldn’t buy the game, but it is perfect to rent — and quite therapeutic.

Product: Prototype for the XBOX 360

Graphics: 7/10

Controls: 9/10

Playability: 10/10

Sound: 9/10

Replay Value: 8/10

Average: 8.6

News: Console Hacker Arrested

Posted: August 5, 2009 in News
Tags: , , ,

http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/04/console-hacker-arrested-faces-up-to-ten-years-in-jail/

I’m getting tired of purchasing things such as movies (which I don’t do very often these days since they all pretty much suck), consoles and other such items and not being able to do what I want with them. Why shouldn’t I be able to mod my XBOX so that it can connect to my home network, ad a huge hard drive and store my movies and pictures on it? I bought the thing so why can’t I use it the way I want it to. But of course, the days of taking apart your radio and tweaking it a bit so that it picks up stations a state down are over. Sadly, people who are otherwise outstanding citizens (other than some spending their time relaxing with a toke or two) end up with their lives ruined because they hacked a console. I understand if they had hacked it in such a manner that it gave them an advantage in online gaming but this is sad. Some people might disagree, but I don’t think these console hackers are hurting anyone that I know of and I certainly feel no sympathy towards Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft that might have a dime or two taken from their wallets as a result of these hackers’ actions.

So, what do you think? Did this hacker deserve a 10 year sentence? Why and why not?

UPDATE:

It looks like now it is legal to “jailbreak” iPhones, but how will that affect modding consoles?

The Price of Vanity

Posted: August 4, 2009 in Cartoons
Tags: , , ,

Number4-1

I COULD have had the Dragonbane blade but instead just HAD to opt for a different hairstyle… didn’t I!

I recently downloaded Iron after trying Chrome and not really liking the privacy issues. I have to admit it is a pretty neat browser for casual browsing but it lacks a lot of tools that would make it the best. Yes, it’s new, so I hope that it will eventually gain the functionality of Firefox.

Pros:

1. It’s fast. Really fast. It boots up very quickly and pages load at lightning speed.

2. It maximizes the space used to view web pages with its minimalistic design. You can hide the bookmarks bar but I prefer to keep it there just for convenience sake.

3. You can drag downloaded items straight from the download bar at the bottom to anywhere you want.

4. You can use a version of AdBlock to block a good number of those pesky and often dangerous spam ads.

5. It is pretty simple and straight forward.

6. The omnibar. I really liked the idea of having one bar for both search and URL entry. I rarely enter URLs anyway so I get tired of tabbing to the search box.

7. Separate processes for each tab. That was a winner for me. My computer runs fast and it has no problem running each tab on its own. I have had times when a page would crash and the whole browser would go down. Fortunately with Iron I just had to shut down the tab’s process and continue on my merry way. This might be taxing on a slower system but worth it if your system can handle it.

Cons:

1. The AdBlock feature you can install isn’t up to par with AdBlock plus by a long shot. You can’t change the options and it doesn’t block nearly as much. If the ad blocker were up to par I would definitely consider using Iron as my main browser.

2. There are no ad-ons. That means you can’t use very useful tools such as element hiding helper.

3. The back button is very messed up. With some pages (usually those that were re-directed) the back button ended up creating several copies of that page making it impossible to go back to the previous page without accessing the history by either right clicking or holding the back button and selecting the previous page. This got very annoying, very fast. That’s one thing that’s really keeping me from using Iron as my main browser.

4. For some reason my spell checker won’t work. I couldn’t find out how to fix it. I know there’s got to be a way because there are people out there without this problem but I  just can’t figure out how. It is just irritating that this feature has problems with some users.

A lot of bugs have been resolved since it was first released and I’m still pretty impressed with the product. But I did some research on how to speed up Firefox and researched add-ons that would simulate the best features in Chrome and managed to find them.

Yes, I know there are people out there who have figured this out already but I never thought of looking for a list myself so this is my method. You could also download a theme that simulates the look but it serves no purpose. There is a Chrome add-on but it doesn’t seem to work well on my computer.

1. Downloader Status bar

2. Hide Menubar

3. Omnibar

There are other things you could look for but this is good enough for me. Also, there are plenty of ways to speed up Firefox. Just look it up on Google and change the settings according to the instructions. Be very careful when changing these settings because you could screw things up. You need broadband to make use of these changes and to decrease loading time you should make sure you have a fast computer.

Here’s a very blurry screencap to show you what it looks like with these changes.

Untitled

To do this just Google “How to speed up Firefox” and “How to make Firefox faster”. I would do some research and read all of the articles before making changes. Some are complicated, and some just require you to edit the shortcut’s target entry text. It is possible that some pages load a bit slower but for the most part you do get a general sense of increased page loading time.

Check out  this blog written by Maurice Cepeda, writing as Mauro Andrés, that gives you a comprehensive and relatively easy to follow set of instructions for improving the performance of your browser.

Le Blog de Maurice.

After tweaking Firefox I tested its speed with both a benchmark and some online testing sites and the difference was negligible. Sometimes Firefox was a couple milliseconds to a second slower and at times it was even faster than Iron. Until Iron has fixed the aforementioned problems, I will keep Firefox as my main browser. Yes, you can make changes to Iron with Greasemonkey, but it isn’t worth the trouble when Firefox has such a vast library of ad-ons. I love tweaking and optimizing as much as the next gal, but convenience will always win. I will probably mess around with Greasemonkey when I get bored enough but until then I don’t see any reason to use Iron as my main browser.

Functionality: 7/10

Speed: 10/10

Stability: 8.5/10

Visual Appeal: 10/10

Compatibility: 8.5/10

Innovation: 9.5/10

Average score: 8.9

Summary: In short, the browser is pretty cool to play with, but once the novelty wears off it just isn’t up to par with Firefox. But if you’re just a casual internet user and don’t care about all the bells and whistles then it’s just the thing you were looking for. It’s fast, pretty reliable, and it dumbs down browsing so even novices have an easier time finding what they want. It is a good browser — I just hope that they address the issues I covered and others that might come up, that I forgot, or that I’m not aware of.