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Assassin’s Creed IV – Black Flag

It’s no secret to anyone who may know me personally that I have never been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed game line, however on a whim I decided to add Black Flag to my Gamefly Game Q to try out. What I found out is this game to me is incredibly enjoyable and found myself spending way too much time playing the game, the sign of a well-crafted game.

I still am not too fond of the first or second games in the series but I do have a greater understanding for them now that I have played and beaten the 4th Game in the series. I did at the time it came out buy Assassin’s Creed 1 just never finished, I am considering going back and re-playing these games and see if I can find renewed enjoyment in the series I once found droll and boring.

Ok now that that gushing is out of the way let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about what I liked and did not like about this game, I think you will find the list of Likes will outweigh the list of dislikes however you be the judge.

Things I enjoyed

  • Unique Gameplay for navigating the massive world – If you’re not familiar with this game you are playing the part of a pirate who oddly has a knack for killing people using stealth that has become the pinnacle of the series. You move from one Island to another using a pirate ship which you can upgrade to make it more deadly and engage in combat with computer NPC ships to loot resources of sink them out of spite and try to recover whatever little bit of the resources they carried that did not sink with them.
  • Ship Battles – As mentioned above these were new to this version and are extremely enjoyable, the game starts out making them very easy but they get progressively harder as the game moves on forcing you to upgrade your ship or play the reload game.
  • Legendary Ships – These are ships (sometimes 2 or more in a group) that have higher than normal armor and the damage output is higher as well, however to balance out the increased difficulty they also offer larger rewards if you manage to fel one of them. Watch out though it seems their favorite tactic is to ram you which do a surprising amount of damage even with the maximum amount of armor you can upgrade to.
  • Chase sequences – They have these in both the ship mode as well as on foot, and while these may have existed in other versions of the game I found that they were particularly enjoyable in this game. The game seemed to know when you’re chasing someone across roof tops and through crowds, as the AI would tend to clutter the NPCs more in your way or have more enemy’s looking to the roof tops to try and target you.
  • Shanties – Yes you can hear your ship’s crew sing authentic Pirate songs as them tend to the ship while sailing around the sea, you can increase the variety of songs they sing by chasing down music pages on Islands that will start blowing away when you come across them, catch them and your crew learns a new Shanti allowing for a wider variety of songs.
  • Private Island – Toward the beginning of the game you get an Island you took from the Spanish that you can upgrade allowing for your own private place to repair your ship or purchase upgrades that allow you to hire Drunk pirates in random cities as body guards, you can use these pirates to distract guards by using them as cannon fodder while you track the main target. You could also just have them follow you and take part in any battle you come across during your time on the Island. Normally these are able to be hired but with the upgrade on the Island they become free.

 

Now comes the ugly part, the things I found wrong with this game

Things I did not like at all

  • Story – While the idea for the story is nice, it’s bifurcated between the “simulation” and the real world. What I found most jarring is that they setup this huge plot line for the few scenes your actually in the real world and not engaged in the “simulation” then  play it down toward the end like it was all the ramblings of some crazy IT guy. Now this would have been fine if they did not go to lengths to make your playable character believe what he was actually telling you by showing you things you could not have seen if he was in fact crazy.
  • Touchy Controls – Sometimes when you need to be discreet and sneak up on an enemy the controller on the PS4 would mysteriously hit a button causing you to lunge or jump out of your hiding place which would set the alarm off blowing the whole stealth aspect. Now I know for a fact some of these were me being overzealous with the controls but there were a few times the control seemed to hit the buttons itself. I have not had this issue with other PS4 games so it would appear specific to this game.
  • Precision – Yes this related to the last point above, however it felt it needed a different point. When trying to climb up a wall or jump down and assassinate your target sometimes getting the target lined up right can be a tricky prospect. Again not sure if this is present on all versions of this game or just the PS4 version (which is what I used).
  • Poor story Development in DLC missions – There was a DLC released called Freedom where you play as the character that is your Quartermaster in the main game, Your told you will find out more about the man but are quickly brought to the reality that about 10 % of the DLC focuses on him while the rest seems to revolve around freeing the slaves and sighting a revolt among them. This is a good plot line but all in all it felt rushed and while they also had a ship segment like the main game, they seem to discourage pillaging ships and instead want you to get resources by liberating plantations which would be fine if they were as readily available.
  • Main Characters with names to similar to each other – I found it hard to follow the plot when you have to go from killing someone named Rogers, to Roberts and so on. It just makes it very confusing. You begin thinking to yourself “Roberts did I not kill him already?”

 

Bottom line here is that this game is worth getting second hand or renting through Gamefly or the like, however I find it hard to suggest buying it new as it just has way too many issues and for me anyway this game just is not worth the $50 (49.99) it costs to get it for next gen systems. I enjoyed the game so much I bought it from Gamefly after they sent it to me for $22 which was more of a reasonable price I think.

Due to how much I enjoyed this game I would seriously consider investing my time in future games in the series and maybe even going back to past titles in the series with renewed excitement. Yes this game is that good that it can turn someone who hated the series in to a possible fan of the series.

 

Updates, goals and struggles

Wow, so it is been a while since I’ve written a post on my blog, I hope to rectify that with a brief update into what’s going on with me.

Linux

Not much different as happened in the world of Linux with regard to me, I have recently picked up an android tablet (recent as in August) which I had to give for school but now that that class is over I have a $500 toy! Okay so it’s not really a toy but now it’s just a gadget I can use to fool around on as the class that needed it is over.

It is the Asus Transformer tablet, the first one that came out not their newer version they just released. I do rather enjoy the tablet even though I have no practical use for currently, however I downloaded a handful of children friendly applications (a drawing application as well as in teaching games) and my daughter absolutely loves playing on it. While I needed one for school it was never said exactly what I had to get I was just told I needed a mobile device, cell phone was out of the question as I’m not going to pay for a cell phone plan, so I did some research to look into what options were available and this is the one I had decided on.

What sold me on this particular tablet over say the iPad 2 is mainly a few factors, price, flexibility, and liberation from iTunes the worst piece of software ever created. Okay so maybe that’s a little harsh iTunes is not the worst software ever created but it certainly ranks up there. Now before I get several common saying you get what you pay for and the quality of the iPad 2 is worth the additional cost, let me just explain my justification behind the price point;

Looking at the tablet from strictly a practical standpoint, what purpose was a going to serve after my class is over. The answer is simply it will serve no practicality other than entertainment value when the class was over , I’m not currently employed so they can help my work life be more productive, I could read electronic versions of my textbooks on it but that’s not really something that would greatly increase productivity in terms of school work.

Based on that information I had to say that I want to spend $600 and get the iPad 2 or spend $400 and get the Transformer, the latter was a much better option because since the practicality of this device is not really going to be there was my class was over I went to spend the least amount of money possible.

This brings me to my next point which was flexibility, while the iPad has thousands if not millions of apps available to it, it is very restrictive with what you can and can’t do with it. I have never been one to be a fan of a company that tries to dictate which can and can’t use their device for. I’m not talking about using it for illegal purposes, I’m mainly talking about choice of content as well as the technologies the browser for example chooses to utilize. While I see great value in the iPad and would recommend it to somebody who is looking for a tablet that was easy to use, and something they could just pick up and go, that was not what I was looking for.

With an android powered device such as the tablet that I have feel much less restricted, it feels much more like a desktop environment with a touchscreen. The more I think about I guess it could kind of the rooted in the fact that I’m a huge supporter of Linux and open source, that’s not to say that I do not like Apple, in fact it’s the opposite I would love to get my hands on a bran new Apple Macintosh with Mac OS X, but until I can get a job that pays me enough to be able to spend extra money that’s just not an option. If somebody were to offer me a free iPad or iPad 2 I wouldn’t even have to think about it I would gladly take it because I am a technology junkie :-). I love getting my hands on new gadgets in various forms technology and just fiddling with them until I know them inside and out.

The last point, the liberation from iTunes, this is huge as I have mentioned I’m no fan of iTunes having been for quite some time, I will admit that iTunes is making strides towards a much better user experience to meet it’s still way too restrictive, has too much overhead, and acts as a freaking lockbox where any items that I purchase are locked tightly away in iTunes and not allowed to be put on any device but an Apple device. Now I’ve heard that iTunes is change their policies recently to where music videos and things that you purchase through iTunes are no longer restricted to only iTunes or only Apple devices, but heard such rumors in the past and I’m not likely to test it out now.

If you’re interested in learning more about the tablet, I did a review on it on my tech site located here

Computers

I have been called by family members and friends a computer geek or nerd or sometimes both, while generally speaking these terms are looked at by some as derogatory I wear them like a badge of honor.

It’s no secret I’m a huge technology buff, I love anything and everything having to do with technology. Last time I had to upgrade my computer I was faced with the dilemma, that I go back to Dell computers (a fantastic company by the way) and have been billed me a computer that would work flawlessly and then turn around and have to replace it five years, or do I save money by all the parts and build it myself. After thinking about it long and hard the choice was obvious, build it myself. Now this is nothing new you can go back and read a post from several years ago where I talk about the new system that I built. However, I have since upgraded the system to the point where I may as well have built an entirely new system.

Basically the upgrade consisted of a new power supply, a new case, new motherboard, a new RAM everything else is the same. I reviewed the case on Tech Jam if you’re interested in reading it and click the link a few words back. Because so many of the elements that I upgraded allow me to essentially have enough spare parts to build a second computer, using my old case and components I rebuilt my old computer and gave it to my wife which was a significant upgrade from the computer she had. The purpose of this upgrade was basically due to a few factors the biggest of which was the fact that being in a Network Administration degree I often times need to run virtual machines with various different types of operating systems, the old components were struggling to keep up with what I needed such with the opportunity to upgrade them, I am now on a system that’s more than capable of running several virtual machines.

I was supposed to do a review of the new motherboard but I just never had time to get this review done, I might try to go back in attempted sometime in the future.

Games

Generally speaking I don’t have a lot of money to spend on video games, nor a lot of time. However, a friend bought me a Christmas present that I just couldn’t pass up, they purchased Star Wars: the Old Republic for me complete with playtime all the way until May! In a way I kind of wish they hadn’t because this game isn’t credibly addicting! I’m loving every minute of it, though I have been trying to balance everything and only really play that game when I get time.

Micah go to into depth about the videogame here, but I will say this if you have the time and the money in your fan of Star Wars this game is for you. One thing I do like about this game is the ability to buy game time cards, this allows you to budget for gameplay or if one month you can afford gameplay you just don’t buy a card and your card is and billed. This is a method that World of Warcraft has been doing for a while, and when I used to play the game all the time (when I had a job on my days off) it was something that I used exclusively.

School

As I mentioned above I’m still in school for network administration and if everything goes well I should be graduating from that of the summer! I’m kind of nervous about this because I feel like I’m going to forget everything I’ve learned, I just don’t want to be thrown into a situation where now all the sudden I’m responsible for this huge corporate network and I have a brain fart and do not remember anything.

I’ve been told by my teachers that school was more or less the foundation, or I will really pick up knowledge and experience is on-the-job. While this was slightly comforting I’m still skeptical but I will do my best. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets nervous about entering a potentially new field especially one that has the potential to change my current financial situation from one of destitute to actually being able to breathe and have the money I need for living expenses and maybe a little extra.

I’ll find out in about six months just what the schooling has prepared me for, there’s only two possibilities I either sink or swim, I am aiming for swimming!

The Job search

Yeah this is the one area that I’m struggling the most at right now, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I can’t seem to get a job because of the large amount of time I’ve been unemployed, and also seems that Michigan is not exactly the best place for jobs. Sadly moving even across town is just out of the question way too expensive.

My game plan going forward is this, I plan to go to the advanced temporary services here Michigan and try to get placed in a temporary position if nothing more than to eliminate that large gap of unemployment, ideally though I would like to see one of those temporary positions turn into a permanent position. As well as that I’m going to also be resubmitting applications to all the fast food chains in the area, and hitting up the department stores such as Walmart, Meijer, Kmart and so on.

I’ve also considered opening up my own business, but I’ll save that for another post.

Everything else

In other news our daughter is turning four at the end of this month, February 28 to be exact! It’s hard to believe she’s already four. We’ve been trying to find a place that’s fairly inexpensive that we could hold her birthday party so she can invite all of her friends from preschool, so far we’ve narrowed it down to one of the fast food chains or possibly a skating rink. I welcome suggestions however, our budget doesn’t really allow for extravagant things like the zoo or places like that.

We do not have enough room at home to have the party here so any suggestions please leave them in the comments.

Portal 2 Review – Single Player

Recently I bought in finished the single player version of Portal 2, which bared, a striking resemblance to the first version of the game. While the general style of the game and fundamentals were the same, it was a lot more voice acting in this game and I would say also more humor. While this game also offered a cooperative play version, I have yet to attend this version of the game mainly due to the fact that coordinating with my friends to play for a few hours it is rather difficult.

So you might be asking what makes Portal 2 different than the original? While generally speaking, the idea of the game was the same, the underlying plot was different driven by a humorous protagonist and often clueless robot “Wheatley”(voiced by Stephen Merchant).the majority of the old-style puzzles were still present, new types of puzzles and solutions were also included, such as three types of goo because various different effects which you can use to your advantage to solve different types of puzzles.

The robots to everybody sees on the box covers including the one in this post, are the two cooperative play robots which are used in cooperative play. Sadly, single player play through’s do not have the advantages of a companion to help solve puzzles. Instead, you get the occasional scene with the halfway named Wheatley which proves to be incredibly humorous and often times following his advice can get you into a bigger pickle.

While many of the reviews I have read claim this game doesn’t have much re-playability, I feel this can be incredibly enjoyable to play more than one time.I’m not sure if this was just my own personal experience or if other reviewers simply had a different idea of what constitutes re-playability.

Generally speaking, however there is usually only one way to solve a puzzle and I could see where this might hinder playing the game multiple times. GLaDOS of course makes a return in this game giving the main character chell a great deal of a hard time, without spoiling the game. I’m not going to go into specifics about exactly how GLaDOS played into this game other than to say if you played the first one. You know that she was deactivated, I will tell you that she accidentally gets reactivated but that’s as much as I’m going to reveal, however that much should be known already , if you watch the commercials.

generally speaking, the game is fairly safe for teenagers to play not having any realistic form of violence, in effect, nobody actually dies in the game. What you can expect however it is the occasional bit of crude humor, coupled with the sadistic personality of a few artificially intelligent robots. You do find out a little bit more about GLaDOS and her origins in this game but they leave just enough of a mystery that a possible third game could be brought up. They don’t however explain much about the main character, aside from what anyone who played the first game would already know.

Bottom line, I feel this game was very enjoyable and if you intend to replay the game at some point in the future, most likely starting with the original and then playing the second one in succession. The gameplay experience may be different on the consoles. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t exactly speak for, whether it’s easier or more difficult, but given the sheer amount of positive reviews, this game is received I will be willing to say that the console versions aren’t too difficult in terms of controlling. I will say I tried this on the normal difficulty level haven’t tried any of the harder difficulty levels, from what I understand these greatly change how to solve the puzzles, making things more difficult. Hence the hard difficulty level, might give these a try little bit later, however I usually don’t do so well with a game set on a hard difficulty level.

My Life at a Glance–New CPU, Gaming, Windows troubles, Linux Troubles, android tablets and more!

Well it has been a while since I posted anything to my blog, and I thought I would rectify that by making one huge post updating everyone on most aspects of my life currently.

New Computer Hardware

Recently I upgraded my old AMD Athlon II x4 620 to a new AMD Phenom II x6 1090T Black Edition.

The upgrade was relatively painless (typical CPU upgrade) and I did not notice a huge improvement at first in performance, however once the computer ran for a while I noticed some changes in both speed and the Heat the CPU generated.

With my older Quad Core CPU idle CPU temps were somewhere around 38c which is relatively hot I have been told for an idle temp. With the newer six-core the idle temps dropped to around 28c that is a 10 degree difference!

While I primarily upgraded to solve an issue Windows was having with the CPU (mine in particular not necessarily the same for others with it ) where it would frequently spike the CPU usage up and then not fully release capacity as processes slowed. I had tried numerous times to re-install windows in numerous different storage configurations (RAID 0, Use a separate drive for all Data and one specifically for OS and Important programs, Installing a tweaked version where certain features were turned off mainly indexing and what not), while most of these worked one in particular kept causing me to scratch my head as tried to get Windows running on it (RAID 0). With out boring you by going into detail on what I tried I will just say it did not work and ended up causing a new fresh install of Windows 7 using the default installation (which ironically ended up having better throughput). The CPU proved to be a good trade off as it increased windows boot time as well as offered a 6mb L3 Cache where the Quad had no such L3 Cache.

I ran the windows performance scoring tool (just for the hell of it not a big believer in what it says other then to pinpoint what hardware is the current bottleneck) finding that now all areas rated 7.5 where the HDD was the remaining bottleneck coming in at a miserable 5.9. Now I know Windows may not be the best OS when it comes to efficient write commands, but that was a good indicator it was time for a faster drive or to make the plunge into a reasonable SSD.

The issue here is that even though I could move about 95% of all my data to a external HDD and use the SSD as the boot drive, programs would continue to load slowly unless they were installed on the SSD. All that and not to mention the sheer amount that SSD cost per GB, it just was not worth the price at present.

Gaming

This all lead me into my next issue which was stuttering (video wise not audio) in the game Dragon Age 2, I examined this further and found that DA2 seems to see the processor correctly but only sees one core as being available. I then spent about 2 hours talking to EA support via chat to try and correct this, even tried reducing the available Cores it had access to in the affinity setting for the game.

Long story short we were unable to pinpoint the exact issue, but narrowed it down to something to do with the CPU upgrade (seeing as it worked fine on the Quad). The tech was so down that he could not solve my issue that he proceeded to go into the back end for my EA account and enable a whole swarm of free content (not DLC, promotional items mostly) for Dragon Age: Origins and one or two for DA2!. I literally now have so much stuff that when I log into the Bioware User Entitlements area to see what I have access to I have to scroll 3 times, and that is on a 27” monitor at 1920×1080 resolution with the browser full screen!

Did I also mention that earlier this month I had an issue with the DLC authorizing for Dragon Age: Origins? Well EA gave me a $20 voucher for the EA store and so I used that on Dead space 2 which was already on sale for $31 (Digital download version) so I ended up after tax getting a $50 game for $12 dollars!

Linux

Now all of you reading this from the Fedora Planet are by now wondering “what does this have to do with Linux?”

The answer is that had nothing to do with it but the headache did make me want to leave windows and try to install Fedora again on one of my free HDD’s

This brings me to where I had the issue with Fedora, to be fair here I was using the latest build of Fedora 15 alpha so the issues are not at all the fault of Fedora just my own lapse in judgment.

Here is what happened, I tried at first to do a custom install (like I always do when installing multiple OS) but that just caused me a headache because apparently my boot order for my HDD was set differently in the Bios then the physical location they are in (where they are connected on the mother board). That being said I managed to axe the small system partition Windows 7 makes for some reason. I panicked and though If I could install Fedora I could at least boot from Grub into Windows right? Wrong!

Second time installing is where I made the big mistake of choosing use all space when I meant to hit remove all Linux partitions, well as you can imagine this went bad as it wiped now my entire windows drive. While I chalk this up to my own lack of focus, my friend claims it was a sign from the Fedora Gods that Linux did not want Windows anywhere on the system.

I ended up just wiping that re-installing windows (to many good games that do not work in Wine plus school work that requires Windows programs) and just throw Fedora in a VM. So far this has worked well though I miss my dual boot setup and being able to run Fedora natively. I might try it again but making sure to backup my windows install prior to doing so.

Android 3.0

While I myself have not had any hands on experience with Android, I want an Android 3 tablet badly!

I began looking into the options out there and found out that not only do a handful exist but they are all super expensive!!!

I did find one that would have a 399 model but the specs on it were less then acceptable to me. While I generally am not a power user when it comes to mobile devices I found that a 512mb 8gb nand ram drive device to be a little underwhelming! How much could you fit on 8gb now days even if on Android!?

The next model the one I am seriously considering is 499 and has 1gb of ram and a 16gb nand ram drive. This to me seems sufficient and would work nicely, provided I decide to get it. ASUS the manufacture of this tablet apparently has released everything but the device itself in the US as of the time I am writing this. Will  I have the funds to spare when they do release it is yet to be seen but lets hope it gets released soon.

Well that about covers it, that should get most people who care caught up with what has been going on with me (not a lot of people care I get it but a few readers I know who read this do Winking smile ).

Feel free to leave comments below

Dragon Age II review – After two complete playthroughs

Dragon Age II Box ArtI loved this game it was a welcome change to Dragon Age
Origins! Do not get me wrong anyone who has seen my raptr profile or xfire
profile will see i ranked up the game play hours on that game, however this
game offers a much faster and fluid fighting system which I think is an example
of the effort put into making the game seem different yet have a DA:O feel to
it.

The plot line was a bit confusing to grasp at first since
the game makes a point to keep you guessing what is happening until the very
end of the game. The conversational system was overhauled allowing easier
conversations in a Mass Effect 2 similar fashion, this is not a bad thing (to
me anyway). Now you no longer have those awkward moments in the game where you
find you said the wrong thing and are now engaged in a romance with one of the
most annoying male characters in the game. Case and point Zevran from DA:O,
This character I felt was a death trap of same sex romance. I mean that if you’re
not inclined to romance him your best not talking to him at all as almost any
dialog option would enter you into a romance with him, showing no obvious way
out. In this new system icons are used to show what impact your choice will
have with the character, if you are going to select a response and that would
enter you into a romance with the character a heart will appear in the center
of the conversation wheel. On the other hand if you want to break a romance a picture
of a fractured heart will appear for options that would end the romance.

Aside from those changes the game seemed to be centered
around 5-6 maps which served as the grounds for multiple zones, what I mean by
this is a map for inside a cave could be used (re-arranged a bit but otherwise
the same) to show the inside of every single side quest cave in the game! This
to me felt repetitive after killing a Dragon in one cave only to find a quest
in a similar looking cave (the same map) and fighting a Vestral in the same
exact spot the dragon existed in the “other” cave. I understand why this was
done, it saves resources if you simply re-arrange items and close off some
areas while other remain open and shuffle the enemies around. This to me is the
reason I did not give it 5 stars, they just recycled maps too frequently,
enough so it was clearly noticeable.

On a upside main quests seemed to have unique maps or re-use
old maps less frequently then side or companion quests which helped. There were
a few main plot line quests that used the same maps as previous ones but for
the most part if you had to enter a house for X plot quest then the next house
you entered would be different enough to feel as though it was a separate map.

Yes, there is a very high Mass Effect feel to some aspects
of game play but to indirectly quote Mike Laidlaw (lead designer) and probably
not as accurately as I should “Mass Effect 2 was insanely popular and did very
well, if Dragon Age 2 can achieve the same thing by using similar elements,
then I do not see a problem. They are still very much different games and I
think that the real fans will be able to appreciate the difference and
understand why we chose to do things this way.” Keep in mind he may not have
said that word for word the way I have it but he has said in one of his
Developer Chats that he recognizes the talk about the similarity between the
two and explains why he did it.

Should you shell out $60 on this game? That depends on a few
things,

1) How much did you
enjoy DA:O?

2) Do you believe the negative reviews about the game? If so
then why even bother?

3) Are you a Fan of RPGs?

Feel free to leave comments below, I welcome any comments even if you hated the game just make sure to let me know WHY you hated it!

Motherboard issues – Leads me to use Fedora 13 on the Laptop

Well I had an issue with my motherboard Recently which caused me to have to get it repaired/replaced.

ASUS M4A78 PLUS Motherboard

The computer was experiencing some odd behavior with the board so I began to try and trouble shoot it using just about every possible way I could think of to narrow down and eliminate the errors. This proved to not have any change on the state of things, Several things still continued to go wrong and so I was forced to send the Motherboard in and use my laptop.

Well my laptop had Windows vista on in which proved to be a lot more trouble then it was worth, not having an extra windows 7 license (I use my laptop rarely and most of the time when I do I need to access windows specific features such as a domain) I was ether forced to re-install Vista or get rid of it all together.

I chose to get rid of it and put Fedora 13 in its place, this proved to speed things up a great deal as I figured it would. I did run into some issues with the computer getting bogged down at times, however this was more a result of my laptop not having a whole lot of ram Even with this slow down at times the computer still ran faster at full load when compared directly to Windows Vista Business.

Aside from this good news with the laptop running more smoothly, my over all mood is rather annoyed, I did after all have to send in the motherboard for my desktop to be repaired or possible replaced depending on what ASUS decides it wants to do.

Just when I thought it could not get worse, My 2 yr  old Daughter found out where I had the CPU (thought it out of her reach I was wrong) and had thrown it down pretty hard on the kitchen floor. Now it being AMD it has lots of pin on the bottom and as far as I can tell no pins are damaged and it appears no physical damage exists. The real test will be when I try to use it in my desktop one the motherboard returns

Gaming

As well as the laptop runs on Fedora it still can not run my games, I am a rather active gamer at times on StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft however neither of this seem to work well on Fedora. I can get WoW working on the desktop under Linux just fine but even though WINE claims SC2 will work I have yet to get it to work.

Starcraft 2 – World of Warcraft – RealID

Starcraft 2

Well I recently got a chance to play this game in single player mode, I must say this game is truly amazing. While the Multi-Player looks very similar to the way the old SC did the single player game play is very very different.

The key elements are there, you build a base, gather resources, deploy forces. Where the game differs is in how the cut scenes look and the overall game play in between missions. You are usually in a room where you can navigate to different sections and do things like upgrade units, research new technology and so on.

The video below shows some of the new game play mechanics. That video is a bit dated and a few things have changed, for example the Thor is smaller and made at the factory and no longer built in the field as it was in this video

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For example if you find enough Protoss research points you can easily buy an upgrade that lets your Vespian Gas refinery automatically harvest without needing a SCV to do it, this leaves them for more important things like building supply depots and harvesting minerals. Another cool one on the Zerg research side is the ability to have your buildings and metal units (Thor, Vulture and so on) heal themselves SLOWLY over time.

There is a small spurt in the game where you can play as the Protoss for a short time but I am not going to say just where so it is not spoiled for you 🙂

World of Warcraft and RealID

Recently a few major patches back Blizzard introduced a feature called RealID which until recently surved no real purpose other then to prepare for Starcract 2 (it also supports it). Now you can add a user using their RealID and you can then talk to them from ethier game and also from Diablo3 when it is released.

I tested this feature out and it proves to be a very reliable feature, there are a few issues for example if someone sends you a message right before you trigger a cut scene in SC2 then it stays up on the screen the entire Cut Scene unless it is one of the few cut scenes that require separate loading. You can not chat during a cut scene so there is no way to get rid of it.

This of course can work in reverse with people you meet on SC2 being able to talk o them inside WoW, I am assuming this will have similar function in Diablo 3

Starcraft 2 Beta – Yes I got an official Invite!

The good!

As the title suggests I received a Official Beta Invitation for Starcraft 2 this morning, this blog post will touch on my thoughts of the game so far.

I am not sure if I am able to post screenshots due to the game not being released yet but I will do my best to sum up my experience with the game so far.

The not so good!

Well it is not apparent that my skills in Starcraft are rusty (were never that good to begin with), I can not seem to get the upper hand on opponents that I fight in the Beta. Since the Official game does not release till July 27th 2010 the single player functionality of the game is non-existent (or at least locked out), this means that your forced to ether battle the computer in a traditional Battle.net way (similar to the online play of SC1) or go head to head (or 2v2, 3v3 and so on) with other beta players. The issue here is I SUCK AT PVP REGARDLESS OF THE GAME! You might think me exaggerating but I assure you I am not, playing vs a real person requires honing in on your strategy skills which sadly I apparently lack.

Point When playing I won only once (and that was vs the PC) this was out of maybe 20 matches i played through out the day.

General Game play VS SC 1

The core way you play the game has not changed much, the graphics are nicer and smoother, but aside from that actual game dynamics have not changed (based on the Multiplayer side anyway).

Aside from the actual functionality of the game being similar they seem to have greatly reduced resource harvesting times, the new time is similar to the speed achieved in the first game when entering the cheat “operation cwal” almost instantly your units gather resources (there is a small delay to make it more challenging), however I expect this might be tweaked and possibly lengthened by the time the game launches.

There are some units that have changed a great deal in use however I never lasted long enough to test any of these lol.

Overall impression from the few hours i played it so far!

I think the game is a huge leap forward in terms of technology and what it can do, however as far as feel, it very  much feels like an updated version of the first game. In fairness however one can not really get a feel for the new features of this game until you are allowed to play the single player game. I feel for Multiplayer at least the game will be very similar and feel almost like a new SC1 remake.

I am convinced that the story aspect of the game will be far better then the first and the dynamic aspects involved in campaign mode will make this game stand out.

In its favor it does incorporate itself into the new overhauled Battle.net system which supports RealID friends. These are essentially friends that once added to your list can be chatted with from any of the new Blizzard games, World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2 are the first two to use it Diablo 3 from what I hear will utilize it as well. Blizzard is boasting the big benefit of this is that if two friends have linked their RealIDs on a friends list then Friend A could be playing World of Warcraft while Friend B could be playing Starcraft 2 and both could see when the other is online and chat with them across games.

A WoW user could use this feature to chat with friends regardless of the realm they are on or the faction they chose.

As I continue to use the Beta I will report back should I find anything cool about the new game. Keep in mind just 9 days from today you can buy the full game so it is rather odd that i was given a Beta invite this late in the program and this close to the final launch.

Feel free to post your comments below and if you also have a SC2 Beta (official no hacked beta versions please) key as well and wish to play together some time look me up and send your RealID* to andy [at] andyjamison [dot] com if you want to be friends on the game of course.

*RealID refers to the email address you used when you signed up for battle.net. There is also a method in Sc2 using your Character ID but this is rather buggy i hear

World of Warcraft – Cataclysm Information

G4 has 3 videos up on their site that explain more in depth the benefits of the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft.

Some of the features they explained were more on the Archeology profession – turns out this is a secondary profession so it can be learned in addition to the main two Professions, however the way the video put it, it is mostly a way to get additional Lore information and learn more about each race in Azerroth. Still this is a cool thing to do when you have nothing better to do.

Of course there is going to be other huge changes with the expansion some of which sound very interesting, the Lead Content designer (last video on that page) mentions so much audio being included that they almost can not fit it on 2 DVDs. It makes me wonder if they might release a Blu-ray version of the game for those with the proper drives, at any rate sounds like Cataclysm will be 2 or more DVDs otherwise.

With regards to flight in Azeroth they seemed tight lipped as to just what would be required to be able to fly in the Classic Zones but the way it sounded is there will be no additional requirement you can just do it, provided you are the right level and have bough flight in the past expansions.

At any rate this is a short post but wanted to get the word out, if you are even slightly interested in the expansion I suggest checking out the videos they are all about 6-8 minutes long and there are 3 of them.

http://www.av-j.com/wowcata

The link above will take you to the G4 site that hosts the interviews.