Archive | October 2014

Halo 2 with re-mastered cutscenes?! Thank the Emperor! The Coffee Break 31 October 2014.

Hello folks;

 

The usual applies: out early (published on the 30th in the evening) for your reading pleasure the next day (like – oh I don’t know – during an actual coffee break (humor intended)).

 

Halo 2 anniversary – oh heavens my eyes were just blessed with the most amazing gift of all. Sadly it was not laser vision (I know, I was disappointed too), but instead I was treated to a trailer for the upcoming re-mastered Halo 2 for Xbox One. Watching the preview, yes they were effectively the same story cutscenes I have seen before, but oh boy did the studio tasked by 343 to re-master the cinematics did an amazing job.

Halo 2 anniversary logo

One could tell you about the hyper-realistic portrayal of the characters; one could tell you of the amazing realism surrounding simple things like hair and reflections; one could tell you about how awesome the cutscenes are going to be when the game launches on November 11th, but I have a link to the youtube video so just watch it and save me the trouble of having to report in to a medical specialist regarding pain in my fingers and wrists (humor intended).

Admiral Hood Halo 2 anniversary

 

Halo 2 anniversary trailer

 

Oh this November shall be glorious! Then again I do not own an Xbox One, but when I do that game will be the first in my library (pending whether or not I want to get another console as the PS4/Xbox One generation so far has failed to impress thee). Oh good heavens I am soaking in the hype presently – I recall getting the game back in 2004/2005 when it was launched on the original Xbox. Suffice it to say it will feel like visiting an old friend who disappeared into the pages of history, only to re-emerge nearly a decade later festooned with medals and ribbons from a campaign long-since ended with victory (a hard-fought victory I might add). 343 definitely knows how to make money: classic games do sell, and as evidenced by the success of GoG.com, why not take the same road in re-releasing some older titles to really add some flavour into the gaming scene per se. After all just because a game is “old” does not mean it is utterly unplayable (unless we are talking games without their intended systems, then you are S*** out of luck my friend (ie: a game without the NES to run the cartridge itself)).

 

Classic games ladies and gentlemen – makes me want to play Star Wars TIE fighter (because go Empire, boo Rebellion, and both X-wing and TIE fighter games are now on GOG (humor intended)). Anyways folks hope you enjoyed this “song and dance,” and I shall see you next time.

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W- why is the fighter not responding?! The Coffee Break. 28 October 2014.

Hello folks;

 

The usual rule apples – out early for the 28th of October (written on the 27th in the evening).

 

Alright, well what a week it has been – shooting in Ottawa, attack on military personnel in Quebec, and now – the 27th of October – some moron decided it was a good idea to throw blood at people in a coffee shop (I will leave a link to that story below). Must be “that time of year again” when insane people show up and do some weird stuff. That said, this is reality – therefore let us talk about video games as it seems to be more encouraging than the daily news “rubbish” that is seen regularly (also because that is what you people seem to like to read the most (humor intended)).

 

Man Splatters Blood on Tim Hortons Customers in Vernon – CBC News:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/man-splatters-blood-on-tim-hortons-customers-in-vernon-1.2814617

 

War Thunder: well I have not touched this game in quite some time, and indeed the game is still doing well when I last left it – I hope at least. When I logged in (being someone who focused heavily on tanks since the release of the Ground Forces module) I did did not realize that I had set my controls to “simplified,” rather than “mouse aim.” When I went to play some Air Forces, I was greeted with a strange flying control scheme to which I ended up wasting a good handful of planes trying to figure out. Soon after I left the match and did some tinkering, to which I discovered this messed up scheme that I had locked myself into unconsciously; what an embarrassing moment. Suffice it to say since the “repair work” was done, the planes fly a lot better and a lot smoother – oh the risk of rage-quitting was certainly present I can tell you that.

War Thunder Wallpaper

 

Coming back to War Thunder after nearly half a year of not playing it, the game feels fresh and exciting to say the least. Lately I have gotten bored of tanks, so it was nice to have the option to fly fighter planes and engage in dog fights up in the skies. Gaijin (the makers of War Thunder) is presently working on their Ground Forces module and improving it (as it is their primary focus at this time), yet I wonder what the game would be like once the Naval Combat module is released. Knowing Gaijin, they will not let Wargaming.net get a foothold with their World of Warships, and knowing the makers of War Thunder they will most likely keep pace with Wargaming in an attempt to stay competitive. Personally I want to try both games, and see which one will give me a Battleship at earliest opportunity – I want to shoot those large caliber guns (it’s an armchair-general thing (humor intended)).

 

Going off topic here let us talk food. Recently I have had an interest to watch a ton of Epic Meal Time’s episodes on Youtube, and that has led me to also observe Chef Gordon Ramsay’s videos as well. Suffice it to say, the simple recipes make me want to cook up some simple, and creative food items to eat at my leisure. Food encompasses a big part of my life, and if my meals can taste like heaven, then perhaps the quality of work will be better in the long run.

 

Alright I think I have exhausted the reserves for the day: thank you all for reading, and I shall see you next time.

Ottawa Shooting. The Coffee break: 22 October 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Well this was a rather close call – a gunman shoots an army reservist standing guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and then proceeds to Parliament Hill to try and do more “dirty work.” The reservist unfortunately has died of his wounds, but luckily the gunman did NOT accomplish his other objectives, if I may be allowed the phrase.

 

This is rather suspicious because it is now two dead servicemen this week – the other being struck in a targeted hit-and-run incident in Quebec. These actions – whether linked or not – seem to show a pattern of targeting government officials and military personnel when they are at their weakest – on ceremonial duties, and coming out of office buildings. Unarmed, or carrying a ceremonial weapon with no ammunition loaded, these present a prime target for “crazies” like the gunman today who is now dead.

 

Not to sound like a pessimist, but I think there may be more to come. Currently the gunman from the time of writing this article has shown no connection to the previous fellow who was confirmed to be radicalized, yet the risk is there. The prediction – using these two events, and drawing my thesis from the similarities – is that these events are but a small piece of the larger puzzle: there will be calls to beef up security in the coming days, for that I am sure. Until the threat of imminent attack is over, we need to remain vigilant at all times – danger has come home for us here in Canada.

Condolences go out to the family, and to the regiment of the reservist who was killed today – ceremonial duties should not be as dangerous as front-line operations, but regardless the man did his duty all the same. Next time a “crazy” wants to pick a fight, hopefully the servicemen will be ready. Better yet, hopefully we can avoid anymore of these incidents down the road – serving your country should not guarantee an automatic death-sentence, regardless of field chosen. This has been the writer for Thoughts and Topics; stay safe out there, remain vigilant, and I shall see you next time.

CBC Article on Ottawa Shootings:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ottawa-shooting-cpl-nathan-cirillo-dies-of-wounds-gunman-also-shot-dead-1.2808710

Call of Juarez Gunslinger: six-shooters galore and the wild west frontier.

(Disclaimer: This review was written earlier during the summer of 2014 – thus the dates and day(s) mentioned may seem a bit off. Happy reading folks!)

Hello folks;

 

Earlier on Saturday, 20th of July 2014, a game came across my radar while I was surfing on Humble Bundle’s website. Titled Call of Juarez Gunslinger, this western-themed singleplayer shooter entered my radar some time after its release, and thanks to a sale that went on for the entire weekend on humble bundle. After loading into the game I was initially frustrated with it, that is until I discovered that silly old me had the game cranked to high settings. Lowering these settings fixed the problem, and I was rewarded with a rather unique and delightful title.

Call of Juarez 1

Being a single-player game, I was skeptical about its re-playability. Yet after watching Totalbiscuit showcase the game on his “WTF is” series, my initial fears were wiped away and I made the commitment to purchase. Combat-wise this game features a nice refreshing take on FPS combat with the old six-shooters, lever-action rifles, and double-barrel break-action shotguns. Combat – while still about the same as you would find in any FPS title – was not as fast as Rise of the Triad, but not as slow as Battlefield 3 either. Combat in Gunslinger was fluid, fast, and fun. Throwing sticks of dynamite at the enemy in place of grenades before charging in to finish off his buddies with a double barrel shotgun, and then pulling out a six-shooter (revolver) to knock a few head shots was quite exhilarating and addictive. Throughout Sunday I found myself oddly interested in re-playing some of the arcade maps where you run through them in an attempt to get a higher score than your last run: who needs multiplayer when you have this anti-social antidote right (humor intended)?

 

Story-wise it is told through the character’s own re-telling, as well as some “correcting” where the character tells his side of the story that is not written in his legends novel and fan fiction. Graphics-wise, it feels a lot like Borderlands 1, which was nice considering how many pseudo-realistic/realistic environments there are in first person shooters these days. Stylized landscapes are a nice alternative indeed, and Gunslinger definitely delivers on this aspect.

Call-of-Juarez 2

Now as said earlier this game has no multiplayer which is a shame considering how much I wanted to duel my friends on Steam (I’m a strange person I know). Imagine dueling friends in the western-style shootouts, or running through arcade maps in co-op; how much more that would add to the gameplay. Sadly this is not the case, but thanks to arcade mode, story mode, and duel mode, this game – despite being a singleplayer only title – has hours of re-playability that will keep you entertained for months to come as you use it to – and it can work – train your twitch combat skills for other FPS games.

 

Now the game’s combat also features two unique systems: concentration and – I think – “luck” (Do not quote me on this). Concentration allows you to slow down time and take shots at the enemy, making tight situations less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. “Luck” allows you to dodge enemy bullets which occur during those “close calls” situations where they are really close to you and you need to dodge. Though I must confess even with that I got hit several times, but it being there makes the game a lot more interesting to play through than just: “oh I’m hit, yay.”

Call-of-Juarez-Gunslinger 3

Full price this game retails for 15.00 USD on Steam, and being a 15.00 game it is quite enjoyable to say the least. Sale or not, the game is worth the price, and with this game and Bad Company 2, I think I might need to invest in those – what do you call them – portable toilets? You know, the one that was featured in Angry Joe’s review of Skyrim: metal and in the shape of a toilet: he also recommended duck tape to prevent loss of accuracy per se? Ah nevermind, you can look it up on google when you get the chance (humor intended).

 

Okay folks that about does it for this review: thanks for reading, and I shall see you next time.

The Coffee Break. 18 October 2014.

Hello folks;

National Assembly of Quebec

According to the news radio CJAD 800 AM’s article, Anglophone groups were rejected when they wanted to take part in the Bill 10 hearings taking place in the province of Quebec. Long story short, this bill will affect healthcare in the province, and being a minority, Anglophones are quite nervous about what this means for the quality of care they will receive when living in a province like Quebec which is home to a Francophone majority (while the rest of Canada speaks English, only a small minority in Quebec speak English).

 

Right well it has been a while since I wrote on Quebec affairs has it not? Presently it was some source from the opposition which stated that Anglophone groups such as the Voice of English-speaking Quebec (VEQ), and the Townshipper’s Association who were rejected when they expressed interest in participating in talks regarding Bill 10 and the future of healthcare in the province for Anglophones.

 

Well I can understand their concern – indeed any group would be concerned when a major bill could affect their quality of life in a given region. However here are two bits I would like to point out: one is the opposition simply stating this to gain support from the Anglophone minority – a minority that can turn the tide of an election – or two is the Liberals alienating their very support base for a reason? Now CJAD interviewed several people who stated that the Liberals deem too many participants as a hindrance to their adoption of the bill, which the Liberals no doubt wish to use as part of their overall plan to balance the budget for the province in the spring.

 

Indeed it would be nice to hear from the Liberals as to whether or not this is all a misunderstanding, because if the Anglophones cannot support a party that will look out for their interests, who can they turn towards? The Parti Quebecois (PQ) have shown that they are willing to trample Anglophones in order to secure their vision of the future, and the other parties available on the ballot are all former PQ members who defected from their ranks.

 

Indeed it is true when Ned Stark said that: “Winter is coming;” this is especially true for Anglophones because if the province continues to either ignore them, and/or keep eroding their services, and their legacy, we might see another internal exodus of persons from Quebec to the other provinces in this country. Best case scenario, Quebec remains part of Canada, and this migration (should it happen) does not signal any sort of impending doom – persons migrating within a country for a better life is not unheard of, and indeed if they can afford to, they should. Worst case scenario, once the federalists are removed from the province by erosion of their essential services and deprivation of their rights (thesis), then the province could push towards full independence of which we could see the landscape of Canada change – a scary notion given that stability is quite often taken for granted, and a civil war could be inevitable. Regardless, let us hope that this “foresight” is just a writer rambling, and that the Liberals will come to reason and return to normal – otherwise I think I owe someone a cigar and a glass of brandy for losing that bet (humor intended).

 

Anyways folks this concludes the coffee break for the 18th of October 2014. Keep the food hot, and the ammo clean, and I shall see you next time.

 

 

CJAD 800 article:

http://www.cjad.com/cjad-news/2014/10/17/exclusive-liberals-rejected-anglo-groups-says-source?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

The Coffee Break. 12 October 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Well it is the weekend, but I thought I might do some writing just to flush out some thoughts I have had regarding the Shadow of Revan expansion for the Old Republic. Now earlier in the week I said that I would have been interested in purchasing the pack for the x12 experience points boost – well I seem to have stepped back from that statement and have now re-considered my approach.

 

The reason for this change of pace is the entire deal – the subscription plus the expansion – would have cost me fifty dollars. Now to some this is pennies, but to others like myself who game on a budget, it can break the budget so to speak. Fifty dollars can buy a lot of games on storefronts like GoG, Steam, and Origin (to name a few). Sure I said earlier that I would be interested in doing just class stories, but it would feel rushed. Right now as it stands, I have a total of 11 characters, of which about six of them are past level twenty – out of the six, about two are near or past level forty. Now imagine wanting to make use of this experience boost, but feeling the need to do it now because of the two-month non-reoccurring subscription and the expiry date of December 1st for the x12 experience boost constantly nagging you as you go about your day, working, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning, and scheduling other activities.

 

Gaming is meant to be enjoyable, not to be treated like a chore – always having to be done daily. Sure to some they want this feeling, and others set aside time during a day to play some games – I however do not want to feel burdened by my games, and feel the constant frustration of having money wasted simply by not making use of either some experience boost, or game time.

 

Youtubers do their thing because they want to, and some are lucky enough (Totalbiscuit being one of them) to make a living off of it. However for many (Totalbiscuit included), this started as a passion project, and evolved into something more thanks to the current economic situation. There was never a push to play, nor was there some mandatory conscription-like scheme in place whereby if a player did not play, then some sort of legal action would be taken. Gaming is there for us to enjoy it, and as such I did not bother with the expansion in the end as I felt my money could be put to other games. Being on a budget is the reality for many, and I must save my hard-earned cash for the games that go on sale, and not throw down fifty dollars here, or sixty dollars there whenever I feel like it. Were it possible and I had the coin to do so sure, I would: TOR deserves that much. The game – this late in life – is a complete package per se, and being an expansion, there should not be any bugs in the core mechanics that would otherwise hinder our ability to enjoy the title.

 

Presently I am in the mood to play some single-player RPGs like Dragon Age Origins, so I shall pursue this avenue. This has been the writer for the 12th of October 2014: thank you for reading, and happy Thanksgiving to those of us living in Canada – to the rest, have a wonderful weekend, and I shall see you next time.

The Coffee break. 8 October 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Steam recently switched their USD pricing over to Canadian dollar pricing for those of us living in Canada. This change occurred (what I believe to be) sometime late last week as when the log-in occurred, the news section popped up with the message that all items for customers in Canada are now priced in CAD. This change is rather not all too consequential as the Canadian dollar and the United States dollar have been near or at par for quite some time now. That said, it is probably the fact that I have gotten used to paying for games in USD that I say this – the truth is I appreciate the prices being listed in Canadian dollars as it helps me better gauge how much the game really costs on my end.

steam-canada

Until recently, I believe the only distributor that sold in Canadian dollars online was EA Origin. While GoG probably paid the difference out of their own pocket to ensure that I, the customer, got the best service available, it was EA Origin that surprised me the most as the games I bought on there (Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 3, etc) were all priced in Canadian dollars – much to my surprise as when I went to tally up the total for my bills to be paid at the end of the month the prices were exactly the same as what I saw on screen.

 

Localization – especially in currency – is important so that the customers know the true cost of how much they need to dish out in order to acquire a product. Take Forge World for example (the sub-company of Games Workshop), their products are all priced in pounds sterling. Now if I was to – say – ask for a box of Iron Hands Immortals from the Horus Heresy section, the total cost of the product would not be “37.00 CAD” because it is priced in pounds sterling (the price of it is 37.00 pounds). The true cost of the box set is (according to the exchange rate of the 8th of October 2014) $66.50 CAD. Sixty-six dollars Canadian, now that is a huge jump from the initial estimate – though pounds sterling is worth more than the US dollar so this is to be expected.

Canadian Dollar

See how currency exchange rates can dramatically alter prices for certain products? This is probably why it is nice to see Steam games listed in CAD on my end; there is no room for confusion, and no room for misinterpretation. Now onto some news: The Old Republic is offering a new expansion set to be released some time in December. The “Shadow of Revan” expansion will feature new endgame content, as well as a bonus feature for those of us still in the lower levels.

SWTOR_sith_Juggernaut2

Should you choose to pre-order the expansion right now, then you will be able to get a x12 experience boost for all class story missions until December 1st: good news for those of us that have rolled 11 – 12 (maximum character slots for subscribers) characters of which only a few are up to, or near, level 40. Now some people of course are not too happy with this – they themselves want to experience the game as it was meant to be experienced. Yet for someone such as I who threw down some seventy-seven dollars for the 180 day-subscription but failed to level my main characters to maximum level, this is a welcome bonus indeed. The expansion definitely will not require a new graphics card for example – or any sort of hardware upgrade for that matter – and as such the risk is minimized. Further reducing the risk is the fact that the asking price is set to twenty dollars USD – a heck of a lot cheaper than some expansion packs out there on the market.

Bounty_Hunter_Mercenary_Dual

Now those of you who read my debrief will no doubt be aware that I recently ended my subscription to take a break. Well it looks like I might have to do that 60 day non-reoccurring subscription – this chance to finish off the campaign story arcs might just be the thing that I need as I am rather sick of side quests and flashpoints at this stage. Getting through the story missions might help a lot, and as such I may have to invest that fifty or so dollars for the experience. Oh Old Republic, I just gave you some money for the cartel coins needed to unlock a few sections for my character. That said, at least the expansion is twenty dollars, unlike Blizzard entertainment who charge 60.00 per expansion (at release anyways), plus offer no options to play your character once your subscription has ended. TOR, you just got another happy customer (oh my wallet, it hurts).

 

Alright folks this concludes the Coffee Break for the 8th of October 2014. Keep playing out there, and I shall see you next time.