One man can make a difference.

by on
I'm not sure if anyone knows this however I have played over 70hrs on Age of Empires - yes the original one back in 1997. I was doing the final mission for the Babylon campaign where practically everyone (I think there are three groups) attacking the hell out of me. Granted I did start off with cool goodies and resources however what I don't have is a villager and a town centre. So it's a matter of time that my forces will be wiped out. So my first task is to capture the enemy villager and man, the crap I have to do to get that 25hp sucker was nothing short than humorous. What I have to do is to create a priest, send him on a transport boat, which happens to be protected by eight warships (who happened to be bombarded by enemy triremes / warships as well), travel to enemy territory, park the boat, release the priest to target the enemy villager who happens to be in the process of making a guard tower. Naturally killing the villager is a dumb thing to do so I need to damage the guard tower with my warships without destroying it, as it only scares the poor sucker away deep into enemy territory (thus ending my quest for survival). So as you can imagine, it's a delicate process of balancing from the enemy bombardment and damaging the guard tower. So after a gruelling five to six seconds later, the villager got converted by my priest only for him to be the target of the enemy. Quickly forcing him to hop on the transport boat heading to my home base, my warships valiantly fought to their deaths. The priest and the converted villager made it safely back creating a town centre for my army to survive. And the war lasted just over an hour of real time...all because of one villager. 39% Stylish Crazy Action Azghouls

Seven years with Gamespot; a belated celebration.

by on
Hello all. Yes its been seven years since I've joined Gamespot; and man time flies when you are having fun aye. Well my sole purpose for joining Gamespot is for writing / reading player reviews and I must say its been an enjoyable ride thus far. To date, I have written 188 reviews that equates to playing 188 games (actually I have played more however didn't review them all yet). So that averages about 26 / 27 games completed each year. And of course, with a new year equates to a new look. Looking back, my previous themes were The Longest Journey (using Wonkers as my avatar; well he's in Dreamfall actually), Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (using Louis Denonno as my avatar), Grotesque Tactics (using the Holy Avatar as my avatar) and now this, XIII, using Steve Rowland as my avatar. You like? Well, that water tower in the main banner is a little too intrusive but heck, what the hell. I can easily use a well-known title as my theme however practically everyone does that so I chose these games. Why these games because they are all hold dear in my heart as not only they are great to play, these games gave me a surprise of how well they are made; other words, the underdogs of the computer games industry. And here we are in the year 2013 what surprises held for us is anyone's guess. For me, I'm practically addicted to Kickstarter as not only they are releasing games I that wanted to play (as some AAA titles are just hopeless), you also get to choose your preferred tier instead of just getting a 'stock standard' product. Yes Im a sucker for these things however for all the projects I have backed, they all went successful so far. So I have backed six projects to date and they are: Wastelands 2 Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey Legends of Dawn Project Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin So guess what games I will be playing / reviewing this year... Take care and game on everyone. 8% Stylish Crazy Action Azghouls (and I think the next level is an absolute killer)

True RPGs are back!

by on
First it's Wastelands 2 (and I pledged $150 on it), then Project Eternity and now this - the sequel to Planescape Torment! Yes, I'm happy as a pig in mud! 13% Master Chief Azghouls

Hush children what's that sound?

by on

pilotpushing

Finally two good things happened to me - To the Moon finally released on Steam and two, scored me a sweet pair of Sennheiser headphones with a microphone. Why I am so ecstatic about this is because sounds or more importantly, listening to music plays a very important role in my life. It's kinda like saying music is my best friend (well almost). Music (and sounds) for me is like the subliminal message for gaming...you don't realise its wholly there however somehow, you will remember it; or uncontrollably humming a tune where you don't know where you originally heard it. Coming back to the game To the Moon, I was so excited that besides the rave reviews, it was also praised by its musical scores. Its like the music and story are one fused together in perfect harmony. When I booted it up and listened to the opening tune with my spanking new headphones, the opening score immediately captured my imagination of the game. Heck all I have to do is press start to begin however (and strangely so) I didn't. All I did was listening to conjure images. And one of the imagines I created was imagine there was no opening score - what will I do? Press start and move on? I feel it will lose the spirit of this game if this had happened. To the Moon is not in isolation of this marvelous piece of sound as I can remember many, many scenarios of warping through ones mind. To those who played the first Unreal (not Unreal Tournament) where you play the prisoner escaping the crash space craft. Now I bet you remembered quite vividly when you exit the claustrophobic ship to gaze upon the vast world for the very first time. It was like someone smashed you with a hammer and then stars spinning around your head! Well I bet you didn't realise in full details the score that was playing however it was there, playing its subliminal message, hooking you in whilst you scanned the area. Now imagine the same scene without the music; I bet the impact wouldn't be the same. Quake 2 also done this remarkably well yet the musical scores were more of the in your face than just atmospheric sounds. I remember reading a youtube comment when playing the song Operation Overlord describing the song as tank montage or 8 stroggs died listening to this song (referring to the amount of dislikes). Again music plays an important role as people not only associate with the game but even quote the monsters, attributes and so forth. Other words: total immersion. You can also apply this to Halo (how can you not forgot the opening score with those Gregorian chants and those drum beats), No One Lives Forever (and singing evil never dies...love that sixties tunes), the Unreal Tournament Series, XIII (man those are groovy beats to boot), Alan Wake and many more. Well one can say music touches the soul; now add that to gaming you'll have more than you bargain for. Its not to say its the be all and end all however when it envelopes my soul in a subliminal way, I'm not going to say no to that! (Coming back to Earth)...let me finally press start to play To the Moon...and yes I fear those tears running down my face...thank you for the music. (Note: The picture taken was from Ship Sim Extreme rockin in da cruise ship)

National Forgiveness Day

by on
To celebrate the national event of forgiveness, I would like to forgive a certain game that caused me grief and aggravation and lets not forget, wasted time during the unusual events that surrounds my adventures sailing the grand oceans. The game I'm referring to is Ship Simulation Extremes. Now I understand where this extremes arrive from as it's certainly not the game's pace. It is a simulation after all. The extremes arrives from events that I rather call unusual to say the least. This not to say I'm an expert of sailing ships of all sizes (as granted I have done some questionable things as well) however I feel this game is playing revenge on me for being adventurous. Enough of gum flapping and on with the ride.

First Forgiveness: Pilot boats rarely arrive at your ship to transfer the pilot aboard. pilotpushing

The amount of time where those damn pilot boats just sitting there doing absolutely nothing and me, needing to dispatch a life boat, sail to the pilot boat and push it just to trigger the next event cheeses me off. Why I forgive you? At least it gives me training to effectively steer my boat by pushing. And even then there's a good chance that the pilot boat goes on a frantic, uncontrollable spin missing the target by a long shot...then sink just to mock me.

Second Forgiveness: Towing. towing

Towing is one of the hardest things to do in this game. Note that you usually tow behemoths and once the ball starts rolling, theres no stopping. Here I managed to tow an Ocean Liner and after 2 hrs of real time later, moored it only to sink right at the end. Yep a total waste of time. Why I forgive you? Now I know ships don't have breaks, hand breaks even for that matter.

Third Forgiveness: Towing (again). towingagain

As mentioned above, towing can be pretty hard to do. Just trying to moor it and get a good start can easily take ten minutes (of real time) to get it moving...slightly; with all that rocking and rolling and swaying etc. Why I forgive you? Admittedly I thought I was clever; heading at full speed to hook my rope to the liner as I bypass it. Well as you can see, it backfired as it send my ship airborne and of course didn't even budge the Ocean Prince at all. Other words, there are no short cuts. You need to sway and roll for ten minutes to move that huge piece of crap...if you're lucky.

Forth Forgiveness: Let other ships bypass you first. passing

Here I'm navigating that cargo ship and thought I can overtake that 'airborne' boat. Well, that was not the case. I should have let that boat pass me first. As a result (and look at the map for confirmation - top right hand corner), it jammed my cargo ship so bad that neither of us are moving. That 'airborne' boat is still attempting to turn and me moving forward. Its a no-win situation here and time to restart the mission. Why I forgive you? Well it's like trying to overtake a turning vehicle. I was punished for my stupidity.

Fifth Forgiveness: Chasing fleeing boats. fleeing

I was on a mission where I need to chase a fleeing fishing boat. Thinking I was smart, I decided to short cut my u-turn by colliding with the land. The next thing is, well the picture says it all. Why I forgive you? There are no short cuts when sailing. I thank you for letting me restart the mission. I drive properly next time. NB: I didn't find the fleeing fishing trawler.

Sixth forgiveness: Sandbanks. sandbanks

On a nice sunny day, I just left the pier on my way to do some inspection where I heard an unnerving grind; like my boat just scraped something underneath the hull literally seconds later. To confirm this, by boat starts to sink. So my question is 'Where in Sydney Harbour is a friggin sandbank in the middle of the ocean?!' Why I forgive you? I don't! There is no sandbanks there! Why did you do this to me? Why? 97% Mr X Azghouls

Book review - Halo: First Strike

by on

Title: Halo – First Strike
Author: Eric Nylund
Pages: 340
Took place: Wedged between Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2
Year released: 2003

Halo First Strike Novel Cover

Conversation between Lieutenant Wagner and Colonel James Ackerson (et al) at Facility Bravo 6, Sydney, Australia, Earth.

Ackerson: "Let's try this, then. We are not wasting a single UNSC ship to confirm that we have already seen a dozen times before: Reach is gone."

He inched closer to Wagner. "Everything on it is blasted to bits, burned, glassed over, and vaporised. Everyone on Reach is dead." He jabbed a finger into Wagner's chest for emphasis. "Dead. Dead. Dead."

Reach is still a hot topic for the third novel Halo: First Strike. The importance of Reach and its destruction was a tremendous blow for humanity as firstly, it was the outpost that closely resembles Earth andsecondly, the pride of humanity's fleet. Also hidden among the general populace, houses the infamous Spartan project for which John (Master Chief) was part of.

Starting off with a flashback just before the events when Reach was 'glassed' (a term used to plasma bomb the planet), the book semi-re-enacts the final third of the novel 'Halo: The Fall of Reach' in so many words. Then it branches off to where Master Chief was left at the exact point when Halo: Combat Evolved ends. So without going into spoilers, this novel is regarded as a canon for the Halo Universe.

Being the third novel basing on the Halo Universe, I expected a lot coming from author Eric Nylund as considering it's a sequel to the computer game 'Halo: Combat Evolved', it made me wonder how in the world will Master Chief move on after such devastation. Moreover, considering its part of the Halo storyline, it made me also wonder how effectively it ties in with the (then) upcoming game Halo 2. Kudos to Eric Nylund as, besides some minor errors, has effectively opened and closed some of the storyline to merge the two computer games together.

And here's my gripe as well. Even though they are regarded as canon, it still felt like the novels and the computer games are still miles apart. I cannot effectively state this is also true for Halo 2 as I never played it yet. However what I can say that during my many play throughs of Halo: CE, it felt like Master Chief suddenly forgotten about all the events in the novels; especially his adventures with his fellow Spartan team mates as he's regarded as the sole survivor.

Yet, First Strike had some vast improvements over the previous two novels. The main ones are the more fleshed out personas of the main characters like Master Chief, Cortana, Dr. Halsey and even the ones that didn't appear in the games like Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb (a total champion in my eyes), Corporal Locklear (ODST officer), Shiela Polaski and many more. This time, you get to read their inner feelings and thoughts of the situation at hand, especially the virtual world where Cortana 'lives' and Master Chief's / Dr. Halsey's moral dilemmas. That, in itself is worth the read.

Author Eric Nylund (who also wrote 'Halo: The Fall of Reach') has done a tremendous job capturing the Halo Universe. I thought it was a lot better than 'The Fall of Reach' in many ways as besides the combat (for which can be quite tiresome to read at times), there were many improvements like getting into the thoughts of the main characters like Cortana and Master Chief (among others). It was more than an action novel but fleshing out the main characters into a three dimensional beings than just writings on a page. I highly recommend for both Halo fans and new comers alike to the series.

And thus ends the first trilogy.

4 / 5

45% Simon Says Bleed Azghouls

Play it again Sam: 2011 edition.

by on

Firstly, happy new year to everyone!

As you may / may not aware, besides playing games, I also love music. If you followed me in last.fm my musical taste can be unusual to say the least as I listen to bands that most likely no one has ever heard of. Nevertheless, I decided to put up my stats for the top five best songs / albums and band for 2011. Remember stats don't lie - they can be misinterpreted though.

Top Five Songs:
1) Poe – Haunted (93 times). This one caught me off guard - maybe it was for my love of the game Alan Wake.
2) Swallow The Sun – Falling World (85 times). Top melodic doom metal track.
3) KMFDM – Potz Blitz! (58 times). Groovy Industrial track.
4) Flesh Field – Uprising (49 times). Pure industrial track - great stuff but too bad the band disbanded in 2011.
5) Curve – Blindfold (45 times). Great shoeglaze track however the second most popular tag was 'sexy'. I can see that.

Top Five Albums
1) Strain - Flesh Field (1179 mins). Pure industrial goodness!
2) New Moon - Swallow The Sun (1013 mins). Top doom metal album.
3) Songs of Moors & Misty Fields - Empyrium (992 mins). Pure genius album from Germany.
4) Endtyme - Cathedral (855 mins). Another great doom metal album from the masters.
5) Blitz - KMFDM (828 mins). Love these guys for ages (15 years +). Not sure why I missed this one - love it!

Top five bands
1) Electric Wizard (2921 mins). All I can say is 'The WUZZZZARD'
2) My Dying Bride (2428 mins). This band will challenge you.
3) Cathedral (2406 mins). No surpise here. Very consistent in my library.
4) KMFDM (2343 mins). KMFDM sucks - nuff said.
5) Swallow The Sun (2004 mins). Doom metal from Finland band (finnish makes good doom metal bands overall).

As I stated before, you may never heard of them - go check them out if you wish.

31% Zenny Azghouls