You've awoken the Golem

Every now and again Dave let's me have a little fun.    

 Blaaaaaaaaarrrghhhhh
I just missed the deploy to GiantBomb so if you want to take a look, go to AnimeVice or ComicVine and click on quest link while logged out. 
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Life without a PC

It's been a couple of weeks since my PC died and I haven't spent much time trying to track down the problem. In years past I would have stayed up until the crack of dawn troubleshooting but I'm old and uninspired. I wasn't playing anything amazing (was finishing up Settlers 7) and I use my MacBook for general computing and internet consumption. Aside from StarCraft II, there really isn't anything coming out in the near future to spur me into PC reanimating action.  
 
So to satiate the gamer within I've been looking to other platforms. I finished Red Dead Redemption in roughly 17 hours. I played a few exhibition matches in Fifa 10 while the World Cup was going on (Spain vs Netherlands 9-0). I actually played quite a bit of Torchlight on my Mac before the most recent update killed it. And now I'm playing nothing. I'm left with a strange, empty feeling. 
 
Unfortunately I don't think StarCraft is going to be enough to motivate me to fix the PC and Civilization V doesn't come out until late September. 
 

 Civilization V: Fixing PCs this September.
 In the mean time, I'll add to my wish list of PC upgrades. And who knows? Maybe by September I'll be building a whole new gaming PC.
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So Many Games, So Little Time

Every day for the past few weeks I've come home to a tough question: What am I going to play tonight? 

Five games from my list of 7 have come out and I'm falling behind. I've played SupCom 2 and Bad Company 2 the most, but I haven't finished the single player campaigns of either. I haven't beaten Napoleon: Total War yet and I haven't even installed Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising! Fortunately I'm not going to pick up Final Fantasy XIII so I don't have to worry about fitting that in somewhere.  

Unfortunately, a couple of games managed to slip in there and take up a night each so far. I tried out Silent Hunter V the other night. I spent a lot of time trying to play it and very little time actually playing. I could really do without the first person perspective. That's not something I felt the previous games lacked. The R.U.S.E. beta also started this week. It wasn't something I was expecting to play but I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm impressed with the user interface, but the actual gameplay is underwhelming. We'll see, maybe I'll get into it more when I have more time. 
  

Next week God of War 3 and Command & Conquer 4 come out. I wasn't really expecting to get GoW but man it looks good. No time people, NO TIME!!
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This Week in Games

I don't know if any of you listen to T.W.I.T. but I thought T.W.I.G. would make a funny name for a podcast or something. Somebody get on that. 
 
In the mean time, games! Tomorrow is the release day for two more games from my 4 weeks of awesome list. Supreme Command 2 is pre-loaded at home on the PC and ready to play when Steam unlocks it. And I just got word from amazon that my copy of Bad Company 2 has shipped and is expected to arrive tomorrow. 
      

I played through the SupCom 2 demo a few times over the weekend and I have to say I like the streamlining they've done to the game. It feels more focused on what it's good at: large scale warfare. I like that they removed the mass and energy caps they had in the first game. It was tedious building extra storage space. I also like that the new research and upgrade system. The game picks up in pace a lot quicker than its predecessor since you don't have to upgrade your factories. I've been reading that they dumbed down the graphics, but personally I haven't really noticed. What I have noticed, is that it runs smooth on the same setup I had when the original Supreme Commander came out. 
 
But I really can't wait to get my hands on BC2. I had a lot of fun playing through the demo with my brothers. I think we should try and set up a GB community game. Somebody doing that already?
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Learning to Type with Mario

The other day my mom asked how my brothers and I learned to type. As it turns out, I learned with Mario Teaches Typing, a computer program released back in 1995. Oh floppy discs, where have the years gone? And without further ado, here's a clip: 
      

 
This game, combined with chatrooms on Prodigy Classic, made me the man I am today. How did you guys learn to type?
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7 Games Over 4 Weeks

Next Tuesday begins four weeks of gaming madness for me. Seven titles are coming out in that time frame that I want to play. That's over $300! (Don't tell my lady.) Let's run down the list. 
 

Napoleon: Total War (Feb 23)

Despite its flaws, I loved Empire: Total War. It's surprising to see a full sized release within a year of the previous game, but who am I to complain. I'm hoping they've cleared up some of the weird AI issues but I think I'd be pretty satisfied if was just an expansion. 
 

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (March 2)

I've purchased all of the Battlefield titles starting with Battlefield 2. The large maps, squad tactics and vehicle battles have improved with each iteration. And I think 2008's Bad Company took everyone by surprise by adding a solid single player campaign to go along with the established multi-player experience that the Battlefield franchise is known for. From what I've played in the beta and demo, Bad Company 2 looks to be another great Battlefield title. 
 

Supreme Commander 2 (March 2)

When I first played Supreme Commander in 2007 I thought it was going to change the genre. I remember seeing Company of Heroes at E3 that year and asking the attendant "Is that as far as you can zoom out?" The guy looked at me with contempt before his truncated "yes." Three years later and it's hard to believe that every RTS game has not adopted the ability to zoom out enough to see the entire map. I'm ready for more large scale warfare with looping factory queues, complicated patrol routes and synchronized, multi-faceted attacks. 
 

Final Fantasy XIII (March 9)

The last final fantasy game that I played was Final Fantasy IX. The last one that I beat was Final Fantasy VI. This is the first time I've been interested in the Final Fantasy series in a long time. This isn't a definite purchase for me yet but I'm feeling pretty optimistic about riding chocobos in the near future. 
 

Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising (March 12)

I bought Dawn of War and all of its expansions and when I first played the second game I was disappointed to only play with four units instead of the army that I had previously commanded. But that disappointed quickly evaporated as I got deeper into the game. The RPG elements took over and I became engrossed enough to play through the campaign once on normal and again on the most difficult setting of primarch. I still harass snider and try to get him to play co-op with me. So I'm excited to play through another campaign and renew my co-op harassment. 
  

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight (March 16)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing Command & Conquer 3. Previously I wasn't much of a fan to the series, but the latest installment felt so polished that I quickly played through each of the campaigns. This is another game that I'm not positive I'll buy, but I'm eager to find out how the addition of classes (offense, defense, support) changes the game. I'm more of a defensive RTS player myself. 
 

God of War III (March 16)

Back in 2007, God of War II marked the end of the PlayStation 2 for me. It was the last game that I played on that console and even though I have a PS3 with backwards compatibility, I haven't played a PS2 title since then. I was impressed with the GoW visuals in 2007 and from what I've seen of God of War III, I will not be disappointed. 
 
So there it is, my next four weeks, all planned out. Are you guys going to buy any of those titles? Or are there other games you're pining for?
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Getting Tactical: Bad Company 2

I've been playing a lot of the Bad Company 2 beta recently in anticipation of the March 2 retail release. Here are just a few things you can do to have a better experience. 

Teamwork

Don't just join a squad, play with the squad. Compliment each other by picking different kits and working together. If you're the medic, don't rush out in front where you'll die first and not help anybody. If you're using the assault kit, blow the @(#*&!# out of those windows that the enemy is hiding in. Communication is key here. Ask for health, ask for ammo, ask for someone to blow the @#(&^@# out of that tank.

Spotting enemies is one of the best ways to be a team player. If you see an enemy that doesn't see you yet, spot him before starting to shoot. Even if you don't kill them, someone else might be in a better spot to do some damage. If you see a tank coming down the road, spot it so your armor knows it's coming and act accordingly. Spotting people in windows and on gun placements makes them easy pickings for the snipers on your team.

Find some people you work well with and try to play with them regularly. I'm sure you can find a squad to play with right here on Giant Bomb!

Vehicles

      
In my experience, vehicles are much better used in support roles than for pushing through the enemy lines. You should hang back and suppress the enemy while your team moves up. Driving out in front of your team will pretty much guarantee your quick death and a waste of a vehicle. Also, because you're not driving around wildly you'll be able to spot enemies constantly which will help the rest of your team.

If you have the chance to steal an enemy vehicle, go for it! As long as their vehicle is still running, it won't respawn for them. That means they're one vehicle short now.

Common Courtesy

If you see someone repairing a vehicle, don't jump into the driver seat and run off with it. I've had this happen to me too many times to count. It always ends with the thief driving straight into the enemy and blowing up.

Wait for some people to jump into your vehicle at the respawn point before driving off. The large maps make it difficult to get back to the front lines again without a ride.
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On a Whim: Far Cry 2


From time to time I'll buy a game on a whim. Steam makes it a little too easy to purchase on demand. Usually I'll be bored, look through my Steam game list, and then move on to see what's on sale. This time I noticed Far Cry 2 for $10. It's been out for a little while now and I don't really remember much about it from the reviews and what not, but I remember a friend liking it. Or at least I think I do. So what the heck, no real expectations going in. 
 
Here are some thoughts after roughly 20 minutes of play. It's pretty. I know it's a couple of years old now, but scenery, lighting, textures still look pretty good. Unfortunately, the frame rate can get pretty choppy in some parts. Now I would never claim that I have an awesome gaming PC or anything, I consider it to be mid-range, but for whatever reason, the auto detection on the game decided to put all the settings at high and very high so I left them there. Walking around is typically alright, but when I start driving through forested areas, my computer has a hard time keeping up with all the shadows and things. 
 
The gun play is pretty unsatisfying. Granted I've only shot a few people, but the AI doesn't seem all that great. It seems like people will typically just run around a corner to be gunned down by you. One guy ran up behind me before declaring that he was calling for backup. I watched him shoot a flare up into the sky before shooting him. No backup ever came. 
 
I don't have a strong desire to keep playing, we'll see what happens, but after 20 minutes it looks like Steam wins this time.
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Impressions: Men of War

Somehow Men of War slipped under my radar this year. Yesterday I noticed it was on sale for $12 on Steam. I'm a sucker for WWII strategy games so I thought I'd give it a shot. When I bought it I didn't even realize it was in the same series as Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, which I liked, and Faces of War, which I didn't. I installed it pretty late last night so I only played through the first level but here's my thoughts so far. 
 
The voice acting is abysmal. Maybe I've been spoiled recently with Uncharted 2, but I actually laughed at the voice actors a couple of times. Here's a sample I found: 
  

   
"Hope we're not too late for war. Let's give those germans what for!" ...... what? Surprisingly, the narrator does an alright job with his part, but anything said during gameplay is pretty bad. 
 
Like Faces of War, the tutorials aren't very helpful. If I hadn't already played the previous games in the series I might have been turned away pretty quickly. Men of War follows in the tradition of giving you a lot of control over your units. Each unit has its own inventory including weapons, ammunition, and gear like helmets and bandages. You have to add a crew to vehicles and make sure they have fuel and ammo. You also have the ability to take "direct control" of a unit which allows you to move it with the arrow keys and aim/fire with the mouse. I haven't used this ability yet in Men of War but in previous games I used it to snipe or precisely target tank shots.
 
I found the line of sight implementation a little frustrating. There is no indication (that I could find) of when your units are able to see the enemy. You can click on enemy units to see their line of sight, but I'm not sure how to do that with your own units. 
 
Men of War is unforgiving. If you don't suppress or flank the enemy your troops will be gunned down pretty quickly. While your units have a health bar that they can recover with bandages, it only takes a few hits to take them out. Armored vehicles on the other hand cannot be whittled down with light arms fire. In fact, if you hit a sloped piece of armor on a tank with a shell, there's a good chance it will just glance off and unintentionally hit something else. 
 
After the first level, I'm happy that it's playing better than Faces of War. 
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UX Update: Find the difference

Snider and I have been overhauling the frontend to the Whiskey sites. We're going through all the templates and CSS and cleaning up everything. For the most part we're not changing any of the design so when it rolls out you won't notice much of a difference. For example: 
 

Current Empire page 
 


 Cleaned up frontend code

 There are still spots that need to be fixed (like the search bar), but we're getting pretty close. For the curious, we're using SASS now for CSS.
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