darthzew

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Patriotism

Today is September the Eleventh, 2001. I can only imagine a few people who don't know the significance of the day, but seven years ago my nation was attacked. Almost 3000 people were killed. I will never forget that.

I go to an American school in Brazil. And I honestly thought that there would at least be some kind of message about what today means. There was nothing at all.

Tradition has it that the US flag should be at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on days like today. I knew this but the US flag stood up high at PACA. By second period I was through waiting. I left class, pulled down the flag to half-mast, and prayed for my nation. I told my principal what I did and he asked, "Why?" That's what hit me hardest. I reminded him what today was and then he thanked me.

I just wanted to share that because I'll never forget today.

Darth

3 Comments

Wes's MSN Sports

Hello there!

Time for a bit of fun! Alright, you may or may not have heard of Neg's Urban Sports. If you have good for you, if not.... watch the video found below. Anyway.... I've taken Neg and made him my own. Well, I don't have a nice neighborhood or cameraman, so I decided to unbore myself on MSN. And thus, Wes's MSN Sports was born!

GAME NUMBER 1: Not Much and Don't Run!

This game is easy. All you have to do is find a contact of yours and simply type: "nm, u?" Then, you have to keep them confused for as long as possible. The more lines of confusion, the better your score! I've got a personal best of thirteen!

GAME NUMBER 2: Keep 'Em In!

This one is also simple. When one of your contacts says "gtg" you've to keep him in the conversation. Ask him a question or say something profound! The more lines, the better your score! I haven't kept score for this one because I just changed the rules to amount of lines from amount of times they say goodbye in any shape or form. 

Those are the two I have for now, if you'd like to contribute a sport of your own: please tell me! 

Adios!

  

2 Comments

Quantum of Solace (the game): I'm Convinced!

I just watched a G4 video about the upcoming Quantum of Solace game and I am now convinced that it should be on my watch list, if not my buy list. I don't have time for a full blog, but here are some points that I really liked:

  • It uses Call of Duty 4's engine. The graphics will, therefore, be great.
  • It has a new AI system. They completely erased CoD4's average AI and replaced it with something apparently better.
  • Both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace are in the game, so we know it won't be short. 
  • All of the original actors are in the game, so we have only the best voice acting and character models. This is the highest point for me because one of my favorite games of all time is 007: Everything or Nothing, which I loved because it felt just like a real Bond movie with original actors, etc.
  • It expands upon the movies a lot like Goldeneye did. As in, some scenes that didn't feature action now do. 
  • It has third person cover elements, a lot like Rainbow Six Vegas but I presume in a less tactical presentation. Probably a bit like Perfect Dark Zero, which sounds like a bad thing, but the cover system was one of the good parts of PDZ.
  • The developer looked genuinely stoked about it. Now, usually you see a guy just give you details or telling its good but he doesn't seem to really mean it... but this guy just seemed passionate about what he's got! 
  • ALL new material. They didn't take anything from the movies. They even took lines from the movies and recorded them again. 
  • The interviewed went so far as to say that his game could better than Goldeneye. Those sort of statements aren't made lightly. 

I'm a huge Bond fan and I'll admit that I don't think QoS looks perfect, but I think we might have a surprise hit on our hands! Oh and pay minimal attention to Giantbomb's page about QoS... a few facts are wrong. I should edit, but I don't have the time. Anyway, keep your eye on this one!

Here's the link to the video. There's no way to embed it, sorry! 

Darth
2 Comments

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars will never ever truly die, but it will lose strength and never ever be the cultural phenomena it was. That doesn't mean that George Lucas and his boys aren't going to try a little defibrillator action. Their  most recent attempt is in the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The film stars a bunch of voice actors who play their roles fairly well, but will never replace the originals. Only Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee actually portray their characters of Mace Windu and Count Dooku (respectively). The old characters being portrayed by other actors isn't terribly bad, you'll get over it, but it's the new characters that annoy the crap out of annoying. Anakin's little padawan that he gains is named Ashoka and she trumps Jar-Jar Binks. Easily. Her little... "jokes" are just plain awful.

There's all that and The Clone Wars features probably the worst script I have ever come across. Actually, nix that. The team of five year olds that made this script did a great job at appealing to their own age group. Bad lines, poor conversation, and wooden characters. Maybe the wooden characters isn't bad considering that the character models look like wood. They're pretty darn ugly. If they had just stuck with original Gennedy Tartakovsky cartoon, this wouldn't be so bad. But the cartoon does NOT translate to 3D.

The action scenes are awesome. Lots of big battles and lightsaber action. The lightsaber duels aren't that great, but the other battles are. The music also sets a good tone for the movie. It's not John Williams, it's another guy whose name I forgot. His composition features drums and electric guitars, which sounds like it wouldn't fit Star Wars, but it fits this movie.

In conclusion, the Clone Wars is only for kids and die-hard Star Wars fans. Pretty much no new fans are going to come out of this movie. In fact, it may have killed some old ones.

Using Giantbomb's system here: two stars.

- Darth

3 Comments

...and back to the old account.

It took less than 24 hours for JFK to get banned. The reason is because we're not allowed to have multiple accounts. I understand but I'm a little disappointed I didn't get my change. The mods were nice about it and they get props for not making me feel stupid for not knowing we can't have multiple accounts.

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Call of Duty 4: Postmodern Warfare

Time for a little something on the intellectual side:

During my Junior year of highschool, we went through the literary eras of American Literature. The most recent of those eras is what is known as the "Postmodern" Era. Basically, any literature from around after WWII is considered to be postmodern in the postmodern era, but it's not necessarily postmodern. It gets its name from the fact that it comes after the Modernist era. The two are quite similar, really, but there are enough differences to really make them two seperate entities. Some could say that Postmodern literature is really just Modernist literature part 2. Anyway, they're both really quite fascinating eras and reading a collection of Modernist literature before you read a collection of Postmodern literature is also fascinating because you really see a sense of evolution. Not just in the technology you see, but in the characters and how the text is presented to you. Both are equally "good" literature.

A fascinating part about Postmodern literature is that, if you write frequently, you'll find yourself writing with the typical characteristics of Postmodern literature. If you do write frequently, look over your own writing real quick and ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you find yourself using flashbacks and/or shifting perspectives? If yes, then that's a characteristic.

2. Do you use any sorts of irony, playfulness, or black humor? By black humor, I don't mean jokes about negroes, but jokes about things that should be taken seriously. Such as war.

3. Do you find some of the things you write to be more about the experience rather than the story itself?

4. Do you exploit any sorts of paranoia?

5. Do you use technology, even hypothetical non-existent technology?

6. Have you ever taken an actual person and made up something he did?

7. Do you play with any sort of format? This can be anything from leaving out certain punctuation to even packaging your book in a box with no binding so that readers can choose to cover however they want! (The Unfortunates, B.S Johnson)

If you've said "yes" to the majority of those questions, then congratulations, you are a Postmodern author. You are among today's great authors in terms of styIe If you said "no" to most of those questions, then don't worry. The best authors are those with their own styIe. Don't conform your art, let your art conform to you.

As I thought about postmodern literature, I started thinking about Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In my mind, I started seeing connections between its storytelling and Postmodern literature. I decided to pick the game up again and relive its single-player campaign in order to confirm my way of thinking. As I played, I was surprised to see just how right I was. I noticed that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare uses almost, if not all, characteristics of a Postmodern work of literature. I'll go through the questions again, this time answering them for Call of Duty 4.

1. Yes. There is the flashback scene with Captain Price in Chernobyl. Also, perspective shifts between a US Marine and SAS operatives.

2. Not frequently and not in great amounts, but side humor and some playfulness are evident.

3. Definitely. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare features a substandard storyline. However, it also forces you to feel what it would be like do die in a nuclear explosion and experience the sudden death of your friends, as would happen in true warfare. The game is all about experiencing modern warfare.

4. Yes. Almost every aspect of the villians are modern paranoias. For instance, we fear the Russians trying to go back to Communism and then nuking the US. And there's always Middle-Eastern paranoia with the Muslims being evil and wanting nothing more than to kill every white person from here to Mars.

5. Yes. Computers, even the Javelin missile are all pieces of modern technology. As for hypothetical, well, having futuristic technology would kill the concept.

6. Not really, but Call of Duty 4 does take a real city and make up something it didn't do. For instance, the sniping in Chernobyl.

7. All video games play with format to a degree. Call of Duty's is mostly in how the story is presented. Instead of cutscenes, we get those loading screen dialogues.

Bearing this in mind, what other games are examples of Postmodern literature? One that comes to mind easily is Bioshock. I'm not going to flood you with a whole lot of examples, instead, I'm going to challenge you to find your own examples. I'm also going to challenge developers to continue making more examples. But I do want them to keep in mind that the best examples aren't intentional. I don't think the men sitting in the boardroom were thinking about how to take Call of Duty and make it Postmodern.

I don't want all games to suddenly become Postmodern masterpieces. The next Mario game should never become a movement of literature. But I think that for games to have the best possible stories, they shouldn't look to be cinematic, but to be more like literature. Films derive themselves from novels or other written things, so why can't games? Games should at least start to be like novels. It's proven to work too. The best stories in games all have the biggest comparisons to something in literature. They don't have to in order to be spectacular, but it's just another way for games to really prove their worth to people like Roger Ebert. It's another way for games to fully emerge themselves as part of our current art culture, which they are.

If you would like to do so more reading on Postmodern literature, here's the Wikipedia article.

Darth Zew

PS: This is a repost from my Gamespot blog. I really, really want to be a more active user here but my AP classes and student council work are really getting in the way. Somebody send me a PM so I feel cared about (you'll get five brownie points).

3 Comments

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air-
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath-
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.


-- Alan Seeger

3 Comments

Essential Games vol. 1

Every now and then, a game will come out that is truly revolutionizing. Games like these are usually very popular and serve as standards for imitators to follow. One of these games is Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.

Why? At the launch of the Xbox 360, there were about two really good games for it. A month or so into it, Geometry Wars was

It really doesn't look like much, but it is absolutely addicting!
It really doesn't look like much, but it is absolutely addicting!
released and it met great critical reception and excellent sales for a downloadable game. For a time, it was even arguably the best game on the 360. But that's not what makes it revolutionary.

There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Xbox Live Arcade was going to be drastically inferior to Nintendo's Virtual Console. In fact, there were allegations of Xbox blatantly ripping Nintendo off. Geometry Wars was essential in establishing the XBLA as a positive means for gaming. Let's look a year or so later and see who is ripping who off now. Nintendo has recently released "WiiWare", which boasts original downloadable titles... like the XBLA.

Today, the XBLA arcade has some very impressive games, including the sequel to Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and more recently, Braid. It features some enhanced versions of older games like Marathon or the Sonic games in addition to the new games. Thanks to the XBLA, developers are able to show what they can do with very little. In the past, it's been the big budget titles that are really
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
great. They took a lot and made it good. Now, we can see what they do without much of anything, which truly proves their creativity.

If you get the chance, get yourself a play of Geometry Wars or its sequel. Even if you don't want to drop ten bucks on it, the forty-meg download won't kill you to try!

Darth
4 Comments

Burglars (Video I Made)

This is a video that I made for class. Note that the burglar only speaks a smattering of English so hearing him say "gnarly" is funny. If you don't laugh when he says gnarly, you lose five points. In case you're wondering, I play the police officer.

  
5 Comments

Too Human Demo

The sci-fi RPG Too Human has been Silicon Knight's dream child for ages now. Most of us have probably never heard of Silicon Knights because they haven't made anything at all for the last few years. Their one and only project they've announced has been Too Human. Too Human is a sci-fi RPG set about 60,000 years in the past. I've been on the fence, leaning towards the "no" side, about this game for a long time because it frankly looks stupid. I love sci-fi, but I love realistic sci-fi even more. Too Human is anything but.

Cheesy Right?
Cheesy Right?
I'm not dumb enough to simply ignore a game that has resulted in SK suing Epic Games, a development time that has lasted eons, and one of the most original concepts ever. It's sci-fi heavily based on Norse mythology. If you die, you get taken by a Valkyrie to Valhalla; you work for something called O.D.I.N... are you seeing the resemblance? In fact, your name is Baldur and you're a god. You're not almighty, in fact, you're on something of a Kratos level. The combat is wicked fun. It's a realtime RPG that focuses on swordplay. You use the right thumbstick to attack. It's a bit awkward at first, but mastering it means you'll love it. The movement targets an enemy, locks him, and then Baldur will jump at him, normally knocking the enemy into the air. You can jump and either divebomb an enemy or attack in the air. The combat is ridiculously exaggerated, but come on, you're a god! There is also the option of pulling the right trigger to use your guns, which gives it a Devil May Cry feel.

The graphics and cutscenes are nice. The facial expressions look good, they're not Mass Effect by any means, but they're good. The graphics have potential for awe. Games usually look better after demos and Too Human is already well above average. The story
BOOM!
BOOM!
looks great as well. How can you go wrong in a universe like Too Human's?

There was no character customization in the demo, but I'm pretty sure there will be in the final game. Also, you don't get to choose what you say. Maybe that will also happen in the final game, because Baldur's reactions weren't very... great. We'll see, won't we?

Pick up the demo and try it out for yourself. It's a pretty unique game that I'd recommend to just about anybody. You'll get just under an hour of gameplay out of the demo, even if you skip half of the cutscenes.

Darth







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