I try to make it a point not to feed the trolls. I also try to avoid obvious spyware and the pointless mobile games that consume the masses. But I wanted to give the public the benefit of the doubt, and see what the fuss is all about in the popular Android game Virtual Dentist Story. It's got a 4/5 rating after nearly 15,000 reviews, and somewhere between one and five million installations...so it must have something going for it? Right?
We believe,in this game, you can learn many professional knowledge of Cavity Medicine and experience how to be a real dentist.Have a good fun and a healthy teeth!
Somewhat spontaneously, I've decided it's time to upgrade Cyclone's graphics card (thereby rendering the name "Cyclone" a misnomer). I've moved from the NVIDIA GTX 460, which served me well, to AMD's Radeon HD 7950. It's bigger, hotter, louder, but altogether more of a beast than the 460. The specs (3 GB GDDR5/384-bit/2.87 TFLOPS) are impressive, and put the PS4 (and rumored next-gen Xbox) to shame.
And it will play Bioshock Infinite on "ultra" settings, which makes for a beautiful representation of the floating city of Columbia.
So far, so good.
Kotaku wants a dinosaur game. I don't blame them; we need a good one.
Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs mainstream, and as a child I could appreciate the influx of realistic, lifelike dinosaur toys it brought to the market. Before Jurassic Park, dinosaur toys were bulky, cartoony approximations that had no paleontological authenticity; they did little to spur the imagination. Similarly, Jurassic Park ushered in an era of dinosaurs in video games, but most of those were pretty terrible (as Kotaku asserted). They fail to mention a couple of dinosaur games I would have, including Dino Crisis (I'm currently playing Dino Crisis 2 on the Vita, and it's okay), Jurassic Park II: The Chaos Continues on SNES (one of the most difficult games I've ever played in my life), Dinosaur Safari on PC (a modern remake of this would be excellent), and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (a decent-enough park building sim). There was also Turok, a series that was never as good as it could have been (although I loved me some Turok 2 back in the day). There are some good games here, but not great ones. What we need is an open-world dinosaur adventure game; one that doesn't suck.
For the same reason man enjoys hiking and trekking into the wilderness, exploring the unknown and experiencing breathtaking and unusual sights, man has created the idea of open-world video games. These offer a semblance of wonder and empowerment, to a far lesser degree than reality. But if the "highs" are less "high," the "lows" of experiencing these worlds virtually are also less "low." One need not be concerned for his physical safety, even if he can suspend disbelief and wrap himself into the game world. He also need not worry about baser needs, as these games rarely see the player seeking shelter or relieving himself of waste or needing to eat.
And another benefit is that we can make game worlds that contain dinosaurs. And lots of them. And you can hunt them or flee from them or be them, or anything imaginable. And it can be fun.
Jurassic Park IV is slated to be released in June of 2014, despite having no cast or director. I have guarded anticipation. Even if Spielberg is involved in a large capacity, it could be as ridiculous as the last Indiana Jones movie. And there were rumors of JP4 involving man-dino hybrids, which could do battle for one of the worst film concepts (and likely executions) of all time. But with a new Jurassic Park means we may see a good new dinosaur game, and that's enough for me.
My new home has sliding "pocket" doors. Wikipedia would have you believe that these are more convenient for the elderly to open and close, but I disagree - at least if they're as sturdy and un-lubricated as the ones we have. As it is - especially when combined with my lack of upper body strength - the doors take considerably more work than a traditional door would, and serve only to hinder me as I try to keep the puppy from following me and ultimately gnawing on my stuffed bear.
But that's really more of a personal problem. It's been a great while since I've commented on social or political issues...and nothing's going to change about that today. In technology news, there's nothing to report for the last two years or so. Google has been adding uninspiring iterations to its Android OS, sheep are salivating over the prospect of a shinier but altogether equally hampered iPhone/iPad release, Microsoft is readying its "revolutionary" new Windows with giant colorful tiles and hamstrung functionality, and the major game consoles are mired in a stagnant generation that's going on its seventh year. Perhaps it's this last point that has made the greatest contribution to my implacable electronic ennui.
Then there's employment, that concurrently coveted yet despised occupier of free reign, a necessary device without which no other cogs could be set in motion. Education begets employment, which begets repetition, which begets retirement - and somewhere in the midst, life abruptly happens with the burgeoning family and aged ascension. I suppose it's best that life seems to move at its most glacial pace when you're young and the world is new and exciting, because once you figure out how it works... Well, I suppose we live in the best of all possible worlds.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is, I want a new Playstation or Xbox, or some smashing new PC games, or a sharp spike in the current global warming trend to create a Waterworld and make some excitement around this place.
I guess baseball's just a frustrating game; hence, a representation of that game which claims to be the "most realistic ever" would, indubitably, be frustrating. Welcome to The Show!
MLB 12 The Show for the Playstation Vita is a difficult game. There are different difficulty levels, and beyond that there is the ability to adjust everything from hits to the frequency of errors. But you cannot adjust away some of the things that make the game remain soul-crushingly disparaging.
Mobile gaming has come a long way. Some people may not desire the power afforded by the Playstation Vita; they may be content with gaming at home on their couch, and then just passing the time with Angry Birds when they're on the go. But even they have to be impressed with the ability of the Vita to provide a console-like experience in a mobile form factor. Never before has a mobile device achieved such a level of parity with its console cohorts. That's not to say that the Vita produces Xbox 360 or PS3-level quality, but the experience gets dangerously close.
Which is to say, I'm enjoying the Vita. FIFA Soccer is basically FIFA 11 from the PS3, and MLB 12 The Show lacks the presentation of the PS3 version, but these games are much more faithful adaptations of their big siblings than previous mobile games have been, and certainly miles ahead of any discounted "app store" offerings. I'm not sure the day will come when large, ambitious titles (e.g. the next Elder Scrolls game) are released for the Xbox 720, PS4, and Vita simultaneously, but that would be a nice dream.
The Playstation Vita was officially released today. For those who haven't kept up, the Vita is Sony's new portable Playstation (originally codenamed "NGP") which boasts a quad-core CPU and GPU, a 5" OLED screen, dual analog sticks, two touch panels, and optional 3G and GPS. The device is exceptionally powerful, but it's expensive, and Sony made some typically frustrating decisions in its design that keep it from being everything it could be (namely, no TV/HDMI-out, proprietary memory cards, no internal storage, sealed internal battery, low-resolution cameras). Still, I managed to save around $80 off retail value and still got it on release date; I received a free retail game, a free memory card, a half-price pre-ordered game, and I didn't have to pay any tax, so I can't complain too much.
But I can't play anything. Amazon utilized an obscure shipping service to get my memory card to me, and the Vita does not allow anything to function without having a card installed. My game card copy of Uncharted: Golden Abyss is sitting here, unplayable, until my memory card arrives. The fact that Sony did not include a paltry amount of internal memory to store game saves, or at least force every game card to allow for gameplay without an external memory card is borderline insanity. My stacks of unused microSD cards are weeping from disuse.
From what I've been able to try out so far (which is very little), the system seems nice. It's not particularly sturdy feeling, but it's a good thing for a device of this size to be lightweight. The interface could be worse, and the quick standby and resume is well-executed. I'm awaiting arrival of FIFA Soccer (Amazon was sold out when I ordered) and...Hot Shots Golf. Yes, I bought a golf game. But I couldn't play it even if it had arrived.
The box of Uncharted sure does look fun though.
At $250 for the base version, the Vita is expensive compared to a selection of groceries, or a month of rent, or other things in life that are important. But as far as consumer electronics go, it's really not so bad. The technology within the Vita is superior to the average smartphone, which retails for $550 when not subsidized by the carrier. Portable devices have always carried a premium due to the difficulty in miniaturizing components, and there's always research and marketing to consider in the overall price of the device. The Nintendo 3DS retailed for $250 a year ago, and it's only $170 now (and can be found for less); it's unlikely the Vita will drop that far that fast, but the price will come down. And finally, people still consider the Kindle Fire tablet to be a great value at $199, and it's not nearly as impressive a device as the Vita.
Also, happy 280th birthday to George Washington.
To my future self,
I apologize for not being more productive these past three weeks. Yes, out of 416 non-working hours, I've spent 168 hours sleeping...and 90 playing Skyrim. I've been in this shameful position before, but it would appear I've learned little from my past indiscretions. However, before you judge me too harshly and go back to your workaholic millionaire lifestyle, let me explain why I've sunk so much time into this fictional universe. My defense begins with an anecdote from the game itself.
As I roamed the frozen countryside, a dragon came swooping down to destroy me. I tried many different strategies, but I could not defeat it - I was clearly outmatched. After succumbing to his frosty breath numerous times, I decided to run for it. The dragon gave chase, and as I sprinted through the hills I attracted the attention of a pair of bears, and then a pack of wolves. All of the beasts were hungrily pursuing me when I finally made it into the camp of a giant and his mammoth companions. The predators lost interest in me and it became a frenzied battle as bear, wolf, giant, mammoth, and dragon collided. From safety, I witnessed the dragon defeat the wolves and bears only to fall beneath the might of the mammoths and their keeper.
How does this tale help my cause? Maybe it doesn't - maybe I need more sleep. But I will say this: the game is relentless in its desire to offer more to do. Despite my duration of play, I still have to discover two more cities, and solve dozens of problems, and stop a civil war, and figure out why the dragons are returning. When I realized I could make my wife chop wood for me, then make her carry the wood to the store where I could sell it for a profit, there was no longer any question: this game has it all.
So I hope you'll forgive me for the time I've spent bettering my wood elf character rather than my real person, but take comfort in this: in reality I could never be this good at wielding a two-handed battleaxe, or picking a man's pocket, for that matter. I'll just make this time up to you when I'm far more virile and able-bodied than other retired elders. If that doesn't happen, consider it for the better; I would've just found some other way to waste the time.
A History of Violence
What do you want in a war game?
It's difficult to sum up what made Battlefield so appealing to me when I first played 1942 so many years ago. Most likely, it was because my friends were playing it, and because it was different from other first person shooters. This distinction was found in its huge, open battlefields, its diverse class system, and the myriad of vehicles that made the game a completely different experience every time you joined a server. The developers tinkered with the mechanics of their open-world battles through several subsequent games, all of which more or less retained the original aspects that made it so engrossing. The formula was successful, but being PC-exclusive as gamers tired of perennial system upgrades and immigrated to the 360 and PS3 caused Battlefield to slowly fade from relevance.
The Empire Strikes Back
Electronic Arts was sick of Call of Duty stealing all the glory on the consoles. So they came up with a simple, devious plan: lure potential Modern Warfare 3 players into the new Battlefield game by infusing it with stuff that made them feel at home: shiny lights, focused action, a slew of unlocks (to keep players coming back, masking unrewarding gameplay), and a low threshold. DICE played their part to keep the hardcore franchise fans sticking around - they said they'd develop the game for PC first, then consoles. They maintained this throughout development, despite a disappointing alpha and beta showing.
And now they've admitted that this was a lie.
I put up with the beta, despite the signs that the game would be lackluster. Now that the game is out, it's clear that DICE have screwed this thing up. They've contradicted nearly everything they originally said about the game design in an attempt to pander to a new audience. I can't begin to list all my gripes with the game here, but I'll put a few out: the maps are small, players must unlock the most basic functions, flashlights are blinding, snipers frequently out-duel machine guns at close range, the squad system is dysfunctional, and the game lacks any semblance of balance. They've fixed the terrain glitches from the beta, but the maps are pathetic. BF3 does nearly everything worse than Battlefield 2 did it years ago, and there's really no excuse for that.
I didn't want to play Call of Duty; that's why I sold back my copy of MW2. I wanted a different game, a sequel to BF2 like they tried to convince me I was getting. Having said all that, it's not a terrible game; it's probably worthy of the ~7/10 rating the users have given it on Metacritic (the critics' reviews are useless, because EA hand-picked favorable outlets). It's possible patches will bring it to a point that it's an actually great game, but that may be wishing for a bit much.
In some alternate universe, motivated purely by the desire to make an awesome, open-world battlefield with teamwork and tanks and helicopters and jets and aircraft carriers, devoid of the pressure from Activision and EA's bickering, and wanting to give the people who play the game what they want, Battlefield 3 could have been great. At least we only waited six years for this mediocre sequel to BF2. The silver lining is that Skyrim is only a few short days away.
(Editor's note: I wrote this on a cool head. Imagine what I would've put in here if I'd just been the victim of the auto-knife lock-on kill system they've implemented in the game...)
Writing this now is probably futile, as much of this will be changed in a few weeks (or, more likely, years), but I still want to give my initial impressions of the Battlefield 3 beta. Perhaps it will serve as a benchmark for review years from now, seeing how far the game has come - hopefully for the better.
The Battlefield 3 beta is a flawed thing. It's beautiful, but not in the way Red Dead Redemption is beautiful; it's more technically capable, but less polished and refined. So begins the litany of shortcomings that one must forgive at this stage of the game's development. But with only a couple of weeks left before the game must "go gold," the developers still have plenty of work to do.