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Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

Absolutely love this weekly comic,although I’m sure only a few people will actually get all the jokes. Looks nice though!

http://thepunchlineismachismo.com/


Shooooooped #1


M.A.G. Review

"Squadron leader PSN: MitchKoobski reporting in."

MAG is an achievement. It was either going to be an impressive technological feat, or a complete disaster. 256 players in one online match on home consoles. From the makers of SOCOM, this PS3 exclusive first person shooter is online only but is a solid game and definitely playable by anyone. You participate in:

  1. 32 v 32, same faction training matches
  2. 64 v 64, faction vs faction matches
  3. 128 vs 128, huge ground war matches, unlocked at rank 8

I’ll be honest in saying that while the game can be fun before rank 8, but once you unlock domination mode it really kicks off.

You have three basic factions. Valor(elite mercenaries, mostly American),SVER(Middle East and Russia) and Raven(Hi-Tech European and American). There’s an attempt at giving each of these groups a background or reason as to why they’re fighting, but you just won’t care. Everyone is pretty much battling for supremacy over a live world map. Unfortunately, once you create your character and choose a team, you’re stuck with him. You’ll have to reach the level cap at level 60 to be able to create a new character/profile without losing your old one. It’s my biggest problem with the game so I may as well get it out of the way. Trying to co-ordinate a squad with your friends is made even more difficult now because you’ll most likely have joined different factions and can’t be on the same team. Once you’ve started anyway, you have the option of complete training. I skipped this and jumped straight into a 64 player game. It took maybe two matches to get to rank 3 where the 128 player matches where unlocked. Things went along nicely until rank 8 when the main 256 player mode was unlocked. Domination mode. One army attacking and one army defending their base. The attackers need to capture the main control points to cause enough damage to the stronghold before the 30 minute match is over. However, you first have to get past the cooling towers, anti-air battery’s and bunkers that litter the battlefield. These types of matches make all the difference to the game’s online war.

Your army is divided up into platoons and squads. The 128 player army has one overall leader, the OIC (Officer in Charge). They give the overall orders. The army is divided up into 4 platoons of 32, each with a platoon leader. Each platoon has 4 squads of 8, and a squad leader for each. Once you reach level 15, you can apply to lead a squad before the match starts. And it’s awesome. I became a squad leader for a Domination game and got to lead my squad of 8 into battle and give them orders. I called in a cluster bomb drop on top of an enemy bunker, then gave the order or take the bunker. All other 7 members of my squad dropped what they were doing and went straight for the bunker. We worked as a team; 4 attacking and 4 defending. Then the platoon asked me and the other 3 squad leaders to capture points A and B. Every platoon across the map was now charging towards the enemy stronghold with APC’s following them, and re-spawning players parachuting in from overhead. I ordered my squad to blow the doors to point B and move in. We held the control point long enough to cause enough damage and win the game. So I jumped straight back into another game…….and didn’t get to be squad leader this time.

The decision to split the army into squads and platoons was very clever as it keeps the game from feeling too overwhelming, but unfortunately there can be times when you’ll be lost in some area just looking for someone to shoot. Then when everyone swarms the one building it can lead to chokepoints with too much going on and before you know it, half your platoon has been wiped out by one squad with good aim. It’s rare but when more than 30 people do end up in the one place, it’s best to hang back and just pick them off. Charging in without preparation will get messy, but you can always upgrade. Upgrading your soldier is done through skill points. Gain a rank, gain a skill point. You can pick and choose what weapons, skills or equipment you want and then save it as a load out or class.

It’s not without some other grievances I haven’t already mentioned. Having a headset of some sort will help you greatly. Having a squad leader or platoon leader that doesn’t have a headset, and things are going to get bad. Re-spawning can also get annoying, especially when you die right next to an enemy stronghold, have to wait 20 seconds to re-spawn, and then make it all the way back over only to die again. The big question is will it drag you away from MW2? The answer depends. It depends if you like working with a team. If you like doing your own thing and going nuts on some enemy players, then play MW2. If you like working as a team, hate being killed by one guy camping a spawn point, and can’t stand when people rage-quit, then MAG is for you. It beats MW2 when it comes to tactics and community. I haven’t been back to MW2 in weeks. MAG gives you a chance. I have yet to come across a screaming 12 year old or complete asshole. There’s no ‘I’ in MAG.

If you want to just shoot some guys at your own pace, or if you want to lead a squad into battle, MAG lets you do both. The graphics aren’t exactly amazing, and I have spotted a few glitches with dead bodies, but MAG works and works well.

8/10



Heavy Rain Review

Heavy Rain is a thrilling interactive videogame which centers around 4 characters trying to solve the mystery of the Origami Killer. You play as a father Ethan Mars, journalist Madison Page, private investigator Scott Shelby and FBI profiler Norman Jayden. Each character is trying to uncover the serial child killer’s identity. The killer uses long periods of rainfall to drown his victims, and then dumps their bodies with an origami figure in their hand, hence the name. You play as each of the 4 characters as they try to catch the killer before another murder is committed. Unfortunately that’s the extent of the plot that I can describe without really giving anything away.

Heavy Rain could be described best as an interactive movie. You interact with scenes using the controller such as pressing X to block a punch or moving the right analogue stick to open a door. You will have to perform some actual gameplay at times, but for the most part you interact with cut scenes. However if you don’t press the buttons, you’ll inevitably get everyone killed within three hours of the game. And there won’t be a game over. The game will just end. Letting a character get killed means they’re dead and no longer play a part in the story. Almost every decision has a consequence and you will have to make some tough decisions.

The story is gripping and has plenty of twists and turns that relate to what decisions you make, and is a better thriller or crime story than half the stuff you’ll see on TV. A must buy, or at least rent for a weekend. I played it for hours on end just to see what happens next, and having completed it once I can’t wait to go back, make different choices and see what happens this time. I’ve had many nights already sitting the pub with friends, each of discussing the different endings and scenes we had.

A must buy, or at least rent for a weekend. I played it for hours on end just to see what happens next, and having completed it once I can’t wait to go back, make different choices and see what happens this time.

9/10


On a scale of rarely to not at all, how much do you post?

I post  <—this much—> but I love you all <——-THIIIISSSS MUUUUCCCHHHH——->.
So I guess it’s time to kick start this blog again. I finished up my last bunch of entries with some Campus Times reviews that were leftover. Since that last post, the following things have happened:

  • Got a job working for AOL Broadband!
  • Left Homebase with a heavy heart and a tiny paycheque.
  • Wasted my first AOL paycheque on a phone, and drink and Hillbilly’s for a hot girl in the Forum.
  • Passed Semester One exams.
  • Campus Times cancelled due to dangers of being sued by angry Teacher’s Union heads.
  • Got Band of Brothers on Blu-Ray. It came in a tin. Add 1% to life completion.
  • Call Centre started to take it’s toll.
  • Bought a bicycle in March to help me lose weight. Still haven’t even gotten on it.
  • Passed my Semester Two exams!
  • Passed First Year!
  • Discovered the wonders of www.boards.ie
  • Started planning to move out.
  • Call Centre has now claimed part of my joy and happiness.
  • Started working fulltime for AOL.
  • Switched to TalkTalk.
  • Soul now 50% destroyed.
  • Chose a new house to move into.
  • Posted my first blog in months.
  • Stopped working full-time.
  • Soul 5% restored.
  • Pissed myself laughing at the funniest picture I’ve seen in months, and then won post of the day on boards.ie

6a00d8354f1fb569e2013485452b4d970cSo yeah that pretty much brings us up to speed. I have a few videogame and film reviews mulling over in my head to type up, but now that I’ve discovered the wonders of Windows Live Writer I don’t have to keep resetting my password whenever I want to log in! Which was a lot. I just saved the 8th one they sent me and I’m praying my cookies stay enabled so I don’t have to request another one.

I’m gonna go head to Geoffs now for the first time since househunting…which isn’t that long ago…sounded longer in my head. Sh’laters!


Edge Of Darkness Review

Originally for Campus Times, not enough room to be printed.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a well respected Boston detective having put away many drug dealers and criminals in his career.  His daughter Emma Craven returns home for the first time in months to visit her dad. They settle down and have dinner, but upon leaving the house later that night Emma is shot right in front of him by a masked gunman who escapes. Police are quick to assume that Thomas Craven was the intended target. However through investigating his daughter’s death, not all is as it seems. Her boss (Danny Huston)is less than co-operative and  appears to be stopping him, and a strange ‘fixer’ (Ray Winstone) is giving him help for some reason. The more he investigates, the more it seems Emma Craven may have been the target all along…..

Word of warning: I will be comparing this to Taken. Edge of Darkness is the big screen adaption of an old British TV series of the same name, both produced by Michael Wearing.  Mel Gibson returns to the big screen after leaving the acting biz for quite some time, and his first leading role since Signs. The directing wasn’t really working out for you anyway Mel. Thomas Craven is dealing with some serious guilt trips, and Gibson plays him very well. This is vintage Mel Gibson. His Boston accent is probably the best thing in the film, along with his performance overall. The flashback scenes that show old memories of Craven and his daughter are very touching you definitely feel bad for the guy.  The action scenes are fast paced, exciting and very graphic.  I expected a few fist fights and maybe a shoot-out but when they do happen you won’t see it coming. It’s the equivalent of something jumping out and giving you a fright in a horror film. It is unfortunate there are only about 3 or 4 of them in the entire 2 hour long film. Some of the dialogue gets very interesting but doesn’t reach the levels of Frost/Nixon for example, which is what I wanted and was expecting.

Ray Winstone puts on a very good performance but isn’t used nearly enough.  He appears at random moments to progress the plot, but his side-story about not having long to live doesn’t really affect the story as a whole. His role was initially given to Robert De Niro, but De Niro walked out on the first day of shooting due to creative differences. The plot can get a bit complex, and I found myself confused at some points but the film kept going and getting more confusing in its conspiracy theory plot. I’ve mentioned the action scenes already, but as cool as they are it feels like they try to make it up for the lack of action in the last 30 mins. During his investigation Craven uses the same method of questioning repeatedly.”Did you know my daughta?” followed by “Do you know my daughta?” and then maybe “Okay, this guy says he don’t know my daughta but he sez you know my daughta?” Repeat this multiple times in thick Boston accent for the first half of the film.

Now for the fairly negative points. This film is a long, and noticeably long. A general rule of cinema is that if you realise how long a film is, you generally aren’t enjoying it. I got that a few times. All the scenes for very drawn out, probably for dramatic effect that is never quite successfully reached. Overall the plot just reminds me too much of Taken. And I would rather watch Taken. While Mel Gibson is great, to be honest you could have just cut the entire film down to one hour, added 30 minutes worth of Danny Glover and made it Lethal Weapon 5. Edge of Darkness isn’t the worst film in the world but it was disappointing. Mel Gibson investigating his daughter’s death while being watched by some creepy business-type guys just doesn’t compare to Liam Neeson killing the entire Albanian population in a big to get his daughter back. Watchable, but you shouldn’t go out of your way to see it. Seek out Taken instead.

5/10


Final Fantasy 8 Review — Campus Times

Playing: Final Fantasy 8 on my psp

Watching: Big Bang Theory Season 2

Listening: Paulo Nutini

Quote Of The Day: Gerard Doyle – “Hold on a sec my nob is vibrating…..my phone I mean.”

FF8 centres around a young man named Squall who is part of SEED, and a student at a military academy called Balamb Garden .SEED is are basically mercenaries paid by the academy. He and his friends are drawn into an international war, but will also have to protect the world from an evil sorceress who is using the war for her own purposes. Yes I know, it sounds like a weird story but I’ve played stranger games. FF8 might seem strange from reading that basic premise, but after just an hour or two of playing the story and characters are intriguing enough to suck you in and keep you hooked. Originally released way back in October 1999, it was immediately compared to its predecessor Final Fantasy 7. Some people will say that FF7 is the best Playstation game of all time. I’m inclined to agree in parts, but Final Fantasy 8 comes in at least the top 10. I may as well mention that I’m a long time Final Fantasy fan. FF8 was the first one I actually owned, got it for Christmas in 1999, and I still have the original case and discs on my shelf.

Some of FF8’s strongest points are in its set pieces, characters and soundtrack. The opening two to three hours stand as one of the best openings for any game I’ve ever played. It gives you a brief introduction to characters, setting and gameplay, and then throws you into your SEED training mission. Pass it and Squall and friends will become fully fledged members of SEED. Travelling to the town nearby, you’re ushered onto a boat and given a mission briefing about the town you are going to have to liberate. Sound simple enough. Then the game switches to an FMV. Squall is out on deck and looking into the distance out of shot. Jets fly overhead, silhouetted against the glow of the full moon. He holds a map up in front of him showing the town and the battle plan, then leaves it down to reveal the town and the upcoming beach landing. Explosions are going off all over the site as your ship smashes through a wall in the bay and grinds to a halt on the beach, which is then filled with SEED members charging into the town. I could go on and on but that’s just within the first few hours of the game, and let’s just leaving the town is even better than the entrance. There’s not much detail I can go into with the story without spoiling something so just give it a chance and you’ll be drawn in.

The game is filled with exciting set-pieces and plot twists to keep you playing, unfortunately I can’t say the same for Squall. I can’t stand him. It should really go as a general rule of thumb, that your main character should be someone the players like and want to see succeed. I wanted to grabby by his scruffy head and smack some sense into him. Squall begins the story being quiet and moody and doesn’t really talk all that much, except to himself. Any normal character would end up changing somehow by the end of the game, like everyone else in the game does, but he stays moody the whole way through, bar a few parts where he does anything to rescue/defend the love interest called Rinoa. There are some genuine funny and exciting moments that stand out in the game, but every now and then it feels like Squall isn’t even there. It doesn’t cause a massive problem, nor does it ruin the overall enjoyment, but I’d rather have a proper hero than a moody teenager.

The soundtrack to the game is another strong point. Battle themes are fast paced and exciting, and the background music for towns is catchy and relaxing every now and then. I can’t say the same about the combat system though. Complicated is an understatement. You can summon guardian forces to help you out in battle and its pretty helpful except for when it takes nearly a minute for them to finish their snazzy attack, and all you want is to see how much damage it did.FF8 gets rid of the traditional ‘MP’ points found in almost every RPG, and replaces them with actually having to draw magic from enemies and points around the game, and then use them e.g. I draw 4 thunders from an enemy, and I can use thunder 4 times now, or I can use it to give me more health by equipping it to my health in the menu…….yeah I’ll just stick with saying it’s complicated. You’ll need the tutorials but getting your head around the system will mean you can take full advantage of it and make your characters super strong nearly halfway through the game.

Back when it was released, this game was pushing graphics to the limit. The FMV sequences are still better than most CG movies and go all out for scale, but the character models do look a bit blocky and grainy now. At the time we all had small televisions so it wasn’t really noticeable, but in the age of HD it can get annoying but rarely gets in the way. Another problem I’ve had since I got the game is the 4th disc. If you download it you’ll just choose a setting that tells the game you’re on the 4th disc. Anyway, once you get that far in the game, without spoiling the story all I can say is you aren’t allowed back into any towns or places around the game world apart from the final area. Not cool. I want to continue going around the place before I finish the game but you’re forced forward pretty much. The story ends up having somewhat too much of an emphasis on ‘love’ and ‘friendship’ towards the end, and I don’t think it really fit in with the war story the game starts out with. The villain of the game, the sorceress, is also rarely seen. She’s talked about through the game but it seems strange to have some almighty powerful villain that only shows up at pivotal points.

The game was originally released on 4 discs for the Playstation, but the reason I chose to review this is that the game has been re-released for download on the Playstation Store. So now you can download it for PS3 or PSP for €10, and that is an absolute steal for over 30 hours of gameplay. If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you owe it to yourself to spend a measly ten quid on a Playstation classic. If you haven’t played a Final Fantasy game before, then I’d highly recommend this or Final Fantasy 7.  It’s not my favourite Final Fantasy game, comes just outside my top 5 and it won’t convert people to RPG games but it’s definitely worth a try if you don’t want to spend all your money on the next Medal of Duty Call 17.

9/10


Avatar Review

“Fucking hell this is like live action smurfs with more sexual tension.

(For the Campus Times January Issue)

By the time this gets printed I would hope that most of you will have already listened to your friends and gone to see Avatar. I didn’t think James Cameron could actually do it. For the last year I had been hearing news about Avatar that it was going to be amazing and change cinema forever. I didn’t even get a grasp of the basic plot until three weeks before release. It just sounded like live action smurfs to me. But then I read the reviews, listened to the hype. Film of the decade. The best 3D experience out there. Sounded fairly convincing so I gave it a try, and they were all right. Avatar is amazing and is deservedly being called Film of the Year if not the decade. As I type this it’s just won the golden globe for best drama, and is catching up to Titanic to hopefully become the highest grossing film of all time.

I wasn’t going to attempt to explain the plot to Avatar because it would just take up half a page using the terms and names and whatnot. You should have at least heard an attempt at explaining it from a trailer or friend by now. But here goes nothing….A paralyzed former marine, Jake Sully, is recruited by a big corporation and travels to the world of Pandora. Pandora is inhabited by really tall humanoid-like blue skinned creatures called Na’vi. However Pandora also holds a valuable mineral or something that could solve all of earth’s problems. Now if only the Na’vi weren’t living on top of the planets largest source of it. Humans can’t breathe on Pandora, so the big company makes these ‘avatars’ of the Na’vi  for people to use to get around.  The leader of the big company’s military wing , Colonel Quaritch, makes Jake a deal. Infiltrate the Na’vi, learn their ways and convince them to leave the land, and we’ll cure your paralysis. Then while hanging out with the Na’vi he falls for one of them and you can figure out the rest.

See what I mean? And that’s all within the first half hour. I’ll try and talk about the actual enjoyment of the film now. Avatar is fun to watch from start to finish. The world that Cameron has created with Pandora just sucks you in and with 3D you really do feel like you’re there at times. Seeing this in 2D is a waste. Spend the extra €2 and go with 3D, although you might want to book it because it’s still selling out nearly every night around half 8. The battle and chase scenes here are some of the best I’ve seen in a while. The last third of the film is just one huge battle filled with massive mechs, beasts and machine guns. It’ll never beat the Pelennor Fields from LOTR but it’s a damn good effort.

It’s not without a tad few bad points however. Some parts of the film get so dramatic and intimate that I felt kind of awkward to be watching and laughed. There are even a few rumours floating around about a deleted sex scene. With Na’vi. Please Mr Cameron……no….just no. Michelle Rodriguez also seems to be a bit out of place amongst an otherwise stellar cast. She gets roughly 20 of screen time but is billed as a major character and gets overshadowed by the rest of the cast’s performances.

I suppose Avatar could be best described as a mix between Dances With Wolves and an episode of the Smurfs……yes that’s the best I can come up with. That being said, Avatar is indeed an amazing film and the best 3D experience yet. A definite must see. Just make sure you get out of the cinema before the song starts playing over the credits. Almost ruined the entire thing for me.    10/10


Darksiders Review

(For The Campus Times January Issue)

Darksiders

Okay let me try and explain a bit of the backstory first. Long before the mankind began the earth, the forces of Heaven and Hell were beating the crap out of one another constantly. To calm things down, an entity known as The Charred Council said “Knock it off will ye?” and sent in the four horsemen to force a truce between the two kingdoms. The two kingdoms say “Ah may as well give it a break for a bit.” Eons after this truce, the Kingdom of Man was formed on earth. Charred Council decided “Sure we’ll give em a go” and decides that a final war between the 3 kingdoms will be eventually fought. Once humanity is ready and capable of kicking some arse as well, seven sacred seals will be broken.

Fast forward to present day, Armageddon begins on earth and the game starts. During this one of the four horsemen, War, arrives on earth to keep order in the battle. However the other horsemen haven’t arrived, and the seventh seal wasn’t broken. War’s power gets taken away and he gets squished by a massive demon. Saved from death, the Charred Council blames War for the apocalypse being brought so early. War says “Hold on a sec now, lemme fix it. Don’t be goin’ killing me yet!”, and so he’s sent back to earth. With one of the councils chosen, The Watcher (voiced excellently by Mark Hamill) , to keep a reign on War’s powers and actions. Problem is, a century has passed and Hell now reigns on earth.*

Now that the background is out of the way, let me just say one of the strongest points for Darksiders’ is its story. It might look fairy convoluted up there but that’s the only complicated part. Even though it can get silly and outlandish at parts, it’s delivered with such enthusiasm and an excellent cast of characters that you get swept up in the world that’s created. Mark Hamill is excellent as The Watcher, hissing orders at you as he floats behind you. War himself doesn’t talk much, but it makes him more of a badass somehow. He’s here to kill and that’s it. Whenever he does speak, it sounds like he’s just barely holding back to urge to kill whoever he’s talking to.

Darksiders’ feels like one of those class action adventure games. Almost all of it’s parts are borrowed from other games apart from the story and art style. However what it borrows, it does very well. The game is overall like a mix between Legend Of Zelda’s dungeons, Devil May Cry’s combat and enemies, and God Of War’s combat and epic boss battles. Speaking of the boss battles, every one of these is a highlight in the game and rival any of those found in God Of War. Combat can range from just a simple button masher, to a vast array of weapons and abilities all of which can cut your enemies to pieces. There isn’t exactly an expansive range of moves and weapons, but when you’re playing you won’t even notice because it’s so much fun just hacking away. Drag them towards you with a chain just so you can uppercut them and then go nuts, or chuck a car at them.

Unfortunately it’s in the combat that one of the game few flaws can be found. Blocking in Darksiders’ is very difficult and at some point it just feels like a pointless addition. This is because many enemies in the game use unblockable attacks that just shear away your health. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem as most games have a dodge roll or evasion of some sort. Instead you get a dash move that lets you dash straight in one direction. Some of the tougher enemies just degrade into dash-attack-attack-dash-attack-dead. Another fault lies in the games use of The Watcher. You’re told he’s there to make sure you don’t get out of line, but also to help you along the way. While he does show you the exit, when its blatantly obvious that there’s only one door, almost anytime I got lost or stuck in a dungeon with puzzles I would summon The Watcher to tell me what to do. He would respond with “WHAT DO YOU WANT!? GET BACK TO WORK HORSEMAN!!” ……It wasn’t helpful at all…..

However these minor flaws never affect the overall fun and action packed playtime you get with Darksiders’. The puzzles and bosses might seem very challenging every now and then, but it never feels impossible. You won’t have to worry about chucking your controller at the wall. The world and characters are unique to the game, and backed up by an interesting story full of twists and turns. Combat is fun with no shortage of brutality. War is a badass of the best kind, and a great main character. Many games try to take a spin on the “world has ended” story but Darksiders’ does it better than any of them. This is one of the best action adventure games available. Well worth a rental if not a purchase. 9/10

*Not actual in-game dialogue. They probably explain it better than me.


Calvin & Hobbes: Snowmen

Everyone should see this. I absolutely love Calvin and Hobbes and the snowmen cartoons are some of the best. You go Bill Watterson.You go.

You might have to view the image separately to fully get it.