Trouble Thinking

February 26, 2010

Review: Mass Effect 2

Filed under: Game Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Chris @ 3:56 pm

Mass Effect 2 is so good, that it makes the first Mass Effect (which was great, by the way), look like an enormous piece of crap—and I mean that as the highest compliment imaginable. Bioware took everything that was annoying, or lackluster, in the first game, and either totally threw it out the window, or slimmed it down and reworked it into something superior. Gone is the completely out of place, yet frustratingly omnipresent, Mako Tank you had to struggle to drive around the surface of dozens of eerily similar planets. Instead, planetary exploration is handled by short, entertaining ground based missions. Loot and equipment, which in the first game was saddled with a clunky interface, and an overabundance of useless crap you were never, ever going to use, has been almost completely jettisoned, in favor of a series of upgrades which benefit not only Shepard (your main character), but all your party members, as well as the ability to customize the appearance and functionality Shepard’s armor as you see fit. The shooting mechanics and enemy AI have also received a massive overhaul. No longer will your enemies seemingly forget that they’re supposed to be in a cover shooter, and just run behind your cover and shoot you in the back of the head repeatedly, and the addition of location based damage, means all those carefully aimed headshots you made actually matter now.

The most astonishing thing about Mass Effect 2, however, is the quality of the writing. Very rarely am I actually impressed by the story and characters in a video game, and when I am, I suspect it has more to do with my filling in the blanks with my over-active imagination, than any skill on the part of the game’s developers. Mass Effect 2, though, is the real deal. This game’s characters are so well written and developed, that by the end of the game, when terrible, horrible things start happening to them, I was actually mad at Bioware for doing this to me. That’s quality right there

The ability to carry over your character from the first game, and the decisions you made, is executed far better than I ever imagined was possible. Altogether, this game serves to stoke my excitement for the series’ concluding chapter, which is supposedly coming out sometime next year. Bioware already had me sold on buying Mass Effect 3, before I even bought this game, just by virtue of their being Bioware, but if there were some way they could have like had me sold on it extra, they would have with Mass Effect 2. Does that make any sense? Probably not. What I’m trying to say, is this: the Mass Effect series is fucking sweet, Mass Effect 2 is the sweetest entry so far, and I can’t wait for more.

There.

That was so much easier.

New Bill in Utah May Outlaw Misscarriages

Filed under: Uncategorized — Durandal @ 12:28 pm

The Utah legislature has introduced a bill that would classify miscarriage, with some exceptions, as murder. It would classify miscarrying twins as Aggravated Murder, which carries the death penalty. Now, leaving aside that “aggravated murder” sounds like something you do to mosquitoes, I find that incredibly odd.

The proposed bill would require women who miscarry to prove that they were covered under the exceptions, or be prosecuted for murder.

—–(3) A person is not guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child if the sole reason
69——for the death of the unborn child is that the person:
70——-(a) refused to consent to:
71———-(i) medical treatment; or
72———-(ii) a cesarean section; or
73——-(b) failed to follow medical advice.
74–(4) A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of
75——her unborn child:
76——-(a) is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and
77——-(b) is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman.

So it seems like they’re attempting to make induced miscarrying illegal. I suppose this is designed to combat the growing scourge of women getting themselves pregnant, waiting a few months, and then brutally abusing themselves in order to lose the child and make the Utah legislature cry. The bill does make exceptions that cover a woman not wanting certain treatment. But note also that it makes exceptions only if the miscarriage is “not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman”. Now, leaving aside that this bill does nothing to prevent men from forcing a woman to miscarry, what constitutes “reckless”?

Would a woman who had wine in the first week of pregnancy be convicted of murder when she miscarries?

If the Utah legislature wants there to be fewer miscarriages in Utah, they should expand prenatal care, particularly to lower income women who might be desperate for the extra help. Education and assistance with state resources will waste less money and destroy fewer lives than threatening women with life in prison or death should they not lay in bed the entire nine months of their pregnancy.

February 24, 2010

Review: Star Trek Online

Filed under: Game Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Chris @ 3:55 pm

To say that I had “played” Cryptic Studios’ first MMO City of Heroes would be an understatement. “Obsessed over and devoted an embarrassingly large portion of my late teens/early twenties to” would in fact be a far more accurate description. For just over four years, the perfect storm of the superhero genre, near total character customization, and a wonderful group of fellow players kept me glued to my computer monitor for hours, days, months, playing City of Heroes, when I should have instead been doing pretty much anything else. Still, I loved that game, and it was only after exhausting nearly every gameplay possibility available, followed by continuing to play the game for another six months on top of that, did I finally decide I was finished with City of Heroes, and by extension, MMOs entirely. I had spent far too much time in Paragon City, and clearly there was something wrong with my personality which allowed me to be held in thrall to this genre, and I decided it would be safer simply to forgo them entirely. World of WarCraft could not entice me, and I was even able to hold CoH’s spiritual successor Champions Online at bay. Then, I started reading about Cryptic’s new project, Star Trek Online. Captain your own starship, it promised me. Customize every aspect, from the ship’s name and hull, its weapon output, and even your entire crew of bridge officers, all the way down to their species, gender, name, uniform and features. Why, that’s almost like creating your own “Star Trek” cast, and I sure do like character customization. Cryptic had me sold, and gainst my better judgment, I picked up STO, always fearing in the back of my mind that this would mean yet another four years of my life wasted. After having played the game long enough to reach its middle levels, I find that it turns out I never had anything to fear, because Cryptic’s Star Trek Online is a massive pile of shit.

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ATSC: Evil Men In Britain

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Durandal @ 2:38 pm

ATSC is a company based out of Britain that ostensibly produces a bomb detector. It is headed by one Jim McCormick. What they actually produce is absolutely nothing whatsoever. Their product, the ADE 651, is nothing. It is a plastic chunk with a car antenna attached. It was developed by Jim McCormick, a man with “no scientific or technical background” according to The Times. It’s almost adorable. The man is selling something that uses the same car antenna as your ’91 Toyota Tercel and openly admits he doesn’t have any training whatsoever in science or engineering or anything. He’s obviously biting off more than he can chew by trying the “dowsing rod” trick on national governments. You’d think, that, at least.

He’s already sold $80 million worth of this plastic hunk of useless to the Iraqi government. By now even reading the word Iraq should conjure up images of explosions in your head, so you can imagine how much they need working bomb detectors. Since it started being used at checkpoints, the ADE 651 has caused hundreds of deaths in Iraq. “On October 25 suicide bombers drove through checkpoints that were equipped with the detectors and blew up three government ministries, killing 155 people” again according to The Times.  According to the Asia Sentinel Jim McCormick has also sold $15 million worth of dowsing rods to the Thai government, which has insisted that it will keep using them and that they are effective tools even though nothing has been able to back up any claim made about them. It’s like the original German version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, which I imagine also ends in bloodshed.

The worst part is that Jim McCormick, a man whose con has caused hundreds of deaths and counting, faces absolutely no criminal charges at the moment. A civil suit is being filed in Iraq, at least.

February 22, 2010

Review: Bayonetta

Filed under: Game Reviews — Tags: , , , — Durandal @ 9:47 pm

Bayonetta, developed by Platinum Games and published by SEGA, knows exactly why people play action games.

Bayonetta shines when you’re given leave to go to town on the denizens of Heaven. The combat is fast, fluid, and inspired. Like most of the game, some of the most entertaining touches are simultaneously embarrassing and fun. Foot-guns are something you’ll have trouble convincing anyone are a cool idea. But it works, and it works so damn well. You’re given so many ridiculous options for dishing out punishment that you’d be hard-pressed not to look awesome doing it. The cut-scenes, crazy as they can be, never equal the sheer beautiful brutality you can muster when you’re playing well.

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