Random Linkage

Not much going on at the moment. I’m trying to plan a few photos this week and debating whether or not to even go to class today. I’ve just been feeling crappy because of the weather and some other stuff. I haven’t felt like myself in a while. Anyway, it’s still an hour before I need to leave if I decide to so I figured I’d browse the web a bit and share if I came across anything interesting. Enjoy.

The biggest hard drive I’ve ever seen… damn!

Communications Arts offers student price of $39 for a whole year. Which is really good considering a single issue is $20. Yes, it’s one of those magazines.

Crystallized Windows Theme v2.0 – very nice

Smooth Stripes 2.5 – even nicer

The original themes for those of you with a Mac. Check out the OS XP, it’s funny.

The coolest custom cursors ever.

Rockstar confirms GTA: Vice City for PC – ’bout time.

R.Peter Clark – skinner extraordinare.

Holy Shit…. Google is buying Blogger!

Hopefully this will be a better solution than the Windows Navy fleet from a few years ago.

Duh. More anti DMCA stuff that Matt likes to read.

Hmm… Graffiti Space Trap Tested in Calif. Cities. Weird.

Do you have a 1337 name yet… you could.

NICE. I can’t read a damn word of it, but the icons of famous video games are pretty nifty.

This kind of creeps me out… Flash required, sorry.

That’s about it. I’ve successfully killed off a half-hour. THANKS INTERNET!

Happy Birthday Lauren!

I started to write this post yesterday but never finished it. Anyway, Lauren’s birthday is today and last night we went out to celebrate. Liisa, Sarah, Lauren and I went to Tony Romas for some tasty ribs and then out to the piano bar for a few drinks before coming home to some tasty chocolate cake. Happy Birthday to my special, wonderful Lauren who puts up with far to much from me. I love you sweetheart.

Personal update

Not much going on with me. Classes and the usual. This week is both Valentine’s Day and Lauren’s birthday. We’ve come to agree over the years that going out on Valentine’s Day doesn’t make any sense, so we avoid it at all costs. We go out for Lauren’s birthday instead and don’t have to put up with any ungodly dinner crowds. So, for V-Day we’re staying home. I picked up some ribs and veggies to roast in the oven and plan on making Lauren a delicious dinner… she loves ribs. She in turn, is making me Emeril’s famous “kicked up” macaroni and cheese. It has 6 cheeses folks! It’s mighty tasty.

Saturday night we’re trying to get a large group together to go out for dinner and then back to the piano bar. It was a lot of fun last weekend and we figured we’d give it another shot this weekend.

Sunday I suppose will be my work day and I’m going to try and organize a shoot. I want to use the elevator at Montgomery Hall because it’s huge, steal and really creepy. It would be a great location for a shoot.

Speaking of classes, I registered for next semester yesterday. I’m taking Fashion Photography, Personal Vision 2 and History of Media. I’ve always made fun of the fashion kids because they quite honestly bug the shit out of me but Lauren made a good point the other night saying that it would teach me to “work well with other people” and hopefully help me in my model direction skills. In the fashion class you’re pretty much forced to use the fashion kids as models and so, since I don’t like them, this would teach me how to deal with stupid people on a better level. Usually my first reaction is to beat them with the nearest available blunt object but I’ll have to suppress this and actually “learn” how to deal with working with people I don’t like. I think it’ll be helpful to my career. If I can put up with these kids I can put up with anyone, or so my theory goes.

Oh, last thing. Chris would be interested to know that the new PVD album has a killer bonus DVD that has hours of great stuff. An hour long video montage set to the songs on the CD as well as separate MTV style music videos for a few of them, a documentary and interviews with the man himself. It’s pretty cool. Check it out.

That is all.

Review: Unreal 2

There’s a certain thing that happens when you want something really badly and then you finally get it. It’s called disappointment. Now, thankfully I’m less disappointed in Unreal 2 than I am SimCity 4 (see previous post) but I’m a little saddened regardless. This was supposed to be the “shooter among shooters” and it was little more than a tech-demo.

Before I start in with the bad, let’s talk about the good: Everything graphics related. Period. This is a beautiful game, almost more so then UT2k3. Everything looks great, from the air vents to the enemies to the shell casings fired from your sweet auto rifle. They should be given the award for game engine of the decade. I’m expecting great things from (and will probably be disappointed with) the Doom3 engine, but until next fall this baby reigns supreme. It will probably hold onto the title long after Doom 3 because of it’s playability and multiplayer friendliness. Anyway, just about anything you can think of to say about the technical aspects of this game will be positive. It’s very well put together.

Also, the weapons are balanced and have that perfect “umph” to them. As I was playing I wished I could use these weapons in UT2k3. Maybe someone will make a MOD and really make my day. The music is also well done and mercifully not annoying. Usually game soundtracks are either really bad techno or some awful techno/metal rock mix. This isn’t half bad.

Now, unfortunately, comes the bad news. It’s short, it’s dumb and it’s been done before. When I say short I mean in the -10 hour range. I finished it in two days of lite playing and most certainly could have done it in one if I had found the time. Also, the story is weak… almost Dumb and Dumber weak. You get sent off to find alien artifacts because… well… they might fall into the wrong hands… and that would be bad… we think. So you fly around the galaxy with your crew, a rowdy bunch of military dropouts with attitudes and an unintelligible alien, looking for pieces to whatever the hell it is you’re trying to find. Along the way you kill some stuff, save some marines (we like the marines this time around) and generally blow shit up. That leads us to the end… when, again, you blow some shit up. This is EVERY first-person shooter EVER. Not every game can be a Half-Life with it’s interesting AND worthwhile story line but it seems like they just aren’t trying anymore.

Also, the levels are either a linear as the presidents train of thought or as scatter-brained as, well… the presidents train of thought. While they could be praise for being “intuitive” I found myself not even second guessing where to go. There are no dead end, there are no misleading vents or tunnels. You go exactly where you’re supposed to, each and every time. I guess this could be good… but only if you get confused by big giant arrows that scream “this way moron!” A few, and only a few, of the levels deal with something new. These make use of a defensive strategy in which you must set up a perimeter and protect either yourself or your ship. Like I said, this only happens once or twice but its at least a break from “quick, kill the alien!”

I didn’t expect much in terms of a plot… and I got what I expected. I also thought the graphics were going to be fantastic… and I got what I expected. So, it’s a mixed bag in the end. If you have a few minutes to kill, give it a shot. If you’re looking for a worthwhile epic to play, go find a copy of Morrowind or NeverWinter Nights, heck, go find a bargain-bin copy of Half-Life. It’s not “bad” by any definition, it’s just what I expected: eye-candy. If you dislike eye-candy then you’re in for a disappointment. If not, have fun… for about 10 minutes.

Final Score – Well done but too short

Review: Simcity 4

The first in my series of reviews today is the latest incarnation of SimCity from Maxis. SimCity 4, published by EA, tries to be everything the previous three are not: perfect. It unfortunately falls dreadfully short. The main downfall of SC4 is just simply bad programing. The game goes beyond merely buggy and enters a new realm of “craptastic.” The main complaint seems to be lag anytime a city exceeds a few thousand in population. This is obviously a bad thing since it’s the point of the game to create a large thriving city. The really sad part is that they tried so hard to make all the little things extra interesting and just forgot about things like, ummm, the game. Also, if you’ve played Simcity 3000, this game is hardly new. The interface got a “Sims” upgrade and is the most annoying, candy-coated thing in creation. The “music” is equally annoying having combined equal parts “pop-crap” with horrible synth. There are however a few minor saving graces. The graphics are well done and the buildings and street scenes are nicely animated. The disasters are nicely redone although lag inducing as well. All the elements are here for a good game but Maxis dropped the ball this time and put out something that simply wasn’t ready. It’s a shame since it was delayed twice and apparently they used that extra time to make sure you could incorporate your “Sims” into your “Sim City” rather than fixing major game play issues.

In terms of “originality” there isn’t any. This IS SimCity 3000. The same blue, yellow and green squares representing different zones, the same “advisers” helping you out, that sort of thing. All the old rules apply such as not building a nuclear power plant next to a residential zone or turning your transportation budget to max to keep everyone happy.

The major upside, and it isn’t a big one, is that it’s addictive. Building a large, well-off city takes practice and patience and you can sit in front of the screen for hours hoping to get just a few more people to move into your residential sections so that you can put in another subway stop. This is what made SimCity fun over the past few incarnations and that hasn’t changed. The only problem is that nothing else has changed either.

So, in summation, if you want to play SimCity 3000 with nicer graphics, give this one a shot… after a few patches and bug fixes. If you were on the fence in terms of entertainment with previous versions, don’t even bother. It’s a waste of your time. I was considering going into greater detail about different aspects of the game but decided against it. It’s no fun going back and reviewing a game that you played and disliked a few weeks ago. I apologize for my lack of review in the meantime but it really wasn’t compelling enough to do. Lets just leave it at that.

Final Score – Craptastic