Elf's Treehouse -> Archives -> 2008 -> September

The Force Unleashed

2008-09-20 16:09:11 - 1 comments    |     Archives

The Force Unleashed logoI bought a Wii this summer. The only reason why I did, was because of the game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I'm not much of a gamer anymore, I simply haven't got time for it. But when I grew up I played quite a lot, so I do enjoy it when the offspring and I have a go at the console.

So how did one specific game make me buy a Wii, when it's released on at least four other platforms? Simple: In this game, you can use the Wii-controller as a lightsaber, a feature that is not possible on any of the other consoles. Most Star Wars fans and geeks have been dreaming of such a game for years, and The Force Unleashed, which was supposed to come out 1.5 years ago, is doing it's best to make that dream come true.

Apprenice attacks an AT-STThe Force Unleashed is also a multimedia event, just as Shadows of the Empire was 12 years ago. This means that there is a book, a comic, RPGs, toys (action figures, Lego sets) and all kinds of merchandise. The only two things missing are a movie and a soundtrack. The latter is something that Shadows of the Empire actually had.

In the game, which is set in the period between Episode III and IV, you play as Darth Vader's secret apprentice. Vader's goal is to use you to help him overthrow the Emperor. On the way to this goal you travel around the galaxy, and you meet a lot of new characters, quite a few characters from the expanded universe and quite a few very familiar characters. I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say that Jimmy Smits' voice is used in the game...

So, is the game living up to my expectations? Yes and no. I'll sum up the good and the bad parts.

The good
- It really is cool to wreak havoc with the force powers
- The lightsabre fighting with the Wii-control is so cool that I can't even fathom how dull it must be to do it with a normal controller on any of the other consoles.
Juno Eclipse- The story is actually very good and intriguing. The producers have promised that this game will really have a significant impact on how you view the period between the new trilogy and the old trilogy, and they actually make good on that promise.
- The AI is excellent. Watching Stormtroopers trying to grab hold to things when you throw them around is great fun
- The graphics have never been the Wii's strong points, but even on this platform you can see that the new graphics engine is amazing. Wood breaks like wood, metal bends like metal, glass shatters like... you get the idea.
- The duel mode that is also only available on the Wii is very fun
- You actually get good exercise out of all the lightsaber fighting.
- The characters in the game are good and the voice acting is at times better than the acting in the prequelst. At least it doesn't make you wanna install a Hayden-filter

The bad:
- As with most games of this type, executing moves can be very complicated at times. "Press the A-B-Z-buttons simultaneously, then release A while moving stabbing forward, before pressing C to release the powerful combopower etc etc"
- Even if the storyline is good, and will be the same one that they use in the book, there is no way that the way the force powers are used in the game can be considered canon. If the Jedi were as powerful as this, Order 66 would never have happened.
- The game is too repetitive. It mostly consists of walking through a level where you throw stuff around, electrocute people with lighting and kill and destroy with as much as you can with your lightsaber, before meeting an end of level baddie. In addition you keep returning to the same locations over and over
- The force powers makes it seem like you're playing a game with a trainer installed
- Unfortunately the end of level bad guys are not finished because of your lightsaber and force skills. You have to finish them off by moving the controller at a certain angle, at a certain direction at exactly the right time. This is like those lame brain fight'em ups from the late 80s.Or Dragon's Lair...

So to sum up: Fighting with lightsabres by using your Wii-remote good. The longevity and quality not up to scratch. If this game could have been like Jedi Knight or Jedi Outcast, with lots of variation and sections where you had to use your brain and problem solving skills in addition to your killer instincts, this would have been the coolest game ever! Just imagine having a Wii-controller when playing Jedi Outcast....

Verdict: 7/10

Closer to 40 Than 30

2008-09-26 07:52:03 - 5 comments    |     Archives

On this date the following happened in hitory:

46 BC - Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor Venus Genetrix in accordance with a vow he made at the battle of Pharsalus.

715 - Ragenfrid defeats Theudoald at the Battle of Compiègne.

1580 - Sir Francis Drake circumnavigates the globe.

1789 - Thomas Jefferson is appointed the first United States Secretary of State, John Jay is appointed the first Chief Justice of the United States, Samuel Osgood is appointed the first United States Postmaster General, and Edmund Randolph is appointed the first United States Attorney General.

1918 - World War I: Battle of Meuse.

1950 - United Nations troops recapture Seoul from the North Koreans.

1960 - In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

1972 - I was born

I share my birthday with the following people.

DRM Screws You Over...Again

2008-09-30 03:03:35 - 1 comments    |     Archives

So there you are in front of your computer, listening to the music you've legally bought from an online music vendor, and you think everything is honky dory. Right?

WRONG! When that vendor decides to shut down their DRM servers, you're screwed! When your player tries to connect to the DRM server to check if this is a song you're allowed to listen to, it won't find any server to verify this with. What happens then? You won't be allowed to play your music bought from that online store.

But wait, I hear you cry! No online vendor would do such a thing, would they? Of course they would! The music industry shows you time and time again that you will be better off ripping them off, downloading their music for free. Because if you're a good law abiding citizen and actually pay for your music, they will still make it as difficult as possible for you to listen to it.

Last Friday Wal*Mart announced that they would be shutting down their DRM-servers.. The only notice they give their customers is an email sent out to the address that the customer used when they subscribed to the service. So if you've changed your email address since then, you're in for a surprise the next time you play your new Madonna record.

This is an excerpt from their email:
"If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer."

Actually, the last part is a lie. You're not guaranteed that it will still work on the original computer.

But wait, they are helpful, of course:

"If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD."

So, you have to do all that work because they can't be bothered to keep their servers running? I'm surprised they didn't include an offer for cheap CD-Rs in the email. After all, you now have to recompress already compressed music if you want it back on your computer.

It's reading stuff like this that makes me wonder why I bother lecturing teenagers about not downloading music for free. How can I teach them the value of honesty when the music industry will screw them?

Dilbert Speaks Truth

2008-09-30 03:10:58 - 0 comments    |     Archives

Scott Adams did this strip in 2002:

Dilbert strip
Six years later, it really just fits, you know?

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