Dragon Age: Origins, reviewed by my brother.

Alright, readers. My brother is about twenty times funnier than I can pretend to be. Incidentally, he’s also played “Dragon Age: Origins,” and thought he’d do a review of it. So, for your reading pleasure, here’s a little bit of Jad for you.


“Dragon Age: Origins”. Wins VGA (video game awards) best rpg of the year. Also, it was fortunate enough to win “only rpg of the year”. Regardless, it still was a necessary experience. I am not usually into rpgs, so here comes a mediocre review.
First of all, you don’t slay dragons, you kill goblin-things. The game is pretty much lord of the rings, but the previews didn’t want you to think that. You don’t fight dragons. You don’t take on massive hordes by yourself. You are sent on missions. Enjoy your missions.
The entire character choice is poor. I started off as a dwarf, which is obviously the best class, lord of the rings shows (again). From there, I was battleaxe/maul master like a good dwarf. But like every rpg, you get a your little posse that follows you around. For some reason, you can only choose four, because the game is too lazy to keep up with more. I, the heroic, axe wielding, world saving dwarf, chose an 89 year old mage, a man notorious for killing mages, and needed a character to fill the third slot (as if corruption wasn’t present already). I had to make a difficult decision between two rogues. One was really good at picking locks, but otherwise, she lacked every fighting skill possible; lock picking is pretty neat though because you can get amazing items; oh, and she used to be a nun. The other rogue possessed every fighting and sneaking skill that a warrior needs. He also possesses an accent that is hard to interpret after hearing everybody else speak with a quaint English accent, and he has no lock picking skills. Yet, every time I try clicking a locked door to open it, he claims he has a shot at it. Oh, and I met him when he attempted to assassinate me. So do I choose the semi-worthless virgin or the semi-failure wannabe? I chose the war dog. He’s just a dog.
If I pan around to a certain angle, I can see inside my characters head and inspect the back of his eyeballs.
EA came up with an expansion pack. What a delight. It was like an eighth harry potter book too many. Yet, it made EA seem like they were leaving a part of the game out for those who bought it and expected a full rpg experience. Instead, we feel like we’re playing the Sims. Also, the expansion pack’s preview is an entire spoiler to for the real game. It made me not want to play it anymore. You can’t even recommend someone else to not watch the preview because that’s the only way EA is releasing information about it. Oh, and it costs $35, 70% of the actual game’s price, and this is just one adventure.
The game is enormous. If you love it from the start, you will obviously play it to the end, and then buy…  THE EXPANSION PACK. If you hate it from the start, you are doomed. The plot is, unfortunately for you, surprisingly entertaining. Because this is an rpg where you decide how the story goes on, there is no Wikipedia page that will tell you what happens. You are better off watching a movie from the start. Or you could watch a YouTube video of the final battle that everyone fights (no matter which path you go) and press keys to make it look like you are the impressive rpg master.  Crafty.
The plot is fun. The weapons choice is excellent. The battles take strategy. The game is worth it. Just keep this review in mind when you play it.

Chrome for Mac: Review

Today, I got my hands on a Macbook, installed Chrome, and played around with it for a good solid hour, trying to cram in as much stuff as I could in the time I had with it. Man, I seriously need a virtual Mac or something.

How is it?

mac-google-chrome-logo[1]

It's finally here!

Chrome comes with most of the goodies its Windows sibling has, like its ridiculously fast speed and lightweight size. While it is still slightly slower than Safari (by roughly 12%) in a general benchmarking test, it still has a boot time that can’t be beat; As one friend put it, “I just clicked on it, and its like the internet was just… there.” Chrome, as it stands, can render Javascript 10x faster than Opera 10, and 4x faster than the latest Firefox build, which is certainly saying something. On Windows, Chrome is still heralded as the fastest browser available.

Features

Probably the absolute best feature in Chrome is its “Omnibox,” the word for Google’s new address bar. You can search almost any site from it. Try it out; Type something random into it, and it’ll search it with whatever your search engine is (Of course, Google by default). But wait, there’s more! Type in any website you’ve visited and searched something on, and after typing it in, hit tab; then, just type whatever you want, and it will search the site for it. It’s really, really helpful.

Chrome still has its famous site-specific browser feature available, making webapps ridiculously easy to access; just hit “File,” and select “Create Application Shortcut” to pin any webapp to your desktop. How easy is that? Now, Pixlr.com, Google Docs, and ScreenToaster are all available, right from my laptop, in a nice, discreet window.

One thing that Chrome has been known for is keeping every tab in a separate process, meaning that when one tab crashes, that tab and ONLY that tab crashes. This really helps if you often find yourself on sites with poorly coded javascript, for example, that would usually just crash your entire browser. As for safety, there have been many instances in which Google Chrome as alerted me when I try to view a fake site, or a site with a known history of malicious content. In that respect, Chrome always has my back.

Make sure to check out the Google Chrome videos, explaining its features with a variety of interesting personifications.

chrome-mac[1]

Shortcuts

Finally, finally, you can use ctrl+tab to switch between tabs. I’ve been waiting so long for this shortcut, it’s not even funny. Safari has yet to add it, which is a huge bummer; I think  the only way to switch between tabs is command+shift+left/right, which is really annoying, especially since I’m so used to just ctrl+tabbing through my web pages. You should see my computer; at any given time, I have something like 10 or 11 tabs open, although recently I’ve been keeping it down around 5.

Also, check this out; close a tab, and then hit command+shift+t; it pulls up the tab you just closed. I use that SO often. There are so may times that I’ve closed tabs on myself, its not even funny.

Whats next?

While Chrome for Mac doesn’t support themes or plugins, like the Windows version does, Google has promised to roll out updates for plugin support, as well as things like themes and speed increases. After all, their ultimate goal is to create the fastest, easiest to use browser. Because of restrictions in Apple’s software platform, we might never get to see little interface things, like having all the menu items contained in a “Pages” or “Tools” icon, as in the Windows version. I highly recommend downloading it. In fact…

Download Google Chrome here!

I got a Google Wave invite!

I figure that since this is my blog, I’d share some little blurbs of things that’ve been going on with me more often. Here’s the first of many of these future “mini” posts to come…

I just received a Google Wave private beta invite! I didn’t really completely understand what it was until trying it out. After tinkering with it for about half an hour, going through its many tutorial videos, I managed to get a good general feel for it. Here’s what it is in a nutshell:

wave_diagram

Allow me to try and make sens of my diagram here. As you can see, there are 3 users, all of which want to collaborate on a project of some sort. Normally, they’d all have to use email, IM, or whatever else you want to try and collaborate and bring all different kinds of data to a common ground. Wave eliminates all this, allowing people to interchange anything from text, to video, to even map locations, all over a “wave”. You can create different waves for different projects, making things really simple, really straightforward. Its rather nice. As soon as I get beta keys, I will give them away here, on my blog! But until I get invited to google’s “Beta Invite” wave, I’m stuck. Oh well. Expect a video soon!

Check out Google Wave

Halo 3: ODST

Here it goes again…

Looks like Bungie’s done it again; they’ve cranked out another Halo title, dubbing this one “Halo 3: ODST,” which is short for “Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.” Its all over twitter, IGN, and every game site ever. I personally LOVE it when Bungie releases a new game for Xbox, because I, as one of the few who don’t own an Xbox, get to bash the game to bits based on advertising, public appearance, trailers, and whatever dirt I can dig up on it. This is not a review, mind you. This is just me being absolutely mean to a company that likes to beat dead horses for so long that they might as well be beating a bag of decomposing manure.

<rant>

Ok. I’ve seen the “GROUNDBREAKING TRAILER!” everyone is talking about. It involves a metropolan city being bombarded by what look like mechanical asteroids, shortly followed by a thunderstorm and several thousand search parties. At this point, an asteroid opens up, some guy gets out and looks heroic, and then runs into the shadows as aliens march by, apparently incredibly focused on maintaining exactly 3 feet apart from each other, while still trying to appear haphazard.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWKjXkJVRWk

And here’s the best part; according to the site…

You are an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. Your orders: Stay alive, meet up with your scattered squad, and escape the embattled city.

So… why were you launched into the city in the first place? I mean, hell, whoever launched you would have been better off just substituting those neat little drop pods for giant rocks and obliterating half the city. And there were hundreds of those stupid pods. I’m to believe that once you land, randomly, in a city, you’re to find your way to a select GROUP of these troopers? I can almost imagine running into another human in all the rubble… “Hey, sup. You from Bravo squad? No? A’ight, cool. Cya.” And why would the omnipotent, god-like leader of the “marines” choose to launch people into a city, only to tell them to ‘rough it out until you can sneak out quietly”?

The city, according to the site, was taken over by aliens- sorry, i meant “Covenant forces” some time ago, and you’re eventually supposed to reclaim the city (which you already pretty much totaled by launching hundreds of large asteroids into the city). But… isn’t that almost exactly like every other mission in any other Halo game? You’re either destroying aliens on THEIR planets or on ours. I really wish Bungie would stop beating the crap out of the dead Halo horse long enough to think of a better idea. Yeah, sure, Halo 1 was epic, Halo 2 added some more stuff on, and Halo 3, while refusing to make the computer players any less pants-on-head retarded, was actually quite fun. But its nothing new. At all. I know Bungie is trying to secretly hype up their new ‘project,’ Halo: Reach, but as of right now, the trailer consists of earth being blown to bits. Or something along those lines at least.

Overall, don’t expect me to praise a game I haven’t played, but don’t expect me to like it if the things you’ve been jamming down my throat are monotonous and status-quo. Sorry, Bungie, but this game seems to be something I won’t really appreciate until I end up at the house of a Halo fanboy (which, I can’t say will be much fun either, because he’ll already be good at the game while I’m still getting my feet wet).

</rant>

Sorry about that Bungie… I just have to do that from time to time to vent off some steam. I’m sure if I had an Xbox I’d be as addicted as everyone else.

Facebook Lite: Whats the point?

Facebook, for whatever reason, has decided that it would be better if it had a “smaller, stripped-down version” of itself online. Naturally, within a few weeks of its rumors, Facebook Lite was out and live. And now, I’ve been invited into the private beta. And it is practically what you’d get if you took the Facebook iPhone app and skinned it for a desktop browser. Most of the apps are gone, and everything is a clutter of wall posts and comments. I’m honestly not sure what Facebook is trying to do here.

I think that their main idea behind making Facebook lite was to give kids a way to access Facebook through another url when “www.facebook.com” was already blocked by their schools. The site has no scripting, no ajax, and besides the fact that it probably loads slower on ancient computers, has no visual improvements. I seriously want to know why they felt the need to do this.


Maybe Facebook is still peeved that Twitter isn’t owned by them yet. I know they tried to buy it once a while ago, failed, and then re-did the Facebook layout entirely to make it look similar to Twitter. Come on, Facebook, you’re better than that. Is this “Facebook Lite!” just another pathetic attempt to be more like Twitter? What are you going to do next, release “Facebook Status Update!” clients over Adobe Air like they did for Twitter? How about instead of re-coding a bare-bones version of your site, instead you work on improving the one you already have. Or make the iPhone app better. It still needs groups (which should be easily implemented), and it still doesn’t have some sort of offline feature, which people have been asking for for a while (as I’ve been told).

Regardless, I’m not usually one for rants, but when something (Like the Macbook Air or Windows Vistas) is released and really, really sucks, I feel obliged to throw in my two cents worth. I think thats fair, don’t you? Anyways, I need some sleep. Goodnight everyone.

*grumble grumble*

Trance.FM: Ambient Radio

Personally, I’m a big fan of ambient electronica and trance music. I’ve never really been able to find a good site with active, 24/7, streaming content, though, which really got to me. A friend of mine recommended I try out “Trance.Fm” to see how I liked it. Sure enough, the site is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It has 2 constantly running channels; one for trance music, and another for DJ mixes. They can both stream directly from web players, each of which has a live rating for each channel. This makes it easy to see which channels are really good and which aren’t doing so well.

If you join as a member, you get access to a few cool features, such as a live chatroom. Often enough, DJ’s will hang out in the chatroom while their music is playing, so you can ask them about their music, complement them, or divulge your life story to them in the hopes that they can help. Although they might not be very good with that last bit, they’re often very interesting. I spent a while talking to someone named Jacob. When I realized he was the same “Jacob” as the DJ whose music was currently playing, I was really blown away. You can check out some of his music here, or visit trance.fm on wednesday afternoons (EST) to hear some of his work. He’s really good. Its particularly humerous to listen to his music while he and his friends make fun of eachother, so I seriously recommend becoming a member (for free, of course) at Trance.Fm.

Finally, if you’re an aspiring DJ, Trance.Fm is one of the best ways to get your music heard. It is fairly simple to contact the site’s administrator (There’s a nice big contact link on the side). From there, submit some of your music, and with luck, you might find yourself with a spot on the air, being heard by people all around the internet. Believe me, its very good publicity.

Just to wrap things up, make sure you pay Trance.Fm a visit if you’re into electronic or ambient music. Its well worth the visit.

Oh, and if anyone out there is interested, Royksopp, the Norwegian 2-man electronic group, is hosting a remix contest. More on that in a later post, but if you don’t want to download every individual layer from their website, you can get all the clips in a .zip file here.