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About
Hi, my names Andy. Im a 20 year-old student from New Zealand, learning me some Computer Science and Maths. Between that and my gaming, im a bit of a nerd, which contrasts a bit with my biking everywhere and love of Volleyball and going to the gym.

I would hate to pigeon-hole myself, but if pressed id say im a Pc gamer (if only because thats what ive spent the most money on). Whether its Crysis or Peggle, Ill play it. I like most games on all consoles, just wish i had the funds to get them all.

Pc specs:
Intel q6600
Asus P5N 650i mobo
2gb ddr2 800 ram
BFG 8800gts 640
~1tb total hd space.
Other stuff to make it all work good. I run Vista because its more stable than xp, runs nearly as well on my pc, and looks a shitload nicer. I like things to be pretty.

Currently playing: FFIX (on my psp), TF2 (as always). Giving FarCry 2, Fallout 3, and Red Alert 3 a go sometimes, can never stick with any for long though.

Other games i play:
Pc - Everything else in the Orange Box. Audiosurf. Crysis, CoD 4, fps games in general. Guitar Hero 3 (good ol usb guitar).

Psp - monster hunter 2, gba games (that i do own! Or at least my friends own, so id get a hold of them anyway...), psx games too, when i can make them work.

360 - Guitar Hero 2, Halo 3, GTA IV, Lost Odyssey, Fable 2, RockBand soon i hope.

Steam acount - ajaxender12
Steam name - Hans Olo (the snazzy lookin dude in my avatar). I change my name 2 or 3 times a week (sometimes more), normally its a variation of something with 'olo' at the end.
Audiosurf name - Hans Olo.
xbox live - ajaxender12.


inb4 no friends. Laym.







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This is a bit more of a first impressions; ive played quite a lot, and progressed the story somewhat. So heres my current impressions of Mass Effect Pc.


Good:

- Actually, this belongs in the "HOLY FUCK AMAZING" category; the voice acting! They really went above and beyond to do a good job of this. It never ceases to amaze me when i enter a complex conversation with someone and yet every line is acted well, if not perfectly.

- The galaxy map... freakin hell its huge! I cant wait to explore it all.

- The graphics are very nice, for the most part. In particular, i was impressed with the customization options for your character, and how you still end up looking human (suck it oblivion!).

- When it goes right, the combat is pretty darn fun. Driving the mako is entertaining too - every game should have a fast, powerful transport vehicle with jumpjets!


Bad:

- Random jumps in difficulty. The normal battles are generally pretty easy, but e.g. I reached a quasi-boss battle, in which most of the attacks could kill me in one shot. There are quite a few enemies who can kill you very, very fast, and it can get frustrating when you get no warning. Its made worse by...

- The allies AI; its fucking terrible. I mean, not many games have done it right lately (Gears wasnt too bad i guess, and Halo 3's humans were allright, at least they knew to stay back), but Mass Effect's allies are a bunch of retards. They stand in the open, they pick the wrong weapon to use, they ignore enemies who rush and get behind them... Its quite annoying to have to babysit them all the time.

- Why have an autosave system if youre not gonna use it? Seriously, anyone who reads this, PRESS F6 ALL THE TIME. Considering the last two points, you really dont want to rely on autosaves if everything goes wrong (i learned my lesson quickly).


Other:

- The amount of reuse of, well, everything is unfortunately just a little too noticeable. Body shapes, clothing (esp female clothing), level lay-out, furniture etc... but I know why they do it, it saves disc space and probably saves a bit of processor/graphics power too. So it goes in this category. Also, the incredible voice acting and dialog options provide the needed variety.

- Quicksave is nice, but wheres quickload?

- The things they 'fixed' for pc... are the standard ways of doing things. I really dont know why they werent implemented this way in the 360 version.

- This game is addictive. I dont know why. Maybe its the rpg fan in me.


Overall - Mass Effect is a very good game, and im enjoying it most of the time. It reminds me of GTA IV - sometimes, it all goes to shit and its mostly not your fault, but otherwise, its incredible.








Right, the dust has settled. Valve FINALLY released the long awaited update, unleashing upon the world a new gametype and a map to play it on, a massive set of achievements for medics to strive for, and some new weapons when said achievements are gained. But is any of this any good?

In my opinion - mostly. The end product is fantastic - TF2 is definitely a better game, which is great. However, there were some issues (some of them still pop up) and in particular, i really question Valves wisdom for some of the achievements.

Goldrush the map is just plain awesome. Its a brilliant gametype that really builds on the strengths of Dustbowl. While the end result is the same (get from one end of the map to the other), having to move the cart makes it quite different, and imo, better. The main point of action moves through the whole level so there are few 'intermediate' areas where nothing really happens. Also, spy/scout capping is impossible, and while i love to win that way when i do it myself, its possibly the most frustrating way to lose.

Other things i like is that spying on attack is often easier and more effective than in other maps, where i find that spying is best for defence (since everyones looking fowards :P). I have also really enjoyed finding new places to put sentries, as i do with all new maps. Its the best time to play engineer, imo, since people arent ready for you! Lots of fun.


The only real problem is that all of the individual maps are quite biased towards the defensive team. While this should certainly be the case in the second map and especially the third, the second point of the first map can be damn near impossible to get past, on public servers. Dustbowl generally requires a fairly organized defence to win the first map; Goldrush just needs a couple of sentries in the right place, and a few demomen.

That being said, i havent seen any organized assaults; while the ideal placement of sentries has been pretty much decided, ive never seen an attacking team be particularly ready for them. Overall, i still think Goldrush is a great map and i hope Valve make more maps for this gametype.
They just need to fix the glitch with the cart progress meter! It often disappears with a map change, and its quite annoying.


Now, the medic stuff. The new weapons are great; ive only unlocked the new syringe gun as yet but ive seen people with the other weapons. The kritzkrieg is interesting but its taking a while for people to get used to it. We're all ingrained to rush in when ubered, but that doesnt work any better than normal when 'krubered' (you may kill a few but you die just as easy).

And, the achievements... well, everyone knew thered be a huge influx of medics. And, yeah, no doubt some of them would be pretty bad at it.

But was it really necessary to encourage them to play badly? Heres some of the achievements, and why they were not a good idea:
Consultation - assist another medic? So run around healing another medic trying to kill people. Yeah, thats helpful.

Does it Hurt When I Do This? - kill scouts with syringe gun. Its fine to pull out your syringe gun when you come across a scout running around behind your lines. Its not fine to not heal anyone and pull out your syringe gun and charge into the fray looking for scouts.

Peer Review - kill medics with bonesaw. Same as above.

Placebo Effect - charge up uber but DONT use it, go killing people yourself - wtf? Are you serious? Not only is that difficult, its fucking retarded.

Sawbones - 5 hits with the bonesaw without missing - This is the worst one. I managed to get it quickly, because i saw my chance (i was alone, there was an ubered heavy + medic facing the other way, i just hit them 5 times, easy). But when medics run around THE WHOLE GOD DAMN GAME just trying to hit people with the fucking bonesaw and get blown up because they are fucking stupid and run at soldiers and the like... why? why Valve why?

That little rant about Sawbones applies to the others there, and a couple of the other achievements. I feel that i can rant like that because i do play medic quite often and i do it well. Thats another reason im annoyed at the 'stupid' achievements - I dont want to do stuff like that. I want to be helpful to my team, i want to win the game.

But whatever, most of the crappy medics have gone. I can see the lighter side to the achievements, and im looking forward to the crazy stuff Valve thinks of for the other classes; the problem with these ones is that the medic is such an integral part of the team. The other classes should be fun, i think. I foretell that the soldier will have to kill 3 people while airborne! It will be called "Screaming Eagle!". Man, i should work for Valve :P.

So yeah, what do you guys think? Do you like the new stuff, or think its a mess? Feel free to share any lulz-or-sigh-worthy stories. Or some strategies you have for getting through defenses on Goldrush, i have my own ideas but id love to hear others.








Well, my PC gaming brothers and sisters, we're in more trouble. Crysis CEO Cevat Yerli has come out with a statement that, coming from him, nearly rivals the stupidity of the anti-video game media morons.

He basically has said, Crytek will no longer be PC exclusive. His reasons are that piracy is totally destroying the platform, and that similar games on consoles sell 4 to 5 times as many. Luckily, they will still support the PC platform.

(Source - http://megagames.com/, although it is elsewhere)

Why do i think this is so stupid? Crysis is, as we all know, the big bad beast of pc gaming glory. Its the benchmark for graphics and physics, the true test of your machine. The problem is that very very few rigs can pass that test.
Fact is, not many people can play Crysis at a level that i consider playable (high settings at at least 20 fps in normal combat). According the latest Steam survey's, just under 10% of users have a 8800 level graphics card. Thats around 150000 people who can play Crysis well enough (and i bet a fuck-ton less can actually get a good framerate (30+) at high settings or above).

Or rather, thats just under 1.5 million gamers who cant play it well enough to justify a purchase.

Crysis is a pretty good shooter, in a world of lots of pretty good, and more than a few excellent shooters. If you make one that can only stand out by running it at high settings, and in fact hype up how amazing the high settings are, then you goddamn better make sure a lot of people can run it at high settings! This should have been obvious, and at the very least, they should have learnt their lesson afterwards.

Perhaps less importantly, they really picked a bad time to release the game. If theyd waited, say, 3 or 4 months, they'd have had many more customers, since the 8800gt and i believe the 9600gt would have been out, both of them cards that can run crysis well enough, and there would have been more than a few gamers chafing to put their shiny new cards through their paces. Not to mention, they competed with Call of Duty 4 and Unreal 3.

Also, the consoles are really coming into their own at the moment. In a couple of years, after pc hardware has continued to increase while the consoles stay the same, pc gamers would have lapped up a game that could show those console noobs what for :P. I actually think that this is nearly as big a reason as piracy as to why pc gaming is having tough times at the moment.

Thats why its such a stupid statement to make. Crysis was never going to sell well. If piracy wasnt possible, people still wouldnt buy it. Id actually be willing to bet the demo hurt them more than it helped.


So what does it mean? Well, its just another nail in the coffin, as they say. Crytek were one of the big developers who set pc gaming apart from the consoles. They made games that could really push hardware (if only they could scale well). Perhaps more importantly, they made game engines, which other devs could buy. If they will no longer support PC exclusively, it could be a long time before someone else makes an engine as groundbreaking and potentially incredible as the cryengine 2.

I still respect Cevat, he and his team did some amazing things with Crysis, but im sad that this is how he thinks now. There are other ways to combat piracy, Steam is the obvious example. Hell, just providing a great multiplayer experience is enough! Or rather, one that enough people can play...








There are plenty of things in gaming these days that, to be honest, should never have started. This particular rant is about following missions(not chase missions, which i enjoy).

Most commonly found in open world, sandbox type games, these missions involve following someone or something until it reaches its destination. Why? To find its destination, for whatever reason.

You have probably guessed im referring to one particular open world sandbox type game that was released oh so recently. Yup, GTA IV. Definitely one of the best games ive ever played, but as we have recently discussed, no game is perfect. Even Rockstar can be a bunch of lazy bastards at times.

The mission in question involves following a drug dealer to find the rest of his drug dealer buddies; you know, one of the things we've done in every GTA game so far, and what we all knew we'd do again. Some missions can redeem themselves; you just drive right up to the poor sucker and have a good ol' high speed chase, but not this one; you just fail if he sees you.

The things i like to do in GTA IV are:

- Drive fast
- Shoot things/beat people up
- Crash into things
- Do whatever i want
- Drive fast (its important)

In this mission i am forced to:

- Drive slowly
- Not shoot things/beat people up
- Not crash into things
- Not do whatever i want (ok not so relevant cos its a mission, but its still very restrictive)
- DRIVE OH SO FUCKING SLOWLY

Its so boring! Why cant i pull the guy out of his car and beat the crap out of him until he talks, then go get his buddies? That would be great! As far as i can tell, thats the ultimate goal of the mission anyway!

As it is, missions like this make no sense - Logically, my target would be less aware of me if i just drive like a normal person. But since this is practically impossible, i have to stay a good 10 meters back at all times; even at a red light. Which is ridiculous and destroys any remaining sense of realism.

Its sad, because Rockstar obviously know as well as anyone how to make a fun game; but because gta games have always had stupid missions like these, they keep adding them. Its pure laziness, just padding the length of the game, which GTA IV doesnt need at all.


Oh, and the guy who's with me makes terrible gay jokes if i get too close. What a jerk.








Yeah yeah, everyone and their dog has already said this (heck i even did with my previous blog) but i felt like saying a bit more.

The awesome thing that brought this blog on is thusly: i was heating up a pie because it was lunchtime-ish, and i was playing a little gta while i waited. But you cant eat pie and play game, right(if you can, i want to see)? And daytime tv in new zealand is crap (although im pretty sure thats the case in most places).

But no fear! I found a tv in Roman's apartment. Theres 2 or 3 channels to watch. Its essentially like the radio with some cutscenes. The show i watched was pretty good - it was about the ultra mega super rich people of Liberty City, and how they had tons of money and possessions and you dont and never will. Chloe Parker has 950 billion dollars, a 600 ft yacht that costs 3 million a day to run, and breast implants made of real rubies. A new role model for all you young ladies out there! :P

So yeah, this is the first game ive ever played where i can just go sit down and watch tv IN GAME. Perfect for eating some pie. Potato top, too, it was fucking amazing.

And theres autosaves. Yup, this is definitely the best gta game yet.








Most people have covered the basics, so ill just get onto what i think...


Its fucking awesome, if you like gta games. Heck, people who dont like to play them will still probably love to watch. The game is just so damn entertaining, and all ive done is roam, no missions (my brother owns it, we got it at midnight launch and he went to bed after playing a little, so no story progression for me yet :( )

The massively improved graphics and, more importantly, physics just make everything more... awesome. The game is set up to play like a movie; heck they even have a cinematic camera mode when driving. The thing that has really stuck out in my mind is how much fun it is to die, which i did often.

Driving at high speed into something can actually kill you now. You go flying head first of a motorbike, as youd expect, and now if youre in a car you go crashing through the windscreen! Also, bailing from a moving vehicle will result in some epic tumbling across the ground, and you'll quite likely hit something with a sickening thud (that leaves a nice little patch of blood!). In all these cases the ragdoll physics is brilliant, a huge step up from the previous games.

Luckily, Niko is an insane tank, and can take all but the most brutal of hits. He does not deal with bullets so well, however, and if you fuck with the police they will hunt you down. Firefights are fun (the aiming systems are great, the weapons are effective, and the cover is not super great but good enough, like r6 vegas 2) but you will get shot down eventually, if you dont find a car.

I really enjoy the police systems. They take a fair bit of provoking and its easy enough to escape one star, but stick around and get another star and you are in trouble. If you can get in a car you can probably out run them, although if they get a helicopter in (and they will do this sooner rather than later) it can take some effort. If you get a 6 star level (crash into the barriers to the other islands!) you are almost probably fucked.

For the bad side of things, i did get the odd framerate drop, when i pissed the cops off and there was a ton of cars and guys charging at me. I dont blame it for struggling with that, tbh, and it wasnt gamebreaking, but its still noticeable.

I guess i will sum this up by saying, i have had a stupid amount of fun in this game by simply roaming, no missions, no weapons (to start with :P), on only the first island. The only issue is framerate, which is a fair trade for no loading such an insane amount of data, in my view. This game rules.