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2:40 PM on 07.02.2008

Sins of a Solar Empire: Review

There are few things in life that I hate. But when I do hate something, it’s not a half way kind of thing. I full on, forcefully seek to hate the things I loathe. For instance, Lindsey Lohan is on the list. Along with her goes anyone who looks like her. I also hate traffic police. And Italians. I don’t know why, but I just do. I love their cars, I love their food, and I love their country. But then they have to go and ruin all of those things by throwing in hairy Italian women with mustaches, and men who wear ray ban sunglasses indoors.

All of these things that I hate so dearly are trumped however. Nothing matches my passionate, unwavering, steadfast, and epic abhorrence for real time strategy games. They’re slow. I don’t care what RTS we’re talking about, but they just are. I don’t care if the game comes with six barrels of Cocaine and an Angelina Jolie in heat– RTS games are incredibly dull. Because they are slow, you find yourself sitting there wondering what you can do to amuse yourself while your little units crawl across the screen at a billionth of an inch per second. Because of RTSs, I’ve learned how to balance a check book, solve differential equations, and speak Kilngon. So if anything, I appreciate that RTSs give me motivation to do things I don’t want to. When the septic tank in my back yard blew up a few years ago, I just imagined the possibility of playing Warcraft 3 and suddenly it was like I had been swimming on a sunny beach in Bermuda. In reality, it was a sea of poop, but I didn’t mind. As long as I wasn’t micromanaging stupid little orcs and stupid little elves with stupid little ears. Fucking elves.

Did you know, I love first person shooters? Surprise! Well actually, I thought I did. But recently, I had been getting bored of the run and gun gameplay I was so used to. I reactivated WOW, and that didn’t do it either. Nothing was stroking my metaphorical gaming phallus, and I needed something that would. That’s when Sins of a Solar empire came into the equation.

I fired the sucker up, and what do you know; it’s like I was trying to pilot the Saturn 5 rocket over telephone with an autistic deaf mute. The tutorial bored me so badly, that it actually killed off the part of my brain that saw the color red. After ten or so minutes of the unbearable torture, I gave up and burned my hard drive. Just like you would with gangrene, you have to remove the problem at its source. The burned remnants of the hard drive dwell in the deepest depths of hell – I dare not to try and name these unholy places. Not that I could anyways, now that I only see the world in hues in blue and green.

Video Games.

But the itch still lingered. FPSs weren’t doing it for me. I was getting desperate. I tried sleuths of other games and nothing was fixing my broken soul (penis). Sure, GTA4 and MGS4 were incredibly entertaining for the 40 hours they occupied, but I can’t just replay them for the rest of my life.

All I remember was that it was dark, and lonely. I don’t remember much of the few weeks leading up to this freak occurrence, but eventually, I ran into a friend from school. He had told me how much fun he had been having with Sins of a Solar empire. I began laughing frantically and called him a heathen. But when he questioned why that was so, I was stumped. I said RTSs were slow, but he explained to me it was because I am stupid. He had a point – I’m usually terrible at everything I do, except Quake III and arguing with my cats. He promised me that if I sat through the tutorial, and really gave it a shot, I’d love Sins of a Solar Empire.

Goddamn him for being right. I was looking forward to getting over my ten year addiction of PC gaming, but no. He had to go and show me that I wasn’t getting bored of gaming, but instead, my tastes were evolving. He said it like this; “You liked Linkin Park when you were thirteen, right?” I replied “Of course not. I came out of the womb carrying a battle axe with Dragonforce playing in the background. I am a Badass, dude.” But he was right, I used to like Linkin Park, and I thought Dane Cook was funny too.

With my flawless sense of logic, I’ve deduced this – Dane Cook is Counter-strike, and Sins of a Solar Empire is David Cross. Don’t bother arguing with me, because I’m right. And if you think I’m not, look at this chart-

Charts are for smart people.

SOASE gets straight to the point- besides some information about the back story to the playable races (which you have to dig for in the handbook), there isn’t a story, really. I hate games that twiddle around in between having a plot, and not having a plot. Case in point? Crysis. Imagine if the game had just launched you into the gameplay with nothing but the dialogue “GO KILL SHIT HELL YEAH GATORADE FUCK THE ALIENS”. I’d be much more inclined to play through that game again if it realized what it was, instead of trying to pretend to be some pseudo intellectual sixteen year old’s livejournal. But it doesn’t, so I hate it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love Half-Life and games like it because the stories are awesome. And although I hate Halo, at least it realizes that the frat boys playing it have the attention span of a chair, and it doesn’t try to pretend otherwise.

You have single player, multiplayer, and a map creator. The single player let’s you enjoy campaigns as simple or as complicating as you like, which is fantastical. I was really bad at first, so I just bumped the AI down to easy, and I was having a great time, not having my rectum so deeply penetrated as if I were to leave it on normal or hard. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the luck of playing multiplayer yet, but I bet it’s just as good.

The actual gameplay is incredible fun. In true RTS fashion, there are three races. Each have different units and abilities, but their main goals of killing each other are all shared. It’s a bit like the Middle East, except SOASE has toilet paper. I really like the balance of materials in this game – although you have to worry about the rarer crystal ore, you still have to manage your credits so that you can pay off the pirates of the nearby galaxy from attacking you, and instead attacking your enemies. Although if you find yourself with too much of one resource, be it metal or crystal, you can sell them to regain any sudden loss in credits. At first I thought the pirate system was a bit annoying; it felt like I was paying child support instead of waging intergalactic warfare. But I had quickly realized you can solve this problem just like you would in real life, and just kill them instead - although incredibly difficult, extremely rewarding.

It’s level of complication is directly proportional to the amount of Counter-Strike you play.

There are so many factors to comment on here… it’s a bit difficult to encompass the game without making it boring. One thing I noticed is that planet travel and playing areas are kind of like EVE Online. This makes for interesting tactics in the sense that you can only enter a player’s territory through a limited amount of passages. This makes tactics an actual tangible thing, and makes the game that much deeper.

The research system is unbelievable, and although confusing at first, it makes every game you play different since there are so many ways to approach building your structures and units. Your units will form fleets, with capital ships as the leaders of them. They enable special defensive and offensive abilities for your fleet, which adds even more depth – kind of like the guy watching a dispute who always yells “BET YOU WON’T HIT HIM!” Sometimes, he thinks you won’t hit him, and some times, he tries to get you two to talk it out. Guess which one happens more often in SOASE.

I can felate this game all day, but I’ll get straight to the point. You need to try this game – it’s the first instance where I felt a game was incredibly deep, but not necessarily difficult to learn. It reminds me of Team Fortress 2 in a way; very simple and easy to play, but difficult to master. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever master this game, and that’s part of its appeal. I’m tired of games like Counter-Strike or Quake III where the learning curve ends at when you learn how to point at someone’s head. So I implore you, knuckle dragging Halo and Call of Duty enthusiasts- put down your 360 controllers and gaming mice, and pick up a copy of SOASE. Do evolution a favor, and do a bit of evolving for once. I’m glad I did, I no longer have to go to the chiropractor now that I walk upright.   read

9:53 PM on 06.19.2008

Free TF2 Weekend

What mortals hath no desire like demomen and goldrush?
They appease their deities, yet the eyes they turn remain blind.
“Ye hath the power, hath ye not?” cried the peasants,
“Tis not a question of power, whelps!” cried the Gods.
“Then what causes your steady hand to hold?” beckoned the mortals.
“Ye not deserve, therefor we shant brought.”

The mortals begged and cried “Please, Please, Please!”
Yet Valve remained steady, they dare not appease.
For what power they wield, and could use to wrought,
Could cause the children, goldfish, and family dog to rot.

“Thou shalt love thy wife and neighbor,
And keep thyself clean;
Complete your daily tasks and be ready on knee -
If we powerful ones were to give you what you seek,
You would all surely forget to bathe, feed your children, and wreak!”

“No, No!” cried the lowly ones, “We shant bring you dishonor!”
“Do for us this, and we shall bring you Sarah O’Connor.”
The gods did hear their begging words, and discussed at great length.
“Promise, that if we bring you what you seek,
you will ask for no more than one week.”

“We promise, we swear!” they shouted.
“If you give us our free trial, we shant not clean our hair!”

And on that day, the gods did hear,
What the peasants and laborers did jeer.
And for their loyalty, filled with no blame;
Granted each to be merry, drink, and try their new game.

“The twentieth! The Twentieth! The weekend of the Twentieth!” the peasants cried, falling to their knees.
“Aye, enjoy your free weekend of Team Fortress Two” they gods replied,
“Pyro achievements, map adjustments, and patch updates for all-
But be wary, for these gods fear not to bring down your house with brimstone, fire, and wrecking ball.”

That's right, free TF2 weekend starting tomorrow, all the way until Sunday!   read

1:20 AM on 04.10.2008

Lost Odyssey Review

Lost Odyssey. Kingdom Hearts. Final Fantasy. Wild Arms. If you werent a gamer, you would think Im just putting two random words together to make cool names. All RPGs share one thing no matter what- and thats the horrendously characterless and meaningless names. I wonder what developer Mistwalker had to go through before they finally settled on Lost Odyssey?

Story Adventure Maximum? Super Journey Masters? Magnesium Talkers? Bubblegum Crisis?

They have big hats. This isn't a joke, just an observation.

Anyways, Lost Odyssey was a kick in the balls for me. Here I was, getting tired of game companies using the same gameplay formulas over and over; but good lord was I misunderstanding the problem. Lost Odyssey follows a pretty standard RPG concept- typical turn based gameplay with magic, physical attacks, buffs, and heals. Great, I thought. I wont have to crack open my Harvard studies in applied physics text book for this one. It should be an easy blow through. But little did this stupid ignorant man know. I didnt read the reviews or guides for the game. And I especially didnt know about the fact the game is four DVDs long- something I learned after getting the game home. If I had done any research previously, I would have known that I was getting myself into an epic, 35+ hour saga with some of the most challenging gameplay, stunning visuals, and rewarding dynamics ever conceived.

Actually, I wouldnt say that the game is challenging. You see, washing my cat is challenging- deducing theoretical simulations of spatial-time is challenging; but Lost Odyssey is just ridiculous. Going into that game with a leisurely mentality is like Gary Coleman talking shit to The Rock. Everything seems fine at first, until youre picked up and thrown a few yards into something hard. The difference between The Rock and Lost Odyssey however, is that youre thrown over and over, until you get a quarter of the way through the game; in which case The Rock starts popping estrogen pills and wearing a pink dress. I dont know if it was me being battle hardened by the RPG mortar fire, or if The Rock was really growing a pair of man breasts- but either way, things were starting to look up. Until I got to the last few hours of the game, where something about your short stature infuriates The Rock and forces him into pummeling you in the face over and over with a sledgehammer.

I love black people.

I thought Lost Odyssey was going to have the typical Japanese RPG story where I get to skip every cutscene, coz lets face it- the Japanese are as good at making enthralling and ingenuitive plots as Americans are at making cars. Even their good attempts which turn out to pretty decent are still mind bogglingly weird. Not this time though- instead of a whiny emo fifteen year old boy who wears leather pants, we get a real hero. Hes brave, bold, and interesting to boot. He doesnt worry about meaningless things like love and kittens, no; hes all about drinking himself into a stupor so he can forget the thousands of people hes killed. Then you have the secondary leading female character who is a pirate. Thats right, not an air hostess, not some big breasted know-nothing bimbo who cries every chance she gets, but a goddamned pirate. Her idea of fun is pillaging and raping through the open seas and hitting things with swords, which is borderline radical, dare I saw Jawesome.

Nobuo Uematsu (Pronounced No-Be-You-Oh, You-Ee-Mat-Soo-Oh-Drifto-Des-Ka-San) did the music for Lost Odyssey. This means you have cunning cutscene music and dangerously addictive tunes and jingles to accompany the multitude of cities and landscapes youll traverse. If I were to ever lose my ability to reason and use logic, and I was to use numbers to tell people what I think of games, I would use Nobuo Uematsu as the benchmark for music. He would get an absolute ten, and everyone else would pale in their pathetic attempts to mimic his utter glory.

Just kidding, I hate IGN.

The graphics here are nothing less than spectacular. Lost Odyssey runs on the UE3 engine, which powers some of my favorites such as Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3, Mass Effect, and Bioshock. Lost Odyssey looks just as good, if not better in some areas due to the fact that the developers didnt have to sacrifice quality for rendering speed. I would love to go on about how I respect Mistwalker for taking such a focused engine like UE3 and turning it into an RPG, but there arent enough minutes in an hour unfortunately. So Ill just settle with Good lord, you guys kick ass.

I promised myself I wouldnt get carried away with this review actually, so Ive gotta wrap this up. The problem is that this game, like I mentioned earlier, is four DVDs and 35+ hours long. Thats like what, 5.39 playthroughs of Halo 3? Thats absolutely brilliant, but not when youre trying to talk about it, because unfortunately I could go on for days and days here, and have this end up being a novel instead of a review. So let me get to the point.

Cats have fur.

I love the story. I also love the visuals and pleasure I get from hearing what I will refer to as an orchestra of repeated auditory orgasms. But what about the key ingredient I forgot to elaborate on? How does the gameplay stack up against other RPGs out there? Well, Lost Odyssey doesnt really reinvent anything. All it does is take pre-existing ideas and concepts and smother them in a veneer of gold and chocolate. Sometimes, itll even cut bits out here and there, and throw in some quirky stuff as well, shaping it into a cute little bunny- but for the most part, it follows the typical RPG formula. This would normally anger me because ever since Portal, Ive been expecting every game I play to completely reinvent a genre. But to be honest, Lost Odyssey doesnt need to. It speaks so well for itself in terms of story and quality that you find yourself trudging through the actual gameplay just to get to the stories and cutscenes.

So, what are you doing? Why are you still reading this? Go buy it so you can be figuratively piledriven by The Rock in a pink dress over and over for hours on end.   read

4:16 PM on 03.12.2008

Fortress Forever Review

Fortress Forever is a modification for Half-Life 2. If you've got it, then be sure to read this review and decide for yourself if a download is warranted. A link to the download is provided in the article.

I promised myself I wouldn't let this article turn into a two page debacle on why Team Fortress 2 isn't any better than Fortress Forever. What you are reading now is the third version of this review. I actually wrote this two times previously, and by the end of each one I had realized that I wrote nothing but expletives and mom jokes about Team Fortress 2 and why you should uninstall it and play Fortress Forever, forever. I'm a strong man though I have strong will and an even stronger passion for keeping it real, and real I shall keep it. So for this whole review, I will not mention Team Fortress 2, so let's begin.

Fortress Forever is a video game. No, not a modification. Well actually, yes its technically a modification of the source engine, but I am calling it a video game. It rivals most retail games out there in terms of replayability, polish, and sheer entertainment. I've played $60 games that have moved me less than Fortress Forever and did I mention that I hated Team Fortress Classic, its predecessor? That's right; I absolutely hated TFC. It was tedious, repetitious, dull, and the learning curve was likened to throwing your grandmother blindfolded into a harrier jump jet and telling her to figure it out.

Fortress Forever solved this problem despite the fact it's almost an exact copy. You're probably thinking "Are you bonkers? If it's a copy of a game you hated, why do you love it all of a sudden?" Well then, let me lay some knowledge on you.

You're probably familiar with water, which is known to the scientific community as H2O. That means for every two hydrogen atoms, there is one oxygen atom. They bond together via a Hydrogen bond. But if they join via an Ionic bond instead, it turns into acidic water. It is still called H2O and looks exactly the same as water. But it's a completely different thing now, and all it took was one simple change.

That's what Fortress Forever is it's the non-ulcer inducing version of its older sister, TFC. It follows the same formula, but assembles it all in a slightly different manner. No hospital visits here, just a purely enjoyable experience complimented with the learning curve Team Fortress always deserved. You may be frightened now. "Oh no", you might say. "Have they dumbed down my beloved Team Fortress? Have they simplified something epic like Moby Dick into a picture book for children?" Rest assured, they have not. What they have done is take something mundane and unremitting, and craft it into near gameplay perfection.

There is a world of difference between simplifying something, and making something more accessible. Fortress Forever retains its incredibly deep gameplay while easing the learning curve on newer players with easier instructions and tweaks to abilities and classes. For instance, grenades in TFC were incredibly frustrating if you were on the receiving end. It is rumored by some that the explosives in those grenades were to be used in the atomic bombs over Hiroshima in World War II. But America, after seeing the results of its testing with the compound decided that it would be inhumane to use such weaponry, and then opted for enriched uranium instead. Luckily though, the damage is toned down in Fortress Forever for balance sake, and it works perfectly.

So far, it looks like this- Gameplay, check. Balance, check. Replayability, check. But what about graphics and sounds? I hate nitpicking, but unfortunately, it looks like Ill have to for the sake of this review. This game is the color equivalent of gray- If you were to take Fortress Forever and compare it to all of the fruits and vegetable, it would be Celery. It is flavorless, bland, and does nothing to impress visually. Really though, its not like you could expect much from a mod that tries to look like a game from almost ten years ago. This may all seem like a terrible thing, but you completely forget about the lackluster textures and mapping when you get in the thick of the fights. Because the game isnt too graphically intensive, it turns out to be one of the smoothest running mods out there. My framerate rarely dropped, and when it did, it was because the entirety of the third world war was unfolding on my screen. The sounds werent mind-blowing, but what can you expect. They did their job, and thats all I ask for, especially from something free. Actually, the mod gets a special mention in the sound department. Whoever was in charge of the rocket sounds in this game managed to create the most satisfying sounds Ive ever heard. The noise the thing makes when the rocket leaves the barrel is amazing, and its even better when it makes a boom into something. It was like digitally popping pimples whilst receiving a back massage from Adriana Lima. God bless that man- or woman, or whatever the hell made them. The sound and graphics are by no stretch bad or poor quality, but simply don't pop out at you as much as you'd like; it all just blends together.

So here we are, at the end of the review. Youre probably expecting me to tell you to go to Fileplanet, download the five-hundred megabytes of concentrated win, and un-install TF2; but I wont. I may be dense, but Im not stupid. Team Fortress 2 and Fortress Forever go hand in hand. I know that TF2 is frighteningly fun and that it eclipses Fortress Forever, but Fortress Forever fills in the gaps that TF2 fails to satisfy. Sure, TF2 has more polish in it than Poland, but after hours of it youre bound to be bored by it. And when you are sitting there, alone in your room at one in the morning with nothing to play, you should pick up Fortress Forever until you pass out.

The point is that although Fortress Forever might not be the prettiest or groundbreaking game out there- its definitely one of the best. Even if the more handsome, expensive, and easier brother will always be there to steal the show.

Thanks for reading. Regulars of will probably catch this review there too.   read

2:14 PM on 03.11.2008

Unreal Tournament 3 Review

Unreal Tournament 3 is a tactical shooter. No, I am not wrong. Yes, you are an asshole for thinking otherwise. No, Im not just saying that. Okay, actually, youre not an asshole for thinking otherwise; that was rude of me. Every person whos ever reviewed the game is an asshole for thinking otherwise- its not our fault we took their word for it. The reason UT3 didnt do so well in the reviews isnt because the gaming journalism community is comprised of illiterate frat boys foaming at the mouth- if anything, thats part of the problem.

Also, I know that this is a little late. I bought the game in November when it came out, but after seeing the final bit of reviews come out for it, I felt like I should give it the proper review it deserved.

UT3 is an amazing game. It manages to look fantastic, satisfy simple people with simple and fun game modes, but manages to strategically rip your fucking face off in duel or clan play. UT3 is like that guy at the party thats unrealistically handsome, seems very modest, and fun to talk to- except he is fluent in Latin and Philosophy. Youd expect him to barely be able to form proper sentences with that chiseled jaw of his without getting flustered and pounding his chest with his fists and grunting- But no. He will make you look an idiot in a discussion of relative utilitarianistic philosophy if you let your guard down. And he had a cool name, like Dieter or Garret. Did I mention that Im not gay?

Thats what Unreal Tournament 3 is, incredibly strategical and intelligent- yet handsome so that women will sleep with him. It isnt bored by the usual chit-chat, or in this case, Warfare or Vehicle CTF modes; but its still well versed in his practical mathematical relations, or Duel mode for this situation.

Unfortunately, Unreal Tournament 3 was taken for its intrinsic value by reviewers, so they completely forgot to look a little deeper into the game to see it for what it really was. They expected UT3 to be a simple, adrenaline pumped shooter with no real substance for the tactically inclined. Boy were they wrong.

The game went under most radar at release, bypassing many peoples attention- including our beloved Destructoid. UT3 was the most significant game of the year for competitive FPS players on the PC, period. Quake 4, the successor to Quake 3, was a complete disaster- but to be fair, it wasnt the easiest act to follow. Its younger brother was the king and queen of prom, slept with all the cheerleaders, and graduated magna cum laude; all whilst giving the nerds wedgies in the bathroom and getting into Harvard after all was said and done. Quake 4 was more like the calculus teacher no one really liked- he was rather dull and boring, tried too hard to be cool, and still managed to be covered in pimples and blemishes even in old age.

So because the Quake series was such a letdown and Unreal Tournament 2004 hadnt really catered to competitive gamers, UT3 had a lot to satisfy with its latest iteration. Im here to tell you to forget what the reviewers said- because it definitely does satisfy.

Vehicle CTF is in my eyes, one of the greatest addition to the series for UT3. I had always found CTF a little bland due to the small nature of the maps, but all is well in this iteration of our esteemed CTF. Not only are the maps littered with vehicles and jump pads to ease your travel, but you also get hover boards. Thats right, fucking hover boards. How cool is that? And they dont suck either- the animations and coding that go into the things make them fantastical. They move quickly, and look great too- and they arent just for show. They definitely oil the gears that make that game mode work.

Warfare is the same dish as Onslaught was- a greasy cheeseburger that was nice, tasty, and everyone loved. So I will skip it along with all the other modes that stayed through the transition to the new game, except two. CTF and Duel.

If Warfare was a cheeseburger, then CTF is a pile of dog shit slapped in between two slices of bread. I never liked CTF to begin with, and I definitely dont like it now. Vehicle CTF is so good, that I couldnt imagine why anyone would ditch it to play the inferior version; in this case CTF. I wont go farther than that because like I said, I liked CTF as much as I enjoyed a case of Chlamydia.

Duel then, is like an exotic assortment of Sushi. Hand crafted, measured tediously, simply perfection. Sure, to the uninformed consumer Sushi looks like some rotten fish lathered in rice and slapped together with some green stuff- but its so much more than that. You might think Duel is just two people shooting each other violently while shouting expletives, but its not. Ive had the chance to play Duel mode intensively with a good friend of mine over LAN and Internet. Its simply fantastic, theres no other way to describe it.

Ive never felt adrenaline from a game like I felt from Duel mode. When we werent guessing each others position, anticipating each others next moves and weapon choice- we were moving towards key chokepoints and item spawns to gain control of the map. Each confrontation was carefully chosen to make sure the outcome was certain. There was no room for error- if you make a single misjudgment in a rockets trajectory or your oppositions item choice, its game over. You will die, and continue to unless you put your brain to use. Because we had so much fun with this game mode, I wrote my friend poetry for playing with me. Did I mention Im not gay?

A lot of the gameplay depth in Duel mode stems from the fact that the game mechanics and weaponry shine through in every situation, not just Duel. The Biorifle is a great offensive weapon for tipping the scale when youre losing the match in a 1vs1- but in Deathmatch or CTF mode, the Biorifle serves as a great disperser; people crowding around your flag or a chokepoint? Lay some goop on it. Each weapon and map is so well balanced that theres a counter to every theoretical GODDAMNIT THATS ANNOYING too.

I could go on all day about the gameplay tweaks and how the game has reverted back to its original Unreal Tournament roots. But I wont. Instead, I will say this much- It is not like UT2004. Whoever said it was didnt play the goddamned game. Adrenaline, the armor system, and weapon differences have all been either removed or changed. If you liked any game in not just the series, but any FPS game on the PC, you will find some mode of enjoyment here to warrant your $49.99. And I dont have to create a reason for the PS3 people to buy it- you can only play Uncharted and watch Talladega Nights so many times.

I am never satisfied with graphics, but UT3 managed to shut me right the fuck up. Half-Life 2 has terrible texture resolution- Call of Duty 4 although heavily modified, is still on the Quake 3 engine. Crysis regardless of your system runs like it has Down syndrome, and anything else on DirectX 9 looks like everything was smothered with wax and then had the bloom set to Lynard Skynard. UT3 suffers from none of these, except maybe the bloom- But you can turn that off. If you have a mediocre system, turn it down and itll look pretty good. If you have a recently built computer, then turn it all the way up and enjoy the smooth framerate- no need for a nuclear powered processor and a video card that runs on the tears of orphaned children here.

I saw a cheesy episode of Futurama once- It said god works in a way so that no one knows he really did anything, and it makes sense. If we all knew there was a god then we would have no reason to do anything, ever. I propose then that the world was created in eight days. I think that God created the world, the heavens, and everything in between in six, but then used the seventh to align the stars in such a way that Epic Games would create Unreal Tournament 3. I believe it to be a misconception that god rested on the seventh, for he was obviously busy creating a masterpiece. If Futurama is right, then Unreal Tournament 3 is a shining example that Gods work really does go unnoticed.   read

3:12 PM on 02.18.2008

Logitech G15 Review

Logitech has been notorious over the years for making products that never break, ever. Ive had my MX500 mouse for almost five years now, and its exactly why NASA recently signed a contract with Logitech to have them produce their zero gravity toilet paper holders. I find it difficult to imagine anything more disagreeable than sitting on the can in space without ample toilet paper. So if NASA trusts them with something of this caliber, I know I sure as hell would. Dont believe me? Well good, because I made that up. But I am not fibbing with the rest of this review, unless I just lied about that as well. But I didnt, trust me.

The original Logitech G15 was an orchestra of bright blue lights, cheap paint, and full of keys you would never use. Fortunately, Logitech has learned from their mistakes this time around, and have made some serious changes. The lights are now orange, there are less programmable keys giving you more space, and the LCD screen on the front no longer folds down (which defeats the whole purpose of the keyboard). Let me get to the specs for a moment.

The device is connected to your PC via a 1.1 USB connection. This allows the keyboard to act as a USB hub, giving you two extra USB connections on the back; how spiffy is that? Along with this, comes the party piece - the LCD screen on the top pummelling you with information as you use your computer for computing. And dont worry about visibility, the backlight is so vivid that you'll be hard pressed to find situations where it wouldnt be useful. Take for example, if you were stranded in the middle of the sea. If you had your G15 on hand, you would be able to point it toward the sky, and use it as a rescue beacon; and then as planes and satellites began plummeting from the atmosphere and crashing into the ocean, (because you inadvertently blinded them all with your orange Pharos of death) you could use the planes and satellites as life rafts until you safely floated to salvation.

Looking directly at, or near the LCD may cause cancer.

Now dont fret yet, Logitech has wisely given this keyboard three settings for the backlight, which was probably great when they thought of it. In practise though, its useless. The three settings are 1) Is it on?, 2) Its almost legible, let me press my face against it harder, and 3) Oh my god, my eyes are bleeding. Luckily though, you will be so busy praying to archaic Nordic gods to give you enough strength to press the keys down that you wont even notice that your pupils have turned into a bright grayish mush.

You may think Im exaggerating here, and I might be with the LCD brightness, but the key presses on this keyboard are no laughing matter. As I write this review, my fingernails have eroded away and have left a fine dust in between the keys, which frankly, ruin the aesthetics of the whole thing. When it comes time to fire up Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, The Specialists, or any other fast paced game where finely tuned movements are essential; it will start to get to you very badly. Its not necessarily the hard-press keystrokes, but instead the incredibly annoying way in which the thing refuses to recognize your input. I can press any one of these letters, but if I dont apply enough force after the initial press, the key wont recognize. This problem shows itself the most in games like the Unreal Tournament series, where you have to quickly press a movement key twice to dodge. Once you manage to get the key pressed fast enough twice, there is a risk the keyboard still might not recognize the keystroke because you pressed it too lightly, which is as frustrating as trying to fit square blocks into circular holes that were never there to begin with.

On to the looks, the high point of this keyboard. I have heard people compare the G15 to the interior of recent BMWs, which you can trust me when I say is a very nice thing. I fancy the form over function principle, and the G15 goes beyond that into form following function. The two tone gun metal and black materials go perfectly with the lucent orange highlights around the keyboard. The LCD is properly placed at the top center, as to make sure that your hands are never in the way. Even the media control buttons next to the LCD are shaped interestingly with the bottom ones connecting to each via a swooping piece as to not ruin the lines of the design. Also, the software that accompanies the LCD is brilliant; allowing anyone to make custom mods for anything ranging from programs telling you your system resource usage, to your depressing kill to death ratio in whatever first person shooter youre trying to play. Which brings me to another issue.

Why in the world would Logitech go through the trouble of making sure a ton of games would support the LCD feature, but only support the ones no one plays? Sure, the keyboard gives you your stats in World of Warcraft and Ventrilo, which people do play/use; but what about Counter-Strike? Counter-Strike: Source? Let me put this into perspective. The keyboard has Enemy Territories: Quake Wars support out of the box; a game that has a few thousand people playing at any given moment. But to use the keyboard with Counter-Strike 1.6, or Counter-Strike Source, you have to go through a third party download to get it to work. I know this isn't a big deal, but what was Logitech thinking? Counter-Strike 1.6 and Counter-Strike: Source combined come to around 180,000 people playing at any given moment, a number immensely greater than Enemy Territories. But they just couldnt be bothered to add support out of the box?

Okay, so this is not a huge deal, but it brings me to my final complaint with the keyboard - it is not well thought through. When youre dropping almost $100- thats one, hundred, dollars, for something like a keyboard; you want it to be well tested and proven. Not once did Logitech stop to think Are these key presses good for gaming? What about the programs were going to release with the product, are they pertinent to the people who will buy it? Do customers really need USB ports on a keyboard when they cant use their thumb drives or iPods on them? The USB ports are only 1.1 standard so nothing works. The keystrokes feel more at home on a six dollar HP keyboard from 1996, the software bundled with it is not nearly enough, and the build quality is mediocre. If I am spending $100 on a product where its competitors are at half of the price or lower, I want something to strike me was worth it. And unfortunately, nothing here does.

In summary, the keyboard is average for something half its price; and like most beautiful things, it is shallow and boring. If you want a gaming keyboard, and it HAS to have an LCD, whats wrong with the older, cheaper, bluer, and better version? Unless the looks are so important that you absolutely must have it, get the older one. And if you dont need the LCD, just buy a Saitek instead. Trust me, words are incapable of describing how ridiculous I look as I sit here wearing UV resistant sunglasses with forearms the size of telephone poles. Its unattractive, really.

Thanks for reading my article, it was published on, so if you read it there, I apologize.   read

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