Crayon Physics Deluxe is a unique game that has garnered a lot of attention in the past year. It began as another humble game posted on the Kloonigames blog, and from there it grew into the best game of the year at the Independent Games Festival (also on display were games like World of Goo and Desktop Tower Defense).
In CPD, you can play about 80 levels in singleplayer, most of which are really fun and open to a wide variety of solutions. In fact, it’s the openness of the game that really strikes me. While someone might solve a level by drawing random stuff, someone else might draw a weird drawbridge. The game’s replayability is what makes it so great. Also included in the game is a level editor, which will further promote the sandbox style of gameplay that abounds in this game. The demo will draw people in, and the low $19.95 price tag will attract customers without a big budget looking for a great game.
2008 has come to an end, and you may have gone to the movies around 5 times this year if you are an average American citizen. I know for myself that I have been a few more times than that and something gives me the feeling most people have been to more than that as well, but the national average still stands a 5 movies a year.
Throughout this year there have been many good movie releases; some were noted for their excellent screen play, some were noted for good special effects and so on, but I rank movies just as how good they are in general.
Starting with The Bucket List, released January 11 starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, is the story of two dying men who want to get some things done before they “Kick the bucket.” Jack Nicholson’s character, Edward Cole, is the owner of a large hospital and uses large sums of money to take him and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) on the adventure of their lives. They do things from racing cars on a track to sitting atop the pyramids of Gaza.
Iron Man, released May 2, this film, starring Robert Downey, Jr. was one of the best movies of the year, no doubt. The good special effects, cameo comedy, and realistic romanticism pushed this movie to the top of the list. The basic plot line is, a man is captured by terrorists, he makes an “Iron Man” to escape. He escapes and refines his “Iron Man Suit” idea. Another man steals the plans, and the other man tries to rule the world.
Get Smart, released June 20 starred Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway as undercover agents in a company called “Control”. Control is trying to take down “Chaos” in this comic James Bond-like film. Steve Carell lives up to his comic ability (as shown in The Office) and makes this movie one of the funniest movies to release this year.
The only cartoon movie to make this list, WALL-E was released June 27. It was the classic telling of a robot who discovers love. Though slightly on the younger side, WALL-E is fun for all ages and the wonderful music scores help emotion and suspense move the word-less plot along.
Perhaps the best movie of the year, The Dark Knight, released July 18, starring Christian Bale, opposed by Heath Ledger (The Joker) was a must see. The movie grossed just under 1 billion dollars in the box office, making it one of the largest grossing movies of all time. Though its predecessor, Batman Begins, was not nearly as large a hit.
Eagle Eye – released September 26 – starring Shia LaBeouf. This movie is an action movie about a man named Jerry who is running from the program “Eagle Eye” who mysteriously sees everything he does and is able to predict what he can do to avoid complete destruction while running from the FBI because of the terrorist equipment that was placed in his aparment by and unknown party. This movie is non-stop action and is very entertaining.
Lastly, Yes Man, released December 19, starred Jim Carey as the first new Jim Carey starred movie in over a year. In the movie, Carey is forced to say “Yes” to every question asked of him, no matter how ridiculous. This opens for funny opportunities as well as helping the main character find true love. This movie is the comedy must see of the year.
I may have missed a movie or two on this list, as I have not been able to go and see the movies that closed out the year, such as Valkyrie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Seven Pounds and The Spirit.
This game was just the step up from NFS: Carbon that the public was looking for. If you are sitting at your computer and asking, “Why is the public looking for something similar to Carbon?” then you obviously are not part of the public trend that is the Need For Speed series.
From high speed pursuit to high speed racing, NFS: Undercover is the high speed thrill ride it should be. The one advance from NFS: Prostreet is the return of Free Roam. If you are asking what free roam is, you probably should go play one of these games. Free Roam is one of the greatest racing game inventions since the taco car from Top Gear Overdrive for the N64.
The basic idea of Free Roam is you get into a really fast car. That car is unable to be destroyed. You are now unleashed on a city. Sounds fun, right? Prostreet lacked this very intuitive feature from Carbon which has been upgraded in Undercover. The main upgrade is the three cities connected by highway. Although the cities are small, the tri-city of Undercover gives a feel of a realistic city.
The graphics of Undercover aren’t bad, but aren’t the greatest either. The main problem isn’t how good the cars look, its the physics behind those cars. If your car hits something, that something goes flying, and you do nothing. However, there are certain things that, if you hit them, you stop instantly and they do nothing. I suppose there can be some serious drawbacks to playing the Wii version of the game as opposed to the 360 or PS3 versions.
Overall, I would rate Undercover quite highly, with a good ending and reasonable plot line to keep me entertained for the 10-some-odd hours it took me to complete the game.
Final Fantasy Crisis Core is a PSP game that shines out around the others. The PSP is notorious for short games that don’t seem to stand up to the PS2 as they were supposed to do. Crisis Core is an exception to that rule.
The basic storyline of Crisis Core is to show where the characters Zack, Cloud, Sephiroth, and some others, originated from. Many characters recognized even by gamers who don’t enjoy RPG’s include Cloud and Yuffie as they were both featured in popular Final Fantasy franchises and even games not related directly to the Final Fantasy line.
Crisis Core is the story of Soldier Class 2 Zach, who eventually grows to Soldier Class 1. A Class 1 Soldier deserts the Soldier company and many follow him, including Zach’s mentor, Angeal. Zach is pulled into the conflict quickly, as Soldier’s ranks are diminishing and you are put in control of the character.
The battle style of the game is different from traditional Final Fantasy games. You are put into the action. Though you still choose what attack to do, you are pressured to make that attack quickly as action is the method of choice for fighting. You fight using a sword and have magical proporties as well as an ability to use special sword techinques. This fighting style is much more silimar to the Kingdom Hearts style of battle. The woman who says “Activating Combat Mode” at the beginning of every battle is very annoying though.
The game is lacking one major element; however, this element has been lacking in nearly every Final Fantasy game: Multiplayer. This game would pull off multiplayer more effectivly than others due to its action battle style. One nice feature that continues to reappear in RPG games is the option to start over with continued stats. The game is also very long, taking me about 16 hours to complete, a very long running time for a PSP game.
Bottom line, this is an excellent game, if you have a PSP I highly recommend checking it out.
Seeing what programs you or your employees are running and actively using is valuble knowledge. For one, you can find habits in, say, how long you really sit down and play a short game of Team Fortress 2, or how much time StumbleUpon is really wasting away from your life. You could also find newer, better programs to replace your current ones; for example, upgrading from Internet Explorer to Firefox. Wakoopa gives you the power to do that and more with its easy-to-install and monitor application for both Windows and Mac (Linux coming soon) to help you track your apps.
Wakoopa recently began to track web apps as well as desktop apps, so websites like Zoho will show up in your tracked software. Funnily enough, the guys who run Wakoopa noticed that web apps seem to slowly be overtaking their desktop counterparts, likely because of laptops that have limited hard drive space and peoples’ attempts to speed up their computer by running less software.
So if you’re looking for a free desktop and web tracking application that comes with a pretty interface, give Wakoopa a try.
As Portal comes to its first anniversary today, the one of the first full mods for the game releases in its full glory. Portal: Prelude puts players into the pre-GlaDOS era of Aperture Science where real scientists did the dirty work, not that cake-promising machine. This story has great potential, so great in fact the Valve announced back in June 2008 that they were working on a prelude to Portal themselves, but the man behind the mod, Nicolas “NykO18″ Grevet, continued to create and now release his vision of the game.
FilePlanet managed to get 24-hour exclusivity rights from Grevet (a bad decision in my opinion, mods should be free to everyone at all times), and the mod is set for release to the general public tomorrow. You can watch the trailer below for the mod while the 775 MB gets onto your computer. If you are unsure of how to get a mod properly working on Steam, Planet Half-Life has a tutorial on installing mods.
Scour is a great concept for a search engine. Bring together the results of Google, Yahoo, and MSN along with user ratings and comments to make sure that the first page of results is the only page you’ll need. But the results are clogged with ads and extra spacing that you don’t need.
Scour+, developed by myself, solves two problems with one script. It makes Scour have a fixed width, meaning that widescreen users have an easier time reading the search results. It also removes any and every sponsored ad, making Scour better than every to search with.
Before and After:
To use Scour+, you’ll have to be using Firefox with the Stylish installed, which is an awesome addon that lets users customize the way their browsers view webpages, and it can modify Firefox itself too. You can view more styles at Userstyles.org, where Scour+ is hosted.
Battle.net, for those of you who don’t know, is Blizzard’s online matchmaking portal and community for games including the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo series. To put it simply, you can go online with your specific game, whether it be Diablo II or Warcraft III Frozen Throne, and play user-made maps or Blizzard maps with friends. What’s intriguing about Battle.net is the popularity of it. For Warcraft III Frozen Throne, its attendance strictly from Xfire is 16,000 or so per day, making it Xfire’s #6 most played game. For not being updated since 2003, and being made in 1997, I would have to say Battle.net is a very great system.
I personally think Battle.net is good enough to last us another 10 years, but with the release of Diablo III and Starcraft II, some technical and visual updates are of course necessary. Blizzard has not released the dates for the conversion to Battle.net v2.0, but we know it will be soon, with the release of Diablo III (not for sure) and Starcraft II somewhere in 2009, hopefully not much longer! Among some of the features of Battle.net II are:
- Excellent Ping (fast connections)
- Channels and Chat in-game
- Ladders and Rankings, secured against cheating.
- Extended stats, with possibility to see who D/C etc (source)
- Automatic/Anonymous Matchmaking
- Avatars, Images and Icons to represent yourself
- Diablo III Hardcore mode
- Friends/Ignore Lists with advanced management (see accounts below)
- Clan Support
- Automated Tournaments
Here are some screenshots of games that currently use Battle.net:
Could Google’s attempt at an internet browser be a huge success, or just a flop? Google released Google Chrome on September 2nd and they are making some pretty big claims about their new browser. I’ll start first with the mechanics behind the browser.
Chrome uses a different method behind it’s tab system. Instead of opening each tab under the same process, and lagging the computer as well as consuming memory, some of which cannot be reused until you restart, Chrome opens each tab in a new process. In this way, if one tab goes faulty, the whole browser doesn’t crash, just the tab. If you prefer to use tabs over windows, this is the browser for you. If you prefer to use windows over tabs, this is the browser for you. It’s unique drag and drop design allows you to separate tabs into windows, and windows back into tabs again. This is all done at a quick speed, and there is no lag time involved. (more…)
The Heavy update for TF2 has been out for about a week and a half now, giving players time to earn and use their new weapons and sandviches on normal maps. Here’s a rundown on the content introduced in the Heavy update:
- A fan-made map, CP_Steel, is added to the offical map list
- Arena mode released, giving TF2 a deathmatch gamemode
- A new Valve map, Badwater Basin, released for both Payload and Arena gamemodes.
- 38 new achievements for the Heavy to unlock
- 3 unlocks for the Heavy: the Sandvich, Natascha, and the Killing Gloves of Boxing.
I played on an achievement server to unlock the 3 new unlocks, then I went onto my favorite Gib$Ru$ server, Dustbowl 24/7, and tried them out. I ended up using the Sandvich more than I thought I would on defense, but on offense, it does absolutely no good because you never have 4 seconds of spare time. Natascha, which slows down enemies but doesn’t do as much damage, doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on gameplay, so I would recommend staying with Sasha. Finally, the K.G.B.’s are a great new unlock, and even with the “slower” punch times, you’ll never want to go back to normal fists.