Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Am An Inspiration

I sat with my feet reclined on the dash and a toothpick hanging lightly out of my mouth. My Thorax was hidden in the shadow of a gaseous planet in the Eszur system of low security space. Myself and Hallan were waiting for the empires heightened security in the system to ease up after our recent misdeeds nearby and the wait was killing me. Half dozing, I finally noticed a new entry on the scanner console near my pink slippers. A small Gallente frigate was out and about in nearby space so I perked up and began to investigate.

I scanned down and followed the little Ishkur frigate to several locations including belts, planets and stations but he was always far from me as I warped in and fled from the scene once I began to approach. He wasn't fleeing for complete safety but at the same time was not willing to fight. This is the sort of indecision that drives me insane... either put out or get out and stop wasting my damn time. Finally the frustration came to a head and I addressed my prey:

[05:33:56] Spectre3353 > if you want to have a go, let me know... tired of chasing now :P
[05:34:18] William Escobar > yeah just waiting for a inty to come along to make it even with your rifter :)
[05:34:37] Spectre3353 > id be glad to offer a 1v1, i can make my rifter stay out
[05:34:52] William Escobar > nah i dont trust my ship to be a properly fitted rax ;)
[05:35:06] Spectre3353 > youre smart then... i like to feast on cocky AF's

So that was that. With things calmed down and Hallan ready to go, I headed to the next gate and said my goodbye's:

[05:42:18] Spectre3353 > cya around, hope you find some better targets
[05:42:25] William Escobar > wait

The "wait" came through the speakers in my ships consoles right as we jumped into the next system. I only needed seconds to wonder why he had asked me to wait for the answer was sitting on the other side of the gate. A Nemesis stealth bomber and a blinky-red Crusader interceptor, both piloted by members of the same corporation had assembled on the gate. So that is what he was waiting for... backup. If it was a fight they wanted, I was more than happy to oblige. After a few moments carefully considering my strategy, I uncloaked and pointed my ship at full speed straight at the Crusader that was only about 10KM away. Locked, webbed, scrammed and I got ready to vaporize him when he decided to be smart and jump away through the gate. I turned my attention to the Nemesis and he decided on a similar course of action.

Well now, don't I look foolish. All dressed up and nothing to shoot. I waited on the gate for the inevitable reappearance of the enemy gang and I didn't have to wait long before the ships jumped back on through. First the Ishkur and Crusader, they uncloaked, locked and engaged me. It wasn't worth trying to catch and destroy the Crusader considering how evasive he was so I started by locking up the Ishkur and getting as close as possible. This frigate gangs best chance of success was to keep at range where my blasters and slow ship would be at a serious disadvantage. I was a little concerned at how quickly my armor began to peel away... I overheated my guns and my armor repairer to get maximum effectiveness and watched as the Nemesis stealth bomber jumped back into the system and attacked me as well. I was incredibly lucky at the fact that this fellow was jumping instead of warping to me as he was only 15KM away and very vulnerable. I stuck my drones exclusively on his glass cannon and within a few moments he had no choice but to warp away with his ship on flames and nearly destroyed.


I turned my attention back to the Ishkur and noticed a smokey burning smell. As usual I had let my guns overheat too long and they were nearly toast. I brought them back within normal operating parameters and watched the Ishkur go down in flames as I myself was nearly out of capacitor and very low on armor. Finally after a few more seconds of desperate lasering, the Crusader turned tail and smartly fled as I could have easily handled him alone. At this point Hallan had arrived so we gathered what was left on the field of battle and moved to a safer point in space. I spoke again with the Ishkur pilot who I had just destroyed:

[05:50:22] William Escobar > wait
[05:50:25] William Escobar > you the guy with the blog
[05:50:31] Spectre3353 > i am one of many yes
[05:50:32] Hallan Turrek > He is.
[05:50:36] Hallan Turrek > So'm I.
[05:50:41] William Escobar > dude that totally made me want to be a pirate :)

Well this was embarassing but I cannot say it is a totally new experience. For a while now and especially the past few days I have gotten comments as I flew through systems or via mail messages about this log. It is completely understandable as my epic experiences and stories are incredible and historic comapred to any other pirate... ever. It is tough being gifted and a star but I have learned to deal with it somehow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Am Me

Better Than You

I seem to be getting a lot of comments from all around about how my choice in entertainment is less than satisfactory. I just wanted to let you all know that your opinions are completely ignored and than you are all wrong. I enjoy Warcraft. I enjoy it and that must mean it is a good game to play because I am better than you. Yes you, the person reading these very words. I am better than you at flying my ship. I am better than you at smooth talking. I am better than you at certain types of relations that involve no pants. I am better than you at killing. I am better than you at dying. I am the best and I am always right and if you do not agree with the things I say or the things I do then you need to take a serious look in the mirror and wonder why you aren't more like me.

Spectre is the greatest pirate, pilot... hell, living being to ever exist in the universe of Eve and there will never be another person like him. This being said, I do not give any of you permission to ever disagree with or criticize me ever again or I will find you and shoot your battleship with my frigate until it blows up. Just to enforce all you just read, stare at this picture of me and feel intimidated:


Back In The Saddle?

It took a few days but after evading several Gallente Federation Navy patrols I was able to slip back into low security space and back to my home station in Evati. I stalked from ship to ship in the hangar, removing their covers, giving them hugs and whispering sweet nothings into their exhausts. I couldn't wait to get back out there so after some preperation including putting on my badass leather jacket, my pink bunny slippers and giving myself a pep-talk in the mirror, I chose my Taranis and went looking for trouble. Two days, twenty-five kills and four losses later I certainly didn't feel as though I had lost anything by being out of commission for the past few months. I have still got it.

I have spent a majority of my time flying with my former cohort from the Python Cartel, Andrea Skye. We have been working hard to make life miserable for everyone we encounter...

Trying to trick some missioners doing low level missions in low security space:

[03:31:27] Spectre3353 > could u help us plz???
[03:31:49] Spectre3353 > friend???
[03:31:52] Sebasti Saun > im a noob, in a battle right now. :(

[03:31:58] Spectre3353 > oh cool!

[03:32:00] Spectre3353 > we can help!
[03:32:15] Spectre3353 > join our fleet and we can kill rats too :)

[03:32:35] Sebasti Saun > nice security status

[03:32:45] Spectre3353 > WE R NICE I SWEARRRRRRRRR

[03:32:50] Sebasti Saun > lol


[06:43:48] Spectre3353 > hello!
[06:42:59] Uchiha1 > hey

[06:43:01] Spectre3353 > plz can u help???

[06:43:17] Uchiha1 > do what

[06:43:33] Spectre3353 > rats klled my 1 shp

[06:43:38] Spectre3353 > can u halp kill???

[06:43:43] Uchiha1 > na


Taunting a gang of frigates that wound up webbing, scramming and popping me as I flew around them in a cocky fashion:

[04:56:13] Spectre3353 > i welcome your challenge
[04:56:19] Spectre3353 > please meet me at planet V for an ass wooping

[04:57:03] Glach Duwat > :-\
[04:57:06] Joe Martin > You'd like that.

[04:58:45] Spectre3353 > 2 frigs vs like 7
[04:58:47] Spectre3353 > sounds fair to me

[04:59:01] Tri Vetra > more like v 1000000000000

[04:59:09] Spectre3353 > you have 100000000000? damn

[04:59:16] Spectre3353 > thats going to break the concurrent user record

[05:01:52] Marrl Shadowfall > lol

[05:01:57] Marrl Shadowfall > what happened to the asswhooping

[05:02:05] Spectre3353 > something was in my eye

[05:02:11] Marrl Shadowfall > oic

[05:02:13] Marrl Shadowfall > bad luck


All this hard work made me work up a hell of an appetite:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Escape From Alcatraz

I stumbled down the hallway, grasping the walls with my sweat-covered palms. My heart was beating in my ears and my breath was coming fast and in gasps. "This place is like a maze" I thought to myself. I needed to escape and most importantly I needed to find her. I wasn't going anywhere without her by my side. I made a quick turn down another corridor that looked exactly like the rest. Running now, I flew past a large steel door that looked considerably bigger than the others. I stopped, turned and ran back to peer through the porthole window that seemed incredibly inadequate for a such a large piece of metal. Inside were several prison guards and... she was there! Sitting in the middle of the room, obviously uncomfortable around these strangers and in this strange place.

I straightened myself as best I could. Fixed my collar, wiped the sweat off my forehead and calmed down my shakes a bit. Feeling confident and prepared I hit the button to open the hangar door and strolled in as if it was absolutely normal for a Gallente Federation prisoner to be wandering around outside of his isolation cell and in the middle of a hangar bay. I could see a couple guards playing cards in the corner stare at me with some level of confusion but my nonchalente attitude gave me enough of a lead that when I started to run, I was well ahead of even the closest guard. I couldn't help but crack a giant grin as I sprinted towards her. She stared right on back. As always, she was hard to read, but I could tell that deep down below her cold unemotional facade that she was just as excited at the potential of escape and our reuniting.

I quite literally jumped into my Taranis and slammed the cockpit shut. My attackers turned now to flee from what was about to happen to them but I was not about to spare them payback for the imprisonment and torture I had endured the past few months. The engines roared on and none of them even had time to scream as the hangar bay filled with flames and incinerated each and every one of them. "Poopsmack requesting clearance for departure from Hangar Bay 2" I stated to the tower. After reassuring the flight controller that everything down here was fine and it was just a minor reactor leak, he opened the hangar doors and I flew out into space. No persuers, no laser-fire, no nothing.

How do I have such good luck?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chews

I put $1.00 into the vending machine the other day. There were lots of choices but it is hard to argue against the package of Peanut Chews staring me back. I feel a little bit bad as my fat ass doesn't really need any more chocolate or caramel or peanuts in my stomach but most of those bad feelings were mitigated by the deliciousness distributed by those six tasty morsels. I tried to be polite and share some of my Peanut Chews with my co-workers and one of them who I will refer to as "Don" tells me that it is his second favorite chew. Second favorite to only the Charleston Chew. I sat back down at my seat and tried to wrap my head around the claim. Charleston Chew? Peanut Chews? Both are chewey. Both are delicious. How do you even compare them? How can you claim that one is better than the other? Only a comprehensive point by point comparison could decide this battle.


Quantity, Price & Selection:

I suppose this depends on where you purchase. I can only judge by my personal experiences and locations of distribution where the Charleston Chew tended to be a little bit cheaper. As far as quantity goes, the standard Peanut Chews package with six small bars is over 5 oz worth of candy (each piece is approximately 0.9 oz) whereas the Charleston Chew is only about 1.875 oz per standard bar. The price to candy ratio between both is comparable so the big difference here will have to be selection. Charleston Chews come in three different flavors of standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry while Peanut Chews come in only the one standard (but delicious) chocolate/caramel/peanut variety. The answer is pretty clear.

Winner: Charleston Chew

Packaging & Style:

This one is obvious. Peanut Chews come in a drab brown box that just reminds you of what it is going to look like in a couple hours as you expel it. The packaging is so depressing that sometimes I cry and sing Bette Midlers "Wind Beneath My Wings" in between bites. Charleston Chews on the other hand have packaging that is bright and colorful and happy, helping you forget as you devour half a dozen bars that you are going to die before 40 from heart disease brought on by poor diet.

Winner: Charleston Chew

Effectiveness If Used In Self-Defense:

This category is a difficult one. One might think that the Charleston Chew is hands down the obvious winner as a big frozen CC could easily beat even the toughest of men to death and is the weapon of choice of several west side Los Angeles gangs. It also proves a certain level of versatility as you can bend it down the middle and "voilla!" you have a nasty set of nunchuks. That being said, it is still not as versatile as the Peanut Chew. Want to smack someone with the entire unopened package? No problem. Want to open it up and load each of the six morsels into a firearm of choice? That works. Want to melt them and lay them on the ground as slippery choclately caramelly peanuty traps? Tried and true. And best of all is that you can eat a few and still have some left over to enter combat with.

All things considered I am going to have to go with the Charleston Chew. I wouldn't mind being stuck in a to-the-death-melee with either of these formidable weapons but when push comes to shove I want the most phallic and club-like candy on my side.

Winner: Charleston Chew

Effect On Bowels and Stool:

I will just have to say up front that this category is a complete tie. I tested out the effects of each chew by eating nothing but each candy for an entire day. At the end of both testing days I was in pretty excruitiating abdominal and anal pain. I won't go into too much detail (I guess I already did) but lets say that both chews come out the back end looking very similiar to the way they went in the front.

Winner: There are no winners when crapping hurts this bad

Conclusion:

I honestly wasn't expecting such a decisive victory but Tootsie Roll Industries should be proud of themselves. They are the producers of the best chew and for that I award them and the Charleston Chew this years GREATEST CHEW OF THE YEAR award! Congratulations!!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

PC Review - Left 4 Dead

There are a few big game developers whose names are synonymous with quality. When you hear the name Valve, it is tough to recall a single instance where they released anything that was not at least a better than average gaming experience. When it comes to supporting products after release, they are one of the best (see the continuing updates to Team Fortress 2). When it comes to value, no one even comes close to the Orange Box (three great games for for $30 makes me happy in the pants). When it comes to quality over quantity, nothing is a better example than Portal (if Portal was a person I would lock her in my basement and... I should probably stop there). On top of all these things, I have found Steam to be a great digital distribution platform and have bought a number of games through it. So it is with high expectations and great esteem that I finally picked up a copy of Valve's latest offering last week, Left 4 Dead.


Overview:

Left 4 Dead at its core is a fairly simple game. You are a group of four survivors of the zombie apocalypse. You and your friends are immune to the virus that has overcome a majority of the population but you are still trapped in the middle of zombie hell. Your objective is to get from point A to point B through hordes of the undead with at least one person still alive and mobile enough to shut the safe house door or hop onto the rescue vehicle at the end.

To be a bit more elaborate, there are four "movie" campaigns which you can choose from when you create a new game. You choose your difficulty, invite your friends (or use computer controlled players) and the level starts. You have to fight through five sections of each movie campaign before it is complete. The first four are comprised mostly of moving through till you arrive at the next safe house, but the fifth and final scenario is always instead a situation where you must bunker down and defend against waves of zombies and super-zombies until the rescue vehicle is ready to leave or arrives to pick you up. Like an intense and undead version of tower defense.

There are multiple types of zombies as well. On top of your everyday "common infected", there are Boomers (fat zombies that spit or explode on you, causing a horde of common infected to come running), Hunters (fast and elusive zombies that can jump a great distance and pin you down) and Smokers (the most annoying of the special zombies as it can grab any of the survivors from a great distance and pull them away from the group). In addition to these "special zombies", there are what I like to call the "super-duper special zombies" of which there are usually only one per level section. The Tank is a huge muscular looking undead that takes an incredible amount of firepower to bring down and almost always incapacitates at least one of your buddies (but never me because I run and scream like a girl instead of fighting back). Also, there is the Witch which is probably the most disturbing and scary of all the zombies in the game. She will be found randomly in each level and can be located by the horror film music and sobbing that comes through your speakers as you get closer and closer to her location. If you shut off your flashlight and sneak by you can sometimes get away without a fight, but startle her and she will clothesline a couple of you into oblivion.


Graphics:

It is tough to be too opinionated either way here. The Source engine still looks similar to how it did when it was first released five years ago and has certainly aged a bit. That being said, the graphics are still acceptable and the art direction (as always with Valve) is very good. All the models look good, the environments are appropriate and detailed and the game seems to run well on lower end or older systems. If you're one of those folks who is all about form over function and just wants PC games that show off your stupid uber-PC you bought with multicolor-LED lit fans and a GeForce 69000GTXBUQa55-b, this isn't the game for you. Otherwise it does the job just fine.

Sound:

This is where Left 4 Dead really shines. What could be more important than sound in a horror game? All the zombies have distinct screams. The common infected snarl, the Hunter screams, the Boomer gurgles, the Smoker hacks, the Tank growls and the Witch sobs and wails as she beats the piss out of your group. The eerie music is enough to make you shiver and wonder whats coming next and just understated enough that you might not even notice the effect it's having. The music ramps up and gets intense when a Tank appears or a horde begins to rush and gets slightly louder and scarier as you get closer and closer to the Witch in each level. This is a game that for all intents and purposes should never, ever, ever be played with the sound off. You will be gimping your ability to hear what is coming next and you would be missing the exciting and intense effect that it has on everything you do and everywhere you go.


On top of all the zombie and environmental effects, the survivors themselves have a large number of lines that they will spout off during the game. Most are useful information letting you and your group know that a special zombie is nearby or that you should use a medkit. A few are simply to help give the characters a personality and to give you a laugh. Perhaps my favorite was when I stepped into an elevator and took it up to get away from a giant zombie horde. Finally a calm quiet moment after a flurry of activity when Francis the biker looked at me and said "Who beefed?" Zoey, the female survivor I was playing at the time, apologized for her infraction. Priceless.

Gameplay:

The feel of the game and its controls are thankfully just as good as any FPS and feels similar to the other Source engine games. Weapons are limited to a couple automatic machine guns, a couple shotguns, a sniper rifle, an occasional mouted gatling gun and a couple different types of grenades. While the selection of weapons is sparse compared to your average shooter, they are all distinct and offer certain advantages or are used in certain ways to cope with the zombie rush. It certainly makes sense to have your friends spread out what they equip so that you get a variety of all the weapons as the sniper rifle is great at very long range, the automatic weapons are great at medium range and the shotgun excels at very close range when the horde has managed to get right on top of you.

Grenades come in two varieties: The Molotov Cocktail and the Pipe Bomb. Unfortunately here things are a bit imbalanced as the pipe bomb is considerably more useful and effective. All survivors also get a pistol (or two) with unlimited ammo in case their main weapon runs out and each survivor can stun and push away zombies with a melee attack. Tactical use of this ability is critical to being succesful on higher difficulty levels where friendly fire does a large amount of damage and pushing zombies away is the only way to help your friends get a shot off without hitting you.

Overall the gameplay has a great feel and flows very well. There is a lot of tactics based around how you handle multiple zombies as the common infected swarm you as well as how you handle the special zombies. Teamwork is essential as one or two people can easily become overwhelmed and will need to be saved by the rest of their group. Honestly I cannot ever see playing on any difficulty below Advanced as the game thrives on putting you into desperate feeling situations that make you feel like you have truly accomplished something every time you get to the next safe house and lock your friends out so that they die and you complete the level alone.


Multiplayer:

Realistically, this game is only multiplayer. The computer controlled bots are not too bad but nothing can ever replace playing with real human beings. This is easily the best co-op shooter I have ever played (sorry Gears of War, I still love you). Additionally, there is a versus mode that puts four additional players in the role of the special zombies and allows you to try and stop the survivors from reaching their objective. While it is a nice bonus and a little bit of a change as you get to be the hunter instead of the hunted, it is still essentially the same game.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that Left 4 Dead is fun. If the game even sounds remotely appealling to you and you have two or three friends who would be interested in playing with you, you will very well have a blast. That being said, I went over most of the positives above (great gameplay, great sound, great art direction and animations) so I will go over the one big negative right here: variety. Even after only a week of playing, I have been through every mode (campaign with bots, campaign with people, versus) and I have beaten every movie campaign at least twice. There are still a number of achievements I have to work towards and I would love to try and beat all the campaigns on expert but it is still a bit dissapointing. How many times can you play through the same levels fighting the same few zombies with the same two weapons? I am still having fun but I could see it being an issue more and more as I continue to play. Perhaps $50 is a bit steep for a game that is essentially not that chockful of content but it is hard to complain when the quality is so high and when Valve is known for releasing free updates (and they have mentioned more campaigns and zombies being added during updates which are free for PC users).

The bottom line is that this is a great game and perhaps the most fun I have had with a co-op shooter ever. I will continue to play and enjoy myself and I hope that Valve is quick with releasing additional content to keep a great game fresh.