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Saturday, 28 April 2012

STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic 2

For those of you that have read my review of Jedi Knight Academy you will be aware of the deep love I hold for the Star Wars universe and so it was with delight that I spent the better part of a week playing Knights of the Old Republic 2 over and over again. I had been given it as a birthday present some years ago but had never actually got round to playing it until recently. I had tried to play it previously after getting to a stage which I thought was quite far into the game (it wasn't) and having my save file corrupt I lost all interest in continuing it. I had other more pressing things to do...okay I was sulking but this brings up a very valid concern with KOTOR2; it is bug-tacular.

Of many of the bugs, and we shall be going into them, the most annoying by far is one that forces you stop moving after you have made an attack, the only fix for which is to save and reload the game. The odd thing is that this bug only seems to occur after an hour or so's worth of playing. Maybe this was the developer's way of saying “I think that's enough, you still haven't fed your cat.” Well screw you Tiddles I have sith to defeat but I can't tell you how many times I've died whilst trying to lure away enemies from the main group so I can fight them individually only to find that my character must have equipped her fast-setting-concrete-soled boots again. One particularly annoying bug, which happened to me whilst doing the Nar Shadda quests, was that I sank through the ground. It was as if I had the noclip feature on but this was easily rectified by a reload of the game. On that subject you often get useful in game hints during the loading screens. Imagine how my alarm sirens went off this time round when I read “You should save often and in different files” or words to that effect. I, in my naivety thought that this was just due to the game being difficult. Nope. In order to safeguard against possible file corruptions I found that I had to have a rotating five save file system. So the question becomes why, when Obsidian knew this game was so buggy, did they decide to release it. The answer is simple, the story.


*Part II will be coming up*



Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Predators (2010) [4/5]


Movie Details

  • Suitable for age 15+
  • Release July 2010 (UK)
  • Length: 107 minutes
  • Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
  • 20th Century Fox Production
  • Available in English, Spanish and Russian
  • Producer: Robert Rodriguez
  • Director Nimrod Antal

Characters/Cast

  • Adrien Brody - 'Royce' 
  • Alice Braga - 'Isabelle'
  • Topher Grace - 'Edwin'
  • Laurence Fishburne - 'Noland'
  • Walton Goggins - 'Stans'
  • Oleg Taktarov - 'Nikolai'
  • Louis Ozawa Changchien - 'Hanzo'
  • Mahershalalhashbaz Ali - 'Mombasa'

Plot

A group of 7 hardened criminals, soldiers, mercenaries and one doctor awaken mid-air with a parachute to find that they are being dropped into a jungle. One by one they land and initially try and kill each other, however they soon realize that they are not on Earth anymore and are being hunted by an unseen enemy.

The group is led by the mercenary Royce and he soon discovers that they are being hunted by the Predators for sport. Royce quickly turns that around and the Predators become the hunted as it is the group's only means of survival. 

It soon becomes clear that the Predators adapt very quickly to the human's strategies so it almost becomes a guessing game as to who will die next and who will be alive at the end. There are plenty of plot twists though to keep you guessing and entertained. As the plot unravels we soon discover what each character is capable of in their struggle for survival, especially when they meet Noland who is a crazed man who has so far escaped the Predator's grasp for many seasons.

One by one the characters are picked off and it soon becomes apparent that the doctor, Edwin, is actually a sociopath who feels at home with the 'other monsters'. An epic final battle between 2 Predators, Royce and Isabelle occurs in the middle of the night with dawn bringing victory to the humans. However, that was only for this season as in the background more crates are dropped in.

Summary

Although I cannot compare this to the Arnold Schwarzenegger predecessor I found this to be a very entertaining movies just based on its own merits. The plot was easy to follow yet full on intricate twists and turns so that it doesn't become too predictable. The fight scenes have a great build up on tension which is augmented by the epic special effects! The camouflage on the Predator's armor and the Predator's view through their helmets was brilliant. 

I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend it. It compliments and pays homage the other movies in the sequel yet provides us with new entertainment - go watch it and try not to jump too much.
Predators [DVD]

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Spine of the World by R. A. Salvatore

"The barbarian Wulfgar set upon a dangerous path toward redemption when an old friend finds him in the city of Luskan. Wulfgar's journey twists up the windswept peaks of the Spine of the World. He will persevere, for at the end lies his most prized possession - the life he thought he'd lost forever."

Product Description:

Author: R. A Salvatore
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Type: Novel
Binding: Hardcover/Mass Market Paperback
Released: January 1998 (hardcover), June 2000 (paperback)
Pages: 345 (hardcover), 381 (paperback)
ISBN: 0-7869-1180-8 / 0-7869-1404-1

Characters

Spine of the World is the second book in the series of 'Path of Darkness'. This particular episode develops two characters, Wulfgar and Morik, that appeared in the previous book, The Silent Blade. The story follows Wulfgar and Morik as they get themselves into trouble time and time again but eventually finding redemption in small town, Auckney, with the least likely pairing of a Lord and a peasant: Lord Feringal Auck and Meralda Ganderlay.

We are introduced to Wulfgar - a 7ft blonde barbarian - as a tormented soul trying to readjust to the world having escaped the most horrific torture of the daemoness Errtu. He was imprisoned for the past 6 years and we are given glimpses of his traumatic pastime. Having escaped, Wulfgar came to Luskan and was offered work as a bouncer in Arumn's tavern.

Meet Morik the Rogue who resides in Luskan. As you would expect Morik is always in trouble with the guards and higher authority and yet completely respected by the underground scene and other petty criminals that sulk the back streets of Luskan. Morik is approached by a Drow (a dark elf) and is 'requested' to watch over Wulfgar, he does not know the purpose of this job but it was made clear by the Drow that his life would depend on it. He does as was requested and has befriended Wulfgar and follows him to the very end.

Lord Feringal Auck is a stuck up young man who has been over-shadowed and 'protected' by his older sister. When we meet Feringal he is not acting Lord as he is too young and has yet to take a wife, but this is where Meralda comes in. She is peasant girl with a sick mother who's eye is caught by the young Lord - he must have her. 

Plot

Each chapter is dedicated to each set of characters and alternates with their progressive plots in Part One and Two of the story. We begin with meeting Wulfgar and Morik and watching as Wulfgar's drinking problem causes him to lose his job (and his magical axe). In search for his axe Wulfgar meets an old friend, Deudermont, Captain of Sea Sprite. More trouble comes their way as they get caught up and wrongly accused of an underground conspiracy to kill the Captain. Of course the Captain knew that Wulfgar wouldn't kill him (he's not sure about the rogue) and pardons him just before his execution. The two are now banished from Luskan and set out to become highwaymen.

Meanwhile we are introduced to Meralda Ganderlay, her life and family, and her rite of passage to becoming a women (with a twist, it's not what you would expect). Meralda is a peasant who work in the fields of her town. Walking home one day Feringal's carriage rolls by and he is in love at first sight. His sister tries to talk him out of it but he must know more about this beautiful peasant girl. Feringal isn't the only one trying to get Meralda's attention. Jaka Suli, her sweetheart, is suddenly jealous of the Lord's attention and steps up his game but this turns disastrous for them. 

Over the coming weeks Feringal courts Meralda and asks her to marry him. Meralda's father insists that she marries Feringal even though it is against all of her heart's desires. Meralda knows what she must do to save her dying mother and bring her family out of poverty, however she wants one final night with her sweetheart, Jaka. This desire back fires on her though as she has become pregnant. She manages to keep the babe hidden for a month before suspicions arise in the castle. Torn between her family and her desires Meralda explores her options but finds that Jaka is still just a boy in her mind and that it is lust that drives him, not love. Resolved that her only option left is to be with Feringal she agrees to marry him yet is desperately trying to find a solution for the babe growing in her.

At this point the two set of characters begin to meet and their lives begin to entwine during Parts Three and Four. Meralda is on her way to have her wedding dress fitted but they are stopped by two highwaymen: Wulfgar and Morik. Shaken up by the incident Meralda has an idea; she claims she was ravished by the hugh barbarian, this way she is not to blame for her pregnancy and does not risk her marriage. Outraged Feringal searches the nearby caves for them all the while Meralda is begging him not to and that she wants to leave it all behind her. Unfortunately, Wulfgar is caught and once again imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Torn up by guilt Meralda sets him free.

Again, Feringal is outraged that his prisoner has escaped but this time submits to his wife's wishes. However, by this time the babe is born and the suspicions are even greater as a full term babe is supposedly born prematurely. Meralda tries to explain  the size of the barbarian but fails so her life and the babe's are now at risk. Meanwhile, Wulfgar - with the help of Morik - realizes why he was imprisoned and is resolved that no more lives will be lost. He has realized that he can either stay in the past and drinking to hide his horrific ordeal or he can except what has happened, stop drinking and move towards a new life. They charge back into the castle and claim that the babe is Wulfgar's and that he will take the babe and raise it, leaving Meralda to build her life in the castle with her family. After a brawl trying to get the babe and the shock that Meralda was 'telling the truth' the barbarin and rogue are given supplies and they head back on the road. By saving the babe Wulfgar is well on his way to a life of redemption.

By this time is seems that Morik has had enough and wants to head back to Luskan. Making a new identity for himself he settles back into life as a Luskan rogue, only showing his true identity to those necessary. After a year Morik gets an unpleasant surprise and is taken to the Drow. It turns out that Wulfgar was wanted to be the Drow's representative in Luskan but due to the circumstances (which aren't Morik's fault) the job is now given to Morik. Given the opportunity to make an enormous amount of money Morik takes the job without second question. 

Meanwhile, disguised as a priest, Wulfgar sneaks back into Luskan to apologize to Armun for destroying his tavern. He then heads off to Waterdeep with the babe in search of the Captain so that he can retrieve his magical axe - it was taken by a pirate and the Captain is a pirate hunter. 

As for Lord and Lady Feringal, all is forgiven and they go about their happy lives ruling the town.

Conclusion

Overall I would say this is a very good book. It has unexpected twists and turns but Salvatore wraps everything up nicely right at the end. We discover that Wulfgar is truly on a path to redemption right at the end after he has pushed past the emotional barriers that kept him tethered to his horrific past.

In the beginning it was difficult to understand why there were two sets of characters (Wulfgar and Morik vs Meralda and Feringal), but, as mentioned before, about 3/4 of the way in the connection is made and the title makes sense. There are references to the Spine of the World (it's a dangerous trading path where the weather can be treacherous); Lord Auck (Feringal) resides close by and Wulfgar had travelled through there previously as his home land is just past there. 

Previous characters are mentioned in the book such as Bruenor (Wulfgar's adopted Dwarf father) but the most renowned character is Drizzt. Salvatore uses what seem to be personal letters or memoirs written by Drizzt to add a personal touch to Wulfgar's redemption and past history. Drizzt will often question what Wulfgar was becoming when he knew him (before Errtu) and references the man Wulfgar used to be. Clearly the torture inflicted upon Wulfgar was enough to almost turn him mad.

Salvatore is an excellent writer, he uses brilliant imagery and is highly descriptive allowing the reader to become lost in the story with vivid pictures racing through their mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the book even when I was questioning the plot - it does make you think about the details and intricacies a lot more and gives an enormous dose of satisfaction when the plot becomes whole.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who loves the Forgotten Realms entertainment, loves fantasy or if you're just looking for a good book.

   

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Free Fitness Tools

Here's another bunch of free stuff for you so you can get some fitness in your lives!

Helpful Links:
  • Fitness tips and ideas
  • Dailyburn, a free fitness and nutrition tracker (the link will take you to a description then you can go on from there)
  • BodyRock.tv offers 12 minute interval workouts that you can do in your own home for free
  • P90X2 Boot Camp, Carey offers an entire series of workouts in a boot camp style that will help you prepare for P90X2 (more on that later) and will get you incredibly fit. Be warned it is extreme!
  • BMI calculator this is a tool you can use to check if you are a healthy weight, of course if you are a body builder or have a high level of muscle then this isn't the best tool for you. 
  • Body fat calculator  this is a better measure of health. Here are the categories as well:
Classification                          Women (% fat)                    Men (%fat)
Essential Fat                            10-12%                                2-4%
Athletes                                   14-20%                                6-13%
Fitness                                     21-24%                                14-17%
Acceptable                              25-31%                                18-25%
Obese                                      32%+                                   25%+

Have fun and don't blame me if you are sore in the morning!

Lance Pawman


Monday, 9 April 2012

Beastslayer: A Gotrek and Felix Novel by William King

 
"Storm clouds gather around the icy city of Praag as the foul hordes of Chaos lay ruinous seige to northern lands of Kislev. Only Gotrek Gurnisson, a death-seeking dwarf Slayer, and his sworn human companion, Felix Jaeger, stand between the ancient cit and the forces of Darkness."

Product Details:

Pages: 288
Publisher: Games Workshop (February 27, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743411617
ISBN-13: 978-0743411615
Product Dimensions: 6.9x4.3x0.7 inches

Characters and the Plot:

Beastslayer: A Gotrek and Felix Novel by William King is the fifth book in the series. Although I haven't read the other books prior to this one I can definitely say that this book stands alone very well - I literally couldn't put it down and I look forward to reading the others in the series.

Gotrek and Felix are an unlikely couple of characters. Gotrek is a seeks an honorable death to atone for his unknown sins and Felix is bound to him by a Dwarven blood-oath - after a nasty night of binge drinking and an incident with some knights - and set to the task of recording their mighty battles and Gotrek's glorious death.

In this particular battle Gotrek and Felix have travelled to the city of Praag to aid them in the oncoming  clash with a chaos horde led by the warlord Atrek Daemonclaw. Once the chaos horde are outside the city there begins a never ending onslaught to the city ranging from summoned daemons that occupy huge siege towers to beastmen and tribesmen hurling themselves at the enchanted outer walls. However, they are not safe on the inside either, there is treachery brewing led by a high ranking official and his underground allies.

Just when it seems that all is lost messengers have reached Ivan Petrovich Straghov and the Ice Queen. The Ice Queen summons her armies against the chaos horde and organize an attack from the rear. Meanwhile a flank attack is also accomplished by the Grey Seer Thanquol - an enemy of Gotrek and Felix's - while he is investigating the surplus dark magic that is present in winds of magic of the battle. These two attacks, along with an airship attack - give Praag the edge that they need to win the battle.

This particular book gives us an in-depth look at what makes a Slayer. King explores Gotrek's background and we begin to see why the Slayers of the Dwarven race seek such glorious deaths. More Slayers such as Snorri and Ulli are introduced throughout the book which adds to the complex concept of Dwaven lifestyle.

The triangle of Max (a sorcerer who needs to find his confidence), Ulrika (a noble woman related to the Duke of Praag) and Felix gets some particular attention as well. It seems that with the stresses of the battle Felix and Ulrika's relationship begins to fail and she strikes up a deepening friendship with Max.

For any Warhammer fan King depicts a terrifying scene of what a chaos army of this magnitude is capable of. The sorcerers are capable of tremendous power and the army is in a blood-lust frenzy begging to advance not caring whether they live or die, either way it will please their gods.

My Verdict?

I loved this book right from the start, it kept me captivated and I couldn't put it down. King's style of writing is easy to follow yet he is able to conjure an incredible scene from very few words. I would highly recommend the series to any warhammer or dark fantasyfan looking for a straight forward book with gruesome imagery and subtle twists.

Lance 'Slayer' Pawman         

Sunday, 8 April 2012

"Blood for the Blood God!", or "Do you think I could find a purse to go with this mithril plate?"

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos (2/5)

Mark of Chaos is a game which, frankly speaking, would have initiated a meltdown in my computer but for a few brief upgrades ago. It's certainly a very pretty game (judging by the standards of the day) and seemed to have the kind of game mechanics which led on nicely from Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War. Therefore it was with some delight that I pushed my CD drive closed, put on my spiked helmet and summoned a boar's leg and flagon of mead from the nearest wench - the divorce proceedings are still pending.

It had been some time since I could trump up the money to play Warhammer (the table top fantasy game) and so I was looking forward to an opportunity to command an army once again. How delighted I was to discover that there was none of the normal tedious resource collection so common in most RTS titles (Why exactly do I need 1000 sheep to build a small hut?) and that I was simply to be in command of an army with which I would conquer or save the Old World as I so chose. This was to be a revamped version of Dark Omen then, a game with which I had spent many hours. Dark Omen of course, for those of us old enough to remember it, was what is known technically in video gaming circles as "bloody difficult" and a liberal amount of cheating was to be expected. Not with Mark of Chaos however, I would prove myself worthy of the dark gods by not playing around with the console commands.

The single player campaign sees you choosing to either fight for the Emperor of Men or as an aspiring champion of Chaos and being the thorough games reviewer that I am I naturally played both campaigns so that I could give a balanced report. A decision which was completely unrelated with missing a weekend at my in-laws, which naturally I regret (Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit - Ed.). In the empire campaign you play Captain Heinz von Germanmeyer, or something like that anyway, the son of a deposed elector Count proving his worth despite being tainted with facial scarring. A Mark of Chaos you may say. You spend the game hurtling up and down the Old World taking part in sieges and pitched battles, accompanying Elves, to hinder the progress of an aspiring Champion of Chaos. The Chaos campaign is exactly the reverse as you try summon and unite chaos tribes to conquer the world of men. That's it, no great deviations, the unknown plots in either campaign are cleared up by playing the other.

This is where we get to the heart of the game however. The gameplay feels more like a set of scenarios (sieges, pitched battles, capture the flag) which are merely repeated with different armies at different times and it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the smaller story lines. The tension between elf leaders, the Captain's quest for redemption all seem to have been shoehorned in at the last minute as the whole of the game is given over to the simple concept of kill the other guy. Killing the other guy is not particularly difficult provided you incorporate a little tactical sense: horses don't like being up on barricade walls and sending lightly armored archers charging at hordes of heavily plated evil knights will not end well for you. However the real crime is that the game offers the player so much variety for their army but it is variety which is never needed to be taken. Once I had kitted out my cavalry, ranged weapons, and spearmen with the greatest possible upgrades I didn't really need to make use of the more exotic options and the woeful magic system meant that using mages for anything other than squad bonuses was wasted. At this is the real reason that Mark of Chaos gets such a mediocre review. Unlike the tabletop version, this digital rendering simply doesn't capture the spirit of greasy unwashed nerds pitching fake battle as well as it potentially could.

Lance "Horned Rat" Pawman

Friday, 6 April 2012

Free eBooks

It's Good Friday and I'm sitting here with a nice breakfast deciding what I should do today. Suddenly the little voice in my head suggests that reading - an old pastime of mine - might be a good thing to do. However, the books on the shelf are all looking a bit dog-eared where I've read them so many times so I set out to do a little searching on the web. 

Sometime later ... 

I stumble across this wonderful little website, called Project Gutenberg, that has over 100,000 free eBooks. They have pretty much every topic you can think of ranging from Adventure to World War 1 and some classics like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

All of the digitized book's copyright licenses have expired in the United States, however you should check your countries own copyright rules before downloading. I mean, you wouldn't want to get in trouble now would you? 

So have a nice time reading over the Easter weekend and don't forget to go back to work on Tuesday!

Lance Pawmans.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Top 5 Free Online Games

Being bored one day I was siphoning through the mass that is online gaming. I found a couple of games that looked pretty exciting like World of Warcraft but when it came to ordering it my payment just wouldn't go through. Looking at my bank account I discovered it was empty. Dang it, it's the end of the month and I just don't have any money, but I'm just so bored. After digging around some more Mr Pawmans would like to present to you his Top 5 Free Online Games:

Perfect World - January 2006

This game is a 3D adventure and fantasy MMORPG based on Pan Gu's - the first God of the universe - second attempt of creating a world of loyal subjects; his first attempted ended in corruption of his beings to he took the last three as placed the on a floating palace called Heaven's Tear whilst he flooded the rest of the world.

The game uses the standard level up system of questing rewards and can therefore get better and more powerful equipment. As for the world itself, it is split into territories that are run by guilds. Players can join the guilds to complete common goals.

While Perfect World is free to play there is the option to purchase upgrades, whether that's for more powerful weapons or just to get a nice pair of pumps is entirely up to the player.

Perfect World

World of Tanks - April 2010

Do you like to blow stuff up? Well here's a game that sports over 140 armored vehicles (planning on building to at least 500) from the Soviet Union, Britain, Japan, Germany, France and the United States to start with. Join a tank clan and get to blowing each other up in the clan wars along with other battle options and historical campaigns.

World of Tanks is free players have the options of buying upgrades, vehicles etc.

World of Tanks

Runes of Magic - March 2009

This is another open world fantasy game where players choose from either a Human or Elf race and eight classes. There are over 3500 epic quests and players can join guilds, indulge in PvP (player versus player in duels and battlefield) or participate in the Siege wars which is guild vs guild.

Since its release Runes of Magic have released four major patches each with their own exciting elements:




  • Chapter I: The Rise of the Demon Lord - March 2009
  • Chapter II: The Elven Prophecy - September 2009
  • Chapter III: The Elder Kingdoms - May 2010
  • Chapter IV: The Lands of Despair - 2011


  • The game is free, however it does cost players to buy upgrades and other items in the shop.


    Runes of Magic

    Dungeons & Dragons Online - February 2006

    Loosely based on the D&D 3.5 rules the online version is based on Eberron where you start off in the city of Stormreach. Players can create characters from a variety of races and classes - depending what you feel like at the time. 

    Without seeming like a lazy S.O.B wikipedia have a great description of the story line:

    *WARNING SPOILER ALERT*

    "After creating a player character, the player starts the game shipwrecked on the shores of Korthos Island. The character is helped by a band of citizens (Jeets, Cellimas, and Talbron) who want to end the rule of the Sahuagin on Korthos Island and send them back to the sea. The Dragon Aussircaex is plaguing the island; a Mindflayer Creature is controlling it with a Mindsunder Artifact. Once the player character destroys the Mindsunder Artifact, Aussircaex destroys the Mindflayer and returns Korthos Island back to its old ways, ending Sahuagin rule. After achieving fame in Korthos Island, the player is sent to Stormreach to gain fame and clear all threats to the city."

    I wont tell you want happens next as that well definitely spoil it for you. 

    DDO has an option to subscribe monthly which gives you a multitude of perks, however if you're poor like me then you might well stick with the free version for a while.


    Dungeons & Dragons Online

    Lord of the Rings Online - April 2007

    With the release of The Hobbit movie on the horizon I can see LotRO becoming rather popular which might result in the odd server crash or two. But can we really blame them? No, not really. This game is huge, really, really huge. You literally get to explore all of the content in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit through the original game and expansion packs:
    • Mines of Moria - November 2008
    • Siege of Mirkwood - December 2009
    • Rise of Isengard - September 2001
    • Riders of Rohan - January 2012
    There is literally so much to do in this game I would be here all night telling you about it. To save us both some time why don't we log in and just go have some good ol' Hobbit fun.


    Lord of The Rings Online


    So, I hope the next time you're feeling bored I've given you plenty of free stuff to go play with. What's your favorite game of all time? Leave a comment and we'll see what the most popular one is. Go on now, time to go play some awesome games!!!

    Lance Pawmans





    Tuesday, 3 April 2012

    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) [3/5]

    A disk arrived in the post this morning. A steaming mug of coco on the side, I turn the Tv on and open up the disk to find Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Ooh, I liked the previous films so this one should be pretty cool right? Well, not only did it bring up odd questions such as "are mermaids just water vampires and Spiderman combined?" - they have fangs, are allergic to sunlight and can shoot out seaweed tendrils- but it was also a little difficult to follow.

    Courtesy of IMDb here is a synopsis of the movie:

    "Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love - or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past."




    Now, from reading that I automatically think "hmm, why is Blackbeard here and who is this Angelica women?"Not knowing the legend of Blackbeard very well I thought I'd let that one slide - he is after all still an important part of pirating history.

    Angelica on the other hand turns out to be an ex-Spanish nun; Sparrow corrupted her and she left the covenant to seek a life with him but turns out she left him. The next time they meet Angelica is impersonating Sparrow so get a crew together so that they can go in search of the Fountain of Youth so that she can give her father immortality. 

    Strangely enough Sparrow is also in London at the same time and finds out about his identity theft and goes to find out who it is and in the mean time he insults the King and finds out that Barbossa is in the King's Navy (why he went there I'll never know).

    Barbosa realizes that Sparrow is headed for the Fountain of Youth with Blackbeard and sets sail to follow them but not for the water. Turns out Blackbeard put the Black Pearl in a bottle - I know weird right? - and Barbossa wants revenge and his ship back.

    There is finally one other party to join the convoy: the Spanish. The Spanish are rivals of the British so naturally have to get there first; they were tipped of by some guy who was pulled out of the ocean by a fishing boat - again I have know idea who he was or what he was doing there in the first place.

    As I'm watching the movie - sipping on my coco - I realize that there are people missing. Where are Will and Elizabeth? Has Stranger Tides just become a spin off for Sparrow? Hmm, I wonder if there will be a sequel explaining why and how Barbossa (a wanted pirate) got into the King's Navy.

    Stranger Tides does keep up it's tradition of brilliant fight scenes and especially Sparrow's spectacular over-the-top escape plans. The characters do have some great interaction and yet it wasn't quite the same without Will and Elizabeth. As for the plot having those three sets of characters to keep up with, especially when they swap sides - Mr Gibbs was originally helping Barbossa but teams up with Sparrow when they finally meet -, is difficult to keep up with. 

    Overall I would say it was an Ok movie, it worked fairly well as a spin off for Sparrow but it feels somewhat diluted from the rest of the POTC series.


        

    OpenGL errors lead to hate; hate leads to the Dark Side

    Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Knight Academy (4/5)

    It was with some trepidation that I wiped the dust from my Jedi Academy disc. It had been my mainstay entertainment since I was a nerdy teenager and girls were more of a mystery to me than they are now. It was my beloved, my darling, my precious but most importantly of all it was an opportunity for me to undertake my dream of becoming a Jedi without having to have awkward conversations with my parents about why I needed a brown colored toweling robe. Now just under a decade later I am pulling it off the shelf again to rekindle my dreams of being an intergalactic hero. It also provides me with the opportunity of screaming wookie calls at the top of my lungs without annoying my significant other (well not too much). But this is not a blog for nostalgia. I'm not playing Jedi Academy because it's "retro", I'm playing it because if I were to approach my computer with a Skyrim disc in hand it may well explode and I have no interest in pulling embedded circuit board from out of myself for the next week.

    Let's begin, as many people who grew up with only 56kb modem connections did, and take look at the single player campaign. You play Jaden Korr an adrogynous avatar upon which you can choose to be a male or female character - or more importantly you can play as a twi'lek in leather short shorts. As the opening movie would suggest you are the quiet type who just wants to get down to some studying, those luscious head-tails swaying in the Yavin breeze...(Stop it! - Ed.) and are accompanied by the rather too excited Rosh Penin for whom this whole experience is approaching the orgasmic. For whatever reason, reasons which are not alluded too, Jaden Korr (your character, keep up!) has already constructed a lightsaber and this is quite handy as you will soon be thrown into action. The general gist of the first mission sets up the main story: The apprentice of the Dark Jedi from the last game, called Tavion, is harnassing some evil power with a staff of ancient origin in order to summon the power of a long dead Sith Lord who has been dead for almost all of the Star Wars canon. Using the power of the staff to syphon the force into her followers in what can only be described as an angry pegging metaphor, Tavion hopes to finish what her master could not and rule the galaxy. Much of the campaign, when you're not taking part in training missions and you will, is devoted to stopping Tavion.

    Your relationship with other members of the Academy are indifferent at best however our dear, darling Rosh Penin demonstrates his severe dick-itude in the earliest training mission sending a fence-o-bot 5000 to slow you down. Right, so you're the needy asshole that's going to be an enemy later on then? Several missions later not only is Rosh captured but is indoctrinated into Tavion's cult spouting the usual "I'm not really evil, it's just a power thing baby and the Dark side is sooooo powerful". After a battle with Rosh and three cult members who resemble a pyrotechnics display at an Iron Maiden concert, Jaden reports back to the Academy that Rosh has fallen to the dark side. So far, so Star Wars. 

    The final part of the game is devoted to stopping Tavion in her Dark Side ritual on the Tomb world of Korriban and, you guessed it, there is that am I good am I evil last part of the game choice you'll have to make. This choice is something of an irrelevance. You can pick and choose between using light and dark side powers as you advance through the game because Kyle Katarn (yes, he's back for an appearance) spouts the bullshit of "it's not the powers it's how you use them" completely overthrowing thousands of years of Jedi training. Putting my angry nerd away (the Ewoks lived on Endor's forest moon not Endor!), the choice of being light side or dark side becomes really a matter of roleplay as no significant changes are made to the game. In the final assault you'll fight everyone Jedi and cultists if you pick dark side and just cultists if you don't. There are no bonuses, no advantages to being light or dark side, as throughout the game you choose which powers to upgrade anyway. I could force grip like Vader and still choose to be the ideal embodiment of galactic Bhuddists wielding laser katanas. You only get a slight telling off by Skywalker for not choosing the hippy, sorry, light side powers and I'm sure I can live if someone who generally got pussier as the movies continued is slightly disappointed in me. But hold up, you know all those amazing key combos you designed for your force powers? Twisting and wrenching storm troopers in half? You can forget all of those because now we're moving onto the Multiplayer!

    The multiplayer experience is a fairly segregated one. When you're not searching for a server which'll send your ping through the roof, you're looking for one where the players speak English. Don't get me wrong I like pierogi as much as the next guy but the multiplayer experience feels like an update of the Rosetta Stone Polish/Hungarian software. Many of the servers are devoted to free for all and normally have a number of players from different tiers of playing. There are the kata noobs who use the force powered lightsaber attacks which is generally frowned upon. The kind of players that will come up behind you and kill you whilst you're watching a duel to up their arbitrary kill score - and believe me it is arbitrary. This pracitice is known as laming and, like using katas, it is frowned upon by the general community. What the fuck? I feel like I'm in some online gentleman's club. The rest of the players are divided into those who know the mouse hacks and those who don't - those who do are normally unbeatable by those who don't. So if you find yourself on a server with nobody but those types of people it'll get frustrating very quickly. Much of your experience online will be either being a mischevious cunt and "laming", "saber gunning" or worse, or you'll be running away from those people because you won't be the guy who knows the mouse hacks. There is a system for guilds on JKA but it has seen better days. Poor communication means that you won't get online at most of the same time as your guild members and there aren't any significant guild events anymore.

    Now for my final summing up. To this day I still love JKA and it has provided me with brilliant gaming experiences - accompanied by an awesome modding community, but its multiplayer has seen better days. However the game mechanic is there it just needs the right type of player. So if you're reading this having played the game back in the glory days, wipe off your copy and come back. The game you loved so well needs you again. If you're new to this entire game, firstly where have you been?, and secondly go buy the game. Either way I'll see you in the Tatooine bar.