Sunday, July 31, 2005

Beauty Quest

So I just watched Beauty Quest, the one-off documentary that I worked on but never saw the final product to. I thought it was very well done, nicely put together. A warning to the guys out there, it is a "chick-flick" sort of deal, however it does grapple with some interesting questions and themes that are applicable to all: What is beauty? To what end should one go to to achieve beauty? How do women and men respectively perceive beauty?

To many the answers will vary; it's all subjective. Hell, if you ask me the ultimate beauty is wrapped between two buns... yeah, I'm talking a grilled chicken burger with some lettuce, lots of mayo, and bacon. Everything's better with bacon. But I suppose it's unfair to expect people to achieve the level of beauty that a burger can offer.

Seriously though, what's beauty, what's acceptable? Is beauty the Page 3 girl in the link to the right? Sure is. Is beauty random woman X on the street. Yup. Is beauty your mum, friends, etc. Damn straight. Of course, all this beauty is subjective and measured differently by each person.

Then there's cosmetic surgery. Most every guy I know will do whatever he can to talk his lady out of getting a boob job, I sure would and I'm a boob guy. Why, because it's not natural, it's not who that person is; it's false, a lie. Then of course there's the health risks, but also the confidence factor. Most guys, akin to women, are attracted to confidence, yet when someone has to go get massive surgery just to feel good, I mean people who haven't been in any kind of accident or have any kind of condition, well it tells me they don't have confidence in themselves, and that's ultimately unattractive (no offence to anyone who has had said surgery; you do what you do and I'll say and perceive as I will).

This is all a very interesting topic, and one that can be debated a good bit from many angles.

If you haven't seen Beauty Quest yet and want to check it out, it'll repeat on the following stations and dates:

W Network
- Wednesday, August 24 @ 10:00 PM

The Documentary Channel
- Thursday, August 11 @ 5:00 PM
- Friday August 12 @ 5:00 PM
- Saturday, August 13 @ 7:00 PM

The Hunt for Quake II

So after enjoying the demo for Quake II, I've decided I want to pick up the game. The problem is it's an old title and therefore hard to come by, both used and new.

I went to Best Buy, Future Shop, Wal-Mart, EB Games, Circuit City, Sears, the Bay, and Toys R Us, to no avail.

I also checked online at Amazon, EBy, Chapters, Microplay, etc., and the few I found were used and not in a fashion I'd really want to purchase something of this insignificance from.

The best (and what I feel to be most secure) location I found it, brand new, was at id Software's own online store, however the shipping cost is insane. The game is $26.11 (Canadian), and you know what, I'll pay that, however shipping is the same. $26.11 for shipping?!??!!? Like hell I'm paying that! $52.11 for a 7 year old PC Game is gayer than the time I had sex with a man (and the rest of that night is something I'd like to forget).

So, my Quest Journal has now been updated*: To find a new, legit copy of Quake II for roughly $20.00 Canadian (including shipping if it must be) and I will not rest or cease my vigilance until this prize be otained!**

So help me, I'll blow shit up in classic '90's FPS fashion yet!

- The Vindictive Juxtapose

* Because new quests like this come up when my staff goes on vacation, and I'm bored around the office with no one to through darts at. Telly makes a great pincushion.

** Or until I get bored or distracted by a shiny object. Tends to happen sometimes.

Doom: The Boardgame

I find this very amusing. Apparently Doom's a boardgame now, a table top RPG of sorts. There's a market for everything I suppose.

So, if they're making boardgames based on videogames now, does this mean we'll see a Barbie: Super Cuts tabletop RPG soon?

Update: Looks like this company, Fantasy Flight Games, also has another game to tabletop title, Warcraft: The Boardgame, based off of Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. I vaguely remember hearing something about this a year or so ago.

There's also a couple of The Lord of the Rings games here and here, based on the books not the films. For some reason The Lord of the Rings seems fitting for this style of game, probably because it's the classic nerdy fantasy tale, but Warcraft and especially Doom just seem wrong somehow.

Morning Post

This is Phil. Phil is a pretty hot guy with a fair complexion. He likes cuddling by a roaring fire, mumbling through dimly lit hallways, and gnawing on his dates' neck, arms, or pretty much wherever else he can sink his teeth into. We also think he might be into grunge, however we can never get a straight answer out of him, he mostly trails off on something regarding "brains." That crazy Phil.

Phil works tirelessly at his job, and likes to travel for a good tasty meal if he can't find one close to home. He's always getting into mischief too. The other day he was following someone home and crossed the street without looking both ways. Phil was then introduced the front grill of that '87 Chevy. Now Phil, didn't mom always tell you to look both ways? Yes, I'm sure she did.

So as we go about this pleasant Sunday, relaxing and enjoying some time off, let's all try to remember good guys like Phil, who never rest, are never sated, and are always on the move.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Quake 4 and it's Predecessor's Demo

One upcoming game that's holding my interest is Quake 4, which will be released for the Xbox 360 and PC tentatively this fall. It's being developed by Raven Software (Star Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast, X-Men Legends) and will be built off of the Doom 3 engine, one of the best looking game engines out there at present.

I was never big on the Quake series itself, mostly because the original was an unfocused, crappy single player game and the third installment was all multiplayer focused. Quake II, was supposed to have some semblence of a story, but for the reasons above I never touched it until today.

From what I understand, Quake 4 will be a story continuation of Quake II, where the first and third installments have nothing to do with the other games.

After typing a good bit about Doom and feeling a little nostalgia for it, I decided to finally download and try the demo for Quake II, seeing as how my PC could easily handle it being a '97 release. I believe the demo contains the entire first "Unit," as collections of levels in this game are called, and it honestly wasn't bad.

It was, of course, classic style gameplay, very arcade like. There were some interesting additions in it (for it's day). A field computer to track your objectives, weapons were properly held by your character off-centre, an unubtrusive status bar for your health, armour, ammo, etc. It also boasts some decent lighting effects. Remember, all this is pre-Half-Life, one of the most revolutionary FPSes of the last century (released late '98) to which most modern shooters are measured.

Should I pick up an Xbox 360, and should I actually purcahse Quake 4 for it, I'm hoping they release a collector's edition akin to Doom 3 which will contain Quake II, as I'd be interested in taking this classic for a proper spin down retro-lane.

Doom did make IGN's Top 100 List

Well I'm blind. Doom did indeed make IGN's Top 100 list, in the #39 spot. Here's what they had to say about it:
The dark, disturbing hell-based theme, coupled with distinctly memorable sound
effects from doorways opening, to hissing, howling and gnashing creatures, put
atmosphere in the first-person shooter genre. Doom was packed with dozens of
levels, awesome guns (the shotgun, plasma rifle, and BFG, for example) and
adrenaline-pumping action. You couldn't look up, but it didn't matter. The game
challenged your skills, saturated you with then-awesome graphics and sound, and
genuinely burned into your subconscious.
I was a huge fan of the original Doom back in the day, and for me it is one of the greatest games of all time. I mostly played either the shareware version, or the final version of the game, The Ultimate Doom, which was a '95 re-release. It added in a 4th Episode to the game that was fought in a city on earth which led up to Doom II, and also added the Doom 95 launcher which allowed you to run the game in 640x480 (as well as any other Doom games or .wads) with Windows 95 or better.

The Ultimate Doom (and Doom II) came with the Collector's Edition of Doom 3 for the Xbox, and I've replayed through it once and have already started a second time. I've lost count of the number of times I must have played through The Ultimate Doom, and even today, it remains as fun, intense, and addictive as it did a decade ago.

Morning Post

Long weekend kids. Time to sit back, chill, and have a beer.

As it turns out, there's not a lot going on with me this long weekend, which actually isn't a bad thing. 3 days of sleep and chillin'll do me good.

So, let's all take a little time to reflect on what to expect after surgery.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Creation Process behind DVD Box Art

Saw over at Jade Empire's official site an interesting article dealing with the creation of DVD case box art.

If you're interested in graphic design and/or marketing, it makes a good, short read.

PayDay Numbers for the Jul. 28th Draw


At least I broke even again.

Morning Post

One long weekend, coming up!

Long weekends are perfect; they're proper. If you ask me, and you didn't, but you're reading my blog so you're gonna sit there and read the Useless Crap (tm) I type, every weekend should be a three day weekend. Why? Because they're balanced, people have a thing for things that come in threes.

Simply put, a three day weekend has a proper beginning, middle, and end, and it gives you that time to do what you need to before heading back to slave labo... er, I mean the work we love so much as we further the goals of our Utopian society.

Anyway, I think we should launch a formal petition to have weekends changed to three day weekends permanently. Employee rest and therefore productivity would sky rocket.

I'll delegate this to my Staff to organize, Telly's been slacking off again anyway and needs something to keep him from pawing through the neighbour's trash.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

X-Com: UFO Defence make IGN Top 100

X-Com: UFO Defence makes IGN's Top 100 in the #12 spot.

This game was released in 1994, and to date it's one of the most addictive and flat out enjoyable games I've ever played. Simply put if you missed this title, you missed a legend; no bull shit.

Here's the blurd from IGN: "The wonderful turn-based strategy game really has it all. Players battle an alien invasion all across the globe by building bases and handling inventory, intercepting and attacking UFOs, managing a staff of researchers and engineers, and sending your squads of soldiers off to engage in one of the most intense, enjoyable turn-based tactical games ever."

Tomorrow they'll be posting their top 10. I'll be interested to see where Halo 2 ends up on the list, as well as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Come to think of it, I don't think Doom has made the list yet, so I expect it'll be in there. For those unaware, Doom started the FPS craze back in 1993, and it's credited as single handedly saving PC gaming from falling to the Super NES and Genesis.

Morning Post

Fearless leader is late. So this is the Staff posting the Morning Post. Go Staff Go.

In the news today, looks like those Yanks won't be launching any more monkeys into space for a while. The same thing that doomed Columbia (foam insulation breaking off the fuel tank and potentially hitting and damaging the shuttle) is still happening. UK police are making arrests in last week's attempted bombings, and the IRA appears to be in the process of disarming. And so the world maintains its state of flux.

-The Staff

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Halo and Half-Life on IGN's Top 100 List

Halo: Combat Evolved made the number 30 spot on IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time. This FPS kicks some serious ass and is the sole reason the Xbox has sold as well as it has. The game is so popular it's the Xbox's #2 seller to date (second only to its sequal), and was ported to both the PC and Mac, mostly for online play. The game has a good sci-fi story, great action, and replayability.

Half-Life also made the list, at the #22 spot, and it's sequal is ranked #28. Loved the original, one of the best games I've ever played. It's sequal I haven't touched too much. Tinkered with the demo and the retail at Telly's place and it seemed very... pretentious (or however that's spelt) to me.

Doom Movie Site Live

The Doom movie site is live kids. Go nuts.

Long day at work, but I'm planning on writing up some good thoughts on the potential (or lack thereof) of this flick, as well as comments on the teaser trailer. Look for that in the next few days.

Morning Post - Doom Movie Teaser Trailer

IGN is hosting the exclusive release of the Doom Movie's Teaser Trailer. You can read their article here and watch/download the teaser here.

I'm a huge, huge fan of the Doom franchise, however I fully expect this film to suck (though I'd love to be wrong).

More thoughts on Doom, the movie and its teaser, and games to movie transitions later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Space shuttle Discovery in orbit

Well, it appears us primates have once again successfully gotten ourselves off this rock we call home. Good for us primates. We're a smart bunch of monkeys!

Granted, those Crazy Ivans (i.e. the Russians) have continued lighting fireworks under people's arses in the hopes of having them slam into the International Space Station. "Boris, vhat should ve do about de missing vindshield on de launch capsule?" "Aagh, ve out of de tempered glass, just use de Saran Wrap! No vun know!" NASA, meanwhile, had taken a reprieve after the Columbia disaster two and a half years ago.

In all seriousness, however, it is good to see NASA at it again. We primates likely will eventually need to find a way off this rock (assuming we don't wipe ourselves out first), so any continued man spaceflights are good steps toward that end.

-The Staff

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on DVD November 1st

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith will be released on DVD November 1st; you can find the official press release here.

Overall I liked Revenge of the Sith, it was a darker movie that was generally entertaining and well put together (though there were some plot holes). It's certainly the best film of the prequal trilogy and in my opinion the second best Star Wars film. For me, The Empire Strikes Back will always be the top Star Wars flick.

I wonder if they'll release a prequal trilogy boxed set on November 1st as well, or if people will simply have to buy all 3 films seperately. It's rather obvious in the years to come milk-the-franchise-dry Lucas will release a Star Wars Saga boxed set containing all 6 films and newly added, digitally enhanced scenes where Jabba gets constipated, but for now I wonder if we're stuck without a nice boxed set.

Also on November 1st LucasArts will be releasing Star Wars: Battlefront II on the Xbox, PC, Playstation 2, and Playstation Portable. It's the sequal to the best selling Star Wars video game of all time, Star Wars: Battlefront. I've never actually played Battlefront. It's supposed to have amazing team-based multiplay (especially on Xbox and Playstation 2 where there isn't many other similar titles to compare it to), however the Single Player game was supposed to be a piece of shit.

There's a Single Player Xbox demo that came with the Star Wars Trilogy DVD boxed set, however I heard that it will alter your Xbox's firmware without asking the user, so I haven't tried it yet. I've also heard that this will only have negative effects on a modded Xbox, but at present I haven't wanted to take any chances (my Xbox is legit). However the Demo level is the Battle of Endor, and I hear you get to kill many Ewoks, so I admit I'm tempted.

Anyway, the Episode III DVD will contain a 2 level Xbox Demo of Battlefront II. If it doesn't alter firmware I'll give it a whirle.

Press Release - EA Granted Lord of the Rings Book Rights

Here's the link for the official press release from Electronic Arts about their license acquisition of The Lord of the Rings literary works.

Morning Post

...and with the recent terror attacks, the British Empire decides to step up security on their subways...

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Staff gets topical

Given that we, the Staff, have been mandated to post about certain current issues in the world, we'd like to draw attention to, you guessed it, that topic that's on everyone's mind, the "T" word, Terrorism.

The recent events in London have, yet again, brought this whole issue front and centre. Some of you may have read about the incident last Friday where an innocent man was shot to death by London police because he was suspected of carrying explosives. The cops there are taking a "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later" approach adopted from their Israeli counterparts, where suicide bombings are a fact of life. Granted, the poor bastard didn't react all that intelligently, given that he was ordered to stop and proceeded to bolt into the subway train... how did he expect the cops, already jittery from a second wave of attempted bombings the day before, to react? Nevertheless, it is disturbing that those in authority are now going to such drastic measures in the name of attempting to thwart further incidents.

Our point with all this is relatively simple - Extremists use these attacks to sow fear in the daily lives of their enemies, namely, western civilization. Fear is an incredibly potent tool. Those in authority attempt to assure the public the only way to defeat this sort of warfare is to ignore it, carry on with our daily lives, as they do everything they can to combat it. But, when it is shown that they are willing to go to the lengths of taking innocent lives in the name of suspicion, however logical it may seem, it nevertheless creates further doubts in the minds of the public... further fear. Not only fear of the extremists, but fear of the authorities as well.

Does this mean the terrorists win in the end? Or have we, the western world, just come to the point where we have to poke our heads out from underneath our collective safety blanket and accept that the world is a dangerous place? Perhaps the answer is that we need to root out the causes of extremism (i.e. economic and social disparity) and do something to affect change in said causes. Who knows, perhaps humanity could learn something for once.

-The Staff

Same Sex Relationships in Jade Empire (Minor Spoilers)

I found this pretty interesting (and this post contains minor spoilers for the Jade Empire's story). In most RPGs, especially BioWare's RPGs, there are always chances for the player character to develop romance plots with other characters in the game. In Jade Empire, however, you can actually have same sex relationships, which might be the first for an RPG; or at least the first so openly.

If you play as a male character, you can have a romance with female characters Dawn Star and Silk Fox, or male character Sky.

If you play as a female character, you can have a romance with Sky or Silk Fox.

I just completed the game as a male character, and I fulfilled the romance plot with my childhood friend, Dawn Star (what can I say, I'm a sucker for the girl next door); however for the hell of it I may try the Sky route on my 3rd (next male) play through.

I'm presently playing through as a female character, so perhaps I'll hit on Silk Fox. 'Cause, you know, most guys have no beef what-so-ever with two lovely ladies going at it; especially with all those extra polygons. We like polygons.

EA buys Lord of the Rings license from Vivendi

Spotted this over at Action Trip. Electronic Arts has purchased the license to create games based upon the literary works of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

EA already had the rights to make games based off of the films, so now EA owns the sole rights to make games based upon the entire property.

A lot of people don't seem to like this, seeing as how EA is buying everything and trying to create a Microsoft style monopoly on game development; however seeing as how all of Vivendi's prior The Lord of the Rings titles have essentially sucked and EA's 4 titles based on the films were good to great, this may not be such a bad thing.

Presently they're developing a new RTS for the PC, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, and a title for the PSP.

System Shock 2 makes IGN's Top 100 List

System Shock 2 has made IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time (Cross Platform). It's ranked #041.

For those of you who missed out, System Shock 2 was released in Aug. '99, and it was an FPS/RPG hybrid. The games graphics were overall a little dated for its time, however one thing it had in spades was atmosphere. It made excellent use of lighting to provide a creepy feel, and it had one of the best sound mixes in its day, as well as making excellent use of EAX, Creative Labs Environmental Audio Extensions, for very realistic sound.

Playing this baby at 2:00 am with all the lights out and the sounds up, it was freakier than Doom 3 is today. Amazing, amazing title.

Morning Post - The New Shmuch Edition

Morning kids,

As you may have noticed, this blog now has staff. Things were starting to get really crazy around here, so I realized I couldn't solo this quest alone. Thus, I approached the Guild of Primate Adventurers. I was lookin' for a few good chimps, but unfortunately, Monkey Union Local 306 got to them to, and you wouldn't believe the paper work involved.

You know just to sit down at a freakin' type writer they needed accident insurance in place?!? Otherwise, they could sue my sorry ass!

So in dismay thinking there was none to aid me with this blog, I encountered this drunken, surly, dwarven dude who had a cardboard sign stating he'd work for Helmann's Salad Dressing (apparently French to go with that snooty laugh of his). When I finally got him to stop knawing on his own leg, I convinced him to labour long and hard for the good of Useless Crap!

Thus, let's all give Telly a warm welcome... just be careful about shaking his hand, as he does bite. No really, he does. Fuckin' psycho.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Transformers Movie in the works?!


Since there are tons of us out there who have some very fond memories of this franchise, I thought it would be prudent to announce it here: They're planning a live-action Transformers movie for 2007. Check out the above link for more info.

"Transform and roll out", was it?

Enter the Staff

Listen up you crazy cats,

This is Juxtapose's buddy Telly (The Telly referred to in previous posts). I will henceforth be known as Juxtapose's staff, or "The Staff." Why would we here at Arbiter's Judgement do such a crazy thing, you ask? Because referring to a single person as "Staff" is funny, that's why!

So at any rate, I've been tasked with keeping you crazy kids up to date with current events (with The Staff's personal and amusing commentary conveniently inserted) and keeping that grammatically-challenged Juxtapose corrected on mistakes he makes in his posts. That, and whatever other useless crap The Staff can think of commenting on, 'cause useless crap is our mandate.

-The Staff

Dungeon Siege Demo

So I've been tinkering with the Dungeon Siege Demo over the last few hours, and I think I'm near the end of it. It's alright and certainly looks great for a 2002 PC game, however it's just so dang repative that I'm really bored with it.

It is very heavily Diablo based, however it seems to lack the innovative mindless gameplay of Diablo. The concepts and building blocks are pretty much the same [kill monster(s), pick up item(s), if item is better than what you have equip it, if not toss it on the ground], but I think the problem is the pacing.

In the Diablo series, you spend your time in forests, dungeons, tombs, etc., but you'd generally move quickly from place to place and each new area would generally have different styles of monsters to fight. In these style of games, all you do is massively click the left mouse button for hours on end, mindless but addictive. Diablo kept the pace fresh and changing while Dungeon Siege seems to throw the same old baddies at you again and again and again.

Essentially I've spent the whole game fighting through legions of Krugs, which seem to me as though they're wannabe Orcs.

One other problem I have is that your player character in Dungeon Siege is a simple farmer, who can immediately hack and slash creatures and even cast spells (like fire balls). Now that's some farmer! At least in Diablo you are a Warrior, Mage, Paladin, etc. You're a hero from the get go instead of peasant guy/gal.

The Party system in Dungeon Siege is interesting, though I found it needed a little more refining as my Party members would often stand around stupidly when I was attacked, even when I changed their AI settings to be more aggresive.

At this point, unless my opinions change, I won't bother picking the game up and'll just stick to the Diablo series for any hack and slash needs.

Jade Empire Sale at Future Shop

Just noticed that Jade Empire: Limited Edition is on sale at Future Shop until July 28th for $29.99. If you want the game this is a great deal (I think I payed $49.99 to $59.99 for it). You should be able to find it in store or you can order it online here.

The Limited Edition features: An extra player character (for a total of 7), additional combat style, foil outer wrap for the DVD case, making of documentary and playable demos of other Mircosoft Game Studios Xbox games (MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf and Forza Motor Sport, as I recall. There's also a Single Player demo for Conker: Live & Reloaded on the regular game disc).

Jade Empire Completed

I won Jade Empire last night; roughly 48 hours of play time and I followed the Path of the Open Palm (essentially the "light side").

I really enjoyed the game. It has a solid story, good quests and side quests, some interesting characters (some better than others), and fun real-time combat.

The game ramped up towards the end from the last time I posted about it, so overall it has a good begining, smeh-middle, and great ending. Some of the final battles were intense, though I found a combination of Styles that allowed me to really cheap some of the more powerful enemies. Go, go, Storm Dragon Support Style.

The game's worlds and environments look beautiful, the voice acting and music are excellent (though I found Sagacious Zu and Sky sounded too much alike), the controls simple to use, and the game has an overall smooth presentation.

The mythical Chinese setting is also a background I've never explored before, so it was refreshing to see similar game monsters (Ogres, Demons, Golems) presented from the perspective of a completely different culture, as most RPGs are medieval based.

I found the ending suitable to the game, it didn't feel anti-climatic, tied things up nicely, and even lets you know what happens to all of your surviving followers. Actually, in many respects, I find Jade Empire feels a lot like Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords without the influence system and with a more closed and complete ending.

It is rumoured that BioWare Corp is developing Jade Empire 2 for the Xbox 360, however assuming the sequal takes place roughly several years or less after the ending of the original (as most sequals do), I'm not sure how they could do so based off the Open Palm Ending. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's say at least with the Open Palm, things to wrap up in a rather positive fashion.

I'll be playing through following the Way of the Closed Fist next (the "dark side"), so perhaps that ending will lend itself better to a sequal.

Anyway, a solid RPG experience, though the game does have a few short comings:

- Too Linear
You can travel to several different locations, but you really only have a few options at a time and you're often forced/guided to a specific one. You really don't get to travel about as you could in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series

- Followers (Party Members)
I found a few Followers should have been developed better to allow more attachment for the player. When a few big things happen (not necessarily Follower death), I really didn't care much

- Duration
If you simply followed the game's critical path (ignoring side quests basically) and really focused/rushed on it, I can easily see players beating the game in under 20 hours. For an RPG I find that very, very short. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords took me roughly 79 hours on my first play through, though granted I take my time exploring everything, completing all Quests, and taking to many by-standers as I play.

Still though, for the amount of replayability that it's going to have, roughly 25 Styles in the game (you can really only master 4 to 6 per game), moral paths that affect Side Quests and character relations, Follower romances, and I also expect different Follower outcomes, such as who lives and dies, Jade Empire is well worth the $39.99 price tag it's now sporting.

If you're looking for a great Xbox RPG, pick this one up.

Family Guy Movie

I got word form a reliable source (and by reliable I mean an escaped psychopath who lives in a back alley performing cheap surgery on circus clowns) that a Family Guy movie is coming out early this fall and heading straight to DVD.

Apparently it's all about Stewie, and should be out roughly in late September.

More info as it comes.

Morning Post - Some Blog Changes

It's a new week kids, and I've finally got some changes done around ye old blog.

- I've added my e-mail address to the Links section in the Side Bar. If you have a news item to submit, find a problem/broken link, or have a suggestion, please fire it off and I'll have the monkey minions review it.

- I've changed the header and order of the links a bit, putting games ahead of movies seeing as how I post about games more. This may change again in the future, but it's more accurate for now.

I'm still thinking of adding in those annoying ads to generate a small amount of green. What do you crazy kids know about Google AdSense and how secure it is?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pay Day Winning Numbers

22, 24, 37, 62

I got jack squat off this ticket too.

Jade Empire's Twist (Spoiler Free)

I was playing Jade Empire last night and I'm around the 38 hour mark. I was just hit with what I believe was the game's "big twist," that massive revelation/realization/betrayal that completely changes the course of your player character, his/her motives, objectives, and generally his/her entire reason for existing.

I won't spoil it here since I know some of you intend to play through Jade Empire (and finding out is a great deal of the driving force behind playing these games), however I didn't see it coming (save in jest with myself). That said though, while I was surprised, I can't say I was shocked; no where near like the twist in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which was simply fuckin' genius.

I've often felt that as I've played through Jade Empire, a great game to be sure and worthy of being in my collection, however for an RPG (a genre by its nature that takes between 30 to 60 hours to complete and has you really get familiar with both allies and villians to the point where you do feel empathy or loathing towards them) I haven't felt any real attachment to most of the characters, they just haven't been developed strong enough. I have followed one of the possible romances though, which is interesting. The game's twist may change things to, as I think I've guessed certain importances of this game-based romantic interest.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled by Obsidian Entertainment's influence system from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, where you can actually, well, influence your Party members towards the Light or Dark Side and thus have a much deeper investment and pay-off with them. Something I think BioWare Corp. should consider for future games, such as the rumoured Jade Empire 2 for the Xbox 360.

Morning Post

Nearly the weekend kids.

It's nice, since I put in lengthier hours this week, today's a shorter work day for me. Going in later getting off earlier. Huzzah!

So with the weekend nearly here I'm hoping to get some work done on the blog. A few minor aesthetic changes are planned, as well as an e-mail contact.

If time allows, I also want to put up a nice, lengthy post to do either with RPGs or the course of games in general; though I'll have to see how the weekend goes.

On the To-Do List at any rate.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Morning Post

Rise and shine kiddies, it's Thursday!

So I spent a good bit of last night tinkering with the Music and CD copying feature of my Xbox. I've had my Xbox since early October '04, and I never bothered playing a CD in it. The cool thing about the Xbox is that since it's presently the only console with a hard drive, you can copy stuff to it, which includes CDs.

Now Microsoft wants to prevent piracy, so the Xbox only works with legit CDs (writable CDs and CDRs won't work apparently, though I haven't tried), but you can copy that whole CD to your Xbox and set up custom play lists.

Nothing ground breaking of course, but it's nice since I don't have a CD player in my room, and of course after copying you don't need the CDs. The audio quality is very good, and it has some visuals that play with the music (since your TVs on) akin to Windows Media Player.

So far I created a Lord of the Rings play list and copyed the entire trilogy's sound track to my Xbox. At present it's the largest file on my HD, with Halo 2 coming in at a close second (due to the size of the Bonus and Killtacular Map Packs I downloaded off Xbox Live), coming at at around 12, 800 blocks. I'm not sure what a block translates into, however the Xbox Dashboard states that there's over 50,000 available (I think), and with everything I have on there I've never seen it dip below that.

I believe the Xbox has an 8 GB HD.

Certain games also support custom playlists and let you play your own tunes while you play. I haven't tried this yet, however I only have one game that supports this, The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. Seeing as how the game already has the same sound track I just copied, I should probably try something else.

Anyway, anyone interested can probably find more info under the support section of the Xbox web site.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Morning Post

Hey kids. Don't ask me why, but it feels like the weekend today. Strange, seeing how early in the work week it is.

I wonder if they'd object to me doing a casual Tuesday at work. You know, like coming in wearing a bath robe with the tooth brush still in my mouth.

Perhaps I'll set a new Bay St. trend.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nobody messes with Adam We.

Never fails, Adam West kicks ass in Family Guy. Does anyone know what that pencil sketch styled music video that Chris was in at the beginning of tonight's episode was about?

Speaking of Seth MacFarlane's work, has American Dad been canceled? After roughly 7 or 8 episodes they started showing re-runs for a few weeks, then they started showing Family Guy re-runs in its time slot and I haven't seen American Dad since. Is it gone?

Planned Blog Additions

Hey all,

I have some minor additions planned, though I'm not sure when I'll be able to get around to them. Soon, I hope.

I want to add a link for direct e-mail, so you all can shoot me off an e-mail if a link's ever broken or something.

I also might put up some of those annoying ads to see if I can make a little cash to further my goals of buying beer. Need to talk to a friend about this first (the ads, not the beer).

I also want to see if there's a way to have archived posts in the archive only instead of creating a huge long list of posts.

If you guys have any other feedback on the site or things you think I should add, remove, change, sacrifice to a dark lord, let me know. You know how to reach me.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

So I finally got around to watching Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi from my DVD Trilogy Boxed Set.

Overall an alright movie, very much the same as the Special Edition released back in '97. The only two changes I noticed come right at the end. Naboo is added in as one of the celebration worlds in that little montage, and the original ghost of Anakin Skywalker was removed and replaced by Hayden Christenson from Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, except wearing light-side Jedi robes like Yoda and Obi-Wan.

Those changes didn't bother me at all, though Hayden's eye-lines were really messed which made that new addition seem a bit out of place.

I still can't stand the Ewoks though. Really, their just stupid. There's no way they should have been able to defeat the Emperor's "...legion of..." " troops..." with sticks and pebbles. I mean seriously, how could they have built those catapults and arranged all those giant logs right outside the Empire's bunker without them knowing? Should've been Wookies, all of them.

At least the lightsabre duel between Luke and Vadar was great, as well as the Alliance/Imperial space battle. Excellent effects for its day.

Dungeon Siege Demo

After playing that Dungeon Siege II flash mini-game, I decided to download the demo for the original Dungeon Siege and see what all the fuss was about (the game came out for the PC in '02). I've only played it for a bit, but it is indeed very Diablo II-ish.

I'll be mainly going through Jade Empire over the next while, but once I get around to finishing the Dungeon Siege demo I'll give you my impressions.

Doom 3 (Xbox) on Nightmare Complete

I finally won Doom 3 (Xbox) on Nightmare, and what a challenge. Some parts of it were brilliant, other parts were too frickin' hard and frustrating. There are some parts where you simply don't have enough room to move around with such low health, and other times you're completely out-classed against the monsters you're up against.

Overall though, Doom 3 is an excellent game. It's probably the best looking Xbox game I've ever seen, and it's got an excellent atmosphere and sound track. I do think it could have been trimmed a little shorter though, as parts of it did drag a little (which was already trimmed a bit from the PC/Mac version), but this can be over-looked.

Anyone who has an Xbox, PC, or Mac and is looking for a sci-fi/horror first person shooter with cutting edge tech. and classic gameplay driving it, you can't go wrong with Doom 3.

I'm hoping id Software decides to port the PC's expansion set, Resurrection of Evil, to Xbox as well. They were thinking about doing that as a premium download via Xbox Live, however there hasn't been any official word yet.

Interesting Online Flash Game

I got the Canadian Xbox news letter last weekend, and there's a link for an online flash game based on the upcoming Dungeon Siege II.

I never played the original Dungeon Siege as I was into Diablo II at the time, and Dungeon Siege was simply Microsoft Game Studio's answer to try and cash in on and compete with Diablo II's amazing success. Thus I have no real interest in its sequal, however this online mini-game is fun for a brief distraction, and worth checking out.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Checked out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Friday night, and it was a great flick. Just so fun and imaginative, and Depp's performance was simply amazing as always. He's such a talented actor. Burton's surreal art direction and gothic style (though lighter in this film) are always welcome touches, and his plays on social stereo types and simple sarcastic whit are great inspirations.

If you're looking for a fun flick, something to enjoy for it's sheer simplicity and magical nature, check out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The ever hot Helena Bonham Carter (Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Fight Club) is also featured as Charlie's mom, and Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, pretty much everything else. Seriously, check out all the stuff he's been in on IMDB) plays a dark character as he's always so good at doing. A character who could be good or means well but comes off as being a villian or threatening character, though greatly important to the central theme. Another amazing actor.

Let's also not forget the incredible score by Danny Elfman, complimented well by the crazy performances of teh Umba Lumbas.

Oh yeah, the full trailer for Corpse Bride is also shown with this flick, Burton's next feature length claymated film. Releases late September I think, and will feature the voices of Depp, Carter, Lee, and Elfman.

Morning Post

Got back from a great party yesterday. My aunt got married, and I spent the day hanging with my kid cousin and some of his friends. Good kids, but being around them and listening to their conversations (they're 12-18) really makes me feel old. Very old.

So, what retirement homes would you recommend?

Friday, July 15, 2005

PayDay Winning Numbers for Jul. 14th


I didn't win anything this time, so right now I'm -$2.00 overall on PayDay.

Morning Post

I have got to stop playing Doom 3 (Xbox) on work nights, especially after a stressful work day. The game is great, I love the classic gameplay and the immersive/spooky atmosphere, however I find I can get a little too into it.

I'm playing through for the third time, on the Nightmare (Hardest) difficulty setting where you're essentially made of paper (Only 25% health), and man, does the game really suck me in. I definitely swear so much I'm sure I've made children cry somewhere, and sometimes my hands even hurt a bit from mashing the controller so damn hard.

The game has such a great atmosphere, I even on this 3rd play through I still jump and get surprised by stuff. Things that freak me out: Non-Chaingun Commandos. I hate these fuckers. Bad. They seriously piss me off as they're insanely fast, hard to dodge, and if you have the wrong weapon out and are low on health you probably won't have time to change before he kills you. I also really hate pouncing Imps. Normally Imps are wusses and quite easy to dodge, but if the fuckers pounce, you're dead in 1 to 2 hits. Annoying.

I also really hate super dark rooms where I vaguely remember something being in there, and when crap spawns behind you without you realizing it.

Heck, yesterday I noticed my chest was even faintly sore, which really can't be a good thing; I'm probably leadin' up to a heart attack or something.

Even though I'm 3 quarters of the way through the game, no more Doom 3 on work nights. I think it's just a little too much over stimulation. I'll probably go back to something slower paced, but no less enjoyable: The RPG masterpiece Jade Empire.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

TTC Observes 2 Min. of Silence

The TTC observed 2 min. of silence today, stopping all trains for 2 min. at 7:00 am, the time when the suicide bombers went off in London 1 week ago.

I respect this greatly as it's really unfortunate what happened overseas. It's also a realistic reminder of what could very well happen in our transit system here today, or tomorrow, or next month, next year, etc.

I really hope something like this never happens here.

Morning Post - Rather Late

Hey kids,

The last few days have been pretty crazy at work, so I haven't had the
chance to post about anything. Real news or things of my interest has been
slow so you haven't missed much.

Work is all to consuming I'm afraid. Hoping to check out Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory tomorrow night. I have great faith in both Burton and
Depp, so it should at the very least be a good flick.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Beauty Quest Air Dates

Beauty Quest, one of the one-offs I worked on will be airing at the following times:


Saturday, July 30 @ 8:00 PM.
Sunday, July 31st @ 3.00 PM
Wednesday, August 24 @ 10:00 PM

Documentary Channel:

Thursday, August 11 @ 5:00 PM
Friday, August 12 @ 5:00 PM
Saturday, August 13 @ 7:00 PM

Check it out and let me know what you think. Word of caution, it is more of a chick-flick sort of deal. It runs about 60 min.

Morning Post

So yesterday we had someone smash the front door of our office building (not our actual office itself, so it's not our problem). What a lovely way for someone to vent their anger; very constructive.

From what I understand, it had something to do with the hip hop recording studio a few floors up. How charming.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Loving Parents

Now here's a couple that really loves their boy.

Hell when I turned 16, I was pretty much told to get a job or get out.

Family Guy

Anyone catch Family Guy last night? I swear, that show is so much more wrong since it was re-knewed, it's great. I just wanna know how they're getting all that they do past the sensors, 'cause its rather extreme. Like Stewy sexual assaulting his baby sitter.

Oh, the best though was when Peter, Stewy, Chris, and Brian were constantly rocket vomitting. Haven't seen anything remotely that stupid/funny since Team America: World Police. [musical theme]America. Fuck yeah![/musical theme].

Seriously though, if you're into politically incorrect, dry sarcastic wit, than why aren't you watching this show?

Morning Post

Who invented the 9:00 am work morning? No serisouly, who invented it? Whoever it was should be shot. Well, seeing as how said person is probably long dead, we'll need to perform some necromantic ritual to bring them back, then kill 'em again. Please see you local elementary school's ocult section for the appropriate reading material. And you though our educational system was failing!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Vacation Over

Well it's been a great week off, but all good things... Still, I wish I had another week off.

This vacation was very short notice for me, and since everyone else was still working through the week, I did most of the interesting stuff on weekends. One thing I did do this vacation was watch a shit-load of movies.

Was supposed to play poker on Canada Day, but that never happened so I ended up watching Resident Evil: Apocalypse instead. If you want your IQ to drop to the level of the zombies in the film, then watch this film. I lost count of the number of plot holes and character development problems featured in it, and am glad I didn't pay to see it. It was cool to see Toronto blow up though.

July 2nd my bud Telly and I took a road trip out to exotic Cornwall to get some St. Hubert's Rotiserre Chicken (I know there's one left in Etobicoke, but that wasn't the point. It was all about the short road trip). This was the longest trip my Elantra has ever went on, and all in a day to. Roughly 4 hours there and about 4 hours back, with only one small 5 minute break during each drive. That is about the limit of how much I'd want to drive in a day.

We got our St. Hubert's food of course, which was great, but the best part was seeing the St. Lawrence River again. Being a small town, the river banks were pretty clear (undeveloped). On the Cornwall side, we were actually able to get right down to the bank and could have walked along a small little stream off to the side if we wished (and possibly along the bank itself. The current didn't look to bad on our end). The water, and even the air was so clean, so different from T.O. The short small town trip was really refreshing.

Oh, and I killed a duck or something on the way back. Just after we got back on the 401, what I think was a duck flew right into the front of my car and bounced off with it's neck at a strange angle. No damage to my vehicle, but I felt pretty bad for the bird.

On Sunday I saw War of the Worlds. Since it's still a new flick I won't post spoilers, but essentially it couldn't decide if it wanted to be an effects/disaster flick or a smaller, family drama and as such it failed on both counts. Some plot holes to. Not a bad flick, but nothing amazing either.

Throughout the week I ended up watching some great classics, including Alien: Director's Cut, Aliens: Special Edition, and good old Predator. I also picked up the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD and have watched both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The changes so far for the DVD edition are minor in respect to the 1997 Special Editions. Too bad they can't digital remove all the Ewoks and replace them with kick ass Wookies. Fuckin' care bears. Also watched The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition (watched its 3 parts on 3 seperate days), and it's still the most impresive flick I've ever seen as a whole on ever level. Simply amazing.

Also got a lot of shopping and other crap around the house done. Oh, and Telly and I played some great Halo 2 Slayer matches on the weekends. Gotta love the Energy Sword and damn that Battle Rifle.

Anyway, it's back to the grind tomorrow. This is Ripley, last surviving member of the Nostromo, signing off.

Morning Post

Sunday morning's are always a mixed bag, don't you think? Most people take it easy as they were out late Saturday night, and this generally sets a relaxed mood for the rest of the day; or so most of us wish.

Often Sunday's a mad scramble to get a bunch of crap done that you never have time for anyway, 'cause you realize you'll soon be back at the ball and chain (TM) for the next 5 days.

Seriously, society's work system is so messed up and takes so much time away from the important things like family, friends, and 10:00 am beer.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Fable: The Lost Chapters coming to Xbox

Looks like Microsoft and Lionhead Studios are going to release Fable: The Lost Chapters for the Xbox as well as the PC as originally planned. I've seen release dates for the Xbox version ranging from September to late fall.

This is all a good thing I suppose as Fable is supposed to be one of the best RPGs for the Xbox, and it'll be good to have the game Lionhead originally promised years ago.

I just want to know if they're going to fix the God-aweful save system from the original Xbox release. "Oh look, you've played for 3 hours and gotten a few quests done, but because we only do hero saves in this game all your quest progress is lost!" Real great way to give the casual player who does more than play games for 15 hours a day a sense of accomplishment over a short play period.

I'll give it a rent, but if it's still crap like the original I'll just be heading back to the amazing KotOR series or Jade Empire.

Batman Begins

Saw Batman Begins last night. What a great flick. It's actually the best film I've seen in theatres since Spider-man 2 was released last year (it's been a very slow year).

I thought the script was really well done, a nice re-invention for the franchise. The characters were strong and acted out well and there really was a sense of purpose to what was going on. The effects, music cues, pacing, it all worked nicely.

I truly can't think of any faults in Batman Begins, it was a great ride from start to finish, and I look forward to the sequel.

Oh, I read in the Metro a while back that Warner Bros. will indeed be doing a sequal, and all the key cast members will be back save for Katie Homles 'cause they're pissed at her for the BS she's got going with Tom Cruise. If this is true, than that couple publicity stunt sort of fucked up for her.

Morning Post

I have good news! I've decided not to kill you!

Friday, July 08, 2005

I won the lottery!

That's right, I won $2.00 playing PayDay! I'm rich, I can buy off anyone...
or half a dozen Tim Horton's Cookies, whatever comes first.

TeamXbox Fuck Up?

TeamXbox reviewed the recently released Halo 2: Multiplayer Map Pack. The jist of it is Bungie Studios released 9 new maps for Halo 2 via Xbox Live, some free, some for pay. You can also buy all these maps on the Map Pack disk, and to make it worth your while they've added some extras to the retail disk, such as a documentary and a short cinematic.

Well on the 6th page of TeamXbox's review, they had posted full version of both those exclusive items for free! Essentially, that negates and main reason to actually go and buy the over-priced disk anyway. I guess someone at Microsoft or Bungie got this, as both clips were taken down in a few hours.

I happened to download them both, however :). When and if I figure out how to upload them, I'll do so for everyone's viewing pleasure.

Blog Open

So a friend convinced me to start a blog to discuss, I believe it went "Games, Star Wars, and bars," or something to that effect anyway. Well after a little thinking I decided this might be a fun idea. Since I'm a rather opinionated guy, I decided to call this blog Arbiter's Judgement, 'cause I'll basically be posting about flicks, games, beer, and other crap in my typical fashion that you've all come to or will come to know and love. See ya around.