I‘ve tried out all of my Xbox games now (except Forza Motorsport, because I don’t do racing games), just to get a taste of what each one offers. Here’s my opinion on each. Keep in mind that I haven’t completed any of them, and I‘m not a gamer. So my evaluations are based on different values than that of what a hard-core gamer or fan of a particular title might look at.
- Assassin’s Creed
- I really enjoy the freedom of movement in this one. Fighting is also pretty exciting. Being able to automatically scrabble up walls and along ledges without a lot of conscious control pushing makes the gameplay more enjoyable. The tutorials provided throughout the beginning are helpful, especially to a gaming newbie like myself. However, the constant cutscenes detract, and the entire frame story is worthless. I would rather that it was actually set in the past, instead of being set in the future with a simulated past.
- Halo 3
- I‘ve never played any of the other games in the Halo series. The story looks easy enough to follow. I prefer FPS to third-person games like Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider, but I‘m going to need a lot of practice before I get used to the controller. Having separate axes for movement and view make it harder for me to look around, since they were one and the same in all the PC games I’ve played. Trying to endure some combat (and dying frequently) has reminded me why I‘m not a gamer. I tend to just run in a straight line toward the enemy I’m trying to destroy while holding down my fire button and hoping that I kill them before they kill me. Stupid, I know. But I just have no stealth or strategy.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance
- Just tried this one out. I haven’t actually played very far. However, it is somewhat confusing. I couldn’t find any tutorial or practice mission to get used to the controls; it sort of threw me into the fray and expected me to be able to play. Um … no. Not very idiot-friendly, unfortunately. And I‘m more of a DC person anyway. :P
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary
- I remember playing the original Tomb Raider on my brother’s PlayStation 1. It was fun, even though I was rubbish at it. This Tomb Raider is even better. The graphics and movement detail is much more realistic, which really makes the game. Figuring out the next step in each level is a bit harder (but that’s what strategy guides are for ). I also dislike the checkpoint-based type of saved game. I’m a save-anywhere type of person, because I tend to die a lot. And it just gets annoying redoing a bunch of complicated acrobatic moves every time because I can’t save a bit further in the process.
- Viva Pinata: Party Animals
- Amazing game. Outrageous French accents, crazy fun activities—I can’t wait until I can try this with a friend. It reminds me of Mario Party. The commentary provided by the pinata hosts is somewhat annoying, but the races and challenge events themselves are fun. This is a good distraction and a nice break from all the shooter games I have.
Oh, and my Xbox has to stop giving me options. Options make me paranoid. I spent an hour yesterday fiddling and switching back and forth between display resolutions to see which one made DVD playback less smooshed. My regular DVD player just played the video, but can Xbox do that? Nooo. It has to give me choices and options and things to configure, which is fine for some people, but for me they just invite paranoia. Oh well … I think it’s fine now.
Back to not doing any work… .
I’m going to skip my usual rant about the Christmas season and go straight to the part where I talk about all the fun material goods I acquired.
Oodles and oodles of chocolate and candy, firstly, which is never a bad thing. Plus some movies, season 2.0 of Battlestar Galactica, some nail clippers, some desk calendars, and some games for Xbox 360.
What was that? Xbox 360—surely Ben doesn’t have an Xbox 360!
I bought one today. (For those of who aren’t commonwealth, today is Boxing Day, and is usually the beginning of a week of mad discounts, similar to the American Black Friday.) I got Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Assassin’s Creed for Christmas, and then the console came with Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Forza Motorsport (which doesn’t really interest me), Halo 3, and Two Worlds. Then I bought Viva Pinata for some light-hearted multiplayer fun. So I am decked out for games now.
The Xbox 360 is actually part of my evil plot to do more things with Real Life people™. There’s not a lot to do when I have people over—watch a movie, some tea, look up funny clips on the Internet. Hopefully having a gaming console will provide another alternative. I‘m not much of a gamer, so we’ll see how Xbox Live treats me. My gamertag is (predictably) tachyondecay, if you know me and also have an Xbox—although please tell me who you are, either via the friend request or IM, otherwise I won’t add you.
I don’t return to school until January 7. So the next week will be spent trying to do things with friends before the break is over, playing with my Xbox, working, and yes … trying to bludgeon myself into working on the various projects I have going. Lately I‘ve just been having trouble staying focused. I want it done, but I don’t want to do it.
Merry Christmas (not “Happy Holidays”)!
So what if it’s plastic and doesn’t actually unlock things (which would be ever so slightly illegal)? It still makes authentic noises, extends, and lights up. Plus it pulls double duty as a regular pen and a UV pen!
Yes, I‘m talking about the sonic screwdriver toy. It may be a simple toy, but it makes me happy. The sonic screwdriver is a brilliant little device from Doctor Who, so even a plastic replica is cool. However, this toy is slightly special because it isn’t based off the prop—the prop is based off the toy. The producers were so impressed by the durability of the toy that they acquired the moulds and used it to make a newer, slightly larger sonic screwdriver. So that’s neat.
I ordered it online from Pixel Barrel, a Canadian company. Originally I saw the toy on Amazon UK, but they wouldn’t ship to Canada. So it was a double stroke of luck, since the overall cost was cheaper, and the shipment only took 3 days to arrive. I also got a hardcover edition of Serenity: Those Left Behind. There’s all sorts of tasty collectibles there from science fiction/fantasy series. However, I’ve never been much of a collector person. I like the occasional neat gadget or literature, but poseable action figures? Trading cards? No thanks. That’s just more stuff to clutter up my room.
I’m finished all my exams. Classes are done. Aside from work and the inevitable demands of Christmas, I am on break until January 7. Let the relaxation begin. Or at least, that’s what I’d like to do.
I‘ve got tons of stuff I want to work on, however. I have several website-related projects, one of which is particularly dear to me. I’ve been working on it since about September; I don’t know how it will pan out yet, but I really hope it goes well. It’s just a huge task, since I‘m doing everything from scratch. I haven’t forgotten about VSNS Lemon 4 either! The trouble is, I don’t want to release it until I upgrade this blog—and I don’t want to upgrade this blog until I have redone everything for PHP 5. That means a new design, and therein lies the crux of the problem. Design has never been my forte. I can execute designs, but creating them … mmm, not so much.
In non-computer related tasks, I have plenty of writing I want to do—not so much inspiration.
I’ll manage. First I need to be lazy and have a well-deserved break. Then I’ll tackle some of these things.
There is no other way to describe it. Since it started four days ago, winter has systematically and ambitiously blotted out any trace of summer from our lovely little town, plunging us into a deep snowy (literally) miasma of cold. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But there is snow, and lots of it. My dad and I spent about an hour shovelling this morning—and that was just to clear the driveway so I could go to work. For those of you who live in an area that does not get snow, or not much snow, then take a look at these photos to get an idea of what our winters are like (some are more mild than others). For those of you who also deal with massive amounts of crystallized water, then I feel your pain.
Don’t get me wrong: snow is great. I love shovelling. But sometimes, the sheer volume boggles the mind. I woke up this morning, went outside to shovel, and it just … it looked insane. It was insane. This is all insane.
Welcome to Canada. Pick up a shovel and leave your sanity at the door.
Every time I try to get Kubuntu working, I become more and more convinced that Kubuntu just doesn’t want to be friends with me. It’s always a mixed bag. It’s not all Kubuntu’s fault—it’s a very nice Linux distro, functions well—sometimes I’m to blame. Still, the learning curve—and the bumps along the way—are disheartening.
Yesterday I decided to do a clean install of Kubuntu 7.10 (“Gutsy Gibbon”). My hard drive was already partitioned because I had Feisty installed, but I didn’t have the time to devote to learning how to use Feisty properly. Unfortunately, the installation decided that I had burnt the disc at too high a disc speed—but it didn’t tell me this until 63% of the installation was done. As a result, Grub was destroyed, and I couldn’t boot into Windows. I had to download the image again on another computer and burn it to my last CD-R at a lower speed. Then I ran the install again and prayed it would work.
Luckily it did. Kubuntu started up fine, and the wireless worked out of the box, which really impressed me—it didn’t with Feisty. All of my monitor’s screen resolutions weren’t available, however, so I decided to reconfigure xorg. Big mistake. After reconfiguring, I restarted X and was faced with this lovely error “Fatal error: no screen found.” Why me?!
Perhaps it’s my fault for having a computer whose hardware doesn’t play nice? (Googling reveals that other Inspiron 6400 users with ATI video cards have faced similar troubles.) This is the part of Kubuntu that has always frustrated me: each problem leads to another set of problems, to the point where I can’t use the system as a production environment. I would love to use Kubuntu as much as or more than Windows. I don’t have the time to spend fixing every single problem, unfortunately. Each time this happens, I ask myself why I even bother.
I won’t give up on Gutsy yet. If, when I next boot into Kubuntu, the wireless still doesn’t work, I can always do a clean install and start over and try to work it out from there. I will do my end of the work: I will search, read the documentation, and look for solutions, since it’s clear my situation is not unique. I just hope that my efforts reward me.
UPDATE: Well, I haven’t solved my resolution problem yet, but everything else seems to be going well. Firefox is working, got my bookmarks, Flash, and Java working fine. Tomorrow if I have time, I shall look into some themes for Kopete, configure Konversation, play around with a few other things. Oh yeah. And fix this darn resolution problem!