Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Nifty Hard Drive Tool

Well, what do you know. Sometimes spam from Amazon does actually tell me about something I might be interested in.

The item in question here is a little kit that can convert any IDE drive to USB, complete with power supply. Have a look at it here.

The user reviews show that quality is pretty hit or miss, but what you want for 15 bucks? Also indicate it's not really suitable for making a drive a permanent USB attachment, more of a timesaver for somebody who routinely tries to recover or wipe data from multiple IDE hard drives.

It definitely appeals to the technogeek in me. Which is actually most of me.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Reflections on a Failing Game Console

Hassan "Acetone" Mikal has a readworthy writeup over on Something Awful, wrapping the entire abysmal, sad story of the PS3 up in one neat little package. As is customary at SA, the entire thing is laced with cynicism, vitriol and misanthropy. Just the way we like it.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Launchcast Keeps Turning Crappier and Crappier

I'm a launchcast plus subscriber. I pay my 3 bucks a month to listen to high-quality streaming music, selected by a computer based upon a system of ratings that I fill in as it goes. I'm pretty happy with the selection of music it plays, as I have thousands of ratings telling launchcast what I like and what I don't.

But somebody's back there asleep at the switch.

It's gotten so the thing only works half the time. It doesn't work at all under firefox, so I have to keep IE around to listen to it. Even then, it fails to launch around half the time, and it is plagued by technical problems. Maybe it will play the music but not load the ratings and song title or artist. Maybe it will cut off in the middle of the song, and when that happens, it may or may not start playing the next song. Sometimes it just gives up altogether and you have to re-launch the whole thing from the get-go.

Sometimes the skip button doesn't work. Sometimes hitting the skip button causes it to get locked in an infinite skip loop, skipping song after song after song.

Is there anybody at all in the QC department over at yahoo music, or what?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Updates to Essential CompuNerd Software

Winamp and Irfanview both have new versions up. (5.34 and 4.00, respectively)

For those of you poor bastards that don't know, Winamp is the best media player there is, and Irfanview is the best image viewer there is. You'd be well advised to eschew Windows Media Player for Winamp, and the Windows image "preview" function for Irfanview.

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Quake Done Quicker

Quake 1, Nightmare difficulty, start to finish, 17 minutes and change.

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Judge pwnz0rz RIAA

The RIAA is trying to wiggle out of having to pay the legal fees for some of their bogus lawsuits, but the Judge, in the vernacular, "ain't havin' none of that." Read.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Roffle Mao.

Because, admit it, you needed a chuckle to get you through the day. So, I direct you to "ROFLMAO."

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New Alone In The Dark

I find this interview to be encouraging. I like what the guy has to say, and the ideas that they have. I like that they're not doing an exact remake of the original game, but still trying to keep the style and feeling of it while doing what the real big selling point of the original AITD was: innovation.

Alone in the Dark was the first survival horror game, and one of the first 3 dimensional games as well. It was steeped in Lovecraft and C'thulu, and could make you scared without relying on the Doom 3 crutch (IE, not so much scaring you as startling you because the only way Doom 3 knew how to be scary was to make everything pitch black and have things jump out at you from the darkness).

This is definitely one I think I'll be checking out.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Goodbye Productivity

You played this yet? It's irritating yet addictive. The idea is, you set off a "bomb" like thing in the middle of all these drifting dots, and if the expanding ring of your "boom" hits a dot, it booms too, and hopefully you start a dot-booming chain reaction that booms enough dots to beat the level.

Click, and say goodbye to your day's productivity.

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Numbers on PC Gaming Sales "Rebound"

PC Game sales are on the rise again. NY Times has some numbers and quote bytes from industry muckety-mucks. If it asks you to sign in/register, you can go over to bugmenot and get a username and password that will let you view it.

As for my thoughts on it, I think it has to do more with some good, solid titles and less "Who wants to be a deer tycoon 3D pro" shovelware getting slopped on us. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of crap in the PC gaming market (see the entry previous to this one), but the last year saw a good number of solid titles that were actually worth getting.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review: Hot Dog King

This is the first game I picked to get and review specifically because I thought it would be good review-fodder.

The marketing for this game goes something like, "So you like junk food? You like video games? You like boobies? Come on in."

I get the feeling this is one of those times marketing and development didn't actually attend many of the same meetings.


Hot Dog King is a business sim. Don't let the overabundance of silicone fool you, this game is really about managing fast food franchises in all their sales tax calculating, counter wiping, vomit mopping glory. It's just they took that, slashed the budget in half, and made some character design decisions influenced heavily by not having gotten laid in since Trent Reznor could still pass for an angsty teenager.

The vast majority of your time as grand poobah of Hot Dog King, Inc will be spent in the supermarket or down on your hands and knees with a toothbrush trying to get that whatever-the-hell-it-is out of the grout in the tile of your store's entryway, because if even the slightest scuffmark appears on your floor, it is as dangerous to pedestrians as a claymore landmine, judging from how often my customers toppled over because of a light grey smudge or a gum wrapper. If you manage to stockpile enough food and have a marathon scrubbing session, you might be able to find 5 minutes to run down to the clothes store and find some outfits to slap on your bimbos that might bring in more idiots with money to buy your microwaved nutrislop.

Konnichiwa, dirtbag. Care for some reheated chicken?

You can play in 3 different cities (Seattle, L.A., New York), of graduated difficulty and profit potential. As far as I can tell you will always have the same 12 girls in your labor pool: 3 blondes, 3 brunettes, 3 redheads, two asians and a token black chick. These girls have different statistics that govern how well they perform at various tasks, and how long they put up with you (and the customers) never looking them in the eyes. Typically, they fall into one of three categories... there's the smart ones who know about advanced concepts such as "making correct change" but are socially awkward, irretrievably shy and have the stamina of a boiled noodle. There are the socially outgoing and moderately brazen girls who are as dumb as the fries in the fryer but can work for more than 5 minutes at a stretch... but not much more. Finally, there are the girls who will wear as little or as much as you give them to wear without a word of complaint, but it's easier to get motivation to work out of a rancid bucket of fish heads.

The gameplay goes thusly: Outfit, stock and staff your shop so you can make a profit so you can spend the money to upgrade, restock and restaff your shop so you can make a profit so you can spend the money to buy more shops to outfit, stock and staff so you can make a profit so you can spend the money to upgrade, restock and restaff all your shops so you can make a profit so you can...

... get interrupted by minigames. Maybe your PDA (which serves as the principal interface and management device) gets a virus, and you have to play space invaders to get rid of it. Maybe your store is invaded by rats and you have to smack them with a ladle until you have a bumper surplus of unidentifiable burger meat. Maybe aliens invade and the only way for them to be stopped is if the newest fast food CEO rents a chopper for 2 grand and careens around the city skyline like a Yankees baseball pitcher (POOR TASTE LIMIT EXCEEDED) firing missiles at random until the aliens get bored and wander away.

Or maybe the game crashes.

I have had few games with as many irritating technical problems as this one. Sometimes, it takes 5 to 10 attempts to get the game to launch. Often the game will crash to desktop because something you did 10 minutes ago set events in motion that eventually led to a catastrophic binary meltdown, such as the heinous acts of applying for a loan or trying to change a girl's outfit while she was assigned to cleaning duty. A little QC goes a long way, fellas.

On top of that, there are some aggravating design decisions. The game, unlike almost every other game released in the last 5 years, is apparently too good to use windows' hardware mouse settings, and has its own software-rendered mouse cursor complete with unfamiliar-yet-unconfigurable ballistics parameters. Additionally, windowed mode is limited to a single resolution (which I believe to be 1024x768), and changing fullscreen resolutions requires a program restart (or 10, see above). The UI would be ok if not for the fact that your point of view is inextricably anchored to the security cameras of your stores, and you are limited to manipulating your staff from those few vantage points. Additionally, somebody seemed to think it would be a good idea to vertically stretch everything viewed from these cameras, I guess to make them look more like they were being viewed through a cheap security camera. This is rather irritating to people who, like me, are prone to getting headaches when the fabric of reality refuses to maintain its cohesion. Also, around the third or fourth time the game crashes on you, you will want to know the address of the person who decided this game didn't need an autosave feature. You will save often, or you will often start from scratch.

Yes, if you want, you can run restaraunts staffed entirely by 18 year old d-cup swimsuit models wearing outfits so drafty they could catch cold in the Sahara, but if you do actually put them in anything more flattering than a turtleneck sweater, most of the girls won't have the staying power to make it through a full shift and you'll spend all your time (and a lot of your money) bribing them with CDs, clothing vouchers, free dinners, and jewelry to keep them from storming out the door in a huff... in as much as someone in 6 inch stilleto heels can storm. And even if you do dress them modestly, often one or more of them will often suddenly turn moody and will require a gift consisting of the entirety of the music section of a flagship Hastings Entertainment superstore to keep them pushing pork products across the counter at slack-jawed imbeciles.

And pity the poor girl on cleanup detail. Due to some sort of design oversight or bug, you are unable to click on her. She never comes out of the back of the store. Dirt just magically (possibly telekinetically) vaporises so long as she is employed, but you can't tell her to take a break, or change her clothes, or much else... so eventually she's going to have her morale hit zero and break out the uzi to ventilate you and a few unlucky customers. Well, no, she won't do that, but she will try to quit. But thankfully, yet another bug sometimes causes this girl to be unable to find her way out of the store. So, she will continue to telepathically eradicate dirt and garbage from the restaraunt while you happily ignore her ever-destabilizing psychosis.

Oh, and imagine having to run to Costco between each above paragraph of this review, because you need more goddamned frozen french fries.

And while you read all of the above, 15 customers slipped and fell on a dirty footprint in your foyer, and are all writing nasty letters to the editor about you.

The Good:
-- Reasonably stimulating business sim
-- Good graphics, models, particularly on your staff. Wide selection of fullscreen resolutions (including widescreen)
-- No annoying CD-check

The Bad:
-- Deceptively marketed (no time to oogle, we're out of milkshake mix again. Where's the Sam's Club business member card??)
-- Warped perspective, linked to security cameras
-- No choice of windowed mode resolution/size/aspect ratio

-- Repetitive store designs, "easter eggs" in the same place in every single store, and are always the exact same reward.
-- Bait and switch. You won't be putting your girls in bathing suits unless you're trying to lose the game quickly.
-- UI/mouse control clunky
-- Did I say it was a business sim? I meant it was an appliance and kitchen surface cleaning sim.
-- You will SUFFER through our minigames or lose exorbitant amounts of profit!

The Final Word:
Forget it. Save your money, save your time, save your sanity. Look at some screenshots, they'll show you more skin than you'll see while you play, because you'll be spending all your time eye-to-eye with cockroaches or navigating the virtual aisles of your local food wholesaler... assuming the whole thing doesn't crash on you. If you're in the mood to run a financial empire go get Sid Meier's Railroads! If you're in the mood to oogle virtual girls go get DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball. This game attempts both at once and accomplishes neither one. A bad design badly executed and badly marketed. Rating: D.

I bet it sucks to have to work the deep fryer in that.

And that's the word from Bandit camp...

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Somebody has far too much time on their hands

Starcraft Origami. Regard.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Online Games are Dictatorships

The Bill of Rights doesn't apply in Azeroth, dipstick.


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Command & Conquer 3: Post Mortem

So, I'm done with C&C 3. Uninstalled it yesterday. It's no one specific thing really, it's just that I feel like I've experienced everything it had to offer.

The updated graphics and stellar UI was really all this game had going for it (well, and the cut scene FMVs, for those who like those). The Campaigns were overscripted and full of "surprise, sucker!" moments. It is completely unsuitable for multiplayer due to imbalances between the 3 factions and the overall brokenness of the gather/build paradigm employed by the game.

It boils down to this: If you're GDI, scramble for resources ASAP, get the railgun upgrade and just churn out mammoth tanks as fast as you can, sending them into enemy bases in batches of 5. And that's the hardest faction to play. It's slightly easier for Nod, especially against computer players. Nod merely needs to build extra harvesters (they have stealth, so they can just roam), stealth the base, research the laser capacitors, build 2 airfields and build an overwhelming number of venom craft (about 40-60), game over. The Scrin aliens? Easiest of all. Even the mammoth tanks and infinite venoms fall before the unstoppable force that is a half-dozen air carriers. They each carry 8 little fighters, can have shields, can attack both air and ground, and can heal themselves with ion storm? In whose mind was this balanced?

So, I played through and am done with it. Went back to Generals: Zero Hour, the balance is much better... but I do miss 3's UI. If Zero Hour had 3's console, it'd be awesome beyond belief.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Macintosh: Crash Different

Just because I want to remember where to find this later.

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Here comes the NWN 2 expansion...

Well, I know I sure as hell ain't paying money for this.

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FTC says Video Games doing better at self regulating than Movies or Music

Well just put that in your pipe and smoke it, y'all.

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Starcraft 2 Rumors

I'll believe it when I see it, but... what the hell, it's an otherwise slow news day. Rumor.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let Me Tell You About the Game I Want (but nobody is making)

I've been rolling this one around in my cerebellum for months now, letting it simmer unconsciously.

Often enough I've said (of a game coming out), "That sounds kinda neat, but because it doesn't do (X), I just can't get interested in it."

So finally, I'm putting some of these thoughts down.

Sci-Fi MMOs... so often I've been halfway interested in them, especially the ones with ship-to-ship combat and a PvP emphasis, but there's never been one that quite delivered what I was looking for. The crux of the matter is I'm looking for a broadband-required Sci-Fi MMO persistent-universe game that treats a ship the way a fantasy MMO treats a group. Instead of looking for dps, tanks, casters, and healers for your group, you'd look for a pilot, weapons officers, defensive operators, and engineers.

Much like a functioning fantasy RPG group has niches to fill that must be performed in order for the group to be a functioning unit, so must a ship. The pilot has to be able to maneuver the ship in a way such that he both avoids damage and yet doesn't make it impossible for the weapons officers to accurately fire, the defensive operators would basically be playing a high-stakes 3D version of pong, trying to focus the shields and other defenses to the point where the incoming fire would strike the ship. The engineers would pretty much be the same whack-a-mole game every RPG healer is used to already.

Small "groups" would be small ships, even down to single-seat fighters, up to 4 or 5 person "corvettes." These ships would be manageable to own by a single player (single seaters would be easily afforded, corvettes would be rather expensive). Larger ships would require the resources of a guild, and require a guild officer or leader to "captain" in addition to the other stations. Capital ships could even have multiple slots for the same type of skill set (IE, multiple weapons officers become turret operators, multiple engineers and defensive coordinators for various areas of the ship).

Of course, voice communications would pretty much be required. Travel to-and-from fights or resource gathering would be darn near instantaneous via "hyperspace" so even if you weren't a pilot, it didn't mean you'd have to sit there for dozens of minutes while the pilot or captain navigated to the "exciting part." As a player, you'd probably have your own personal "stable" of smaller craft (single or 2 seat fighters, small personal transports, one-or-two person mining vessels or freighters for resource gathering, etc), and the larger ships would have to be hangared in a guild-owned space station.

Combat would be more skill based than stat based. Firing weapons would be more similar to a piloting sim or a FPS than dicerolling.

Resources and drops (or salvage, I suppose) would be either sold to NPC vendors, put up on consignment for other players to buy, or auctioned off, the standard MMO fare. Salvage drops could vary from commodities cargo which could be sold for varying prices at various places in the galaxy (water and grain sell for more at desert planets, fertilizer for more at agricultural planets, entertainment goods for more at highly populated planets, etc). Items could be salvaged or manufactured to increase sensor range, weapon accuracy, shield strength, engine power, etc. You could make cash just shipping cargo from market to market if you wanted, or by mining and manufacturing, or by bounty missions, or by piracy, or just straight up blasting things and scooping up the salvage.

The nice thing about spaceships is they can be largely polygonally simple, and that makes way for custom ship designs. Custom decals and insignia to decorate the hull, and for times in spacedock or planetside, a customized appearance for your meatsack self would also be necessary.

There wouldn't be "leveling" per se, and you wouldn't be limited to one "class." You could be a pilot when you felt like it, or a gunner or something else when you felt another way. All on the same character. In fact, there would only be one character per account, because since you aren't limited to a class and you don't gain levels, there's no need for multiple characters.

There would, however, be "faction" levels, like the reputation system in WoW. Doing fetch or "fed ex" missions for one faction would slightly raise your standing with that faction. Some factions would have animosity for one another, and you could do combat missions for a larger reputation boost, but obviously your reputation with the guys you were shooting down would suffer as greatly or more. As your faction level rose past certain milestones, you would gain access to faction-specific gear, ship designs, and perks. As it fell past certain negative milestones, you might find NPC ships and stations shooting at you when you came by for a visit.

And yes, there'd be PvP. In fact, PvP would be just as commonplace as PvE. Attacking a player would adjust your faction levels based upon the faction levels of your victim. If he is aligned with faction A but hostile to faction B, your faction levels would go down with A and up with B. All new players would start "neutral" to all factions (except for pirates and belligerent aliens, of course), and attacking a neutral player would cause a faction hit to all factions that aren't hostile. Well, more specifically, any time you attack a player, your faction goes up with anyone with whom that player has negative (worse than neutral) faction, and down with everyone with whom that player is neutral or higher. Naturally, a player's faction levels would be easily scanned and quickly appraised, so you can tell who are your friends, who are your enemies, and who is a non-aligned noncom.

If, for some reason, someone had multiple accounts, he would be unable to circumvent the faction hits (IE, mining up resources on a character with neutral faction, and then transferring them to one that is hostile with X factions), because trading or giving goods or money to players would cause faction hits with any factions two whom guy was rated hostile, though no positive faction adjustments would be made (IE, you can only hurt a faction levels through trading with a factions hostile to them, but you can't trade your way back up out of the hole). And, naturally, faction-specific gear and ship designs could not be traded at all.

There would be a way to "reset" your factions back to neutral, but it would be prohibitively expensive. Like, soulcrushingly expensive. Something to the order of making a cash donation at a faction's embassy in a neutral starport of an amount equivalent to the price of a really nice capital ship, just for a marginal increase in faction.

When your ship is destroyed, a "rescue vessel" would grab your ejection pod and take you to the nearest friendly station. You would lose the ship you were in, along with any cargo it was carrying, but otherwise suffer no ill effects.

That would be the nuts and bolts of the game. The backdrop would be a galaxy populated mostly by humans, but the humans have fractured into different factions; some benign, some malevolent. As referenced earlier, each player would start out neutral to every faction but pirates and... the invaders. The Invaders would be an extragalactic race making a military incursion into the galaxy with conquest and destruction on its mind. Unlike the factions and even the indiginous aliens, these Invaders would be so foreign, so hostile, and so incompatible in every sense of the word that there would be no reasoning, no communication, no negotiation, no deals and no mercy. They are here to kill us all and take our stuff. But still our petty squabbles among each other continue. In addition to their fights with each other, every faction would also be concerned with dealing with the Invaders. Missions vs Invaders would be instanced content, and sprinkled liberally with scripting, obstacles and problems to puzzle out. They would range from small, easy, single player affairs for newbies up through multiple capital-ship "raid" type encounters with huge fleets smashing into each other.

It'd be an awesome game... I wish somebody would either make it, or give me investment capital to start a company to make it :P

And that's the view from Bandit Camp

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

4 Story Tall Donkey Kong Mural

...made entirely of post-it notes. Ha ha... gotta love nerds like this.

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Those Chinese WoW Hackers Ain't Messin' Round

Seriously, if you haven't run a windows update in a while, you really ought to. Read about this poor bastard.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Looking for Something to Play Free?

Never heard of this game before, supposedly a hybrid online persistent FPS/RPG. It's called Purge, and it sounds like it even has a PvP focus. Might have to give it a look. The price is right, anyway.

Update: well, it seems it's not an RPG with FPS elements, it's a FPS with RPG elements. You gotta level up your toon, but apart from that, it's your standard FPS fare. No persistent world, no mobs, just team PvP with classes. I can see why they couldn't get anybody to pay for this... but free, eh... I guess it makes for an ok alternative if you haven't got the cash for battlefield. Rating: C-

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Geeks Make Better Lovers

And here is why.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chinese Hackers Steal Your WoW Login with Windows Security Flaw

Yep... forget your credit card data or your Social security number... the real money is in your World of Warcraft account. The latest high-profile security flaw in Microsoft's operating systems has apparently been utilized by (how cliche is this) Chinese Hackers (not to be confused with Chinese Gold Farmers) to steal your World of Warcraft login data so they can strip down and sell your virtual stuff.

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21 Biggest Technology Flops

Speaking of the Dreamcast, it's on this list too. I'm a little confused as to why DIVX is on it but Betamax isn't... even though the DIVX section specifically mentions Betamax. I guess they meant recent flops.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Study Finds Stable Personalities Unaffected By Video Game Violence

Gee, who'da thunkit?

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The Final Nail in the Dreamcast's Coffin

Sega has announced that they are closing their repair division for the Dreamcast console. I didn't realize it was still open, I have a broken dreamcast sitting in a box somewhere, that I just replaced with another one off of Ebay when it broke, because I didn't know a channel existed to get it repaired.

Ah well. It was the 20th century's greatest console, its awesome quality rivaled only by its spectacular failure in the marketplace. The Dreamcast versions of Soulcalibur, Power Stone, and many others will forever have special places in my black little piece of charcoal that passes for a heart.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Review: Command and Conquer 3 - Tiberium Wars

This has been one of my more anxiously anticipated titles to come out in a good while. I am a huge C&C Generals: Zero Hour fan, and I have called it the best RTS of all time, with the possible exception (a tie, maybe) with Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War. So these are some pretty big shoes to fill, in my book.

I was a bit worried at all the complaints about bugs I'd been hearing about, but EA put out 3 patches in rapid succession within 48 hours of the game's release. So they're trying to fix it up. I've learned my lesson, with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Neverwinter 2, not to get into a game until the release-day patch madness is over. So, once they got up to version 1.3, I dove in.

The Good
C&C3 delivers. Let's just say that right out of the gate. If you pine for the good old days of GDI and NOD, with maybe just a little smidgen of something new, you won't be disappointed. C&C3 grabs back the original familiar dynamic of C&C and updates it for '07. I was especially pleasantly surprised to find nice things like HD FMVs, native support for widescreen resolutions (which was possible through an .ini file hack in Generals, but it's ever so much nicer to have it as a regular menu option), and the learning curve for the game is particularly gentle. The build order is practically unchanged, the units all behave much as any C&C fan would expect, and the game dynamics take a little bit from every past C&C title and mix in some new bits borrowed from other games.

For instance, C&C3 adopts the "squad" paradigm for infantry now, instead of having to train and order around each individual infantryman, which makes infantry a great deal less useless and cumbersome than it used to be. Civilian structures can be garrisoned (though not with as many units as in previous titles, such as generals, though that's probably because now each "unit" can be 2-6 soldiers), and infantry and light vehicle units have the option to call for air transport, once you have an airfield, which makes it quicker to move units from one end of the map to the other, provided it's safe for the unarmed transport craft to fly between the two points. However, unlike generals, you as a commander no longer gain experience and "level up" with promotions to unlock more abilities, and that's something I miss... but they have kept some of the better ideas that were introduced in Zero Hour, such as having a sidebar for all timered abilities so they are ready to fire at any time. Also, it's a definite leap forward in UI terms to be able to build all units either from the sidebar or by clicking on the structures involved, whichever is more convenient for the user.

Technically speaking, there isn't much to complain about. The movies are Hi-def, the graphics are fully 3d, a wide variety of resolutions and performance scaling options are available, and the controls are intuitive to most anyone who's played an RTS before. A lot of the performance problems that plagued Generals have gone away (I've hardly had any at all, really).

And while you wait for EA to fix multiplayer online play, there's plenty to keep you entertained in single player and network. It took me about 8 hours to get through the 20 missions that comprise the GDI campaign, and I haven't even touched the Nod campaign yet. Supposedly, there's a third unlockable campaign for the alien "Skrin," but I haven't gotten that far yet. Add into this that there are a large number of maps for Skirmish mode vs an infinite number of enemy configurations and combinations, and you've got some grade-A timewasting going on.

The Full Motion Videos themselves are worth commenting on, too. Billy Dee Williams, Michael Ironsides, and of course, Kane himself all make for entertaining (and over-the-top) exposition, supported by a bevy of B-series babe actresses, such as the chick doctor from House, the Psilon chick from the new BSG, etc.

The Bad
Even putting the apparently catastrophic multiplayer problems aside, there are still some minor technical glitches. For example, if your keyboard has special buttons to adjust the volume, I suggest you not use them during a FMV, because doing so on my rig invariably caused the FMV to lock for 10-20 seconds in a repeating half-second loop. Sometimes as well, I ran into a problem where I would give rapid orders to three different hotkeyed groups of units, and even though I heard the "acknowledged" noise for each click, one of the groups acts like I skipped it.

One of my bigger disappointments has been in the game's audio and voice acting, as compared with Generals and Zero Hour. Each unit in Generals/Zero Hour had a very humorous, tongue-in-cheek feel to its dialog, whereas in C&C3 it returns more to the feeling that each unit you click on is a generic soldier with minimal variation between different types of units. It's a bit of a letdown, after Generals showed what can be done with just a little humor and creativity.

Additionally, they need to find some costumes that fit those poor girls in the GDI FMVs. They're tight in some places, loose in others, and neither in a manner which is appealing. They look uncomfortable to wear and neither look like realistic military garb, nor are they cheesecake (no T&A fellas, sorry). Oh, and I just can't seem to take Jennifer "Dr. Cameron" Morrison seriously when she talks about ion cannon disruption fields... I can practically see, behind her dewy, glistening eyes, her thoughts of "dear God, my acting career is over just as it was getting started!"

And of course, there's the universal RTS complaint where sometimes your little troopies just flat out don't do what you tell them to do, or do it in the dumbest way possible. A few times I've had units "forget" that they were on "hold ground" mode (which means they don't move around unless I tell them to do so explicity), and go back to the default "limited chase" mode where they will chase after enemies a medium distance before returning to the general vicinity of where you put them... but often enough there's enough slop in their reasoning to get them into trouble, break up carefully placed defensive units, or just plain piss you off.

And finally, I have to say that I was expecting something with a little more "wow" factor than this. Really, this is a "return to formula" for the franchise, and updating old gaming concepts to new technology, but even so I was expecting something novel that never materialized for me. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a good, solid FPS and enjoyable, but Generals impressed me much more at its time than C&C3 is doing now.

The Final Word
A worthy successor to the C&C franchise, and a sizable improvement in technology and performance. Multiplayer is plagued with issues for a good number of people, but EA is working hard to get them resolved. The game is a technical and visual step up from generals, and the gameplay is of similar calibur, minus a few little nifty touches. The UI is also a great evolutionary step forward, and many will laud the return of C&C's trademark FMVs between levels. Rating: B+

And that's the word from Bandit Camp

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