Breaking Games: Fable Economy

My friend over at Sapper Woody just put up a fantastic guide to breaking the economy in Fable.  Follow his tricks and your character will have more money than he/she will know what to do with.


Check this out!

My friend started up this new, totally awesome site!  Check it out at:

/end shameless plug

Oh Fuck, Zombies!!!

The greatest choose your own adventure I've ever read.

Click to play:

App of the Week: TWiT

For an IT professional, staying up to date is critical.  In this day and age, so much is being updated and new technologies are constantly being revealed.  To sit and read about every new thing that is happening would take hours.  That's where the fine folks at TWiT come in.

TWiT is a network of podcasts produced by IT's leading pros.  From home theaters to the latest processor reveal, they cover it all.  Best of all, it's done in a very entertaining fashion.

Upon opening the app, you're presented with a "Highlights" column.  At the top is a category labeled "Discover Shows" that will recommend shows to you based on what you've recently viewed.    Beneath that is a listing of the shows as they've been released.  Swipe left and there are your favorites.  Below that, your viewing/listening history.  Swipe left again and all of the shows are displayed on stunning individual tiles.  At the bottom of that is a button that allows live audio streaming.  Swipe left one more time and you have all the resources associated with TWiT.  This includes the official site, twitter feeds, bug reporting, and more.

When I got my Windows phone, this was an app I was eagerly awaiting.  Once it arrived, there hasn't been a day I haven't used it.  TWiT has become an integral part of my day.  Give it a try, it's free.  After a few podcasts, I guarantee you'll love it too.  Just make sure you're using it in conjunction with Wi-Fi, otherwise be prepared to burn through your data quickly streaming all of this great content.

App of the Week - Halo Waypoint

Halo Waypoint is something I didn't see much use for when I first got my Windows Phone.  None the less, I downloaded it.  Now at the time, I enjoyed Halo, but wasn't a fanatic.  Because of this, I didn't give it a fair shake.  What happened as a result was my missing a fantastic app.  One I use almost on a daily basis now.

Halo Waypoint is located under the Xbox Live tile.  Upon launcing it and looking at a very stylish background, the app syncs your Xbox Live account.  You're then greeted by a column with all the latest news relating to the world of Halo.  This includes videos that load within seconds of clicking play.  Swipe right and you're presented with your personal service record.  This includes your personal rating and every stat imaginable relating to your Halo career.  Plus there's a very snazzy photo of your SPARTAN from Reach.  Swipe right again and you're presented with a section called Intel.  This contains info on all past Halo titles including media and a wiki.  Swipe right, yet again and you'll see the section labeled Community.  Community provides quick links to blogs and news from 343 Industries, forums, podcasts, tweets, and community highlights.  Yet another great way to stay involved with the Halo community.

Below all of this are threes tabs.  On the left is a tab for looking at your friends list.  This functions as a way to interact with your Xbox Live friends within the app.  You can view their Halo records and what they're doing currently if logged onto Xbox Live.  The middle tab displays messages received over Xbox Live.  The tab on the right allows you to modify the settings in the Waypoint app.

Since picking up Reach again, this app has become a huge tool in tracking my progress without having to log onto the site or use my Xbox 360.  Plus it integrates many of the features found in the Xbox Live Extras app, essentially combining two apps in one.  This is a must have for any fan of Halo.

Marvel vs Capcom 3

Waiting 12 years for a sequel is a hard thing.  Ask any fan of Duke Nukem.  Unlike Duke Nukem, the Marvel vs Capcom series has aged relatively well.  It's still a tournament staple and was released last year on Xbox Live and Playstation Network.  The big question many asked when MvC3 was announced was, "Do we need another MvC?"  My first question was, "When can I buy it?"

With the smash hit that Street Fighter IV became, it seemed like an obvious move for the Capcom giant to breath new life into another series (When can I expect a new Darkstalkers?).  Applying the 2D 3D design with the extravagant colors and hint of cel-shading is the perfect visual for a game that has super-powered individuals beating each other senseless.  Everything is fast and fluid with plenty of seizure inducing flashes from the character specials and attacks.

Much like the past two entries, each character has three variants for special attacks and tag in attacks.  You build a team of three characters and win when the other team is wiped out.  Specials are built up through inflicting and receiving damage, up to five bars total.  It essentially breaks down into one bar per character, with three or more bars triggering all three of your characters to unleash their specials at once for screen filling destruction.  There's also a mode that allows you to power a character up for a short time, unleashing massive damage and recovering health at an incredible rate.  This can be triggered once a match and can drastically change the outcome.  Each character is incredibly unique with no two resembling one another (except Akuma and Ryu).  This is an incredible breath of fresh air when compared to the last entry in the series where many characters were essentially reskins.  The character roster has been drastically cut, removing many of my favorites.  But the move sets of this roster is so varied, that there isn't much love lost.

The soundtrack is catchy as ever, with the menus making me nod my head and tap my foot.  Each character has a theme, and it plays when they're brought into the action.  The voice work is top notch, with both an English and Japanese track that can be customized to individual characters.  Attacks feel right when paired with the sound effects and the overall audio aspect is quite a ride.

The game has the standard variety of modes.  Arcade has you play through numerous rounds before taking on the final boss *spoiler* Galactus *end spoiler*.  Each character has a unique ending, and the only way to view it is to make sure that character is the one who lands the final KO.  There's a training mode that allows you to practice against a dummy AI and perfect your roster.  Mission mode is challenge based gameplay with 10 challenges per character, designed to teach players the ins and outs of each character.  A shadow mode is also in place, letting you fight AI versions of tournament champs and the development staff.  I'm terrible enough at this game without the best in the world handing my head to me.  Multiplayer has the standard versus affair and an online mode.  In addition to this, each character is issued a player card that tracks numerous statistics including: win/loss, play style, preset character rosters, and current rank.  Everything is in place to make this a great online game, but the matchmaking is so broken, it renders the game unplayable online.  When connecting to a match, 90% of the connections fail, returning you to the main menu.  Also, if you  do happen to find a lobby, you must queue up in a line of up to eight people while you watch the two current player's life bars fall and their cards bounce.  Why can't we watch them fight?  This was something that was in place in the last game!  It's absurd that such an obvious feature is missing.  I love the game, but it ends up collecting more dust than normal due to the faulty online components.

Beyond the excellent core mechanics to keep players punishing their thumbs, there is a large amount to collect in terms of artwork, model viewers, voice samples, etc. to keep you playing for some time.  It's miles ahead of MvC2, but still needs some tweaking to really shine.  Capcom being Capcom has already released two characters for the price of $5 or 400MSP each.  (Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath).  Without any doubt, they will release more characters and costume packs to keep fan interest.

This isn't a game for the casual player.  There are some very involved mechanics in place, and there is a steep learning curve.  But if you're a fan of either franchise, it's definitely worth a look.  Especially if you like over the top action in your fighting games.

Dead Space 2 Entry

Isaac was working his way down an alley.  It was the middle of the night.  The clouds obscured what little moonlight there was.  It didn’t matter as his helmet had night vision built in.  It bathed the world in an eerie green glow, but allowed him to survive when others had stumbled blindly into the clawed arms of death.  He was heading towards the space port.  Hopefully there would be a ship that he could salvage so he could get off this miserable planet.

Just then, something moved in his peripheral vision.  He stopped and checked his weapon.  The clip was fresh and the safety was off.  He did a quick scan of the alley as he inched forward.  There were dumpsters lined along the wall on his left and garbage strewn everywhere.  Isaac could see the end of the alley 20 meters ahead.  He picked up his pace when something fell from the roof in front of him.

It screamed and slammed into him with enough impact to knock the wind out of him.  The necromorph was shrieking as it wrapped its clawed arms around him, pinning his arms to his sides.  He had dropped his weapon and was staring into the face of imminent death.  He was tired, tired of running and being scared.  He had been through too much to die here.  He looked into the thing’s hideous face and reared his head back.  He brought the point of his helmet crashing into the creature’s face, smashing it with a wet crunching sound.  The monster’s grip loosened.  He brought his head back and bludgeoned the necromorph’s broken and bleeding face with his helmet twice more, cracking the thing’s skull open to let the pulpy contents slide out and slap wetly on the ground.  The thing stumbled backwards and Isaac’s arms were freed. His visor was splattered with blood, but he couldn’t give up his advantage now.  He grabbed each of its arms as it fell backwards and planted his foot on the creature’s chest.  Using its own momentum to slam it into the ground with his foot, he now stood with one foot on top of the creature.  A small shriek gurgled out of the monster’s throat as Isaac began to pull on its arms.  He felt as much as he heard its shoulders snap out of socket with a wet snap.  He strained and continued to pull as the weak tendons strained and eventually tore in half.  Blood poured from the crudely amputated limbs and the torso they were once attached to.

The Necromorph spasmed in its death throes.  Blood began to pool around the creature as Isaac looked down on it.  He dropped the thing’s arms and picked up his own weapon.  No, he would not die here. 

Dead Space 2: Severed

Severed is the first piece of DLC to hit for Dead Space 2.  It's refreshing to see support come in the form of something other than costume and weapon packs.  Severed acts as a stand alone campaign.

Severed picks up after the events of Dead Space: Extraction.  Gabe and Lexine are now married and living on the Sprawl.  Life seems to be perfect for the two until shit hits the fan, as it tends to do in the Dead Space universe.  At the start, we find Gabe working security and down in the mines.  The entire objective over the two chapter story is to reunite Gabe and Lexine. There are a few major twists and turns and at the end, I found myself caring about these characters just as much as I did for Isaac.  Not to hint toward spoilers, but the ending left me wanting more in a very good way.

Severed plays out much like the second half of Dead Space, being very action packed in its content.  There are a few hair raising moments, but not as many as are typical with other Dead Space entries.  This is understandable as an entire story must be told in the span of an hour.  Gabe has access to all the weapons of Isaac, and can even upgrade his suit and said weapons.  There is no real impact to not upgrading and I'm not entirely sure why the power nodes were included since there is no option to carry over items into a new game.  This is bizarre because the save file is numbered much like the regular Dead Space save file.

In the end, Severed is an amazing piece of DLC.  It is solid in the story telling, pacing, and game play.  It even brings the Twitchers from the first game back in the same way they used to tear me apart.  All for the low low price of 560 Microsoft Points or $7 on PSN.    While it may be lost on those that didn't play Dead Space: Extraction, it is an astounding adventure and well worth the investment.

App of the Week: Wikipedia

Put mildly, I am addicted to Wikipedia.  Ever since I was young, I have loved random bits of useless trivia.  Finally, one day, years ago I discovered the nirvana that is Wikipedia.  Since acquiring my phone in November, I have spent plenty of time with the browser version of Wikipedia.  While this is fine and dandy, there had to be something better.  Indeed there was.

Wikipedia is a free app that is smart, simple, and effective.  Upon launching, a search bar appears.  Type something in and boom, there it is in convenient web browsing form.  Back on the home page, next to the search bar, is a favorites tab that displays your recent searches.  There's nothing more and nothing less.  It is the closest I've come to finding the perfect app.  

So if you love having access to the near endless trove of data that Wikipedia has to offer and you happen to have a Windows Phone, then you can do no better.  

Google Chrome vs Internet Explorer 9

I am very adverse to change.  I am an old man in a 26 year old body.  I have been using Internet Explorer as my default browser since I started using computers.  From the days of Windows 95 to the latest beta candidate for Internet Explorer 9, I've been Microsoft's slave.

When IE9's beta was first released, I downloaded it immediately.  It was sleek, fast, and easy on the eyes.  It took some of the best elements from other browsers, like Chrome's popular pages appearing when you opened a new tab.  The entire UI was cleaned up and simplified, making browsing a dream.  I began using it at work first, and it was a wonderful first date.  But then, I brought IE9 home and things got ugly.

I said to IE9, "C'mon baby, let's get you into something more comfortable." as I installed the browser on my personal machine.    With a lecherous smile, I fired the browser up.  I took it through a few test paces, checking my email, browsing a few of my favorite sites.  It handled like a dream, moving to the rhythm of my keystrokes.  Then it was time to get down and dirty with my new browser.  I logged into Blogger and took a look at my page.  But something was wrong, it was like I was looking at my page as a guest.  I couldn't see any of my tools.  In fact, at the top right of the page, there was a link saying "Sign in".  What the fuck, IE9!?  I took a step back and told myself, it's just a beta.  They still need to work the kinks out.  We'd take this nice and slow and get to know each other.

Many months later, we have the release candidate for IE9.  It's due to be officially released tomorrow.  I still have the same issues while working with Blogger and more.  I added a Twitter stream to the page, and IE9 started to become controlling.  It wouldn't display my Twitter feed or Xbox Live player card.  "I know you're not trying to cross stream services with me!" it seemed to say.  So I did what any man would do at this point.  I smacked the bitch and disabled XSS filtering.  Suddenly my Blogger page displayed the Twitter feed and player card.  But I still had to view my page as a guest.  And as an act of revenge, IE9 decided to block my log in attempts with Microsoft sites.  No longer could I log in to my Windows mail account or even  I even went so far as to restore the browser to default, essentially reseting the relationship.  This did nothing, as I had flipped a bitch switch from which there was no return.

I loved IE, and the recent face lift made me love IE9 all over again.  But the new side to IE is spiteful and mean spirited.  I had put up with the abuse for months now.  I had to get out and find a browser that would be gentle and take care of my needs.  After months of avoiding her calls, I finally went away for the weekend with Google Chrome.  Chrome may not be as pretty as IE9, but deep down she has a heart of gold.  I come home, and she's waiting for me with a smile on her face, ready to take me wherever I please.  And she does this quickly without any of the hangups IE9 had.  As a bonus, Chrome loves to play with toys.  Some, she even brought along, like the spell checker.  Now, I don't want to rush things, but I believe that Chrome might be the one for me.  I just have to make sure that she's in it for the right reasons.  I'd hate to devote myself to one browser and find out she's only with me to mine my data or something.

Dead Space 2

Picking up shortly after the events of the original, Dead Space 2 finds Isaac Clarke on a space station orbiting Saturn called The Sprawl. Isaac was rescued after escaping the Ishimura and is currently being held in a mental facility. Needless to say, things go to Hell pretty quick. Is the terror as potent the second time around?

Not much has changed as far as the game play goes, but this isn’t a bad thing. Dead Space was one of the very few games where I didn’t have to struggle with the controls and everything felt completely natural. What does change is very welcome. Isaac now has more control in zero-G, with his suits now equipped with boosters that allow for free movement. In addition, the frustrating turret sections are gone, putting all the tension where it belongs: surviving the Necromorph hordes.

Isaac has upgrades available to him, much like the first game. Collecting nodes and filling in the grids is necessary to surviving the end game. Instead of finding upgrades to just one suit, Isaac can now find 10 suits over the course of two playthroughs. Each suit has a different amount of inventory slots and perks like increased weapon damage or faster kinesis recharge.

Necromorphs are of the same types from the last game, with only a handful of new types. There’s just enough variety to keep things from getting boring and honestly, how many ways are there to dismember poor Isaac. Shockingly, there’s many. Dead Space 2 has some of the most grotesque and gruesome deaths I’ve ever witnessed. Some left me cringing and staring in awe as I asked myself “Did that just happen?” This is most definitely not a game for the faint of heart.

Atmosphere is what made the first Dead Space such a hit. The halls of the Ishimura oozed a quiet and palpable fear. The Sprawl carries on in the same vein, but shows the domestic side of space faring life. Isaac moves through shopping centers, hospitals, apartments, and even a school. It’s disturbing to move through the blood splattered walls of a child’s room, jumping at the shadows cast by their night lights. The pacing is terrific where the only moments I wasn’t on edge were the times I was shopping for supplies.

Isaac is no longer a mute in this outing and his contributions only make the story better. This is a story of Isaac moving past the mental hold the Marker has on him. It is a tale of forgiveness and finding peace in a world erupting in madness. It is all very moving and in the end I really felt for Isaac.

Dead Space 2 also throws multiplayer into the mix with a team of four humans versus a team of four Necromorphs. The humans have a certain amount of time to complete five tasks, with each completed task adding time onto the clock. The Necromorph’s only goal is to kill the humans and keep them from completing their objectives. To help them in that goal, NPC Necromorphs spawn to help the players on the Necromorph team. It doesn’t seem too fair, but Necromorph’s power lies in numbers. As you complete matches, you’ll earn XP and level up. The level cap is at 60 currently, with each level unlocking different things. These range from costumes to weapons, weapon upgrades, and perks and abilities. The mode will certainly keep players in Isaac’s mad world for quite some time.

In the end, Dead Space 2 is everything that was great about Dead Space and more. At this point, it is a serious contender for my Game of the Year. For those that still have an interest in the survival horror genre, this series remains at the top and is a must have. But after playing with the lights off and the sound up, have fun trying to fall asleep.

App of the Week: PC Remote for Windows 7 Phone

PC Remote is a free app that provides a basic remote control for your PC.  It's very simple to get up and running once you've installed the app and downloaded the software to your PC.  Once you've run the installed software, a pop-up will appear with your PC's name and IP address.  You'll enter these settings on the phone and within seconds you're controlling your PC via phone.

You have very basic features with the app; a keyboard, mouse, Windows Media Center, and Windows Media Player controller.  The mouse is pretty laggy and at one time the signal was lost.  Overall it works well enough for me not to complain, especially since it's a free app.  Plus it's made watching Hulu and Netflix in bed a whole lot more enjoyable now that I don't have to get up at the end of the movie.

I would love to see an update that integrates the Zune.  But much like the fabled update or update to the update, I'm not holding my breath. 

PC Remote

What do we see when we die?

Sometimes, I'm floating through space.  My mind drifts off and I see the stars surrounding me.  I'm finally free in the dark abyss.  I sail through celestial bodies, their vibrant bodies providing the only color to my existence.  I feel nothing.  I smell nothing.  I hear nothing.  My tongue lies still and my face resembles that of a corpse.  No longer am I tied to the petty concerns of life.  I glimpse eternity and float onward. 

March 2011 Release Calendar

March 1:
Vagrant Story (PSN)
Man vs Wild  (Wii)
PixelJunk Shooter 2  (PS3)
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2-Retribution  (PC)
Chuck E. Cheese's Sprts Games  (Wii)
Rango: The Video Game  (DS, Wii, 360)
Rift  (PC)
Dead Space 2: Severed  (PS3, 360)
Fable 3: Traitor's Keep  (360)

March 2:
Beyond Good and Evil HD  (360)

March 4:
Fortresscraft  (360)

March 6:
Pokemon Black/White  (DS)

March 8:
Combat Wings: The Great Battles of WWII  (Wii, 360)
Zany Golf  (Wii)
Dragon Age 2  (360, PC, PS3)
YooStar 2  (360, PS3)
God Eater Burst  (PSP)
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle  (PSP)
Atari's Greatest Hits Volume 2  (DS)
The $1,000,000 Pyramid  (Wii)
Major League Baseball 2K11  (PS2, PSP, DS, PS3, PC, Wii, 360)
MLB 11: The Show  (PS2, PSP)
Petz: Bunny Bunch  (DS)

March 9:
Torchlight (360)

March 14:
Liight  (Wii)

March 15:
Okamiden  (DS)
PhotoWorld  (DSI)
Shogun 2: Total War  (PC)
Top Spin 4  (360, Wii, PS3)
Top Shot Arcade  (Wii)
Jikandia:  The Timeless Land  (PSP)
Homefront  (360, PS3, PC)
Yakuza 4  (PS3)
Warriors: Legends of Troy  (360)

March 16:
Full House Poker  (360)

March 17:
Dance on Broadway  (PS3)

March 22:
Trackmania: Build to Race  (Wii)
Monster Tale  (DS)
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood  (PC)
Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars  (Wii, 360, PS3, PC, PSP, DS)
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive  (PSP)
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy  (PSP)
Raving Rabbids Party Collection  (Wii)
Get Fit With Mel B  (Wii)
Playstation Move Heroes  (PS3)
The Sims Medieval  (PC)
Titanic Mystery  (DS, Wii)
Time Clancy's Slinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD  (PC, PS3, PS2)
Prince of Persia Classic Trilogy HD  (PS2, PS3, PC)
Crysis 2  (360, PS3, PC)
Dynasty Warriors 7  (PS3, 360)
Sniper: Ghost Warrior  (PS3)
Tomb Raider Trilogy  (PS3)
Nanda's Island  (DS)
Chainz Galaxy  (DS)

March 27:
Nintendogs and Cats: Toy Poodle and New Friends  (3DS)
Ridge Racer 3D  (3DS)
Madden NFL Football  (3DS)
Samurai Warriors Chronicles  (3DS)
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition  (3DS)
The Sims 3  (3DS)
Asphalt 3D  (3DS)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011  (3DS)
Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs  (3D)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars  (3DS)
PilotWings Resort  (3DS)
Super Monkey Ball  3D  (3DS)
Steel Diver  (3DS)
Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars  (3DS)
Rayman 3D  (3DS)

March 29:
Mayhem 3D  (PS3, 360)
Winter Sports 3: The Great Tournament  (360)
WWE All Stars  (360, PS3, PSP, PS2, Wii)
Shift 2 Unleashed  (PS3, 360, PC)
Might and Magic Heroes VI  (PC)
Darkest Hour: A Hearts of Iron Game  (PC)
Centipede 2011  (Wii, DS)
NASCAR: The Game 2011  (PS3, Wii, 360)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters  (Wii, PS3, 360)
Hop  (DS)
Country Dance  (Wii)
ZhuZhu Puppies  (DS)
Sonic the Hedgehog  (PS3)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky  (PSP)
Pinkalicious  (DS)
The 3rd Birthday  (PSP)

March 30:
Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring  (PSP)
Fit in Six  (PS3)
Tower  (PS3)
Soccer up  (Wii
Magna Mundi  (PC)
Hunted:  PC)
Commander - The Great War  (PC)
Red Faction: Battlegrounds  (PS3)
Reaper  (PSP)
Beyond Good and Evil HD  (PS3)
Space Channel 5, Part 2  (PS3, 360)
Magic: The Gathering - Tactics  (PC)
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: The Da Vinci Disappearence  (PS3, 360)