City of Heroes Freedom to Shut Down

Earlier today, Paragon Studios' Community Manager, Andy Belford, made a post of the City of Heroes site that Paragon Studios will be closing.  This decision comes from NC Soft "in a realignment of company focus and publishing support".  As such, all subscription billing and Paragon Market purchasing have been discontinued.  He goes on to say "I implore you all, fovus on the good things of CoH and Paragon Studios.  Don't dwell on the "how" or the "why", but rather join us in celebrating the legacy of an amazing partnership between players and the development team."

City of Heroes was launched in North America on April 27, 2004.  Over the course of its eight year run, there have been 23 free updates and two major expansions released.  It was my first MMO and I met @Shaihulude because of it.  I spent plenty of hours bringing down the forces of evil and just hanging out during the many incredible holiday events.

The servers will remain open until November 30, 2012.  Undoubtedly, I'll be spending a great deal more time playing it and plan on being there when Paragon finally goes dark.  I hope to see you there.

Official Site

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

It's been a while since we've heard anything about Army of Two.  The last entry in the series, The 40th Day, was less than stellar and fans' hope for a continuation of the series was understandably low.  Since then, Dead Space developer, Visceral Games, have picked up the series.

They promise a more mature and darker story-line revolving around new characters, Alpha and Bravo.  Visceral Games won me over long ago with the first Dead Space, so I'm confident in their ability to give Army of Two the treatment it deserves.

Official Site

TERA on sale now!

Until August 28th, TERA is on sale!  Pick up the standard edition for $14.99 or the collector's edition for $19.99!  Both come with the standard first month of gameplay included.  However, the collector's edition also comes with some account-bound accessories and the totally bitchin' Regal Frostlion Mount.  The mount alone is worth that!

Get your copy HERE.

Help Build a Tesla Museum!

I'm wicked late to the party and they've already raised enough to buy the property, but you and I can still help by contributing even more money!  The money left over from the property purchase will go towards building the museum/science center itself.

Go!  Donate Now!

Mass Effect 3 Bounty Weekend: Operation Alloy

This weekend (August 24th - August 26th) marks another bounty weekend for Mass Effect 3.  This weekend's mission should be an easy one.

While I'm not keen on starting all over on my N7 Shadow, it's for the greater good.  Plus, the increase to medi-gel capacity won't hurt.

From BioWare's blog:

"A training center will only take a recruit so far.  Our recruits need field experience, so it's time to integrate them with seasoned squads during our next series of sweeps.

Individual Goal: Promote 2 characters

Allied Goal: Promote 50,000 characters

Special Circumstance: None

Individual Goal Success: All players awarded a Commendation Pack
Allied Goal Success: All players awarded a victory Pack and an increase to medi-gel capacity"

Hunter Blade

Want to see just how closely a developer can make their game resemble another without getting in trouble?  Read my review of Hunter Blade at!

Drakensang Online

My preview of upcoming of the fantastic browser MMO, Drakensang Online, is up at!

Zombies, Run! Day Six

To clear up any confusion as to what Zombies, Run! or this experiment is, I'll add basic information for the app at the end of each article.

Day six was an excellent continuation of day five's run.  The app held steady and I was able to blast through missions five and most of six thanks to my playlist consisting of shorter songs.  The plot thickens and more questions about Runner Five's past surface.  Much like any other zombie survival scenario, I'm starting to feel safer around the zombies than other survivors.  The impeccably crafted story continues to pull me as it slowly unravels.

I had taken two days off since my last run in an effort to rest my legs and allow my body to rebuild.  I was feeling good until a 1/4 of the way into my run.  My legs cramped up with tremendous pain.  Clearly I haven't been stretching enough and the sudden three mile runs have caught up with me.  As my legs locked up like a gorgon's victim, I hobbled and limped my way home, cutting my run in half.  While I'm getting better to adhering to Rule #1, it appears I've let myself go too far and my body is fighting back.  Until the damned awful pain lets up, immediate updates may be sporadic.

App: Zombies, Run!
Platform: Windows Phone (also available on iOS and Android)
Price: $7.99

Create Your Own Weapon in Dead Space 3

Another new feature has been revealed for upcoming title, Dead Space 3.  Players will now be able to use Isaac's engineering know-how to do more than repair ships and disable security systems.  Using parts collected scattered about, Isaac can craft exciting and deadly new weapons.

To help Isaac in his fight, two weapons can be combined into one, like a plasma cutter with a force cutter strapped to the bottom.  Players can also share the blueprints of their custom weapons so friends can build their own or tweak it to fit their own personal play style.

To celebrate this exhilarating new feature, developer, Visceral  Games, is allowing players to build their own weapons on the Dead Space site and submit it.  Visceral Games will then select one design and feature it in the game.  While all weapons should be craftable once the game comes out, it's still exciting to think that your weapon was the best of the best.  So get building!  The contest ends September 1st.

Zombies, Run! Day 5

Zombies, Run! has received an update for Windows Phone.  There appears to have been some major work done to the stability of the game as I was able to finish my 40 minute run without the app crashing or hanging up.

The ZombieLink account has been added.  This allows players to create an account on the official site and sync their stats from each run.  It's a nifty way to keep track of all run logs, post stats to Facebook and Twitter, and that's about it.  There are tabs to check the codex for unlocked items, places, and people, but at this time it wasn't recognizing what I had unlocked.  There's also an option to manage Abel township and upgrade buildings, but it's currently not functional with Windows Phone.

So close, and yet, so far...
An additional tracking method has been added in the form of an accelerometer which recognizes placement in the hand, in a pocket, or in an armband.  I run with my phone in my hand and the counter had a mind of its own as it was counting steps even though I was standing still.  I don't know how this affects the zombie chase mode as I still haven't turned it on because music still overpowers in-game alerts.

Thankfully, missions have been revised. Players can pause missions and resume them from predetermined points, of which there are usually four or five.  It makes it incredibly easy to pick up runs from where you left off and in my case, where I average a mission or two per run, I don't need to extend my run just to complete another mission.

A "wp7 exclusive" category has been added under the missions.  There are five in total, but I have no idea what they could be as I haven't unlocked them yet.

While there's still some room for improvement, this was a critical update that was sorely needed.  $8 is still a little high for a buggy app, but now I have no qualms about recommending it.  If you're still on the fence, at least download the trial.

Dead Space 3 Release Date and Pre-order Info

Dead Space 3 has been confirmed for release February 5, 2013.  Players can pre-order the game on the official Dead Space site through the Origin service for PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.  Pre-Orders get the limited edition for $59.99.  The limited edition contains two bonus suits and weapons.

From the official site:

  • Witness Suit - An insulated suit to help you explore Tau Voltanis' harsh terrain
  • First Contact Suit - Built for long term space exposure with thick armor
  • Evangelizer Weapon - Heavy duty assault rifle and shotgun combination
  • Negotiator Weapon = Tesla powered "instrument" for organic tissue dismemberment

Zombies, Run! Day Four

Disappointment seems to be the name of the game with Zombies, Run!  For an app that costs $7.99, the Windows Phone version seems riddled with bugs that quite nearly kill the experience.  From a pace tracker that doesn't work to settings not being retained to the app suddenly stopping during a run to the terrible volume management.  It's a proverbial mess.  What keeps it together is the story and the quality voice acting.

Today's adventure found Runner Five working with Runner Eight leading a group of zombies away from Abel township.  The only gate to the town was stuck open and the motors controlling it have burnt out.  It's up to the team of runners and the armed guards to keep the zombie horde away from the town.

With noise making devices strapped to their backs, Five and Eight lead a pack of zombies away from the town.  While Five has brought good fortune to the town with his arrival, there are some that think it is too convenient.  The last time the military sent someone to a village with only half of the normal supplies ended in a mysterious fire that consumed the village and all inside of it.

Trying her best to suppress a horrendous cough, Eight cuts communication with Sam and Abel township.  Simply put, she doesn't trust Five, and with good reason.  The runner whose shoes I fill could have a sinister ulterior motive for his arrival at Abel.  Time will tell what his plans are.

For this run, I had created a new playlist comprised of much shorter songs.  And since I couldn't hear the alerts of zombies chasing me, I was forced to turn "zombie chase" off.  Because of the shorter songs, the mission progressed much quicker.  It went so fast that it was done before I was halfway finished with my run.

With half of my run left, I decided to start the next mission.  But much like the first and second missions, this one crashed halfway through with the tell tale cue of the audio cutting out.  Instead of starting over, I opted to exit the app.

After returning home, I was able to divide the items gained during my runs among the various buildings of Abel.  After each settlement had gained a level, the towns population had risen to 92.  Leveling up the buildings seems to be a slow affair.  Sometimes it appears that the gauge doesn't fill up at all when applying new items.

At this point, I'm still torn about Zombies, Run!.  The unreliability is definitely the most frustrating aspect and is the biggest deterrent for the $7.99 price tag.  It doesn't matter how good a story is, if the app can't run properly, it isn't worth a dime.

Zombies, Run! Day 3

Day three begins and I'm finally on mission two.  Today's mission consists of the lead runner, Runner 7, taking me on a tour of Abel's perimeter.  Runner 7, Evan Deaubl, has become the head of runners simply because he has survived the longest.  When your job is to recover supplies from a zombie infested city and use yourself as live bait to protect other, the life span is understandably short.

The run was going well.  The music still overpowered any in-game cues, so yet again, I had to visually check each vibration my phone made.  Halfway through the run, I picked up an item and the music cut out.  The timer was still running, but the pace wasn't functioning properly.  That's nothing new however.  Many folks have complained that it doesn't work and I personally haven't seen it work.

I ran for some time, hoping that the issue would resolve itself.  I paused and started the mission, but it never kicked back over.  I finally had to stop the mission and restart it.

The mission played through without further interruption.  It was quite uneventful.  Some military supplies were recovered, some zombies evaded, and Runner Five lives to see another day.

Zombies, Run! Day 2

Due to the mishaps of day one, I approached day today's run a little differently.  I had my pre-made playlist from the night before, consisting of music from horror themed games.  My thinking was that without a playlist, the game defaulted to not playing anything during the running sections.  And based on my experience of the never ending run from yesterday, I did not want to repeat that.  So, with playlist in tow, I restarted mission one.

Things started off well as I stepped back into the shoes of Runner Five.  I was being flown in with supplies for Abel township.  For whatever reason, I only had half the supplies that are normally dispatched.  As we approached Abel, a rocket erupted from the wilderness and knocked the chopper out of the sky.  I'm not sure how, but I managed to survive the crash.  Only, there were far worse things waiting for me in the woods surrounding the crash site...

Zombies make everything better.
Fortunately, the coms operator for Abel, Sam Yao, was able to guide me to relative safety on the route to Abel.

This was the first instance where I finally had music play during the game.  I soon discovered that the music overpowered the alerts for the game.  The only way I could tell anything was happening was my phone vibrating.  Most notifications are what items have been picked up, so it wasn't a big deal.  But I was playing with "zombie chase" on.  When the zombies began to give chase, I had no idea until I looked at my phone.  And with no way of knowing how close they were, I had no choice but to sprint until I received another alert that I had escaped them.  When I got back home, I found that this is a common complaint for users of Zombies, Run! on Windows Phone.  There's no way to adjust the music volume in comparison to the game volume and as such, it's near impossible to hear anything over the music.

After successfully evading the zombies, I was directed to the local hospital by Dr. Maxine Myers.  It was this hospital that claimed the previous Runner Five.  Things were uneventful as I took an underground entrance into the abandoned building.  Only when I picked up a box from the CDC did the zombies react to my presence.  Like a well placed trap, they began to swarm...

Narrowly escaping the hospital, I sprinted for Abel.  Only I wasn't alone.  The previous Runner Five had caught my scent and was hot on my trail.  As I neared the gate, Sam could barely keep it together.  Apparently he and my predecessor had grown quite close.  Now with his love gurgling and  moaning into her still hot mic, he would have to watch as the town guards gunned her down.

As Runner Five was put down for good, I crossed the threshold into safety and delivered the package to the good doctor.

I was glad to complete the rather lengthy mission without the app "crashing" as it did the day before.  Yet, with the music overpowering the game, it's hard to use "zombie chase" without being put at a significant disadvantage.

Either way, after a rocky start, things are starting to look up.

Zombies, Run! Day 1

I've begun an experiment today.  Over the course of the next 35-40 days, I will undertake a daily mission in Zombies, Run! for Windows Phone.  Kim and I had used the app on her iPod and had loads of fun.  Since then, it has finally made its way to Windows Phone.  I will chronicle my journey and that of the people of Abel as I work my way through the 35 missions.

The first thing I notice is that the app doesn't like to retain some of the settings.  The game volume stays at one level, despite adjusting it several times.  Also, it will not play music on shuffle.  For music to play, a playlist must be created in the Zune software and then transferred to the phone.  I wasn't aware of this until I noticed 15 minutes into my run that it wasn't playing music.

After crash landing in the forest outside of Abel, I began to make my way to the hospital to gather supplies. As I walked, I heard the guttural moans of the dead.  They were close, but I couldn't tell how close.  Along the way I picked up an axe.  It seemed that many more items were collected with the iPod versus my Windows Phone, but regardless, items were still collected.  I thought that perhaps I wasn't swinging my arms enough, so I promptly corrected that and bore a striking resemblance to this guy.

Like a boss.

As I was enjoying my leisurely stroll through the woods, I received an alert that zombies were 10 meters behind me.  Zombies are a slow lot, and I didn't want to exhaust myself right away, so I began a brisk jog.  Seconds later, I receive another alert that they're six meters behind me.  I pick up the pace and suddenly they're five meters behind me.  I break out into an all-out sprint with a panicked look on my face as I hear the horde of the undead closing in.  Others on the path can only look at me with confusion as I run for all my worth away from this zombie menace.  After sprinting for 30 meters, I receive a message that I've dropped my supplies (consisting of one axe) which distracted the zombies and allowed me to escape.  I know that this is a fitness game, but I didn't expect to start against zombified Kenyan runners.

Motherfuckers are crazy fast.
After narrowly escaping and letting my heart rate return to something resembling normal, I realized that my music didn't play once.  I fiddled with the settings and resumed my run, waiting for it to kick in.  The zombies were waiting.  I immediately received an alert that they were 90 meters away.  I did my best impersonation of Forrest Gump and managed to put them behind me.

Replace the rapist rednecks with invisible zombies and you get the idea.
After successfully getting away, I slowed back down to a saunter and the items came flooding in.  A bat, batteries, a USB flash drive, a first aid kit, a sports bra...all good stuff.  I soon realized my music still wasn't playing.  I paused my session and fiddled with the settings.  I came to the conclusion that it would not shuffle the music on my phone.  I resigned myself to create a playlist when I made it back home.  I launched the app again and found that my progress in the first mission had been lost.  Rage and frustration were understatements as I had lost a half hour of progress and would have to start all over.

After getting back home, I was able to spread the supplies to Abel, even though I hadn't reached the settlement yet.  Four new faces found their way to the town even if I hadn't.

I've since put together a haunting playlist consisting of music from Alan Wake, Dead Space, and Call of Duty's zombie modes.  We'll see if tomorrow pans out better than today.  Stay tuned.

Release Calendar: August 2012

August 01:
Deadlight  (360)
The Book of Unwritten Tales  (PC)
Maestia: Rise of Keledus  (PC)
Hitman Sniper Challenge  (PC)

August 03:
Total Recall  (PC)

August 07:
Persona 4: Arena  (PS3)
Deponia  (PC)

August 14:
Sleeping Dogs  (PC, 360, PS3)
Darksiders 2  (360)

August 19:
New Super Mario Bros. 2  (3DS)

August 21:
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2  (PC, 360)

August 24:
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Editio  (PC)

August 28:
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron  (360, PS3)
Madden NFL 13  (Wii, PS3, 360)
Guild Wars 2  (PC)

Mass Effect 3 Bounty Weekend: Operation Olympus

This weekend plays host to another Mass Effect 3 Bounty Weekend.  From BioWare's blog:

"Operation OLYMPUS (August 10th-12th)

Increased Reaper activity has been reported around London.  Operation OLYMPUS will focus large-scale strikes on the Reapers to buy the Resistance time to investigate.

Squad Goal: Full extraction from Firebase London using any Kit on any difficulty

Allied Goal: Using any Kit/Map combination against any enemy, complete wave 10 on a combined community total of 200,000 Bronze missions, 175,000 Silver missions and 70,000 Gold missions.

Special Circumstance: None

Squad Goal Success: All squad members awarded a Commendation Pack
Allied Goal Success: All players awarded a Victory Pack

Requirement: Mass Effect: Earth must be installed