Star Fox Assault: A Short Sequel

starfox-assault

Graphics

The graphics were the best of any Star Fox game yet and really show off the Gamecube’s capabilities. Some of the cityscapes seem cartoonish at times, but they still look very good. I particularly liked the detail to graphics when running on the ground, there were smaller reflections and water effects that add to the immersion of the game. There are many of the same types of enemies in each mission, and some of the areas make it particularly hard to see enemies. While it’s by far not the most graphic intensive game, there is virtually no lag, even when there are very many enemies on the screen.

Gameplay

I’ll start off by saying that this game is very short. The first time I sat down to play it, it took roughly 6 hours to completely beat the game in story mode on the lowest difficulty level, and that included watching every one of the cut scenes. In addition to this, the game is far more linear than some of the previous Star Fox games, there are no special missions, or multiple ways to beat the game, just 10 missions. It left me wanting more, and replaying the game just for the hope that I might find it.

The first mission is awesome. It’s a classic Star Fox space level that brought back fond memories of the old games. The controls haven’t changed in the Arwing (the airplane) and are very easy to learn. After blasting away a ton of enemies and feeling happy, my hopes were dashed rapidly in the second mission, where you start off on foot. The designers seemed to have put a lot of effort into the on-foot parts of the missions, putting a ton of weapons in and forcing you to run around quite a bit. The controls were hard to get used to, so I switched them to the dual stick method (which I would recommend if you play Halo) and that made the on-foot missions bearable. I did not care for the on-foot missions. If you’re looking for a shoot-em-up, I would not recommend this game.

After the on-foot part, you get to hop in the tank, which is actually far worse to control than on-foot part. While the tank does have a kick-ass plasma cannon that annihilates everything in its path, it takes forever to turn around and I ended up rolling over just to smash the enemies (yeah you can run over smaller enemies to kill them, that was pretty fun). The tank missions were incredibly tedious and very difficult to finish because some of the maps had terrain that was not suited for the tank, but in many cases you had to roll on through the rough parts anyway, which made for some buggy animation and control.

Luckily though, these parts are over rather quickly and you forget about them as you hop in the Arwing and kick some more ass as you fly around. There is one very cool new feature in this game, and that is when you can hop on the back of another pilot’s airplane and pull out an incredibly powerful cannon to blast a ton of enemies. These parts of the game felt remarkably like an arcade game (in a good way), especially with the colorful world textures that you fly over. However, again, there isn’t enough of this action and I still had that empty feeling afterwards.

The heart of the game is, of course, the classic Arwing missions. With the improved graphics and scripted events, it makes a nicely immersive game. In my opinion, the game should have been only been the Arwing missions. They are a classic recipe for fun and a great diversion (for a while).

The Enemy AI is very smart, and gets tougher as the game progresses. It gets to a point where it’s ridiculous at the end of the game, there are constantly enemies shooting at you from behind. The amount of loops I had to do to avoid these enemies almost made me nauseous by the time I was done.

There are 3 difficulty levels, the easiest, of course, being very easy. One interesting thing I noticed is that on the medium difficulty level, the missions have more objectives and are opened up to more areas. This was cool, because instead of just making the enemies have more hitpoints, it actually makes the game a bit more difficult on a few different aspects. Once you get a certain score on the silver difficulty you can earn badges on each mission to eventually unlock an extra game, Xevious, an old-school scrolling game from 1982. I was very disappointed that it took a decent amount of work to unlock this, when I could play a thousand similar flash versions of it online. The space it took to add this mini-game should have been used to add another mission to the main game.

I won’t say much about the multiplayer, because if you’ve ever played multiplayer in Star Fox 64 then you know that it’s not the game’s strong point. You get to play in the same levels as in the main game, and a few levels that look as though they were scrapped together at the last minute (it looks reminiscent of playing on a giant table with some blocks strewn about). I couldn’t even get people to play it with me for more than a couple matches before they became too bored to continue.

Audio

The usual type of sounds you would expect from a StarFox game, but with some over dramatic music that reminded me of a bad Star Wars game. The voice acting is pretty bad, Slippy is still an incredible moron (at one point he has an enemy following him and he shouts “Ack! What do I do?”). This is unfortunate because most of the mission information is found out through hearing your teammates yell at you.

Miscellaneous

I did have a lot of fun playing this game, but I was so disappointed in how short it was. This would be a great game to rent and be done with, but I doubt you’ll be playing this a couple weeks after you’ve bought it.

How to Play Minecraft for Free – Getting Started

You’ve probably heard of the game Minecraft before and wondered why anyone would play it. Usually new players are repelled by its very simple graphics, but once they play Minecraft for a while, the engaging and creative gameplay supersede the need for fancy, high resolution graphics we see in many games today. Luckily for those who are unable to afford the game, there is a free version, which can be played at Minecraft For Free X without any gimmicks. Although the site hosts an older version, online play is still possible on older 1.5.2 servers that have online mode disabled. All the singleplayer modes work flawlessly, which is perfect for a Minecraft newbie.

Getting Wood Achievement

punching-tree

When many new players begin, they wonder to themselves, “What do I do now?” Well, it really depends on what you wish to do. However, in most circumstances, players will want to retrieve wood from a nearby tree. This is commonly referred to as “punching a tree.” Trees are required to craft important things, so you’ll definitely need them to progress. Once you have punched the tree, you will receive the “Getting Wood” achievement.

Crafting Table

crafting-table

Next, you should press ‘E’ to open your inventory. You should see several lines of boxes on top a 2×2 grid of the same boxes, and next to the grid will be another box. Click on the box where you see your wood, move your mouse over one of the boxes on the 2×2 grid, and click. This should place your wood in one of the 2×2 grid boxes, and another item called ‘wooden planks’ will show up in the box next to the grid. Click on that, and move it into your inventory. You will notice that the wood that you originally placed in the grid has disappeared, and this is totally normal. You have done your first crafting.

How to Craft

3x3-crafting-table

Now, you may be thinking, what about the mining? Well, you need to do some more crafting first. You now have four (or more) wooden planks, so you should use them to make a crafting table. Put one wooden plank in each box on the 2×2 grid, and you will notice an item labeled ‘crafting table’. Put it into your inventory, and place it on the ground somewhere by right clicking on a block. From now on, right clicking on the crafting table will open up a new area that look like a menu but has different contents. For example, you will see what looks like a menu but it has a 3×3 grid instead of a 2×2 grid. This is what a crafting table looks like.

You might wonder, why use a crafting table? Why can’t I just use the grid in my inventory? Well, on the full size crafting table you have more space which can be used to craft items that you can’t craft in your inventory. For example, the next item you will need cannot be crafted in your inventory. You can make a pickaxe with just wooden planks and sticks on the crafting table. Sticks can be made in your inventory, by just putting one wooden plank on top of the other. To make a pickaxe, put a stick on the bottom-center, another stick in the very center, and fill up the whole top row with wooden planks. Then, a pickaxe will appear in the lonely box. Pick it up, and you are ready to go mining! You can also make a shovel with just the center column, by putting a wooden plank on top of a stick which is on top of another stick. The shovel makes mining dirt much quicker, and the pickaxe mines cobblestone a lot quicker.

Mining

mc-mining

You finally can go mining. Just use your wooden pickaxe to mine the cobblestone (entirely gray) or coal (looks like cobblestone but has black spots.) If you stumble upon what looks like cobblestone but with light brown spots, than you have come across iron. You may notice that you can’t mine the iron with just your wooden pickaxe, so do what you did to make the wooden pickaxe, but instead of wooden planks put cobblestone. Now you have a stone pickaxe! You can use the stone pickaxe to mine iron and lapis lazuli (Dark blue spots). Also, make a furnace by putting cobblestone in every box in a crafting table except for the very central one. Make a chest by doing the same thing except using wooden planks instead of cobblestone. The chest can be used for storing any item, and the furnace can use wood, coal, etc. to smelt different items. Good luck, and enjoy playing Minecraft for free!

An Hour of Gaming a Day is Good For You

kids-playing-games

In a new study from Oxford University, researchers concluded that video games will be good for children if they play for an hour or so a day. The study revealed that kids who played several hours per week behaved better. For example, some were less annoying, didn’t cause as much trouble, or became more empathetic towards others than those who didn’t play games.

On the other hand, for those who played more than an hour a day, more negative effects started to appear. Fatigue, disobedience, lack of friendliness, and similar things were noticeable. I am assuming these are the addicted ones who play games to get away from reality, so they are generally less satisfied with their life.

One aim of this study is to resolve the myth that video games are bad for your children and promote violence. Parents probably would have just focused on the negative effects of prolonged gaming, so this may be all for naught. I think playing a few hours a week reduces stress and creates a healthy mind. Playing too much defaults the brain to hedonistic desires and video gaming addiction. It’s not rocket science, yo.

The Black Death

During the Middle Ages, great plagues swept across Europe, and the worst outbreak occurred in the 14th century, killing 25 million people. This deadly disease was called the Black Death, because those suffering from the disease would turn a blue-black color. Other names for it were bubonic, oriental, or Levantine plague. It spread from Asia and was brought by ships from the Black Sea to Mediterranean ports.

plague-doctor

An 18th-century plague doctor wearing protective clothing. The beak contained “antiseptic” substances. The rod was to take pulses without touching the patient. Source: CDC

The pestilence was so infectious that villages were completely wiped out, and some reports say that one-third of all the people in England (the population was about 3 million then) died of it in two years. More than half the population of Asia and Europe may have died from the disease. In those days, when streets and houses were unhealthy and had no proper drainage, plagues happened fairly often, but the Black Death was the worst one ever known. Black rats became infected with the disease and the fleas from these animals hit other rats and humans, and so the plague quickly spread. A writer of the time said: “The cattle roamed master less over the countryside, crops rotted in the fields for lack of hands to reap them, and so few priests were alive that our Holy Father the Pope gave permission that laymen would minister to the dying.”

For the next 300 years the plague broke out at intervals, though never so badly again. With cleaner towns and rat control, the plague had practically disappeared from Europe by the end of the 17th century.

A plague epidemic began in China around 1894 and spread throughout Southeast Asia and India. During this epidemic, the plague bacteria were discovered by a Swiss scientist Aleixandre Yersin. He then developed an effective serum for inoculation against the disease.

 

 

Valentine

It’s 2015, and the next “holiday” coming up is Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on February 14 each year, people send cards expressing love and affection to each other. The day is named after two different saints named Valentine. Both of them lived many hundreds of years ago in Rome, Italy. No one knows why these saints are associated with the custom of sending messages of love. They name of those saints is used because February 14 is the feast day on which they are honored and celebrated.

heart-flowers

The custom of sending greetings on St. Valentine’s Day has grown through the years, and now millions of people in the United States, and many other countries, send greeting cards or Valentines. Some of them are sent by loves. These are beautifully decorated with hearts and Cupids and other symbols of love. Some people send “comic Valentines.” A few of these are clever, but most of them are not really comic and can even be unkind or cruel. Candy and flowers also are often sent on Valentine’s Day.

Interview with Jon St. John – Duke Nukem’s Voice

st john duke nukem voice actor interview

This is a transcript of a video interview found here: http://www.gamespot.com/videos/up-and-atom-a-conversation-with-duke-nukem/2300-6420884/

How Has Voice Acting Evolved as a Profession?

Videogame acting in the beginning was very low-paying, not very serious the scripting was not very good usually, and the directing was awful. The work environment sucks but if the benefits are nice, just in the last four or five years it’s become unionized work that pays much better than it used to be. So obviously when the pay scale went up, revenue was generated by the industry the standards came up dramatically as well now that the directors are better, voice actors are of higher quality, as well as the quality of the games are getting better and better all the time. Look at games like World of Warcraft for instance. There are over 400 characters; 400 different voices in that game, and that kind of work keeps coming aroundenough to make a lead role like that you could be working for years on just a single game, so yeah there’s plenty of work out there it’s just getting the lead roles that are tricky.

What Changed Between Duke 3-D and Duke Nukem Forever?

You remember the old games with the 8-bit lines? I have a limit of maybe 5 to 7 seconds that a line could be because they can only put so many files on a CD-ROM at the time. Now it’s wide open and there’s lots of dialogue and lots of cut scenes to put the audio audio in. So, there’s more acting in general and not just one-liners anymore but aall I just have to do is think up some anger from inside which I find easy to do because I have ex-wivesctual acting!

Where Does Your Mind Go When you Become Duke?

All I have to do this just bring up some anger from inside which I find easy to do because I have ex-wives so I just think angry and then I grit my teeth and then it just flows out; it’s very easy. There are others characters that I find challenging to do for instance in Guild Wars 2 or DotAthe where I’m a Blood Seeker, which is a Hispanic speaker. he’s got a tough voice but he’s also got a Hispanic accent that he must maintain all the time so I find that a challenge. I’ve tried to get other game character roles but everyone thinks I can only do Duke. This sorts cuts both ways the fact that I’ve been Duke since 1995 means that the junior / high school kids that played Duke Nukem in the 90s are now game developers that the top guys want to hire. this could have had a record in San Diego or Los Angeles but know they insisted to find me to Seattle and recording there because there are fans.

What is next for Duke Nukem?

He is a great and viable character for the next motion picture superhero. He’d be great now that everything can be done CG there is no reason to find somebody who needs to look like him and just animate the whole thing. You could put titties in there, right?

How Can You Increase Your Stats in Battlefield 4?

battlefield 4 gameplay

The latest upgrade and expansion to the Battlefield world finds you with increasing capability to take your character, and your team, farther into the world. You not only have to fight your way in to release the VIPs, but you also have to work to get them out of the station as well. Some of the new weapons that are available have a hidden cost, use them when the time isn’t right and you can lose serious stat points through harm to yourself, and to the VIP hostages you are supposed to protect.

Gaining Weapons and Finding Dog Tags

There are a lot of cheats already built into the game so don’t think that you are going to be punching a lot of codes into a controller and watching your stats go up. Like most long play linear games, there are a lot of Easter Eggs hidden in the game that will give you some great advantages. You have to start looking for them immediately to find them all. One of them is even stashed in the tutorial. Here is a hint, as soon as you enter the building look at the bulletin board and you will see one of the sets of dog tags that will help you in the game.

Challenges in Every Area Bring Their Rewards

As you progress through every area of the mission, from the mountains of Russia to the ship in the South China Sea there are progressive defined challenges that will bring you more points and weapons to help you advance in the game as well. Make sure that you look at the log as you pass through and do each of the small side adventures. These adventures were designed as a way of padding out the game, they are how you can increase your stats, resources and inventory. You don’t have to complete all of them to do the main mission, but it will be far less than it could be if you don’t take the time to unlock all the secrets in the game.

Does it Play the Same on Every Platform?

One of the advantages to playing Battlefield 4 is its availability on almost every gaming platform possible. While those on Xbox One may have a bit of an adjustment period since their old third party controllers are no longer supported, for the rest of the gamers using different systems there won’t be a problem. One of the key expansions that have been listed for Battlefield 4 is a whole new adventure area that continues the basic storyline. Only this time, where the story will take you is going to be a lot more complex and difficult to solve. With the addition of all the side adventures to pump up your character, you are looking at a long and intense adventure before you even get down to the task of completing the main mission. It is well worth it and the latest Battlefield 4 upgrade has some of the best effects yet.