1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mists of Pandaria Screenshots: Pandaren Starting Quests

So I've finally managed to get in the Mists of Pandaria Beta, I've played through the starting area for the Pandaren, and I'm happy to say the starting quests have been great. As previously announced by blizzard, you start out on the back of a turtle, the area is called the Wandering Isles, where Pandaren monks train, and you make your way around the island receiving various lessons from the inhabitants.    

Pandaren Character Creation screen

Check out the screen-shots, but beware of minor spoilers in the starting quest chain plot.

Pandaren Starting area

A nice little travel quest that leads you into another area on the  Wandering Isles

some nice scenery as you move along to your next objective in MoP:Beta

Some background story on what's been happening to the Pandaren over the years

Nearing the end of the quest chain

"If you know what I mean"

for the first time - A view of the turtle that carries the Pandaren Island

for the first time - A view of the turtle that carries the Pandaren Island

for the first time - A view of the turtle that carries the Pandaren Island
More Mists of Pandaria Screenshots after the break. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How to Ring the Training Bell in Mists of Pandaria Beta quest

I've been playing some MoP beta and perhaps the most annoying part despite the awesomeness of finally getting into Mists of Pandaria, is the crowds of people around quest objects that make it impossible to interact with them: so I was given a hint by another player of a way to avoid that using a macro that makes the crowds of players disappear for a second so you can click the object - in this case click the Training Bell for a quest. So here's how you do it. Just make a macro with the following text. The quest is called The Lesson of Dry Fur.

/console baseMiP 0;
/console baseMiP 1;

Then as soon as you press the macro the players will disappear for about a second. That is your chance to click the Training Bell so right-click spam it. You can click not just the bell itself but its foundation, so zoom out the camera a bit and click the stone slab under the Training Bell.

How to click the Training Bell in Mists of Pandaria
As you can see I've just managed to complete that quest.

Hope this helps for those of you who may be stuck on the quests, there's another one in the very beginning of the Pandaren quests, called The Lesson of the Burning Scroll, where you have to click a scroll that's similarly surrounded by a bunch of players at all times making it impossible to see let alone interact with the item. Just use the same trick and you're good to go.

Here's a video I made of the macro in action. Sorry for the bad quality but you can actually see the effect on other players. 

Diablo 3 Open Beta Weekend

As you may know it is Open Beta Weekend for Diablo 3 right now, so anyone who wants to try the game out can head onto battle.net and download the client to  try out the game. If you've had any doubts so far about purchasing the game now may be a good time to test it out and see if you like what Blizzard has done with the franchise.

Personally, after having playing the beta a month or so ago, I liked what I saw. The art style is genuine Diablo universe, there's been a nice mash up of the classes, and the spell sets are simplified, yet still seem to be interesting enough to play. The main focus is once again on getting the items you need through various sources like monster drops or chests, but this time there's the third option of crafting your own items through the Blacksmith's workshop, where you can disenchant (or as it's called 'salvage') items for the materials they give and then use those materials to buy items from that particular NPC. You can also upgrade the workshop for a price to get access to better items.

One other difference is the health orbs that pop up every now and again and somewhat relieve the need to stack hundreds of potions at a time. At the same time those orbs pop randomly from enemies and more frequently from bosses, so you can't rely solely on them to be safe in the game.

Lastly the main selling factor for me is the game Lore. It was a dark and enticing story from the beginning, with the first Diablo game, and then with Diablo 2's brilliantly choreographed cinematics and extensive travelling, each Act bringing you to an entirely new world in the game. Since the Beta is actually limited to lvl 13 which pretty much covers 90 minutes of gameplay or the first quest chain in Act 1, you won't be seeing much of that until May the 15th when Diablo 3 is officially released. But for a taster this weekend can help you make up your mind weather you actually want the game or not. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fallout is now available for Free for a limited time only

You read it right - Fallout is now available for free download on the GOG website. Good Old Games is a generally a great place to get old titles, that you wouldn't normally find in stores anymore and they're available for a token price - mostly around 5-10$.

And here's a list of all the free stuff you get with the game. 
- Fallout Manual
- HD wallpapers
- a refference card
- The Fallout Bible
- The Soundtrack
- Vault Boy avatars and various artwork from the game

So if you ever needed an excuse to play this brilliant classic title, that also happens to be one of my favourite games ever - here's a link to their site, where you can download the full game: http://www.gog.com/gamecard/fallout 

Keep in mind that the offer is only available for 48 hours, but you can add the game to your account now and then download and play it whenever you like!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

WoW: MoP: Shameless Pandaren

This just in, apparently the World of Warcraft pandaren in Mists of Pandaria have no shame at all. This comes as a surprise as even the worgen had a underwear for the females and shorts for the males, but this time, Blizzard has gone for a more down with nature look for whatever reason. To be honest when I was shown the screenshot bellow, I thought at first that it might be a mod or something... but no. November-December 2012, everyone... that and Pokemon, ugh, I mean pet battles.

Here's a video from The Yogcast featuring the appropriate reaction when seeing a pandaren with no gear on for the first time.

In other news, some more info has came out around the pet battles. There's going to be a queue system much like the dungeon finder, but apparently you won't be able to see whom you're fighting so as to not turn the battles into a sort of name-and-shame. At least that's what I understand. Now for me that's a bit of a let-down, I wouldn't honestly see a pet battle as a situation where I'd be gravely ashamed if I lost a battle, or more so if someone spammed my name in trade chat announcing their victory. 

As I've mentioned before there's going to be random pets roaming around that you can catch, we're yet to see a pokeballs system involved in any way, so far it seems that to catch the wild pets you'll just have to defeat them. There's also going to be pet trainers around Azeroth, much like the dojo masters in Pokemon. And there's going to be a Pokedex-like journal where you'd get a list of all the pets you've gotten so far and also some info on where to find particular wild pets. As with fishing schools, pets may appear in an area only at a certain time of day, or a certain season, or twice on the night of Pirate's Day on a leap year, or something outrageous like that. Blizzard has stated that they don't want the pet collection to be something you're done with after 2-3 months of grinding, and they have a track record of keeping exclusive items exclusive within reason, so expect some insanely difficult to catch purple-grade pets alongside the usual trash. Me, I'm still trying to catch that dreaded turtle mount and no Pandaren snapping-turtle mount (to be a part of the Faction mounts) is going to replace that. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Amazing Mists of Pandaria Faction Mounts

Seems like Blizzard has finally gotten the hang of it, when it comes to WoW Faction mounts. In Mists of Pandaria, the Pandaren mounts will vary greatly, starting from Pandaren Kites and Serpents to Yaks, a Jade Tiger, a water-strider etc.

Here's a video of the Pandaria mounts in action:

The one I'm most excited about is the Riding Dragon Turtle. That might just make up for the countless hours wasted in unsuccessfully trying to fish out a turtle mount in WoTLK and Cata. The Water Strider mount also looks interesting, and reminds me of the Ahn Kiraj battle tanks. Again hours of Archeology got me some pets, but unfortunately no mounts :P As they say if you don't get it the first 10 000 tries, grind harder.

Hopefully in MoP we're not going to have to grind too much to get those.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Battle Royale and The Hunger Games: A Comparison

Battle Royale and the Hunger Games. Having watched both movies, I think it's appropriate to do a comparison between them. WARNING - MILD SPOILERS AHOY

The most obvious thing both movies share is the theme of kids killing kids. In Battle Royale, the kids are part of the same class, in the same age group (17-18 as they're finishing high-school), while in The Hunger Games, the participants are randomly selected among various age groups, some as young as 11-12. In that train of thought The Hunger Games wins the award for 'What the Hell Were They Thinking!?' - 'they' in the case being The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins and the producers of the movie. Even though The Hunger Games is a lot milder with the blood and gore, it's still unnerving to be watching 5th graders participating in a fight to the death. And seen as how this adds nothing to the immersion or the plot, I'd say it's a completely self-propelled tear-jerker. In Battle Royale a bunch of high school sophomores kill each other out of paranoia, jealousy and stupidity. In The Hunger Games a little girl dies after a guy with several weeks of training throws a spear at her for 100 points. You choose which one is the more disturbing movie. The scene where the girl is 'burried' in flowers by the protagonist doesn't help in my opinion.

The second thing that bears amazing similarity is the way the games are presented as a game-show type reality-TV event. Now Japan has had a lot of experience with reality shows and hence in Battle Royale the school kids watch a tape of a genki-genki TV presenter jumping around while explaining how they're supposed to murder each other, and overall the rules of the game. In The Hunger Games movie, the role is given to an extravagant lady dressed in steampunk-ish high-class attire with an unmistakable British accent. Both serve to give us an idea of how widely accepted the games are, and how nobody thinks of them as anything else than entertainment. In The Hunger Games, though the show is much more public, and we see the typical presenters and talk-show hosts before and after much in the style of Big Brother. In Battle Royale, the game exists for itself, and the movie suggests that the rest of Japan is aware of them happening, but nobody's actually watching, besides the school teacher and a bunch of army guys.

When it comes to the rules of the game, once again the similarities are striking. In Battle Royale, the participants receive a satchel with a random weapon and basic survival necessities like water and bread. One may contain an uzi, while another one may have only a set of binoculars, or a pot lid. In The Hunger Games the weapons are in plain sight, and several people die just in the first few minutes, as they're struggling to get the better weapon. What mainly drives the plot in Battle Royale is that nobody knows what anybody else has as a weapon, so they're constantly on the outlook, and at the same time killing someone else gives you access to their weapon. In The Hunger Games the weapons are plentiful and on top of that if the producers of the show like you they may send you relief packages. Also in Battle Royale there's a time limit of three days, after which if there is no winner, everybody dies. In The Hunger Games the plot twist hinges on the fact that it's a ratings show, and nominating a winner acts to keep people from rebelling, which is used against the bad guys near the end of the movie. In The Hunger Games there also doesn't appear to be any time limit. In Battle Royale the group is stuck on an island, while The Hunger Games is set in some patch of forest, with remote controlled traps which are used to stop participants from escaping the perimeter.

Another gimmick present in both movies is the announcements of who died, while the game is running. In Battle Royale that's done over loudspeakers, while the much more technologically advanced The Hunger Games world uses holographic projectors in the sky as well as cannon shots. Same difference, if you ask me. In the end of both movies, two people survive, although in The Hunger Games the way that's done is as I mentioned before by exploiting the fact that the producers need to nominate a winner, while in Battle Royale the escape is a lot more satisfying and achieved in a much more complex way.

All in all the movies are similar in their premise, but the main difference is that death in Battle Royale is somewhat of an exploration of the psychology of a killer, everybody starts off innocent, and they have to kill the people they've known for years to survive. Some go with it from the first second, others have to learn how to get over themselves. Some become naturals, while others are gullible enough to allow themselves to be killed. Some even go as far as committing suicide in order to avoid becoming murderers. Groups of people who trust each other form and are disbanded all the time, while in The Hunger Games only one group exists, from the start until the end, and pretty much everyone except for the main two characters and the little girl are completely evil. In The Hunger Games there's no second guessing about the nature of killing another person, besides the main character. In that respect Battle Royale is a much more layered experience, going a lot deeper into the human condition.

For a More Detailed review of Battle Royale click here

Lastly Battle Royale is a self-contained plot, while The Hunger Games is drawn out as a trilogy, for whatever reason... The feeling I'm left with after seeing both movies is that I'd love to read the Battle Royale novel, while I don't really care about Suzanne Collins' books. Believe me, I couldn't care less if Collins saw Battle Royale before or after she wrote the books. It couldn't possibly make less of a difference to me. What's important is that one of the movies is an exploration into humanity, and the other one is the next anti-utopian saga about nothing in particular, with some superficial shockers and some choked up tears of anger. 


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