1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: 2012

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. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Battle Royale: 1999: Life is a Game

Battle Royale is a 1999 movie from Japan that deals with a fictional world where the Japanese society has been hit by a recession, with a 15 percent unemployment, several million people have been left without a job, the students have started boycotting schools, and in response the military clique has organized a yearly event, where one class of forty two students have to fight to the death. The film gained popularity for a short while and has come to attention recently because of its similarities to The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins and the recent 'Hunger Games' film, that came out only a few days ago.

watch the trailer below

Battle Royale starts with a class of students celebrating their last days in school with a field trip, on the bus, they're drugged by their teacher and transported onto a remote island, where the game is going to take place. They're instructed that only one out of the forty two is allowed to survive. They're all fitted with explosive collars that track their every movement and there's only three days for them to kill each other off and if there's no winner by then, everybody dies. They're each given a bag of equipment, water food and a randomly chosen weapon, which could be anything from a pot lid to a set of binoculars to a sub machine gun.

It turns out later on that between them, there's one who joined for the fun of it, posing as a transfer student, arguably the most deadly of them all, and another one who's got some history with the game. The movie itself is a brilliant exploration of how quickly the mindset for survival takes hold, as they quickly learn that nobody's joking, and nobody's a friend any more. Every now and again a group of the students will try to organize to better their odds, but eventually it all breaks down when suspicion sets in. A couple who refuse to fight die off almost instantly, another two commit suicide, and the daily briefings that their teacher gives them over a loudspeaker system, set up across the island, are a gruesome reminder of what they're all fighting for. Someone or another's death is shouted out through the speakers, by the teacher himself with a sense of demonic satisfaction in what he believes to be a valuable lesson that should eventually bring Japan out of stagnation by forcing its people to deal with reality as if it's kill or be killed.

With that premise in mind, the movie doesn't push too hard to be overzealous in shocking its viewers. There's none of the dramatized editing, that's typical in Western movies, to stress the tragic death of someone or another. In other words what Holywood often sees as an opportunity for a B rated flick, Japan has turned into an exploration of the mindset of the hunter and the hunted, in a game where there can be no trust whatsoever and nobody is left completely innocent. 

Battle Royale is based on the novel, by the same name, from Koushun Takami, the novel is said to be even more controversial than the movie itself. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 Enhanced Edition: iPad

In recent news, Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 Enhanced Edition by Overhaul Games is going to come out this summer for the iPad as well as for PC. This is great news for anyone who owns the overpriced, overheating little bugger (if you haven't heard recently some issue came up where the new iPad 3? was shown to overheat to several degrees over anything seen before, mainly when playing games like Infinity Blade, that put that extra strain on the processor). There's some screenshots already of what the game is going to look like, and you'll be glad to hear that no part of that virtual joystick shenanigans will be involved in the user interface.

Overhaul Games

As far as the technicalities, the games are going to be available for all versions of the iPad. So if you liked the experience of playing Final Fantasy 1 and 2, FF Tactics, or Tekken on your iDevice, look forward to the summer release, for an epic RPG experience.

On a side note I believe that iDevices are an amazing medium to bring back some classic titles. Few people would sit down in front of a TV to play Battle Tanks on the NES these days, but throw that onto the App Store and people will pick it up instantly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World of Warcraft Annual Pass and Mists of Pandaria beta When will access to the beta be available?

There's quite a controversy right now around the World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria beta Annual Pass deal with regards to the Terms and Conditions of the deal. As you may know part of the contract was that you'd get access to the MoP beta as soon as it was available. Or at least that's what many of us were lead to believe. But does the Annual Pass contract actually say anything about when will you get access to the Pandaria beta?

Here's the part of the contract that deals with the MoP beta access:

Unfortunately the contract never mentions when access to the beta will be granted. It only states that Blizzard will flag your battle.net account so you will automatically receive a beta code.

Understandably a lot of the WoW fan-base has been frustrated with Blizzard's choice to postpone access and release beta codes to Annual Pass holders when it deems fit. According to the official statement the beta will be handed out in waves, according to the age of your World of Warcraft Account and also how early did you sign up for the particular deal.

The fact that screenshots have came out of people with beta access, who don't even have the Annual Pass further aggravates the situation. What do you think. Did Blizzard make a huge mistake with this one?

On a side note people have suggested that if you're running Apple's OS X you stand a better chance of being invited to the beta, regardless of weather you have the pass or not. So if you're running WoW on a Mac go to Battle.net and download the small piece of software that will automatically assess your system specifications and upload them to Blizzard's site.  

Planescape Torment: A Classic RPG Tale

Planescape Torment is a classic RPG from 1999 by Black Isle. The game is based on the same Infinity Engine (by Bethesda) that is getting a big renewal right now for Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 (expected sometime this summer). Planescape Torment is a party-based RPG with a unique world set in the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, although it has its own unique storyline and setting, which revolve around the various Planes that exist in constant motion around the city of Sigil.

Sigil itself is a place, loosely based on some Forgotten Realms lore, where people end up in a sort of limbo, between life and permanent death. You wake up on a stone slab in the mortuary, and soon find out that you have a very interesting past. Apparently you've been reborn various times, and you have some kind of problem with achieving that permanent death, and to top that you lose your memory each time you die, so the only clue to what happened to you in your previous lives is a set of tattoos on your back. Also people tend to refer to you as the Chosen One for some reason.

The game possesses all of the basic RPG elements of the era and some more, you have item slots for your gear, potions, and various objects in the game acts as keys to solving the quests. What makes the game special is the strangely unique world. Nothing works right in Sigil. The city is in constant motion and the decisions you make may even end up changing the architecture. As a result of completing some quests it's possible to end up with some NPCs never existing, with no-one having any recollection of them. Every arch-like structure in Sigil is also a portal to various places within the Planes, if you're carrying the correct object with you, or humming the right melody. Hence the people of Sigil are in constant terror of walking through an arc and ending up in a pit of fire, or in some other dimension full of demons.

The character has some very weird past, it seems every time you were reborn, you ended up as a different person. As you go through the game some people hate you and call you a monster, others remember you as a saviour. A constant theme in the quest to find who you really are/were is the question "What can change the nature of a man?"

Along the way you'll also meet several interesting companions - among them a floating skull, named Mort that's been following you for quite a while and is there with you from the very beginning.

What makes this RPG a cult classic, that's gathered a solid following throughout the years, is the incredible imagination of the developers. Every choice in the game is meaningful in some way, the characters are layered and fascinating each with their unique story. If you're into the Baldur's Gate series, or you enjoyed playing Fallout 1 and 2, this one is definitely for you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WoW: Mists of Pandaria Beta to start soon

According to the Warcraft Facebook page, the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta is going to be starting pretty soon. What's going to happen is, players will be invited in waves, based on how long they've had a WoW account, and also based on how early they got their Annual Pass. As you know everyone with a WoW Annual pass (that is a one year non-suspendable subscription) gets a free mount (Tyrael's Charger), Diablo 3 for free (coming out May 15th) and beta access to Mists of Pandaria.

So log-on to Battle.net and update your system specifications info and check the Warcraft Beta option to make sure you're not overlooked when the time comes to dish out beta codes. You'll need to download a small program that is going to evaluate your graphics card, processor, among other things. As with code giveaways I'm sure there will be plenty to go, but in the meantime your best bet for the Mists of Pandaria Beta, if you don't own an Annual Pass, is to upload your system specifications to Battle.net and hope that your rig is unique enough to warrant Blizzard's attention. 

In the meantime the Non-Disclosure Agreement on the WoW: MoP media event fell so here's some more reading for those who are interested to know what to expect from the early stages of the Beta:

GameTrailers Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance Heroics, the new Zones and class, all stuff I'm going to cover, when I can get my hands on it, which should be within a week or two if we trust Blizzard to not keep us waiting for too long. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Diablo 3: Armour Sets Preview

With Diablo 3 coming out on the 15th of May, it's time to take a look at the armour sets that will be available in the game. They all look pretty epic, keep in mind that these are dyes of one armour set per class. There is bound to be more options.

In the D3 Beta for example each class of gear comes with a different visual style. That is a studded leather vest looks entirely different from a wizard's robe. There's bound to be more variability in the end-game content but these are the ones that are available for now.

If you want to skip all the recolours, keep on clicking on the right-most thumbnail in the album. You'll get through the list quicker and won't have to see ten versions of the same model.

Ultimately what I'm eager to see in the game is the unique-level gear. I have some fond memories of finding unique items in Diablo 2 that came with their own unique 3D model. Names that come to mind would be Undead Crown, Lidless Wall, the Brain Hew great axe. Some of the best 2D art on the items was also reserved for the unique-level gear. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Site Update: Post footer now contains Relevant Posts, based on Labels, and direct Reddit This Buttons

Or simply Scroll Down :D

So you can browse while you browse, and reddit while you reddit. Or something like that. Either way it took me nearly 6 hours to set everything up, seen as how I'm a noob at CSS. : P

The Related Posts are selected based on their relevance to the Labels in the post that you're currently reading.

The Reddit This button will send you to the Submit Link page on Reddit, and it will also automatically fill in the link with the URL of the page you were on. You will of course be able to change anything about your submission before it is posted. So the button will only appear below a post, if you're reading a particular page, and not when you're on the homepage of the blog. A larger Reddit This button is on the side-bar and will appear and work on every page, including the Front Page.

So I hope you like the small changes, and don't forget to like/follow/subscribe to stay up to date with the blog. : )

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blizzard Announces Release Date for Diablo 3: Pre-purchase Available

The wait is over! Blizzard has just announced that Diablo 3 will be coming out two months from now. The game is now available for pre-purchase at the Blizzard Store so you can start playing as soon as the servers go live. The official date of the release will be May the 15th.

Battle.net Front Page

Apparently the Anual Pass deal is still available where, if you have an existing World of Warcraft account you can get Diablo 3 for free, if you subscribe for 1 year of World of Warcraft. On top of that with the deal you'll get a Tyrael's Charger mount for all your WoW characters past present and future, and access to Mists of Pandaria Beta as soon as it is available. Take note that if you agree to this deal the payments will be monthly or every six months depending on what you prefer, but the contract cannot be cancelled or frozen for any reason. 

The news about Diablo 3 coming out comes shortly after Bethesda started a countdown to a major announcement on their web-site, so Blizzard's CEO came out with the statement, I guess in a hope to 1up Bethesda's efforts. After all two equally expected RPG's coming out at the same time, would be a disaster for Blizzard. This further fuels our expectations that Bethesda might be cooking up something really amazing. Or it might be just that Blizzard's acting paranoid. Either way here's the statement about the Diablo 3 Release Date from Blizzard's CEO, Mike Morhaime:

"After many years of hard work by our development team and months of beta testing by hundreds of thousands of dedicated players around the world, we're now in the homestretch.  We look forward to putting the final polish on Diablo III over the next two months and delivering the ultimate action-RPG experience to gamers worldwide starting on May 15."

The Diablo 3 game client is already available for download.

Indeed it has been almost twelve years since the Diablo 2 came out. It's been a long wait, but based on my
experience from the Diablo 3 Beta it might have been well worth it. As I've mentioned before the game is going to come out without the PvP arenas, since the developer didn't want to delay the game any further. The Player vs Player capabilities will be patched into the game at a later point in time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baldur's Gate 3: Possible Countdown to Announcement

Below is the official message on the Baldur's Gate web-site currently along with a 24 hours countdown, to what could possibly be the announcement of Baldur's Gate 3. As of now the web-site is off-line and you can thank reddit for that one. (screenshot of the cashed version is below)  

"The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his doom he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny, chaos will be sown by their passage."

So sayeth the wise Alaundo

Other speculations on the topic suggest that it could be a re-work of Baldur's Gate 2 with the gameplay and story left as they are, but with much improved graphics, using the Infinity engine. Either way the fans of the series should be sufficiently happy. A conversion to the Dungeons & Dragons fourth version rule set is also a possibility.

Below is what the HTML comments on the Baldur's Gate web-site read. I have to assume that Shadowy Figure - Raise Dead is the title of the project to be uncovered. So expect an announcement really really soon and the actual game, whatever it is by March the 14th. Check it out (http://baldursgate.com/) as soon as it becomes available once again.
<\!-- March 14, 2012 -->
<\!-- Shadowy Figure- Raise Dead : Infinity Engine --> 
<\!-- It is coming. --> 

Update:Here's what the actual Baldur's Gate web-site looks like now that I've finally managed to push through the insane ammount of traffic.

Cruel Intentions (1999): Sarah Michelle Gellar is a Bad Bad girl

Cruel Intentions is a 1999 drama with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon. The movie follows the lives of four college students, the wealthy and powerful Kathryn Merteuil who recruits her step brother, Sebastian, to take revenge on her ex by seducing the girl he dumped her for (the overprotected daughter of high-class parents). Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) refuses as he has plans to pursue the dedicated virgin, Annette(Reese Witherspoon), instead as his own personal project. 

The story gets twisted when Kathryn offers her step-brother a bet. If he can't get in bed with the puritan Cecile (Selma Blair) Kathryn gets his vintage Jaguar, if he can succeed in his mission - he gets Kathryn. From then on it's a wild game of trickery and charm and some unexpected twists and turns. Who ends up with whom is a matter of great plotting, and for love to find its way in the whole twisted conspiracy something extraordinary will have to happen between the cold, distant and playboy-ish Sebastian and the more reserved Annette.

This movie is a classic for the nineties and I recently watched it again, after more than ten years. I definitely recommend this to anyone who's interested in the classy although often downright evil plotting and scheming between the overly-wealthy and bored inhabitants of high society.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Archer: New Animated TV series on FOX

Archer is a new animated TV series on FOX, that according to its creators should be a mix of James Bond meets Charlie Sheen. The simmilarities with the famous secret agent aside, Archer is a playboy of 'epic' proportions according to his own oppinion, and the show does a pretty good job making fun of both the stereotypes of the 007 thriller and the infamous 'player' and womanizer.

The running gags in the show are pretty standard for the format, we've got the mad scientist that's aquired a but of a darker taste for disturbingly unnatural experiments, we've got the nymphomaniac secretary and the gossiping head of HR. Also a nerdy accountant, that somewhat resembles Wilson from House MD. And of course we have Archer whose mother is the head of the agency - somewhat of an Anna Wintour character that's drunk with power and a habitual drinker.

Every episode is a deconstruction of the tropes that build up action thrillers, Archer usually gets himself in some sort of trouble, because he's too obsessed with his own macho image to care about his work. Then his empowered female counterpart has to get him out, while every now and again she proceeds to shoot him in the foot when his chauvinistic ways get the better of him.

The show is set in today's world so the characters go through a lot of the motions you'd expect from a bunch of 2012 people trying to keep up the appearance of an 80s secret spy agency. In one of the episodes the characters go on a strike with regards to a cost of living adjustment to their salary, in another the agency almost gets sold to a rival.

All in all it's a nice show if you're tired of watching the usual FOX round-up of Family Guy, American Dad and the Cleveland Show. It's definitely something new, the visual style reminds me more of a graphic novel, than the usual cartoonish look of the above shows. I'll definitely keep watching even if only to take my mind off of Seth McFarlane doing everything he can to run Family Guy in the ground. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Diablo III Will Come out Without PvP Around June

Blizzard just announced that Diablo 3 is going to come out without the PvP arenas to avoid any more delays in the release of the game. According to the developer, the PvP is just not good enough yet. So they're going to be patching all of the arena maps into the game after some time. That said, Blizzard hasn't even announced an official release date yet, all they're saying is they're looking to the second quarter of this year. That means Diablo 3 should come out sometime in June 2012.

The news once again comes from GametTrailers Facebook Page and SideMission Some more speculation on the actual release date: Side Mission

To be completely honest, I'm not at all bothered by the news. I've never looked forward to PvP in Diablo, as long as I can play the full single-player campaign.

On a more positive side of Diablo 3 news, yesterday was patch day for Diablo 3 beta, and now the Hardcore Character mode is available for testing. If you happen to have the beta you'll need a character who's at least level ten to unlock the mode. As usual when you're creating a Hardcore Character, Blizzard will give you the fair warning that you only have one life and they will not under any circumstances resurrect your hero if it happened to die.

There's also going to be a new difficulty called Inferno, after the usual three - Normal Nightmare and Hell. Now that's something that I'm looking forward to. To access it your character will have to be level capped at 60, while all of the monsters inside will be level 61. For your troubles in Inferno duifficulty you'll get the best gear in-game and the best part is the drop chance of the first act monsters and bosses will be the same as that of the last boss. All enemies being level 61 means that you won't have to grind any particular area, instead you can just replay your favourite parts and still get the best drops.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hell on Earth (A Text-Comic)

Fight Club: The Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Like most people I watched Fight Club before I knew who Chuch Palahniuk was. Nevertheless his novel that started a cult following back in the 90s, is equally as important as the Brad Pitt and Edward Norton movie. 

Chuck Palahniuk: http://chuckpalahniuk.net

Chuck Palahniuk is a writer, based in Portland Oregon, the author of Fight Club and one of my favourite writers of all times. My first experience directly of his work, was with a story called Guts. The story was around 2008 circulating around the less-savoury parts of the Internet as a sort of literal gore-fic. People copied it around to scare other people, and for a while, as I was unfamiliar with who or why wrote it I was wondering myself if it was a true story, or a figment of somebody's imagination. The story of Guts revolves around a particular practice of pleasuring ones self through the sucksion of a swimming pools filtration system. That is as much as I feel comfortable telling you about it without ruining any of my reader's dinner. You know how content gets labeled Not Safe For Work, things get bleeped out to spare you your supposed innocence, well this one is the embodiment of Not Safe For Life. With that warning it is available on the author's website here: Guts by Chuck Palahniuk: The Cult.

Chuck Palahniuk's style of transgressive fiction is unique in that he does his research thoroughly to uncover the most shaded places of the human experience. Palahniuk's experience is equally as unique. Early in life he worked as a diesel mechanic, then he got a journalism degree and sometime along the way he started some fiction writing classes. Meanwhile he held such peculiar jobs as driving victims of various illnesses to their help-groups, what inspired him to write the beginning episodes of Fight Club with the ascending bowel cancer, the testicular cancer, the blood parasites group. In these groups Palahniuk would sit throughout in a corner and listen to the stories people had to tell about their lives, stories of suffering, detachment and eventually absolution, and that's what made his writing style so genuine. His characters are in a sense derived through the best source available - that of the experience of real living people. In these meetings he acquired a sense of how people would tell their stories - what parts would they influence to interest the others listening in the group, how would they rationalize their suffering weather it was an AA meeting, or a Survivors of some terminal disease or another.

The Fight Club novel is not so different from the movie, except it's got a different ending. And it feels like it's told a bit differently along the way. Less of the Brad Pitt macho appeal, more of the actual characters, unassociated with the Holywood stars. You know - the parts that didn't fit in the movie, because the reel was already way too long for cinema, even though David Fincher meticulously filmed nearly every scene from the book. For any fan to claim to understand the movie, the novel is an important part of the message. You can find Fight Club, as well as the rest of Chuck Palahniuk's books here:

Chuck Palahniuk's Official Web-site: The Cult

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What to expect from Mists of Pandaria: Preview

What is behind a great MMORPG? Blizzard's World of Warcraft stands tall as the leader on the market for Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, but is there something that's missing recently? With the Mists of Pandaria expansion that's up and coming in the fall, the outcries of the WoW fan base have been louder than ever. Sure there's always been dissatisfaction among the fans whenever a change has been introduced to the game, but this time it seems the angst has reached an all-time high. So what can we honestly expect from the expansion?

                                             Mists of Pandaria Preview Trailer

Here's a list of the changes:

- new continent in Azeroth
- new race, shared by both the Horde and Allience - Pandaren
- new class - Monk
- a completely new Talents System
- abandoned stats 
- new levels of duifficulty for dungeons
- entirely new Vanity Pet Combat System and random exploration vanity pet encounters

Seems like a lot, but Blizzard has shown a tremendous dedication to putting out new content in a timely manner, when it comes to World of Warcraft. Starting from the last point on the list, the new Pet Combat System is something the several million WoW players have been stupefied by from day one. The associations with Pokemon are inevitable. From the point of view of my current experience of WoW I could never imagine myself standing in the middle of Stormwind, engaged in an epic duel between a Mini Diablo and a Mini Tyrael. But then again I could not imagine myself, back when Wrath of the Lich King first came out, chasing after achievements just for the sake of it. In hindsight I've got a couple 85 characters and one of them has pretty much every achievement that doesn't require raiding. I made World Explorer in a single day, right after I got my Red Drake mount. I've also spent countless hours (unsuccessfully) fishing for a Sea Turtle mount in Northrend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apple Anounces the new iPad: Retina Display, Better Camera and A5 Chip

Apple has announced today that they're going to be launching the new iPad on the 23rd of March. The new tablet is going to have retina display, the Apple A5 chip sporting quad-core and the new better camera that we've already seen in the iPhone 4S. On top of that the old iPad 2 is going to go down in price to 399 US dollars for the base version. The price of the new model is going to start from 629 USD for the 16GB version.

apple.com front page

The new iPad is also going to come with some updates to already-existing apps such as iMovies which will now have the option to create trailers for your home movies, with customized music etc. and iPhotos.

I'm as excited as anyone since I tried retina display on my iPhone 4, I've always been held back from purchasing an iPad, because of the inferior screen resolution. The new iPad will come with 2048 by 1536 screen resolution and a 44 percent upgrade in the screen saturation. For anyone who ever complained that reading on the iPad is a straining and unpleasant experience, this should come as a relief.


Watch out for a video of the Apple keynote on apple.com as they have made a habit of releasing them as recordings in the past. Also the new version of the iPad is now available for pre-order as should be the old version at the discounted price, as soon as the Apple Store has been updated. 

Fight Club: The movie your parents didn't want you to see.

Fight Club is a 1999 movie by David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, about a man who struggles to make sense of the reality he's forced upon himself. The fighting club from the title though, is nothing like your regular underground kickboxing ring, it's a philosophical movie, about the way corporate reality has changed the definition of what a man is, how he should act and behave in society, how he should lead his life. The philosophy of Fight Club can be portrayed best in one simple line: "How much can you really know about yourself, if you've never been in a fight?"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

WoW Battleground Weekend: Isle of Conquest

Last time I did this sort of update it was Alterac Valley weekend, this week it's Isle of Conquest and there's still a few hours left before the event is closed. So even though I've been playing mostly Diablo 3 beta giveaway for the past two days, I have some tips on how to win this one. 

Simmilarly to Alterac Valley the key here is speed and organization. As Allience usually what we do is head straight for the docks. As soon as we've captured those, one part goes with the catapults to jump the enemy's gates and start placing bombs on the left door of the keep, the other uses the glaives to finish the gate off.

If we're lucky the Horde will not be defending too much, and their gate will fall a few seconds before ours does. Then all rush in to kill the boss and we win. The problem is that while we do that the Horde are getting siege engines which have a lot more health than the glaives. Two or three hordies fighting a glaive can kill it within a few seconds. So really, everybody has to pull their weight in defending them if we stand any chance to win.

Field Marshal's Raiment PvP set

Field Marshal's Raiment PvP set

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Diablo 3 Beta Key: First Impressions of the Gameplay

Since I've posted about GameTrailers giving away Diablo III beta keys yesterday, I've been playing the game and I've managed to do a play-through of the entire quest-line that is available in the beta content.  So here's some first impression notes, before I review every detail of the game separately. (More info on how to get a beta key: Diablo 3 Beta Code Giveaway)

The Quest-Chain, available for the beta, starts in New Tristram, located near the Ruins of Tristram in Westmarch, which is entirely over-ran by the undead as a result of a strange occurrence. A Fallen Star has descended upon the old Tristram Cathedral (which we know from the first Diablo game) and your role is to find out what happened. As it turns out the Fallen Star is a meteorite that has crashed through the several layers of the Cathedral, leaving it hollowed out. There's also a Skeleton King involved and the Crown of Leoric, though from the somewhat rushed playthrough I couldn't really understand what their role was other that it is connected to the Fallen Star episode. I'll look into that the second time around, as the beta allows you to take your character and run it through the quest-chain as many times as you like.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Diablo 3 Beta Code Giveaway

Diablo 3 is coming out soon, and currently it's in closed beta, but I've managed to swipe a free beta code from the GameTrailers Facebook page. They're currently doing a giveaway, where they'll be handing out one hundred codes for the game every day, at undisclosed times through their FB page and Twitter.

A tip if you want one: lurk their Facebook page, where they're periodically posting the codes in heaps of 10-30. As soon as you see the first post chances are they're going to be gone within the first minute or two, so have your Battle.net account open on the Add/Upgrade game page. Start refreshing Facebook, for the next 15 minutes to an hour, more are sure to come. Stay tuned for more codes this weekend, and I'll also be doing a review on the beta content.


Twitter @Sidemission

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Minecraft 1.2 is OUT!

Granted this is the first Minecraft Update I've been excited about in a long time, but the list of features that have been added to the game is amazing! Now you can build twice as high, there's stone golems, and it goes on!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(Who) The Devil Wears Prada

I have to admit I only watched The Devil Wears Prada, because I generally admire strong independent women. I've always been fascinated by their ability to be a professional of exceptional standards, and at the same time to be able to create a home and a family. Anna Wintour is one such woman, who's managed to rise up into the status of a fashion-industry icon, and rightfully so. The daughter of a  newspaper publisher, her only goal in life from day one seems to have been the Chief Editor position in American Vogue. And now there's a movie about her life, as portrayed by Meryl Streep. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Light Just Went Out

Somewhat busy today, no time for a proper update, but feel free to obsess over the meaning of this particular strip. ; )

In part inspired by: Rejected by Don Hertzfeldt

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The only In-Browser game that I've honestly enjoyed.

I recently went back to playing Habbo for a short while, and it's definitely changed a lot. There's a lot more rooms than I could remember from back in 2008, and there's quests now, that earn you in-game cash to help furnish your own lounge.

The beginning quests will generally walk you through the different areas, requiring you to learn how to interact with the various objects in-game.

There's also several kinds of  'sports' which in the Habbo universe means that you'll be playing mini-games that resemble, and recreate the feeling of trying to make something on Drawball, while a hundred different people try to ruin it for you at the same time. [The Comics]

Ally McBeal: A Sitcom for Lawyers, Who'd Have Thought?

Ally McBeal is a TV series from 1997, about a bunch of lawyers working together at a small private law-firm. Most of them are friends from childhood, and Ally joins them shortly after a scandal with her former boss, only to find out later on that her childhood love is working for the same firm. The story is trivial, they'd known each other forever, and hit it off around high-school, but had to part ways for college. Now she's single, but he's married. Ally proceeds to go through it with equal  parts of denial and manic-depressive. The rest of the series revolves around the equally quirky office environment of the law firm, with strange cases, and an even stranger couple of senior partners, who run the place.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Rum Diary: Hunter Thompson and Johny Depp

The Rum Diary is a 2011 move that follows in the limited success of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It all started out with Johny Depp, a long time friend of Thompson, who spent some time living at his ranch, and was one day digging up stuff in his attic, where he found the manuscript to an unpublished book of his. Hunter Thompson's Rum Diary is a semi-biographical work, following his trails in San Juan, where he was working as a journalist for the local newspaper. 

Written under another pseudonym of his, or another character as you wish, it's an objective and compelling view on how other nations, affected by the US, see the states, as both a savior, bringing on financial opportunities, and a monster, capitalizing on local resources by any means possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The New Girl: TV series

The New Girl, is a relatively new TV series in the US, focusing on the life of a twenty-something schoolteacher, who finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, and in the haste to find a new appartment ends up living with three guys. So yes, it's another sitcom, but somehow adapted to our times, which can be both a positive and a negative. 

Who's the Strongest Character in Video Games?

Minecraft guy can sprint with 11k tons on his back, Doom got nothing on him!

The inspiration for this one was a thread on reddit about how the Doom guy was the strongest character in video games for sprinting at 50kmph or so, while carrying several hundred kg of gear. I beg to differ. :P

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Many Gamers Does it Take???

Add Fake sitcom laughter. But honestly, this joke doesn't work on gamers. We don't need no light-bulbs. Maybe a flash-light. The part of the room, that you can't see is filled entirely with ramen noodles, and a single bowl, a spoon, and an electric kettle. 

Before I Could Afford a Laptop as a Kid, this Was my Dream

Yup, that was my biggest dream as a gamer at the time. To have my own computer in the bathroom, that pops out of the wall at the push of a button. Imagine the possibilities! And then came laptops, so I guess the future is not so bad, after all. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Humble Bundle Mojam is Over With a Tally of $458,151 Donated!


The Humble Bundle Mojam charity is over, with a total of  $458,151 in donated funds. Pretty amazing for one weekend, eh!

"Follow @humble on Twitter to stay up to date, and watch this space too for further announcements. Thank you for your overwhelming support!"

If you want to hear more about up-coming projects you can follow them on Twitter. It was an amazing fund-raiser and I'm looking forward to hear from people who purchased the games. Make sure to check out their web-site for more info on the charities involved. And if you like you can always donate to them directly. 

Be sure to check out today's Review: Twilight: Partial Solar Eclipse or Something or Other

What If You Had Just Came Out of a Coma Since 1997

I'm sure there would be lots more stuff to fill up on, but given the state of the Internet these days, that's likely the first thing you'll notice. ; )

In the world of gaming the scene changes almost every year, but imagine never having played or even heard of Half Life 2, Fallout 3, Star Wars: Jedi Outcast etc.

Anyway just wanted to share this one, before I go to bed. Be sure to check out today's Review: Twilight: Partial Solar Eclipse or Something or Other

Twilight: Partial Solar Eclipse or Something or Other

I recently watched Twilight: Breaking Dawn which is the fourth movie in the installment, on request of my friend who's as much into the movies as I am. I guess she just wanted to have a laugh. And by God did we do that.

The movie starts with Bella and the sparkling vampire guy getting married. They then proceed to travel to an Island near Rio de Janeiro, where they have a very romantic fifteen minutes of a honeymoon, which ends abruptly as Bella finds out that she's been knocked up by the guy, and is now pregnant with a monster of a baby, that's growing at an insane rate, and in the process is sucking up all of her blood.

By that point we're already pretty cosy on the couch, and I'm throwing jokes about various ways Bella could have died in pretty much every scene of the movie. A tidal wave could have hit the island, she could have tripped on the way down the stairs, I even speculated about the beautiful morning light in one scene suddenly erupting in luminescence as a nuclear blast scrapes the piece of rock clean off the face of the Earth. Then after politely being told off, we resumed watching, in a somewhat more quiet state of bewilderment and disgust.

Mr Sparkling Vampire, proceeds to freak out and ditch the scene as Bella is told she's got a flight arranged for her to return home, to see if something can be done. From then on the movie is a wild speculation on weather she'll die by means of vampire demon baby (which I have to admit would surpass all my wildest speculations on various ways she could have met her end) some of the werewolves, the Jacob guy in particular teams up with the vampires against the other werewolves who're suddenly hellbent on killing her. A somewhat less of an epic battle occurs between vampires and werewolves in the night of her delivery and in the breaking dawn of the day, after the baby is born healthy, Bella wakes up from what appears to be a dormant state between death and vampire-ism, her broken shell of a body is restored by the vampiric forces, her chest puffs up from a negative B to a healthy D, and she acquires magic make-up in one of the most awe-inspiringly stupid sequences in the history of CG. Also her eyes turn blood red.

So yeah... we're rightfully expecting the next part of the movie to be about Bella kicking ass as a newly established vampire. It's also going to be interesting to see weather the vampire version of Formula involves blood pudding on some level or another. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mojang Live Weekend Marathon: Watch Mojang Live creating games from scratch for Charity!

This just in: Mojang has decided to participate in the Humble Indie Bundle project to raise funds for a charity of your choice. They're going to stream Live all this weekend as they create games from scratch. It's a 60 hour long marathon, and it's bound to be an exciting look into how games are made at the studio that produced Minecraft.

How it works: You make a donation of any amount you choose, and then choose how to divide it between the four charities available, and as soon as the games are finished you'll get access to all of them. 


I think this is a great way to raise awareness for charities, especially for people who are so good at what they do, they can attract attention simply by doing a coding and design marathon. Check out the art and the coding process and if you can afford it make a small donation. Any amount is allowed :)

You can also raise awareness by upvoting this thread on Reddit:


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adam Adamowicz The Designer of the Fallout 3 series and Skyrim recently passed away

We're saddened to hear that one of the lead concept artists on the Fallout 3 and Skyrim games passed away recently after a fight with cancer. Since I'm a huge fan of the Fallout series, and I've heard more than one good word about Skyrim, I wanted to pay tribute to the man. 


Here's his personal blog, which hosts some amazing concept art on both the Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3.

source: http://www.adamart08.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 13, 2012

A small Alterac Valley Update: Exalted With Stormpike Guard

So I'm finally exalted with Stormpike Guards after 2 days or so of grinding. Over 20 victories now and I can safely say the key to this battle is setting your roles and defending the towers. Also speed really really counts.

I'm also inching towards level 85 (2.5 bars left) with my hp capped (I'm buying JP so I can keep doing Battlegrounds), although when it comes to gold, I don't do quests or dungeons so I'm poor. But I'm in a nice guild that pays for my repairs with no daily limit.

I'm gonna come back with some more games and movie reviews as soon as I'm 85 and this three day Alterac Valley weekend is over. Then I can take a break from WoW and do something else for a change :D


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