Zombie-Related Update!

In case anyone is in need of a flash-based zombie fighting fix, check out a classic and its sequel!
The Last Stand
Fight the zombies off before they break through your barricade, recruit others to help in the fight, and find more potent weapons along the way!

The Last Stand 2
More of the same, continues the storyline after the first game, even more fun!

Now go! Productivity be damned!

The Last Stand

EVE Online #2

Part two of my Eve Online segment, here are two trailers detailing their recent Empyrean Age Expansion (free, awesome).

And finally, you MUST take a look at their expansion site. This has to be the coolest use of flash I’ve seen in awhile. Let the site load and watch as a space battle automatically ensures across the top half of the page: HERE

EVE Online #1

Eve Online is an MMO by the Icelandic company CCP. I’ve played the game since 2004 and have always been greatly impressed by their cinematic trailers, usually produced alongside one of their massive free expansion packs. This is the first of several I wanted to post, starting with a fairly recent cinematic released by CCP for their Trinity Expansion. Some of you have no doubt seen this before, but it is worth watching again, if just for the music.

Download the high definition version: HERE

The Future of Steam

As many of you know, I am addicted to Steam. I spend far too much money because of it, I spend to much time logged in, and I infect all my friends’ computers with Steam installations. But Steam is getting even better! (They should be paying me for this.)
Recently, Valve released the Steam Community, which makes Steam much more effective when trying to stay in contact with your friends. It also allows users to join multiplayer games with friends, keep up with what everyone has been playing, and even chat WITHIN games! Outside of the community, Steam has been growing rapidly, with mega-publishers like Ubisoft and TakeTwo jumping on board and adding their massive game libraries.


Steam grows its user base 191% year over year – if there was ever a company I wish would go public it would be Valve (as it is, Valve is privately owned by it’s founders). Soon, Steam will release the Steam Cloud, which will save all your save games and settings for Valve games (hopefully other games will follow suit) on the internet, making it possible to recover or transmit from any location all your saved game data. At some point, Valve plans on adding an in-game movie capture system which will be instantly shareable over your entire Steam account or personal blog. *wink wink* In the future, Valve has also considered adding games based around the primarily Asian micro-transaction system, where the game is free to play, but it costs a small amount of money to buy things like customizable armor and weapons. Also, Steam will soon open up in the Russian market, which contains over 17 million PCs capable of running Steam.

Piracy is fairly rampant in Russia, but it is partly because many games are never released there. Russian gamers understand English, and are willing pay to play hyped titles from the US and other countries, they just have no honest way to do so. Steam will do to Games what services like iTunes, Zune Store, and eMusic have done for Music, Movies, and TV Shows. People rarely WANT to hurt music/movie/game developers, and given opportunity and convenience, they will purchase games/music/movies legally.

Some corporations and individuals still claim PC gaming is dying. Apparently they keep forgetting that World of Warcraft pulls in $120 million dollars a month. And, to quote IGN’s Charles Onyett, “Steam boasts 15 million registered users, 1.25 million peak concurrent users, a 191-percent growth year over year, and is available worldwide in 21 languages. It certainly seems like it’s been a success so far.”

Beyond Good & Evil 2

It was just announced and there’s a cool little trailer showing off the graphics engine for the new game.
I cannot express how freakishly excited I am, so just imagine me sitting in my chair screaming and flailing my arms about while knocking over expensive furniture.

Here is is:

PC Gaming

PC Gaming isn’t dead, nor will it ever die. True, we are deep in the Era of Consoles right now, but it will peak relatively soon. The PC is an enduring platform. Console fans wont see it this way, but the PC is the one infringing on console territory, not the other way around. Xbox 360, PS3, even Wii (sans Wii-mote) are simply standardized hardware built around a standardized API (Apple, anyone?). Each of these consoles will eventually bite the dust and be replaced by more powerful successors, but at some point the standard, bargain bin PC will be more powerful than a similarly priced console and the two will fuse.
PCs will always have the edge in backwards compatibility due to their more flexible code base and the absence of ‘console exclusivity’. I can still play Spear of Destiny on my Vista Ultimate PC through Steam, but for some reason I don’t think I’ll be playing Metal Gear on my Xbox 360 anytime soon.

Just wait a few years and see, eventually the gaming PC and console will become one in the same. What will be unique is the supplied API, and this is where Microsoft already has an edge over Sony and Nintendo.

Steam is blowing open the floodgates for the PC as a gaming platform. I buy many more PC games than console games, and it is all thanks to Valve’s distribution service.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Gears and Mass Effect and Halo (123) and Metal Gear and Final Fantasy and Zelda and Mario…but as time passes, games become less console-centric, even considering the fact that many companies claim they are focusing more on consoles. Consider ‘console exclusives’ like Gears, Mass Effect, even games like Guitar Hero! Maybe it’ll take a few extra years for Wii-style games, because of the (fabulous) Wii-mote, but in the end, every console is destined to die off, while the PC will continue to live on in one form or another. Now I’m off to start up Steam and get a good game of Spear of Destiny going!

Dawn of War: Soulstorm

The past few months have brought a surge of fantastic RTS games and expansions including C&C: Kane’s Wrath, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, Universe at War, Sins of a Solar Empire, and World in Conflict. More gems are slated for the upcoming year: StarCraft 2, Spore, an as-of-yet unnamed Company of Heroes expansion, and Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor. On the horizon, we see Demigod and a recently announced Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2.
So where does that leave Dawn of War: Soulstorm, the third expansion in the Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War series? Released right in the middle of an RTS renaissance, Soulstorm has quite a bit to live up to. Being the final expansion to one of my favorite RTS series of all time raises the bar significantly higher, and I expected quite a showstopper to cap off the splendid DoW: Dark Crusade. Did it deliver? Somewhat.

Soulstorm adds 2 new races (bringing the total to 8), aircraft, and a campaign map about twice as large as that in the Dark Crusade expansion. In other words, the risk map employed by the previous expansion has been expanded to encompass four planets instead of just one. On paper, this all seems standard fare for an RTS expansion. It is greater than that in certain areas, and far less in others.

First, the overall (Risk-Style) campaign map:

On the sad side, the entire campaign map feels like a downgraded version of the one in Dark Crusade. Gone are the detailed army markers and territory images, replaced by blinking icons and an overall clunky feel. Don’t get me wrong, the battlemap as a whole looks pretty awesome — like something you’d set as your desktop background — it just feels like someone made it out of clay.

On the bright side, the developers have managed to include boatloads of new content in the form of writing, voiceover, and prerecorded cut scenes. This content functions in exactly the same way it did in Dark Crusade; each race has a unique set of story interactions with opposing races during the course of a campaign, giving the game decent replay value. Also, the detailed territory “archives” are back, giving each scenario map a little bit of extra personality.

And for the in-depth look:
The addition of aircraft is interesting but adds a questionably low amount of dimension to the game. Aircraft are nothing more than perpetually “jetpacking” vehicles. Each older race gets one new aircraft unit. Pure melee units are incapable of attacking aircraft, and as a result each race counters aircraft with range units and their own aircraft.

The two new races, the Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar, are fairly distinct. I say “fairly” because the Sisters of Battle are a cross between the Imperial Guard and Blood Ravens races while the Dark Eldar are a modification of the Eldar. One very interesting addition to each of these races are powerful spells fueled by special resource types. The Sisters of Battle accumulate “Faith” in order to cast these spells/powers on foes or friends. Faith spells are cast by certain “Faithful Units” who also happen to be the units that generate said faith. The Dark Eldar utilize their own “God Powers” by collecting souls, blue blobs left over from killed units or collected from the Dark Eldar torture buildings. Their spells are cast from a toolbar at the bottom of the screen (can be seen in screenshot).

Dawn of War’s powerful graphics engine allows for great tactical depth.

The AI in Soulstorm might feel a little bit weak compared to that in Dark Crusade, especially if players are using their favored race from previous games. Older players or RTS junkies should probably set the difficulty to high for a midlevel challenge. It feels as though AI aggression in Home Territory battles was reduced slightly, which makes things a bit easier.
Online multiplayer is populated with around 10-20 games available to join in the lobby at any given time. Automatch features are included, and the wait will be shorter or longer using this feature based on how many people are around.

Girl Power!

Overall, Dawn of War: Soulstorm doesn’t add anything really groundbreaking to the Dawn of War formula. What it does add are two compelling new races and a new, content-filled campaign. Any fan of the series should definitely go out and pick up a copy. Players unfamiliar with the series should also feel fairly comfortable, though I recommend playing the previous games* and enjoying their respective contributions to the series before investing $39.99 in Soulstorm.

– Interesting new races, the Dark Eldar and Sisters of Battle.
– More content in the new Campaign.
– Scantily clad warrior-women.

– The metamap feels clunky.
– AI is a little weak against good players.
– It costs $10 more than the rest of the entire series combined.

*Dawn of War: Platinum Edition, which includes all previous DoW games except Soulstorm, is $29.95 on Steam.