At least not yet, anyway. Today's Off Topic is just a short video that made me chuckle this morning, so I hope you enjoy it in Kirk's absence.
At least there weren't any cats involved! Or were there...
Head over to the Talk Amongst Yourselves forum for more conversations, off and on-topic.
Square Enix, along with many other game publishers, will be descending on the Big Apple next week for New York Comic-Con. And when NYCC starts next Thursday, the company will be letting folks shoot arrows at a target in imitation of the newly-rebooted Lara Croft. If the following is to be believed, these will be real Clint Barton/Katniss Everdeen projectiles:
In addition to being able to get hands-on time with the game, New York Comic Con attendees will have the opportunity to test their archery skills at the TOMB RAIDER Archery Experience. Each participant will let three arrows fly at their own individual TOMB RAIDER themed shooting target which they can then take as a memory of the event. Those lucky archers who hit a bull-eye will receive a limited edition TOMB RAIDER lithograph. The Archery Experience is being supervised by the New Jersey School of Archery.
See, I'm thinking that if these were Nerf arrows, no supervision would be necessary. Sure sounds like live fire to me. But I'm guessing that most arrows won't even reach the target, much less nail it dead center.
If you're not into real-life archery, Square Enix will also have playable demos of Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution at NYCC, as well as announcement of upcoming DLC plans for Sleeping Dogs. And, if any of y'all go and get a bull's-eye, let your friends at Kotaku know, mkay?
The first Razer Blade was not a high performance gaming laptop, nor was it meant to be. It was designed with a balance of portability and power in mind, and the allure of a 17 inch gaming laptop that weighs less than seven pounds was enough for the unit to sell out at every turn, paving the way for a second edition.
The second generation Razer Blade is not quite a high performance gaming laptop, but it's getting better.
Appreciating the original Razer Blade required a dramatic shift in the way I thought about portable gaming machines. Form factor always took a back seat to performance. When the initial Blade specs were revealed alongside the unit's $2800 price tag, I openly scoffed. I could buy a much more powerful laptop for half the price. Aside from the dangerously sexy look I could think of no reason to shell out that much money.
It's amazing the difference four pounds can make.
The average gaming laptop is not a particularly portable thing. It's self-contained, certainly, but I wouldn't slip one into my backpack for a weekend wandering around E3 or San Diego Comic-Con. I tried it once, and wound up exhausted with an incredibly sweaty back. Since then it's been the Macbook Air for me, not a particularly game-friendly system.
The Razer Blade can run games, it's got a 17-inch 1080p screen, it's made of metal and weighs 6.6 pounds. I can carry it comfortably with one hand.
The second revision of the hardware is all of that, only it runs games better and costs a little less.
Externally not much has changed between the first and second versions of the Razer Blade; without looking closely one would be hard-pressed to tell the two apart. First there are the vents on the underside of the system, now wide open as opposed to the shark-gill slits of the original.
The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot to the touch during extended gaming sessions. I'd imagine the vents were modified to keep the more powerful hardware within from burning grill marks on the user's thighs, Burger King style.
The only other significant exterior change is the buttons beneath the Switchblade UI.
They're a raised a little higher and a bit more clicky, making the touchpad a much more viable control option. I still prefer an external mouse, but I'm not incredibly inconvenienced if one isn't available.
The New Razer Blade
Price: US $2,499.99
•Intel Core i7-3632QM 2.2Ghz (3.2GHz with Turbo Boost)
•NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 660M with NVIDIA Optimus Technology
•2GB Dedicated GDDR5 Video Memory
•8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Memory
•17.3-in. LED Backlit Display (1920x1080)
•Built-in HD Webcam
•Integrated 60Wh Battery
•500GB 7200RPM HDD (Primary Storage)
•64GB SATA III SSD with NVELO Dataplex Software (Cache Acceleration)
•Wireless Network 802.11 A/G/N + BT4.0
•16.81" (Width) x 10.9" (Depth) x 0.88" (Height); 6.6lbs (Weight)
Support for the interface's programmable buttons is growing slowly — there are now premade profiles for Battlefield 3, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike Go and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The more support it gets the less gimmicky it feels, but let's face it — it's still pretty gimmicky. I'd drop cash on a slightly smaller version of the Blade with a regular track pad in a heartbeat.
And I still love the damn keyboard. Those flat keys go against everything I've ever believed a keyboard should be, but they are just so damn responsive and easy to hit, just as they were on the Star Wars: the Old Republic Gaming Keyboard Razer put out. I'm seriously considering investing in the non-branded Deathstalker Ultimate just so I can touch them on a regular basis.
The key changes between Razer Blade the first and Razer Blade the second are hidden deep within its striking outer shell. The overly ambitious 250GB SSD drive of the first unit has been replaced with the more reasonable combination of a 500GB SATA / 64GB SSD combo. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M has been replaced with a GeForce GTX 660M — not a particularly powerful mobile video card but a step in the right direction.
By far, the coolest upgrade is the processor and Intel Core i7-3632QM 2.2Ghz (3.2GHz with Turbo Boost) — so new that I couldn't write about it a week ago without making Intel incredibly angry. Razer introduced the second generation of the Blade with the tagline "The Beauty is now the Beast". This CPU is what they were referring to. It's blazingly fast, able to juggle several dozen browser windows and various applications without breaking a sweat.
Despite all that power under the hood, the second generation blade still chugged a bit with our standard benchmark games running at the unit's native 1920x1080 resolution with all the bells and whistles enabled.
That Total War: Shogun 2 score made me cringe. The game itself was playable, but not particularly enjoyable. Arkham City didn't give me too much trouble, and frankly I was surprised the Metro 2033 score was so high — it's rather brutal.
Taking things down to 1280x720 made each game much more playable, but I'd rather play games in 1080p on a display that's natively 1080p.
While there's definitely room for the Razer Blade to improve, particularly in the graphics card department, the second generation of the surprisingly portable, seductively stylish gaming laptop is a marked improvement over the original. The $2500 price tag is still too much for my blood, but it's getting markedly more difficult to repackage and return to Razer once the reviewing is done. If the Blade's success continues and Razer's part costs continue to drop, who knows? Maybe I'll flee the country once they get around to releasing the Mk3.
This week, well, what can we say. Resident Evil 6 released to a critical bloodbath. Metacritic counts 2,688 negative consumer reviews—not all of them written—for this title, and it's not just because people are upset about DLC or a bad ending. I'll just step aside and let them take over, because holy shit, this is bad.
Released: Sept. 25
Critic: Karibito (Metacritic)
• "The reason It gets a 0 from me, is because it has the misleading title of a numbered RE sequel but the product i ended up playing was something like Gears of War meets CoD."
• "RIP Resident Evil series. You were once a mighty God of the videogame industry and now you've been reduced to a flushed turd down a toilet drain."
Critic: Darkaroff (Metacritic)
• "En fin señores estamos ante una ESTAFA por parte de CAPCOM!!!! Esto no es Resident Evil, si eres fan de la Saga ni se te ocurra comprarte este BODRIO!!!!"
Critic: hersheygames (Metacritic)
• "Resident Evil 6 is so devoid of horror elements and is such a typical dudebro action game for the casual masses that it vomits laziness, insulting effort and sheer boredom."
Critic: Busterofwar (Metacritic)
• "A poor attempt at turning Resident Evil into Uncharted with awful action scenes and a billion quick-time events."
Critic: Nichtswisser (Metacritic)
• "It's like trying to have sex with your girlfriend while the phone rings every minute or so."
Score: 4. Hey. It's still sex.
Critic: CriticoDubioso (Metacritic)
• "NO COMPRÉIS SEMEJANTE INSULTO A LA SAGA."
Critic: Kalashr (Metacritic)
• "This game is like a cancer in late-stage. Don't want to see it ever again. My eyes are bleeding after 10 minutes of gameplay."
If you never saw Crazy People, a 1990 film starring Dudley Moore, I highly recommend it. Basically, an advertising agency is taken over by the insane, who decide that honesty—the anathema of marketing—is now the best policy. Volvos are sold as "boxy, but they're good." Another stunt offers "a free plant for fat slobs." And a poster featuring an attractive couple frolicking on the beach invites the viewer to "Come in the Bahamas."
The kicker to the whole movie is a brilliant fake ad for Sony (above), in which a smug Japanese man declares that their products are better because shorter Asian engineers are closer to the circuitry, while "caucasians are just too damn tall." Twenty-two years and three Xbox 360 failures later, I'm thinking maybe that movie was on to something.
This isn't an epiphany, though the straight up failure of my Xbox 360's disc drive this week—in the middle of a review, and on the same day I wrote a check for a $350 plumbing failure—certainly makes it into an I've-had-all-I-can-stand moment. The fact it happened on the console's third design is infuriating. Its drive still squawked like a turkey call on the first day of the season. The fan ran constantly, even if you were just charging up a controller while the rest of the unit was offline. If you played Skyrim without installing it to the hard drive, God, the thing sounded like a Husqvarna carving through a fallen maple, even with noise-cancelling headphones on. This is to say nothing of problems with the 360's temperamental wireless—and even wired—connectivity. I frequently started my 360 and watched it struggle to find the router, while my PlayStation 3, sitting inches away, connected to PSN with no trouble.
That probably pissed me off the most, because whenever your 360 can't find the wireless access point, you have to pretend to test the connection. It's not only that the process means signing out your user profile (what the hell does that matter?) it's that the whole thing puts on this air of "testing," like having a fucking wireless router right next to the unit is some experimental setup that may be outside of the tolerances of this machine designed by caucasians in Redmond who were just too damn tall to see what they were making. It drove me insane to play UFC Undisputed and be told my "NAT was set to strict." I don't know what the hell that is, and I consider myself an intelligent man. I do know it's an advanced networking issue you should never encounter on a piece of plug-and-play consumer hardware.
All of this leaves aside completely gratuitious design choices, which I have raged against before, like the stupid goddamn trap door that means you can't plug in a USB device on the fourth try, much less the second or third, or the capacitive power and eject buttons. I'm sure these features won some asshole a prestigious design award. Here's the thing about those buttons and that door, though: Their design communicates a solid-state product. No moving parts. And yet when you need to load a disc, GA-WHOOOMPH, here comes the drive tray from 1990.
And that is the thing that crapped out on me this week, requiring a tremendous willpower to not hoist the whole unit by the tray like a horseshoe, and fling it into the laundry room.
Psychologists say you hate most that which you see, deep down, in yourself. It's true with the Xbox 360, and not just because it is sold by an American company and is the dominant console in my home country especially in online multiplayer. I'm angry because, no matter how much I stomp my feet and righteously declare how unacceptable these failures are, and how shameful this console's history is, I enable its crappiness by rushing right out to get a replacement when the thing breaks, even when a PS3—loading times and firmware updates notwithstanding—is humming along without any problem on an adjacent shelf.
My only defense is that I need the Xbox 360 for my job. Forza Horizon is my review, when it releases in two weeks, and that game, of course, is not releasing on any platform other than the 360. That's my excuse. What's yours? And that's not to suggest there is no good excuse. Microsoft did a fantastic job making this machine seem to be indispensable despite unreliability that, in the early days, was calculated to be as high as one out of four units failing.
Console exclusives, or timed exclusives, have a lot to do with it, but so does Sony missing the boat on pricing throughout this generation, on online multiplayer and social features, areas in which the 360 has led unequivocally in North America.
Still, as much as there's the Yellow Light of Death, nowhere near the failure rate of the Red Ring, or the fact you can't install Linux on a PS3—that thing works. It doesn't groan, wheeze or require a big stupid power brick that, if grasped, would leave you screaming like that Nazi grabbing the red-hot amulet in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's made by a company that has made consumer electronics hardware for decades. Not the one that brought you Clippy.
As angry as I am that Microsoft turned out such terrible workmanship throughout all makes of this console, now approaching the end of its life cycle, I am even more furious that I have accepted it by continuing to pay for the product. I'm furious that, instead of trying to get it fixed, or calling Xbox Live customer support to get my money's worth in a nasty telephone rant, I just accept that I have to buy a new one. (Which is still true, the thing is out of its warranty.) This is the third Xbox 360 to fail on me since 2007, and anecdotally, that places me at the low end of the spectrum.
The code name for the 360's successor is "Durango." The popular label is "Xbox 720." I don't care what Microsoft wants to call it, that godddamn thing better be built like a fucking tank. No capacitive buttons. No USB trap door. No pissant WiFi. No disc drive that sounds like the fiddle solo in "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." No hot brick.
I can blame Microsoft if that new console fails the first time. I can only blame myself if it fails a second.
Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.
Weird? Yes. Also awesome? Yes yes.
Fahey had a few bones to pick with the "Attack of the Saints" E3 trailer released for Hitman: Absolution. Most likely because there were no cats in claymation to play out the slow-motion death sequence. Thankfully leehardcastle is here to change that.
And for comparison's sake, the original is to your left.
Still, the number of changes coming at least speak to a development team listening to its user base. The biggest problem, the inability to edit players' appearances in Connected Careers, will be resolved with the patch. If you, like me, started your career without a facemask and then regretted that comical decision well, now you can give your running back some suitable protection.
As to that, you may now start an offline Connected Careers mode using a custom roster. That means that a roster with an entire team—or all 32 teams—playing without facemasks can now be used at the beginning of an offline career. Multiple players can also join an offline Connected Careers game once the patch lands.
See the link for all of the changes but, while they are welcome, the scope of this patch does make one wonder why this stuff wasn't included in the game to begin with.
Upcoming Madden NFL 13 Title Update Details [EA Sports ]
Tongue-in-cheek of course. That is NHL 13 producer Sean Ramjagsingh taking everyone into the mo-cap session that, ahem, produced the Hercules Check. Again, it's all about authenticity. When Boston's Zdeno Chara puts his ass into Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, they want to be sure they get the aftermath 100 percent right. Just like their friends down in Florida wanted to be sure that Madden delivered as advertised, and that Tiger Woods can walk on water.
Editor's note: This piece was republished with permission from NBC News InGame.
Colleen Lachowicz is a long-time health care worker who works with teens and young adults. She is a wife and a step-mom. And she likes to knit.
But this week, the 48-year-old Lachowicz — who is running as a Democrat for the State Senate in Maine — abruptly found herself a the center of a Republican smear campaign because of one of her hobbies. No ... not knitting.
Lachowicz is a gamer. More specifically, the Republican party of Maine discovered that Lachowicz enjoys playing the online role-playing game World of Warcraft. And, on Thursday, the party launched a campaign to out what they are calling her "disturbing alter-ego" and her "bizarre double life."
The Republican Party not only launched a website, they sent out post cards to voters in her district and even issued a press release — all of which showed off the level-85 orc named Santiaga that Lachowicz plays in the game and also highlighted online comments she had made about the game (some of which contain curse words!). (For more on that, read our previous story here.)
News of the WoW witch hunt has since made international headlines and kicked up a storm of outrage in the gaming world. I had a chance to interview Lachowicz after she had spent a day out knocking on doors, campaigning in her district not to mention fielding a flurry of calls and emails about the anti-gaming crusade. And she seemed nothing short of stunned by the turn of events.
"This whole thing is just so weird," she said sounding flustered. "It's just so weird that it's an issue."
Lachowicz said that she has played games her entire life and has never tried to hide the fact that she's a gamer. She says she got started gaming way back in the good old days with an Atari home console and loved going to arcades.
"Do you remember Marble Madness? I loved that game," she says.
More recently she has enjoyed playing the hit Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on her PlayStation 3. And she points out that even her elderly mother (nearly 70 years old) enjoys playing games.
"She doesn't play any massively multiplayer online games but she can kick some butt in Super Mario Bros.," Lachowicz says.
Lachowicz got started playing World of Warcraft four years ago when the Wrath of the Lich King expansion arrived. "I liked hanging out with friends and working on a goal together," she says of what drew her to the game.
She thinks those who don't play the game don't realize that the stereotypes about its players aren't true. (Think: basement-dwelling teenagers without a life.)
"When I played, I played with people who are college professors and lawyers. I played with adults," she says. "The average age, I think, is mid-30s for people who play online MMOs."
Indeed, with hundreds of millions of people around the world playing not only online games like World of Warcraft but Facebook games and mobile games, it's stunning to see that the term "gamer," in some circles, remains a dirty word.
"By 2012, it's far easier to identify those Americans who are not game-playing consumers than those who are," says Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association. (The ECA is a non-profit organization dedicated to gamer advocacy.)
"Who among us has never seen nor heard of Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies or FarmVille much less classics like Pac Man, Asteroids or Space Invaders? This is akin to demonizing politicians who admitted to listening to, and being fans of rock-and-roll 50 years ago."
Additionally, while the Republican party claims that that Lachowicz spends "hundreds of hours playing in her online world," Lachowicz says WoW was never a central part of her life. And that is a common misperception — that if you enjoy playing video or computer games, you must have an addiction to it.
Though Lachowicz concedes that some people do have a problem with playing WoW too much, she says that has never been the case for her. In fact, she hasn't logged into the game for about a month. And before that, she hadn't had a chance to play since January.
Why? "I've been busy running for office," she says. And that's not the only hobby that has suffered because of her political ambition. "I also don't do much knitting anymore either."
As for the comments Lachowicz has made about playing World of Warcraft — comments in which she has, for example, professed her love of stabbing things and, yes, used derogatory terms for Tea Party members — "Many of those comments go back to 2005 or 2004 and they are taken out of context," Lachowicz says, pointing out that anyone who has ever played a game like WoW knows that enjoying fighting is all part of the game.
But she adds, "I would say I'm sorry if some people are offended. I certainly I said those comments before I knew I was going to run for office."
Welcome to the modern digital age — the age when anything you type online can and will be used against you.
"I work primarily with young people — teenagers and young adults — and I think, 'What kind of message is this for us to send to them?" she says. "That every little tweet you might have done or Facebook posting or comment on an article, that this is going to come back to haunt you? Are we really going to go back years and years to try and drag people through the mud rather than talk about the issues?"
As stunning as the entire experience has been for Lachowicz, it could, in fact, work in her favor. Gamers around the world have been coming to her defense in online forums and on her candidacy Facebook page, cheering her on and pledging her support with comments like this:
"Good to see you standing up for your beliefs and hobbies, the country needs more people like you to lead it, we need people who are willing to share their hobbies and show they are normal people just like everyone else. Thumbs up to you."
"As a one time WOW player, retired NYC Police Det. and a person way older than you : ) I applaud you," writes William Crespo on her Facebook page. "It only shows your ability to interact with many, many people. I have met many people my age and older who still play WOW. My brother still plays and at one time it was my brother, my nephew, my grandson and myself all playing together... It's a great hobby."
Even Republicans gamers are coming to her defense. For instance, a woman named Kari Zielke sent the below photo to Lachowicz's campaign and to the Republican Party of Maine. "We may have different political views but I wont stand by while my fellow Horde are treated this way," she wrote on Lachowicz's Facebook page.
Meanwhile many commenters have pointed out that knowing she was gamer would make them more likely ... not less ... to vote for her.
"That website won you every single vote from people under 30 and every single gamer vote for those over 30," writes Greg Hussein Kinney on Lachowicz's Facebook page.
I asked Lachowicz what she thought of the idea that people might just vote for her because she's a gamer.
"What I would say is that I knock on doors a lot and I talk to potential voters and I try to make a connection with them and be a real person," she said. "And maybe this is just the kind of thing that says I'm a real person. I do things just like everyone else does - like millions of other people."
For now, Lachowicz says she is staying busy going door-to-door and preparing for the coming election. She's been so busy, she hasn't even had a chance to try the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.
In fact, when I ask her what she thinks about this panda-themed expansion — which has been somewhat controversial in the WoW world — she responds with the answer of a true politician: "I have no comment on the pandas at this time."
Read more at NBC News InGame:
What a long, strange trip the past five days in gaming apps has been, beginning with a big-eyed passionate plea for healthy exercise and ending in a strange world of shadow sea creatures, with a little LEGO thrown in for good measure.
It never ceases to amaze me, the astounding variety of gaming available on the devices once dedicated solely to annoying one-sided public conversations. Without switching devices or swapping cartridges I can fight a sword battle, rise to the top of the food chain, set other people on fire, make a doe-eyed anime girl feel bad about her weight and learn how to build 2D pixelated objects using the world's most popular construction toys.
It's wonderfully diverse and bizarre, and it keeps getting better every week.
If you have a suggestion for an app for the iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows Phone 7 that you'd like to see highlighted, let us know.
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