XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM is a turn based strategy game made by Firaxis Games published by 2K Games. It was released for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. I played it on the Xbox 360. The game is very solid and holds true to its predecessors. The storyline of the game is essentially starts out with alien “pods” landing on Earth and a group of Delta Squad XCOM soldiers are sent to investigate: Enter mission 1. Granted I played the past XCOM games when I was much younger and I held a moment of pride when I was able to beat more than the first couple missions. Possibly the most frustrating thing I found was not being able to pick who my starting soldiers were and their ability lines. The game sets you up with a balanced group but you can rearrange this as you play and level more soldiers. The game play is very well done and hitting your target is based on a percentage chance to hit. This means even on rare occasion a 90% chance to hit can miss and YES you will yell at your screen when it happens. The enemies seem to at least miss just as much as I did though, so overall it had a nice balance. That didn’t stop me from screaming at the game when my first character died, turned off the Xbox, and threw my controller aside.

 

Now if you excuse me I have to continue saving Earth from the alien menace.

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SimCity 2013 / 5

I’ve always been an avid fan of the Sim series so I was especially excited to see this new SimCity come out especially since it was integrating multiplayer support. I love being able to go in and build a city, but being able to do it, and have friends join is icing on the cake. The gameplay is very familiar if you have played any of the SimCity series before and I especially like how they have removed the micro management of electrical, water, and sewer issues and instead opted to have every road carry all the utilities automatically. RCI (Residential / Commercial / Industrial) zones no longer need to be exactly plotted on a graph to maximize space, but instead each area can be drawn with curves and filled in as building values grow. This should be an incredible addition to anyone who likes to artistically crafty their cities to look like actual cities instead of efficient squares. I was surprised when I found that I could not alter the terrain to suit my perfectly flat city, but the land automatically adjusted as you built around it. As you place fixed structures the land changes to “fit” them but, at least what I’ve seen, there isn’t an ability to alter the terrain independently of structure placement.

 

When starting the game you have the option to select several region sizes that determine how many cities you can build or share with friends. You can choose to not invite anyone and keep your region private so you can create all the cities yourself. You can invite friends and let everyone create however many cities they want, or you can open it up to the public and let anyone join. The cool part about this is it gives you the ability to completely fly solo, invite friends and benefit from their creative design and resources, or make it public so anyone can join and you get the pros and cons that come with that. You might get someone that had no clue what they are doing and require your help with resources, or you’ll have someone who knows how to play this game inside and out and can possibly support you. Either way you can either benefit by selling your extra resources to them, or by buying resources that you can’t attain on your own. It gives you a lot of freedom to explore new combinations and specialize cities without having to worry about building self sustaining cities. For example, one area could skip on worrying about utilities and focus on tourism, or have another area build an industry heavy city to support the commercially driven neighbor. All areas can be built with a different focus to support the towns around it with their craft, while the neighboring towns support it’s specialization.

 

Release day seems to work fine for me, but on the second day during peak playtime after people got off work, I did have issues logging into the servers to play. It is a bummer that they require an internet connection to play, as this removes anyone being able to play on their own when they don’t have an internet connection, but also shows that if they have not allocated the correct amount of server resources that people who want to play the game, can’t because the servers are down. I really hope that they can fix this, and wishing upon a star, I hope they allow offline play. Maybe you won’t be able to play your offline cities with friends online, but still there should be an option for offline play. I know the server issues put quite a few people off and I don’t blame them. I got to participate in all three closed beta’s and was surprised that the last one was not an open stress test beta. I really think they could have gotten an idea on how overloaded the servers really could have been before the game was released and people who paid for the game got locked out of playing. Besides this error I’m still a fan of the game and as I said before, would be even more of a happy fan if they allowed offline play. I do understand that the point of having a game check into online servers is to prevent, or at least reduce piracy, but it really hurts a company’s image and reputation when people can’t play a game because they don’t have the internet.

 

All in all, if you are a fan of the Sim style games, and loved the SimCity series, definitely take a look.

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Bungie’s Destiny

Bungie’s new Destiny
Check out this preview for Bungie’s Latest project and we will discuss…

Let’s face it Bungie. Your story tells of a golden age long ago, when your REACH spanned the gaming system. It was a bright and hopeful time…but it didn’t last. Something hit you, tried to knock you down and stamp you out. And everyone knows it was 343 industries.
 
I don’t know about you but in the preview I see a Halo-esque sphere hovering in the distance. The armor looks like something out of a Spartan apocalypse. And the story seems quite similar to well…(insert your opinion here) Halo was your halo Bungie, a glimmering golden arc upon your gaming head that made you a meteor casting Behemoth.
 
You will notice some fresh ideas though. I love the new studio digs and the direction you guys are taking the company. Please note that Iphone or Android apps are welcome if they actually do something other than change your in-game load outs or appearance. I think we are all very interested on this “living world” concept. On another note Activision has signed on for 10 years of this franchise, that is a lot of ground to cover! Can this be your Pathway out of Darkness? Can anything be bigger than the Halo franchise? I guess we will find out…when you set a release date.

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Harlem Shake Pronounced Dead!

For Immediate release:
We regret to inform you that today Feb 24th at 0925 hours Pacific Standard Time the Harlem Shake was pronounced dead. Due to this tragic loss the family urges you to PLEASE STOP MAKING HARLEM SHAKE VIDEOS. He leaves behind many illegitimate children and fans that will discover him at a later date. Please ensure them that the Harlem Shake is now in a better place.

 
The life of Harlem Shake:

Born in the 80’s this dance craze was born in Harlem. It was similar to pop-locking style of the west coast, but at a faster rate using the upper body. In the late 90’s and early 2000 Harlem Shake was in several Hip Hop videos. He enjoyed his new wealth and stardom occasionally doing club gigs for charity. He resurfaced in 2012 when a young Electronica DJ, Baauer used his name in a heavily influenced bass track. On February 5th of 2013 He became an overnight smash by going viral on the internet. It appeared things were going up from here, the next 19 days would prove fatal.
 
Events leading to demise

Foul play is suspected from his new business partner Youtube, who would not contact us for an interview. An autopsy at the time of this article reveals that the cause of death was overexposure to the masses. Like all young stars Harlem Shake had bouts of depression and drug abuse. Unfortunately his friends and family let people continue “to do” the Harlem Shake despite overt signs of chemical dependency to dope beats.
 
With such an ease of entry and simple editing anyone, and everyone could do it. “Why even a monkey walrus can do the harlem shake!” they said. Poor Shake could not stand the pressure of this ressurgance of popularity.
 
In memory of Harlem shake.
There were many things that Harlem shake wanted to do in his tender age. recently he was working with his long time friend Shake Weight on a music video. Rumors were that Puff Daddy P.Diddy Diddy himself wanted to do a hip hop Re-Remix of the Harlem Shake. The Harlem Shake will live on in clubs and households across the country and the world. However, please refrain from starting his downward spiral by posting YouTube videos or worse, creating legitemate business commercials. Donations for the Harlem Shake’s funeral expenses can be made here, as he could not afford life nor health insurance on his internet impression budget.
 
Until Next Time,
Teach Me how to Dougie!
-Corona

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A Good Day to Die Hard

There I was enjoying the tepid dusk air. I noticed a woman with silky hair and supple skin about thirty yards back. I glanced in her direction and she shuffled quickly towards me. “It must be a good day” I thought as her perfume lingered in the air. However, when our gaze locked it felt like something was off, could this be a Russian spy tailing me? Maybe I’m paranoid but I kept one hand on my fandango just to be safe. When I open the door for her I realize, a shame I am not paying attention to her pert lips. I am paranoid; there are no reflections in the glass or abnormal shadows in the distance. I enter the foyer and casually swing my head to each side to get my bearings. Running potential exit strategies, identifying threats and localizing civilians; I smile as I think to myself, old habits Die Hard! As I get closer to the dark chestnut desk where the receptionist sits I could smell the heavy, buttery aroma of a botched chemical experiment. Suddenly the woman throws her arms around and speaks to me softly with her glossy lips. “Do you want some popcorn?”

 

Now I know John Mclane isn’t known for being the suave spy type that I imagine myself as when I’m in the movie theatre. If you haven’t seen any of the Die Hard movies basically, he likes to blow stuff up and shoot bad guys. And that’s exactly what I needed after a hectic Valentine’s Day. In this Fifth installment of the Die Hard series somehow John runs himself straight into a botched CIA mission while looking for his son. It seems that those hero genes run & gun themselves in the family. His son Jack is being held prisoner and on the run in present day Moscow. There’s a top secret file that everyone wants that brings them all to good old Chernobyl and well… you have to see the rest.

 

I enjoyed the acting in this movie. Bruce Willis has his character nailed and everyone seems clear of their character motivations. Jai Courtney as Jack seems a little stiff at first but learns to loosen up during his ordeal. Hoping that was actual the direction of the film maker for his character and not his actual acting style. A very strong performance from Sebastian Koch as Komorov who needs all the help he can get, but will also stand on his own with these two running around.

 

Special effects were great, slightly bending the laws of physics but not really smashing them apart that you would notice. There is a very well orchestrated car chase near the beginning of the film that I enjoyed immensely. As a car guy and I admit haven’t seen a well made car chase in a newer movie in quite a while. I would be stunned to hear how much collateral damage and man hours that scene alone would cost. The pace of the movie is pretty quick from beginning to end so don’t leave your seat! You will probably miss something worthwhile. I think not only Die Hard fans but action fans in general will catch some subtle nuances that John brings to the mechanics of the game.

 

Now I know I poked a lot of fun at this movie before seeing the previews by calling it “Die Hard 15” or “Why don’t you die, Die Hard” Titles that may be relevant in the future, but I was quite satisfied with the experience. I say it lives up to the expectations of the original movie complete with explosions, chases, humor and the occasional double cross. I won’t spoil it for you but you know it’s in there! At its heart A Good Day to Die Hard, Is a touching story about a father coaching his son on the subtleties of being a badass. There are some genuinely funny male bonding moments along with enough thrills rides to satisfy your day.
Until Next time

Yippie Kay Yay Mother…!
-Corona

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Warm Bodies

Who doesn’t love a good zombie story? Now I’ve been a fan of the Resident Evil Games and their movies since the first time a zombie dog crashed through a window as I dropped the dual shock. I am pretty sure I’m the only one here at WhaddupNow with the tools and training required to survive the zombie apocalypse. That being said, I’m not really looking forward to movies like World War Z. It seems like the zombie genre is getting way too generic after an awesome series like The Walking Dead.

 

Here is your typical scenario. Someone is always racing to find a cure through extreme odds. They can’t trust anyone that has the look of hunger in their eyes, but somehow they run into a like minded survivor. They encounter a Corpus Vigere and learn to shoot it in the head or sever the brain stem in an entertaining way. Eventually someone gets and turns on their friends. You know standard stuff.

 

But have you ever wondered what the zombie thought about you? Of course not because we are told zombies don’t think! This is why I was somewhat thrilled at the concept behind warm bodies. Shaun of the Dead was a hilarious departure to the standard shoot them in a head flick. This movie hopes to achieve sort of the same glory but gives us the zombie perspective.

 

This movie is a good break from the nameless, faceless, groaning flesh bags that want to eat your brains shtick. Our Protagonist R explains his zombie habits by being nothing more than forgetting who he was because well… he’s the living dead. Oh and by the way they don’t eat your brains because they want to, but because they have to. As a bonus to eating brains, that’s where all the cool memories are stored! Something happens when he sees Julie blowing away his buddies in a firefight. And in a strange way, it all makes sense.

 

This movie has quite a bit of humor in it regarding the zombie culture but it is well balanced with some action and tender moments. I wouldn’t call it suspenseful but there are some moments that leave you wondering what will happen next. At it’s heart, and this is where it gets interesting… it’s a chick flick. There are some pretty corny romantic subtexts but they also manage to poke fun at themselves which I like.

The performance by Nicholas Hoult as R was pretty spot on and he doesn’t break character. Teresa Palmer as Julie does a great job at being the girl next door that can kick your ass. There is also a shade of vulnerability to her character has that she nails.

The whole love in the apocalypse theme is played out well and the humor in it is worth a look. It’s a balanced movie but nothing really strikes me in it as memorable or exciting. I don’t think it will run into territory of cult classic anytime soon.

If you are a fellow doomsday prepper and would like something different to lighten the mood check it out. Also ladies, if you’re trying to trick your guy into watching a romantic comedy with you for Valentines Day he will probably not cringe at this one. If he doesn’t get a few laughs out of it then…maybe he’s a zombie!

Until next time (Nemesis voice) S.T.A.R.S!
-Corona

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New venue for Beyond Wonderland

NOS Events Center vs San Miguel AmphitheaterIt looks like Insomniac has been working on a change of venue for their popular Beyond Wonderland festival from the National Orange Show Events Center to the San Manuel Amphitheater. This change should be able to boost capacity by quite a bit as it’s double the size of the NOS Events Center.

 

Police Chief Robert Handy and residents from the city of San Bernardino had tensions with Insomniac from previous events which prompted the change. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. would deploy extra security staff and have the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deploy extra deputies to keep the concert safe and orderly. The County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to allow raves at the amphitheater but San Bernardino City Attorney James Penman, Supervisor Janice Rutherford along with many Devore residents were unsatisfied with the board’s decision because of crime and public safety concerns that come from events like this.

 

Beyond Wonderland is set for March 16, 2013 and ticket prices, as of this post, are $65 for 18+ and VIP for 21+ at $150.

Further detailed information can be found on the LA Times website.

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Playstation 3 3/4 Teaser???

So the ever secretive Playstation has released this new promo for 2013. There is much speculation as to what it all means…

Notice the sleek lines and the powerful strikes of color? Perhaps it’s a much needed upgrade to the playstaion move device. Compared to the Xbox Kinect it’s kind of cumbersome and awkward design. Not to discount the fun factor of the Move. We actually had a blast playing disc golf and bocce ball on it just the other night!
 
The big rumor is that it hints at a powerfull new system being activated. Dare I say, the Orbis Playstation 4!!! More than likely there will be one more re-skin to the system. The super slim was just introduced that is smaller and quieter. Speaking of quiet, the usual Playstation bing isn’t heard and there is 4 seconds of silence after the promo, hmmm. Whatever it is it’s slated for a February 20th release. If you follow anything in the gaming world you know E3 isn’t until June of this year. So we doubt they would release any word of the Playstation 4 before then… or would they???
 
We will let you know when we find out next month!

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The Art of the Kickstarter

I hate making new years resolutions! Often times they are unrealistic, trivial or downright messy. I try to focus on constant movement and being relevant. So let’s talk about last years goals that were accomplished instead. We released WhaddupNow 2.0 which was a dramatic improvement to the site. We attended quite a few events, and even bigger events outside of our scene, we even broke the release date for Black Ops II at a Gamestop event using our presentation service. All things we want to do again this year, but why spoil the fun of what is in store (chuckle) this year with a resolution?
 

Resolutions are kind of similar to starting a project, you have to do it everyday to be effective. A few of us were in a meeting thinking of merchandise and how awesome it would be to get some shirts printed. We tried going with Joe Schmo’s T’s and things but I HATED their quality, I thought we could do it better ourselves. We wanted to make shirts for us and the people in our scene, but how do we get the required funding in order to get a start? Well we kept hearing about Kickstarter. In August of 2012 yet to be released Ouya game system was breaking records with their project funding of $8,596,474.
 

We all would probably like to have the same problem right? So if you are thinking about starting or have started a project chances are you are reading this to give you a small edge. If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter think of a site specifically geared to create funding for (almost) whatever you want to do. There are many categories, chances are your project will fit into one of them. Here’s a short list on how to create a project.
1.Define your objective: Be brutally honest with yourself and don’t over think it.
2.Create a video: Be yourself and state why you are excited about your project
3.Create rewards: Tiers of stuff you will send for the amount invested
4.Create a reasonable funding amount
5.Define a date: 30-90 days, they say 30 is optimum I will get to that next.
6.Submit and hope you don’t have to re-do 1-3 again.
 

I’ve had a few friends that have wanted my opinion about creating a project on Kickstarter. Prepare for what I will tell you next, because you have to be funded at 100% or you don’t get funded…at all. So even if you follow my advice you may fail. We had failed, which is why the 2012 shirt project was the Bane to my Batman. But doing the process first hand I can give you some tips you won’t get anywhere else.
 

Tip #1 Set your target date. For the next 30 to 90 this project will become your baby, everyday you will want to nurture it. We set our project to split the difference, 45 days. My mistake was trying to market the shirt project, while also trying to learn how to create shirts. Do yourself a favor and complete your project first. If you are still in concept and planning there are other ways, better ways to start a project, unless you have something extremely innovative.
 

There are two big things going on here because you cannot change the end date. You have to think about rewards and marketing your project. The main reason you want to get it out early is the way the system works. Funding doesn’t take place until the time expires; think about your backers and when they will get their rewards. You want all of the time to tell people about your project, not to try and finish it too.
 

Tip #2 Create awesome rewards. We had some cool stuff to give out but I have seen other projects that will reward you with compliments. My message to those types projects; thank me later, send me some cool stuff first! On a whole you want to have something of universal value for your backers. Keep in mind that you can add rewards; they can also be modified UNTIL you have a backer for that item.
 

Tip #3 Think about your backers. We had a lot of people that said they would be interested in a shirt. But we realized there are a few limiting factors to someone who wants to support your project. They have to create an account themselves and then they have to create an Amazon account. Then they have to wait for your project to finish before they are charged. Then they have to wait for you to ship them their stuff. True there are people that will follow you regardless but instead of trying to get new people to join Kickstarter, look at the people already on Kickstarter first as they have already backed other projects. Oh, and keep your audience engaged and entertained with updates.
 

Tip #4 Make measurable goals. Our objective was too broad, how do I know that? It took THREE renditions of our project to finally be approved. The funding of our goal was realistic but not so much for the demand of what we were doing. We started off with the lofty goal of covering the cost of equipment and production, but realistically we met only the cost of production. And like I said earlier it is %100 funding or nothing. Had we have started a little lower we would have met the goal.
 

Looking back it was a good experience. In those 45 days we went from idea, to concept, to an actual product. We are set to release some items very soon so keep tuned. As much as the whole thing defeated me the first time around I may even start another project here shortly. Now has this article given you second thoughts about starting a project? If you happen to fail miserably at it would you quit? If you said yes, I’m sorry to say that you aren’t ready…yet. If you’re not scurred (ie scared) and you are ready to sleep eat and breathe Kickstarter for the next 30-90 days, I salute you! Now get out there and start something! Hopefully you have a successful project and you can thank me later.

 

And If you are curious the title of this article draws quite a bit of influence from the book “The Art of the Start”. For me it was a really motivational and informative book about “bootstrapping” a project. I read it a while back and passed it to our Prez at WhaddupNow, for once he is actually reading it, shocking! Oh, and if you’re listening Guy Kawasaki. I’m making meaning… but I still need funding, please help!

 

Until next time,
Do a Barrel Roll!!!
– Eric “Corona”

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Diablo III Mindnight Launch!

This morning at 12:01 AM Blizzard Entertainment opened the floodgates for Diablo III! I don’t know about all of you but I’ve been looking forward to this since 2009 before I went to Blizzcon, which at, I got to play it. At 11:45 PM Monday night I got myself prepped and ready. I had my drink, some snacks, and a fully patched and installed client. I was ready to go! At 12:00 AM Tuesday I started hitting the servers. I had several friends that were doing the same thing so I kept in contact with them on how their night was going. At 12:12 AM I got in!! I got to the character selection screen where I kept fighting the server errors of client creation timing out. Eventually at 12:40 PM I got booted out of character creation! I asked my friends if the same had happened to them but it had not, and at 12:49 my friends made their characters and logged in. I ended up spending the next 41 minutes hammering the server continually getting the frustration from the picture shown below.

This brought so much pain to gamers!

Every gamer that experienced this early this morning knows my pain! Finally at 1:30 AM I was able to log in, secure my character name and play Diablo III long into the early morning hours! As I was with my review of the open beta I am thoroughly impressed with how they handled the functionality of this game. I have yet to play it completely through, real life does call, but from what I’ve seen it’s going to as as captivating of a game as the original Diablo was, and with the data being hosted on their servers, we “should” be able to count on the game keeping its purity without the illicit duping.

That was my experience, how was yours?

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