Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Assassin's Creed III time.

Right now I'm mainly playing XCOM and Hitman: Blood Money.  On Tuesday, Assassin's Creed 3 comes out.  I preordered it from Amazon however, so it could be a few days before I have my copy.  Until then, I intend to try and stay off the Internet as much as possible, and use that time to finish XCOM and Hitman, and maybe hunker down and play some more of my PS3 games or make some progress on anime.

XCOM is excellent.  Expect a review soon.  Hopefully before my copy of Assassin's Creed 3 comes.  So far I think it ought to be in the top 3 for this year.  Hitman is also excellent.  I would like to write about it but I'm not sure I'll  have time.  I've never played Hitman before, but after playing Blood Money, I'm a lot more interested in Absolution.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Up and running again

So, I decided to start playing Bastion.  I didn't play it when everyone was raving about it, and it's been leering at me from my Steam library for quite some time now.  What made me decide to play it was that I figured I could blow through it easily enough before Assassin's Creed 3 dropped.

It seems I was right.  On Saturday I put in the game for the first time, and by the end of the day I had already restored all of the Bastion.  Not sure how long this game is, but I feel like I'm already more than halfway done.

I fear all the praise it's gotten may have crept up on me, though.  It's a great game, but I'm slightly befuddled by all the universal acclaim it got last year.  Only slightly, though.

In other news, I've decided to switch back to Snow Leopard from Mountain Lion.  I really don't like Mountain Lion that much (I only like Mission Control).  The problem is that ML appears to have corrupted my laptop all the way down the motherboard (it changes the firmware), so my Time Machine backups aren't functioning properly.  Gonna have to do a full wipe I guess.  In the meantime, my laptop is out of action.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I've hit a snag.

I keep looking at my Steam library, and my ever-increasing stable of PS3 games.  Time whiles away, but I don't actually put anything in, or launch anything.

Sure, I'm playing some stuff.  I just started NG+ in Tales of Graces f.  This going to be my completion run; I intend to get every skit, every subevent, and open every chest and talk to every person, at the least.  All while grabbing up as many titles as I can.  Mainly the arte usages one that I didn't quite achieve in my first playthrough (some of the arte master titles require insane amounts of usage, as in "use this arte 800 times if you want the title").  I also finished Lineage and Legacies, which was excellent.  Lineage and Legacies takes place half a year after the end of the main game, and serves as a several hour epilogue.  The arc is highly character driven, and in many ways was actually more entertaining than the main arc's plot.  It's also positively stuffed with easter eggs, from high level weapons that directly reference past games, to a secret Mystic Arte you can perform on the final boss.

I've also been playing Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3.  Mainly because I finally figured out how to unlock Rank 2-4 mobile suits, so now I'm just kind of blasting through every map.  It's awesome.  When I bought DWG3, I kind of expected it to be useful as one of those games I could pop in and play for brief periods.  But it didn't end up being that kind of game.  To my surprise, it has that "one more mission" feel to it that I often only associate with games like Total War and Civilization.  I'm driven to complete mission after mission, farming money so I can develop a better, more badass suit that I can complete even MORE missions with.

I was playing Borderlands, but I'm not sure I want to finish the game.  On one hand, I kind of want to finish it for the trophies, and so I can say I finished it.  On the other, it's just not a very enjoyable game.  Even as I think about it, the premise of Borderlands is extremely appealing to me.  I always think "man, what a fun game Borderlands is, I can't remember why I only gave it a 7," and then I sit down to play it, and I immediately remember why.  It's just not that fun.  Playing Borderlands almost feels like a chore.  The mission objectives are always so far away that you ultimately spend more time traveling--whether by car or on foot--then you do actually shooting things and grabbing loot.  The process of comparing loot is cumbersome, and the guns often don't have that kick to them that you expect.  Most of the environments are also bland and uninspired.

Sonic Generations is proving to be not as fun as I remember it to be.  The Modern levels are great for the most part, but I've decided that I despise the Classic levels.

So yeah, I'm playing stuff.  But I'm not actually really playing stuff.  Most of the games I'm playing, I'm just doing cleanup work.  I'm not actively playing through them because they're new and interesting, but because there are things keeping me from simply putting them aside; lingering things that I want to accomplish.  I did buy Resident Evil 6, and seem to be one of the few that actually likes it, but I've decided to limit myself to only playing it with my sister, because that's how we played through 5.

So in the meantime, I continue to peruse my library, looking for a new and interesting game to start fresh.  I haven't played Bastion yet.  I kind of want to try Serious Sam 3.  Maybe Hitman: Blood Money?  There's also Kingdoms of Amalur...

Though truth be told, none of this will matter in a couple of weeks.  Because I have Assassin's Creed 3 and the Zone of Enders Collection pre-ordered.

......I guess I could just resume playing The Last Story, like I keep meaning to.  Damn it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hand's On: Razer Orochi

A while back I decided to get myself the Razer Orochi mouse for use with my Macbook Pro.  Generally speaking I love the MBPro’s trackpad, and the smooth integration and wide host of gestures make for a dynamic duo.  But for those times when I am sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and doing a lot of work on the computer, even the trackpad gets uncomfortable, and I longed for a mouse.  Is this a suitable replacement?  Let’s see.

As with most (or all, really) Razer products, the Orochi is geared towards a gaming audience.  Thus, even as a mobile mouse it’s surprisingly feature rich.  You have the standard stuff like high, customizable DPI (the max is 4,000 I think) for adapting to various environments and situations.  For those who don’t know, DPI basically adjusts how sensitive the mouse is to movement.  The higher the DPI, the more sensitive it is.  In a gaming context, this is good if you’re running indoors in a first person shooter and need to be able to react quickly to whatever danger lies behind each door or corner, or maybe when playing a real-time strategy game.  On the hand, any time you’re handling sniper rifles, you would want lower DPI.

In addition to the left and right click buttons, the Orochi features four programmable buttons, and a clickable scroll wheel.  The scroll wheel doesn’t tilt, but feels sturdier as a result.  It’s actually one of the better scroll wheels I’ve ever used, with an excellent tactile response.  I can’t say the same for the rest of the mouse, which feels somewhat flimsy, not to such an extent that I constantly worry it’ll break or something.  The mouse comes in two versions; chrome and matte.  I only bought the chrome version because at the time it was about five dollars cheaper.  In retrospect, if they had been the same price I would have gone for the matte version, because the one I have is extremely glossy, and attracts smudges and fingerprints like nothing I’ve ever seen.  It’s not as big a deal because it is jet black, but if you have the choice I’d probably recommend the matte one.

The mouse is also a little bit smaller than I thought it would be, but that’s because I’ve never had a mobile mouse before.  I have pretty long fingers, so for me using this thing is definitely not as comfortable as a full-size mouse.  But I suppose the tradeoff is worth it for the mobility.

The Orochi is completely ambidextrous in its design.  The four programmable buttons are paired up symmetrically, two to each side.  Looking through the mapping, you get the feeling that Razer only expects you to use one side or the other (not both) ingame, depending on which hand you use your mouse with.  Still all four buttons are programmable.

The real reason I picked up the Orochi however was because of its dual connectivity.  It’s able to connect over Bluetooth and USB, which was very attractive to me.  In both modes, the mouse is pretty much plug and play, at least with Mac OS X.  You can get it up and running either over Bluetooth using the Bluetooth Setup Assistant built into OS X, or instantly by plugging it in, and you can even adjust a few options like sensitivity in System Preferences.  However, to access to mouse’s fancier features like DPI customization, macros and button mapping, you’ll need to download Razer’s drivers and install them.  It’s a brief download, only about 2mb.  In OS X, the drivers are installed as another pane in System Preferences.

 Naturally, the drivers make the mouse a far more robust product.  You can remap literally every single button the controller—assigning macros to them, keyboard buttons, etc.—and change what the scroll wheel does.  You can also make macros, and generate separate profiles, if for some reason multiple people use the same mouse.  The drivers are also where you can set the DPI.  You can even change how the LEDs behave on the mouse.

As the picture demonstrates however, you can only use the drivers with the mouse when it’s connected over USB.  Connected via Bluetooth, you cannot configure the mouse at all using the drivers.  The maximum DPI is lowered, as well, probably to conserve power.  The mouse comes with a high quality threaded micro-USB cable (yes, it is long enough to comfortably use even if you’re a right handed person having to connect to the MBPro’s left ports), a pair of AA batteries, and a cushiony carrying pouch that will store both it and the cable, and probably an extra set of batteries to boot.  Incidentally, I tested the mouse and drivers in OS X 10.6 and 10.8, and it worked flawlessly in both versions.

So is the mouse a suitable replacement for the trackpad?  Yes and no.  Trackpad gestures are so intrinsically tied into OS X at this point there are some areas, like general file system navigation, where you’ll probably want to just use the trackpad.  OS X’s hot corners feature goes a long way to compensate, however.

Overall, I like this mouse a lot; it feels versatile.  For $60, it's not exactly an amazing value, but I hardly feel cheated.