Sunday, October 21, 2007

Five Free HD DVDs and Something To Think About

If you buy (or have bought) a UK XBox360 HD DVD Drive between 1/10/07 and 29/2/08 then you can get Microsoft to send you five free HD DVDs.

All you need is the barcode from the box the drive comes in, a receipt or invoice and This Form from the Microsoft Promotion Page.

The choice of DVDs for this kind of offer is quite good:

The Chronicles of Riddick
Children of Men
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Full Metal Jacket
Corpse Bride
The Prestige
Black Rain
World Trade Center

This time last month however Engadget Posted A Rumour about an improved HD DVD drive coming in 2008 with enhanced features. I don't think these extra features will make watching a HD film much better than it already is, but it is something to think about if you believe that the drive looks ugly.

P.S. If you do get a HD Drive and HD Screen connected to your 360, don't forget about the switch on the back of the 360 to change the output signal to HD.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Review Scores Are Mostly Meaningless

Just like Me and Zero Punctuation everybody seems to be in agreement that Portal is a vastly superior game than Halfe Life 2 Episode Two in ValVe's Orange Box.

Portal is an amazingly fun game with fresh gameplay, where as Episode Two is just more of the same tired gameplay. Yet MetaCritic gives Half Life 2 Episode 2 a MetaCritic Score of (currently) 91 and Portal gets a MetaCritic Score of (currently) 89. Which means that the review scores both games have been getting are a direct contradiction to what people have been saying about them. IGN gave Portal an 8.2 and Episode 2 a 9.2 with an Editor's Choice Award yet on their Podcasts just like everybody else, they have been gushing about Portal.

So if Portal > Half Life 2 Episode 2, then why isn't Portal's review scores!?

Monday, October 15, 2007

City Under Siege, The Berlin Blockade and Airlift 1948-1949

After WWII was over and the world entered The Cold War Berlin was split between Allied East, Soviet west and the surrounding country was also controlled by the Soviets. The Allies where supplying Berlin with needed supplies by a canal, a highway, a railway line and three air corridors. The soviets wanting to takeover east Berlin, closed off the ground access so only the air corridors remained. What happened next between June 24 1948 and May 12 1949 is one of those overlooked periods in history where people came together and achieved the impossible. In this case, to supply east Berlin's 12,000 ton daily requirement of food and fuel, every day by air transport alone.

So that is what Michael D. Haydock's Book City Under Siege is about and you can read an excellent cut-down version of events from start to finish on American Which I found fascinating, especially since I never heard of this before.

[via Kim Pallister]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Zachariah Scott's Machinima

Ignis Solus by LitFuseFilms has been making the rounds on the interweb as the new pass-around 'have you seen' video. It is about a lonely Pyro. But what you probably don't know or yet care about is that it is directed by Zachariah Scott:

That is to say the same Zachariah Scott who directed Ballad of Black Mesa:

The same Zachariah Scott who directed the official trailer for the HL2 MOD Insurgency:

I don't know much about Zachariah other than his obvious talent, but His MySpace Page says he is a 19 years old Aquarius, lives in Altha Florida and has excellent taste in films. So wither his Machinima directing leads to a career or not I don't know, but he is certainly someone to watch.

The Orange Box (Completed) (Spoiler Free)

Orange Box is this year's GAME OF THE YEAR, because it is several great games in one. Halo3 was nice, but it was just more of the same. BioShock was great, but not as great as Orange Box.

Orange Box is three games, Portal, Half Life 2 Episode Two and Team Fortress 2. HL2ET is just more of the same HL2-ness, that isn't anything special. TF2 is my new multiplayer game of choice (previously Natural Selection). And then there is Portal...

The internet right now is full of Portal spoilers, you ow it to yourself as a gamer to just buy the game and come back once you have completed it. It isn't just a fantastic new and original play experience, it is very intelligent comedy and I had a big smile on my face the WHOLE way through.

Portal is simple, you wakeup in a place called Aperture Science, you get a Man-sized Ad-hoc Quantum Tunnel Gun and GlaDOS guides you through some trials. History will see it as the first true action/puzzle game, but I see the same slow paced exploration gameplay that we had in the original Half Life before Half Life 2 came along and turned the franchise into northing more than a Half Life skinned WWII shooter.

Portal Does link into the Half Life universe, but it is tagged on a bit. It's like ValVe wanted to do that, so the just did with the new stuff where they could. You certainly won't find any Aperture Science references in the Original Half Life. But considering that Portal is one of those games everybody will be talking about for years and years to come, I can't blame them for doing that at all.

As a gamer there are some games that I remember with reverence because of the story, gameplay or whatever, because they did something that connected with me. And Portal does that on many levels, I don't want to go into it because, they are all spoiler-ish I think you just need to play it for yourself.

HL2ET 2/5
TF2 5/5
Portal 5/5 (It gets a five, but if Portal was the benchmark then TF2 would get a three and HL2ET wouldn't even be rated)

Additional: I just looked at a few portal reviews and I seem to be happier with it than others, this is probably because I found Portal to be such a fresh and new gameplay experience. Plus it made me laugh, a lot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jedi Drinking Test

Let me formulate this so I can go to bed quick (the sooner I sleep the sooner I play Portal).

(Celtic + Rock) + Drinking + Star Wars = Jedi Drinking Test by Dust Rhinos

And there are Lyrics and a Download available if you wanted.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Story Of Minesweeper and Localisation

Writing software isn't easy and being in feature creep or having a client that keeps changing their mind makes the job much harder, but what if you work at Microsoft and your user interface almost sparks an international incident.

Well that's what David Vronay wrote about in This Post about the updated version of Minesweeper for Windows Vista.

[via The Old New Thing]