Obligatory Lists at the end of the year ~ part 2

This is going to be a quick post today, seeing as how it’s New Year’s Eve and all, and there’s many a thing to be done… Actually, who am I kidding? It’s going to be pretty much exactly like that twitter photo of Squidward at 12 o’clock for me. (You know the one) Anywho, this is all about what I’m looking forward to in the next 365 days. 2015 looks to be a much stronger year than 2014, so videogame-wise, things should be fine. Now let’s all just hope that Episode 7 doesn’t suck.


- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s EndIf you read the first three reviews that I’ve posted onto this site, then this one is a no-brainer. Naughty Dog has been consistent in their ability to create quality titles since the era of the original Playstation, and after watching the trailers, I feel confident that the next (and most likely final) entry in the Uncharted series is going to be another home run for Sony. ND has always been able to achieve the best of the best in terms of technical achievement on their consoles, and I’m expecting to see what the PS4 is truly capable with A Thief’s End. (I mean, just look at Drake’s face. How am I expected to resist gently caressing that?)

Mortal Kombat XObligatory Lists at the end of the year ~ part 2You know, I don’t often say “yasssss, betch. Yasss,” but when I do, it’s generally because some morsel of news has been dropped about this game. Seriously, every new crumb of sustenance I can find about this game, be it new gameplay or a new kombatant trailer, and it is pretty much the highlight of the day. I’ll probably wait out for the inevitable “ultimate” edition, though, seeing as how Netherrealm Studios has historically put out great DLC add-ons post-launch. Everything about next year’s sequel to the excellent MK9 makes me giddy as a school girl.


Since subscribing to the Playstation Plus service in the summer, I’ve pretty much come down with the console equivalent of Steamsaleitis. I have gotten so many games that I’ve been meaning to play for free or at extremely reduced prices, and am buried underneath them all now. These are the ones that are currently in my metaphorical queue that I really want to just start up. (real life obligations be damned)

-Lone SurvivorI know next to nothing about this game, and yet, since picking up the Director’s Cut on a whim for a measly $3, it’s been sitting in the back of my mind, whispering “play me, playyy meee.” From what I can tell, it’s a 2D sidescroller with pixelated graphics (so, pretty much the typical indie game), but the strange, atmospheric trailer did an amazing job of selling me on it. (so, good work, marketing dept. A gold star for you) Lone survivor appears to be a horror game and a pretty disturbing one at that. I’m very interested to see how the scares will translate into two dimensions.The fact that I have so little details on it, and am resisting looking up more, only adds to the building intrigue.

Deus Ex: Human RevolutionObligatory Lists at the end of the year ~ part 2I found the Director’s Cut of this title on sale, and I’ve only heard good things about this game and it’s soundtrack, so I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t check this one out. I never played any of the original Deus Ex titles, but from the looks of it, I think I’ll be fine just skipping into this one. The game looks to be sporting a very specific color scheme, and the futuristic world looks interesting. I’m just hoping that, as a narrative focused RPG, Deus Ex allows me to make decisions that are actually impactful. Aside from that, I’m willing to let the other aspects of this game surprise me.

- Deadly PremonitionObligatory Lists at the end of the year ~ part 2Wow, okay, so… this one is another Director’s Cut. Yeah, I feel somewhat awkward about that, too. Can we just go back to the Capcom tradition  of just tacking on incredibly boisterous adjectives? Like, what about “Deadly Premonition: Ultimate Gold Turbo Edition ++” ? Anyway, this game is supposed to be one of those “so bad it’s good” type of deals, and as a fan of the classic film, Troll 2, I’m really excited to play a game with that sort of… “charm.” Did I mention yet that this is supposed to be a horror title? What does that say about me that I have included so many games in these lists with that in common? (Hint: it means I am 2spooky4u) Also, this is a Japanese title. Which is great. If there’s something I love besides hilariously bad idiosyncrasies, it’s hilariously bad, Japanese idiosyncrasies.

Runner Ups (seriously, I have way too many games to play now):

Beyond Good and Evil HD

Okami HD


Meeting an International Student [Fall 2014]

As the final hours of 2014 count down, I would like to reflect on the experience and personal history of an individual whom I had known since my senior year in high school. Her name is Younji Mary Sohn.

Younji was born in Busan, South Korea. The first time she came here was during the fourth grade. She entered the University of Oklahoma for an engineering degree, and her family is residing in Oklahoma. So far, the semester has been great for her. Younji has matured as a person. She is more focused and goal oriented, and she is involved in American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), Korean Student Association (KSA), Alpha Sigma Kappa, Medical Ethics, and Society of Women Engineer. She loves to getting to know new people and learn the beautiful traits in them. During her free time, she likes to run and play the piano.

When she first arrived in the United States, the language barrier was the main thing that held her back. However, she began to pick up English pretty quickly after six months. Coming to the United States gave her a broad spectrum of looking at the world. It gave her different chances to experience the world; different experiences helped her shape the goals she have today.

After graduating as a chemical engineer, she plans to work for a company. Then, she wants to go to graduate school after three or four years working for a chemical company to pursue Biomedical Engineering at John Hopkins University. With a master’s degree, she wants to go to the developing countries as a missionary to educate the engineering techniques she had studied. Her favorite thing about engineering is that she enjoys learning the application of the concept and optimizing certain situations to increase the efficiency of the situation.


Shaking It Off.

As 2014 comes to a close, I am beginning to reflect on the past year. 2014 was a year full of drastic change; from graduation, to starting college, to having friends move across the country, this year has been full of chapters ending and others just beginning. There is something bittersweet about remembering what was and dreaming about what will be.

This year I have struggled in my new surroundings and my new life, so much so that the littlest of things can bother me so much that it can ruin my mood and how I treat those around me. The amount of change in my life left me feeling out of control and unable to understand what was truly happening. Learning to say goodbye became one of my hardest lessons.

As I look forward to 2015, I am choosing to have a more welcoming approach than I did during 2014. This past year I was dreadfully sarcastic and cynical because I was so unhappy with how much change was occurring. This year, I am making the conscious choice not to act that way. One of my biggest problems that I faced this past year was feeling like I didn’t have my life worked out yet, feeling like I was all alone and that everyone else was swimming with ease and I, on the other hand, was drowning.

Social Media played into this feeling like no one’s business. As crazy as that may sound, it’s true. Seeing my peers get into their dream schools, achieve some of the most prestigious awards, and watching as their dreams were becoming a reality on Facebook, I just continued to feel lost and insecure. This is when someone told me the most important piece of advice I have ever heard to date.

“Don’t compare your behind the scenes to their highlight reel.”

Because that is exactly what social media is, a highlight reel. You don’t see the hours of studying, the tears, the anxiety, the difficult times, all you see is what people want you to see. This realization has led me to understand that no one has it all together all of the time, some people are just better at pretending that they do than others are. Accepting that I don’t know anything about my future was difficult, but now that I have, all I see are opportunities in front of me. I’ve learned that moving forward is more important than trying to hang on to what my life used to be, but probably the most important thing I’ve learned this year is to shake off all of the negative energy that surrounds me. Shaking off the feeling that I lost and unsure, and instead looking forward to the year ahead and all of the new and exciting chapters that are just beginning.

a year of learning and growing

As I look back on this year, it’s very easy for me to feel a little bit angry at myself. The reason for this is because I now see that some choices I made were unnecessarily painful, and I wish I would’ve made those choices sooner than I did. But I do have to remind myself that I wouldn’t have learned the things that I learned if I didn’t go through those experiences, and to me, that’s what life is all about.

I wasn’t intending for this post to be as cheesy as it’s turning out, but I’m gonna roll with it.

I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve, and it’s not until recently that I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s my favorite holiday. Everyone thinks New Year’s is lame! I think it’s just left out because it’s always in Christmas’s shadow. I do love Christmas. A lot. But New Year’s gives me a special kind of hope when the clock strikes midnight. Not only that, but my family usually has a small get together where we play board games and what not, and these are my very favorite kinds of memories.

All of that to say… I’m amazed when I look at the person I was just a year ago. It’s baffling. A year ago I wasn’t even planning on going to a university, and that’s what my entire life is right now! I’ve learned so much about life this past year, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. I learned that I think it’s really important that I use these next four years of my life to figure out what makes me happy and to go for it without hesitating. College is one of the only times in your life where you can be selfish, and I don’t want to waste that! I want to focus on me as a person, on growing and learning and developing. People forget about this time of growth, which is unfortunate because it’s so crucial for young people.

As you reflect on the past year, don’t be mad at yourself. Accept the things you’ve learned and the experiences you had! Bring that knowledge into the New Year so that your life can be the best possible. Focus on growth rather than the mistakes. I’m ready for you 2015, I can’t wait to see what I learn.

Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1

Well, it’s that time of the year again. (< the 14,583,766th time that phrase has been used in writing) The time of reflective thinking and list making is upon us. And like any gaming site worth its salt, it’s time I made some “best of” lists of my own. For Part 1, I will be looking back on the year of 2014. Since the majority of the games I played were from various years not including 2014, these lists are going to be more personal. Think a bit more blog, and bit less review site for this. Also, they don’t follow any preferential order. If I’m considering them to be in the list, they’re already preferred.

TOP 4 GAMES I PLAYED IN 2014, PRIOR TO WEBSITE’S START       As the title implies, I did play games this year prior to starting up this website. And since I don’t plan on doing full reviews for them, I figured I’d at least share my impressions on them in some way.

- Batman: Arkham Origins   

I’m in the minority when it comes to the Batman games. It seems like the generally accepted truth amongst those who’ve played them is that Arkham Origins is a weaker game than Arkham City. I beg to differ. I was turned off from City for 3 reasons. For starters, the premise is absolutely ludicrous. Am I really supposed to believe that the DC doppelganger of New York seriously just portioned off a section of their city in order to make the comic book version of Escape From New York? I mean, if you’re going to rip off illogical, implausible, wouldn’t-happen-in-a-million-years ideas from 3rd graders, at least don’t be so serious about it too. Segueing to problem 2: Joker’s death. In what was probably the easiest “twist” ever written, the attempt to be edgy just ended up feeling lazy to me. Plus, we all know Joker dies in The Dark Knight Returns, so this story has already been told before anyway. Finally, and most glaringly, the Catwoman content was the first time single player content was given the Online Pass treatment. I don’t support the business practice of cutting content in order to “fight” second hand purchases. All it does is hurt the consumer and identify miserly companies. Origins didn’t have these problems, and was welcomed with open arms because of it. It also didn’t hurt that it looks and plays damn good. And, after playing Arkham Asylum again recently (review coming soon), I’m willing to say it’s the best Batman game so far. How edgy of me.

- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood  Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
AC: Brotherhood, AKA: the last good one, was a game that I had been meaning to play for about 4 years. It was a series I was dreading jumping back into, considering how many AC sequels were beginning to pile up in my backlog. At some point though, I think it was when the word ‘assassin’ had suddenly been replaced with ‘pirate,’ that I realized this series was quickly nose-diving and resigned myself to give up on it, and instead, just play that one I had already bought the Da Vinci DLC for. So then I did, and I was pleasantly satisfied. The combat of AC2 was refined to allow more aggressive play in combat, the addition of light RPG elements in leveling up a squad of like-minded killers, and lots of worthwhile side content to keep one busy. The game could definitely look better, but the gameplay did more than make up for the technical problems. Also, the story still had intrigue back then. Now, in more recent entries, Ubisoft has pretty much all but abandoned the subplot regarding the first civilization and the future of humanity. I suspect that they’ll eventually bring that back up, but not until sales start tanking. For now, I think they’re content with cruising along with a very fluid sense of the word “assassin.”
The Last of Us             Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
This one is pretty much a gimme at this point. If you’ve played it, then you know why this is on my list. (It’s because homeless people are cute) I actually do plan on doing a full review of this one once I get my hands on the Remastered version on PS4. I can tell you right now that this is not a perfect game. In fact, I was kind of wondering what the hell was so special for most of the first act. But it did not fail to impress. So expect a critique of the game and its DLC in the unspecified future.
Dead Space 2/3   Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
Yeah, I’m aware that this is technically cheating and this is now a top 5 list, but the fact is I played these two games back-to-back and they’ve kind of blended in my memory now into one entity. The key thing to take away here is that the Dead Space games are quality horror titles. The third game catches a lot of flak for having a large portion of the game take place in open air, what with the snow planet and all. But it still had plenty of the dim, dark corridors and ambient noises you’d come to expect from the first two games. And the addition of customizable weapons was actually a well-implemented change to the framework. However, the co-op campaign left much to be desired. Overall, these games were fun and had me on the edge of my seat more than I thought they would. (Set the difficulty to the hardest possible for extreme levels of tension) Dead Space is one of the few things EA has done that I’m actually okay with. That’s saying something.

I’ve stated before that this year had not exactly been the best in terms of new game releases. There was a serious drought during the summer months, and many of the big name releases not attached to a company named Nintendo ended up being “meh” or worse. That doesn’t mean it was entirely barren however. These are the 4 games of 2014 I most look forward to playing.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
It feels like anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone touch turns into comedic gold. I love the satirical, self-aware humor of the show and I have only heard good things regarding the writing in this game. Knowing that there’s stuff in this game so bad that Australia had to cut it out and have it replaced with a placid koala bear instead is just icing on the cake. Throw in the fact that I can make “Jew” my character class and consider that a copy sold. In fact, why haven’t I played this game yet? Why is this in my backlog?? Oh yeah,… money is still a thing. Damn. (If only I could get some of that precious Jew gold)
Wolfenstein: The New Order Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
I’m pretty much the only person in my age demographic who has ever played the original Wolfenstein 3D. The franchise that had created the first person shooter has had a pretty rough time in recent years. The mediocre reboot, simply titled “Wolfenstein,” (because f**k continuity) was not the answer the series was looking for. The New Order had gotten positive reviews, though, and I’m genuinely glad about that. A game that doesn’t shoe horn in multiplayer and makes shooting Nazis in the head cool again is something the videogame world has been missing for a while.
Alien: Isolation Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
This is probably the most polarizing game of the year. It seems as though everyone either thinks poorly or very highly of this game. And because of the debate, I’ve only felt like playing it more and more over time, just so I can finally have my own opinion on it. I want to be in that second group. I don’t generally want games to suck and I’m also a fan of the Alien franchise. (I actually liked Resurrection, too) After the s**tstorm that was Colonial Marines, I’m hoping the atmospheric, mano a xeno gameplay can deliver on the promise of a true Alien experience.
- The Evil Within Obligatory Lists at the End of the year ~ Part 1
Yes, another horror game, and yes, another game that’s generated plenty of mixed feelings. I have never played through a Resident Evil game, nor do I intend to, but from what I can gather, The Evil Within is a lot like Resident Evil 4. That’s good news to me. I’ve not yet experienced a Shinji Mikami title, and like Metal Gear Solid, there’s just way too much catch-up involved for me to go back and play RE4. I’m expecting gore, horrific imagery, and stupid dialogue. As long as I get that, I think I could put up with gameplay that’ll punish me for playing stupid.


April’s Life- When the Tears Fall They Pour

“Tiffany?” He steps into the apartment and removes his jacket. I eye him suspiciously.
“Yes. Tiffany, who is she?” I fold my arms over my chest and keep my stance by the door, because I’m pretty sure he’s leaving within the next five minutes.
“Why are you asking about Tiffany?” He glides over to me and wraps his arm around my back. “How do you even know her?”
I remove his arm and push him away giving myself some distance.
“Will you tell me why you’re acting like this?” He steps closer to me and reaches for my cheek, I move away before he can touch me.
“Please don’t touch me, Jared!” I walk over to the table and sit down on top of it, planting my feet in the chair in front of me. He walks over to the table stands before me.
“You’re mad.” He says cocking his head to the side. “Wait, no, you’re jealous.”
“You’re damn right I’m Jealous!” I say raising my voice. “Now tell me who the hell Tiffany is?”
He raises an eyebrow and whips the chair out from under my feet. “Tiffany is my secretary,” He says taking a seat. “and no offense, but I don’t really owe you an explanation.”
I can literally feel my nostrils flare. I cover my face with my hands and try to keep my temper at bay… You know what he’s right. He doesn’t.
“You’re right.” I say staring down at his face. “You don’t.”
“I feel like you’re going to overreact.” He scoots up so that he’s directly between my legs.
“Nope.” I say “I don’t plan on doing that at all.”He smiles and part of me wants to slip down into his lap but I refuse to give in that easily. “You know what I really want?” I say leaning down to him.
“I can take a guess” His finger tips connect with my skin and he begins to run them along the rim of my shorts. It sends a shiver down my spine that I’m trying really hard to ignore.
I close my eyes trying to remember my reasoning for doing what I’m getting ready to do. He continues to inch his fingers closer to the top of my thigh and… Shit I’m losing my focus.
“I need you to leave Jared!” I say, my voice is low and weak. I honestly don’t want him to stop, let alone leave, but if he doesn’t, if I let him stay… I just can’t do that to myself.
He has a mask of confusion on his face. “I don’t understand April.” He says removing his hand and placing it on his own thigh.
I hop off of the table. “Jared.” I stare at him and wonder how I’ve grown to like him so much so quickly. “I haven’t liked anyone in a really long time. I’m driven. I like to focus on school and work and family, and… I” I take a deep breath and try to calm my body. “We shouldn’t have done this. Someone’s going to get hurt. Let’s just end it before that happens.” I look at the ground instead of his eyes. I doing the right thing… Right?
“April, I…”
“No!” I hold my hand up and walk to the door. I can feel tears stinging the back of my eyes, I’m thankful that my back is turned to him. I don’t even know why I’m crying it’s not like we’re dating.
“I’m sorry April.” He says as he walks towards me. He leans on the door frame so that he can face me and I tilt my face away so that he can’t see the tear that just fell down my cheek. “Take care of yourself… And have a Merry Christmas.” he says as he bends down and kisses the tear away from my cheek. “I’ll see you.” He walks away from the door and I close it behind him.
I pound my fist into the door. “Why can’t it be easy.” My voice strains as the tears begin to take over. I hit the exact same spot again frustrated by the everything. I sink down to the floor, my back against the door and pull my knees into my body and try to stop the tears.

What the… my awoken body flies forward. I open my eyes and glance at my phone. It’s only 10 O’clock. I peel myself off of the door and stand up.
“April?” Danielle pokes her head in the crack of the door. She sees me standing in front of her continues push the door open.
I wipe my face attempting to do away with any tear stains that may be there. “What?” I ask folding my arms over my chest, I haven’t forgotten about her secret keeping.
“I think there’s something you should know.” She looks upset.
“What happened?” I ask stepping towards her.
“I think it’s you should know something.” She takes a deep breath and closes the door behind her. She walks over to the table and pulls out a chair but doesn’t sit down in it. It must be for me. I steadily walk over to the chair and take a seat.
“You know the year I went off to college and you were a senior in high school?” I nod my head unsure of where this history lesson is taking us. “Well that year, Brian and I got pretty close. He was on campus for class and I was living in the dorms. We ran into each other a lot.” She’s standing in front of me. Her hands are clasped in a knot and she looks so nervous.
“Danielle, I already know all of this.” I say a light smile on my face because I actually think she may be going crazy for nothing. “I know Brian is your friend, I just thought that you would tell me about something like that, but I understand you were just doing what he asked you by not letting me know.” She stares at me, her expression completely unreadable. I really do understand it. I mean it hurts, feeling like everyone is hiding everything from you, but I get it.
“That’s not it!” She shouts.
“Danielle, tell me what’s wrong!” I command. I stand from my chair and wait for her response.
“Brian and I had a relationship.” Her voice sounds almost of a whisper.
…What does she mean by relationship?
“What exactly do you mean relationship?” I say.
“I mean we were together. Well not really together but, we,” She pauses momentarily. “Brian and I had this thing, that’s why he told me
about the engagement, he was just giving me a heads up.
She gets on to the floor and sits criss cross applesauce. She looks up at me and I can tell she’s having a hard time dealing with this.
“How long?” I ask
“I don’t know, it ended 2 months ago.”
“Wait, so you two hid a four year long relationship from me? Bullshit!” I say laughing to myself. There’s no way in hell I wouldn’t have noticed that.
“Well we were never really together, you can’t really call it a relationship we just had sex and hung out a lot.” She’s serious. Holy shit! She’s really serious.
“Danielle…” I slip down to the floor and sit beside her.
“We stopped when he found out that Courtney was pregnant. We should have told you a long time ago, but Brian and I, we didn’t even know what was going on. I really hope you’re not mad.” She looks into my eyes and I know that I could never be angry with her for this.
“No.” I shake my head and place my hand on hers. “I’m not. I’m upset that you guys didn’t feel that you could tell me, but Danielle, I’m not mad at you. I’m really not.”

“Will you Please tell me what happened with Jared.” She whines as we lie on the floor staring at the ceiling.
“Well he was here before you came, but, we’re done. I ended whatever was going on between us..”
“You do realize that you gave up on him before you could give him a chance?”
“So you’re team Jared now?” sarcasm drips off my word.
“No, I’m team April.” She states. “I just know that what Brian said earlier, he was just trying to get you to lose it.”
“It doesn’t matter.” I say “We both would have come out hurt.” I stare at the ceiling and close my eyes. I need to breathe, I miss him already.
“It doesn’t have to be that way.” She sits up and looks at me. “just because you got hurt before doesn’t mean it will happen now too.”
“I swear if you bring that up!” I don’t care how sincere her tone is, If she starts bringing up the past I’m not sure how this conversation will end.
“You’ve never dealt with it. You just press it down somewhere deep inside. April, something bad happened I get it, but you don’t have to shut everyone out when something you don’t understand happens. You’ve been more like you used to be with Jared in the picture. I’ve missed that April.”
“Danielle, please don’t!” I beg.
“He did this to you. It’s horrible what happened, it’s even worse that you had to be by his side when it did, but you have to stop trying to block out pain, you’re missing all of the good things along with it.” She looks at me with sincere eyes and holds my hand. “April, will you please stop running from Elijah?”
“Stop it!” I scream clumsily rising from the floor.
“April it’s been 6 years.”
“I don’t need to be reminded!” I shout at her. I want so bad to punch her right now. She knows better than to do bring this up.
“He hurt you. He really hurt you, but April, he lost his life…”
“I lost mine too!” I scream over her, no longer wanting to be in her presence.
I walk to my room and find the jeans and shoes I wore earlier and put them on. I walk through my bedroom door and out of the front door not even bothering to grab a jacket. I have to get out of here.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – Review

2014 has been a relatively disappointing year in videogames. Underwhelming releases like Watch Dogs and Destiny, as well as a continual disregard for the customer by releasing unfinished messes like Assassin’s Creed: Unity and the Master Chief Collection simply to meet corporate quota, made this one of those “clear the backlog” type of years. Just when I was thinking that I managed to dodge out of the way of the over-hype/upset train, The Hitman Collection went free on PSN. At first glance, this was a great thing. I had not had the opportunity to play these highly-rated games when they were new, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to see what made this series popular. What I ended up getting out of the 2002 stealth title was a tough lesson in historical game design. I had to learn (the hard way) a truth that many others who’ve revisited older stealth games, like the original Splinter Cell and Thief, already have: that stealth games age like cheese, not like wine.

The game begins with a couple of cinematic opening cutscenes. The one before the start menu appears is where the mixed feelings began. The VO work sounded laughably amateur. It felt like the two mysterious figures, who discuss some slight exposition regarding the main character, were actually just a couple of the developers talking into a microphone. Fortunately, that changed once the game started. Player character and protagonist, Agent 47’s voice has that dangerously soothing characteristic of heroin. 47 is a man of relatively few words, but every time he opens his mouth, you want to listen to what he has to say. Especially considering the surprising depth which he conveys thoughts with. Judging by the way he looks (white, bald, suit with red tie), I figured he would be the most cliche assassin type ever penned, but as his philosophical conversation with a priest indicated, the book is not just the cover. The aforementioned priest is actually the catalyst for the story of Hitman 2. Upon Father Emilio Vittorio’s kidnapping and subsequent ransoming for half a million dollars, Agent 47 digs up his past in order to rescue him. But after the first mission, in which 47 fails to find him, he is quickly forgotten about. However, the game wasn’t the only one who found themselves dismissing this mystery of the missing priest. I soon found myself wrapped up in Det. 47 and the Case of the Anomalous AI.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – Review

Hitman 2’s mission structure is really quite simple. There are 20 levels, each one with a unique map and a designated target for Agent 47 to hit. The player is tasked with getting from point A to point B, and back to point A again, without dying. There is only a couple minute deviations from that formula throughout the whole game. I honestly would be fine with that if not for two things: The game too often looks and feels bland, and the frustration. Oh, the frustration. Unless the difficulty is set on the easiest of the three options, you will spend hours reloading saves because the game will work against you at every turn. There are problems regarding every single thing that moves in this game. First off, Agent 47 controls in 3 speeds, all of which are too painfully slow for what they need to achieve. His normal walking speed,which he’ll have to go at for most of the game in order to not draw suspicion, is approximately somewhere between the pace of grass growing and paint drying. The crouching crawl necessary to sneak up on guards is marginally faster than a snail. With brain damage. That was stepped on.  Luckily 47 can run infinitely. Technically though, his “run” is really more of a brisk jog and even then the cost outweighs the benefit, as being seen moving at a speed faster than absolutely still will capture the attention of guards. You see, Agent 47’s utter lack of tempo isn’t the only test of patience Silent Assassin will have in store for you. AI problems abound, ranging from simply annoying to absolutely infuriating. Minor stupidities include not being alerted by piles of clothes (which can be changed out of in favor of disguises) to nonchalantly going about their business as bullets literally whiz past their head. More severe grievances generally involve sixth sense levels of detection on the part of guards. You’d think that being  crouched behind a guard, amidst some foliage 50 yards away, would be ample distance and obscurity to work with. Well, you’d be dead wrong about half the time in this game. Because instead of lurking like the human predator you’re supposed to be, the guards can randomly be granted the power of omniscience and down you with their best Billy the Kid quickdraw before you can say “Get Noscoped.” This only gets worse when levels have snipers in them. The worst part of that whole scenario is the “half the time” clause. The fact that the AI is so inconsistent means there’s something of a dice roll as to whether or not something that worked once before will work again. The other mechanic Hitman is well known for, donning disguises in order to hide in plain sight, had just the worst implementation it possibly could. Even dressed up head-to-toe in ninja garb (obscuring the head and face), I was approached by literally every guard who caught me in their peripheral vision. Is this game seriously entertaining the idea that every guard is paranoid to the point where they have to check each other’s ID every time they see one another? Why are they questioning me? I looked EXACTLY like all the rest, had all defining features masked, was walking the insipidly slow walk, and was still being confronted. Logical? No. F**king annoying? You bet your sweet gaming ass it was.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – Review

It was once I began questioning just quitting on the game when I decided to look back and actually see what the reviewers had deemed praiseworthy about the game back in the day. What I found gave me a mild surprise. Much of the talk was about how ‘realistic’ and ‘detailed’ the graphics and animations were. Just looking at these screenshots, you can tell that one of those compliments can be chucked right out the window now. As for animation, I had no choice but to laugh at this review of yore, considering I’d actually been jarred on multiple occasions by how stiff and clunky Agent 47 is. (Seriously, the animation to get on a ladder going downward is so bad that I thought the game was glitching out the first time I saw it.) The reviewer also spoke of how the game felt rewarding on harder difficulties, which I can now confidently say is 101% false. The amount of trial-and-error repetition forced onto the player, mixed with the Eagle Eye AI, had the end of every mission feel more like the sweet release of euthanasia than the thrill of victory.  The reviewer did mention the ridiculousness of the ragdoll physics in the game (I can attest to having seen enemies do multiple cartwheels upon being shot), as well as the tendency for random shoot outs, but overall, they stood with the consensus that this was a vastly superior game over its previous entry for having fixed what the last game lacked. Here are a few standouts  of the “new” features in Hitman 2: crouching. silenced weapons. THE ABILITY TO WALK BACKWARDS.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – Review

It dawned on me once I finally had enough of the game, and stopped playing it before having beat it (something I can’t even remember the last time I had done), that this particular entry in the Hitman Collection is only for two kinds of people. Those who want to see some of gaming’s history and should not be attempting this on harder difficulties lest they develop stress-related brain aneurysms at the same time, and those who actually played this when it came out. Stealth games have just come so far since then. Not only is Hitman 2 boring by comparison to modern stealth games, but it’s constantly trying to push away those who were willing to look past the flaws. I wish my complaints were limited to the terrible draw distance and bad graphics, but the meat and potatoes here soured and grew fuzzy long ago, as well. A couple of slight commendations for its orchestral score, and the inclusion of a first person mode which showed your feet (something first-person shooters still weren’t doing in the ps3/360 generation), are nothing more than lipstick on a very ripened and musky swine. If you really, really want to see this game in action, just watch the videos of people who mastered this game on Youtube. I guarantee it will be more fun.  I will have no negative feelings about deleting Hitman 2: Silent Assassin from my hard drive.

Obligatory Number at the End: 4/10

OU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection

As the Sooners play the Clemson Tigers in the Russell Athletic Bowl today, it’s worth asking,

“How many Athletic Depts buy rare #Galileo books for their university libraries?”

This year marks the third year in a row that the OU Sooners have contributed a major rare book to OU Libraries’ renowned Galileo history of science collection.

The OU Athletics Department provided funds this fall to assist OU Libraries in acquiring a first edition of the major work of Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo della musica antica, et della moderna (Florence, 1581; “Dialogue on Music, Ancient and Modern“).

OU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection

Galileo’s father Vincenzo GalileiOU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection was a significant musical theorist, one of the inventors of Italian opera. This work provided an exemplar for Galileo’s own Dialogo (1632, “Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World“), his masterful defense of the Copernican Sun-centered cosmology, for which he was put on trial. The father Galilei and the son Galileo shared a love for the lute, a robust debating style and an emphasis on experimental methodologies.

Vincenzo Galilei’s Dialogo will be featured in the Music of the Spheres gallery of the forthcoming Galileo’s World exhibition, which will launch in August, 2015, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the University of Oklahoma. Galileo’s World will be an “Exhibition without Walls,” distributed across 7 locations, including all three University of Oklahoma campuses; comprised of 21 galleries featuring more than 300 rare books, historical instrument replicas, and interactive digital resources.

The Digitization Laboratory (@OULibDigitize) of OU Libraries is scanning Vincenzo Galilei’s Dialogo, and it will soon appear, along with the other books on display, in the new OU Libraries Galileo’s World repository.

This significant addition filled the single most obvious remaining deficiency in the OU Galileo collection. The newly acquired OU copy is in original condition, with an interesting provenance, having at one time formed part of a major French collector’s library.

OU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection

OU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection

See additional Vincenzo Galilei images on our Flickr gallery here. See also these images of the original Grassi manuscript, acquired with assistance from the OU Athletics Department in 2012 as described here.

Filed under: Featured book, Recent acquisitions OU Athletics Department enables OU Libraries to add valuable book to Galileo collection


where do I start?

I wonder sometimes.


Writing has been on my mind lately, which led me to a previous blog of mine where I wrote–at least what I feel–more personally. I moved to a different blog because I have a different vision for this one, but some things are hard to let go of. I may end up moving some of that writing here as previous posts so I can put that blog to rest once and for all.