Archive for April 2014

TL;DR Game Reviews (February-April 2014)   Leave a comment

Here’s a quick rundown of the games I’ve played between February to now. Some of these games I didn’t finish.

Dyad

It’s hard to describe this game if you haven’t played predecessors like Rez, Frequency and Amplitude and Audiosurf. It’s a music and rhythm game that have you matching enemy pairs on screen. The objectives get progressively harder with musical elements involved. The first one I encountered include matching enemy pairs of the same musical note. You have to differentiate two notes along with the game’s background ambient music and sound effects. It’s a puzzle game at it’s core, evident among the achievement segments per stage. I got it for free thanks to Playstation Plus.

Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut

No. It’s not that Mark Wahlberg movie. It’s a 2D survival horror game. It reminds me of Silent Hill more than Resident Evil, but the game is too self-aware as an homage. You don’t really see it as its own entity. I didn’t stick around to finish it. It’s 2D graphics in the 8-bit sense. Playing it on your flat screen has it’s moments, but the novelty wears off.

Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse

This isn’t just a simple remake. It’s a 3D remake (well, 2.5D) of the original Sega Genesis game. The controls are still the same, but the visuals and puzzles leapt into the 3rd dimensions. The witch living in the Castle of Illusion kidnaps Minnie Mouse. Mickey fights through enemies which are illusions themselves. It’s a throwback to old platformers before the Playstation 2/Gamecube/Xbox era. Don’t expect God of War level of gameplay, though.

Hitman: Absolution

This is the first Hitman game I’ve played in the long-standing franchise. Square Enix has turned this game and Tomb Raider around after acquiring it. Agent 47, the bald suited protagonist, takes out his last and final victim from The Agency before abandoning his mission and saving a teenage girl whom others would kill for.

Like any Hitman game, you have multiple ways of dispatching your targets. It depends on whether you care about accolades (achievements or trophies) or just having fun and playing the game. I tried to do all the objectives in each missions. It would take me 2-3 hours per mission, killing only my target without disguising myself. At some point I got tired and just silently took out all the other enemies before approaching my main target. Then all hell broke lose when the enemy took over an orphanage, killing the priests and nuns. That’s not cool at all. So I took out all the gunmen. Sorry, not sorry.

Wizorb

If you like the old Pong/Space Invader hybrid games like Breakout and Arkanoid, you’ll like Wizorb. Wizorb is an Arkanoid game wrapped in an RPG-like story. That’s about it.

I’m done.

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E-Mails You Shouldn’t See From Management   3 comments

I work for a sub-contractor (staffing) who hires temp technical employees (me) to staff a contracting company (prime) for their client projects. My current work order for the client project I’m supporting covers me through tomorrow. My profile at work shows that I have been extended for about 5 more months, but my sub-contractor has not received paperwork showing to extend me.

They sent me an email to make sure my project manager followed up with our prime regarding my extension. I was reading through the email, including the replies and emails below. The original email came from my sub-contractor and it’s addressed to their contact with our prime. It’s basically asking if I have been extended for work and whether they received paperwork. The last part sparked this post and bothers me:

Have you received an extension request for this contractor (me)? If not, should I tell him his last day on the project is tomorrow?

I know this is not a full-time hire.

I know they’ll probably keep extending my contract in 5 month increments.

I know there’s a chance the prime contracting company wouldn’t hire me full-time even after having worked here for a year and a half now.

Yet reading that last part still catches me off-guard. I already went through that on my first job after college. They called me in to headquarters one day and told me that was my last day. On my second job, they called me on the phone while I was telecommuting, saying it was my last day, too.

I’d like to believe that there’s security in being hired full-time. I get 401k benefits, paid time off and sick leave. It’s not. My first two jobs after college were full-time hires with great benefits, yet I never got a two-weeks notice. It’s this nature of the business that I’ll never get used to. I’d rather have an easy transition between jobs.

I’m done.

Posted April 24, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Personal

Long Recursive Dream   Leave a comment

I don’t know if it was the leg and two thighs of chicken with western fries dipped in jalapeño melted cheese last night or me waking up early-ish (8:45AM) to take my laundry out of the dryer and going back to sleep again. I just had this long recursive dream.

Like most dreams, everything is just jumbled together. I know I was part of the world of Game of Thrones. At the same time, my family was there in this run-down, open-ceiling dilapidated castle/building. The show and dream life were one and the same, apparently. I knew in the dream that I watch the show and that one of my siblings knows the story. My other sister and my parents don’t watch the show, but I felt in my dream that I’ve been telling them to read or watch it. My mom is somewhat in the know of certain events. For some reason there were dragons in the area: one small dragon the size of a cow and one larger dragon the size of a bus. Ned Stark was also there and I told my mom that she should know him as the the guy who was beheaded. There’s one key difference in my dream, though. Ned Stark didn’t die in the show because he was too popular. Instead, they made him live longer until that dream. My dream was the setting for when Ned Stark dies.

There was another man that shows up and brought with him an even larger dragon camouflaged in clearing inside the building. Ned Stark just found out about the Red Wedding. I was on top of the bus-sized dragon and about to fly away. Then I noticed parts of the building shifting in color from run-down gray to blue and yellow-ish tints. Turns out it was a much larger dragon, 5 times larger than my bus-sized one. I hopped off and they fought.  My tiny dragon was cut into pieces. The small chunks that fell to the ground started moving to each other and regrouped into a much larger dragon. Apparently these dragons in my dream can’t be killed. I don’t remember much about what happened in this part of my dream, but Ned Stark was killed. Then I woke up (another dream). My other sister said that our parents planned this vacation the whole time. I didn’t know what she was talking about. We were on this bus heading to a community church.

During mass, the priest went to the back to get changed or whatever. My parents moved much closer to the center and I reluctantly followed with them. The priest comes back out and somehow forgot to close his robe and accidentally exposed himself. He realizes and walks quickly to the back to fix it. He comes back out with a head gear to help him breathe. Turns out he was sick. I remember thinking it was cancer. It was too late. Most of the crowd already left. He keels over and hides in the back with other people. You could hear the priest coughing and continuing mass. Then I hear commotion outside.

There was another group coming in and just stood there on the side. For some reason they were familiar high school classmates. Of the two people I recognized was my best friend (I haven’t seen this guy for 8 years and he shows up in my dream). We hugged it out, but he seemed distant. He changed. He left his former life and have done some crazy stuff. He then tells me that he owes people money. Not sure how in control I was in my dream, but I said my goodbyes and walked away. The bus already left along with my family. I grabbed my stuff and went inside the next bus for some reason. I sat down and put on my underwear on top of my jeans. I realized the mistake and took it off. Turns out I was already boxers. And the bus was actually another priests’ car. I asked if he was going to follow the other bus cause my family was there. He said he was going somewhere else to gamble. I told him to drop me off. It was night time and I didn’t know which part of town I was. I vaguely remember the buildings and it looked like a section of the street in the Philippines. I was pretty sure at this point that I was dreaming. I just went along. I planned on walking back to my grandparents house 3 miles away. Then I woke up again to another dream which I can’t recall anymore by the time of this writing. Then I finally woke up feeling sad.

At this point, I’m living an uneventful, lonely life… where dreams are better, clinging to my past, wishing I have close friends and things haven’t changed.

This is 30. Am I still dreaming?

I’m done.

Posted April 19, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Musings, Personal

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Winter Gaming Reviews (Dec ’13 – Mar ’14)   Leave a comment

I thought I’d jot down a short review and final thoughts on a few games I recently completed this winter.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – Freedom Cry

Freedom Cry is a DLC game that have you playing as Adéwalé: a former slave-turned-pirate from Trinidad and later became a member of the Assassin Order. He was Edward Kenway’s quartermaster aboard the Jackdaw on their adventure during Black Flag’s story. After Edward left, Adéwalé joined the Assassin order and had his own ship. The story takes place 15 years after the events in Black Flag, when his ship was damaged near Saint-Domingue while on a mission to assassinate a French admiral and a templar. He was washed ashore in Port-au-Prince. He was once again confronted with the realities of the slave trade.

What’s different about this DLC is that there are consequences to your actions in the game. In Black Flag, one misstep or being caught will reset the mission or have the enemy go after you. In Freedom Cry, a single mistake would make the enemy take it out on the slaves. There are missions where you take over a plantation and free the slaves and the Maroon. You have to get rid of 20 overseers. No monetary rewards. Freeing the captive was your reward. Overseers would take it out on the slaves when they catch you. Just like in the past, there were black overseers during this time. I had to think about whether I’m doing the right thing killing them or passing them over for others. They were probably forced into being overseers. There was a sequence where  a ship holding slaves on board was sinking. Adéwalé had to free the shackled slaves. The ship was on fire and I had to be quick about rescuing as many people as I can.

These were things that gamers had to think about before performing any actions. Adéwalé himself also was at a dilemma. He wanted to free the slaves. But there were women and children who couldn’t fight with the Maroon rebellion. They were caught in between.

Overall, this was a good 5 hours of solid gameplay.

Remember Me

This was one of the few new games that is not a sequel last year. The story follows Nilin, a memory hunter in Neo Paris in the late 21st century. In this futuristic story, there is a company that can erase and remix your memories to get rid of misery and pain, removing those thoughts and making new ones. They also store memories so people can relive the good ones. This is now the biggest company in the world and have controlled all aspects of life. But there are individuals in the company who are using memories and experimenting on people. Some people now have powers to suck others memories (it’s like a drug… it’s addicting). It’s Nilin’s job to stop this.

As an action adventure game, Remember Me doesn’t add much to the genre: you acquire new skills to defeat your enemies and upgrade them along the way. There are sequences that lets you go inside a person’s mind and remix certain events to change how they think. Too bad you get to only do this 4 times throughout the game. The camera angle gets confused from time to time and blocks your view of the character. I avoided walls most of the time.

This game excelled in the story and the world they developed. It would be been nice if we could explore more of the city of Neo Paris rather than get Neo Paris facts about the people, environment and culture through collectible items.

Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft has had many reinterpretations throughout the years. This latest version of Tomb Raider is the best one so far from Crystal Dynamics, published by Square Enix.

This is the origin story of Lara Croft. Lara didn’t just come into existence guns blazing and leaping across gaps and finding treasure. Lara Croft is an archaeologist at heart. Her father was the original adventurer just like Indiana Jones. On this expedition to find a lost tribe of the Yamatai, they encountered a storm. Lara Croft was separated from the group and washed ashore in an island. She had to fend off for herself and learned to hunt for food and track others. They eventually learn that are people living on the island and wants them captured or dead. This game is how Lara learned how to survive and became the badass that she is.

This game has everything you need in a Tomb Raider. Updated for the new generation, we have a rough around the edges heroine who comes out swinging, surviving… and never looked back.

I’m done.