I finished playing Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (MOHPA) today. I am a big fan of the MOH series, particularly the earlier MOHAA and its Spearhead and Breakthrough expansion packs, and have played far too many hours of multiplayer to count. This being said MOHPA did not impress me at all.
MOHPA consists of five missions, Boot Camp (a quick tutorial), Pearl Harbor, Makin Atoll, Guadalcanal and Tarawa. Guadalcanal and Tarawa combined will probably take up 3/4 of the time it takes you to play the game since the difficult parts seem to be concentrated there.
To start with the positive aspects of the game, the graphics were quite nice. It ran very smoothly on my system (AMD 3400+/1 GB RAM/Radeon 9800 Pro) with the highest graphics settings, in 1024 x 768, almost everywhere. There were a few hiccups in some of the huge battle scenes in Tawara, but nothing worth complaining about. The health system is different from the previous games. Your squad contains a medic, who you can hail by hitting 'H', and will come over and restore your health to 100. He has a fixed number, usually 4, of health packs for each level. The levels are fairly short so this doesn't end up being much of an inconvenience and adds to the realism (not that this is necessarily a good thing). There are a few health packs scattered around in the harder levels, particularly towards the end of the game. The game also has squad tactics -- you can instruct your team to advance, fall back, assemble or engage the enemy. I didn't find myself using this much, but it was a nice addition. There are also "Hero Moments" and hidden objectives, basically optional objectives that give you a reward back at the Menu screen (similar to the medals for hidden missions in MOHAA). This was overall a decent addition to the game.
And now, for the bad about this game. Where to begin? There is seemingly a bit too much realism built into this game. You can shoot banzaiing soldiers in the torso with a rifle, and still they come at you. I understand that certain guns do not have perfect accuracy, but there was way too much shooting, with apparently zero effect. There is an evil mission where, through some dubious circumstances, you end up flying a fighter plane on three-part mission in the Pacific. First you engage in a dogfight, then take out some fixed targets on an atoll, and finally you have to more or less singlehandedly take out an aircraft carrier and a destroyer. This is just silly, since you are not even a pilot, you are a private in the Marines and your mission is to take out an aircraft carrier?! The controls for flying are awful (basically, just use the mouse) and this part took me ages to play. I was getting really close to looking for some kind of cheat code, it was that bad.
More negatives? The levels were very linear and repetitive. Most of the Guadalcanal mission involves going from one little jungle village to the next. There is virtually zero exploration in this (and many other similar) games any more. In the good old days of Wolfenstein 3D you at least got the feeling of exploring each level of the castle. There wasn't just one way through, there were hundreds, with secrets to find and dead ends and shortcuts. The average jungle level involves a very narrow path, maybe 20 feet wide, between jungle encampments, with a few Japanese soldiers on patrol in each of them. Then there is the absurdity of your squadmates yelling "They're flanking!" when in reality you are all bottled up into a 20-foot wide corridor, with them at one end and you at the other. One other thing, grenades seem to be ineffective. Maybe it's just me but I couldn't aim the throws at all.
To make matters worse, the multiplayer (the part of MOHAA that I enjoyed the most) is very laggy. Gun fights seem to be more the result of luck than anything, and a entire clip of the Thompson proved not be lethal on more than one occasion. Everybody seems to be complaining about this and it is not proving to be popular at all. I haven't downloaded the patch yet (since it apparently wipes out your previous saved games) so maybe that will fix the problem, but I'm doubtful.
Anyway, stay far clear of this one. Get the MOHAA War Chest, or pick up the original Call of Duty or the United Offensive expansion pack if you want to get some WW2 gaming going.
I decided to remove the links to statistics and "referer"s since they were getting abused by too many spammers. b2evolution does supply an antispam blacklist, which is a noble effort, but it still requires a concerted effort to keep up to date with the legions of gambling and porn spammers. Anyway, I'm sick of playing whack-a-mole, and I suspect nobody was even reading those stats except me.
I joined the masses and bought an Xbox, the first console gaming system I've had. I got Amped 2 and Topspin with the game, and bought True Crime: Streets of L.A. and Madden NFL 2004 used for a very reasonable price. There is an incredibly large market of used console games, something that doesn't quite exist on such a scale for PC games. I can't see myself playing PC favorites such as Grand Theft Auto or Need for Speed on the Xbox -- it will probably be reserved for arcade-style multiplayer games. The Xbox has its strengths though, a solid controller, ease of use (no upgrading video cards to play the latest game) and seemingly fewer glitches than PC game releases (whose manufacturers can always rely on patches to fix problems).
I have been using Gmail recently, which seems very nice. The much-hyped 1 GB of space isn't all that important to me, but the conversation threading is really nice. It can be a little creepy at times but I am liking it so far. I have a few extra gmail invites to give out while it is still in beta. If you want one, email me or post here. I will update here if I no longer have any to give out. First come, first served. Update: I am all out. Try requesting a gmail account at the gmail invite spooler.
The Rogers Extreme modem has been treating me well. Ping times are still very low, and I actually experienced a sustained 600 KB/s download while snarfing the Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault demo. Yes, over half a gigabyte was sucked down in around 15 minutes.
I watched The Hours this week, the only 2002 Best Picture nominee that I didn't see in the theatre. I didn't have super-high expectations but ended up really enjoying the movie. I usually like films with interlocking stories and those that play around with time, with different personalities or events that may or may not come together at some point. There were a number of interesting philosophical points in the movie. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, since it wasn't exactly action-packed, but if you like slower, more thoughtful movies you should give this one a shot. I gave it a 9 on IMDB.
I've been addicted to Civ 3 Conquests lately. I'm in a multiplayer game right now, against a friend and (right now) four computer civilizations. I have the lead in score and tech, but we are on different continents, and just like in real life, inter-continental wars are extremely costly, so the end is not in sight yet. I'm playing as the Romans, which is not one of my favorite civs to play, but it has worked out well. The Legionary was useful in the Ancient age and the Militaristic trait has helped to produce a couple of Military Leaders, which are always useful. I'm not a huge fan of the Commercial trait but I'm doing well in gold pieces in this game so I shouldn't be complaining. I usually play (and win, most of the time) on Regent level, and tried a game on Monarch recently, but got crushed quite quickly. I suppose I'll have to refine my strategies in order to make progress. I still have no idea how people can win on the Emperor and Deity levels.
The Super Bowl is tomorrow. I'm predicting a closer game than the bookmakers, but what do I know. Seven points seems to be an awful lot, given that the Patriots' offense isn't exactly tops in the league and Carolina has a very good defense. Plus, New England doesn't have home field advantage. I'll take the under of 38 points, and Carolina +7. I might as well do a final score prediction -- I'll go out on a limb and say Carolina 16, New England 13.
I've definitely been a delinquent blogger lately. I don't know why, I guess there's just not much to report.
I have been doing some editing on Chefmoz.org, a restaurant review site. I'm one of the volunteer editors for Ottawa. We maintain a list of restuarants and associated reviews. I used to log in fairly irregularly, like once every few months, but recently there has been a flurry of reviews, perhaps close to one a day, which is really nice to see. Some of the "reviews" are a bit too brief, but hopefully over time more people will use the site and contribute. According to Alexa, the site is around the 11,000th most popular site on the Internet, which is not bad.
I've been playing some Civ 3 Conquests recently. This is a good expansion pack, unlike "Play the World", which had precious little in the way of new features and extremely laggy multiplayer action. I've played through the three introductory scenarios and the first two real ones, "Mesopotamia" and "Rise of Rome". I usually play on Regent level and had ended up losing "Rise of Rome" the first time I tried it as the Romans, but winning the second time through as the Persians, who start out with significantly more land. It's definitely important to read through the rules for each scenario, since they are often changed from the base game. For instance, I was getting annoyed, while playing as the Persians, because I thought the best defender that was available was the spearman, who defends with strength 2. Then about 2/3 of the way through the game, I suddenly have the option to build Numidian Mercenaries, who have defense 3, which is obviously a significant improvement. In the regular game, the Numidian Mercenary is a Unique Unit, only available to the Carthaginians, however in this scenario the NM is available to anyone who has the Ivory resource (which I would have gotten a lot earlier if I had known that it would have been useful). Anyway, the scenarios are a great way to have a satisfying game in a night or so, unlike a regular game which can take a number of sessions on a larger map.
I've seen a few movies on DVD recently: Full Metal Jacket (endlessly quotable and reasonably entertaining but somewhat disjointed, I gave it an 8), The Recruit (slightly formulaic CIA thriller, I gave it a 7) and Out of Sight (overrated and somewhat implausible movie about a romance between a bank robber and FBI agent, I gave it a 7).
I have added a page to my site, Deus Ex: Invisible War Biomods Guide. Hopefully this proves useful to other players. By the sounds of things, the game is getting really bad reviews by people. I can certainly understand some of the complaints, and it's a tough legacy to live up to, but the game is still fun in its own right.
It's been ages since I took some planned time off work (somehow the week that were off after the great blackout of August didn't count, since one never knew when one was returning to work). I don't have any huge plans, just tidy up the house a bit and maybe get a couple of new pieces of furniture, and generally take it easy for what should be a pretty hectic few months at work coming up.
I added a couple of "cheat sheets" to my Rubik's Cube page (Solution #1, Solution #2). These are one-page reminders with the moves. I'm not sure why I didn't do this earlier, since they are proving to be reasonably popular. After having been up for about 12 hours, they have received around 60 page views together.
I've been playing quite a bit of Deus Ex: Invisible War. I'm definitely getting into the game more now that the graphics issues have been resolved. I'm trying to make a couple of FAQ documents about the game, but I'm still a long ways from any sort of completion. The game feels a bit "dumbed-down" from the original Deus Ex. Everything seems a bit simpler, probably because it was geared for console gamers as well as PC gamers. Also, the game has crashed on me a few times, sometimes requiring a reboot, and this is after I installed the 1.1 patch (which is critical to getting a good gaming experience with DX2). Still, I would recommend the game to others, as long as you have a reasonably powerful PC.
I got the MOHAA: Breakthrough expansion pack Thursday night and jumped right in, playing most of the multiplayer levels. It apparently includes the same multiplayer maps as the Spearhead expansion pack. With MOHAA I never really got into the single-player campaigns (other than completing the basic Allied Assault missions on Easy level, which was indeed easy). Playing online is much more humbling and challenging. My favorite levels so far are probably Palermo, a destroyed village with a million different angles and obstructions, and Castello, a mansion that has somehow become a battleground.
I downloaded the 2.40 patch for Breakthrough, which came with a couple of new maps. One was Stückguter, a level that takes place entirely in the hold of a ship. This is definitely a level that tests your reflexes. I was having more success with the shotgun than the machine gun on this map. The other was Bizerte Fortress, a rather unremarkable Mediterranean city.
The multiplayer setup in Breakthrough is a lot nicer than plain MOHAA, allowing you to filter out servers with high pings or different parameters than those you want. There is also a Call Vote feature which allows you to change maps, boot players or change game parameters with the consensus of the other players.
Thanks to a couple of tips I found on the Internet, I managed to configure DX2 to run nicely on my machine.
It's now running very nicely, although still in 640 x 480, but with medium detail settings. It also seems okay, just on the border of being playable, in 800 x 600 with low detail. It looks really nice on 1024 x 768 with high detail, but I'm probably getting about 5 fps. Is there any way to display the number of frames per second in DX2? Leave a comment if you know.
I have a couple of gripes with the game, such as the multi-purpose ammunition (all guns use the same ammo clips) and it seems a little more simplistic than the original one, but at least now I feel that I'm going to get the full experience of the game, rather than some laggy garbage.
Saw Elf on Saturday, which had been highly recommended to me by a number of people. It was surprisingly funny for a G-rated movie. There was one particularly hilarious part where Will Ferrell, dressed in his usual Elf costume, gets his picture taken in the same style as the classic Sasquatch pose. I think about 10% of the audience got the reference, but in any case it just cracked me up since it was so out of context. I rated this movie an 8. The movie had a lot of funny moments and director Jon Favreau didn't have to resort to the usual bathroom humor (although this is not to say I never find that funny).
I played a number of rounds of MOHAA tonight, my current favorite first-person shooter, and reached a certain milestone of skill by getting accused of cheating for the first time. Despite the protestations of my poor-spelling all-capitals-writing accuser, his repeated allegations were erroneous.
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