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.
Saw National Treasure last night at the Coliseum. It was the usual Bruckheimer fluff, but mostly entertaining. I hadn't been to the theatre in ages (I believe the last movie I saw in was Team America: World Police so I figured a light action movie would be worth checking out. It was good mindless entertainment, the type of summer "popcorn" movie that all the critics hate but still does well at the box office.
I spent a few minutes in the movie trying to figure out where I had seen the lead actress, Diane Kruger but could not, until I got home and learned she was Helen of Troy. Oh, I almost forgot, I was in a generous mood and rated National Treasure an 8.
Back on the topic of blog spammers, I had forgotten that one remaining way of spamming my blog, through the comments. Fortunately I have an automatic email sent to me when any comment gets posted, so I can easily delete those vague one-line posts containing a link to a pr0n site. I've only had maybe five so far, so I'm not going to worry about that unless it gets out of hand. I was also looking through my traffic logs today and noticed that the pr0n spam had actually been getting me a fair bit of traffic -- several hundreds of hits due to people searching the names of pr0n sites and stumbling here because of faked referer hits. Sigh.
I have written an overview of SSARC and SSRESTOR, the archive and restore utilities that come with Microsoft Visual Sourcesafe 6.0. These are poorly documented, and I've had to experiment a fair bit to get these to work properly. Maybe it's just me, who knows, but in any case the page is: Guide to SSARC and SSRESTOR.
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 did a quick scan of my access logs for September and counted up accesses to my RSS feed of the Wikipedia:Announcements page. I decided to estimate the number of people who had subscribed, as of the end of September. I took the number of IP addresses that had visited the page at least 25 times in September (58), plus Bloglines subscribers (24), plus My Yahoo! users (13), plus Live Journal users (11) to get a total of about 106 subscribers. Kind of cool, although still far from World Domination ™.
I also wrote up a short piece on Six Great Firefox Extensions.
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 just got Rogers Extreme internet service, courtesy of a Motorola Surfboard Cable Modem SB5100. It is pretty darn fast: a performance test clocked in at 4617 Kb/s down and 702 Kb/s up. Obviously it is not a pure test and many people have obtained speeds that are even closer to the advertised 5000/800 (down/up). The download limit, capped by Rogers, of 5000 Kb/s is, oh, 347 times faster than my trusty modem that I used for four years to connect to qlink. In any case, I think the practical effect will be to approximately double both my downstream and upstream bandwidth, which is always nice.
I played a little bit of Medal of Honor: Breakthrough tonight and noticed some slightly lower ping times than I usually get, often in the 35-40 ms range. I don't think the latency is supposed to be much improved, but every little bit helps with fast-paced shooter games.
The fine print is that you pay $100 (plus the usual tribute to Paul and Dalton) for the modem, which you own. There is a 2-year warranty, however these things will no doubt be obsolete around then. You pay the same $45/month for the service, however this no longer includes a rental, so it's a slight price increase per month, in effect, to cover the cost of the modem and the risk of having to purchase a replacement.
It seems to me that I used to get around 2000/360 (although observations can be misleading), but according to this FAQ on the RBUA site the theoretical limit of my previous modem (a Terayon Terapro) is 14000/14000 (!!!), however we received 3000/384 service. I guess from a marketing perspective Rogers wanted to (a) raise the price 10% or so in as nice a way as possible and (b) conceal the fact that our existing hardware could have done the job. In Rogers' defense, I understand these modems are the better technology (including an even higher maximum speed of something like 30 Mb/s and faster latency) and will be presumably standard issue shortly. Also, it's not quite clear why they would want to get out of the business of renting cable modems, which is surely a fairly lucrative one.
Details aside, for the price of a couple of coffees a month it didn't take me much pondering to choose to double my internet connection speed!
I'm still in Toronto and it's getting stickier and more humid by the day, it seems. The traffic is somewhat insane here, it seems stepping into the car entails a bare minimum of a half-hour journey, between finding parking and dodging the other cars and pedestrians. If I lived here, I think having a car would be more or less unnecessary.
I went to the Yankees - Blue Jays game last night. The home nine (ten, I suppose, given the DH (which I like)) lost a close game, as closer-if-not-by-name Jason Frasor gave up three runs. The Yankees brought on the witch and a quick three up, three down ended the game. I have to confess, I was actually kind of hoping to see the Blue Jays fall behind at the end, so I would get the chance to see Mariano Rivera pitch.
I went to the Ontario Science Center today and the ROM yesterday. I was a little underwhelmed by both, perhaps partly because we are spoiled by such good museums in Ottawa, and I am no longer the optimal height for a lot of the exhibits. Also both buildings were under some fairly extensive renovations.
Well, I'm in Toronto. Went to the Blue Jays - Red Sox game last night. I didn't even know Pedro Martinez was pitching until I got to SkyDome. I had seen Pedro once before, in Montreal, I think in 1996 or 1997, I believe against San Diego. If memory serves, he retired 18 batters in a row in the middle of the game, but I'll have to check Retrosheet to be sure.
It turned out that the real star of the show was Ted Lilly, who pitched one of the best games of his career, a shutout, giving up 3 hits, and striking out 13 batters. Lilly used his excellent curve ball to fool the Boston hitters time and time again. There were a surprising number of Red Sox fans at the game, apparently most of them in my section (117). I had some great seats, in the 14th row. Lilly's game score was 92, which ties Johan Santana of the Twins for the top game score in the AL this year. A most impressive performance.
Today I got up around 10, watched some live Olympics, including the awesome gold medal win by Lori-Ann Muenzer in the match sprint. Of all the events in the Olympics, this has to be my favorite, with its unique combination of tactics and brute strength.
Also checked out the Hockey Hall of Fame, which was interesting. Seeing all the trophies was interesting -- they look a lot bigger in real life somehow. Also seeing the old-time equipment was amazing. I can't even imagine staring down a slapshot with one of those masks the goalies used to use.
I got b2evolution 0.9.0.10 installed tonight. It looks pretty good to me. I'll probably need to make a couple of little tweaks over the next couple of days but I think I'm basically where I was before. Two little glitches: one was totally my fault and very dumb -- FTPing everything in ASCII mode, which of course broke all the images.
The other glitch was in the upgrade program. I ran the installer, which broke on a SQL command. I went to the forums and found a solution. The only problem was that the script was in the middle of a bunch of database operations, so when I re-ran the script it broke again, since it was expecting to create tables that were already there from the first unsuccessful run. So, I deleted everything, restored my original version, ran the modified (as per the forum) script and everything worked fine. A bit of template fixing and it's all good. Estimated time: 2 hours.
I went to a most interesting talk tonight at University of Ottawa, Quantum Superpositions, by Damian Conway. I was a little worried, not being a physics type, but he held everyone's attention for nearly 3 hours, which is quite a feat. He threw in a large number of jokes and references that required an agile mind to keep up with. I'm sure I missed a few things too.
It's always inspiring to listen to someone who has a total mastery of a subject.
The first part of the talk was on quantum physics, at a very abstract level. Then he moved into discussion of this Quantum::Superpositions perl module that he has written and different problems that could be solved with it. The module introduces a couple of new operators to perl, "any" and "all". Each takes a list as its argument. any returns true if any of its values make the statement true, so any(1,2,3) == 1 is true. all returns true if the statement is true for all of its values, so something like 0 <= all(1,2,3) is true. These operators are (by the sounds of things, knowing zilch about physics myself) abstractions of a quantum superposition.
The operators are also useful for non-physics-related problems and thus they will be included in Perl 6, along with a couple of other operators, none and one, which are true, respectively, if zero or one of the items in the list make the statement true. I have a feeling that these operators will become a regular part of my regular Perl 6 vocabulary, whenever that comes out.
Anyway, a most enjoyable evening, and I would highly recommend this talk to anyone who has a chance to see it.
Went to see Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban tonight. I rated it a 7, after giving the first one an 8 and the second a 7.
I haven't read any of the books, so I can't really judge its faithfulness to the series, but from reading some of the comments online it appears that this one deviated a lot more from the books than the first two. It's not necessarily a bad thing, since one of my complaints about the first one is that I felt there were too many little artifacts that they had to show for the sake of completeness.
As for the movie, there were definitely a number of cheesy parts, such as the werewolf, which was not very wolf-like. They did handle a time-travel sequence rather cleverly though (minor spoiler ahead). It was revealed, in the time travel, that previously unexplained actions were actually the result of a time-travelling Harry and Hermione.
Anyway, I put this movie firmly the category of see-it-if-you-were-going-to-see-it, don't-bother-if-you-weren't-going-to-see-it-anyway (I really need an acronym for that).
A couple of unrelated things: first I'm going to shill for Bloglines.com, a web-based news aggregator that is amazing and a regular part of my web surfing. It lets you easily view new stories in RSS-enabled web sites and they just did a very slick re-design. Highly, highly recommended. It also has a feature to manage your blogroll, so I just hooked that up to the side menu, so you can see the feeds I'm currently watching.
I joined a lob-ball team with work and have been playing that once a week. It's been fun, but it seems like whenever I hit the ball hard, it gets caught, and when I hit the ball weakly, it falls in. I assume that will turn around with time though. We lost 15-13 tonight, but it could have been a lot worse since we started off with only 7 players. I think we're 2-6, but it's still a lot of fun.
A few movies seen recently (and my IMDB rating for them)
* Cidade de Deus (City of God) (10: amazing cinematography, moving story of a boy who escapes the violence of the Rio de Janeiro favellas)
* Paycheck (7: interesting concept but mundane execution)
* Shrek 2 (8: fun summer movie, similar to the first one)
* Spider-Man 2 (8: very good, maybe a bit better than the first but I enjoyed the first more since it was new)
* Super Size Me (8: moronic experiment and dubious science but punctuated with a number of good points about our fast food culture and obesity in general)
Time to delete the porn referrer spam...
I haven't blogged in ages but I finally have something to talk about -- a couple of movies. One was really good, while the other "earned" the distinction of being the first movie I've ever walked out of the theatre from.
The good one, which I gave a 9 (and seriously considered giving a 10) to was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The screenplay was by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, a couple of very interesting movies. ESotSM is really a love story between Jim Carrey's and Kate Winslet's characters. They alternately go through a sci-fi procedure to erase each other from their memory. Much of the movie consists of their dream-like memories. The movie weaves together the real-life memory erase procedure and the memories in an extremely novel way. It's a remarkable, thoroughly original movie that I would highly recommend. If you liked Adaptation or Memento I'm sure you wouldn't go wrong with this one.
The second one, which a friend and I walked out of after 30 minutes of mind-numbing tedium was Dogville. Apparently the movie is 3 hours in length and after experiencing a mere sixth of it I couldn't have imagined sitting through the whole thing (and I normally don't mind long movies). I don't give ratings on IMDB unless I actually watch the whole movie, but if I had stayed I would have given it a 1. This "movie" is really a filmed theatre production on a stage, which was totally irritating. Why didn't they just do a normal movie with a real set? The town of Dogville is kind of drawn out on the stage and you can see everyone in their houses. This is somewhat neat but it gets to be old hat after about 10 minutes. The story, such as it was, was some boring drivel about this woman Grace (played by Nicole Kidman) who is on the run from some gangsters. Everything was so slow, dry and emotionless that it was just painful to watch. It positively made Gosford Park seem like a action-packed thriller. Enough said about this waste of time and money. I should mention, out of fairness, that apparently everybody else thinks it's really great and it's currently at 8.4 on IMDB and is the #100 rated movie of all time. I should look at the silver lining here though -- next time I have to do something unpleasant, like see the dentist or do my taxes, I'll think to myself, it could be worse, I could have been forced to watch the whole of Dogville.
Oh, I'm also playing a "Succession Game" of Civilization III. Feel free to follow the action at: Civfanatics.com. Basically four other people and I are taking turns playing a single game. We each make 10 moves and then pass it on to the next player. In between the moves we strategize and critique each other's play. I've learned a lot already and we're only about 1/4 of the way through the game.
As a fan of the Ottawa Senators, I was very happy today to learn that they acquired Capitals' star Peter Bondra. Bondra gives the highest-scoring team in the league and even greater power play presence and is a fast, skilled player that will fit right in with Havlat, Hossa, Alfredsson, Spezza and company. Bring on the playoffs!
On a hockey statistics note, I've been dissatisfied with Goals Against Average, GAA (goals allowed per 60 minutes played), as a measure of goalie success, since goals against are a function of shots faced, and this is not normalized between teams. Save percentage, or shots saved divided by shots faced, is a better way of looking at a goalie's skill level.
The problem with save percentages, similar (although in general a bit lower) to fielding percentages in baseball, is that they are presented as numbers less than but quite close to 1, which makes quick comparisons very difficult, and obscures significant differences. For example, if Player A makes 2 errors in 40 plays, he would have a fielding average of .950, and if Player B makes 1 error in 40 plays he would have a fielding average of .975. Player A makes twice as many errors, but the untrained eye only sees a .025 difference.
I decided to calculate the league average of shots allowed per game, in order to normalize save percentage to a more understandable number, in the form of a GAA. This was a bit more tricky to do than I initially thought, since the number of minutes a team has played isn't readily available (at least I couldn't find it online). I added 2.5 minutes for a team for every OTL, since there is more or less an equal chance of a goal being scored throughout the 5 minute OT session. I also removed empty net goals from this, since (I think by definition) all shots on an empty net are goals. This gave an estimated league average shots per 60 minutes of about 27.4.
For each goaltender, this number is multipled by 1 minus the save percentage (i.e. 27.4 * (1 - Save%)). I'll call this AGAA ("Adjusted" GAA). The list isn't very interesting in and of itself, since it's in the same order as the Save percentage list, but if we look at the difference between AGAA and GAA then some names pop out. It would also be a much more useful way of talking about save percentage in general.
The five goalies (among qualifiers) that are most overrated by their GAA are (ranked by AGAA - GAA) as follows (using numbers from games as of February 17, 2004). A positive number means that if the goaltender faced a league average number of shots they would have allowed that many more goals per game, based on their save percentage:
1. Marty Turco, Dallas, +0.41
2. John Grahame, Tampa Bay, +0.40
3. Patrick Lalime, Ottawa, +0.31
4. Robert Esche, Philadelphia, +0.29
5. Tommy Salo, Edmonton, +0.29
And the five goalies most underrated by GAA are:
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh, -0.80
2. Sebastien Caron, Pittsburgh, -0.62
3. Roberto Luongo, Florida, -0.51
4. Olaf Kolzig, Washington, -0.35
5. Sean Burke, Phoenix/Philadelphia, -0.29
Note that these lists do not represent good or bad goaltenders, just those who have misleading GAAs, because they played with teams that allowed much more or much less shots a game than the league norm. AGAA is a normalized, easier to follow version of save percentage. As an example, the current save percentage leader, Vesa Toskala has a GAA of 2.01 and a save percentage of .933. Multiplying 27.4 by (1 - 0.933) we get an AGAA of 1.84. This would mean that Toskala, facing a league average amount of shots per game, would be expected to have a GAA of 1.84.
Being an Ottawa fan, I note that Martin Prusek's save percentage is .928 (GAA 1.80), which corresponds to an AGAA of 1.97. Lalime's .906 (GAA 2.27) corresponds to an AGAA of 2.58 (see how the true difference of just a few points of save percentage, is actually 0.6 goals a game! And while it might at first seem that Prusek, being the backup, might play against weaker opposition, a quick check of his record shows 10 games against playoff teams, 8 against non-playoff teams (and a few minutes of mop-up duty against the Rangers in a game in November), which is an average level of opposition.
One improvement that I could see for this would be to also adjust for the team's penalty minutes taken. It's not fair to penalize goalies for their teammates putting them in a situation where a lot more goals are scored (teams score at about 1.5 to 2.0 times the rate on the power play than they do at even strength).
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).
With the super-cold temperatures there hasn't been all that much to do, so I've been splitting my gaming time between three games: DX2, Civ 3 Conquests and MOHAA.
I liken Deus Ex: Invisible War to the movie Gangs of New York: very flawed, and easy to find problems with, but I just really liked it anyway. My Deus Ex: Invisible War Biomods Guide got indexed by google and is now getting some traffic, maybe 20 visits a day. I finished the game a couple of weeks ago and tried a couple of the endings. The last third of the game had a lot of tie-ins to the original game, which was neat. I didn't like the inventory management system, which was too simplistic and unrealistic. Also, the universal ammo system (one ammo type fits all weapons) was okay from a usability standpoint, except only nine clips could be carried (as if one could carry around, all at once, a flamethrower, sniper rifle, swords, SMG, shotgun, and a few other weapons, but no more than 9 small ammo clips).
I got the Civilization 3 Conquests expansion pack, which has been a good buy. There are some scenarios, which allow you to play a particular segment of history, with different technologies and different rules than the regular game. The multiplayer seems to be a lot better than the very slow and buggy multiplayer capabilities in the previous expansion pack, Play the World.
As well, I've been continuing to play MOHAA multiplayer. I have the Breakthrough expansion pack and went through the singleplayer campaign in a couple of days. Good, but nothing revolutionary. Fortunately there are a lot of really good multiplayer maps, which almost seems to be the main value of the game. I'm not complaining though. I wish MOHAA had some sort of centralized ranking server, where you could learn approximately how good your opponents are (like America's Army). If I'm having a bad game, it's nice to know if it's because the other players are more skilled, or if it's just a bad night, or lag, or whatever other problem there might be.
Finally there was an article on Slashdot discussing the strong rumors about the next Grand Theft Auto game, supposedly GTA: San Andreas. Needless to say, this is the game I'm most eagerly anticipating right now. It's scheduled to come on the PS2 later this year, with a probably mid-2005 release for PC (probably sometime around the final, still-unnamed Star Wars movie)