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Archive for the ‘Non-reviews’ Category

By “popular” demand (and cuz it makes things look a lot more positive than it really is), I’m just gonna go with the mainstream “professional” scale from now on and be overly simplistic with 0.5 intervals. Previous game review scores will be retconned.

10: The best of its kind. Must play.
9: Superb experience with a few imperfections here and there.
8: Good. Mostly enjoyable, but doesn’t quite separate itself from the rabble.
7.5: Mediocre. Neither impresses nor disappoints in any significant capacity.
7: Sub-par. Decent for fans of genre, but money is better spent elsewhere.
6. Terrible. Many and/or severe flaws. For genre enthusiasts only.
5. Candidate for worst game ever.

4. Worst game ever.
3. I AM ERROR.
2. x/0=
1. gof’nnhupadghshub-niggurath
0. ph’ngluimglw’nafhc’thulhur’lyehwgah’naglfhtagn

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I have nothing to review at the moment, so I’m gonna post a filler that might possibly be useful, since New Vegas is coming out tomorrow and is using the same engine. You’d think they’d fix the issues, but considering it’s made by Obsidian (aka Black Isle)…I wouldn’t count on it. Let’s face it, I mean, I loved all their games, but their QA has always been pretty non-existent, and this engine is picky as hell with the cards it’ll work with.

Anyways, you’re probably here cuz you have a GPU that isn’t from 5 years ago and the game either crashes, or the HDR doesn’t work, or you get a black screen, etc. Mostly, it boils down to the game not recognizing your card and assigning a set of “compatibility” shaders for it (which aren’t actual compatible with ANYTHING apparently), and minimizing most of the hidden graphics options, which you can crank back up at and customize at /documents/my games/(name of game)/(name of game).ini, and I strongly suggest you do so by referring to this site: http://www.tweakguides.com/Oblivion_1.html. Don’t touch that yet though. First, let’s fix your shader problem.

Let me tell you first that I didn’t create this fix. I’m just gonna tell you how to make it better (kinda like what I did with the SH5 one). Fortunately, this time I didn’t be an idiot and lose the link to the fix. So first, go download this d3d9.dll here: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6LHPT9ZC and put it in the same directory as your game’s main exe (DO NOT replace the one in your system directory, you WILL screw up your system). Video demo is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GN5HbMsMVE. What it basically does is trick your game into thinking you have a GeForce 7900 GS, and give you full access to all graphics options and use a 3.0 shader package, since it seems that’s the most advanced GPU that this engine seems to be fully compatible with.

But of course, that’s an old card. We have better ones now, so why not use an even better set of shaders? Go to your game’s directory and look in /data/shaders. Rename shader package 13 (which the 7900GS uses) to something else, and make a copy of shader 19, then rename that copy to the same filename as what 13 used to be.

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Now go in-game and make sure everything’s working, set the graphics to your liking, and then you can further adjust it with the .ini file, using the tweak guide above to help you.

If New Vegas ends up going horribly wrong, this fix will probably limit your graphics options, being so old. However, you can still try to adjust the .ini settings and try different shader packages. You can check which shader is currently assigned to your card in the renderer info file in the same directory as the .ini.

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If anyone’s still asking, it’s easy to have both AA and HDR in Oblivion nowadays. Turn HDR on in-game, then go to Catalyst Control Center (or whatever graphics manager Nvidia uses, if you have a GeForce), and just set it to force AA. It’s an option that’s actually made especially for Oblivion.

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After the odd controversy on my Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines review, I figured it was worth saying a few words on the matter, seeing as apparently, no one bothers to check my scoring scale page. Simply put, I use a 0-10 scale. Like, an ACTUAL 0-10 scale. If you haven’t caught on, I mean I score between 0 and 10.

That sounds like an odd specification to you normal people who read this, but it really isn’t if you’re the type that reads gaming reviews. Your typical gaming site effectively uses a 5-10 scale. 0-3 doesn’t exist, 3-5 means candidate for worst game ever made, 5-6.5 means it’s about as fun as shooting yourself in the foot. 7.5 means average, 8.5 means good, and so on. It’s a stupid scale and I refuse to follow it. IGN spent the whole review on DoA:P talking about how he spent the entire game being frustrated, and then gave it a 5/10. Why? Why is it between 0 and 10. What constitutes a 0? Where did those 5 points come from if all the game does is piss you off and provide 0 enjoyment. Or even better, Superman 64. It consistently makes it on just about every “10 worst games of all time” lists, and it has a 3.4/10 on IGN, who agrees that it deserves to be on those lists. And here’s a comment I got on my AC:B review: “This is not the best game and is not a bad game either I give it 8/10 and I know about gaming.” The rest of it had even worse grammar but that’s besides the point. Basically, he just said that he feels the game is average, so it deserves an 8. What’s more intuitive, having 5 mean average because it’s in the middle of 0 and 10, or 8 being average because that’s what the education system and metacritic says?

It’s certainly open to debate, but so is metric vs English system. Stick to a retarded system that makes no sense but we’ve grown up with it, or a perfectly rational system that we just didn’t learn before because our elders were too stupid to come up with it. The scientific community and 193 of 195 countries chose to adhere to logic for the utilitarian applications of it. Obviously, I side with them.

Or better yet, axe the tree because that’s how people used to do it, or chainsaw them because it’s faster? Not a hard choice for me.

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So really, my AC:B score translated to the mainstream scale would be around a 6.2, which is about the same as the metacritic score for it anyways, which is why the controversy over it is so strange. Just thought I’d point that out. I dream of the day that gaming sites will stop catering their scores so pre-teens that are barely literate anyways can understand them, and just follow the same scale as every other product review ever made.

For the record, my Dante’s Inferno 7.5 actually translates to about a low-mid 8 on the mainstream scale.

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Alright, most people know the PC port for this game is very glitchy, especially on ATI’s cards. After some digging and tinkering around with settings, I believe I’ve found a solution for the graphical glitches at least, and figured I should share as I haven’t been able to find any decent solutions through google.

Go into the “bin” folder of your game (where the main .exe is), and look for a file called “enbseries.ini”. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and you’ll see a section named “FIX”, and probably notice that the shader limit is set to a pathetic 500, and vertex texture fetch is off. Increase the shader limit to 4096 and set vertex texture fetch to 1 so that your final settings look like this:

[FIX]
PixelShaderLimit=4096
DisableShaders=0
ForceOldDXVersion=0
UseVertexTextureFetch=1
DelayTime=0
ForceAffinityMask=0

SH5 PC running at 1080p, high graphics quality on Win7 64-bit, ASUS DirectCu/TOP Radeon HD 5850.

I apologize for the crappy cell phone picture, but as you know, this port was handled by morons. There’s no ingame screenshot feature, and the usual FRAPS and print screen just record a black screen.

If I ever fix the audio and cutscene glitches too, I’ll let you guys know.

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6/13/2010 UPDATE: Don’t know how I neglected to mention this before, but this fix was meant for already patched versions of the game. It’s a fan made patch by some russian people that uses modified shaders. It seems to work fine for Nvidia cards and very old Radeons, but takes a bit of tweaking to work right with newer Radeons, which is what this article is for.

Also, apparently they added a screenshot feature, and I’ve apparently pressed the screenshot button at some point and not noticed. Color seems to be off though. Anyways, here it is:

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Right, time for something completely different. Today, I’m gonna give you my banana buying tips. Of course, the most popular bananas are a clean vibrant yellow (5-6 on the chart). As such, I see many people make the mistake of buying them that way, including my parents. Basically, what I’m about to tell you is to always buy them in vibrant green instead (2 or 3).

The thing is this, bananas ripen very fast at room temperature. Often times, it will go from level 6 to 7 in just a few hours. Refridgeration vastly slows down the process, but then you’re left with only the option of cold bananas, which won’t taste nearly as sweet. The solution here is to buy them a bit unripe and leave 2 or 3 bananas out in room temperature and fridge the rest. This way, with a little bit of planning ahead, you give yourself the options of having a warm or cold green or yellow banana. I don’t advise level 1 ripeness since they pretty much won’t be edible for at least a day.

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“But why would you want a green banana at all?”, you may ask. Quite simply, they taste different and will work better in some recipes. If you’ve never tried it, green bananas are slightly stiffer, juicier, and have a very subtle citrus-like sourness behind the taste, while riper ones are generally mushy and sweeter. Personally, for regular eating, I prefer green myself (cold or warm). At that point, you really just have to use your culinary imagination to figure out what works well with what.

For example, in a salad, you’d probably want to use warm/green so it doesn’t get smooshed and so the juice can flow out and work with your dressing to flavor the veggies. For pastry, cold or frozen green with any glazing that hardens to keep the juice in (if you have time) makes great banana chip-like decorations, while retaining the fresh sweet flavor.

Banana cupcake with vanilla pastry cream.

For an ice cream boat, I find warm/yellow works best. The texture will be more consistent and the bananas will have a stronger flavor and won’t get overwhelmed by the ice cream’s sweetness. For candy dipped bananas, you pretty much don’t have a choice besides frozen/yellow. Cut off one end of the banana (or in half, for larger bananas) and insert the stick prior to freezing.

Frozen candy dipped bananas.

And of course, if you’re going to make anything that involves cooked bananas in any way, use yellow. That’s all I can think of for my first food article. Thanks for reading and happy banana eating to all!

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The hit or miss nature of this movie has become such a strange phenomenon, that I couldn’t help but take a second look. After some discussion (and a whole lot of controversy) over at the IMDB forums, I thought about writing a new review with a new perspective. Obviously, I didn’t end up doing that.

At face value, this movie is still rubbish, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be frightened. What it offers aren’t scares, but rather a chance for you to scare yourself. It’s pretty obvious that a door moving a few inches isn’t scaring anyone, but that’s the trick. What happens on the screen doesn’t matter for this movie: it’s about what’s going on in your mind.

Recall this shot. This screenshot is what you’ll be staring at for around 40 minutes of the movie, with only minor variations. The first thing you’ll notice is the low visibility. You’re actually not able to clearly see the whole picture due to distance, darkness, and picture quality. Rather, your mind has to interpret the image and fill in the blanks. Then there’s the boredom (or attempted “tension buildup”, whatever you wanna call it) from looking at essentially nothing happening. This causes your mind to wander about while filling in the blanks. If your mind was already expecting some freakishly scary things, that’s where your mind is gonna go to grab the filler, and thus, you’ll be freaked out. Of course, all this is done subconsciously, which makes the effect even stronger and harder to resist. However, if like me, your mind happens to wander off in a not scary direction, this movie will just look completely ridiculous to you.

Think of it like this. When your mind is in the gutter, just about everything looks like a sexual innuendo. Likewise, completely normal and unrevealing pictures of slightly attractive people will look much more provocative to you. That’s how this movie works, in layman’s terms.

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Now, I do retract my former “sheep theory” (as it’s come to be known), however, my review remains the same. It’s a one trick pony, and it doesn’t even use the trick right. It’s not a new idea either. Ultimately, the trick in this movie still doesn’t earn it any more than a 0/10 in my eyes, as it fails to suggest anything scary to bring your mind to that scary place to guarantee its effectiveness, but rather relies on the audience’s preconceptions about the movie (“scariest movie of all time” viral marketing) and the paranormal, and just hopes that both are active by the time it gets to the night scene.

Seriously, if you want to feel the fear this movie gives, read up on some paranormal phenomenon, or better yet, watch youtube videos of them. Then go leave a draft in your house somewhere, stay up late at night by yourself, kill all the lights, and just stare down the darkest hallway you have. It’ll be cheaper, more effective, and you won’t have to trudge through the atrocious “plot”/”character developement”/acting/dialogue/bad editting.

This trick works especially well if it’s the first time you’ve experienced it. However, it has been used before, masterfully in fact. There’s the Silent Hill games, which although have monsters, the scariest parts are always the parts where there aren’t any. And of course, there have been much better movies, such as Session 9, an older low budget independant film which I will review next, and if you decide to watch it, you’ll see for yourself how it should be done.

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