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Salt (2010)

Originally, I wasn’t gonna watch this movie. However, Ebert’s review made it sound like the kind of movie I’d love: braindead writing and non-stop over-the-top action. I was sorely disappointed.

What Roger said is accurate. The plot is retarded and full of holes, and the bland dialogue really doesn’t help. Anyone looking for intelligence would find it wise to stay far away from this movie, or anything else Kurt Wimmer writes, for that matter. However, if there’s one thing Kurt does well, it’s that he’s not afraid to come completely over the top with the action, as seen in his other works such as Ultraviolet (Milla Jovovich) and Equilibrium (Christian Bale). All 3 of these movies are similar in the sense that the writing is completely nonsensical and fairly unimaginative. Salt is either a Russian spy or CIA agent, and no one knows which, so the movie just shows her taking turns fighting against the Russians and Americans in a shallow attempt to keep you guessing, but ultimately, you won’t really care due to severe lack of character development.

This was exactly what I was expecting, so so far so good. Disappointment came in the action scenes, unfortunately. While Kurt had no problem having Bale gun down hundreds of fodders by his lonesome, or Milla kicking and slicing up close to 1000 fodders by herself, he seemed quite timid to have Jolie do anything remotely similar. She had her moments, such as building a rocket launcher out of cleaning supplies, or driving a car by tazering the unconscious driver in the head, but mostly she just does physics defying jumps and an occasional very slow kick. It’s stuck in this limbo where it isn’t over the top enough most of the time that you just go “wow, what”, and yet, it’s too over the top to have it be at all believable (all credibility flies out the window the second she jumps off a high speed subway and doesn’t suffer a single scratch, or even roll due to momentum).

Sadly, what she actually does is the best part of the movie. What the movie actually shows is much worse. Like many action movies nowadays, the action scenes cut at least 5 times per second while the cameras shake spaztastically. To make things worse, they’ve hired the worst special effects crew known to man since the days of Citizen Kane. There’s a scene where Jolie jumps down an elevator shaft by jumping side to side, sort of like Jackie Chan in reverse. Apparently, they also have the worst action director in the world, because they decided to show this scene perfectly clear without quick cuts or a shaky camera. The thing is, her fall trajectory is in perfect diagonal lines. I’m not against wirework, but for fucks sake, don’t be so lazy to just attach the back of her shirt to a clothesline and have her slide down when you’re trying to make us believe that she’s jumping. I’ve seen more realistic fall trajectories in old Atari 2600 games. Though to be fair, that scene was consistent with the rest of the movie in the sense that none of the laws of known physics actually apply, so I suppose gravity not causing any acceleration is the least of your worries if you’re still trying to make sense of anything.

That still isn’t the end of the problems though. The other major problem is Jolie herself. She does her own stunts in this movie, and it really shows in a bad way. Quite frankly, I’ve seen Kathy Bates run faster than Jolie. Not even the horrible camera work can hide just how out of shape she is (contrary to what fashion magazines tell you, being incredibly skinny is NOT HEALTHY). She runs slow, punches and kicks slow, jumps slow, and the most impressive physical feat she performs in the entire movie is taking off her panties while standing without lifting her skirt. I don’t have anything against action heroines (I’m a fan of Milla Jovovich, actually), but the point of an action star is kinda for them to be action packed, and you don’t really get that sense of action from Jolie in this movie. Her running for her life in this movie looks like someone trying to beat the “don’t walk” light when crossing the street. She’s terrible.

VERDICT: 3/10

While it does have a few great moments of awesome ridiculousness, it’s essentially a watered down C-level semi-superhero movie. They may as well have named it Ultraviolet 2: Plainpurple in Modern Day Minus Physics (the fact that Jolie wears a wig and clothes that make her look surprisingly similar to Violet makes me wonder if this was the original intention). Ultimately, I don’t feel the 4 or 5 great Wimmer moments make sitting through the mundane and terribly written other 90 minutes of the movie worth your time, let alone the price of admission. Quite frankly, I’d rather watch Ultraviolet again, and that movie was terrible in most of the same ways, but at least Milla can actually kick ass. The only person Jolie can out-action is present day Steven Seagal, and at least he knows his own shortcomings enough to use a stunt double for every action scene now.

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As a completely unrelated note, I’ve removed the “Upcoming Articles” page, as I realize I never actually do what it says anyways.

Video game movies always gets the worst of reputations, and often justifiably so. I must say I haven’t played this series (outside of a PS2 demo disc), so maybe that contributes to my surprise, but this movie honestly isn’t that bad. As surprisingly good as it is, it still isn’t what I’d call a good movie. However, if you were interested in seeing this for whatever reason, hesitate no more, because what this movie isn’t, is boring.

It does suffer from quite a lot of flaws though. The plot is told almost entirely through exposition from a miscast cast of actors, many of which have heavy British accents for some reason. The fact that it’s based on the premise of a knife that can turn back time kinda nerfs what’s at stake too, though that didn’t stop them from adding copious amounts of pointless melodrama, like Dragonball Z. The dialogue in general is overly simplistic, and the princess’s dialogue is mostly annoying whining. Disney one liners and cliches are also liberally littered throughout. All this gives this movie a very childish cheesy feel to it.

While the special effects look great, the action is a bit hard to follow due to massive inconsistencies, very quick cuts, and a shaky camera. However, I’ve certainly seen much worse, and while not impressive, the action is still quite entertaining to watch. Though simplistically told, the plot does still sport quite a few twists that’ll keep your interest in what happens next. The ending is rather disappointing, and being a Disney movie, quite predictable, but all in all, not enough to ruin the experience of the other hour and a half of the movie.

That all said and done, none of its flaws are that severe that it should impede on anyone’s enjoyment of the movie. It’s better than average, and certainly better than most of the crap that’s been coming out for the past year and a half.

VERDICT: 6/10

While not good enough for me to recommend, I can say with certainty that you shouldn’t hesitate on watching this purely on the bad reputation of video game movies, because this is easily the 2nd best video game movie ever made (Silent Hill taking first, and not counting Advent Children). While it doesn’t follow the game exactly, it has more or less the same feel and roughly the same plot, unlike Resident Evil and Doom, which hardly had anything to do with anything. However, don’t expect to see anything new or impressionable from it. This isn’t Inception, but it still is entertainment, without a doubt.

Combat Arms (PC)

Combat Arms is a free to play online modern FPS by Korean developer, Nexon (best known for the atrocious MMO-platformer Maple Story and MMORPG Mabinogi). It caught my eye when I saw an ad on the internet that claimed the game had over 200 guns. In my mind, I thought it was going to be old western lever action Winchester Model 74s up against modern semi-auto Dragunov SVDs, bolt action Springfield rifles up against M1 Garands, drum magazine Thompsons up against HK MP5s, or epic duels between Colt Pythons and Mauser C96s. A game by lead heads, for lead heads. I was tremendously disappointed. The truth is, there’s closer to around 30 guns. They’re all modern, and half of them are hideous, soulless Korean craps that are about as desirable to look at as their cars.

PROS

  • Free to play
  • Frantic, fast paced spray and pray combat
  • Simple maps that are very easy to learn, yet deep enough for tactics to come into play
  • A variety of different game modes. Fireteam on Cabin Fever is particularly exceptional
  • Somewhat customizable characters
  • Excellent draw distance
  • The guns are highly detailed and accurate to real life counterparts, and look absolutely beautiful

CONS

  • A tedious, grind heavy, annoying level up system
  • Annoying weapon/gear rental system, where you can only rent weapons for a certain amount of time by spending in-game currency (GP)
  • Made by Koreans, who’ve consistently proven themselves to be the worst programmers in the world. A huge myriad of glitches and lag issues ensue.
  • Unrealistic weapon performance. They only look like their real life counterparts.
  • Unbalanced weapons
  • The free default gears are so useless, they may as well not include them
  • Game breaking unbalanced weapons and gear are available for purchase with real money
  • The worst, most immature online FPS community I’ve ever seen
  • Hordes upon hordes of hackers
  • Ugly sound effects
  • No footstep noise
  • A mix of very soft competition, hackers, and people decked out in real money gear
  • Poor developer choices such as giving female player models smaller hit-boxes than males, causing even more imbalance

Combat Arms is easily the worst online FPS I’ve ever played, and that includes pre-Quakeworld Quake 1, and at least that has the excuse of being one of the first ever made. Fortunately, this a genre where the gameplay differences between best and worst aren’t very large. Still, it would be my recommendation that you stay away from this game and play the exceptional Enemy Territory by genre leaders, id Software, instead, unless you detest steampunk WW2 premises and really want a free modern semi-realistic shooter with completely unrealistic gun performance along the lines of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

AUDIO: 2/10

Let’s start off easy. There’s no music outside the lobby really, so it’s just the sound effects. They’re very loud, and very disgusting. Shooting someone with a shotgun sounds like violently plunging a dry toilet. Most guns sound like someone banging on a thin metal fence. Others just sound plastic. So these guns, which do look fairly accurate to their real life counterparts, end up sounding nothing like their real life counterparts, nor do they sound remotely pleasing. It’s a lose lose situation.

Then there’s the complete lack of audible footstep sounds, which makes it ridiculously easy to sneak around and follow enemies for extended periods of time without them noticing, or have the same happen to you. Hence, there’s absolutely no reason not to play with the volume turned down. You only need to hear enough to be able to identify which direction the gunfire is coming from. Any more than that actually becomes detrimental to enjoyment.

At 1080p and 2x AA, this game doesn’t look half bad. The guns are highly detailed and look absolutely beautiful.

VISUAL: 4/10

Technically, the graphics aren’t bad at all. They aren’t impressive, except the guns, which sport a high amount of details and accuracy to their real life counterparts. As you can see above, you can even see the manufacturer’s engravings on each individual shell. If you like to look at modern guns (I generally don’t, which is why you’ll mostly see me using that sawed-off coach gun above), you’ll be in for a treat.

Sadly, they’re the only aesthetically pleasing thing to look at. As you can see from this screenshot, there are a few graphical anomalies, such as that blur under the wire. The polygons and textures are also fairly simplistic, along with the character models. The draw distance is excellent, but being an FPS, that’s essentially a minimum requirement.

The only major technical flaw of this game is the lack of a vsync option. In an age completely dominated by LCD monitors, this is completely unacceptable from a modern game. It puts unnecessary strain on your video card, which may cause distracting framerate fluctuations, and can also cause tearing on some monitors depending on the framerate.

Being a Korean made game, they somewhat lie about the system requirements, as usual. Although they recommend 2.4ghz cpu, 512mb ram, and the 256mb GeForce FX 5600, my overclocked system running at 3.8ghz cpu, 2gb of 1800mhz CL9 ram, and Radeon HD 5850 1gb at 765mhz would see framerates drop to as low as 120, and normally runs at around 160fps. Considering I run Dead Space, a badly ported Xbox360 game that also lacks a functional vsync, at 180-260fps on max settings, and that game is infinitely more technically impressive than this, having this game’s framerate drop to 120 with my specs under any circumstances is just completely ridiculous and indicative of a very inefficiently programmed graphics engine. Thus, if you don’t have at least an upper mid end gaming PC (which, this being a free to play game, of course, you most likely wouldn’t), be prepared to either take a severe hit in graphical aesthetics or suffer choppy framerates (probably both). To be fair, framerates won’t make much of a difference in this game, and I’ll explain that later in the gameplay section.

This isn’t the end of its graphical woes, however. The major detriments aren’t in the tech specs, but poor choices by the developers that severely impact gameplay. The most notable one is that because characters are customizable, teams look almost completely indistinguishable from each other. The only way to tell is that your teammates have their name in blue over their heads, whereas enemies don’t have names above their heads at all until you have your crosshair over them, in which case it’ll show up in red. Not only is this not intuitive, your teammates’ blue names will show up through every wall across the entire map. Thus, if there’s an enemy between you and your teammate, it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish which is which. Many players will abuse this and jump right into the middle of your spawn room, and will probably kill off 3 or 4 of you before enough of you stop shooting each other and start shooting at the enemy. This is arguably a gameplay feature, but more often than not, it just becomes frustrating that you see someone and don’t shoot because there happened to be a teammate across the map behind him, and you thought he was your teammate, only for them to shoot you in the face while you stupidly stand there staring, and wondering how the fuck you were supposed to tell. Because of this, many of the more chaotic firefights turn into a bad game of russian roulette, where you start shooting your teammates one by one until you figure out which one is the enemy, which becomes an even bigger problem in matches where friendly fire is on (such as clan matches).

There are also other odd choices that cause problems, such as some explosions causing your entire screen to shake, making you unable to aim accurately, even if you were nowhere remotely near the explosion, or that when you pick up a Hi-Sec case (which contain a random rare item, but costs some GP to open), a very uninteresting and not very transparent picture of the case appears SMACK DAB RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SCREEN, effectively making you unable to see, amongst many other annoyances.

GAMEPLAY: 2.5/10

The basic gameplay follows more or less the same gameplay rules set by the Quake 2 Action mod (which also inspired the genre-redefining Half Life mod, Counter-Strike). If you crouch and stay still, you become more accurate. Jumping around and moving in general causes your gun to have a much larger random bullet spread. More if you run, less if you walk. Recoil also increases bullet spread, and may also kick your crosshair up and around a bit, which you can correct by moving your mouse down.

The major unique gameplay features are the nutshots and the MMORPG style leveling up system. No one really cares about the former as it’s ridiculously hard to shoot there on purpose, and the latter is just tedious, annoying, and makes it less of a contest of who’s got more skills and more of who’s got less of a life. Higher ranked players will have access to gear that makes them faster and tougher, guns that are more accurate, lighter, have less recoil, and do more damage, along with a myriad of other gadgets to severely tip the odds in their favor such as auto-turrets, health hypos, med kits, grenade launchers, etc. What it amounts to is that you may find yourself in a situation where you’re facing an enemy that takes 3 headshots for you to kill with a gun that isn’t even that accurate, but they can kill you in just 3 body shots and can hit you from much farther away, and can fire in longer bursts. That doesn’t even account for the fact that they can heal themselves with a health hypo or that they may have set up auto-turrets somewhere, further increasing their DPS.

***WARNING! Some lead head geekdom is imminent***

If you couldn’t tell by my last paragraph, there’s severe imbalances amongst weapons. Unless you’re not high ranked enough to buy it, there is no reason to use any other shotgun besides the Benelli M3 other than if you just really have a thing for sawed-off coaches (like me), the Franchi SPAS-12, or Remington 870 (for some reason, they decided to not have the iconic wood-clad 870 and have the lame modernized all metal version instead). The M3 hits harder and shoots faster than almost all the rest with no drawbacks (the sawed-off coach, known as Double Barrel in-game, can hit harder by shooting both shells at once, but is less accurate, has a shorter effective range, and must reload pretty much in between every shot, the SPAS-12 shoots slightly faster but does pathetic damage, etc). Likewise, the FN P90 (and upgraded variants) dominate the submachine gun class with its large clip capacity, superior rate of fire, accuracy, medium-high damage, and low recoil (with the only drawback being that it only gets 2 clips of 50 instead of the standard 4 clips of 30, resulting in 20 less bullets before you have to ditch it), and there’s no reason not to use the AWP (as Counter-Strike players know it, but it’s listed as the L96A1 in this game) in the sniper rifle class, being the only one capable of a non-headshot 1 hit kill. It does so much more damage than the rest that in fact, it 1 hit kills off a leg shot. Also, for some reason, many sniper rifles in this game aren’t perfectly accurate, which makes getting 100% headshots literally impossible. At the range you’ll probably use them at, you’ll have a hard enough time hitting them period with some of them, such as the Dragunov SVD, which for some reason is loud as fuck, cannot attach a silencer, have bullets that don’t quite go where you point, and can’t even 1 hit kill off a chest shot on an unarmored opponent. I shit you not, I have had my sights on that gun perfectly centered on a completely unobstructed target standing perfectly still, and have 2 of 3 shots completely miss. Machineguns just suck ass, so you’ll hardly ever see them period outside of Fireteam Cabin Fever. The only time you’ll really see a good variety of different guns in the class is in assault rifles (which have several good choices), and pistols because no one really uses them seriously since they suck ass compared to the primary weapons (though the real money only HK USP Tactical edition absolutely trumps the entire class).

***Ending geekdom***

You also have 3 modification choices you can make on your gun (not available on all guns), which are adding a silencer, a custom scope, or an extended magazine. You’ll generally want the silencer, though it lowers your damage slightly. Scopes are generally a waste of GP, as they don’t make the gun any more accurate, make you pretty much immobile, and drops your aiming sensitivity down like a rock. My pro advice to you is to learn to crouch and burst and see far away objects better. Extended magazine is exactly what it sounds like, though it lowers reload speed. Note that it won’t increase the total amount of ammo you have, only how much you can hold per clip.

As if there weren’t enough balance issues, the programmers also decided to make completely nonsensical gameplay choices such as giving female characters smaller hit boxes than males, especially the expensive real money ninja girl specialist character.

The FN P90 (stock model). Expect to see a lot of this overpowered gun and its upgraded variants if you decide to play this game.

There’s also the manner of which you get the guns. You can’t just buy a gun for use, no. You rent it for a certain amount of real world time for a fairly large sum of GP. What it basically amounts to is that if you play less than 4 full games a day, you won’t make enough GP upkeep to rent a gun that doesn’t suck ass every day (the default free gun does pathetic damage, has fairly large recoil, and is only moderately accurate, making it pretty unfeasible to win with). And that’s only for one gun. You’ll almost definitely want to buy armor, headgear, and a second gun if you’re a decent player. Prices go up even more if you decide you wanna buy auto-turrets or better grenades (the default one does low damage and has a small blast radius). From Nexon’s perspective, this is good for them as it forces you to play more in order to make expenses manageable, and probably buy some of your gear with real money, which is the real reason Nexon made this game, of course. From a player’s perspective, it’s just tedious and annoying.

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Personally, I think one would have to be a pretty big tool to pay the extravagant prices they charge for the real money gear ($7  per day to use a grenade launcher? Really?), but apparently quite a lot of people actually are willing to do that. You might be thinking, who I am to judge, but honestly, it’s not exactly a questionable judgment when you consider they’d rather play a fifth-rate FPS and pay $20-30 a day for overpowered gear so they can dominate 10 year olds than to just shell out $20-$40 once for genre flagships like Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, or Crysis and play them forever any time they want without being punished for being a casual player.

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But I digress. Anyways, the next major feature are the gameplay modes. You have your standard free for all, the tremendously popular team deathmatch (also has a 1 life per round variant), the classic capture the flag, a Counter-Strike style bomb/defuse mode, and a rapture/super-melees-vs-guns variant called Quarantine. Basically, every round a few people turn into zombies with super speed and tons of hp and defense, and they must infect all remaining humans, while the humans can either kill off all the zombies or survive until time runs out. Sadly, bad programming causes many navigation anomalies that makes it very hard to jump on objects. You’ll often make a jump, then lagaport backwards to find yourself back on the floor and turn around to zombie claws in the face. There are also some very imbalanced maps that heavily favor humans where they can turtle on a single ledge and just keep shooting down zombies that can only come at them from one narrow direction (zombies suffer from tremendous knockback). The only good game of Quarantine you’ll ever get is on Overdose, and playing the same game mode on the same map gets old very quickly.

CTF is almost entirely dominated by bullshit real money speed gear, who on some maps, will be able to run from flag to flag in just 3 or 4 seconds, taking much of the fun out of my most absolutely favorite FPS game mode since I refuse to pay real money to play a FREE TO PLAY game. Especially such a poorly made one as this.

As I said in the visual section, TDM suffers from the unreasonable difficulty of differentiating your teammates from your enemies. That annoyance aside, it’s still a fairly fun gameplay mode. You spawn with 3 seconds of invincibility, during which you can shoot, so you don’t have to worry about spawn campers. People with speedy real money gear can abuse this on smaller maps such as Death Room, but it generally won’t be a big problem.

The only truly unique mode is a cooperative mode called Fireteam. It has a party cap of 8 players and only 2 missions are currently available, and one of them is garbage. Let’s start with Desert Thunder. It’s basically TDM on a large map against a huge number of bots. It’s very boring and very bullshit. There’s bad guys that shoot you, and you shoot them back until they all die, you move on to the next area, and repeat. Taking cover and strafing around is completely meaningless because they’re bots. Unless you have someone who can lay med kits in the party, eventually, you’ll all have been shot to death by the overwhelming numbers of enemies, making it ridiculously difficult to complete even on the easiest difficulty setting.

The other mission is my favorite game mode, called Cabin Fever. You and your buddies are stuck in a cabin surrounded by poison swamp and cannot leave. Meanwhile, zombies come out of the swamp and basically you have to kill them all. After every wave of zombies, your ammo gets refilled, dead players are revived, and you recover some health. It has a very arcadey style, and you can choose to either compete for points or work together and win. Some zombies run, some explode, some lumber about but take a lot of damage. It’s target practice, basically. You can choose to go for body shots, which will result in more points total per zombie, or headshots which will bring them down quickly, but offer less total points. A simple game, yet surprisingly intricate and reliant on actual teamwork. Sadly, you’ll rarely ever beat it as the concept of teamwork is lost on most of the community, which is mostly filled with people who’ll insist that they cover one door by themselves, only to die in the 3rd round and have the cabin flooded with zombies and then everyone dies. It also suffers from lag issues in later rounds on the highest difficulty (I mean rounds 18 and up, out of 20), where so many zombies spawn that the server can no longer handle all the workload, and you’ll just suddenly get a major lag spike, then see your entire party dead. It’s almost impossible to beat extreme mode without hackers or 8 skilled players working together and communicating. Unless you know 7 other hardcore FPS friends, the latter isn’t happening.

“Feelin’ lucky, punk?” Colt Anaconda, my second favorite gun in this game. It sucks ass.

So far, the game doesn’t sound that bad. So Bos, why the low score? Ahh, but you see, you forgot what I told you that this game was made by Koreans, who’ve consistently proven themselves to be the worst programmers in the world. Well, they prove it again in Combat Arms. This is the glitchiest and laggiest FPS to ever come into existence.

Let’s start with your own movement. Like I said before, for some strange reason, your position and inputs are almost never synced well with the server, and many times you try to jump over or on top of objects, either it’ll look like you missed the jump, then you suddenly lagaport and find that you made the jump, or more commonly, the other way around where you time your jump perfectly and make it on your screen, only to lagaport backwards to find yourself in front of whatever object you were trying to clear.

That’s not the end of your personal navigation problems, however, as it seems that every tiny little protrusion in this game is apparently made of fresh superglue, and basically if you touch any sort of object or bump, your character will actually get stuck on it and be completely unable to move. You can sometimes wiggle free after mashing every direction and your jump button for a few seconds, but more commonly, you’d just be shot dead by bad guys before you do.

The same terrible prediction engine also applies to your enemies, and you’ll often see them randomly lagaport up and down objects, or look like they got stuck but then lagaport to the other side of the map because the truth is they did make their jump, and generally just move around very choppy, nonsensically, and unsmoothly. FPS gamers (like me) spend obscene amounts of money on their PCs to ensure 60+fps so that we can see our targets move smoothly, making their movements easier to predict and thus, easier to shoot, and this game’s completely retarded prediction engine entirely defeats the point of having a high end PC. Seriously, if anyone was around during the Quake 1 days, you’ll know that at least it’s just a consistent delay, and but it always runs smooth and you can always predict where they’re going. Combat Arms’s prediction engine is actually even worse than not having one at all, thanks to all the nonsensical lagaportation, which takes even more skill out of the game and replaces it with just plain luck that your client didn’t screw up the prediction too bad and they don’t suddenly lagaport 15 feet away and you find out you’ve been shooting at air the whole time, which is going to happen A LOT. I’ve even seen glitches where they rapidly lagaport up and down a ledge because my client can’t decide whether or not they fell off. If the unbalanced gear didn’t do it for you, this alone will. It is absolutely impossible to take this game on a serious competitive level.

And those are just the consistent bad programming glitches that happen every game. That still doesn’t account for actual programming error glitches that causes games to randomly quit or clients to randomly crash. There are even glitches where players can sometimes just randomly die for no reason while running around, though this last one is relatively rare. I’ve been playing extensively for about 2 weeks, and have only seen this happen twice. I think that tips you off to just how often this game will just plain crash on you and force you to shut it down from the task manager.

Then there’s still the server itself, which clearly can’t handle the load it’s currently receiving, resulting in many lag spikes, even when navigating the lobby. Considering Maple Story suffered from the same problems, this doesn’t surprise me. However, like I said, smooth operation is imperative for an FPS to be taken seriously, and additional lag from the server is just beating on a dead horse.

COMMUNITY: 0/10

This game has, quite easily, the worst community I’ve ever seen, and I’ve played the PSP Syphon Filters and Resistance Retribution online. I had always thought PC gamers would be more mature for the sheer fact that most kids can’t afford high end PCs to run them, but apparently this game appeals mostly to immature 10 year olds. I’ll get to that later, but first thing you’ll notice is that the game is swamped up to your eyeballs in hackers. You can get around this by only playing in rooms with elite moderators, which is a status you pay real money for and allows you to kick anyone in a room you’re hosting. Sometimes, they’ll be the one hacking and there’s nothing you can do but leave and find another room, but usually, they’ll kick hackers. They’ll also usually kick anyone decent on the opposing team, so if you’re a decent player, make sure to be on the same team as the mod. In games without elite mods, there’s a vote kick option, but you can only start a vote to kick people on your own team. Sadly, more than half of the time, the team with the hacker will consist entirely of immature 10 year olds and refuse to start the vote. That should say a lot about the community, considering you only need one reasonable person who wants a hack free game to start a vote.

In fact, hackers are actually the least of your worries in this community. Kickable offenses in this community include using any shotgun (including the sawed off coach, even though it’s pretty much the worst weapon in the game, including the knife), having good aim, being able to track targets well, sneaking around and shooting the other team in the back, “teaming” (attacking together with your TEAMmates against a single enemy), having basic abilities of observation to know there’s someone around a corner (such as having seen them run there) and shooting preemptively, camping, using heavy armor, crouching and bursting for accuracy (as opposed to jumping around and spraying), killing someone with a pistol, killing someone with a crappy gun (like the default), getting a high kill streak, and being a good player in general. Basically, the only “acceptable” way to win according the community is to either use overpowered gear (where they’ll just call you a spec/NX noob, but no kick), or running and jumping around in the wide open and spraying and praying. Anything resembling skill or tactics will get you kicked roughly 1/3 of the time or more.

If you’re the type of player capable of doing this, expect to be kicked from games on a regular basis. Fortunately for this game, I had mostly noobs on my team that didn’t know where the vote kick button is.

And of course, being extremely immature, the chat is going to be completely cluttered with name-calling and whining in general, making any kind of organized tactical collaboration impossible. I’ve also heard that everyone sounds retarded over the mic chat, which wouldn’t surprise me as that’s how the PSP Syphon Filter and Resistance was, but I’ve always (wisely) had it turned off.

Audio: 2
Visual: 4
Gameplay: 2.5
Community: 0

VERDICT: 2 (not an average)
VERDICT: 5.5 (not an average)

I won’t lie. At some level, I do enjoy this game, but I’m also quite insane. I enjoy the extra challenge of having unpredictable enemy movements and of facing opponents that deal more damage and take more shots to kill than myself. I also annihilate them anyways, which helps (keep in mind, I once won dominated a regional Quake 4 tournament and have been playing FPSs for over 10 years, ever since the Quake 2 days). It feeds my ego when people accuse me of hacking then kick me from their games. I’m also a bit of a lead head and am as hardcore a FPS fan as they come. So I guess this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, and my recommendation is to stay far away from this game. It loses most of the lead head appeal due to weak gun selection, terrible sound effects, and their unrealistic performances. Thanks to the terrible programming and balance issues, you must be completely out of your mind to take this game on a serious competitive level, so it loses any hardcore appeal. The immature community will drive just about anyone up the wall.

The only thing it really has going for it for the normal person is that the competition is incredibly soft (10 year old kids don’t have good aim nor do they understand the concept of tactics) and because it’s free, and the latter is a bit of a moot point, because the exceptional Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory is free, and made by the genre leaders, id Software. I’ve also heard many great things about the free FEAR multiplayer game, though haven’t tried it myself…yet. Quake 3 also became free to play via Quake Live, though it’s regarded by most fans as the worst of the series, including me. However, it’s still miles above this cesspit of coding gone wrong.

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Lastly, I would like to apologize to my regular readers (all the 2 of you) for the long hiatus. A lot has happened the past month, and I’ve spent most of it either being sick, demoralized, having my job hunting attempts foiled repeatedly, fixing other people’s PCs, or enjoying my new very high end gaming PC.

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.

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:

I’ve always said that the first Ip Man movie was pretty much a lesser version of Huo Yuan Jia (aka Fearless), starring Donnie Yen instead of the much higher acclaimed Jet Li. The sequel is more or less the same, except better. By the latest great martial arts movie director, Wilson Yip (Dragon Tiger Gate, SPL, Flashpoint, Ip Man), and co-starring Sammo Hung (not just to get killed by Donnie this time), Ip Man 2 is easily the best martial arts movie since HYJ with excellent fight scene choreography and a not very original plot.

It follows the same basic plot as the first movie and Jet Li’s HYJ. There’s some foreigners that belittle chinese people in a poverty-stricken simplistic village somewhere in China, and our hero goes and kicks their ass with kung fu (Wing Chun, in this case). That said, it isn’t all that well written. One of Ip Man’s students (Huang Liang, in my fansub) gets a lot of face time and character developement, but his involvement with the plot gets progressively less throughout the movie until he’s almost entirely forgotten. Oddly, Sammo Hung’s character developement is fairly rushed, which is odd, since his character is actually pretty deep and complex, and he’s central to the main plot. Side characters aren’t really developed at all, and returning characters changed so much and are yet so undeveloped that you’ll probably struggle to remember who they actually are, but end up just not caring.

Then there’s the events themselves. There’s a lot of subplots that are just there but never developed. Ip Man’s wife’s pregnancy just seems totally thrown in for no reason and we learn very little about Huang Liang, who was central to the plot for the first half of the movie, for example. Fortunately, the main plot suffers from none of these issues.

As I was unable to find an undubbed cantonese version, I can’t really comment much on the acting. Their facial expressions and body language look fine though.

A long awaited rematch between martial arts movie superstars, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. This time, Sammo isn’t just a punching bag.

That all said and done, none of that actually matters much, since most of you watch these movies for the fight scenes, and they do not disappoint. There are bad things you can point out about all of Wilson Yip’s movies, but the fight scenes are never one of them. The ones in this movie are just epic. It cuts a bit more than we’re used to from Donnie, but the action more than makes up for it, from showcasing Wing Chun against several other traditional kung fu styles, to Donnie fighting off a hoard of rival school hooligans armed with choppers using one side of a large shipping crate, to Sammo Hung’s fat man drop kick while lifting himself with one arm in his rematch against Donnie. There’s no shortage of dramatic slowdowns either, giving this movie a very epic feel.

VERDICT: 7.7

Surely, it’s still no match for the exceptional Huo Yuan Jia, and the writing is a bit sloppy (though not nearly as bad as Flashpoint), however, it does the job of keeping the viewer entertained in between the fight scenes, and then blowing them away during. You won’t come away with much, and will probably skip to key conversations and fight scenes on a second viewing, but this is still a must see for anyone who likes martial arts movies.

Another short review, another generic movie. Fans of the old Freddy Krueger movies will almost invariably hate this re-imagining. What they’ve basically done is taken one of the most unique slasher personalities ever, and turned him into just another angry dead guy. For the newbies of the franchise though, the awesome concept Freddy was based on will make this movie entertaining for you, but ultimately, you’re better off just watching the original.

Basically, the premise is that Freddy can invade kids’ dreams and kill them in their sleep, which kills them in the real world also. There’s going to be a bunch of retarded teenagers (played by middle aged people in this horribly miscast movie), and they get killed off one by one while trying to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. There’s going to be quite a few plotholes, a lot of bland dialogue (delivered in a tired dreary way), and some pretty weak acting, as you would expect from a slasher.

My main gripe with the writing is what they’ve done to Freddy’s personality. The old Freddy was sadistic and wicked, and really enjoyed tormenting his victims and indulging in bad puns and one liners. He was campy, creative, energetic, and rotten to the core, making him probably the second most recognizable slasher icon after H.R. Giger’s alien design (which hasn’t been a slasher after the first movie anyways). This new Freddy is dead and angry, so he seeks revenge. That’s about it. He talks in a slow hypnotic deep gravelly voice like an angry zombie. He’s still not scary, and now he’s not likable or unique either.

What this movie really falls short on, though, is the direction. More accurately, the lack thereof. Almost all of the new scenes are completely uninspired, and to make it worse, reshootings of old scenes are just randomly tossed in without any rhyme or reason. The result is a whole lot of predictable annoying jump scares while characters move and look around really slow. One of the things that made the old one so great was that it’s often hard to tell what’s real and what’s a nightmare. These new guys completely missed the point, and have to make it obvious as day when it’s a nightmare, which eliminates all suspense and tension. Then, as if this movie wasn’t random enough, they just had to throw in random quotes from old Freddy movies which end up feeling totally out of place and…well, thrown in.

In fact, the only thing this movie has over the original is the CG effect when they’re fluctuating between the real world and nightmare world. It’s nothing new in cinema, and quite frankly it doesn’t look that good (Silent Hill did it much better). However, it is something that you won’t see in the old series.

VERDICT: 4/10

Really, it’s just your average modern day slasher flick, albeit, with one of the coolest concepts in slasher history. This nightmare death concept isn’t gonna be new to us old schoolers, but for the new generation, it will intrigue them somewhat. Ultimately though, this re-imagining is pointless, as the main attraction of this series has always been Freddy’s personality, and they’ve utterly neutered it. It’s like a Joker who isn’t insane and doesn’t ever tell a joke. They’ve completely missed the point.