Monday, December 17, 2007

Free JVC video cam

Not for you, sorry. It's me who got the free JVC video cam from the company Christmas raffle.

The versatile JVC GRD796 includes a powerful 34x optical zoom and convenient Dual Recording capability for shooting still images during video recording. A large 2.7-inch wide screen LCD monitor aids the recording process, especially when shooting in 16:9 wide mode. The GRD796 comes with two data batteries for twice the recording time.

34x Optical Zoom/800x Digital Zoom
MiniDV Format, 1/6-Inch 680k Pixel CCD
2.7-Inch Wide Clear LCD Monitor
USB Interface, DV Input/Output (IEEE 1394 Compliant), AV Input/Output, SD Memory Card Slot
16:9 Wide Mode (High Quality), Dual Recording Capability
Auto Illumination Light
Digital Still Function (640 x 480 Pixels), HG Digital Still (Progressive Shutter)
3-Dimension Noise Reduction (3D NR)
Color Viewfinder
Stick Control
Power-Linked Operation
Data Battery (x2)
Auto Macro, Auto Iris
F Stop: F2.0 - 4.7, Shutter Speed: 1/60 - 1/4000
Full Range AF/Manual Focus
Full Auto/Manual White Balance
Super High-Band Processor
Multi-Languages On-Screen Display (7 Languages)
Data Button
Power-Linked Operation
Program AE/Digital Effects
Scene Transition (Wipes/Fades)
Dimensions: 2.44" W x 3.75" H x 4.50" D
Weight: 0.91 lbs.

This is great! I'm so happy! There's only one catch: I just don't have any idea what to do with it

Friday, December 14, 2007

This will probably suck

Stop me if you've heard this before... Life was going smoothly in the kingdom of Ehb when one day, a marauding band of Krug -- animalistic brutes in thrall of... nevermind, just think "Urukhai" -- descends upon the countryside, killing everyone in their path. Wait -- they didn't kill everyone. For some reason, they kidnapped a woman -- the wife of a hardworking farmer, who is now hot on the Krug's tail, bent on revenge. In his journeys, he will be joined by various companions, including the King's Magus, Merick, who will help him in his quest to save the kingdom from evil.

Sounds familiar? It should be. In the Name of the King is the film version of Microsoft and Gas Powered Games' RPG, Dungeon Siege.

The film is packaged as 'epic' and the 'most anticipated game in January'. Maybe... but I'm not getting my hopes up. I don't know... maybe films like Eragon taught me a harsh lesson not to expect too much from post-LOTR fantasy flicks. Maybe it's also the actors -- they look... displaced. Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) now plays a magus, the relentless robo-babe from T3 is now an amazon (?), the lobotomized Krendel from Hannibal plays the black mage, and the transporter is now 'the Farmer'. Is it just me or is anyone else half-expecting a cell phone to ring in the middle of a swordfight?

A fantasy medieval movie starring Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, and Jason Statham. Who knows, maybe it will work. Stranger things have happened.

Devil May Cry

Cliched plot? Check. Over-the-top acting? Check. Repeating enemies? Check. Still fun? CHECK! CHECK! CHECK! and CHECK!

Devil May Cry is an unabashed action adventure lightly peppered with a few puzzles to solve. It's a crash-through-the window, get-your-guns-blazing action from the get-go, and it's all fun fun fun.

You play as Dante, a half-human, half-devil demon hunter. Initially unknown to Dante, he's a descendant of the legendary demon Sparda, who vanquished a hell Lord out to conquer the mortal realm more than 2000 years ago. As these stories go, the hell Lord awakens (of course), and it's up to Dante to stop him once and for all.

As plots go, Devil May Cry offers only a thin excuse for a story. There's a big bad out there, and you're out to prove that you're an ever badder ass. Even the voice acting is done in overly serious tongue in cheek fashion -- emphasizing that you shouldn't really take this game seriously. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a disadvantage or a shortcoming of the game. Devil May Cry just has better things to offer than plot twists and fancy storytelling. The game is about action -- and a lot of it.

As a descendant of a legendary demon, Dante has powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men. He heals from wounds that should have been fatal (is that my heart you got in your sword?), and has powers that are more than a match to hell's denizens. With Dante's rage unleashed, the devil himself may end up crying.

In the game, Dante will pick up a few guns and melee weapons. The choice isn't that varied, but each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages. Dante's special attacks even depend on the melee weapon he's using. Use the Alastor and throw thunderbolts from the sky; don the Ifrit and burn your enemies to cinders.

Dante's twin handguns -- ebony and ivory -- may well be the most useful range weapon you'll have. The damage isn't overwhelming, but the guns give you an amazing 'hang time' when you rapid-fire while jumping. You can avoid the monster's devastating attacks and damage them at the same time simply by doing this 'hang time'.

The game challenges you not just with the monsters Dante will face -- although they become harder to kill as you progress, the monster types are actually repetitive and their attacks are formulaic -- instead, the game awards skilled gameplay. Dante's combos and attacks can be done only by tapping the proper keys at the appropriate time. It's not hard to do, but it's not mindless button mashing either.

It's a short game -- you could probably finish it in 12 hours or so -- and offers little replayability. But for those 12 hours or so, Devil May Cry let's you experience the joy of relentless demon ass kicking.

Gamespot Reviews

I like Gamespot. Whenever I think about buying a game, I head there first and read their reviews to know exactly what I'm getting. And since most of the office's productivity vanishes the closer we get to Christmas, I have a little time each day to head there and browse.

They have this feature where registered users can post their own reviews. No one really reads it because they have like 500 or so reviews per game, especially if it's a new release. But it's fun, and it's good practice, and I guess it's marginally better than just blindly stumbling because when I write, I'm actually producing something.

So I wrote some... and I plan to write more, since it doesn't take much time from me -- di naman pinag-iisipan talaga to eh. It's just fun.

So what's the point of this post?

I'm going to upload my reviews in my multiply, para din may permanent record on the blog. Yun lang. Announcement lang, so if you're interested, you can go there.

I've already uploaded a review of Company of Heroes and Neverwinter Nights 2.

Yun lang po. Bow.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The glory of 'peeling'

For most of us, the mind-numbing drudgery of our everyday jobs is as far removed from the promised glory of doing God's work as the east is from the west. The endless reports, the sales quotas, the unending presentations, the ever-looming deadlines... most often our hearts whisper if we are living a lesser life -- a life that does not ring true from the promised glories of being an heir to the eternal Kingdom.

Yet as I try to place myself on the shoes of the superstars of the faith and even of ordinary people on the bible, I do not see a continuous pillar of fire enlightening their way, but a sense of days upon days of ordinary everyday living punctuated only by sporadic (visible) contact with the Almighty.

To read the rest of the essay, click here or visit the Joy Student Fellowship site.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

RPG Dreams

I'm an RPG-kind of guy. Drop me off to a fictional world with black and white goals, give me freedom to fashion fantastic characters I will develop on my own, allow me to immerse these characters in magic and mayhem, and you'll make me a happy man.

The original Diablo game introduced me to the genre. It's sequel and its concurrent expansion set, Diablo II, remains as one of my all-time favorite hits. Microsoft's Dungeon Siege I was yawn-inducing; fortunately they improved on Dungeon Siege II. Neverwinter Nights I welcomed me into the more traditional class-level type of RPG. The sequel, Neverwinter Nights II, continued the joy and enabled easier access to prestige classes. I have also played a host of other RPG games I cannot recall now, and some hybrid para-RPG types such as StarCraft, Warcraft III, Dragon Shard, and Heroes of Might and Magic (1, 3, 4, 5).

Any gamer familiar with the titles I have mentioned would realize that as games go, these are already old. The current dry spell only whets my appetite. Admittedly, there are two critically-acclaimed RPGs I haven't played: the Elder Scrolls' Oblivion, and Blizzard's World of Warcraft.

Oblivion is supposed to be the pinnacle (so far) of the elder scrolls series -- all the goodies without the boring hour-long walking from town to town. The problem is that I can't play first-person games. Something in my equilibrium (my eye?) goes crazy when playing those games and I end up throwing up.

World of Warcraft is an MMORPG employing a persistent world based on the Warcraft series. It is currently the closest thing to an RPGamer's wet dream -- a whole world (well, now 2 worlds with the Burning Crusade expansion) to explore, guilds to join, monsters to kill, treasures to plunder, and characters to level up and up and up and up and up...

But even WoW isn't perfect for my taste. For one, it only allows one playable character to be controlled. I'd rather have control (with nominal AI assistance) of a whole party, especially since there are certain areas and quests only achievable by teams. Another thing is its lack of world-changing events. Players may feel that they keep going on mission after mission without a tangible effect on the Warcraft world, but with millions of subscribers, I guess it would be hard to have a player-malleable world.

Nevertheless, that is my current dream game. Give me an RPG where I could create my party at once (and not get me stuck on pre-selected allies); provide an unimaginably large world with various unique continents, characters, and monsters; make it persistent, yet affected by players' (or factions') actions; and provide an engaging plot that would keep the players playing for months.

And yeah, make it free too.

That's not too much, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ice capades

I have always dreamt of gliding on ice.

I've watched the movies. I've seen the skaters. They looked so graceful, so efficient, so... natural. With a shake of the shoulders, a simple bend of the knee, they're off! And they do magic on the ice.

"I could do that," I say. It feels so inherent to me... like I was made for that kind of speed, and grace, and beauty.

yeah right.

It was a fun-filled Saturday morning when we had to leave the car for its 20,000 km-check at Honda Pasig. With nothing to do, we decided to spend the morning trying something new -- ice skating!

I didn't know it was that hard! Watching those young kids zoom in and out of the ice fooled me into thinking I could do this thing. Balancing was tricky... but doable. It was the moving part that was frustrating. How do skaters get that initial burst of speed? If it weren't for the handle bars at the side of the rink, I wouldn't have been able to move in the first place.

Leah did better. Slowly but meticulously remembering instructions of her friends when she first went skating, she was soon moving around the rink. She stayed near the handle bars, yes -- but she was moving on her own.

There were a lot of laughs, a bunch of frantic squabble to hold the handle bars, sweat (yes, i told you it was hard!!!), and silent satisfaction when we were both able to go around the rink, but there was envy too. I wish we could go as fast as the other kids. They were having a lot of fun -- we were still working for it.

I guess we could do better next time. The ice is always there, and not dropping on our asses even once should encourage us to try again.