GGF#16: The biggest issue ever

[Gamer Girl Friday]

The Force Unleashed was supposed to be this week’s main story. I was going to do a comparison between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. But then, a series of annoying things happened:

  1. The PS3 demo refused to be downloaded. After 72 hours of downloading, it was still at 60%.
  2. My camera broke a few days ago so I couldn’t film the gameplay like I normally do. I had to use my TV capture device, instead, which is very troublesome because I have to tweak my TV to run at a gimpy 480p before the card would acknowledge it).
  3. After spending hours editing the footage and rendering it, the AVI playback was wonky. Then I found out that the raw footage itself was wonky. The audio and video tracks do not sync and each time you play it, it’s different.
  4. I tried rendering the video a few times, but they all end up with parts that skip back to replay a random segment, making the video very schizophrenic.
  5. I spent two more fruitless hours trying to get it right but it refused to cooperate, so I gave up.

I had to give it up or GGF#16 would never see the light of day.

One reason for the faulty video could be that the raw footage is too big (1.2GB for a 28-min video) for my PC to manage, but I think my PC is quite decent with 2GB ram and a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU running SATA Raid HDDs of 320GB each.

But I’m not a video editing professional and I don’t know how to fix the problem, so no TFU videos today!

That’s alright, though. Today’s big bumper issue should be able to sufficiently distract you.

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Table of Contents

  1. Halo Wars redefines the Halo universe
  2. The Force Unleashed is too awesome
  3. What if you were The Last Guy on earth?
  4. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise4
  5. Tales of Vesperia almost here
  6. Soul Calibur IV costume contest
  7. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  8. I’m playing Warhammer Online. Are you?
  9. Results of last week’s contest
  10. Ask the Goonfather
  11. Mystery giveaway coming up soon!

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Halo Wars redefines the Halo universe

The Halo series, one of the most popular series on the Xbox 360, will come newly-incarnated next year as Halo Wars.

Ensemble Studios, which brought us the well-loved Age of Mythology and Age of Empires series, have spent the last four years developing an RTS game worthy of the Halo universe.

It’s no easy task. No game developer has yet been able to revolutionise the console industry by making the D-pad work on RTS as well as on keyboard and mice. But from what I’ve seen on Halo Wars, it appears that Emsemble Studios is on the right track.

Harter Ryan, the executive producer for Halo Wars, was in Singapore recently to demo the game in an exclusive preview session.

Harter Ryan of Ensemble Studios

Actually, it was just yesterday.

We were shown the game and given a chance to play it.

Halo Wars demo at the Xbox room in Microsoft Singapore

One of the journalists asked why the UNSC seemed overpowered against the Covenant and Harter admitted with a laugh that the preview build was purposely made to give journalists an easy time playing the game, because the main purpose is to show off all the cool features of the game.

He assured us that the final build will be very balanced.

But I like it easy. It’s funny watching the Covenant base blow up into smithereens while its helpless infantry fire at my army with ineffectual artillery.

Here are some screenshots of the game:

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Looks pretty cool, huh?

In the final product, you’ll be able to play co-op or versus modes in sessions hosting up to six players.

Although not as handy as playing RTS on the PC, the controls are pretty intuitive and suitably comfortable.

You can make Spartans (up to three) and get your Spartan to hijack an enemy tank. That was pretty cool to watch. After the Spartan hops onto the tank, he will start monkeying about, wrestling the enemy tank commander and then throwing him out of the vehicle. Haha! And then the vehicle will change colour to reflect your army’s colour!

We tried the co-op mode. It was fun! I like having a partner to play with so he can make all the tough decisions. I’m quite peace-loving, you know. I just like to build things and will tend to forget to attack my enemy unless the threat comes to my doorstep.

Sheylara plays Halo Wars

Keep your eyes on my face.

I was wearing shorts okay. They just happened to be very, um, short.

Oh, check out my cap! It’s a Halo Wars UNSC cap.

The Goonfather confiscated it when I brought it back, so I can’t give it away, lol. You can ask him if he wants to give it away. Haha.

Halo Wars will be released for the Xbox 360 in the first half of 2009. For now, here’s a trailer you can dig into:

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The Force Unleashed is too awesome

I wanted to show you the video of the gameplay, but I can’t, so I’ll just talk about it.

It’s really awesome. There’s something very satisfying about destroying enemies without having to use a weapon. Without having to even touch them physically, in fact.

That, I think, is the largest appeal of The Force Unleashed. You play Darth Vader’s apprentice, ordered to cause havoc to the universe with your force powers.

How awesome!

The Force Unleashed screenshot

I found it a little hard to hover enemies with precision before smashing them at chosen spots because you have to use both thumbsticks to move your target around. But I guess it’s something that will come naturally after some practice.

There are infinite possibilities for using the force! Pick up a droid and smash it at a stormtrooper. Pick up the stormtrooper and hurl him over the railings to fall to his death. Pick up a stormtrooper and make him airsick by turning him round and round in the air. Pick up a very large random object and smash it into an army of stormtroopers.

It’s like being a kid at a candy store. There’s so much damage you can do and so many ways to do it that you’ll go nuts.

Check out the official website for info and videos, if you haven’t already.

While waiting for TFU to come out on all the major consoles and handhelds in mid September, you can get into the mood first with TFU on your mobile phone.

If you have an N-Gage enabled Nokia phone, you can start playing it next week!

The Force Unleashed on Nokia N-Gage

It’s a very different gameplay from the console versions but it’s the same storyline and music and everything.

Because of the limitations of a mobile phone, the game has been simplified into making patterns with your keypad. So, like, each enemy will have a certain pattern next to him. You’ll have to “draw” the pattern to kill him before he kills you.

There are also patterns you have to memorise to perform ad hoc actions such as healing yourself or force pushing an object out of the way.

The action can get quite frantic, especially when you have a zillion patterns on the screen and you have to decide which enemy to destroy first.

Something to consider if you’re a Star Wars fan.

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What if you were the last guy on earth?

Okay, you won’t exactly be the last guy, but you’d be the last sane guy on earth. Your mission is to save endless hordes of rabid, screaming people from zombies. If you don’t, they’ll all get eaten by the zombies and then you’d really be the last guy on earth.

The Last Guy is an arcade-style game available for download on the PlayStation 3. It’s a Snake-meets-Pac-Man sort of game.

So, you’re this guy running about in the city. Your job is to collect people. They’ll follow you once you pick them up so you’ve got a line of screaming people running behind you, getting longer and longer.

The Last Guy

You have to avoid zombies. The zombies don’t exactly eat your people when they collide, but they will scatter them up. Your people will shriek their heads off, break the line and run off in a zillion directions so you’ll have to collect them all over again. Annoying!

You have a time limit to collect a minimum number of people and bring them to a safe zone.

This game will make you schizophrenic with the speedy action and the screaming people. The zombies move slower than you do, but they’re everywhere and it’s really hard to avoid them when you’ve got a long train of panicky peeps trailing behind you.

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Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

For the record, I haven’t played any of the earlier Viva Piñata games but I was given a copy of Trouble in Paradise yesterday, so I tried it out.

Viva Pinata box

What a cute game! I felt like I was playing SimGarden. The premise is that Piñata Central’s computer records have been wiped by evil ruffians, which threaten the happiness of parties all over the world. So your job is to make a beautiful garden to attract cute piñatas, and then nurture them into full candiosity to send out to parties.

The thing I like most about the game is the cute piñatas. They’re really very cute, whether they’re roaming about your garden, sleeping, or making babies. Yeah! You can manipulate a pair of same-species piñatas into falling in love and making babies. Haha.

Viva Pinata screenshot

This is a photo I took right off my TV using a phone camera. Trying to take a good photo of them is like trying to take a good photo of toddlers. They just refuse to stay still! You spend a lot of time zooming in and out and twirling perspectives to get a nice framing, and then the piñatas either look away or walk away. Damn things!!

But they’re so cute I forgive them.

Viva Pinata screenshot

I don’t have much patience decorating a garden (I’m not really a plants and garden sort of person) so my garden turned out looking really ugly because I was planting stuff all over the place without much thought.

Viva Pinata screenshot

Trouble in Paradise has a multiplayer option but I haven’t had a chance to try it out since the game hasn’t been officially released yet and there’s no one to play with. (It will be out on Sep 2 in Singapore.)

Special piñatas cards will be made available which give you exclusive piñatas when you scan the cards with your Xbox LIVE vision camera.

Each game comes with one card!

Viva Pinata box

I’m looking forward to exploring the multiplayer elements after the game’s release.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is an Xbox 360 exclusive.

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Tales of Vesperia almost here

Besides Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, I also received Tales of Vesperia yesterday. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to play it.

So, all I can do is show you some photos of the box and the manual, sorry.

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia includes an offline multiplay feature for battle scenes for up to four players. The game will be officially released in Singapore on Sep 4.

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Soul Calibur IV costume contest

I know you’ve been having a blast making all sorts of outrageous costumes for your Soul Calibur IV characters. Now it’s time to show off your creativity!

Soul Calibur IV poster

I’m running a Soul Calibur IV costume contest over at my Xbox blog, so do check it out!

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Professor Layton and the Curious Village

This is an old game (there’s even a sequel already) for the Nintendo DS but I’m featuring it because I just discovered it.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Hot Mama (and evil temptress) Shelly recommended Professor Layton and the Curious Village to me after recommending Weffriddles, which I mentioned last week.

Thanks to her, I lost a few nights of sleep playing this game way beyond socially-accepted waking hours.

I love this game, which is why I need to talk about it despite probably half of you already having played it. The other half haven’t and they need to know about it!

It’s a game of puzzles. In the game, you’re a professor who got invited to a curious village to solve a curious mystery. While you go about looking for clues, more mysteries pop up and you have to solve those, too.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

While solving those greater mysterious, you’re constantly put to the test with quick puzzles, most of which test your IQ and maths as well as your ability to look at things from different perspectives.

There are 135 puzzles in this first installment, not counting the bonus ones you can download.

Here are some sample puzzles:

#1

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

#2

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

#3

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

And here’s the answer to the puzzle I set out yesterday.

The puzzle:

Puzzle

The answer:

TEXT ME

You can get the answer by looking at your keyboard. The bite marks tell you where to look! So, like, G has a bite mark above it, so look at the key above G… which it T! Get it? :)

Highlight the space above to see the answer.

Hope you like these puzzles as much as I do!

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I’m playing Warhammer Online. Are you?

Just thought I should let you guys know that I’ve bought a Collector’s Edition copy of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. It’s like the biggest MMORPG since WoW, so I bought it even though I knew I wouldn’t have time to play it.

Warhammer Online Collector's Edition

The game launches officially on Sep 17, but CE owners can start playing the Open Beta on Sep 7, and then get a few-day headstart in the live game. Woot!

Then again, even if you give me one year headstart, I’ll still be lousier than you considering the amount of time I have to play MMORPGs, which is none. A case in point is Age of Conan. Three months after activating my AoC account, my character is still at level 10. LOL. (The account is still active as we speak. I’ll have to remember to cancel it soon.)

Anyway, here’s a funny quiz WAR fans can do while waiting for the game to release.

Warhammer Online Quiz

It tells you what realm and race you’re most affiliated with!

I got Empire, which is the human goody-two-shoes type. Haha.

I will be playing in the realm of Destruction (a guild decision) on the server Darklands (tentative).

Are you playing?

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Results of last week’s contest

Last week’s giveaway of the very coveted item of a Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000 attracted many potential happy owners, which significantly reduced everyone’s chances.

Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000

But, well, that’s life. If you don’t win today, you’ll win another day if you keep at it. It took Sylvester Stallone 10 years to sell his first Rocky script and star in it, did you know?

So, anyway, Randomiser picks #15 as the winner today.

I should be evil and make you go check last week’s post to find out who’s #15 yourself. More exciting, no?

But, nah. I shan’t do that because I’m not as evil as temptress Shelly, so I shall name the winner. It’s… Numby!

Ding Gratz! You get the LifeCam! Will contact you via e-mail soon as I get a moment.

(Or you winners can actually contact me, instead, to make life easier for me. If not, I have to go search through my database to find your e-mail address. :P)

Alrighty. Till the next giveaway!

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Ask the Goonfather

Sheylara is taking a break from answering questions here because her paying job of answering questions on Xbox LIVE is tiring her out.

So, the Goonfather is taking over the Q&A segment in GGF indefinitely (until I feel ready to take over again).

The Goonfather is Sheylara’s goon partner (not father!) and he’s a huge gaming buff with more knowledge on games than Sheylara, so please throw all your questions at him!

You can also ask him stupid non-gaming related questions because he likes to be amused. Just don’t piss him off or you’ll never live to tell your children about it.

Please e-mail all questions to:

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Mystery giveaway coming up soon!

I will be announcing a contest on Monday which will interest both gamers and non-gamers and involve several winners (not just one). Because of that, the contest will be slightly harder than just posting a comment, but it’ll be worth it.

So, watch out for it!! Akan Datang!! :)

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Woah! What a big issue today! Don’t you hate it when they release stuff all at once? Well, no rest for gamers all over the world. Keep gaming, and don’t lose the passion!

Gamer Girl Friday signing out.

[Gamer Girl Friday]

Signing off…

Banner

A guest blog by Jesta

My last post: I would like to say a huge “Thank you” to QY for hosting this guest blog. I know that it is something that she does very rarely, and I feel honoured that she allowed my writing to appear in her personal space.

I do hope that I haven’t managed to drive away any of her regular readers – light and breezy, the most entertaining blog around doesn’t always gel with the sort of things that I have been writing about.

That she was willing to take that chance is a credit to her as a person and to her readers for their kind comments.

To wrap up with a couple of pics:
Sanati before and after:
Sanati

Sanati

And remember this guy?
Uighur
This is how he looks now:
Uighur

Thank you QY, and thank you readers, remember Operation Smile and its work…

GGF#15.5 Gamer Girl Friday will be late. How naughty

Gamer Girl Friday

Yes, I’m a bad girl. It’s unintentional, I must stress. Due to an inordinate amount of work and meetings and events, I can’t complete this week’s GGF on time, so please forgive me, be patient and wait a while.

I didn’t even have time to go to Comex yesterday as planned. =(

GGF will be out some time tomorrow, early or late I can’t say.

Well, at least I’m putting out a GGF#15.5, however lame it is. Can’t say I don’t try!

In the meantime, here’s a puzzle to keep you busy.

This is taken from an old NDS game called Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which I will talk about more in GGF#16 and reveal to you the culprit who introduced me to this very evil game.

Can you solve this puzzle?

Um, no prizes for getting the answer because it can easily be googled. Haha. But see if you can solve it by yourself, just for fun!

Alrighty.

I’ll be back!

My camera broke while I was camwhoring

Yah, okay, don’t laugh.

I wish it were a joke. You know, one of those “you’re so ugly you broke your camera lens” jokes.

But it’s not a joke and it’s true. My camera broke while I was camwhoring.

You know how sometimes I perch my camera somewhere to do timered self-portraits? So, yesterday, I was doing one of those. There was just one moment I didn’t balance it properly and it slipped and fell from a height of about 1.5 metres. Onto a rock hard floor.

The LCD screen cracked and I could see fluid flowing out through the cracks (although it was all contained within the casing).

Two minutes later, the screen blackened and my Lumix became a brick.

The Goonfather is upset because he had bought it for me as a birthday present two years ago, to replace a camera I had carelessly lost while at a film shoot. The camera I had lost, incidentally, was a present from an ex-boyfriend.

There seems to be some kind of pattern here involving me and cameras and boyfriends. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to compile any further data on this subject because I have run out of boyfriends to receive cameras from. I mean, I quite like the Goonfather and I don’t want to find a new partner just so I can have a third boyfriend give me a third camera, even if purely for the sake of scientific research.

So, that means either the Goonfather has to buy me another camera, which he won’t because he now believes I’m a health hazard to cameras, or I’ll have to buy it myself. Which is a bit of a problem because I’m going to buy a mini laptop at Comex today, that is, I’m going to be broke.

In other words, I’m fugged.

I feel handicapped and naked without a camera. And you’re reading this wall of text because I have no camera to camwhore pictures of me looking sad for your viewing enjoyment, which is somewhat an ironical statement because I wouldn’t need to photograph myself looking sad if I had a camera to photograph myself in the first place.

Let’s see how long I can last before I crack and start pawning my neopets off to pay for a new camera.

Um… anyone wants to buy 28 slightly used but very cute neopet plushies?