All Geek to Me

October 31, 2008

Top Spin

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:11 pm


I rented another Wii game. This was Top Spin 3, a tennis game. Unlike the games in Wii Sports, the characters in this are normally proportioned representations of real players. You are offered one off exhibition matches or a set of increasingly complex tournaments; success unlocking ones further up the chain. The tutorial is disappointing, consisting of fairly static descriptions of the various moves and offering no opportunity to practice them.


The biggest problem I have with the game is that there is an easy, almost automatic mode which is always on. Your player will move to about the right spot and pressing the ‘B’ button returns the ball. Eventually, your computer controlled opponent will make an error and you win the point. The advanced moves to work, you can send a ball to the opposite corner and leave the other player scrambling, but the incentive to try is reduced by the knowledge that pressing ‘B’ will probably win you the point with less risk. 


The game is competent and I feel could be more fun in two player mode, but I am not excited enough to find out. It will go back to the rental store and will not be added to the wishlist. I think part of the problem is the quality and high fun quotient of the sports that come bundled with the Wii.


October 27, 2008

Spaceships for a Dollar

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 6:45 pm

A dollar will buy you a double cheeseburger, or a large cup of sweet tea from McDonalds. Alternatively, if you are very creative, geeky, and have a couple more dollar bills you can make models of spaceships as can be seen at this web site.

October 21, 2008

The Old Republic

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 6:23 pm

Officially announced today, after months of rumours, is the new MMO “The Old Republic“. When news that Bioware were working with Lucas Arts on an MMO, it did not take an industry insider to guess that Bioware would set the game in the version of The Star Wars universe that they created for their RPG “Knights of the Old Republic”; a universe set hundreds of years before the events in the films. KOTOR is one of my favourite PC games, with a deeply intriguing story that features a jaw dropping twist mid story. Since Bioware are also responsible for Neverwinter Knights, which also sits in my all time list, I was excited by the possibility of an MMO in the Old Republic. There is no date, or even a vague suggestion of a timescale. MMOs tend to take several years to get to release, and even longer to be actually finished, so there is no chance of me leaving EQ2 just yet.

October 16, 2008


Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:00 am

I seem to have an odd attraction to TV shows that get cancelled far too early, failing to get even their first season broadcast in its entirety. Wonderfalls and Firefly both made it onto DVD. The older VR5 has not been so lucky. Despite the presence of David McCallum and Anthony Head, who plays a role that is oddly similar to the one he was to play in Buffy, the show has not see the light of the day for years. The Internet is a wonderful place, and this fascinating slice of TV can be found if you know where to look and have some patience. I look forward to seeing it again.

October 15, 2008

Wishing (I had a Photograph of Blue)

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:31 am

I came across this unusual search engine. It searches the Flickr site and rather than use words to find file names and tags, it filters by selecting colours. This is useful if you want an image of an Alfa Romeo, but might be helpful if you want an abstract picture to match an existing colour scheme.

Blue Image (Not a Flock and not Seagulls)

Blue Image (Not a Flock and not Seagulls)

The same article linked to another image search engine that combines text searching with a few other tools, including a single color filter. This is not as radical as the first one, but is still more flexible than regular image search in Google or on Flickr.

Blue Alpha

Blue Alpha


October 12, 2008

Wrong Way at Amazon

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 10:13 am

It is clear from a visit to any store that Christmas is close. I have been updating my Amazon Wishlists for the festive season, my birthday, and Presidents Day which follow close on the heels of Christmas. In so doing, I realised that wishlists sort by default in date added. I know it is possible to alter the sort when you go to a list, but I think that the obvious sort is by the user specified priority. I want to see the items that the recipient has specified as the most wanted first.

October 10, 2008

The Force Unleashed

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 11:26 pm

I rented for my recently acquired Wii, “The Force Unleashed” (TFU), which surprisingly enough is a Star Wars game. The Wii is my first console, so my comparisons for this review are PC games.

I have played two other Star Wars games, Lego Star Wars (LSW) and Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). TFU lacks the depth and involvement of KOTOR, but as the latter is one of my five favorite PC games of all times that is not in and of itself a major weakness. TFU is not as funny as LSW, but LSW has probably given me more laughs than any other game I have played since Monkey Island.

I suppose that TFU should be compared to First Person Shooters (FPS), as despite the lack of a gun wielding central figure it clearly belongs to that genre. In general, I am not a fan of FPS games, Half-Life 2 aside, so I suppose the fact that I am enjoying the game is a major plus.

The appeal is two-fold, there is a story unfolding around your actions, and there is a real physical involvement as you swing your wiimote like a light saber. The action is set before the first real Star Wars movie, with you as an apprentice to Darth Vader learning the Dark Side. Maybe, I will get blasé about the Wii controls, but for now there is a real appeal to seeing ones actions reflected on screen and having the controller shake in ones hands as the saber beams clash.

There is a good tutorial that introduces you to the various moves. During the game tips appear when you first have an opportunity to use these moves.

There are downsides to the game, defects that prevent the game from being truly great, and leave it in the good fun category.

The camera all too often is pointing in the wrong direction; focused on your face and not pointing at the opponent

The game offers a save option, but when you load the saved game it always reverts to the start of that level. If the game is going to offer saves, then they need to work. The levels are also very different in length; the second one is noticeably longer than the first, third, and fourth. I am ok with saves only happening at specific points, but they should be evenly spaced and clearly marked.

Death is too light a penalty, you are sent back just a slight amount and you lose an un-noticeable amount of force power. This makes death a minor inconvenience rather than a major setback.

Overall, the fun in the game is more significant than the defects. I shall be adding this game to my Amazon Wishlist when I return it to the store this weekend.

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