Sunday, January 27, 2008

Retro Review: Zanac

Occasionally I wax nostalgic with my years of playing video games, and for some odd reason this game came to mind the other night. It was released on the NES way back in 1987! And from what I remember it was one tough mother, in fact I don't think I ever beat it! I made it to the 12th and final level but the "system" was too difficult for a skilled pilot like my self to defeat.
Back then stories were much less developed and this one was no exception and the localization was so poor it reduced the need for a story to just above pointless. The basic gist was;

a long time ago, an unknown alien race created a tiny device known as
the System containing boundless wisdom and knowledge, but also vast destructive
potential. If properly opened it would grant access to untold wisdom and
technology, but if improperly accessed it would unleash almost unlimited
destruction. Mankind attempted to access the System and failed, and the System
began to spread out from the tiny Icon that contained it. Spreading throughout
known space conquering and destroying all in sight, it posed a mortal danger to
all life. Mankind discovered how to properly access the knowledge and technology
within the System, but could not shut its destructive expansion down because of
its vast tactical systems.
The System threatens to engulf the entire galaxy
and destroy all life. However, the defenses of the System are designed around
destroying and overcoming entire fleets. In theory a lone star fighter may be low
enough priority to the defenses of the System to allow it to fight its way into
the heart of the System and destroy it. AFX-6502 "Zanac", the most advanced
star fighter ever produced, is launched on a desperate mission to fight its way
to the heart of the System and shut it down forever.
The game difficulty is directly attributed to it's enemy A.I which rivals some of today's games. It was actually very simple, there were eight different power ups;
  1. All Range: the player could control the direction the AFX-6502 Zanac fired
  2. Straight Crusher: a slow moving shot the destroyed enemies weapons
  3. Field Shutter: a shield
  4. Circular:a type of shield that rotates around the ship
  5. Vibrator: O.0
  6. Rewinder: I can't remember
  7. Plasma Flash: cleared the ships and shots on screen
  8. High Speed: rapid fire
Depending on what power up you had and how much you used it the System would counter your powerups with increased enemies to the point where the screen was inundated with enemy ships and shots. By level 10 the basic enemy attacks would have you seeking power ups like a crack addict...but most of the time it would worsen your situation. Zanac was probably the hardest scrolling shooter I ever played.
Scoring these old games is gonna be tough considering some of these titles are over 20 years old.
But from what I remember it was challenging with decent sound effects, not much story and poor localization. If I were comparing it to games of it's time like Dragon Spirit or Ajax (vertical scrolling shooters) I'd say it was average but with a challenging A.I.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Army of Two Preview

Back when I posted Free Swims top 8 games of 08 to look out for my friend CJ asked why I didn't include Army of Two. It's an original title from EA which will also be available for X360.
If you are old enough to remember games like Contra and Ninja Assasins in the arcade then you'll love this game, you and a friend can take command of Rios and/or Salem and tactically fight your way thru a myriad of global hotspots to complete missions. The aircraft carrier level grabbed my interest! Basically you're not gonna be able to run n gun thru the levels, tactics and agro are the name of this AoT isn't a MMO. From what I've read, one way to achieve victory is to have one member build agro and get the enemies attention while the other sneakes past the enemy to flank them. Another interesting aspect that I've read about is healing your injured comrade, healing is crucial for survival and is acomplished via on screen promps similar to GoW. There will be an online multiplayer mode 2V2 I believe.
I'm always open to guest reviews CJ, so if you get AoT feel free to post your review here. ^^

New Famitsu scans of FFXIII and FFversus XIII

Famitsu's latest issue has some more screens from the upcoming PS3 exclusives Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy versus XIII.
The article introduces a new character to FFXII, code named "pig tial girl" to join "bandana dude" and "Lightning". We also get a nice shot of "pig tail girl" standing on the edge of a bluff with Cocoon floating in the distant sky like a moon.
From the little info that's been uncovered Cocoon was created by the Farushi. Cocoon is a technologically advanced civilization compared to Pulse which seems to be more natural. Can you say Deathstar over Endor? I knew you could. The classic FF summons appear to be returning, in the article we get to see Ifrit, Carbuncle, and possibly Siren or Leviathan.
Info for FF versus XII is even more scarce, we see the "Sasuke Uchiha" character hanging with his "crew", a face off between the "sasuke" character and the main character from Assasins Creed, a new female character and their ride...I guess no Chocobos in versus XIII...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Star Trek teaser

Star Trek fans rejoice! Here is the first teaser of the new Star Trek motion picture. All you trekkies should be happy that termites aren't building it! coughdeathstarcough

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Indy 4 set pics unearthed

Fact: As of this posting there are 124 days until Indiana Jones returns to the silver screen

Truth: Indy's looking kinda old.

Check out the latest pic from the set and then head on over to Dr. Jones's site to sift thru all the treasure there!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Street Fighter IV New Character Revealed

It's a good day if your a Street Fighter fan! So far we've seen Ryu and Ken, and we have confirmation Chun Li will be returning as well as Dhalsim and Akuma. Here is the first official pic of a brand new character to the Street Fighter franchise, Crimson Viper. She looks like Janet Jackson to me >O.o<

Crimson Viper






E. Honda

Chun Li


New Street Fighter IV trailer

A new trailer has hit the interknot, nothing major just a splice job between the first trailer and game play footage. Enjoy

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Funny Games Preview

While most of you are eagerly awaiting JJ Abrams monster mash, Cloverfield, and getting so serious about TDK there are gonna be a number of movies that are gonna fly right under your radar like CJ7 and this remake of the 1998 flick of the same name. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth star as a upper middle class family that takes a vacation at their summer house with their son. Sounds lovely don't it? After watching the trailer I'm getting a bit of the Scream vibe from the trailer but Funny Games looks a bit darker.
Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet look like they doing their best to perpetuate the "white folks are crazy" mythos, great job fellas!
Check out the trailer for yourself...

CJ7 Preview

CJ7 is the latest comedy from Stephen Chow following Kung Fu Hustle. CJ7 is a comedy about a poor laborer named Ti (Stephen Chow) and his son Dicky. Dicky wants to get the cool toys his wealthier classmates have but Ti can't afford them, so one night Ti goes to the junkyard hoping to find Dicky a toy. Ti comes home with a mysterious green orb that turns out to be a squishy alien. Dicky sees this as his chance to impress his classmates. But the class bully has plans to take CJ7 from Dicky.

Inspire by Stephen Spielbergs E.T, CJ7 looks to be another fun comedy from Stephen Chow, Shao Lin Soccer & Hung Fu Hustle.

Monday, January 14, 2008

PS3 + Folding @ Home = Hope

This holiday season Sony sold 1.2 million PS3 consoles. Congrats to all those new PS3 owners! Not only are you playing next gen games like Call of Duty 4 MW, you're enjoying movies in HD 1080p glory, you can also be proud that your console is powerful enough to help with the research of various diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis and many cancers. The program harnesses the unused processing power of the Cell chip, and perform computationally intensive simulations of protein folding and other molecular dynamics .These simulations can take up to 30 years for a single computer to complete, Folding@home enables this task to be shared among thousands of computers connected via the network ... The Cell/B.E. Did you know processor inside each PS3 is roughly 10 times faster than a standard mainstream chip inside a personal computer (PC), so researchers are able to perform the simulations much faster, speeding up the research process?!
According to Guinness, the PS3 accounts for about 60% of all teraFLOPS performed!On September 16, 2007, the Folding@Home project officially attained a performance level higher than one petaFLOPS, becoming the first computing system of any kind to do so, although it had briefly peaked above one petaFLOPS in March 2007. In comparison, the fastest supercomputer in the world (as of November 2007, IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer) peaks at 478.2 teraFLOPS (1000 teraFLOPS=1 petaFLOP).
So when you're not playing dinner time or when your about to call it a night go fold! On December 19th, Sony updated the Folding@Home client to version 1.3 to allow users to run music stored on their hard drives while contributing. Another feature of the 1.3 update allows users to automatically shut down their console after current work is done or after a limited period of time.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Tale of Souls and swords....and the force eternally be told

One of the more interesting news stories that's come out of CES 08 aside from the Warner Bro's Blu ray announcement is that Soul Cailbur IV's guest characters won't be Kratos or Master Chief or any other characters from video gaming. The popular weapons based fighter will star two iconic figures from a galaxy far far away. Darth Vader for the PS3 and Yoda for the X360. Personally I'm psyched that I have a PS3 instead of an X360, but I'm pretty sure we'll be able to DL the other character at some point after the initial launch.
Maybe this is NamcoBandai's way of hinting that they're working a Star Wars fighting game in the vein of Masters of Teras Kasi...but more gooder!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Free Swim's 8 PS3 titles in '08

2007 was a tough year for those of you who owned a PS3, but it's a new year and things are only gonna get better in 08! To start PS3 sales skyrocketed over this holiday season, and more recently the announcement at CES that Warner Bros. has become Blu Ray exclusive and that M$ execs have openly stated that

"The fate of HD-DVD is not critical to the success of the
Xbox 360, according to
senior Microsoft officials, who have noted that the
company would consider
supporting rival technology Blu-ray if it were
victorious in the high-definition
format war."

I'll be glad to have this pointless format war over so I can get back to buying movies without the hesitation of doubt that many consumers have had these last few years.

Another positive aspect for PS3 owners in 08 is the upcoming tsunami of A titles coming! Here is a list of the 8 titles (get it? 8 for 08 >.<) Free Swim is most looking forward to.

8. SSFIITHDR: FINALLY, we get to trully be World Warriors when Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD remix launches on the PS store! Capcom's flagship fighter gets a 1080p facelift with the help of Udon artists.

7.Gran Turismo 5: Polyphony Digital's Real Driving Simulator is back and if you thought GT4 was visually perfect GT5 will trully have old folks saying "that's a game!?" And online racing will happen this time!

6. GTA IV: Rockstar North is returning to Liberty City, so if you never got into the GTA series on PS2 nows your chance. This game looks sick!

5. Killzone 2: So Killzone 1 wasn't the Halo killer it was touted to be, but Guerilla is working hard to make KZ2 the PS3's exclusive FPS to envy. Fingers crossed.

4. Socom Confrontation: Opta Gonaffle Hafla meng! HD Socom going back to basics Desert Glory, Cross Roads and more in 1080p glory. Slant Six is working on the online only HD remake of the PS2's #1 online frachise. Some new features include customizable facial and physical aspects and additional themed DLable content post release.

3. Street Fighter IV: Capcom is resurecting video games most prolific fighting game. With a new art direction and a stunning new visual style will Street Fighter IV re capture the magic of Street Fighter II? I certainly hope so! HADOKEN!

2. Final Fantasy XIII: Square Enix brings the 13th chapter of it's multi-million dollar RPG frachise back exclusively to the PS3. Shiva transforms into a motorcycle O.o >gulp<

1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots / MGO: Bust out the Geritol and call your friends on the Jitterbug, Snake is returning for what might be his final mission and he's OLD! Looks like Naomi's Foxdie is kicking in and Snake reunites with Meryl Silverburg and Otacon to save the world once again from the threat of nuclear armageddon. This is a must have title and probably the best reason to own a PS3!

There you have it, Free Swims top 8 of '08, agree, disagree? Sound off, drop a comment and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Movie Review: Sunshine

It's the year 2057, the sun is dying and mankind faces extinction. Earth's last hope rests with a courageous crew of eight men and women to ignite the fading star with a massive nuclear weapon. Deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission begins to unravel and they find themselves fighting not only for their lives, but for the future of us all.
Unforunately I wasn't able to see this movie in theaters due to it's limited release.
Sunshine is a brilliant (pun intended) film with very obvious influences; Ridley Scott's Alien, Paul W.S Andersons Event Horizon and Stanley Kubricks's 2001 A Space Odyssey, all master peices of science fiction. I was really impressed with Danny Boyles choice for the crew of Icarus II, Hiroyuki Sanada as Captain Kaneda, Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) as Ship Botonist Corazon, Benedict Wong as Navigator Trey, Cliff Curtis as Icarus II's physician and psych officer Searle, Troy Garrity as Comm Officer Harvey, Chris Evans (Eight Below) Engineer Mace, Rose Byrn (Star Wars ep: II AotC) Icarus II Pilot Cassie and Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins/ 28 Days Later /Red Eye) as the Ships Pysicist and sole operator of the payload. The crew each had very defined attitudes and their individuality reminded me of the crew of the Nostromo, the international feel made the believability much easier to accept.
The brilliance of Sunshine and other Sci Fi gems of a similar ilk isn't focusing so much on the antagonist(s) or the circumstances throughout the movie, but the characters individuality, and how those circumstances affect them individually and as a group. If the cast is believable it helps immeasurablly in the viewers suspension of disbelief.

For myself some of the best Sci-Fi movies out there are the ones have simplistic stories and complex characters put in unbelievable circumstances and how they cope with the situation. I highly recomend Sunshine it ranks up there with my top 10 favorite sci fi movies of all time. Or you could watch AVP2....but that would be silly.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Game Review: Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare

"War is delightful to those who have not yet experienced it."-Erasmus

When you begin the game you start out as the FNG "Soap" MacTavish the newest member of Lieutenant Price's British 22nd SAS Regiment. Throughout the game you will switch between Soap MacTavish in Russia tracking Khaled Al-Asad who stages a coup in the middle east, with the funding of Ultranationalist Imran Zakhaev and Paul Jackson, a U.S. Marine stationed in the Middle East. You will also get to play as Lieutenant Price fifteen years earlier as he and Captain MacMillan sneak through the the partially irradiated Ukrainian city of Pripyat, within the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation. Another point in the game you will get to play a AC-130 Spectre Gunship gunner giving Lieutenant Price air support.
Call of Duty 4 begins as you (Yasir Al-Fulani) are abducted by Victor Zakhaev, son of Imran Zakhaev and thrown in the backseat of a car and driven thru the streets as a coup is going on and then tied to a post as Khaled Al-Asad kills you all while being broadcast. CoD4 had my attention at that point, and I can say it never let go! CoD4 offers one of the most compelling game experiences that rival many hollywood movies! If I can say CoD4 is equally entertaining as films such as Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and Platoon. The game looks like a next gen title, the graphics really pull you into the whole experience and if you have an HD TV with 1080p resolution and a decent home theater you'll be in gaming nirvana! The realism of the in game graphics is partially attained by utilizing high dynamic range lighting which can be seen throughout the multitude of environments. As I said before a decent home theater will really enhance the overall experience as CoD4's sound track and sound effects are top notch and the multiple layers of voice acting is very engrossing. Without spoiling the experiences within CoD4 you will really feel the chaos of war from the very first mission on the tanker till the final moments on the bridge.
As many reviews have pointed out the off line game is kinda short, I finished it in little over 5 hours but thats only a fraction of the fun CoD4 offers. Time to put those skills to the test and go online!
For those Cod4 Online FNG's you begin a lvl 1 Private and advance up the ranks by getting XP, you earn XP by killing opponents, completing objectives, like defusing the bomb in Sabotage or Search and Destroy. The amount of XP gained varies depending on the type of match the user is playing. When the user gains enough Experience Points their rank/level increases. Below is a list of the levels/ranks available.
1-3 Private
4-6 Lance Corpral
7-9 Corpral
10-12 Sergeant
13-15 Staff Sergeant
16-18 Gunnery Sergeant
19-21 Master Sergeant
22-24 Master Gunnery Sergeant
25-27 2nd Lieutenant
28-30 1st Lieutenant
31-33 Captain
34-36 Major
37-39 Lieutenant Colonel
40-42 Colonel
43-45 Brigadier General
46-48 Major General
49-51 Lieutenant General
52-54 General
55 Comander

As you advance up the ranks new weapons, challenges and perks are unlocked, challenges are weapon specific and include getting a certain number of kills, headshots, crouching or prone kills etc. by completing these challenges you are rewarded XP and unlock attachments for the weapon such as laser sights, silencers, or scopes.

Perks are also unlocked in the same fashion, perks give players an added bonus, players can choose 3 in your "create a class" which allows the player to customize their player.
The following is a list of known perks and what they offer. The number of available perks keeps the online experience level and doesn't give one player a huge advantage over another.
Perk 1: Bomb Squad
C4 x 2
Claymore x 2
RPG-7 x 2
Speicial Grenades x 3.....(Gives you 3 more smoke/flash grenades)
Frag x 3
Bandolier.....(Adds more ammo to your clip)
Perk 2: Juggernaut.....(More Health)
Slieght of hand.....(Reload quicker)
Stopping power.....(More weapon damage)
UAV Jammer.....(Jams enemy radar)
Sonic Boom.....
Double Tap.....
Perk 3: Extreme conditioning.....(Sprint longer)
Steady Aim.....(Steadier aiming)
Last Stand.....(Shoot your pistol while dying)
Deep Impact.....(Better bullet penetration through walls)
Dead Silence.....(Less noise when running)
Iron Lungs.....(Hold breath longer when sniping)
Eavesdrop.....(Allows you to listen in on enemy chat)
Martyrdom.....(While dying, player pulls a grenade)
CoD4 MW offers plenty of variety with a plethora of online modes such as Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Domination, Ground War, Sabotage, Headquarters, Tactical, Old School, and Hardcore. Each mode offers differnt rules of engagements to keep the online expirence fresh and not an XP grind to 55.
Call of Duty 4 is a terrific addition to your PS3 collection and really showcases the potential of your system, it's also avail on PC and X360. For more intel check
9/10 Offline
10/10 Online