Archive for May, 2009

Review: Killzone 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2009 by thenewserials
The Higs Are Back

The Higs Are Back

Let me preface this by saying I’m not a fan of First Person Shooter video games at all. I’ve played a few and never really fell in love with any of them. Resident Evil:Survivor was my least favorite and MMOFPS’ (Massive Multiplayer Online First Person Shooters) like Gunz and Combat Arms intrigued me but, hardly made me jump for joy over them.

The only FPS’ that really got my attention was Goldeneye 6(still probably one of the finest games ever created) and the inconspicuous “Gun Showdown” for the PSP (review for this game can be seen here) but, upon purchasing my Playstation 3 video game console I was at odds on what games to purchase. After some thought I picked up Street Fighter IV, Little Big Planet and Killzone 2, I was apprehensive about buying Killzone because of my relationship with FPS’ but, the best looking games were that and Resident Evil 5 (and anyone who knows me knows I have a terrible fear of zombies) so I picked it up anyway and took it home with me.

Upon the start of the game I was already pleased with the voice acting, the monologue Visari, emperor of the Helghast and voiced by Brian Cox who most notably played William Stryker in the X-men sequel X2: X-Men United, gives that opens the game is some of the best voice acting in a game I’ve yet to experience. The rest of the opening reveals that Killzone 2 is a graphics dream come true, the lush backgrounds offset by shadows and lighting techniques are enough to make anyone marvel at the work Guerilla has done with this sequel.

The story picks up off of Killzone and Killzone Liberation (the PSP continuation of Killzone) this time following  Tomas ‘Sev’ Sevchenko instead of Jan Templar; the protagonist of the first two games. I.S.A. forced have begun to invade the Helghast’s homeworld of Helghan in retaliation to events beginning in the first game, a battle they think will be over in a matter of days quickly spirals into a struggle lasting months due to the Helghast seizing control of an unknown power. Sevchenko, returning favorite Rico Vasquez, Dante Garza and Shawn Natko make up the main party of alpha squad and land on Helghan to ‘liberate’ it from Scolar Vasari. The battle soon digresses into a struggle when it is revealed Colonel Mael Radec is in command of the Helghan army and is seeking the Nuclear Codes to a set of Nuclear weapons seized by the Helghast in the previous games. It becomes apparent that Radec will stop at nothing to get these codes and alpha squad embarks in a race against time to capture Visari and get a hold on the plentiful Helghast forces.

The gameplay is the best part of this game, with melee weapons, a series of powerful and different guns, grenades and some vehicles the player is never at a loss for something to do. Each map is distinct and detailed, from flashing lights to lightning and explosions in the background; multiple plays will reveal certain details that are visually stunning and epically detailed; and the battles that ensue are exciting and enjoyable. The player never finds him or herself fighting Helghast for too long or for too short, the battles last just long enough to be stressful but, not long enough to be boring. The variety of weapons also will the player pleasure that they can eradicate Helghan forces in many different ways, from pistols to shotguns to a insanely powerful electricity gun the player will find themselves willing to put the mission in danger just to see what a new weapon will do and look like. The blend of sci-fi and gritty war scenarios make Killzone pleasurable to a range of audiences, not just harden sci-fi freaks and World War buffs.

Killzone 2 picks up the pace the most in it’s amazing Online Multiplayer mode. Complete with enough maps to keep the player playing for a while, a class system that has each class having two sets of special abilities and weapons and unique missions that’ll have a game of 32 players scrambling to achieve their objective first; the multiplayer mode is interesting enough to keep one playing for hours on end. Each map is derived from a map found within the one player campaign mode but, its never exactly the same allowing for familiarity and surprise all at once. The maps are big enough to allow for exploration but, small enough to keep the action going at all times a problem often found in great games like Socom. The detailed work of background events and lightwork doesn’t end in the campaign mode the online multiplayers are just as detailed, one map, only available in a downloadable content pack labeled “Steel & Titanium”, is a moving train with hazards flying by at break neck speeds and rushing wind the feel of the level is one hundred percent present. It’s not as if you’re playing on a train map but, rather actually on a moving train, the environment plays a role in how you move your character and the choices you make in battle. The point of the online mode isn’t just a shoot em up its offset with a Ribbon and Badge reward system. The system works by awarding ribbons for certain feats accomplished in battle and then badges are awarded when a certain amount of ribbons have been obtained then badges award a new ability or upgrade to the player. For example achieving a certain amount of headshots in battle will gain the player a ‘headshot specialist’ ribbon eight of those ribbons will gain the player a ‘headshot specialist’ badge which will up the points for each headshot gained in battle. Points are redeemed after every game to advanced to the next level of ranks, each rank then unlocks a new class of player such as a Scout; which uses a sniper rifle and can put on a cloaking device making them invisible to the eye.

These details make Killzone 2 different from most other FPS’ out there, and it deserves all the praise it receives. All FPS after Killzone 2 should be judge in comparison to Killzone 2. The replay value is immense and there always seems to be something to do and someone to play with.

Before I close this review I feel the need to recognize Sean Pertwee who returns to voice the new character Colonel Radec. In terms of voice acting Pertwee steals the show, Radec appears in the game almost minutely but, one particular scene he appears in is the most interesting of all the scenes in the game.

Grades:

Story: A – (worthy but not necessary to get through the campaign mode, just killing Helghast is good enough)

Gameplay: A+ (This game is fun, fun, fun!)

Music: A (the score isn’t bad at all, adds excitment to the great cinema scenes)

Acting: A+ (Even if one doesn’t find themselves caring about the characters, you will believe they are who they are through the acting)

Replay Value: A+ (try not to play this game twice)

Overall: A+If you like FPS’, War Games or even Sci-Fi games this is the game for you, its a must have for the Playstation 3

I’ve Mention quite a few games in this review I’ve added this section for you to check them all out

Killzone, Liberation and 2

Street Fighter IV

Little big Planet

Socom

Resident Evil 5

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Still Around and a round and a round and…

Posted in Bored Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2009 by thenewserials

Sitting in this room right now, I’m very bored, it’s only 8:00 a.m on the dot.

I have a final to do today and I’m not in the mood.

O.k.

So there are three guys I really like and I want to date all three of them but, there are provisions to each of them.

The first is the one I like the most I think but, I don’t want to further over-complicate things with him. I mean it’d be nice to re-enter a relationship but, it wasn’t working when it ended and in doing this I could putting a nail in the coffin for any future prospect of being friends or getting along.

The Second is someone else I really like but, I fear a relationship with him. I know that if anything were going to wrong it could really implode anything good we’ve ever had going.

The third is just some guy I have a crush on. He’s smart, funny and very good looking, he’d be the most different person I’ve dated but, I don’t think he’s interested and if he is then he’s already involved with something or someone.

So I don’t know what to do, at this time I want the third guy the most because there’s less danger there and honestly he’s just so damned cute I just want to pinch him.

I’m just not the dating type, I’m interested in guys but, I’m not good at being proactive with them and when I am I get rejected 90% of the time. It’s always the right guy but, ALWAYS the wrong time. I really don’t want to spend months dating and going through rejection there’s honestly not enough going on in my life to let something like that in.

I wish I was drop dead gorgeous, I wouldn’t have this problem and I could move on but, Alas I’m not so that’s a dead dream.

The other thing that really frustrates me is that NO one I ever am attracted to ever makes the first move, it seems that I’m only attracted to guys who are nervous and shy or not interested in me. This is obnoxious to a high degree, I wish ONCE a guy I like would just say “hey lets go out on a date” Do you know what I would do? A back flip, I’d do a back flip, I can’t even touch my own toes but, if that happened I would do a back flip.

The other two guys are good guys but, one is just going on with his life without me and the other is…a case study. There’s so much right and wrong with him. He’s got a lot of good qualities but, he offers no kind of excitement whatsoever. Whereas the other guy I could have a banal conversation with but, it would become something more interesting through time but, with this guy the conversation will depend solely on me the entire time and it’ll go nowhere because nothing is going on with him and thusly he doesn’t have anything to really say.

It’s days like that where I miss my first BF, not that he was a good person or anything but, he was always interesting and knew what to say to make me excited and interested.

Its all a bit disheartening. I’m always the one in control, I’m the one people go to to make the plans to get everything going and that plays out in everything I do, so I hold on to this dream that one day I’ll have the relief of having someone come over and take control if only for a moment and just say “Hey, Let’s do this I like you”, maybe I’m intimidating, which won’t make sense, the only people I can intimidate are people who are already “in”.

Maybe soon who knows what’ll happen in the future, for now I’ll have to take it one day at a time and just get through these finals so that I can even get a grade for this semester, I really shouldn’t have waited this long to do them and now I’m on a mad dash to complete 4 papers in 25 hours.

If only this third guy would come through!

Enough of that; there were a few things I wanted to get across in this post, seeing that I don’t have the discipline to write once a week you may not see another post for a year!

– Terminator Salvation: Good movie, not perfect, not T2 but, then again what is? The first half wasn’t bad, it was introductory, I know we know terminator but, this is the first time being in the future after Judgement day, somethings have to be explained. The middle was good and the end was great, at moments there I thought iI was watching a Cameron film. Some noteworthy mentions include: Sam Worthington’s acting he’s good, he’s very good, he’s the movie, he is the strength of all the scenes he’s in. Sam Worthington’s Face, what can I say, watching him on screen was helped by his cute face. Christrian Bale, He does it again, he plays this incarnation of John in a different way but, it makes sense to the story and he makes a good hero. The Action, very good in a lot of ways the action in this movie was the opposite of Watchmen, it wasn’t superflous, it usually served the story and only one scene seemed Gratuitous and long. Arnold: The Cameo was better than I could have thought of. The Music: i liked it, and I don’t like Danny Elfman.

– The Pretenders, coming back to the U.S. late summer, Maybe a show in Central Park, *fingers crossed*

– 24, what a great season definately up there with seasons 1 and 5, can’t wait for them to start shooting in NYC for season 8!

– PS3, I like my PS#, I like the features I like Killzone 2, I’m glad I got it!

English Final

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2009 by thenewserials

Identifying the Pine Stripped Chameleon

Is the reward of individuality actually a punishment?

Keith Covington

(I) Life as a Reindeer

Rudolph the red nose reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw him, you could even say it glows. All of the other reindeers used to shout and call him names, they wouldn’t let, poor, Rudolph play in any reindeer games…’

As a child growing up in the urban bustle of New York City, that song was one I heard time and time again. Always a sign of the holiday season, the song marked the start of the present giving and the spoiling of the youngest child, the sun’s heat faded, the days didn’t last as long and the snow came down more continuously and dreams of Turkeys, Reindeers and overweight men in red costumes became fragments of reality, even if they were only for hours. When I was young though I didn’t think that the song was anymore than a merry melody, I would have never have guessed it was a premonition to the whole of my teenage and large chunk of my adult life.

High School eluded me until I was three years in, my freshman year was by far the worse. High School was the exact opposite of my years in Junior High, it was elementary school magnified. I wasn’t ‘Black Enough’ from the start; people saw me as some kind of weird creature because I wasn’t wearing my pants baggy or somehow asserting some kind of violence to confirm my status to the other students. I came to a critical point, I know was absolutely sure I was gay and either I was going to be myself or try my best to fit in to the social norm of the school so I could survive the remaining years.

I wasn’t the first though, many people in history have had to make the choice to either be who they really were or to continue to live their lives as what was expected of them. The most famous cases are people like Rose Parks who knew she was important enough to sit in the front of the bus to Bayard Rustin who, whilst trying to motivate the civil rights movement, was openly gay and largely unaccepted by fellow African Americans even though he was fighting for equal rights for them and others. History has shown that their can be benefits to being ‘who you are’ but, sometimes it really isn’t the best choice for great actors like Rock Hudson who, only in his later years in life, came out the closet so that he may continue to have a career in Hollywood without the ‘shame’ of being known as a homosexual. The choice isn’t always clear, it isn’t always simple enough to “be yourself” and to be “true to yourself” fairytale lives like Rudolph the red nose reindeer can live lives as outcast who are accepted but, in the real world an outcast can be something that is potentially impossible to recover from.

Lionel Stander an actor who helped fund the Screen Actors Guild and raised money for the Spanish Loyalist during the ‘Red Scare’ (a period in time where the fear of communism lead to Americans to act in very conservative ways against anyone even marginally suspected to be a communist, coincidentally the original motive for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was blamed on the fact that the assassin thought he was a communist) that fund raising lead Hollywood to Blacklist him, essentially shutting down any opportunity for work in Hollywood, at the time Stander’s agent Abe Lastvogal wasn’t concern that the blacklisting would last too long and assured him that the situation would ‘Blow Over’ (Lawrence Van Gelder, NewYorkTimes.com), but it took nearly three decades for Stander to overcome the sentence. “Abe was right. But it took 24 years. Between 1939 and 1963 — when my friend Tony Richardson put me in ‘The Loved One’ — I didn’t work for a major studio, except when somebody with courage, like Preston Sturges, decided to use me.” (Lawrence Van Gelder, NewYorkTimes.com) Stander explained, he later insist that he had some ties with the communist party but never actually joined but, after almost three decades of being out of work what did it matter? That’s just one example of many actors blacklisted at that time because of their political affiliations, never mind their sexual orientation or race or sex. The road to individuality isn’t always clean and clear, a lot of the time it can be life changing in a negative way, and knowing this is the prospect of being “yourself” worth the potential side effects?

(II) Self Protection vs. Self Direction

People may argue that the point of life is to try to maximize one’s happiness as much as humanly possible before they die and if that is true then self protection is a large part of that. Being safe and free from as much danger is usually something that keeps people happy. Individuality is defined as “the interests of the individual as distinguished from the interests of the community” in this case the community is any larger order of people you associate with be it school, work, church or family. So if one is distinguishing their interest from that of the community aren’t they in turn putting themselves at risk of alienation or ostracization and then as a result possible excommunication and ridicule? If this is true then individuality is just some misguided idea that pleases the ego but, in turn does nothing to really help the person. Usually, people just want to fit in to society, no grand purpose or motives, at different intervals of life people feel its more important not to stick out and, instead, blend in to continue a comfortable ‘normal life’. “We practice our French on the cab driver: I explain to him why we’ve come to Paris. He warns us that we shouldn’t tell strangers we’re Jewish. It is only a few weeks since the terrorist attack on Goldenberg’s restaurant, and no one knows when the next anti-Semitic attack may come. I reply that if I hadn’t said we were Jewish, we wouldn’t have found out he was a Jew as well, adding that in New York the names of taxi drivers are posted inside the cabs. He says he wouldn’t like that at all.” (Boyarin, The New Humanities Reader,87) Jonathan Boyarin writes in ‘Waiting for a Jew,’ an essay in which Boyarin recounts his journey to discover the Jewish culture he didn’t get a chance to grow up with,. It shows that fear of persecution, this time under the pain of physical harm, sometimes can trump the idea of expressing your individuality.

Sometimes individuality can overcome fear and start a new order of thinking. In 1999 the Orange Board, a Los Angeles School district, voted to prohibit the forming and meeting of a Gay Straight Alliance at a suburban school. The board cited the state education code which defined how sex education and other similar ideas should be taught. Similarly in some mid-western states G.S.A.’s were found to be legal under the law decreeing that all clubs have the right to meet in school, as retaliation some schools opted to ban all clubs from meeting to keep the G.S.A.’s from ever meeting. Many of the staff and parents used the idea that clubs are used for promoting and recruiting members, which in turn must mean promoting Homosexuality and attempting to recruit members to homosexuality. Eventually though all the cases turned over to the side of the G.S.A.’s the law in the California case allowed for the group to meet by changing the law on what noncurricular groups could and could not do, with a few provisions such as they can’t discuss ‘sexual conduct’ and aren’t allowed to make announcements on the loudspeakers like the other groups.

My first year in High School started similarly. Either I was going to be like the cab driver in Boyarin’s essay or I was going fight like the GSA’s in California, and after that I was either going to have some acceptance or be run out of the school. I chose the latter and came out to everyone I knew, with the exception of family, in a matter of two days, in two days and a half everyone knew.  When I came out I was the only out gay student in the entire school, I wanted individuality and I got it seven fold. The backlash was immediate but not severe, a few odd comments here and there, some name calling and the occasional threat every now and then was a lot better than I was expecting but, the battle wasn’t won. My second year of High School was almost identical as the first, the kids were louder and meaner this time around and now I was starting to see the ‘Revenge Effects’, (a concept coined by Edward Tenner in which he describes that the advances in technology often come back in negative ways such as accidents and overdependence on flawed systems*), of my doings. In my second year a few more people came out publicly and at first it would seem the heat would be taken off of me a little and it was but, a new problem arose. These new people coming out were so radically different then I, I had literally nothing in common with them except sex and sexuality, they were also becoming popular. The backlash I had seemed to have skipped over them, suddenly the gay and bisexual kids were part of the A-team except me. Initially, I admit, I was jealous, I wanted people to accept me and not give me the cold shoulder. The new out kids were also stereotypical, this problem would turn out to be the most difficult to battle, and their image was eclipsing mine. Not only was I fighting to just be how I was, I was know fighting to not be what I was. The idea of the limp wrist and the high voice was brow beating me everyday, the other gay male in my school had totally succumbed to it and his popularity was broadcasting that that was the proper way to go about living. I had no interest in that though and now I felt too individualized, I was too gay for the intolerant kids and not gay enough for everyone else, I didn’t know who was going to accept me or if any one was.

(III) Loss of Me

Unfortunately this lead to an odd way of thinking for me, I began to go to a center for Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Gay youth, here I was immersed in gay culture, too much to swallow at once, I was suddenly flooded with ‘my people’s’ way of life. But now this was all I knew, I learned a lot from the Center, but I took too much in as a fact. The sudden explosion of ‘gay’ was too much to handle, I suddenly felt the need to be grossly gay. I wanted to be accepted by ‘my people’ so bad, I felt they were all I had in the world. I already wasn’t black enough to fit in with the black people and that wasn’t going to change because I was undeniably gay and those two don’t mix, the least I could do was try to fit in to my gay family so that I can have some kind of community. For six months I lost sight of myself, I was this thing perpetrating to be interested in the lifestyle of the ‘typical homosexual’ and I wasn’t even fitting in at school, I was the talk of the town for sure but, it wasn’t because people accepted me. I had lost the individuality, accept the terms of conformity and was still not receiving the benefits from society.

In the midst of my cultural stupor a voice called out to me and served (and continues to) as a guide to bring Keith back to Keith. The first time I heard The Pretenders, an English rock group formed in the early 80’s (eleven years before my birth) I knew I had stumbled onto something different. There was a brash and terrible demeanor to the lead singers, Chrissie Hynde, voice, In ways it was so right and simultaneously so wrong, but one thing it never was was apologetic. That struck a chord in me (no pun intended) this was a woman fronting a rock band, talking about the trials and tribulations of living in a flawed world, interacting with flawed people and living as a flawed person without once saying ‘I’m sorry for how I feel’ and willing to place the blame on both the people and herself. No one had ever spoken to me this way before, to be unapologetic you had to be right all the time. It had to be ‘right’ that I was gay, I had to ‘right’ about how I felt but, the Pretenders gave me something new to chew on: that it was fine to be unapologetic even when you were wrong. I’m a human being, I make mistakes and I accept that as who I am, I strive to do better but, until I get there I have to live with this person now. It was as if I was smacked across the head with common sense I suddenly got what I was looking for.

(IV) The Readjusted Mind

I went back to the same high school for the third year willing to try this new approach in thinking, and to my surprise it worked. More than ever kids were coming out and they were all falling in similar patterns and social circles, all of which didn’t come close to mine. I didn’t care though I liked what I liked and found interest in things deeper than the new shoes coming out. My life suddenly became interested in the state of the world both human and non-human, I could see and understands things my peers couldn’t. I knew that I could be ‘gay’ without having to be the mainstreamed packaged kind. The war was never fought, that was the key! There was no war to begin with, fighting with people to be who I was was a daft idea to begin with. For me individuality was all that mattered, the acceptance into society would come with what you could provide. I found that I enjoyed my own personal time more than I did trying to understand why people like the same thing as everyone else, so in the end it didn’t matter if I was accepted or not, as long as I accepted myself and was comfortable. That’s not to say that every know and then I don’t wish that I was more in tune with popular culture but, in the end what’s that going to do for me when I don’t really find any interest in it?

My last year of college was not as good as the third but, only because of stress. By then I was defined and I was the gay person people came to for help with their problems, be it academic or whatever else. I showed a wisdom in my acceptance of myself that other people seemed to notice and occasionally admire. My homosexuality gave me an advanced knowledge in sexual education and I was able to use that to teach my Health class for my teacher (who was an English teacher thrown into a new subject without proper training) and in return she allowed me to forego her class a few times to teach about Bayard Rustin and the unjust stigma against homosexuals throughout history to my peers and open a few eyes.

(V) Please Read the Fine Print

Individuality isn’t a road I would suggest for everyone its difficult and full of diverging paths that could lead to anyplace. The last part of the song I started with goes: ‘…Then one foggy Christmas eve Santa came to say: ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright won’t guide my sleigh tonight’. Then all the other reindeers shouted out with glee ‘Rudolph the red nose reindeer you’ll go down in history!” and while that’s a happy ending that doesn’t mean that the ends will justify the means for everyone. The trials of being an individual in a group society is not for everyone, it’s akin to buying a fantastic product with the finest of fine print. You have to make sure you’re willing to go through everything that comes with being an individual and sometimes, for some people that may be too much. The most important thing to understand is that being part of a group is fine if that’s your comfort zone and the same goes for being an individual, what isn’t acceptable is the limbo between figuring them out. Making the decision to be a part of one or the other is hard but, ultimately, a necessary thing to do to continue on with life.

–         Lawrence Van Gelder The New York Times, newyorktimes.com Lionel Stander Dies at 86; Actor who defied Blacklist http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/02/obituaries/lionel-stander-dies-at-86-actor-who-defied-blacklist.html?scp=5&sq=blacklisted%20actors&st=cse)

–         Jonathan Boyarin ‘Waiting for a Jew’ (archived in The New Humanities Reader 3rd edition, 87)

–         * Edward Tenner Another Look Back, Another Look Ahead (archived in The New Humanities Reader 3rd edition, 717)