Are you as sick of zombies as I am? They're everywhere. Perhaps the real zombie apocalypse won't be caused by radiation or a genetically-engineered plague; it will be caused by media corporations drowning our brains in zombie entertainment until we all go crazy and start eating each other.
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OK, sure, the creatures in Naughty Dog's latest adventure game, The Last of Us, aren't actually "zombies", they are humans infected with a fictionalized variation of Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis. But they're functionally the same thing. The "infected", as they are known as in the game, are mindless, mutated monsters that shamble around and eat any human they become aware of. And if they bite you, you become infected and the fungus takes over your brain, turns your flesh into spore-producing tendrils, and makes you a cannibal.
[LEFT] An ant infected with cordyceps.
[CENTER] A moth infected with cordyceps.
[RIGHT] A human infected with cordyceps, as depicted in The Last of Us.
The game takes place 20 years after the sudden outbreak of the human cordyceps infection that leads to the death of the protagonist's daughter. Society has collapsed into ruin, with the surviving 40% of people (including the protagonist, Joel) concentrated in quarantined ghettos in the remains of major cities. Joel is working as a smuggler, bringing food, weapons, and supplies into the Boston quarantine zone to be sold on the black market, and he is tasked with escorting a young girl, named Ellie, to a research lab out west. Ellie is unique in that she seems to be immune to the cordyceps infection. She was bitten weeks ago, and has suffered nothing more than some ugly skin lesions near the bite; whereas, everyone else begins to turn into a zombie within hours of being infected. This, of course, makes her survival paramount, and Joel must do whatever it takes to ensure her safe arrival at the lab so that the researchers can hopefully study her to find a cure or vaccine. [More]
This review was originally published 06/16/2010 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). It has been republished here for archival purposes.
I was expecting an epic masterpiece for the conclusion to Kratos’s vengeance, but instead I got a merely passable sequel.
The first two God of War games on the PS2 were epic action adventures that gave players an amazing sense of scale and grandeur. The action was fast and fluid, and the platforming mostly worked. The games were also insanely difficult, but never to the point where you felt you wanted to throw the controller down in disgust (well, except for the log-tight-roping in Hades in the first game).
God of War III promised bigger, better, more. After all, how could fighting off the minions of the gods on the backs of immense Titans as they climb up the side of Mt. Olympus on your way to a final confrontation with Zeus himself possibly go wrong? Well, unfortunately, we’ll never know. The game’s previews promised that amazing premise, implying that a majority of the game would be these breathtaking action sequences and combat on the backs of the Titans. But instead, this is only about the first half an hour’s worth of gameplay. Then it’s back to the traditional God of War gameplay that you’re used to. This wouldn’t be bad, if not for the fact that the game doesn’t execute itself quite as well as the previous games.
Other reviews are celebrating the game’s sense of scale and scope, but I found that it wasn’t nearly as expansive as the previous games. Most of the game has you going back and forth between Hades and the top of Mt. Olympus. You’d think that’s a pretty big ascent, but it’s not. You fly straight up the middle of the mountain (or fall down it) several times, and other instances of travel from top to bottom or vice versa are done via teleportation portals. So while it’s convenient, it fails to mimic the first two games’ feelings of epic trekking through exotic locales. [More]
A slimmer PS3.
It is being reported that Sony is planning on releasing a slimmer version of the PS3 console this holiday season. I have yet to see any detailed technical specs of the new unit other than that it will be lighter and smaller than the existing PS3 Slim models and will have a bigger hard drive out-of-box (250 gig or 500 gig models will be available).
I don't really see the point in this move; although, I guess if the lighter, smaller unit is going to cut production costs, then it's a smart business move for Sony. But from the consumer standpoint, I don't see any reason why someone would want or need to "upgrade" to the new model.
Maybe they'll release additional technical specs at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show? [More]
It seems pretty apparent that EA doesn’t give a damn about releasing the best product possible. They just want to milk it for all the money it’s worth. If they really cared about making NCAA Football ‘13 the best game it could be, then they would have delayed it a few weeks in order to install the same, potentially revolutionary, physics engine that is being implemented in this year’s Madden. The game releases six weeks prior to the start of the college football season anyway, so it wouldn’t have hurt to delay it a month. It still would have made it onto store shelves before the kickoff of the season. Heck, most teams haven’t even finalized their depth charts yet, and some are still revealing new uniforms and stadiums!
It is now easy to "throw a receiver open."
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The last thing that any PS3 owner wants to see:
The "Yellow Light of Death"
Some of you may remember that I wrote about my experiences (and frustrations) with trying to repair or replace a PS3 through Sony last year. It was not a pleasant experience. So when that replacement unit suddenly failed on me a few weeks ago while playing Dark Souls with a "Yellow Light of Death", I was understandably very upset. The system would not even turn back on after the failure occurred. That, combined with the sudden nature of the failure meant that I had no chance to even try backing up the data on the hard drive, let alone uploading any copy-protected save files onto the PSN Cloud. Heck, I couldn't even remove the Dark Souls disc that was now stuck in the drive! What ever happened to good 'ol latch-and-spring lids? You don't have to worry about getting discs stuck in those!
So it seemed that I was up shit creek without a paddle. I already knew, from previous experience, that Sony probably would not fix the console, and would instead just send me a refurbished replacement, and that my hard drive would, therefore, not be useable with the new system. I didn't want to give Sony any more of my money, since it is their bullshit DRM policies that prevent consumers from being able to reliably transfer saves from one system to another, so I decided to try my luck with a local repair shop instead.
Well, that hasn't worked out any better for me. [More]