Tag Archives: pc

A software recommendation: Half-Life 2

developed and published by Valve
originally released for PC; later ported to Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Macintosh

I’m still relatively inexperienced in the world of first-person shooters, or even first-person perspective games, period.  In fact, prior to Half-Life 2, I had beaten a total of seven: GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2, Metroid Prime 3, King Kong, and BioShock.  The first five games in that list were all published/distributed by Nintendo and are not really considered representative of the conventions of the genre.  So if I say something silly about FPS games, cut me a little slack.

In Half-Life 2, the player takes control of some nerd named Gordon Freeman that seems to be really, really good with guns.  The story is set in a post-societal collapse type world that has been ruined by something or other, I guess explained in the previous game.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.  While the story that is present is well done, this isn’t some dialogue-heavy RPG.  Unlike most of the other FPS’s I have played, there is very little exploration, backtracking, or item acquisition in this outing.

Freeman is always moving forward, usually by foot but sometimes by air boat or dune buggy.  However, there is a great deal of puzzle-type gameplay, presented more naturally than in any other game I’ve played.  Most of the games I’ve beaten were developed in Japan, and I’m used to the Zelda, Metroid, and – much worse – Resident Evil types of puzzles.  These puzzles always seem to have been set up by some unseen individual with the intent to challenge the hero.  In Half-Life 2, most of the puzzling circumstances involve blockages in Freeman’s path.  The solutions are usually reasonable and sensible.  For example, if you can’t reach a high point, you might need to use a fulcrum and pile a bunch of weight on one end to allow you to climb up.  There is usually only one path forward, which is a bit unrealistic, but these paths are always more natural than those found in games like the recent Prince of Persia releases.

The weapons are fairly diverse but the arsenal isn’t huge.  The most interesting item is the gravity gun, an experimental weapon that can lift and fling some pretty heavy objects.  This weapon becomes totally crucial as the game progresses.  One complaint I have is that I had no idea that I could use the laser on the missile launcher to guide the missiles.  I read somewhere online that this is a standard weapon in FPS’s but, yep, I haven’t played many.  So that was a drawback that hampered me until I looked up an FAQ in desperation.

Most of the game takes place amid rubble or in unwelcoming landscapes.  Toward the end, the artists really got to take over and create an otherworldly, visually arresting environment, creating a finale area that is imposing and awesome.  There are some conversations and some voice acting but never any crappy FMV cut scenes.  All of the conversations are natural and the voice acting is always at least a B, sometimes in the A range.

It took me about 15 hours to complete Half-Life 2, but I could see more experienced and clever players only needing 13, even on a first playthrough.  Some of that time was spent being exasperated by my missiles but much of it was spent trying to figure out puzzles.  I would certainly recommend Half-Life 2, especially if you like horror and post-apocalyptic themes in your games.  Actually, I’m glad all games are not as dark as this one is, or video games would be an overwhelmingly depressing affair.  The version I played was included in the Orange Box compilation, which also contains two expansions (mini-sequels) to this game that I will play in the near future.

The End.

National Game Registry: IBM PC

United States Library of Congress


IBM PC 5150
image: Old Computers

image: Old Computers

Apple PC 5140 Portable
image: Old Computers

This article features the best games released for IBM PC’s MS-DOS as selected by the National Game Preservation Board and recommended for permanent preservation by the United States Library of Congress National Game Registry.

System: PC series (MS-DOS)
Manufacturer: IBM, Compaq
Debut: 1981
Nation of origin: United States

By the 1980s, IBM was a household name in the computing world but virtually unknown in the home computer market. That changed – eventually – starting with the release of the IBM 5150 Personal Computer. The 5150 may have fit on a desktop but its features and price point were much closer to the business world that had been supporting IBM for years than to home users. IBM moved closer to household acceptance with the PC Jr. in 1983, with capabilities and pricing aimed much closer to what consumers expected. Although the PC Jr. was regarded as a failure, IBM continued with newer PC models and gradually made headway. An interesting feature of the PC was that it was designed with freely available components, meaning that other companies could manufacture IBM PC-compatible systems of their own with little trouble. Compaq joined the fray and the rest is history, as the wheels were set in motion for the non-proprietary, industry-standard PC to take over the industry. Long before the PC became the standard, IBM’s interest in continuing to manufacture their own PCs but they did exert some control over just what the PC standard was. In time, their influence waned and the standard was largely dictated by Microsoft’s Windows series of operating systems. PC’s lagged behind the competition in the early days of the line but caught up in the later 1980s. Inductees include:

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns


Emulation: National Game Registry recommends DOSBox combined with the DOSShell frontend for IBM PC MS-DOS emulation on home computers.

Visit the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

National Game Registry 1983: Pitfall II Lost Caverns

original platform
Atari 2600
notable conversions
Atari 5200 (1984)
Atari 800 (1984)
key personnel
David Crane
Mike Lorenzen (Atari 800/5200 “Special Adventurer’s Edition”)

The sequel to Pitfall! is true to the spirit of the original while adding many new elements. Lost Caverns introduces vertical gameplay, save points, swimming and non-player characters. The presence of music is a welcome improvement, featuring a rousing march that brilliantly shifts to a minor key when Pitfall Harry takes damage. Enemies are much more formidable than those of the original game, but Pitfall Harry now possesses infinite lives. There is no time limit, resulting in a an exploration-oriented adventure. The version released for Atari 5200 and Atari 800 more than doubled the length of the game, adding a new cavern, new enemies, items, and hazards, resulting in the definitive version of the game.

Atari 5200

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was inducted on February 23rd, 2009.

Return to the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed

this is seriously the only new game i actually have a STRONG desire to play.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed

it’s basically just a remake of the Bionic Commando for the NES (which is one of the best NES games ever made).  there are some new things added, but none of them sound like they would HURT anything. just as long as the original gameplay is still there, this game should rule.

check it:


the NEW junk:

  • A health bar replaces the previous system, meaning players collect health items from enemies to restore health, as opposed to gaining more hit points.
  • Players can now shoot their arm to grab barrels and throw them at enemies. The arm can also be enhanced to grab enemies and use them as human shields.
  • Weapons can now be changed during gameplay, with each weapon having stronger or weaker impact depending on the enemy. (For example, the default Revolver is effective against human enemies, but weaker against robots.)
  • Boss battles have been remade from scratch. The final boss of the original game is now a fully fledged level.
  • A co-operative mode is featured, with the enemy and boss AI changing to accommodate the extra player.
  • Hacking into the enemy network now involves navigating a three-dimensional puzzle to hack into the enemy’s communications. Extra points (or a health bonus if player has incomplete health bar) is also rewarded upon completion.
  • The game also features challenge rooms which involves using the bionic arm to get from start to finish in the fastest time possible.
  • Numerous competitive multiplayer modes are added, including ‘Don’t Touch the Floor” in which only hitting the very bottom of the level kills the player, and weapons only knock the player back.
  • Force feedback has been implemented when using the bionic arm, firing weapons, and other events
  • In-game art designed by Shinkiro 


and the game features the original music too, just remixed to be MOODY and shit.

some video:


and lots of other screenshots and comparisons.


let me come over and play.

damn. sorry i’m such a nerd.



ERRRRRRRRRRRRVIEWS (Electronic Arts edition?!)

Final Fantasy VI Advance
Square Enix
2007 (original version 1994)
Game Boy Advance

This is a GBA port of the game that was originally released in the United States as Final Fantasy III for Super NES. As far as I know, the GBA version is pretty much the same game but with a few glitch fixes and changes in the text translation. Anyway, the game . . .

I have previously played through Final Fantasy I-V and I would definitely give FFVI the prize for best 2D FF. FFVI is much less linear than the previous games, resulting in a lot more freedom to do what you want when you want, especially in the second half. The down side to this is that it took me a lot longer to beat than the previous FF’s. In fact, it took about 45 hours of playing time. Considering my short attention span, I definitely didn’t blaze through this one. Rather, I took SEVEN MONTHS to slooooooooowly make my way through although you could probably do it in just a few weeks.

Anyway, there is a large cast of characters that you can rotate in and out of your lineup. They do have specialties but they all have the potential to become good fighters, good magicians, whatever. So, if you want to be super safe in the final battles, you can level everyone up and make everyone a badass and a healer. This is where I sank a lot of my playing time, actually. In previous FF’s, I entered the final dungeons/battles underpowered and usually had to try over and over to beat them. This time around I spent way more time than necessary leveling everyone up and just coasted through to the end.

The music is pretty great and has a lot of variety. The designs are nice but typical 2D FF. The story is pretty detailed, deep and only slightly cheesy. Do it to it.

Grade: A
Conclusion: I can’t believe there are RPGs that are 2-3 times as long as this one.

Boom Blox
Electronic Arts

SUPPOSEDLY, this game is the result of a collaboration with Steven Spielberg, credited as ‘creative director’. I don’t believe it. This game doesn’t bear ANY hallmarks of Spielberg’s past works, sensibilities, style, etc. Regardless, this is a pretty enjoyable game. The game consists of dozens of puzzles and scenarios that require to do various things with various items. Sometimes you throw baseballs or bowling balls, sometimes you fire a gun, sometimes you fling things around on a sticky string. You set off explosions, shoot goblins, collapse towers, so and soforth. As you might expect with the Wii, if you’re throwing a ball, then you use the Wiimote in a throwing motion.

Some of the puzzles are pretty clever and will require a lot of thought while other levels consist solely of reflex-based play. There are “worlds” with themes like “escort the Mitten Kittens home on Halloween without being killed by monsters”. These themes are just pretty ways of dressing up the gameplay to add visual variety. After awhile, things start to feel a bit too similar and interest wanes. There’s a party mode that I haven’t tried yet but this does definitely feel like a social type of game but by one’s self it’s better in spurts.

Grade: B
Conclusion: This is EA trying to be Nintendo/Namco/SEGA/etc.

AFL ’99
Electronic Arts
Windows 95

I recently dug this game out of the closet after years and years of neglect. I used to play this game quite a bit and for good reason: it’s a very fun and challenging simulation of Australian rules football. Aussie rules is one of the few sports that’s as simple as soccer. The game basically consists of punching and punting a ball to your teammates attempting to score goals between giant uprights. Hard tackles are allowed. That’s about it. Sometimes the simple things are easiest to fuck up but this game pulls everything off most of the time. The kicking, the catching and running all work fine. Sometimes the punching (aka handballs) is pretty goofy, though, so I wouldn’t rely on it. Everything is fast and furious and the commentary is even decent for a 1998 game. Some aspects don’t work perfectly on Windows XP or Vista but the main game works fine.

Grade: B+
Conclusion: EA should make new AFL games

Electronic Arts
PlayStation 2

This game is very clearly a port of a PC game that came out a couple years earlier and it shows. The players are very blocky for a PS2 game. Actually, the graphics look like PS1 but in higher resolution. The gameplay is decent but pretty jerky as the players move fairly unnaturally and take about 500 years to change directions (no Barry Sanders in this game). The breakdowns (the parts where big guys push each other around) are somewhat luck-based and frustrating. The one area where the game really shines is in the running game. If you can get a good series of passes going you can really do some damage. With all the faults, though, EA proved they could do much worse with the following year’s Rugby 2004, which changed everything and was awful.

For those that care, the modes in this game are 6 Nations, Tri-Nations and World Cup (but not the official licensed version of any of these tournaments).

Grade: C+
Conclusion: Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.


Exploding Dells

So, continuing the Mac vs PC debate, or Mac-bashing, I will write about the exploding Dells of 2006. I only vaguely remember this news story and was curious to see what exactly was going on w/ these exploding laptops…two years later.

It looks like the cause of the explosions, which occurred about six times according to an Aug 2006 article, were faulty Sony batteries. The batteries for millions of laptops were recalled, just like hundreds of products that are recalled every year for one potentially hazardous reason or another. The end.

Macbook: Pros and Cons

I will jump on the Apple discussion bandwagon and detail pros and cons of my Macbook and its Mac OS. I don’t do anything special with my computer, like music or photo editing, so this is from a casual-user standpoint. Before my Macbook, I had a Sony Vaio desktop for 4 years. And previous to that, I used my family’s HP. And previous to that, we had an Apple (some 1997 version).

Specifications (I’m kind of computer illiterate, but this may mean something to you.): Macbook 1,1 (2006); Mac OS X version 10.4.9; 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo; 512 MB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 55.7 GB HD


1. Overall Look and Feel: I will admit I am one of those presentation-obsessed types that Matt was talking about previously. Not only do I find my computer pleasing to look at, but I also find the simple design to feel nice in my hands. The smooth design is also functional in that it lacks any latches that might go awry or covers that would eventually get lost.

2. Mousepad: As much as the right click on a PC is nice, I think I prefer the single click mouse, especically on a laptop, with the option of using the “ctr” key, which I rarely need due to quick keys, for all right click functions. I hate when I open a PC laptop and there is some stupid-looking knob erroneously located between the “g” and “h” keys. The feature I love most about the mousepad, which I’m not sure if it has already been implemented in all laptops, is that you can switch to two fingers for easy scrolling–a simple idea that I use constantly.

3. Keypad: The keypad is raised at the appropriate level for practicality and ease of use. I am guilty of eating by my computer and, so far, so clean.

4. Quick Keys: This is a pro on any computer. Toggling with “apple, tab” and clearing the desktop with “F11” are my favorites.

5. Dashboard: This idea is pretty genius. By pressing “F12,” a ghost-like, second screen appears from no where and applications called widgets appear for your convenience. You can download a widget for pretty much any need or want you could imagine, from football scores to calculators to world maps. I keep it simple with a calculator and dictionary.

6. Dock: Located at the bottom of the screen, hidden or not hidden, is a bar that has shortcuts to any frequently used application. I pretty much only use the dock to access my most used applications.


1. Price: Macbooks will cost you an arm and a leg. At a thousand odd dollars, you could buy a much more powerful PC.

2. Settings: This is probably just my computer ineptness, but I feel like I have no control over what the Mac does some times. When I plug in my camera, it automatically opens iPhoto–a program I find to be completely useless and tries to make me put all my pictures into some folder that I have no idea where it is located on my computer. I really dislike using programs that are made to simplify what you are doing and losing control of where things are archived on the HD.

3. Graphic Editing: Basically, I really miss MS Paint. With the Preview program, I can do little more than rotate and crop. I suspect that Apple assumes that everyone who owns a Mac, owns Photoshop.

4. Speed: My computer can’t handle many applications at once and I spend a lot of idle moments, waiting for programs to load.

5. Memory Card Inputs: Pretty much all drives are covered: DVD/CD, USB, internet, headphones, etc. I just wish there was a slot for my camera memory card like my old Vaio had.

Conclusion: I can’t really make a say on if I’ll be a repeat customer since I’m not sure how advanced computers will be in a few years when I will be due for a replacement. I’m sure 2011’s bottom-of-the-line model will be fast and large enough by my standards right now, but maybe I will expect the super, amazing, top-of-the-line computer that I probably won’t be able to afford in the future. If things are as they are now (with PC offering faster speeds and larger HDs for less $$$), I would probably go with a PC. On the other hand, if the gap between cost and product decreases, I would probably go with a Mac.

But, the real question: do I recommend a Macbook to the casual user in 2008? Yes, if you have the extra dough to throw around, then, by all means, purchase a nice, fast model–along with Photoshop. If you don’t have a lot of money, forgo convenience and beauty, and buy a PC that is larger and faster for less money.

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