The exciting update of updates!

Now that I got your attention with that zinger of a title, I'd like to inform you that this really is not the updates of updates. Disappointed? Sad? A little depressed? Well if that's how you feel about the uneventful thing that is called my life than how should I feel? It IS my life after all :P .

First thing, I forgot to say in the last update that I have actually been reading LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring the last few weeks as I said I wanted to do in some other post. I'm just about half way through it and I'm enjoying it so far. I find that it's a book that's very elegantly written. It is a little confusing at times, but I'm managing just fine with it. And yes, it took me a few weeks to read about 200 or so pages. I'm a lazy reader, haha.

Well today was Memorial Day in the U.S. as some of you may know. Up here in Canada it was just an ordinary day except for the fact that the Spike Channel ran a Band of Brothers marathon all day, so that's pretty much been the crux of my activity for the day. I dunno if I've told you about my love for the history of WWII, but BoB is probably my favourite piece of media about the war. It's just a solidly built and well done series.

As for gaming, I'm still heavily addicted to Warband and it doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. Great, great game and the modding capability of it just adds so much. Anyway, I've ranted about Warband in the last post so I'll shut up.

I'm also currently downloading the new spy RPG game from Obsidian called Alpha Protocol. Apparently it hasn't been getting too many good reviews but it boasts about it's similarity to Mass Effect's conversation and morality system so we'll see how it is when I get it done tomorrow or the next day.

Recently, I've also given some thought of doing something that my good friend, Leutrim23, used to do before the Digital Economy Bill came into law in the UK. That would be a Youtube gaming channel with reviews and gameplay videos and such of new releases or whatever. I'm giving some serious thought to this thing, but I really don't know if I'm gonna go through with it. I just don't know if I have the right video editing and speech presentation skills for it. We'll see though, I'll definitely be thinking about it.

Anyway, it's about 1:30 in the morning here, so I'm gonna head off to bed. Gotta go out and continue the job hunt tomorrow :( . I really hope something comes of this soon, but that's another problem and story. Until next time, take it easy.


The "I'm too lazy to think up a good title" post

Hey to my invisible and non-existent audience once again! It's been two weeks since I last posted, but don't worry. I'm keeping my word about keeping this going.

So where to begin? I guess I can start with what I've been doing the last two weeks. You know what's great about that? It can be summed up in two simple words: Job hunting. Yup, that's pretty much been the goal of the last few weeks with me and, to be honest, it really isn't going too well. I really badly underestimated the difficulty it takes to find a summer job.

I've applied to close to 40 places so far and I have gotten two lousy interviews, one which I already know didn't pan out for me, and another which I'm doubting will help me at all. So basically, ya it's a bit of a crappy month so far. It's still good to be home though and enjoying the summer and relaxing in between. And, hey, this is only my first go around with finding a full-time job. At least I can learn from this for next summer.

Outside of all that crap I recently got my hands on the new Mount and Blade game, Warband. The original was a great game, and I'm totally addicted to this new one. Lots more to do in the single player portion and the little I've dabbled in the multiplayer has impressed me. Not too many servers though...

Oh ya, another thing that was crappy about the last two weeks that some may have heard about was the passing of Ronnie James Dio. Although I wasn't a humongous fan of his music, it was still shocking to me. I'm sure it's been said a thousand times before, but his voice was just something else. So much power, depth, and emotion behind it. The metal scene today would definitely look different if he were not around. I wish his family all the best and hope that he rests in peace.

It's starting to get a little late to do this, but I've started working on a tribute to RJD as well in the form of a cover of "Holy Diver". I'm getting lazy with it though so it might take a little bit. Hopefully I can get that up soon.

Other than all of that stuff, I really don't have much else to tell ya. I might write a review for Warband in the next little while too, but don't wait up on it. Until next time, take it easy.


Re-recorded Blackbird cover

I decided to do the Blackbird cover again, just because I felt that the singing in the last one might have put some people off. It's only instrumental this time :D.

Please don't forget to rate, comment and subscribe! Thanks and take it easy.


Another new cover vid? WTH?!?!?!?

Yup, for some magical reason I actually got two cover vids done in a week. Here it is:

I would really appreciate it if you could rate, comment and subscribe if you enjoyed it. Thanks as always.


New cover

Hey all, got a new cover up of Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine. Here it is:

Hope you like it and take it easy.


Assassin's Creed 2 Review

When Assassin's Creed was first displayed to the public all the way back at E3 2006 there was a lot of hope that it would be a game that was to bring a lot of new and innovative concepts to both the stealth genre and the gaming world as a whole. When it was released in 2007, however, for PS3 and Xbox 360 (with a PC release coming a year later), there were quite a few people who had large complaints about it, largely to do with it's very repetitious nature.

Personally, after playing the game I really did see where some of these arguments came from and actually agreed with quite a few. The problem with AC1 was that beside the main storyline there really was nothing else worth doing. Of course there were little collectibles here and there that were put in to try and draw the player in for a little while after the plot was done, but they really had no merit or value to them.

Now before I go on, I just want to clarify something. It may sound a little like I'm trying to rip into AC1, but I really did think it was a good game besides it's quite obvious flaws. It had both a compelling story and it really did try and bring new aspects to the genre.

Regardless of the past game however, we have to fast forward to 2009 and the release of it's sequel, the aptly named Assassin's Creed 2, for PS3 and the Xbox 360. The PC version just got released this year as well. Just let me start off by saying that this game has had a noticable makeover from the first one, so I can only assume that Ubisoft really did try to home in on the criticisms by players of the first game. So let's get right into, shall we?

Story: In the previous game we were introduced to Desmond Miles, a bartender who is kidnapped and thrust into a war hundreds of years in the making between the Knights Templar and the Order of Assassins. Through a state of the art project at Abstergo Industries, the modern day incarnation of the Knights Templar, named the Animus, we were also introduced to Desmond's ancestor Assassin, Altair, through his genetic memories. Through experiments conducted by a Dr. Warren Vidic and his assistant Lucy Stillman, the true reason of why Desmond was kidnapped is revealed. That's a different game, though. All you need to know is that AC1 ended with things looking very bleak for Desmond until Lucy is shown to have more secrets than first thought. I don't wanna go too in depth if you haven't played that one though, so that's where the first game's synopsis ends.

As for the second game, it picks up literally right where the first one finished, with Desmond and Lucy making an escape from Abstergo to an Assassin safehouse where the "Animus 2.0" is located. After some introductions to two new Assassins named Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings, Desmond is told that he'll be once again reliving one of his ancestor's memories. This time, that ancestor's name is Ezio Auditore de Firenze. If you couldn't tell from that, yes he is Italian and this game takes place in Renaissance Italy.

Before I go any further, I have to say that the choice of setting was very well made. The environments themselves just seem extremely suitable to the subject matter of the game as well as just being extremely beautiful. Also, another great thing about the setting is it's one that really isn't done all too often. When was the last time you played an action/stealth game based in the Renaissance? My thoughts exactly. Anyway, on with the explanation.

Ezio does not start out as an Assassin in the game. In fact, it is his banker father who operates as one without his children knowing. However, after his family is betrayed by a close friend in league with the Templars his father directs him to his equipment and the real fun begins. Shortly after this his father and brothers are executed and Ezio is on the run with his mother and sister until they are taken in by his uncle, who is also an Assassin. Wanting revenge for the damage done on his family by both his father's close friend, he sets out to kill him. After doing so however, Ezio soons realizes that there is a much larger conspiracy going on that was ultimately responsible for his family being torn apart. He makes it his mission to track down and kill the head of the conspirators as his final revenge, and this sets the story's events truly in motion.

The whole story is very, very smartly written. As Ezio works his way through his targets he is introduced to a host of colourful and memorable characters, including many actual historical ones such as his close friend Leonardo Da Vinci, and Niccolo Machiavelli. I think this was one of the few games where I actually read a lot of the character's bios and background information just to find out more about who they are and how to relate to them.

Also just let me say this. Ezio is a friggin badass. He is definitely one of the coolest and best video game characters to come about in recent years.

I also forgot to mention that this game takes place over a span of about twenty years, as opposed to just one year in the first game. Since Ezio starts his quest as a very young man, this time span really allows one to see his maturation process and how his skills and talents progress as he becomes more in tune with the lifestyle of an Assassin. As well, it gives the game a lot more of an epic and drawn out feel to the story, magnifying on just how big the war between the Assassins and Templars truly is.

The real strength of the plot, however, is what the player does not see until the very end of the game. The last few minutes of the game are just awesome and definitely had me glued to the seat, as did the rest of the game. It was also something I really did not see coming at all; it really caught me off guard which I love.

Overall, Assassin's Creed 2 gets a perfect 10/10 for a story which I thought was just incredible.

Gameplay: Now that I've written an essay about the story let's move on to the gameplay aspects of Assassin's Creed 2. As I said before, this really does feel in a lot ways like a completely new game.

The combat really is very similar to the first game, so it's very accessible to AC veterans. You have all of the same moves, like counter, dodge etc. as well as new ones like disarming your enemies. However the variety of enemies has increased, so you will now see brutes with massive swords and faster agile guards that can chase you down if you feel like running from a fight. It really adds a new depth to the rather repetitious combat of AC1. In addition, you can also pick up these weapons and use them against your enemies, making for some really interesting moves.

Weapon selection is also more varied than the first game, with the aforementioned brute weapons as well as hammers, and various polearms coming into the equation. Keep in mind before this game there was only swords, daggers and throwing knives that were usable, so it really is like night and day in some regards. Another absolutely awesome thing that they did is being able to actually fight with the hidden blade.

Speaking of the hidden blade, the stealth aspects of the game have been greatly renovated. In addition to being able to wield two hidden blades, there are also a host of new ways to stealthily get rid of those pesky, pesky guards like poisoning them, shooting them with a pistol attachment etc. There are also a ton of new positions from which you can assassinate people, most notably from ledges and from above. The new assassination techniques really give the player a new sense of freedom and complement the game very, very well.

The health system also had somewhat of a renovation. The first game featured a regenerating health system, however in AC2 this has been replaced with.... well I guess a non-regenerating health system. You'll have to visit a street side doctor to get patched up if you happen to get a boo boo from falling 4 stories and miraculously surviving. There's also medicine that you can buy from the doctor so you don't have to always go there to get healed.

Another large overhaul that they did this time around was introducing a money system. You can loot bodies for cash, or finish missions, find treasure and pretty much do a ton of stuff to find as much bling (did I just say that?) as you can. This'll buy you new weapons, restock your ammunition and medicine supplies, as well as buy you upgrades for the town that you own. Oh ya, you own a mother f**king town! Well actually your uncle does, but you get to upgrade it and his villa to extract more money from the town.

One of the last criticisms of the first game that Ubi definitely addressed were the extremely boring side quests. Now you can get side assassination contracts, as well as a ton of other side quests that are much more interesting than the first game.

Overall, the gameplay in AC2 is a huge improvement over the original, and as such it gets a solid 9/10 from me.

Graphics: Assassin's Creed was well known for having great graphics and AC2 does not disappoint either. In fact, the two games are very similar in this department, with AC2 having a slightly updated look to it.

The environments look fantastic, really exemplifying the Italian look and feel of the game. The animations are pretty smooth, however there were times where they looked a little weird. The cutscenes were very well done as well.

Overall, AC2 gets a 9/10 for graphics.

The voice acting in this game was great. All the returning characters had the same actors so that was pretty much a guarantee there, but the new characters really had some great ones. A highlight is definitely Ezio, who's actor really exemplified the qualities and personality of the character through his performance.

All of the other miscellaneous sounds are pleasant to the ears, and there really was nothing to complain about in this category.

As such, AC2 gets a 9/10 for sound.

Overall: Looking back on my experience playing this game, it definitely was one of the highlights of my gaming year. It was just such a well-rounded, solid game that improved so much on the first one that I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you are a veteran and fan of the first Assassin's Creed and haven't picked this one up yet, for the love of all that's holy, do it already! You won't be disappointed in the least. If you haven't played the first game I still would highly recommend it, but you might want to try AC1 first.

I guess in summary, this game was one of those ones that you just don't want to end and has you strapped to the seat from beginning to end.

Overall Assassin's Creed 2 gets 9/10 from me.

Medal of Honor: Airborne Review

The Medal of Honor(MOH) series from EA definitely has long been a big player in the Second World War game market. For more than 10 years its been grinding out title after title, usually in close combat with Activision's Call of Duty series for control of the market. However, before the advent of Activision's critically acclaimed Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare in 2007 which shifted that series into modern times, MOH had fallen significantly behind in terms of game quality and overall popularity for World War II gamers.

After Call of Duty moved out of World War II, EA saw a chance to regain some of their lost footing. So they worked and worked, and talked to the MOH community, then worked some more, then went out to the bar, and came home and had some of that nice drunk sex... sorry, getting a little off-topic here.

All of this work eventually gave birth to Medal of Honor: Airborne, the 11th game in the series. The game is again set in World War II(as if that whole spiel above didn't give that away), but with a unique twist this time around. Instead of playing a common Marine or infantryman, your character in this game is a paratrooper. I know what you're thinking, "Well that sorta sounds cool, but what does that mean to the game Tier?". Why don't we jump right in then and take a closer look at the game itself then?

Story: In MOH: Airborne, you play a soldier of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division named Boyd Travers during World War II. The whole plot itself is pretty much a rehash of what many other games have done, as you will engage in missions that range from the invasion of Italy, to helping soldiers land on D-Day, to storming into Germany itself.

And that's pretty much it... I mean it. The game has no supporting characters at all, and there's no emotional investment that the player makes with the game to be seen. To be honest, it was extremely disappointing to see that as I was expecting much more of a personal story to the game. Maybe it's because this is the first MOH game I've really ever played, but I was not impressed by the plot in Airborne whatsoever.

Another thing to note is that there are only 6 missions in total. I literally got through this one in about 4 or 5 hours, so compared to other similar games it's a really short one.

Overall, due to the complete lack of one, Airborne gets a 3 out of 10 for story.

Gameplay: Let me first start off this section by saying that I think Airborne had a great concept with the whole paratrooper thing. It really lets you experience a while other dimension of the war that few other games can give you. The actual way that the concept was implemented in-game wasn't bad either, but something was still missing.

Basically, you start off every mission in a C-47 flying over your drop zone, which for some reason always finds a way to get shot down or get most of the company killed. The constant jumping out of a crashing airplane gets incredibly annoying after about the 3rd mission, but once you're out of the plane you'll find yourself drifting through the air with the ability to steer your parachute towards any place on the battlefield below. A number of pre-placed flares let you know where so-called "safe" zones are, but I really haven't tried landing in any other places so I don't know if the mission is actually harder if you land far away from them.

When you finally land, you pull out the guns that you chose to have in your loadout before the mission and set off to complete a number of objectives, pretty much in the order you choose. This part of the gameplay is pretty much a carbon copy of many other games, although the cover system is something that was sorta neat to work with.

The selection of weapons in MOH is pretty standard for a World War II shooter, with staples like the Thompson, M1 Garand, MP40, and Panzerfaust all making appearances. There's a bit of an RPG element in regards to the weapons, because as you rack up kills with each weapon you get "experience" for that weapon. Obviously, headshots and melee kills count for more experience than normal kills, so get them if you can. Each weapon has three levels to which it can be upgraded, and each level gives various benefits to the weapon like increased ammo, accuracy, zoom etc. It's a nice little incentive and it gives the player some motivation to keep playing.

As for the enemies that you'll encounter during your time with the service, they come in a few different varieties, differentiated by their so called "combat effectiveness". The only that really prove a downright difficulty, however, are some super-soldier types at the end of the game. The amount of shots to kill an enemy(even headshots with some) gets a little ridiculous at times as well.

One thing that really brings the gameplay down are the amount of glitches that this game has. The ragdolls physics are way too overpowered and I ran into enemies getting blown onto rooftops from the ground thanks to grenades here and there. Another glitch that happened to me a few times was one that made things in the environment around me, usually my weapon, become invisible.

Overall, Airborne's gameplay presents a very familiar feeling to a lot of other shooters, but the paratrooper concept sets it apart. As a result it gets 7 out of 10 for gameplay.

Airborne runs off the Unreal 3 engine and still looks very nice for a game from 2007. The only gripes that I have with them are that the smoke, fire and explosion effects are really not that good.

I'm not gonna delve too much further into the graphics, but they get an 8 out of 10.

Sound: Airborne's sounds are very solid from beginning to end. The voiceovers are pretty much what you'd expect from beginning to end.

I personally love a lot of the gun sounds in the game. Apparently the developers took samples from real artifacts from the war to put in the game. In the end they help to deliver a more realistic feeling experience in the game.

Overall, the sounds in Airborne get a 7.5 out of 10.

Overall: MOH: Airborne is a bit of a mixed bag in my books. While the gameplay really has aspects that make for a fun game, the complete lack of a story and some of the lesser parts of the gameplay really drag the game down. If you were looking to get his game and play it, I would definitely say rent it if you have a console. It definitely warrants one playthrough but I know that I personally will probably not play this game again for awhile, if ever.

In total, Medal of Honor: Airborne gets a 6.5 out of 10.


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