Club Admiralty

v7.0 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Club Admiralty Blog

A blog about life in general, in as many languages as I can manage. Ενα ιστολόγιο περι ζωής, πολυγλωσσο - σε όσες γλωσσες εχω μεράκι να γράψω.

Hitman: Blood Money | Done

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Just before 2014 is done I managed to make my way through Hitman: Blood Money, the last game in the Hitman HD Trilogy that I bought at the end of 2013. I think part of the reason that I really got through this game quickly was because I played it on Normal (7 saves, regular AI), but still I was mostly playing for the storyline and not the achievements which makes this sort of a speedrun for me.  Despite the speed at which I played this game it was actually pretty good, and much better than the previous two I played.  The story is a continuation from Hitman: Contracts where the Agency is being targeted and all agents are, except for 47, are actually dead.

If you are paying attention, the load-screens at the beginning of each stage do foreshadow that the FBI has actually killed Agent 47. The story unwraps in flashback mode.  Some FBI director is detailing a particular scoop about how the FBI has finally caught up with the Agency and 47. As the director details specific hits, you play as Agent 47 and relive the mission.  The underlying plot, with which the story culminates, is that the Vice President of the US is looking to kill off the President to take over the country and Agent 47 needs to infiltrate the White House to kill off the assassins and the VP. In the end, after that final mission, it appears that Dianne has double crossed 47 by bringing the FBI to his location, but has she?  She gives him the same drug that 47 gave to that Agent he rescued from a previous mission (btw, am I supposed to recall who this guy is?), and at the mortuary she administers the revival counter-agent to the drug she gave him, along with placing two ballers in you hands.

The story in this game seemed much better than both the previous games combined.  The game play was also pretty nice. It seemed less linear than before, and it encouraged me, as a player, to see alternate routes and experiment more.  At the end of the day I attempted to really get as many Silent Assassin ratings as possible.  It didn't always happen, but this game actually made me want to care about more stealth ratings.  I did see Hitman: Absolution - the next game in the series - at a GameStop a few weeks ago, used, for $7. Maybe this is something to try out before school starts!

Overall, I would give this game an 8/10.  Not bad at all!
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Hitman Contracts | Done

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Well, that didn't take long!  I guess it was a combination of having the holidays, and playing this game on normal mode that made it seem like a breeze.  Hitman: Contracts is the second game in the Hitman Trilogy HD collection, and the third in the series as a whole. It still follows Agent 47 around his contracted killings work. I think this game was a bit of an improvement over Hitman 2 (see recent blog post). 

The story is told in the form of flashbacks. Agent 47 is injured (probably coming back form some mission) and he is being patched up by someone (I didn't really catch who).  As the game progresses, I do believe you are playing the missions that got you here, culminating in a half-done missions where you've already killed a tenor (why would you do that?) and you just need to kill of the chief of police and escape France.  In all honesty, even though the story was better this time around, I didn't bother listening to Diane tell me who the targets were in the final mission, and why - I just wanted it to be done!

The visuals were better this time around, probably because this game was made in 2004 with next generation consoles in mind, so things were given a few more development resources.  Lip-sync is still quite off which makes this video game seem like a semi-badly dubbed Japanese film. I suppose it could be worse and you can have ventriloquists as actors like the second one ;-)

As far as the missions go, there were 12 of them and they all seemed pretty disconnected, with the exception of a three or four mission arc of framing some Triad in Hong Kong (so as to instigate Triad war?).  Not sure what that was about, but then again if you are a real hitman I suppose that you don't care what the before or after is, you just go in to do what you were paid to do.  From a story point of view, we leave the game with the Diane and 47 on a plane, leaving France, and we hear Diane say that the Agency is compromised.  I wonder if this arc continues into the 4th installment (Blood Money) or if it's an aborted storyline.  I guess I'll find out soon.

I earned a few more achievements  here, and I finally got a "silent assassin" rating on one of the missions.  Not bad!  The game for me, at the end of the day is a 7.5/10. It's better than the previous one, but I am not sure I'll be playing it again any time soon.  Have you played this game?  If yes, what are your thoughts?
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End of year shipyard clearning

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With 2014 coming to a close, with little room to grow in my Star Trek Online ship inventory, and with several ships (Tier 5 Upgrade and Tier 6), like the Sarr Theln Breen ship, I thought it would be a good idea to go through my inventory and clean things out a bit. I was keeping a number of ships around in a just in case I want to use them again fashion, but the truth is they are a bit underpowered for end-game content...so off they went.  I focused on every ship that was not able to receive a T5U upgrade. Specifically this is what I cleared out of my inventory:

Federation ships:
Romulan Ships:
Klingon Ships:
This leaves me with 5 empty ship slots in each character to experiment with more ships and to claim any freebies that may come down the road. I am actually also considering getting rid of some more Klingon ships (that I don't use often), depending on how much inventory I've got free to store rare consoles. Also, potentially on the chopping block is my Caitian Atrox. I rarely use it at the moment and I can always reclaim it from the C-Store.  At times like these I wonder how many playable ships other players have in Star Trek Online, and how often they really use them.  As a side note, I don't particularly get why some people have some many alternate characters. Leveling three characters up is enough for me ;-)
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Hitman 2 | Done

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About a year ago I bought the Hitman Trilogy HD for the xbox 360.  It was a good deal and it seemed that Hitman was one of those games that many people have played and that people know about, so it was something that I should be playing to gain at least a passing familiarity with it.  The trilogy did not include the original Hitman: Code 47 (which I guess was a Windows-only) release so I started the series with the first item in the Trilogy: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.  As always there are spoilers in these posts, so if you haven't played the game, don't go any further unless you want spoilers.  

The whole plot of this second game in the series revolves around 47 (the assassin) trying to rescue his friend, father Vittorio, who took him in (at a Sicilian church) and I guess was trying to help him redeem his soul.  The game starts off with the church being assaulted and Vittorio being kidnapped. 47 proceeds to ask for her from "the agency". where he used to get contracts from, in order to get clues as to who kidnapped his friend so as to mount a rescue.  This, of course, isn't simple so you go from mission to mission, and in the end you are told that the person who hired you for all those contracts was actually the guy who kidnapped Vittorio (oh oh!). Well, it sucks to be him because in the end you kill him. The bad thing is that Vittorio dies in the end, giving 47 a rosary to help him on his path to redemption. 47 hangs it up on the door to the church and walks out, basically taking the attitude "I am what I am"... errr... OK... I guess self-improvement might not be something on the top of the list for a contract killer.

The game wasn't bad per se, it was just very rough around the edges.  Characters, when speaking for instance, would not have any facial muscles moving so it seemed like they were ventriloquists. I guess this is something that one might expect from a game that came out originally in the original xbox and PS2 era. Despite the name, "silent assassin"  my game play was less "silent assassin" and more "postal". I could have been more silent, but what's the fun in that? - especially when the HD graphics don't really do much for the story? I actually wanted to like this game, but it didn't really suck me in as much as other games, with better stories. All things considered I'd give this game a 6.5/10.

I know I got one achievement from this game, but I am not sure what the total is.  I think I will have to wait until I finish all three before I can get a tally of what I earned. 

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Adieu TvTag...

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Well...I guess it's time to bid adieu to TvTag :-/.  This is a social television watching service that took over the old GetGlue once GetGlue was bought by i.TV.  The concept behind GetGlue, and later on TvTag was that you could check into shows that you were watching, you would thus have an opportunity to see what your friends were watching, get some recommendations for television shows, and have an opportunity to have a chat, with friends, about the  show.  Near the end of life for this service I also noticed that you could check into specific episodes (not just mention what you were watching on your feed) and have an opportunity to have reactions at specific moments in the show.  I forget if the interval was every 5 minutes or less.

Back in the days of GetGlue you could also get badges for shows you liked and checked into frequently (you used to be able to do this for video games and music as well before they cut those parts out).  If you checked into specific shows while they were airing (presumably in the US) you would be able to get episode specific badges.  You might say "m'eh" to this, but GetGlue would actually mail you sticker badges of the digital badges you received by checking in!  And they would do this for free (maybe this is why they were bought off, they needed the cash ;-)  ).  I still have a few sheets of stickers on my office bulletin board.  I guess these might become collectors items now.

When GetGlue was new, and friend of mine invited me to it, I thought it was a bit silly. However, over the years I've gotten accustomed to checking into shows, partly because I want to keep track of what I watch, and partly as a way of stirring conversations with my friends. The thing that is irksome is that you need to make a manual request (i.e. send an email) to TvTag for them to send you your accumulated data, and I don't know if that's compatible with anything (it will most likely be a JSON file).  I really wish I could import all this into another TV watching service. I have signed up for both Trakt.tv and TVShowTime. They both seem OK.  TVShowTime allows me to rate each episode, which is nice, and Trakt.tv allows me to check into specific episodes.  I wonder which one will prevail.  On a final note, Yahoo had a GetGlue competitor called IntoNow.  Same type of service, which folded a long time before GetGlue got bought, which worked a bit like Shazam.  You would be able to record a several seconds of a show and it would fingerprint it and tell you what the show and episode was (and then prompt you to check into it).  This would be useful, I think, for both the services I am testing out. I am wondering if my friends will bother making the shift to another social TV service, of if they will just say goodbye to the practice.  Your thoughts?

TVTag Profile sample

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Η σχολική καφετέρια

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Τον περασμένο μήνα δεν έγραψα κάτι για τις πρώτες μου εντυπώσεις στην Αμερική, αφού φέτος κλείνω τα 20 χρόνια από τότε που επέστρεψα. Για αυτό τον μήνα είπα να γράψω κάτι για την σχολική καφετέρια. Όταν λέμε καφετέρια δεν το εννοούμε με την ελληνική έννοια ενός καταστήματος στο οποίο πας και παραγγέλνεις καφέ, πορτοκαλάδα και κρουασανάκια βουτύρου. Είχα φιλαράκια, με τα οποία αλληλογραφούσα τότε, και τους είχα στείλει ένα φυλλάδιο από το σχολείο που είχε πληροφορίες για αργίες, διάφορα τηλέφωνα για γονιούς (ασφάλεια, νοσοκόμα, διευθυντής, κτλ) και έναν χάρτη για το λύκειο το οποίο ανέγραφε τι ήταν η κάθε πτέρυγα, και φυσικά είχε και το μέρος για την καφετέρια. Μερικοί το είδαν αυτό και ενθουσιάστηκαν γιατί είχαν ως πρότυπο την ελληνική καφετέρια. Δυστυχώς δεν ήταν έτσι ;-)

Όταν λέμε καφετέρια σκέψου ένα σχετικά μεγάλο δωμάτιο, με μακρόστενα τραπέζια και με καρέκλες, και φαγητό προετοιμασμένο, και με κενό 30 με 45 λεπτά να κάτσεις να φας Αυτό ήταν κάτι που δεν είχα συνηθίσει από την Ελλάδα Τουλάχιστον στην Αμαλιάδα είχαμε ένα μικρό κυλικείο, στο οποίο πήγαινες να πάρεις κάτι πρόχειρο μέχρι να πας στο σπίτι. Δεν είχαμε και πολύ χρόνο να καθόμαστε να τρώμε. Άντε το πολύ 10 λεπτά να φας μια τυρόπιτα. Αυτό, αφού μου φαινόταν περίεργο οπότε τις πρώτες εβδομάδες δεν πήγαινα στην καφετέρια όταν είχα κενό. Νόμιζα πως ήταν προαιρετικό οπότε και εγώ δεν πήγαινα. Μια φορά με βρήκε καθηγητής και μου είπε πως δεν ήταν προαιρετικό, και με πήγε στην καφετέρια. Ήταν κάπως σαν να με πηγαίνουν φυλακή χεχε.

Μετά δοκίμασα λίγο να είμαι νίτζάκι και να μην με βρίσκουν οι καθηγητές που έκαναν περίπολο τους διαδρόμους, αλλά τελικά ήταν αρκετά μεγάλη μάχη για μην πάω στην καφετέρια. Έτσι λοιπόν είπα να πάω, μαζί με τους άλλους, και να διαβάσω λίγο έτσι ώστε να μην έχω πολλές εργασίες όταν πάω σπίτι. Με είδαν κάτι μεγαλύτεροι (2α ή 3η λυκείου) και αφού είδαν πως δεν είχα παρέα με κάλεσαν στο τραπέζι τους. Εντάξει, βρήκα θέση στο τραπέζι, αλλά λίγο άβολα όταν δεν ξέρεις κόσμο.

Με την πάροδο του χρόνου, και μέχρι να τελειώσει το πρώτο έτος, είπα να δοκιμάσω και εγώ τις “σπεσιαλιτέ” της καφετέριας, αλλά αγαπητέ αναγνώστη, θα σου πω πως ήταν βλακείες. Πίστευα πως το φαΐ ήταν έτοιμο, της ώρας αλλά έτοιμο, αλλά η αλήθεια ήταν πως το φαΐ ήταν γενικά κατεψυγμένα προϊόντα τα οποία ή τα έβαζες στον φούρνο (πχ πίτσα - και αυτή χάλια), ή τηγανητά (πχ πατάτες, κοτόπουλο nuggets και τέτοια). Κοίτα, όταν πεινάς, τρως - αλλά η αλήθεια είναι πως στο μικρό κυλικείο στην Αμαλιάδα όχι μόνο ποιοτικό ήταν το φαΐ, αλλά και πιο φτηνό! Πάντως εγώ, ακόμα και σήμερα, προτιμώ το ελληνικό σύστημα

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Sevylon 5: Last best hope for peace

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Back in the day a friend of mine and I used to have debates about which series was better, Babylon 5 or Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  I sided with DS9 back then (still do, the dialog on Babylon 5 is pretty awful - good story though).  There used to be a parody comic strip (which has now disappeared from the web) which had various off-shoots like Sevylon 5 (Babylong 5 parody).  If the few strips that still exist:


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Gears of War: Judgement | Done

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[spoiler alert] It's been a few weeks since I finished Gears of War: Judgement, but with the end of the semester, and other stuff, it's been not easy to sit down and write a few thoughts about the game ;-)

This game is a prequel to the Gears of War series of games that I've played before. This game takes place through flashbacks as each character is called upon to provide testimony for chargers of dereliction of duty (or something like that).  The Colonel that's presiding over these hearings is one crazy mofo for having this team tried now, given that there is a war raging on just outside whatever building they are in.

In each stage of the game you get to play through as a different character (the character providing the testimony).  This seems like quite an interesting mechanic, however all gears tend to play the same, and feel the same when playing.  I would have expected that different soldiers would have different skills, capabilities, strength, stamina, whatever. But no, each soldier plays and feels the same regardless of who they are.  No matter, the game was still enjoyable.

I chose to go through the game on the penultimate level of difficulty (hard I think) and the game was quite playable without wanting to tear my hair out.  Even when you choose your level of difficulty there is, in each stage, a "classified mission" option that increases the difficulty of the game.  With increased difficulty come increases spoils, so for most of the game I opted to play the classified missions and get some more XP toward in-game reputation.  The classified missions, for the most part, didn't seem that much more difficult, and they did add an increased challenge to the game which made it enjoyable.  I skipped classified missions which had a timing component since I find those time-based missions quite annoying  - I often fail at them because I like checking out the surroundings and I don't speed run through the mission.

Once the main campaign is done, you have the possibility of playing Aftermath, which is a mission that happens right before the end of Gears of War 3.  This mission gives you a little background as to what happened to the team after the events of Judgement.  It was nice to see Paduk again in aftermath but I really dislike that they killed Sofia (off-camera).  I know it's war, and people die in war, but seriously, this was a main character! For what it's worth, this was not totally unpredictable, I've played games that killed off main characters, but it's still annoying when you've somewhat invested in this character to have them killed off.

In total, I got 20 out of 70 achievements (29%, 220 out of 1500 points).  Part of me wants to go back and play through to get some more achievements, but I've had my fill of the game for now.  I think part of this is the fact that I decided to play Aftermath on the "Insane" level of difficulty which does have health-regeneration but does not allow for reviving by a team-mate.  The enemies also seemed quite more difficult.  This made the getting through that last chapter much more time consuming, and a little frustrating.  But...then again - an amazing sense of Fiero when the damned thing was done.  Maybe once I get through more games in my unplayed pile I will go back and work some more on this game :)
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Star Trek: Delta Rising (some thoughts)

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It's been a couple of months since the release of Delta Rising, the second expansion to Star Trek Online, and I've been playing, slowly but surely, through the content and the reputation XP (while still keeping track of my research reputation).  I'm seeing that this week will see the release of Q's winter wonderland, so before that hits, and I start fighting snowmen, I think it's an opportunity to jot down some thoughts on Delta Rising.

The story brings back some familiar Star Trek Voyager characters, such as Tuvok (now an Admiral), Harry Kim (now a Captain), the Doctor (does he have a rank? He should be at least a Commander IMHO), Seven of Nine (with a horrible catsuit again) and Neelix.  The idea is [spoilers ahead] that a race called the Vaadwaur have started attacking various species around the Delta Quadrant and the various faction expeditionary forces are coming in to assist the various friendly species of the delta quadrant, including talaxians, liberated borg, kabali, and so on.  It's an interesting expansion, and it does allow your character to level up to level 6, a fleet admiral.  Conceptually I have an issue with this.  While I do like bring a 5-pip admiral, how many of those can exist in a game?  And if I am only commanding one ship, what sort of fleet am I commanding? Not to mention the fact that I am already part of a fleet (player guild) so that's a bit confusing. I tend to not think about it a lot though.

Along with level 60, you get new abilities.  With each level you earn you have the ability to put the XP toward new ability trees, similar to what you see in other RPGs. This is nice, but it really makes the level 1-50 tree see quite antiquated (and useless).  I hope that in future iterations they get rid of the old "skill tree" and revamp it.  Through game play I've been able to level up 2 out of 3 characters to level 60.  Through chapter play throughs, exploration zone missions, and through DOFF missions (you'd be amazed how much XP these give for little work during the week).  The final character, the KDF character, is at level 58 and slowly leveling up. The XP required to level up at these higher levels seems astronomical, and not something you'd get a sufficient amount from just playing the chapter content.  I ended up skipping some of the chapter content which was patrol missions through the various systems in the delta quadrant.  I played through on my main character, but on the other two the cost (time put in) for the benefit (gear and XP) didn't seem worth it. I'd probably get more XP going to the Undine Space Zone and grinding through that over a a weekend.

The Delta reputation system is structured like the previous reputation systems. I got through with one character, and now I am going through with the other two (via sponsorship tokens).  All gear required some sort of equivalent to the Borg Neural Tube (forget what it's called now - ancient power cell seems to ring a bell) and you can only get these through advanced and elite queued content.  This is a bit of a pain because I only really PUG (pick-up group) for queued content and it's really hit or miss.  The Borg queued events (for the Borg reputation gear) also became much more difficult, less PUG-friendly, and as a consequence I almost gave up on Borg-rep gear.  I've discovered that more experienced players (and those with more DPS) tend to play on weekends and sometimes nights, so I tend to focus my last Borg-playing missions then.  I only need 4 more neural tubes for one last piece of gear, so I am almost there!

I did not get the Delta Pack.  As much as I wanted to, my T5 and a couple of T5U ships work pretty well for all content (with the exception of the Elite missions where nothing will work well if your team stinks), so go for it?

All things considered this isn't a bad expansion. I just wish there were easier/quicker ways to get reputation marks for gear.  Oh well, I guess I'll be raising some winter epohhs this year again for marks :)




And here's the trailer for the expansion:
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