v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Bionic Commando xbox 360 | done

One more game from the "completed a while ago" pile that I have not written about.  This one is Bionic Commando for the xbox 360, and I completed it on 5/18/19.  This video game felt like a sequel to the NES version of the game (which I haven't played a ton).

The game is a 3D world interpretation of what the classic bionic commando game. You use your bionic arm to attack and swing around the city to meet your objectives.  While you're trying to get from point A to point B baddies (humans, robots, humans with lots of guns) come at you.  I think the most satisfying attack in this game is grabbing someone with your bionic arm and rappeling into them. It's almost like a dance.

That said, the game does get a bit tiring after a while since the combat is pretty repetitive. I do like the environmental puzzles but I dislike that you can't float.  If you fall into the sea you sink.  yes, I know the bionic arm is heavy, but you mean to tell me that you've developed such a level of technology and you can't figure out how to make a bionic man float?  The other annoying thing is that the city has pockets of radiation, which harms you, and you need to figure your way around.  This isn't a bad thing, but it does serve as a game mechanic to keep a seemingly endless world contained.

Here is the synopsis from wikipedia, if you're interested in the plot:

The events of the game take place ten years after the original game. The game follows Major Nathan "RAD" Spencer, a government operative working in the fictional Ascension City and an Operative named Joseph Gibson aka "Super Joe" (voiced by Steven Blum) for the Tactical Arms and Security Committee (T.A.S.C) that trains bionic operatives like Spencer. After he is betrayed by his own government and falsely imprisoned, the Great Bionic Purge begins. Before his execution, an experimental weapon detonates in Ascension City, unleashing an earthquake along with a radioactive shock wave that leaves the city destroyed and wiping out its populace. The terrorist force known as the "BioReign" claims responsibility, threatening invasion. Spencer is freed to redeem his name along with the T.A.S.C's and is reunited with the bionic arm of which he was stripped.

During flashbacks the player learns that two years prior Spencer and his bionic partner Lt. Jayne Magdalene failed to eliminate two rogue bionics who had allegedly murdered a handful of people. Spencer resolved to help the two bionics escape when he and his partner discovered that the FSA were actively rounding up and forcibly rehabilitating bionics; something that both Spencer and Magdalene were themselves. Soon after the two rogue bionics and a wounded Lt. Magdalene escaped, Spencer was arrested by the FSA and sentenced to be executed for his treason.

Returning to the present, Gibson releases Spencer on the condition that he assist the FSA against the threat to Ascension City. When given this ultimatum in exchange for his freedom, Spencer initially turns it down, but Gibson tells him he has knowledge of Spencer's missing wife. As Spencer progresses through Ascension City, he discovers information on Project Vulture, a super weapon being sought after by the terrorists. Spencer is ordered to retrieve the item before the Bio-Reign terrorists can. After finally gaining access to the item, he is betrayed by Joe who reveals himself as the leader of Bio-Reign. Joe has also enlisted the help of Gottfried Groeder, a character introduced in Bionic Commando Rearmed.

Joe then reveals that Spencer's wife never left, and alludes to the concept that she is actually part of Spencer's bionic arm. According to Super Joe, in order for bionics to work perfectly, they have to sync with their host on both an emotional and physical level. In this case, Spencer's wife was the perfect candidate. After this revelation, Spencer hastens his pursuit after Joe who activates Project Vulture before Spencer reaches him. Magdalene tries to stall Super Joe, now in a Bio-Mech suit, but she is killed while Spencer is forced to helplessly watch. In a fierce mid-air battle, Spencer kills Joe and ultimately stops Project Vulture. He falls back into the hole of The Vault from which he, Joe and the vultures had ascended earlier.

In the epilogue a brief conversation in Morse code is shown between the sniper (Thomas Clarke) who'd been following Spencer, and an unknown party. The first message reports that the Vault had been occupied and the Vulture Sentry System had been "disabled" before requesting further instructions. While the coded reply was not decrypted from Morse code for the audience (encrypted message is in German once decrypted), it apparently reveals the following declaration in response: "Execution of Phase Two Prepared. Activate Project Albatros [sic]."

Overall, this was a quick run for me.  I got 26/49 achievements making for  415/1000 points. I am sure there were other achievements for collecting the various collectibles throughout the game which required some fancier acrobatics than I had time for 😃. It wasn't a bad game, but I am not sure if it's worth pulling my 360 out of storage to play again.  I wish it came to backwards compatibility so it would be an option for playing on the xbox one (or future) consoles.

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Nostalgia sells...and it's expensive!

As I was browsing my RSS feeds the other day I saw that Motorola has a new RAZR phone coming out.  I still have my old RAZR 3G in a drawer somewhere as a backup phone in case my smartphones die 😁 (wonder if the battery is still any good).  The original RAZR phone was an insane $500 (if memory serves me right) for a "dumb" phone that was network-locked.  This is at a time when I could buy an unlocked SonyEricsson phone or Nokia phone for about the same amount of money.

Some key specs for this phone (from TechRadar) are:

  • Main internal folding screen: 21:9 aspect ratio, 2142 x 876 pixels, 6.2-inch POLED (plastic OLED)
  • Front screen: 4:3 aspect ratio, 800 x 600 pixels, 2.7-inch GOLED (glass OLED)
  • 16MP main camera, f/1.7 aperture (no ultra-wide lens or zoom lens)
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • 2510mAh battery capacity
  • Android 9
  • 15W TurboPower fast-charge
  • Fingerprint scanner on the front in the bottom 'chin'
  • Speakers also mounted in the front chin
  • One USB-C slot on the bottom of the phone
  • No expandable storage slot
  • No SIM slot (the phone uses eSIM)
  • No headphone jack
  • No wireless charging

I do like the form factor (I miss flip phones from time to time), and I like that external notifications display, as well as the folding display design.  I am not as enthused about the lack of headphone jack and  use of eSIM. I still like the idea of SIM swapping when I travel (and not everyone supports eSIM as far as I know).  I also don't see any support for SD cards.

I don't see this replacing my Z-series moto phone anytime soon, despite the nostalgia factor (also don't want to spend $1500 on a phone) 😜

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Titanfall | Tried

Before I put away my xbox 360 (hermetically sealed to keep the dust out while it goes on cold storage), I had an opportunity to try Titanfall. This was back in September of 2018 (yeah, this review has been in my drafts for a while).

Originally I was a bit reluctant to get this game because it can only be played online (so no single-player content) and at the time I didn't have xbox live.  Fast forward to an incredible sale (was it only $5?) and the fact that I had xbox live at the time, and it seemed like an opportunity to give this game a try.

The game takes place at a time in the future where humanity has moved to colonizing the stars.  There are two factions: the IMC (the presumed "good guys") and the Militia (the presumed "bad guys") but you aren't given a choice as to which faction to play.  You enter a match-making lobby and the system chooses for you.  So, sometimes you play as the IMC, and other times as the Militia.  This gives you a sense of what's happening form both sides of the conflict (for the entire story check out the wikipedia article).  If you play enough you get the story from both side and I guess you can make up your own mind as to who the good and the bad guys are.

The mechanics of the game are interesting.  You play as a human pilot who can run around buildings and open areas, but you can also summon giant mechs (called Titans) that you can pilot. You can change between human and titan within the same match.  When your titan is damaged you can eject, take cover, play a traditional FPS, and when your new titan is ready to drop from orbit, you can resume by piloting the mecha. You can also have the titan follow you around the map on autopilot while you're on foot.

Generally, I really dislike PvP games because I totally stink at them (I get killed within the first few minutes). However, this particular game made PvP fun. The matches are rather short, and everyone seemed to be on a fairly even footing. I really wish this game played on the xbox one because I could totally see myself playing short matches here and there.  I know there is an xbox one version of the game, but in all honesty, I don't want to pay for it again.

Gamepoints: 395/2000
achievements: 16/88

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Batman Arkham Original Blackgate Edition | Done

This is another game I completed back before I put my xbox 360 away for a while.  This game was completed 10/20/18 (also this review has been quite a long time in my drafts folder 😜)

This game took 8 hours, 40 minutes of playtime for me to complete, according to in-game clock.  For the rundown of the game's story check out the wikipedia article (here).  The game was pretty interesting, and I wasn't sure what I was starting when I started it.  Having played other Batman games on the 360 I was expecting something in the 3D realm, but I was surprised to get a 2.5D brawler.  I must admit that the game was rather fun, and it brought me back to the NES and SNES days where these types of games were pretty common (or so it seemed).  The game feels like a pretty standard Metroidvania game (games which I often need a walkthrough at times to complete) where the player needs to clear some areas before others, in order to get tools and weapons, that enable him to progress into other game areas that they have visited before. Yes, I did use a walkthrough at times to get unstuck.

The story was pretty interesting, which served as motivation to get through the Metroidvania elements of the game. The story does end in a cliffhanger (or perhaps an opening for a subsequent game), but I don't recall if this game has a sequel.  The game is not backward compatible on the xbox one (boo!!!), so I won't be coming back to it any time soon.  Overall, not a bad game:  7/10.

Gamerscore: 175/400
Achievements: 15/30

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Review: TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall

TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall by John J. Ordover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The art style is definitely of its period in comic books, but the story was rather enjoyable. It gives us a look within Trill society, and what happens when the unjoined Trill look upon the worm-trills as parasitic and controlling of a society (definitely some stargate overtones here). It would be interesting to get to learn more about Trill society and the joining at some point in the Star Trek Lore.

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Review: Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos

Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos by Christian Humberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Overall, not a bad story. The crew is likable and they could easily be an on-screen crew if this story is adapted for television. I wish we saw more of the EMH in this story. My only critique is that the plot feels like something that was done in Prey. Not the same details, but the overall plot. This was completed in 2016, and more novels don't seem to be forthcoming.  Too bad, because I rather liked this crew and the adventure that they were in.

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Review: The Hall of Heroes

The Hall of Heroes The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The exciting conclusion to the trilogy. Too bad most of the unsung perished, but given the events of this story it's nice to see that the Klingon Empire is reconsidering its views on what it means to be discommendated. Now to go back and fill in the story with the reboot some point :-)

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Review: Star Trek Prometheus: The Root of All Rage

Star Trek Prometheus: The Root of All Rage Star Trek Prometheus: The Root of All Rage by Christian Humberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, the twist at the end of the book was not something I was expecting. Interesting! Looking forward to the third book. I still find the pronunciation in the audiobook version a bit silly. Trek names of places and things (like Khitomer, VGER, and Roktajino) are butchered. Overall a good read

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MIcrosoft Surface Duo

It seems like the idea behind the folding screen device isn't dead yet. Last week microsoft announced a few new devices, including a folding android-based device (which they claim is not a phone, but it is most clearly a phone).  It reminds me a lot of the knowledge navigator concept that Apple put together all those years ago (you know, when Apple was sort of out there and tried new things).  What I find interesting is that microsoft not only purchased Nokia to kill it off (I wonder where Symbia would have been today had they not been strangled to death by the acquisition) but also that they seem to have embraced Android.  Let's see where this goes.

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Adieu Yahoo! Groups

Well, another end-of-an-era is upon us.  Verizon (owner of Yahoo!) is shuttering yahoo groups.  This is a service that I've used on-and-off since the late 90s.  Early in my college days we used it as an asynchronous place to meet with people that we knew from Yahoo! Chat (which was synchronous).  This spawned groups like Ελληνικό Καφενείο, which was tied tot the popular Greek Yahoo! Chat group, as well as Greek in Canada (which I joined even though I wasn't Canadian), and my very own (and not quite successful) group: Μουσική, τεχνολογία, και τρέлa (a bit of a hodgepodge group).  In graduate school, one of our professors used yahoo groups as a place to post information because he didn't use the LMS (or didn't know how to).  Well, adieu yahoo! groups!  We had fun times! It's an end of an rra!

Dear Group Moderators and Members,

We are notifying you about upcoming changes to Yahoo Groups, which affect how content is shared and group membership is managed. We know that our users are deeply passionate about connecting around shared interests, and we want to continue offering the best experience possible.

We extensively researched the Yahoo Groups usage and user experience. In doing so, we determined that the majority of our members use the Yahoo Groups email functionality to share content, rather than posting directly to website message boards.

To align our features with user preferences, effective October 28, the following changes will be made to Yahoo Groups:
  • Uploading of new content will be disabled on the Yahoo Groups website. All users can continue to communicate and share content via email using any email client.
  • All users will only be able to join Groups either through an invite from the Group Moderator or by submitting a request to join a Group, which requires approval by the Group Moderator.

Starting December 14, all previously uploaded content stored on the website will be removed and all existing public Groups will be made private. If you would like to keep any of the content you’ve posted or stored within your Yahoo Group, you have until December 14 to download it by accessing this link. More information about the upcoming changes can be found here.

Since most content sharing among Yahoo Group members now occurs over email, we believe it is the right time to make this change. Please be assured that while posted content will be removed, Yahoo Groups is not going away, and new Groups can still be formed, allowing users to join and connect with their communities and passions.

Yahoo Groups is an online extension of your real-life group of friends, interests, and communities, so we hope this change will streamline and improve your experience.

The Groups Team

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