Street Fighter IV PC

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Street Fighter is a longtime favorite for me, the game combines technical mechanics with fast combination chains for devestating moves, for some players it becomes an elevated mind game where each player strives to out-think the other in how each jab, roundhouse, or throw is executed along with a fury of special attacks.

Street Fighter IV already hit the console scene earlier this year, the PC version was delayed to incorporate online play (Games for Windows LIVE) and most likely to try and stave off piracy as well since it seems like everything and it’s mother is ripped these days. I was fortunate enough to get a review copy sent my way though, I haven’t gotten into the online yet as I’m working on unlocking everyone first but I can say this.

The game is another evolution of the series, the game takes the fluid body mechanics from SFIII and brings them to a higher level of refinement, characters have a more refined array of attacks and specials that can completely shift the pace of the game if chained properly, the dynamics are fairly well balanced with the exception of Sagat and Seth still being quite high powered.

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For gameplay things had to be put to the test, yes it was designed to be used on a keyboard and the Titan DKT did respond easily to key commands but the real arcade feel came through using the X-Arcade solo stick, combos were easy to set off and overall I noticed a huge step up in accuracy compared to playing on the 360, I could execute more moves, time specials with more precision and smash the life out of Seth with less effort, the biggest thing to really note is, Microsoft dropped the ball by restricting who could and who could not produce accessories for their console with that locking code in their USB, I mean really I probably would have questioned what more I could do on the PC review given that.

The last part of course is the performance, the game was ported over from the console so naturally it seems like bugs would be encountered. On a fairly legacy based system things stack up quite well for performance. My Athlon X2 4200 with ATI 3850 is able to run the game in Windows XP at 1920×1200 60fps with full settings minus AA as the 3800 series has a bad implementation that causes a huge performance hit (Get the 4800 series if you’re thinking about a 3850 or 3870, for AA you’ll thank yourself) the game reacted smooth, the install was a breeze and loading times are minimal, really they’re limited to the speed of the HDD the game is installed on. Overall the quality to the console port seems to be on par until you break into the additional visual modes, personally I play on ink post processing all the time simply because I like the visual impression it gives.

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If you have an X-Arcade or have the cash for one, if you have a controller or intend to get one, then really consider Street Fighter IV, we can always hope that one day MVC2 comes to the PC, but until then this makes PC gaming a bit more diverse and a bit more enjoyable and really it is what people need these days, a break from the day to day shooting spree that we’re blasted with in gaming now.

E3 update-Left 4 dead 2 dated!

A sequel to the most amazing left 4 dead is not only official, it has a release date!

Mark your calendars for November 17th as the day the infestation hits! PC and 360 owners can look forward to new characters and an updated arsenal including chainsaws, baseball bats, axes and your trusty skillet. No word yet if the George Foreman grill will make an appearance.

E3 update- twitter and Facebook coming to the 360

Big social networking news on day 1 of E3!

Twitter and facebook are coming in the fall to a console near you! As long as that console is an XBOX 360 that is.

Twitter works how you expect it should. You follow updates from your friends while posting your current goings on, all from the comfort of your couch.

Facebook was announced by none other than my wife that doesn’t know she loves me, Felicia Day(the guild, Dr. Horrible). It works along the same way facebook users have become accustomed to. The added bonus is that it uses the xbox’s own menus! As if that wasn’t enough it also includes a feature called FaceBook connect that enables user to share screen grabs from in game and share them with your fellow gamers!

Let the parade of halo tea bagging profile pics begin!

MadWorld – Chainsaw days

It’s been a while since the game came out, but it’s a bit of a cornerstone to Wii gaming, for older audiences the game is slapstick madness in the sense that it’s completely violent and it makes no apologies about it, the game is designed as a mature 3rd person fighting title that grabs it’s rating of M and rides the wheels off of it.

When the title came out it was surrounded with TV questions of “would you buy this for your child?” “do you condone your child playing this?” and so fourth, the issue was that the game wasn’t designed for children and better yet it only proved that parents should be doing their job and researching what their kids beg them for. It was like a sense of whiplash to the parents finally that games are designed for audiences. For those actually wondering, it’s probably not the best game for your child to grow up on if you haven’t been involved in showing them that shoving a sign post through someones head isn’t nice.

On from that, the game deserves the praise it has gotten in the media so far for being such a great looking and excellent controlling game, the game was actually a joy to play through, motions were simple and illustrated on screen without interuption and it wasn’t actually all that absurd. Players get exposed to MadWorld as Jack, a mystery combatant with what seems to be a bit of a side agenda, as the game pans out players rank up by meeting score quotas and taking down bosses, the story of the city and of your investors slowly emerge from that point as you infiltrate the game further hoping to reach the crown.

The game features multiple attack methods such as basic melee combinations but it strives on creative kills, stuffing tires on enemies, shoving poles through them, slamming trash barrels on them and then repeatedly impaling them on spikes for maximum point rewards. Really the game is quite magical in the sense that it goes completely over the top to seperate itself from anything remotely serious.

The other reward for me was the soundtrack, it seems that every now and again Sega really cranks out a superb soundtrack, Jet Set Radio was quite a good bit of fun but MadWorld was the modern violent take on how they can go about a great mix. Unfortunately it was a limited release and goodness if it isn’t hard to track down in any form let alone find it for less than about $50

Overall the game is great, the graphics are great in their high contrast form, the combat is superb and easy to execute, the music is a welcome change and the flexibility of the game shows through constantly without feeling heavily repetitious or like a complete gimmick. For anyone up for a good violent bash MadWorld is a must have for your collection. Personally I’ll be giving it another play through to try and really raise the stakes on my existing scores.

DIY: Repairing a Rock Band Kick Pedal

Rock Band is quite an entertaining game it brings everyone together to click and clack their way to high scores and have a good group moment. Unfortunately people also get a bit carried away and often the casualty to the outing is the kick pedal on the drum kit. For some reason Harmonix didn’t exactly gauge how much people would really play the kit, as a result kicks started breaking like crazy and people started wandering to find replacements or decent fixes.

While there are many popular methods out there to fashion your own MDF plate or even metal plate and screw it in, not everyone is that savy and sometimes a splint and some tape might be the best option available.

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Enter the handy fix, steel hard drive rails, they’re about $2 on the internet (Directron.com) and they’ll do well for this fix, I already had a pair in my parts box so I went ahead from here.

The Rock Band kick pedal generally breaks just before the spring, the plastic is unsupported and just floats for the most part while there’s a huge amount of tension that comes out of the toe portion. Using a rail on each side one is able to form a strong support that absorbs the flex and distributes it through both sides. If your RB1 kick hasn’t broken yet then this is even more ideal so that you can save it before it does.

The first thing to do though is pull off the steel tabs at the top of the rail, these will just get in the way of things later on, once the tabs are off we’ll go forward.

The rails we used were just over 1/2 an inch wide, as a result they dont go far enough over to actually interfere with the spring. place the rail with the edge just supporting the outside of the pedal, basically hooking it as a guide if you’re not sure if it looks right check out the attached pictures, the goal of the rail is to have about 50% of it on each side of the break in the plastic, if the bottom is hitting just slide it until it closes properly, keep in mind that if the pedal can’t make a complete press then it wont register. At this point I used packing tape to secure the single rail just slightly so it wouldn’t flop off, duct tape or electrical tape should work just as well, make sure that it’s secured first before proceeding to do the same to the other side of the pedal, one rail isn’t enough to support it and things will only get strange from there.

If the pedal is being a pain to cooperate you can bunch up some socks or grab a shoe and shove it at the end of the pedal, this should bring it back to alignment with the base section of the broken pedal. If need be ask someone to help hold things still as you strap it down with tape.

Once both sides are secured, start applying longer strips of tape on the top and bottom of the pedal, wrap it about 3-4 times tightly and things should be good to go. Push down on the pedal with your hand and the pressure should be absorbed with no more flex from the breaking point.

This is a bit of a quick and dirty guide but for $2 and some tape I don’t think we can polish that much. This current fix has been steady in heavy use for about 3 months now. I have to thank Franks for the initial info on how to get things working again.

The Wheelman (PC) Review

Vin Diesel is a man of many interests, the guy steps into any field and invests himself in it quite a bit, with The Wheelman Vin brings this around again as moves straight out of box office hits are included right into his latest joint title with Midway (and Ubisoft).

The Wheelman as a result comes off as a bit of a fun title, there’s blind action that dominates the game, things like air-jacking and the focus attacks are entirely show driven and pay off well for the gamer since they’re often relied upon only when things get heavy, in the midst of a police chase or faction dispute these items are remarkably helpful and great to watch.

The game works to keep the player in some form of transportation the whole time though, without a proper ride the game is dull and a bit slow to say the least, things really were made to be passed at 100mph simply because the game world is so expansive and detailed.

Players wondering about the story need not look very far, the game pits players as an undercover mole playing wheelman to multiple crime cartels in Barcelona trying to uncover details of a greater heist rumored to be able to change the entire landscape of the city once it goes down. The fortunate part is that while this is a rather important event, it’s not all there is to things, players are also catered to with a list of other things to do in the city such as cab rides laying waste to the city to break records, escort missions and so on. In the end there is a main storyline waiting at home impatiently while you stumble in wreaking of burned cars and gun powder but it doesn’t urge you to indulge it, the game simply pokes the user to continue their path of pitting rival cartels against each other to establish a uniform breakdown.

In the PC version of the game players are treated to some impressive visuals, unfortunately they need the hardware to back it up, players that have gotten by on older Intel systems and AMD systems will note that the game might chug just a bit, this is more or less a porting issue, Ubi / Midway made no attempt to include a remotely helpful options menu to tune down the visual aspects of the game, given that it is a UE3 based engine the game should be able to scale quite well actually. The problem is that it seems they rushed it out of the door and hoped that the enthusiast market might carry it through. I would recommend a Core 2 / Phenom based system for CPU power, install the game on at least a SATA drive with 3.0Gbps capability and have a fairly recent video card to power it all since the video stream simply eats up system resources and goes into a slide show if players aren’t packing enough power.

Overall is this a game to get? If you have a fairly strong PC that you built recently it should work fine, if not skip the PC version and get the console edition instead, chances are the streaming issue isn’t really existent on the platform which would make it a lot easier to enjoy.

Wheelman (PC) 8.0 / 10

Defying the line

The gaming world is one that evolves at such a rapid pace that everything needs to constantly fight and writhe to be able to stand a chance, as a result it’s always amazing when games come about that don’t attempt to even meet the bar in gameplay when everything else stacks up so well.

The question then becomes quite simple, how does one go about mastering a visual engine, great supporting art and control and then completely abandon the gameplay, the first thing that should come to mind in a new title is variety or the sense of choice even though in reality no game offers total choice, just a fair illusion to make people comfortable, a perfect example is GTA where players can fool around all they want but in the end the only way to complete the game is to go through the steps in linear fashion.

The latest victim of this is Wanted, a movie license and comic license by Warner Bros., the game has many things that sell it as a worthwhile title but choice isn’t one of those items. Instead Wanted plays like a badly scripted action sequence with the same idea of “the player will jump behind the box, crawl around the corner, kill a knife wielding assassin, then shoot the guy with a curved bullet behind the head to get past the start of the section, lets then have a series of a duck and cover points pre-scripted and then have them go through while maintaining a very open looking area but with fences so that no one gets the idea to go outside of the pre-arranged trail.” The game could have offered something more, they could have opened up the levels, maybe made a variety of enemies and on top of that offered the chance to team up online and make use of the obvious development time invested into the special attacks.

Shootout
Stagnant, forced direction.
I'm just as linear but I own my environment
I'm just as linear but I own my environment

It’s easy to pick apart the game when it’s all said and done though, the team did a decent effort to make things happen but the voice that was in this project pushing so much control and linear play killed the game. Why not let players jump over any car, over any box, why not let them climb and shoot out from a balcony, why not let them hide behind non-standard pillars or give them the chance to quickly dash to other locations other than just a,b and c. players like to make a fire fight interesting, they don’t want to be able to see straight through the challenge and pick off everyone in a basic manner or be able to avert other challenges such as the snipers, they’re paying $60 for a thrill and a memorable experience, not to see how well someone scripted a mediocre set of repeating challenges.

Linear gameplay is extremely dated, it doesn’t even work for movie ports because no one wants to follow the same path they did in the film, the Spider-Man titles fought against this issue after the original and have been doing decent improvements over time although they’re not perfect at all. The idea that you can do other things on this path of destruction while living in the story, instead of watching cut-scenes why not make it possible to dive more into the control of how things pan out. People only like driving in a straight line for so long before it gets frustrating to no end. At this point in gaming the players are getting sick of this car ride and want out now, hopefully producers pay attention to that and let their devs roam free with how to re-approach play mechanics.