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Any post or comic that is game related.

Hitman:Absolution:Mini-Review

Hitman:Absolution:Mini-Review published on 2 Comments on Hitman:Absolution:Mini-Review

In other stealth murder news…I picked up Skyrim on Steam a week or so ago.

Though my life is about as hectic as it has ever been, I’ve put in a fair number of hours with my Illusionist-Archer. This is sort of a departure for me as I typically go for the Paladin build or perhaps malevolent mage. That said, I’m loving the game and the character. There’s something exquisite about a game that gives you the sense that you’ve outsmarted your opponents rather than just out muscled them.

I picked up the two DLC add-ons as well during Steam’s Fall Sale–so I’m well on my way to domestic bliss both in game and in real life. Though I may be going goth soon too.

If you missed our holiday special because of–well the holiday, then check our some delicious nerd left-overs here.

Happy retailing this month soup fans.

Jack

Operation Caligula Sunset

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We never test our comics on focus groups.  Here are some of the questions that they couldn’t have asked because they don’t exist.

Question 1:

Can a t-shirt with “+1 Charisma” get me laid?

Answer:

That’s not a simple question.  Follow along closely and I’ll be able to give you a customized answer.

Step 1:  Roll your d20 and add your Charisma modifier to it (If you don’t understand this nerd talk skip to Step 5)

Step 2:  Add your opponent’s Will Save plus another d20.

Step 3:  Add a +2 to your roll if you met your opponent at a nerd convention.  Add +2 to your opponent’s Will Save if you met them anywhere else.

Step 4:  No.  No it won’t get you laid.

Step 5:  Sure, why not.  It’ll get you laid.

*If you found any errors or issues with the way I calculated my Will Save vs Charisma Check, you might just die a virgin.

 

Question 2:

Wow, “two and a half minutes!”  What’s your secret?

Answer:

I think about kobolds in funny hats. Like a derby hat or sombrero.

 

Question 3:

“Operation Caligula Sunset” is a strange title. What’s it mean?

Answer:

Meaning is tricky.  As I see it, it could mean one of two things.

  1. If you’re familiar with Caligula’s legend then you’ll know that at sunset Caligula’s carriage turns into a pumpkin and his horses turn back into mice. The parallel here is pretty clear so I won’t belabor the point
  2. Sometimes a whale is just a whale.

 

Question 4:

I’m having a really hard time telling the difference between Rachel McAdams and Amy Adams. Can you clear up the difference?

Answer:

It’s a common problem. In reality, they’re the same person.

Just like Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling.

On a related note, she was very good in both the new “Muppets Movie” and “Midnight in Paris.” Whereas he was very meh in both “Green Lantern” and “The Ides of March.”

Cheers,

Jack

Best laid Plans

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Nothing like a Charger to totally wreck your evening.

Sort of like a mid-season finale.

Speaking of zombies and mid-season finales… I miss “The Walking Dead” (That’s how you segway people).

It’s not so much the mid-season finale that has me bummed out as it is that I’ll have no weekly Zombie programming to look forward to until February.

*SPOILERS FOLLOW–Both TV Series and Comic*  (Spoilers and evidence that I’ve watched way too much TV)

I wonder if AMC will have the stones to deal with Shane in the same way the comic did.  Seriously, it has to go down like that and it needs to go down on the farm. Shane is a fine actor and well executed character to my mind but in order for the story to make forward progress–he’s got to go.

If he doesn’t I fear that the series will go the meandering way of “Lost.” Don’t think “Lost” plods along, then queue it up on Netflix and watch a full season. Then finish this blog…

See fuck all happened.

That’s because the series became profitable so they drug it on and on and on. The medium and business side of the show impacted the art and storytelling. Finally, it was all such a jumbled mess that (if I recall correctly) Locke shot JR, but it was all actually a dream.

So Carl needs to shoot Shane, and  Shane needs to die.

Then the story can roll along and off Maggie’s Farm (a nice Bob Dylan song too by the way).

Cheers,

Jack

Running in Place

Running in Place published on 3 Comments on Running in Place

Dear DICE,

The Soup kids because we care.

Battlefield 3 is a brilliant achievement. Frostbite 2 allows gamers to blow the bejeezus out of gigantic levels.  No other shooter series does what the Battlefield series does for me.  I think it’s the visceral sense of destruction that I love so much.

So why the critique?

DICE has begun listening too closely to gamers’ whims. I have no doubt their intention in adding so many unlockables to B3 was to inspire gamers to create diverse and fully customized loadouts.

In practice however, the system inspires stagnation.

I can’t fathom why DICE decided to make gamers unlock mirror image equipment on the Russian and American side, it feels like good game design was trumped by some executive in EA’s Marketing Department.  Forcing gamers to unlock everything twice, may double the number unlocks a game can boast, but it’s painful for your audience.

Actually, that’s not even accurate… gamers have to unlock each upgrade for each gun which becomes absolutely maddening.

There’s little incentive to explore newly unlocked guns because their totally stripped of all upgrades. Particularly, given that the upgrades give players such a marked advantage. The choice becomes either: play only with one’s initial loadout, or suffer through being hamstrung with a gun that may or may not be any better.

Is it any wonder that so many gamers have opted to step off the treadmill via the EOD Bot boost?

Clearly not.

Nor is it any wonder that EA/DICE recently banned and/or wiped the stats of “hundreds” of these gamers. At this point, they’re committed to a badly implemented treadmill system.

If I had the patience to boost I would. I would step off the treadmill–understand DICE the Boosters love your product.

They simply want to play the real game. The real game begins when players have the full and extraordinary collection of tools you built into Battlefield 3 at their disposal. A collection where, for every pair of scissors there’s paper and a rock.

Too often, the current design has me feeling like paper–with no rock at my disposal.

Cheers,

Jack

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Rocksmith

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I picked up Rocksmith this weekend, and I didn’t even have the game running for a minute before I got several messages from friends asking how it was. So apparently there’s interest in this game, but also a lot of doubt. Which is understandable, considering what it claims to do. I’ve played it for only three or four hours so far, but think I’ve got the gist of it enough to comment on it.

According to the official website, Rocksmith is the “first and only game where you can plug ANY real guitar into your Xbox 360® or PlayStation®3 system, and actually learn while you play.” It requires a real guitar, and a guitar-to-USB cable. The game comes bundled with the cable for $80 (I’ve seen it on sale online at $70). There’s also a bundle that comes with a guitar for over $200. So it’s comparable to Rock Band pricing. While you’re getting a real guitar, and not a plastic miniature, I’m sure it’s not the best guitar money can buy. That said, my first guitar cost roughly the same and was a perfectly serviceable axe for me to get started with, so it may not be a bad deal. Those Chinese are getting pretty good at making guitars these days.

I’ve been playing guitar for seven years. I’m by no means a great player, I’ve come a long way since that first instrument. I take lessons every other week, switching between guitar and bass. I own several instruments, and have even assembled and finished my own “partscaster.” So it’s safe to say I’m familiar with the theory and technique for playing rock guitar.

There are some technical issues that one has to deal with to play Rocksmith. Ubisoft recommends connecting the audio directly from your Xbox to your sound device– go straight to the receiver, and avoid routing through any other devices. They also recommend you use an analog signal– this means no optical line. They recommend this because digital audio has to be processed, and the nanoseconds it takes for the game to process the guitar signal, added to the nanoseconds taken to digitally encode, transmit and decode the audio signal at your receiver result in a delay of milliseconds in gameplay, which makes the game feel decidedly awkward. I tried out the game with my original setup just to see if there would be a problem. There was. So I rerouted the audio per the game’s recommendation and reduced the lag to a negligible amount– barely noticeable if you are listening for it, but with no real impact on gameplay.

There’s a setting in the game’s options menus that allows you to tweak the display to match the lag in audio as you play. This is crucial, as an improper setting makes playing the game a confounding mess. Unfortunately, there’s no immediate feedback with this setting. You have to change it, then load a song, then play the song to see if you’ve set it correctly. If not, you have to quit the song, exit to the menu, and try again. An annoying hassle, and it took me a good half hour of fine tuning to get a comfortable setting.

Once the technical issues are ironed out, the game works well. Notes you’re required to play advance from a vanishing point, much like Guitar Hero. The way the notes are visualized takes a bit getting used to. It’s not as intuitive as Guitar Hero, but then we’re not just talking about 5 buttons anymore, are we? The layout is logical, but as songs move around the neck, it’s easy to get lost at first. The game starts out very basic, asking you to play perhaps 1 in 10 notes, with your guitar tone blended in with the original recording. Songs are divided into sections; verse, chorus, bridge, solo, etc. As your accuracy improves over any given section, the number of notes you’re asked to play in that section increases. The change is seamless and gradual, until there’s no guitar but your own played over the backing tracks. The game doesn’t judge you as harshly as Guitar Hero. There’s no horrible string noise when you hit a wrong note (aside from the horrible noise of your wrong note), the crowd doesn’t heckle you, and the song doesn’t end prematurely if you miss too many notes. The game doesn’t punish, but subtly rewards you with more difficulty until you’re playing the song all by yourself, which is a wonderful feeling.

The tracklist is large, but all pretty much verse-chorus riff-based rock music. The repetitiveness of this music works quite well with the teaching style the game takes.

So what’ll I tell those friends who asked me how the game is?

I’ll tell them it’s good. I’ll also tell them it’s not really a game, but really more of a practice tool, and an easy way to learn new songs.

But it’s no substitute for a teacher, and it’s no substitute for playing with real people. There’s no theory imparted in the game. If you’re completely new to the guitar, you’ll come away knowing how to play “Satisfaction” note for note. But you won’t know what those notes are, nor what key the song is in (or why that’s important). If Rocksmith was your only source of instruction, you’d only be getting half of what you need to know to play with other people. But that in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s a good start; it’s just not the whole story.

We’re in the middle of a very crowded video game season, but with all the different titles vying for my attention right now, the game I want to play the most is Rocksmith. Because I love playing the guitar, and Rocksmith creates a great space to play within. For me, this game is a blast. If you have experience with guitars, the game is good fun and I recommend it. If you’re looking to start, this game could be a good start, but keep in mind that this game is really just a supplement to learning to play, not a replacement for proper instruction.

Dark Souls Diary 8

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 8

Daily Deaths: 1
Total Deaths: 40
Bosses Beaten: Moonlight Butterfly, Capera Demon, 2 Butcher Mini-Bosses, Giant Rat

Current Level: 29

Sweet Loot: Evil Eye Ring, Spider Shield, Soul of the Moonlight Butterlfy, Magic Weapon Spell

Awful Moment:  Falling down a trap in The Depths getting cursed, then dying, and losing 6,ooo souls and a humanity.

 

I’m not a numbers person.  Mark Twain said it best when he said, “There are three kinds of lies.  Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  That said, I’ve got some amazing numbers today.

One daily death.

Two major bosses beaten.

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.  I said it a while ago, but I’d like to beat Dark Souls in under 150 total lives and if I keep up this solid play I just might. Though Jim’s comment a while ago about multiple Taurus and Capra Demons leads me to believe that I’d best save plenty of lives for end-game.

Last night started off with a successful run at the Moonlight Butterfly.  It’s really pretty easy–roll past its attacks, smack it in the face when it lands.  Game Over.  The Butterfly drops its soul which can be used to craft a spear or shield, according to whichever of the competing Dark Souls Wiki’s I checked.

That was a good win for me and a great way to start off the night.  Next up for me was the Capra Demon.  My new strategy is to take a few runs at a boss as a spirit before I tackle them on my own.  So I joined a game as a spirit and helped a caster take down Capra.  It all seemed too easy–so I ran back to Firelink to use up my souls and undo my hollowing.  I was really hoping to get at least two spirits into my game, but given some of the complaints online about the trouble with summoning I was willing to settle on one.  This was really the first time I’d been intent upon summoning other players into my game–and it worked.  It worked really well.  Within two minutes of summoning my first player I had a second in the game and just like that the Capra Demon passed into legend.

My brother had really talked up the Depths so I was pretty geeked to hit it.  Before that though, I upgraded my attunement level to 12 so that I could use two spells/miracles.  I bought the Magic Weapon spell… which I now regret.  It’s a fine spell, but it doesn’t buff weapons that already have magical properties.  In all likelihood I’ll upgrade my spear Partisan and use that spell in some kind of super-tank mode, coupling it with my Black Knight Shield.  I should have bought a miracle instead, but such is Dark Souls.

I love the confusing level design of the Depths.  I also really like the “Butcher” mini-bosses–they reminded me instantly of the Butcher from Diablo.  By this time of night I was feeling pretty cocky, a common theme for my Dark Souls play.  I’d beaten two bosses without dying, whomped a couple of Butchers… that’s when the floor fell out from under me.

Sort of.  I wasn’t looking where I was going and I fell into a hole…the worst hole ever.  Moments later, the word “Cursed” covered my screen, a moment after that I was dead.  Did I mention loving the level design in the Depths… let’s call it love hate.  In that hole I’d left more than 6,000 souls, a humanity, and to top it all off I was cursed.

This was a, “$#&$#^ it!”   Moment for me.

I decided my best chance at getting my souls back was to head over to the healer in New Londo.  On the way I fell off a bridge.  I wasn’t pushed.  I wasn’t backing away from an enemy.  I just walked off… like an idiot.  Okay, so I died twice–the idiot walk just didn’t really feel like it should count as a death.

Mark Twain was right about numbers.

Daily Deaths:  2

Total Deaths:  41

Cheers,

Jack

Dark Souls Diary Entry 7–Ring My Bell Edition!

Dark Souls Diary Entry 7–Ring My Bell Edition! published on 6 Comments on Dark Souls Diary Entry 7–Ring My Bell Edition!

Dark Souls Diary Entry 7

Daily Deaths: 2
Total Deaths: 39
Bosses Beaten: 1 Gargoyles, 1 Mini-Boss Black Knight

Current Level: 25

Sweet Loot: Black Knight Shield (Awesome!), Gargoyle Axe, Heal Miracle

I can kick the hell out of a Gargoyle.

This isn’t vanity or ego.  Like Muhammed Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

Oh can I back it up.  My first run at the Gargoyles I had them down to about 10% health–that was without a summoned NPC.  My next run was awesome, with the White Knight’s help I absolutely crushed them.  So handily did I beat them that I actually took the time to avoid killing them while I worked on acquiring the Gargoyle Axe.  The axe is actually the primary demon’s tail, if you land enough hits on the tail will come off (much like the Red Dragon/Drake Sword).  The axe looks awesome, especially when you wield it two handed–it actually bends like the Gargoyle’s tail.  Sadly it’s terribly weak… so it won’t be taking the place of my Drake Sword or my back up Astra’s Straight Sword.

After beating the Gargoyles I climbed the nearby bell tower–it was clear that this would be my moment to enter other players’ worlds and give them hope.  It’s not a common experience in gaming to feel pride, but as the bell rang out and the “Achievement Unlocked” signal flashed I felt some genuine pride.  I also found myself wondering who may have heard my bell toll… if any of you were on last night at roughly 10:45 EST you may have heard my bell.  If you did please drop us a line–I’d really like to know.

In any event, killing the Gargoyles was no doubt helped by the amazing shield I picked up earlier that evening.  In the tower near the Iron Boar there’s a black knight to kill him simply draw him down the stairs.  His attacks will (for the most part) pass harmlessly over your head, his overhead attack you can easily block.  The loot for me was the “Black Knight Shield.”  It’s awesome–100 Physical Resist, 95 Fire, 65 Lightning, 30 Magic.  Basically, it’s a keeper.

My brother got the “Black Knight Sword” from this knight, which has me wondering if the drops are class specific or just random.  I’m playing a knight and got the shield, he’s playing a ranger and got the sword.  Anyone else kill this knight?

I also picked up the Healing Miracle.  I’ve got a Faith of 14 and honestly, since I switched to the Drake Sword from the Astra Straight Sword, it’s been going to waste.  So I decided I was going to start buying some Miracles–Heal seemed like a good choice I didn’t play much after I bought it so I’ll let you know later how well it works.

Tomorrow I’m working on the Capra Demon or perhaps the Butterfly Demon.

Find out who is no longer with us in Thursday’s update.

Cheers,

Jack

Dark Souls Diary Entry 6

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 6

Daily Deaths: 12
Total Deaths: 37
Bosses Beaten: 1 (Titanite Demon)

Current Level: 24

Sweet Loot: Dragon Scale, Grass Crest Shield, Elite Knight Armor Set, Partisan, Black Leather Armor Set, Long Bow

The Titanite Demon has shuffled off his immortal coil–and I helped him shuffle.  Muwhahaha.

And how did I kill the Titanite Demon?

Well, I killed him with exactly 124 wooden arrows.  When I landed my first arrow it did barely any damage and I thought to myself, “Self, wouldn’t it be horrid to waste all my 124 of my arrows on this guy and not actually kill him?”  So 123 arrows later I notched my final arrow… praised the sun in my mind and collected a boat load of souls!

Quick tip on the Titanite Demon, he’s actually really easy to kill.  When you enter the room move down the slope and slightly to the left.  At range he attacks with a lightning bolt, so position yourself so that his lightning bolt strikes the broken pillar just in front of him then notch your 124 arrows, grab a drink and spam the left bumper.

Aside from that triumph I really just did a lot of milling about.  I killed the large purple dragon in the Valley of the Drakes and harvested a dragon scale from him… when I’m disciplined enough to hold onto 10,000 souls I’ll upgrade my Drake Sword with it.  I got my first look at the Capra Demon, though it was in phantom form.  Jim and I were trying to get into one another’s game but the stars weren’t aligned for us.  So I wound up being pulled into another players game and we rolled over the Capra Demon.  From what everyone else who has fought him says, I should relish this victory.  Apparently Capra will kick my ass for a while.

I fought the Gargoyles and got pounded, I think my new rule of thumb will be to tackle bosses as a phantom a few times before I try to do them myself.

Walking Dead Season Premier was on tonight so there was no gaming for me this evening, expect my next Dark Soul Diary Tuesday.  I’m dedicating my next game session to beating the Gargoyles so it’s time to play odds maker.  Given that I’ve faced them once already how many times will I have to face them Monday in order to beat them:

1–5 Times:  “I believe in Mr. Jack!”

6-10 Times:  “You’re old so you know how to handle a proper boss fight.”

11-15 Times:  “Eventually, the Gargoyles will just feel sorry for you.”

Never:  “Maybe in 15 years Baby Indy can show you how to game.”

 

Cheers,

Jack

 

Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition)

Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition) published on 2 Comments on Dark Soul Diary Entry 5 (Spiritual Hygiene Edition)

Dark Souls Diary Entry 5

Daily Deaths: 3
Total Deaths: 25
Bosses Beaten: 2 Mini-bosses (Steel Boar and Black Knight)

Current Level: 19

Sweet Loot: Drake Sword

Okay, so last night I crushed it.  Two plus hours of gaming a meager three deaths, two mini-bosses downed, and the Drake Sword acquired.

I even managed to level up my strength to 16 at the end of my play session allowing me to wield the Drake Sword one handed.

If you haven’t gotten it yet you NEED (note the all caps) to get this sword, additionally if you’re in the early stages of the game I’d suggest leveling your Strength to 16 so you can make use of the sword one handed.  There are plenty of resources online describe how to get the Drake Sword long story short… after you make the Taurus Demon into ground chuck, you’ll find a long bridge that’s guarded by a Red Dragon.  Stay to the very left of the bridge and creep toward the dragon.  He’ll blow fire killing all the skeletons on the bridge and possibly injuring you (make sure you’re at full health).  Keep pushing forward on the left side of the bridge and watch the right side of the bridge for a set of stairs going down, when you think you’re close enough make a run for it.  You’ll be able to kick a ladder down to your previous bonfire in the Undead Berg where you can heal up.  As you move under the bridge you’ll notice the dragon’s tail flipping about on the right side of the bridge.  Shoot it with what seemed like 50 arrows–eventually the end of his tail will fall off and you’ll automatically be given the Drake Sword.  With an attack power of 200 it’s easily the strongest weapon I’ve come across.

I tried to summon a few spirits into my game but each time the summoning failed, which was really unfortunate.  The co-op for Demon’s Soul was incredibly fun–hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to pull a few friendlies into my game.

On a happier multiplayer note, I’ve yet to be invaded.  My brother wasn’t so lucky, he just started out (as a ranger) and was invaded almost immediately.  As usual the villain would wait until he engaged enemies then dash in to attack.  His struggle with the Black Phantom seemed to go on quite a while and I had yet to hear how he fared against him.  I’m going to keep my current character out of the Book of the Guilty, but I will make a Wanderer for just that purpose muwhahahaha.

———–

As to the comic–I loved Demon’s Souls so a Dark Souls comic was sort of obvious.

I didn’t want to go with the standard meme and joke about the gaming being hard.  To be honest, I think that too many gamers have been coddled too long by publishers.  That’s not to say publishers need to make unfair games, but making a game where there’s a sense of peril and dread is a good thing.

It’s also a hard thing–FROM is awesome and the game’s sense of what it wants to achieve and the experience it wants to give gamers is so focused that (my apologies to Roger Ebert) it’s Art.

Thanks FROM you’ve got genuine fans here at Unicorn Soup!

Cheers,

Jack

 

Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

Daily Deaths: 4
Total Deaths: 22
Bosses Beaten: 1
Current Level: 18
Sweet Loot: None… but I did kill my first Silver Salamander!

Yep, I killed me a boss!  Woo Wee!  The Taurus Demon to be precise, beware of impending bull puns…

*Ahem*

Killing the Taurus Demon set the right moo-d for the rest of my play session.  Honestly, I was a little embarrassed after Diary Entry 3–I should have killed the Taurus Demon then, but I kept flubbing the controls or playing sloppily.  Dark Souls punishes the sloppy gamer, the rushed gamer… well all gamers really.  After beating the Taurus Demon I hoofed it through the white light and out onto a bridge where I was promptly made into brisket by a red dragon I had quite a lot of souls saved up to so dying here was an udder disaster.  The bridge and its layout was a dead ringer for a Demon’s Soul bridge–I can’t believe I’d been so gulli-bull!  Dark Souls never just makes a nice easy bridge with bad guys way off in the distance.

I’m such a nin-cow-poop.

Alright… I’m done with the puns.

I poked around a bit more in the Undead Berg before wandering back to the Firelight Shrine.  After all my undead killing my gear needed a bit of repair so I hit up the Blacksmith and actually wound up wandering into Blight Town, which was not the best idea I ever had.  The four huge warriors guarding the entrance gave my 250 souls each and I killed them by kiting them back to the entrance of the Blight Town tunnel… a bug causes them to get caught at the tunnel entrance so if you cross back over the bridge you can pick them off with ranged attacks.  The strength of these mobs–told me I should probably poke around in a different part of the world until I was a bit stronger.

So the logical next step would be to go fight a dragon–right?  Seriously, something about this game effects my judgment.

Granted, I did go after the injured bile spewing dragon nearby, but I should have been smarter.  Like I said, I was out of ranged attacks so I did my best Leroy Jenkins impersonation–like most of us, the dragon was clearly over the whole, Leroy Jenkins fad as he proceeded to smack the shit out of me.  Costing me the 1000 souls I’d so carefully farmed from the Blight Town mobs.

All in all though, it was a good night.

Check back Thursday for Unicorn Soup’s first Dark Souls webcomic!  It’s a good one!

Cheers,

Jack