Afro Samurai Demo Mini Review

By Mike on 10:45 pm

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I can probably best describe Afro Samurai as incredibly violent Okami. Well, maybe I wouldn't got as far as to directly compare it to one of the greatest games ever made. The game is based on the hit cartoon series staring Samuel L. Jackson and ageing Asian hottie Kelly Hu (Visas Marr in Knights of the Old Republic II, Lady Deathstrike in X-Men X2). The problem with reviewing games based on a movie or TV series, it's hard to measure them up without knowing the source material. So Afro Samurai the game has to be taken as is. The demo wasn't really long enough to get a good idea of what the game is like so it doesn't really warrant the full review treatment. Anyway, lets get down to reviewing this mofo.

First thing out of the gate, if you're thin skinned, Afro Samurai is not for you. The game is incredibly violent to the point of giving God of War a run for its money. There's something strangely compelling about slicing a guy clean in two, head to toe, with a katana. Aside from the pure violence and course language, which just makes thing more colourful, Afro Samurai is a typical hack & slash game. Controls are very similar to God of War. Square is a light sword attack, Triangle is a heavy sword attack, Circle is a kick, X jumps, and R1 blocks. L1 enters a sort of slow motion mode where you can unleash charged attacks. You can also string combos together. Enemies are pretty genre generic. The game seems overly easy at times and I'm not even sure whether you can die or not. There's no health bar or any indication you're taking damage. As far as gameplay goes, there's nothing really special or original about Afro Samurai.

Graphics are where this game really shines. As frequent readers will have figured out, I love cell shading, if it's done right. Afro does an excellent job of that to the point where it closely mimics the style of the TV series as well as Japanese sumi-e style as was used with Okami. Music and voice acting also is true to the series. The original actors reprise their roles. The only downside is the sound effects, which are downright weak and even non-existent at some points of the game. The game contains no technical issues that I noticed.

Afro Samurai is a title that looks vary good but doesn't really bring anything special to the table. It's a slasher title along the lines of GoW. It's satisfyingly gory and stays true to the source material as far as I can tell but it's not an original game. The PS3 and 360 are already loaded with similar titles. It boasts excellent visuals and voice acting making it worth at least a rent. The demo weighs in at about 450mb.

What Works
-Excellent cell shaded visuals
-Strong voice acting with original cast from the series (Samuel L. Jackson, nuff said)
-Tight Controls

What Doesn't Work
-Generic slasher, not original
-Seems overly easy at times.
-Sound effects of low quality or are missing

Score: 7 out of 10

PSP Stages Major Comeback

By Mike on 4:09 pm

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A lot of us thought the Sony Playstation Portable was on its last legs. Apparently not. Sony is making major investments in the system. At the annual Destination Playstation event, five major titles were announced for the system.

-MotorStorm: Arctic Edge: It's Motorstorm on PSP, this time with an arctic setting. New vehicles include the Snow Cat and the Snowmobile. Furthermore, it's promised you will be able to customize your vehicle with tuned parts and paint jobs, a first for the series. The game is also being ported to the PS2. It's set to release on August 1st.

-Assassin's Creed Portable: Not much is known about the game at this time. Release date TBA 2009. I hated the original so lets hope the PSP version is better.

-LittleBigPlanet Portable: LBP on the go. Apparently identical to the PS3 version but with toned down graphics. It will feature all new story mode levels but the basic premise stays the same, including online "play, create, share". Presumably there will be some interconnectablity between it and the PS3 version. Release date is pegged at December 31st by IGN but it will likely appear sooner than that.

-Rock Band Unplugged: Activision may have ignored the PSP but MTV Games is bringing the popular rhythm genre to the system. Similar to the PS3 version, tap the buttons to follow the song, use the shoulder buttons to change instruments. DLC will be available on the Playstation Store. Release date is TBA.

-Petz: Tamagochi on steriods. Raise virtual pets. IGN says to expect dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, dolphins, tigers and bunnies to be available. Girls will eat this up. Release date is TBA.

-Lilac PSP-3000: It's the PSP-3000, but it's lilac purple. Coloured PSPs are a hit in Japan but North Americans have been left out until now. Obviously targetted at female and effeminate male gamers. Due out in July.

-Hannah Montana Bundle: The Lilac PSP-3000 bundled with an exclusive PSP Hannah Montana rhythm and dance game. Also includes Hannah Montana episodes on UMD and a 2gb Memory Stick PRO Duo. Oh, and stickers to customize your PSP. A pretty nice deal for the tween girl in your family. If you're buying it for yourself though; shame on you! (lol) It will sell for $199.99 and be available in July.

-Assassin's Creed Bundle: Now that we have the ladies taken care of, Sony also plans to release an AC bundle which will include the above mentioned game and a piano black PSP. No word on what else the bundle will include or when it will be made available. Expect it to cost $200.

Wow, that's a lot of blockbuster titles for the PSP. I guess the system has come back from the brink of death. 2008 was bad but 2009 with Resistance: Retribution and now all these is shaping up to be the PSP's year.

What MMN Would Like to See In the Next MacMini

By Mike on 12:45 pm

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Yesterday, pictures came out of what someone claimed to be the next MacMini. I personally think it's fake. The blurry camera work is a dead giveaway since it's a trick that hack photographers have been over using for ages to make pie plates look like UFOs. The use of five USB ports is non-standard and the inclusion of a Firewire 800 port is odd since Apple is trying to phase it out. Having both a Mini-DVI and Mini-Displayport on the same system is also strange. The Inquier also claims the way the light is reflecting off the metal around the USB ports indicates a copy/paste job. Despite this, it's got me thinking. What should Apple do with the MacMini. There has been talk of discontinuing the line all together since the low cost Macs are not exactly popular. It's been several years since they've received an upgrade. I think Apple should consider a whole new take on this little system, as an HTPC. Here's five things on my wish list for the next Mini.

1. Rebrand the Mini:
The Apple TV isn't selling well and is pretty weak and fairly uselss. For some real media clout, why not rebrand the Mini as an HTPC. I personally like the name Mac TV as a high end model in the Apple TV line. It would give users full media functionality including creating and editing in the same small package.

2. Make it faster:
Gut the hardware from the Macbook and Macbook Air and use it for the Mini. An Intel Core 2 Duo in the 2.0ghz ball park with a Geforce 9400M IGP would really improve over what the system currently has. DDR3 support would be interesting too. As an HTPC, it's also going to need a DTV Tuner as well.

3. HDMI:
Hardly anything uses display port and despite the high royalty costs, HDMI is still the way to go for home theatre systems.

4. Blu-Ray Option
I know Apple said that adding Blu-ray would be a "world of hurt" due to the high licensing costs, etc. However, it's about time Apple got on the HD video bandwagon. Any HTPC is going to need HD video playback and lets face facts, iTunes' highly compressed 720p video isn't going to cut it for a high end home theatre. HD streaming just isn't in the cards right now for most people. Add a BD-ROM/DVD-R combo drive as a upgrade option for the Mini.

5. User Upgradable
The Mini already is user upgradable but it's a lot of work to do it, especially when you need to remove the case with a putty knife. The RAM and hard drive should be easily replaceable by the user.

DSi Coming April 4th

By Mike on 12:41 pm

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There have been many rumors regarding when the Nintendo DSi will hit North American shores. It has finally been confirmed that it will indeed arrive in the United States on April 5th. CNET hailed it as the next evolutionary step in Nintendo's handheld line. I tend to disagree. The upgrades to the system are relatively small, though they are more than what was offered with the DS Lite. The DSi now boasts a VGA (0.48 megapixel) camera, SD card slot, 256mb internal storage, DSi Store selling downloadable content, and AAC support. It brings the system more in line with its two primary competitors; the iPhone/iPod Touch and the Playstation Portable. Downloadable content is something that was a long time coming for the DS given that it was the only console of this generation, both portable and TV top, to not have DLC. Other updates include support for WPA and WPA2 wireless security protocols, though they will not work with existing DS games. The SD slot expands storage limitlessly and will apparently allow the storage of downloadable games, unlike the Wii. It also features a slightly bigger screen. The downside is that the DSi is not backwards compatible with Gameboy Advance games and is not compatible with peripherals that used the GBA slot, such as the Guitar Hero Grip.

While these updates are indeed useful, it's the price tag that I don't like. The DSi will cost $170 upon release, which is the same as the core model PSP. It's important to note that the PSP is a personal media player while the DS is primarly still just a gaming machine. The basic nature of what it does hasn't changed much. While the price probably won't hurt sales, I think Nintendo can do a lot better. In my opinion, the DSi should be priced the same as the current DS Lite, with the latter receiving a price drop to $99. This complies with what Nintendo did in the past with the Gameboy line. Nintendo also has the iPhone to worry about too, especially given their attempts to market the DS to adult casual gamers.

Source: IGN

Building an HTPC Part 3: A Gaming HTPC

By Mike on 6:35 pm

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TV gaming has long been dominated by consoles. With the advent of HDTVs, this is changing. You can now play your favourite PC games on your TV, and incorporate all your home entertainment needs into one system. For this build, we're going to build a high end gaming HTPC for under $2000.

High End Gaming HTPC

Motherboard: DFI Lanparty Jr X58-T3H6 micro-ATX DDR3 & Crossfire ($290.99 at NCIX only)
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66ghz Quad Core ($349.99)
Memory: G.Skill 4gb (2 x 2gb) DDR3 1333mhz Dual Channel Kit ($105.49)
Graphics: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512mb GDDR3 PCIe 2.0 16x ($180.09)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar WD1001FALS 1TB/7200rpm/SATAII/3.5'' ($161.49)
Disc Drive: LG
GGW-H20LK 6x Blu-Ray Burner/16x DVD Burner ($247.99)
Case: Thermaltake LANBOX Lite VF6000BNS Black ($87.09)
Power Supply:
PC Power & Cooling Silencer S61EPS 610W (124.29)
TV Tuner: Happauge WinTV-HVR 1800 MCE Kit PCIe 1x with Remote ($124.19)
Networking:
Rosewill RNX-N1MAC 802.11b/g/draft-n USB2.0 Wifi adaptor ($31.39)
Keyboard: Logitech LX 710 Wireless Keyboard with laser mouse ($80.99)
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 OEM 64-bit ($149.99)

Total: $1822.08

Here it is, the creme de la creme of HTPCs. Yes, this thing can play Crysis. I selected the mighty Core i7 processor, which is currently Intel's high end enthusiast line based on the 45nm Nahelem core. The i7 920 features quad cores running at 2.66ghz. This CPU is incredably powerful and should handle any media or gaming task you throw at it with ease. Be warned that the i7 does run quite a bit warmer than the processors in the other builds so it may be worth it to upgrade to a third party cooler at a later date.
We're still sticking with the micro-ATX form factor, so this really limits us to our motherboard choices. In fact, there is only one micro-ATX board that supports the Core i7 processor and it's new LGA1366 processor socket. That would be the DFI Lanparty Jr X58-T3H. Luckly, this is a full featured board despite it's small size. It even features support for both NVIDIA's SLI and ATI CrossfireX for using up to two graphics cards. It supports up to 24gb of fast DDR3 using six memory slots, as well as tri-channelling. I personally think triple channel RAM is overkill, even for gaming so I went with a 4gb dual channel kit. I'd stick with that until DDR3 prices come down as it is currently double the cost of DDR2. The Lanparty Jr X58-TH3 is not currently for sale on Newegg's Canadian site. It is currently available at NCIX, which is another excellent Canadian online parts retailer. Everything else is from Newegg.ca.

For graphics, I went with the ATI Radeon HD 4850 from Sapphire. This is not the top end card but I went with it rather than the higher end 4870 for a couple of reasons. First to stay under $2000 but mainly because the 4870 is a massive card and I wasn't sure it was ideal (read "I wasn't sure it would fit in the case") for a small footprint HTPC. The 4850 will also run cooler and quieter and use less energy than it's bigger brother. ATI's cards are ideal for gamers right now as they offer the best bang for buck in terms of performance and features on Windows systems. It should be able to play all the latest games. Since the motherboard supports CrossfireX, a second graphics card can be added at a later date.
For audio, we're sticking with onboard or HDMI passthrough. I originally wanted to add the HT Omega Striker 7.1 mentioned in the last article until I noticed a problem with board layout. Most higher end graphics cards today take up two slots due to their large coolers so either the PCI slot would be blocked or the PCIe 4x one would be. I decided to keep the latter for the TV tuner, judging that to be more important. Using an HDMI capable AV receiver is ideal since the computer will simply pass raw audio data to it and let it do the work.

In terms of media features, I kept everything pretty much the same as with the last build, with the exception of upgrading to a Blu-Ray burner. This means you'll be able to export your homemade HD videos and DVR recordings to a BD-R or BD-RE disc for archival purposes. If you don't think you'll need BD burning capability, you can save $100 by using the Lite-On BD-ROM/DVD-R combo drive from the last build. For case, I've kept the Lanbox Lite though for $13 more, you can get one with decorative LED lights and a clear plastic case window. However, those features are superfluous for an HTPC that will be hidden on a shelf. Once again I stuck with the venerable PC Power & Cooling for the power supply, this time bumping up output to 610w. This is overkill really but it gives plenty of overhead for CrossfireX systems, overclocking, or possible water cooling. The keyboard also received an upgrade and comes with a laser mouse for better gaming performance. It still uses wireless RF though instead of Bluetooth. The high cost for little to no performance difference makes Bluetooth impractical for this sort of setup. Finally, I included a USB2.0 802.11n wifi adapter to cut down on cables while providing high performance for media streaming. One final note regarding the TV tuners. These can only accept unencrypted broadcasts. Unfortunately, there are no PC tuners on the market that are compatible with digital cable and pay-satellite smart card systems.

Well, that's it. Three HTPCs for three budgets. Keep in mind that the parts I've recommended are only guidelines to give you some ideas of what you can assemble for your money. I encourage you to shop around and not just at the stores I've mentioned. Building your own computer is far more rewarding that purchasing factory built models and an HTPC is a great way to get your PC out of the office and into your living room. They provide a more flexible and therefore more satisfying media experience.

Building an HTPC Part 2: A Mid Range Blu-ray System

By Mike on 11:42 am

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In part one, we looked at a possible build for a compact DVD/Media Server home theatre computer. A system like that is ideal for bedrooms and small dens but sometimes you need a little more power without blowing the bank. For this second build, we're going to put together a mid-range/low profile Blu-ray system for $1000. It's possible to build a stand alone BD system even with a home theatre audio receiver for a lot less than $1000, but keep in mind an HTPC can do so much more, including recording your TV programs, encoding & storing media for on demand plackback, playing games, and surfing the web and other typical PC tasks. From a value perspective, an HTPC makes a lot of sense even if the initial hardware costs are higher. This particular build is intended to be used for general home theater setups and will be capable of full HD 1080p output.

Mid Range Blu-Ray System

Motherboard: Zotac GF9300-A-E Geforce 9300 LGA775 Micro-ATX ($136.49)
Processor: Intel Pentium E5200 Dual Core 2.5ghz ($90.99)
Memory: Kingston 4gb (2 x 2gb) DDR2 800mhz Dual Channel Kit ($48.49)
Graphics: Geforce 9300 (Included with Motherboard)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar WD1001FALS 1TB/7200rpm/SATAII/3.5'' ($161.49)
Disc Drive: Lite-On iHES206-08 6x Blu-ray/22x DVD+/-RW SATAII/5.25'' ($148.49)
Case: Thermaltake LANBOX Lite VF6000BNS Black ($87.09)
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS370X 370w ($62.09)
TV Tuner: Happauge WinTV-HVR 1800 MCE Kit PCIe 1x with Remote ($124.19)
Keyboard: Logitech Wireless RF EX100 with Mouse ($30.99)
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 OEM 64-bit ($149.99)

Total: $1040.30

For this build, I went with the Zotac motherboard and Intel Pentium E5200 combo. The motherboard has a lot of good features for its price. It features the powerful Geforce 9300 integrated graphics chip, which eliminates the need for having a discrete graphics card to run HD content. It should also handle light gaming too for older titles. The E5200 is cheap dual core processor yet it is known for being very powerful and cool running. Unlike the Atom in the last build, this processor is intended for high power desktop applications. It's ideal for media centre use including encoding video. The Zotac board features full 7.1 surround sound through an HDMI port, so it can be connected right to an HD AV receiver in your living room. It also features analogue surround sound outputs for using PC speaker based surround sound setups. This gives you a full featured PC right in your living room. Since the integrated graphics chip shares system memory, I went with 4gb of DDR2 800 for this system. This provides plenty of memory but you can always add more as needed, up to 16gb. This is a dual channel kit which doubles memory bandwidth using two stick. The board has four RAM slots for DDR2 800. Since we're using 4gb or more of memory, you'll want to use a 64-bit operating system. I went with Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 OEM for this build due to its built in media centre software.

This system also doubles as a DVR, unlike our last build, with the inclusion of a Happague TV tuner. This tuner supports HD over-the-air ATSC broadcasts, analogue cable, and unencrypted ClearQAM broadcasts from digital cable and satellite sources. I went with the more expensive retail boxed version since it comes with a remote compatible with Windows Media Centre used in Vista. You only save $10 without it. Like any off the shelf DVR system, it allows you to pause, rewind, and record live TV broadcasts. The 1TB hard drive provides ample storage for both SD and HD quality recording. This being an HD media box, I also included a Lite-On Blu-ray ROM/DVD Writer combo drive. This will allow you to play BD movies at full 1080p resolution as well as watch and record DVDs.

For the case, I selected Thermaltake's stylish LANBOX Lite. Purpose built HTPC cases tend to be on the expensive side and contain a lot of unnecessary features. It has a foot print of about 11'' x 17''. Bigger than the Apex of the last build but within reasonable size to fit in with a home theatre. It fits both micro-ATX and mini-ITX boards. The piano black finish goes nicely with most HDTVs. The case is also well ventilated so it should be quite quite as well. For a power supply, I went with the venerable PC Power & Cooling Silencer. This particular one has 370w of power, which should be plenty. I suggest upgrading to a 450w supply though if you intend to add a faster CPU or a high end discrete graphics card.

Of course addons are aplenty. You can cut costs by using a 500gb hard drive if you're just going to store SD video and music on it. This system will also work well with Mythbuntu though I do recommend going with Vista for ideal compatibility. For upgrades, a faster CPU or graphics card is always an option. Wireless N networking is also a good idea. Don't be afraid of upgrading the sound system also. If you're an audiophile, you'll benefit from discrete sound solutions. For home theatre applications, cards using a C-Media chipset are best, such as the CMI8788 or CMI 8770. These will offer optical and coaxial sound outputs for older AV receivers that don't support HDMI. The HT Omega Striker 7.1 is a good choice at $112.

In Part 3, we'll build a high end gaming HTPC.

All prices are from Newegg.ca

Building an HTPC Part 1: A DVD/Media Server System

By Mike on 11:00 am

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In the old days, each home entertainment device you had was separate, leaving a huge mess of shelves, ugly units, and cable spaghetti clogging up your living room. Now that's changed. Using low to mid end computer components, you can easily combine your TV tuner, DVR, and Blu-ray/DVD player, CD player, and media server into one unit that can also surf the web and stream Internet videos. These are known as Home-Theater PCs. HTPCs first hit the market about 10 years ago and were vary expensive. Today, you can build your HTPC system with off the shelf components. There are a lot of options available. We'll look at three systems. A high end Blu-Ray Capable System, a mid range Blu-ray system, and a low profile DVD/Media Server system.

Low Profile DVD/DVR System
When building a low profile system, you'll want to look for mini-ITX motherboards. These are boards that measure 6.7'' x 6.7'' maximum. The idea behind this build is to make a small, energy efficient system that functions as both a DVD player and media server. So lets get to assembling a system for under $500.

Motherboard: JetWay JNC91-330-LF Atom 330 Dual Core ($149.99)
CPU: Intel Atom 330 1.6ghz (Included with motherboard)
Memory: Kingston 2gb DDR2-533mhz RAM ($25.49)
Graphics: Sparkle Geforce 8400GS 256mb PCI($61.99)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 500gb ST3500418AS, 7200rpm, 3.5'' SATAII ($79.99)
Disc Drive: LiteOn 22x DVD+/-RW, 5.25'' IDE. ($25.99)
Case: Apex MI-008 Black with 250w PSU ($61.61)
Keyboard: Logitech Wireless RF EX100 with Mouse ($30.99)
OS: Mythbuntu 32-bit

Total: $437.05

Intel's Atom processor was originally intended for the netbook market. However, it's rapidly finding it's way into livings room through nettops and HTPCs. The processor offers a small profile and uses a minimal amount of power, allowing it to run cool and quite. Unfortunately, it's not quite powerful enough for HD media. This is where the Atom 330 comes in. It had dual 1.6ghz cores allowing it to take advantage of multithreaded applications and multitasking. Even still, it needs a little more beef for handling HD content. The JetWay motherboard is still pretty basic. It only has one expansion slot, the older PCI. This means we have to use a PCI graphics card like the Sparkle 8400GS. This card is not suitable for gaming but includes NVIDIA's PureVideo HD acceleration to assist in playing back your high definiton media. Intel's integrated GMA 950 used with this motherboard is far too weak for this purpose so a discrete GPU is necessary. THe Sparkle 8400GS is passively cooled allowing your system to run near silently.

I decided to go with Mythbuntu instead of Vista to cut costs. It's basically a media centre version of the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system. It is available free of charge like all versions of Ubuntu. It is also the reason why I went with NVIDIA for the graphics card since they have better Linux drivers than ATI does. If Linux isn't your thing, you can still use Windows. I recommend Windows XP MCE 2005 for Atom based systems since it requires less computing power than Vista does. Using XP MCE will cost an additional $160 on top of the hardware. Windows Vista Home Premium can also be used with this system. It has built in media centre applications and is slightly cheaper at $145. Buy OEM copies instead of the retail boxed versions as you can save a significant amount of money that way. Since the Atom lacks 64-bit support, make sure you are buying a 32-bit operating system for it.

The case by Apex is low profile and should fit in nicely in a compact home entertainment centre. Unfortunately, proper HTPC cases that support mini-ITX are hard to find. The whole footprint of the case is slightly larger than a piece of letter sized paper. The 250w power supply is more than enough for this system since the Atom uses so little power. The 500gb hard drive offers plenty of storage for your media but you can upgrade it easily to 1tb for about $40 more if you're storing a lot of HD content. You could also upgrade your system to a Blu-ray ROM drive, which go for around $150. I recommend the Lite-On iHES206-08. The Geforce 8400GS is HDCP compatible, allowing it to play 1080p content over DVI. It has no HDMI port but DVI-to-HDMI adapter cables are available. The system has four USB 2.0 ports so you can further customize the system with full surround sound capability, TV tuners to make it a DVR, Wifi, and Bluetooth. I didn't include a monitor with the system since I'm assuming it will be paired with an existing HDTV.

All prices are from Newegg.ca with the exception of the operating systems, which are from NCIX. All prices are in Canadian funds.

Aluminum MacBook Vista Sound Clipping Issue Solved

By Mike on 8:55 pm

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In my review of the Late 2008 Macbook, I had noted that there were audio clipping issues in Windows Vista. Other Mac users note that it's a common problem that occurs with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the OS. As odd as it sounds, the issue is being caused the the Broadcom wireless drivers. For all intents and purposes, the Macbook is pretty much a system on a chip in that the Geforce 9400M controls everything other than the CPU. So seemingly unrelated conflicts in one area can cause problems in another. Fortunately, solving the problem is easy enough as updating the driver.

LaptopVideo2Go offers an updated driver for the Macbook's Broadcom wireless adaptor.
Navigate to the site I linked and look for this.

Driver for Vista and XP in both x86 and x64:
Broadcom 943xx v5.10.38.26 driver

It should be at the top of the list. Click the red link to download it. Unzip the package to somewhere convenient.

Go into the Windows Control Panel and open Device Manager. Look for Network Adaptors and click to expand the list. You should see something labled "Broadcom Wireless N Adaptor" or something similar. Double click to open the properties window for it.

You'll have to manually install the drivers for it. Click the "Driver" tab. Then click "Update Driver". From there select "Browse my computer for driver software". Next, select "Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer". It will open another window with a list of potential drivers. Ignore that and click "Have Disk" below the list. Another window will open prompting you to navigate to the driver. Click browse and navigate to where you unzipped the driver to. The folder containing the drivers should be called "Broadcom_V5.10.38.26", which should contain a subfolder labelled "Vista". Open it and select "bcmwl6" and click open. It will go back to a list of drivers. Select "Broadcom 4321AG 802.11a/b/g/draft-n Wi-Fi Adaptor" and click "Next" Windows will install the driver for you and prompt you to restart your computer.

Reportedly, it doesn't entirely fix the problem but it does clear up most of the clipping. I've been using the new driver all this evening and I haven't encountered issues yet. This fix should be a god send for Mac users who want to use their laptops for gaming or watching Blu-ray movies.

Google Suggest

By Mike on 11:15 pm

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Yeah, I've been posting a lot of crap lately. I am working on some legitimate articles but the writing process has been slow. I came across this and thought it was funny. Yes, this is real. You can try it for yourself.
fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

I'm not sure why Google Suggest is so terrified of the Chinese. Then again, this might have something to do with it.

Sony To Offer Game/Movie Combos for PS3

By Mike on 9:58 am

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Blu-ray disc has a huge 50gb storage capacity for enough for roughly 10hr of high quality 1080p video. Of course most movies and their special features don't even fill a single layer disc. Sony had decided to put that extra space to good use by offering discs that include both a movie and a game. The specifications have yet to be finalized but this could either be a really good idea, or a really bad one. It would be an easy way to pawn off poorly done movie based games (cough Iron Man) but it could also be a way for movie producers to boost sales, seeing as how video games have now surpassed the movie industry in terms of revenue. It all depends on who ultimately develops them. Sony sees it as a way of boosting slumping PS3 sales by encouraging people to adopt it as their primary Blu-ray player. No word on when they'll hit store shelves but it has been rumoured that three of these discs will be released sometime in 2009. I'll raise a glass to new ideas. I personally think it's important to buy a PS3. Think of the poor hard working people you hurt when you don't.

Yeah, I just wanted an excuse to use this picture. lol

Source: The Register

Prince of Persia Review

By Mike on 10:46 pm

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Prince of Persia is a long running game series involving the titular prince adventuring through the ancient Middle East. It originally started out as a combat platformer and indeed the series has remained true to its routes. Once again, this is my introduction to the series. I'm not really sure what to say about this game. The story begins when the Prince stumbles upon Elika, a princess who's father is trying to have her arrested. Her father eventually accidentally releases the evil god Ahriman who was imprisoned in a temple by the light god Ormazd. Upon his release from a tree that imprisoned his spirit, Ahriman unleashes his dark army and a curse upon Elika's unnamed city state. Your goal is to visit the fertile grounds to restore nature and push back the curse. The game uses cell shaded animation and is based on Zoroastrian mythology. This sounds familiar. In fact, the basic premise is almost a carbon copy of Clover Studio's epic Okami, except just moving it from ancient Japan to ancient Persia. The game also has similar elements to Mirror's Edge and Assassin's Creed. Unfortunately, Prince of Persia has more in common with the latter, which incidentally was also developed by UBIsoft's Montreal Studio.

Gameplay
The actual missions take place in the ruins of the city. Bottomless chasms are everywhere so you'll have to platform to get where you're going. Pressing X allows the Prince to do wall and roof run when moving towards either. X in place jumps of course. During a wall, roof run, or jump near a hanging ring, tapping O will extend the distance of your run. If you tap triangle while jumping over a chasm, Elika will use her magic to propel you double the distance of a normal jump. R2 uses your claw gauntlet to slide down walls. As simplistic as this sounds, I found the control system to be rather clumsy, offering little control over the prince. You'll often find yourself falling because the Prince did something you didn't want him to. Mirror's Edge had a similar premise but might tighter controls. While it was challenging, you never felt like you were loosing control of Faith. The same cannot be said for the Prince. The system takes a bit of getting used to despite it seemingly being watered down. Obstacles in the game include corrupted surfaces and corrupted air, which function in the same manner as cursed zones did in Okami. They slowly drain your health. The health system is similar to that in games like Uncharted, where there is no health bar but the screen fades as you loose it. You can never really die in the game. If you fall, Elika uses her magic to save you and you return back to a safe point. Saving also uses these waypoints rather than free saving. It always puts you back at the last safe point, which often requires considerable backtracking.
You'll get magic powers latter in the game when you reach special pads. Theses are obtained by collecting enough light seeds to move onto the next area. Magic can only be used on magic pads by holding down triangle. Green pads for example allow you to run up walls for long distances. The last thing worth noting is that you can talk to Elika at any time by hitting L2.

Combat is spread few and far between. There are a few dark soldiers but there aren't too many of them. They spawn in certain arena like areas. Killing them is as easy as just pushing them out using Elika's magic, once again tapping triangle if she's close enough. The Prince's combat is similar to Assassin's, which I panned in that review. Square is your sword and R2 blocks. X triggers aerobatic attacks and dodges while O is used for lifting attacks. You can trigger various combos by combining these buttons. More often than not, Elika's magic is more effective than your own sword. Each level ends with a bost fight, which are usually pretty strait forward and not that difficult. The goal is to drain the boss's health bar while not getting killed yourself, pretty standard. There are four bosses in the game but you have to fight the same four over and over again. There really isn't much to the combat and to me, it felt like it was added to the game as an after thought. There are hardly any enemies and the ones that are there were pertty easy to deal with.

I admit I did not complete the game as it was only a rental but it didn't take me long to get as far as I did. However, the whole games just has a dry and repetitive feel to it. Not as bad (tedious) as Assassin's Creed but the experience just leaves one feeling empty. The whole game is basically just jumping around with hardly any enemies to fight or puzzles to solve. There isn't really much of a good story either. Overall, the game play experience isn't horrible but it's not great either. I've come to expect this kind of stuff from Montreal Studio.

Technical
The game does look pretty good, running at 720p with nice, crisp cell shaded graphics. As far as I can tell, there were no technical issues with the game. The environments are colourful though some of the textures could be at a higher resolution. The cell shading isn't as good as what was done in Okami or the Simpsons Game but it's decent all around. Audio is also good, lacking the typical clich├ęd ancient music for a more Persian vibe. Voice acting is alright. The Prince is voiced by Nolan North, who voiced Nathan Drake in Uncharted and Desmond Miles in Assassin's Creed. It's funny because he uses exactly the same voice for the Prince as he did for Drake. From a technical aspect, Prince of Persia is an improvement on Montreal's past efforts.

Conclusion
Prince of Persia received a lot of mixed reviews from the mainstream press and for good reason. Everything about it is a hodge podge of things borrowed from other games. While that stuff worked well for those titles, it just falls flat in Prince. I'm not saying that Prince is necessarily a bad game, it's just unoriginal and lacks any real depth to it. The basic premise might have made more sense ten years ago than now. Montreal Studios does a fine job making games look good but when it comes to gameplay, they just fail to impress. You can make a game as artistic as you want but it needs the gameplay to back it up. It's an improvement on their last outing in the genre at least. Prince of Persia would have made a lot more sense as a smaller, Xbox Live or PSN game rather than a full $60 boxed title.

What Works
-Excellent cell shaded graphics
-Music good and fits in with the setting
-Strong voice acting
-No noticable technical issues

What Doesn't Work
-Controls aren't as tight as they should be
-Weak story that's a hodge podge of other games; not original
-Gameplay is dull and repetitive; lack of enemies and puzzles to mix things up
-Would have made more sense as a PSN title

Score: 6.5 out of 10

The $100,000 Wii

By Mike on 2:02 pm

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I spotted this on eBay.
That's right, some guy actually thinks he's going to get $99,999 US for a Wii, or $124,000 CAD. In all fairness, he is offering free shipping to Canadian residents. In case you're wondering what $100,000 gets you...

  • Nintendo Wii and Wii sports (5 games), one controller (wiimote + nunchuk)
  • Gamecube controller
  • Classic controller for retro games
  • 128MB SD memory card for save games
  • Wii : Zelda Twillight Princess
  • Wii : Super Smash Bros Brawl
  • Gamecube : Megaman X Collection (RARE)
    • Megaman X
    • Megaman X-2
    • Megaman X-3
    • Megaman X-4
    • Megaman X-5
    • Megaman X-6
    • Megaman Go Kart
  • Gamecube : Sonic Gems Collection
    • Sonic CD
    • Sonic the fighters
    • Sonic R
    • Sonic the hedgehog 2
    • Sonic Spinball
    • Sonic the hedgehog triple trouble
    • Sonic dift 2
    • Tails' skypatrol
    • Tails adventures
  • Gamecube : Sonic Mega Collection
    • Sonic the hedgehog
    • Sonic the hedgehog 2
    • Sonic the hedgehog 3
    • Dr robotnik's mean mean machine
    • Sonic Spinball
    • Sonic 3d blast
    • Sonic & knuckles
    • More bonus games
  • Gamecube : Sonic Adventure DX (RARE)
  • Gamecube : Sonic Adventure 2 battle
  • Gamecube : Zelda the windwaker bonus pack (RARE)
    • Zelda the windwaker
    • Zelda ocarina of time
    • Zelda master quest (ocarina of time, harder)
  • Virtual Console : Paper Mario 64 (N64)
  • Virtual Console : Super mario World (SNES)
  • Virtual Console : Super Mario Bros : Lost levels (Super Mario bros 1, harder) (SNES)
  • Virtual Console : Super gouls n' ghosts (SNES) (HARD)
  • Virtual Console : Legend of zelda a link to the past (SNES)
I've left out the user name of the guy to protect the guilty. It's worth noting that Wind Waker and Sonic Adventure DX are not rare titles as claimed. I found both of them for sale on EBGames's US website. Now, I'm not accusing this guy of scamming people. Most cases of this are publicity ploys and the price will likely drop once enough traffic draws attention to it. It just seemed so outrageous, I had to post it.

Even two years after it's release, the Wii is still in high demand and still proving difficult to find. I have yet to see one just sitting on a store shelf. Yes, I still would like one but paying $300+ on eBay, which is the going rate, is ludicrous. Wii is over priced to begin with at it's MSRP of $279.

Resident Evil 5 Demo Mini Review

By Mike on 10:53 pm

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Resident Evil is a long running game series that has its roots back on the original 3D consoles. I admit I have not played Resident's Evil 1 to 4 but based on the positive things I've heard about the series, the demo of the fifth game sounded promising. The first level in the demo is the infamous racist zombie scene from the trailer. You may remember the controversy it sparked showing your white PC shooting black zombies in Africa. The taboo factor has already drawn up attention to the game, but lets face facts here. Resident Evil 5 is not a racist game, but it is a bad game.

The graphics in the game are quite stunning and on par with what we should expect from the Playstation 3 at this point in its life. Sharp visuals with just the right mixing of HDR lighting and no frame rate drops or tearing. The real Achilles heel of RE5 however are the controlls. They're just awful. It's an example of how not to make a third person shooter. The story involves you being somewhere in Africa when you run into a village of zombies who execute some guy. Then they spot you and all of a sudden, you have a horde of zombies coming down on you, and you're trapped. What do you do? Why shoot them of course! Easier said then done. The control scheme is more complex than it needs to be. All sorts of funny button combos just for changing weapons. As usual L1 aims while R1 fires. However, you cannot move while aiming unlike most other third person shooters. Granted it's a lot like Metal Gear but it just ends up feeling clumsy in the end. The controls are on the sluggish side. You're given a pistol, a shotgun, and a combat knife. You'll run out of ammo quickly though. You do have a partner in the game who will help you kill some of the zombies but she gets in the way more often than not. The demo provides no real direction as to where to go or what to do so if you're like me, you'll just get confused, killed by zombies, get fed up, and switch it off. RE5 is a good example of a game that looks fantastic but plays like crap.

Score: 6 out of 10

Cardboard PC

By Mike on 9:56 am

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I remember seeing a "mod" in an old issue of CPU magazine showing a guy who made a computer "case" out of a plastic milk crate and duct tape. Arguably the finest and most versatile building materials in the history of man. The third greatest building material is cardboard, if you happen to be six years old. Designer Brenden Macaluso got the bright idea of trying to make a cardboard PC case, which he calls the Recompute PC. He's labelling it as a green design. When the PC reaches the end of its life, the cardboard can be recycled, once all the parts are removed of course. The case holds a micro-ATX motherboard, 2.5'' hard drive, and four USB ports. It has a fin like design to expell heat.












There are a couple of problems with the concept though. First of all, I'm not sure what's so environmentally unfriendly about conventional metal and plastic PC cases, since they too can be recycled. They're also significantly more durable and can be used over and over again. A modern motherboard will fit in standard ATX cases made over 10 years ago. It's also worth noting that paper production causes more pollution than producing metal or plastic does. It's an interesting concept but it's not really a practical alternative.

Source: Register Hardware