Archive for December, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins – Review

December 23, 2009
Dragon Age: Origins review table

Dragon Age: Origins review table

Briefly, Dragon age is a good game, artistically great looking but not as good as we expected it to be technically.

this is a simple and straight to the point Dragon Age Origins review, nothing fancy but critical nonetheless…

Pros:

+the music is impressive and nicely present.

+the voice cast and cut scenes are very well done.

+the plot (as far as i went) and quests are well designed.

+tactical combat and commanding/ micro managing all team characters is an impressive  and fancy feature.

Cons:

-invisible walls are all over, that kills the immersion (unacceptable for a 2009 RPG)

-graphics are average at best (especially on PCs), although artistically, the game looks great

-the learning curve could be very horizontal – lack of in game tutorials

-characters body’s all look the same / very average character creator

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Call of duty: Modern warfare 2 – Review

December 22, 2009

About The PC vs Console dilemma

December 22, 2009

In recent years, the gap and rupture between PC and consoles as gaming platforms have grown even bigger and more complicated than ever.

as i mentioned earlier about modern warfare 2 (MW2), this game is a perfect example in this context, MW2 was (is still) no doubt an outstanding game on consoles (PS3 and XBox360) however, on the PC platform, the game is technically not only outdated but also a rollback for the genre altogether !

more than 3 years ago, PC gamers enjoyed (and still enjoying) Battle Field 2 (as an example) , an online military shooter where players can have their own dedicated servers and where they can compete on teams of 32 vs 32 . yes that was more than 3 years ago.

MW2 does not allow dedicated servers and limits the online experience to only 9 vs 9 – which is, and from a PC player perspective nothing short of pathetic.

yes, the game sold a plethora of copies even on the PC platform and thats of course because besides those technical limitations, the game is a great deal of action coupled with a lot of controversy…  which makes almost everyone wanna try it no matter what and even if he knows that he will only play it for a few days…

video games specialized websites like IGN.com have done a very poor job in this area, they gave MW2 an almost perfect score on consoles (9.5) which is allegedly well deserved, but surprisingly gave it the same score on PC which was a shock to almost all PC players without exceptions.

for consoles, MW2 was a leap forward in every aspect, but for PCs it was as i said before, a leap backward technically and the graphics were very average (many many PC title look much better),  for a PC gamer, the only part worth playing in MW2 was the single player controversial  campaign, the multi player part could impress a young PC gamer, but for veterans who actually played hardcore online shooter like BF2, MW2 was not to consider.

About video games reviews

December 22, 2009

Briefly and without going into useless details, among many others, i feel that video games reviewing sites are getting biased more and more, you can read any major title review on any major website to see that most of the review text is some kind of a set of forced fabricated sentences only worthy to be on a tv add instead of a review, take for example call of duty modern warfare 2, the game is no doubt good, but for PC gamers it was mostly a downgrade from what they had 3 years ago ! yet, it got the same score of 9+ out of ten almost all over the specialized web sites (IGN.com etc…) save a few like gamespot.com who actually gave it a 8.5

In order to not be one of those who just surface to complain before returning to the abyss of silence again, i decided to at least try and make some difference by writing my own reviews, obviously im not gonna be able to write a review for each game out there myself, but i will no doubt write at least one for every major game as i consider myself a very mainstream gamer.

About car reliability.

December 15, 2009

One of the most or probably the most used word used by the media when the subject is  the car sale industry is “reliability”.

as i was trying to buy a new car myself lately, i found out that the word means nothing. It is over used and over abused by both car manufacturers and dealers.

obviously, everyone wants it’s next car to be “reliable”… but what’s a reliable car? a car who doesn’t break? doesn’t break often? has cheap parts and labor? gas economic? comfortable? enduring? still performs well at high mileage? has a good resale price?…

no one will ever give you one simple answer and everybody has its own mental image of what is “reliable” and what is not.

after doing some research myself, i came to the conclusion that reliable is actually relative to the person and to the situation, in other words: what may be reliable for me, can be very unsatisfying for you and vice versa.

people usually look at various criteria when considering a new car purchase but all those criteria boil down to two main categories : Price  and Quality.

some people wanna move from A to B for a minimum cost and some people wanna enjoy going from A to B and are willing to pay a fee for that, there is no right or wrong here, it is a matter of a personal choice and situation, social classes have nothing to do with this as we can find two people who make the same amount of money having very divergent car choices.

the first group of people will go for a low gas consumption vehicle with minimum luxury, those people will not really care about state of the art expensive mechanical components nor care for any cutting edge electronic system, but they will still wanna get the best out of their money.

the second group of people will gladly pay extra cash for more performance, more luxury and comfort and even for a better looking car.

The Scams:

1-car dealers use some very interesting figures when they try to convince potential buyers, for example, a dealer will tell you that his car’s “the car he is trying to sell you” annual maintenance fee average in the first 5 years is 2 times less than it’s more luxurious, more expensive counterpart ! – this argument alone could be enough to convince an average person- and that is actually true, however, thats only half the story, the other relevant half is that the average annual maintenance cost is something like $90 all together ! so even if it’s double ($180) for the other luxurious car, it is still irrelevant to the decision you are trying to make. (a figure with $2000 vs $4000 would have been relevant for example).

2-dealers will usually compare apples to tomatoes and throw a few facts followed with a plethora of lies to willingly confuse you. a dealer will tell you that you are getting the same from him for half  the price of a high performance / luxury car by saying something in the order of : “this car got leather seats, sun roof, low gas mileage… same as that other car which is twice as expensive” and again in this scenario, the dealer did not lie, he only stated unfinished unquantifiable half facts, yes, both cars have leather seats, however, if you actually look closely at both (people should ALWAYS physically look at both cars before making a decision) you will see that one leather can be very different than the other, that the moon roof can be a simple square roof or can be a panoramic fully automated with sliding auto shader…

im not advocating for luxury cars nor suggesting that you should get one, what im trying to say is that, you will get what you pay for. and you will no doubt pay more for less if you are not carefull, dealers will try to somehow convince you that their brand X’s manufacturer has somehow slashed production costs by half and is providing you with what other car makers are selling for twice the price tag. this theory is absolute garbage, moreover, the dealer is actually trying to justify a high price tag on an economy product by convincing you that it is a s good as a luxurious product.

3- using the reliability card

dealers of economy mainstream cars will always actively and wrongly use the reliability card (at least in the USA), they will claim and defend that their brand is more reliable than any more expensive luxury brand, this is actually both true and false and mainly depends on what you as a customer perceive as reliable, to clearly understand this, you should first know what makes a car. All cars are by design and intentionally not made equal, yes they all have engines, 4 wheels and drive forward, but all don’t have the same level of craftsmanship and details, a little xenon head light here, a superior quality leather on the seats and more sensors there… can make the price of a car go up by tens of thousands of dollars ! and the trick is, those extra components will not only cost more initially, but will cost more to maintain and to exchange. for example: a car can either have a simple wind shield wiper or a high-end rain sensing automatic wiper which requires at least one more sensor, more cabling and at leat one more electronic controller system. knowing all that, what do you think is more reliable? a care with simple basic components which even if broken down will cost a small fee to repair? or a car with high-tech components which simplify your life and give you an optimal ride quality but if broken down will cost much more? as you can see, it’s not a yes or no situation, and claiming that car X is more reliable than car Y is usually a bad statement, unless both cars are in the same exact category.

lets take as an example two cars of the same category (medium sedan) x and y, x is an economy mainstream car that costs around $20k, y is a luxury car costing $30k – a close look at both you will see that y has less components and if both have the same components than x has a cheaper, less polished version of that part. the result is that y is more likely to break down since it has more features and more components than x, while x is less likely to break down since it has less features/components and  even if it breaks down, the components are very affordable to exchange. so claiming that x is more reliable than y is somehow true but also misleading.

even some renown consumer research website are wrong when they publish or interpret the results of their surveys. if more people are reporting trips to the garage concerning car y, it does not necessarily mean that car x is more reliable even if it has half the garage trip reports than car y, and thats because of many reasons but mainly because what we have discussed above (component count etc…) and also because owners of luxury cars are in my opinion much more likely to hit the garage every time they even sense that something could be wrong and for the smallest of problems thinking about mitigating the costs of a later much serious problem, versus economy car owners who again in my personal opinion are less likely to take their car to the garage for several reasons varying from the fact that they don’t care much if some extra unnecessary feature is half working  or not working at all to the fact that they are not willing to pay for the visit or the deductible.

more to come…