Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review: Clive Barker's Jericho (PS3)

I'm going to try something new today. I'm going to try my hand at a review of sorts. As I am not a big fan of scoring in game reviews, I'm going to let my writing do the talking. In my opinion, which is one that is shared by many, scores and grades assigned to games take away from the actual editorial. Where you might have found a game that might be perfectly suited to your tastes from actually reading a review, some immediately stop reading upon seeing a score. SO! Here goes. I'll be reviewing the PS3 version of Clive Barker's Jericho.

First off, general info. Jericho is a first person shooter (FPS), that employs squad-based mechanics smililar to the ones employed in Republic Commando. Throughout the game, you will be able to jump between any of the six people in your squad, each with their own unique supernatural power and gun preference, among them; telekentic sniper, fire wielding chaingunner, katana wielding blood magician, the astroprojector, reality hacker, and the very cool guns-akimbo healer-priest. Throughout the game, you'll make use of each of their abilities and gun preferences, often as determined by level design (telekinesis to remove obstacles, or slow time to break through a fortified enemy position).

Speaking of level design, it is one of the game's major failings, if not the biggest. I cannot, however, totally throw it under the bus. I think anyone who is a fan of even a snippet of Clive Barker's work will enjoy the goryness and goop laden level aesthetics. There are some seriously disturbing sights throughout the game, along with some very impressive vistas (the Colosseum and the temple in the last level come to mind). With all the blood and guts, the game goes for creepiness rather than horror. This is further enforced by the monster encounters, which don't contribute much to the game beyond giving you something to shoot at while you progress through the level and further the story. No fancy reveals, no "boo" moments to make you jump. The typical monster encounter consists of artifical barriers that can only be surpassed by killing of waves of monsters. There isn't a whole lot of variation in the monsters from one level to another either. Still, once I got the hang of the game and found my niche, I enjoyed killing the lot of them (I particularly enjoyed using the katana wielding blood magician), except for those super tough suicide bomber monsters. Note to developers, if you are going to add kamikazee enemies, dont make them so effin hard to kill. Most of the bosses were interesting in some form or fashion, be it for their look or the encounter design. However, some where confusing at first and I remember killing at least one of the bosses and not really understanding how I did it.

This was my first 1080p game on the system, and it totally showed. Everything was nice and crisp, and made me very pleased with my glorious probably-payed-too-much HD-TV. I can't speak a whole lot about the controls, because it is actually the first FPS I've played on my PS3. I will say that I would have much preferred to play the game with a mouse and keyboard. I think the lack of precision that I had changed my way of playing. Had I the ability to be more precise, I might have made more use of some of the abilities that I avoided, such as the telekinetic bullet, which gives you the potential of being able to string several headshots with one bullet. On the gamepad, the best I could pull off was one head shot, if that, before the bullet went astray into a wall due to my inability to control it.

Jericho isn't exactly triple A material, but I enjoyed this game the way I might have enjoyed playing Halo, that is to say, turn your brain off for a while and kill some uglies.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

(Long)Short Note: Late Night PC Repair.

This is actually a longer Short Note, and it has to do with PC hardware. Reader beware.

Note to self, don't start motherboard swaps after midnight.

I got to swapping all my shit to the new mobo, and all was going smoothly until I tried pulling off the CPU heatsink. The damn thing wouldnt come off as easily as expected. A gentle tug still did the trick, but when I looked down into the socket, I had a slight 'OMG' moment. The CPU came attached to the heatsink when I yanked it off! (It's what I get for using the pre-stuck thermal paste that came with the retail box I suppose.) The chip seemed like it was cemented onto the sink, so I figured, "Well, dont wanna deal with having to clean off cemented thermal paste, if the chip came off without having to lift the little socket latch, mebbe it'll go in the same." I went forward, installing the 8800, my two gigs of ram, and left it at that to see if I could just get a post. No dice. So, I took my pocket knife and started cutting at the cement, which turned out to not be as cemented as I thought. The chip popped off with some work, and it was a sticky mess. Luckily, it wiped off easy enough, with some scrubbing with a box of cleanex that I had nearby. After wiping it all off, getting it all over my fingers and on some of the CPU pins and subsequently wiping those off as well, I finally had a decent looking heatsink and CPU that I could reapply a new thermal compound to and mount.
At this point I get to the moral of the story. I've always been one to wipe down the CPU die and contact area on the heatsink with some Isopropyl (sp?) alchohol or nail polish remover, to be sure that the old compound isn't in the little pockets in the metal that are too small for the eye to see. So, where do I get said cleaning liquids? Alchohol? Parent's bathroom, which I would probably awaken if I went looking around for it. Nail polish remover? Same place, as well as my sisters bedroom, who I certainly do not want to wake in the wee hours of the morning. So now I'm stuck. I had to clean up a bit to type this stuff up and put the project on hold. I really dislike leaving my box unfinished like that, but I see no way around it. Worse still, I have plans pretty much for the rest of the week. Maybe on Sunday, I'll be back for another post about how I finally got my box working. It'll be a good day.