the rantings and ravings of a not quite sane cow

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Slashee Top Ten: Magazines That Shouldn't Be

#10: The Story Lover's Guide To Michael Bay
"Avoid at all costs."

#9: The Sopranos Fan Club
"The only magazine where every article finishes in the middle of a sent-"

#8: Stoner's Guide To The Red Sea
"See the lowest point on Earth from the highest point on Earth"

#7: The 10 Year Old's Guide To Counter-Strike
"Complete from swearing incessantly to teamkilling."

#6: Cemetary Real Estate Shopper
"Everybody's dying to get in here!"

#5: The Teabagger Chronicle
"Giving you your hot cup of well deserved action right in the face."

#4: Oedipus Worshippers' Newsletter
"You'd kill your own father just to read this"

#3: World Leaders Belittler
"Kim Jong Il: Fearless leader or senile muppet?"

#2: The Stalker Review
"Tapping on your windows at night for the latest news!"

#1: Sodomy Daily
"We're behind you all the way."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Slashee Top Ten: Game Sequels You Probably Don't Want To See

10: Half-Life 2: Episode 3
Because anyone alive today who actually lives to see it come out isn't human.

9: Warcraft IV: "So we've done an MMO, now what?"
Because it wouldn't include a Slashee unit, and that would send me on such a rampage I'd destroy society.

8: Batman Arkham Asylum 2: Arkham Harder
Anyone ever thought that a guy who dresses as a bat belongs in Arkham as a patient, not a vigilante?

7: Call of Duty 8: Modern Warfare 3
Now consisting of nothing but airport levels!

6: Guitar Hero: Emo-Fest
Actually, this would make a good test. Anyone who buys it gets dragged out into the street and shot.

5: Duke Nukem Forever
For it to come out, Satan will have to be in some way involved.

4: Grand Theft Auto: The Barrens
Every mission boils down to killing Chuck Norris supporters. And the game never ends.

3: Assassin's Creed 3
Game setting? Modern day. Famous assassin? Dick Cheney.

2: Need for Speed: Tiger Woods
Actually, a game that's even more about crashing than Burnout would probably be fun.

1: Beyond Good & Evil 2
Hell will have frozen over, which should actually make it pretty good for holidaying. I'll just catch a ride down there on Stephen Conroy's body.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review: Band Hero

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 15/11/09

Yes, this is late. Yes, last week's didn't appear. Sue me. L4D2 doesn't play itself, folks.
(This week featuring: duplicate items).

#1 ( ! ) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Ripoff price. No dedicated servers. No mods. Am I the only one who can say "pile of stinking Slashee$#%& ?

#2 ( = ) Left 4 Dead 2
No, you really should have this by now. WHY ARE YOU STILL BUYING IT?!?!?!?!?

#2 ( ! ) Dragon Age: Origins
The amount of detail in this that 99% of people don't care about almost makes my unhealthy obsessions seem slightly less unhealthy.

#3 ( /\ ) Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition
The amount of fail in paying $15 extra for a couple of fake items almost makes it seem like I succeed in something occasionally.

#4 ( ! ) Overlord Complete Pack
You can kill baby seals. What am I complaining about?

#4 ( \/ ) Borderlands
The only game where I've seen numbers appear above people's heads faaster than a dual wielding Stormstrike Windfury in WoW.

#5 ( \/ ) Torchlight
This is basically Diablo. Why don't you just play Diablo?

#6 ( ! ) Crysis Maximum Edition
The only thing requiring more of a supercomputer than Crysis? Two Crysis games.

#7 ( \/ ) Football Manager 2010
I'm surprised the NEEEEEEEEERDS that play this were able to stop playing it for long enough to notice there's a new version with probably no changes.

#8 ( ! ) Mass Effect
The best KOTOR game I've played since the original. What? This isn't a sequel to KOTOR? Could have fooled me.

#9 ( ! ) Counter-Strike: Source
Not okay: killing zombies in armour in L4D2 (apparently).
Okay: killing human cops in armour in CS:S.
WHAT THE $%#@?

#10 ( = ) Aion Standard Edition
Come on, people, the main "feature" is just a gimmick. WoW's main feature that will outlast any gimmick? Cows with two giant axes.

#10 ( ! ) Left 4 Dead + Left 4 Dead 2 Bundle
Apparently if you already own L4D you can gift it to a friend. So while you play the more awesome (with the exception of Coach not being able to replace Louis as a pill finding machine) sequel, your friend is forever stuck in the original. Nice way to encourage group play there, Valve.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 1/11/09

Yes, it's late. Sue me. Turned out alright though, because for some reason Valve released a second set of top sellers two days after the last one, so I'm using that one (duplicates, missing items and all).

Also worth noting: all of this week's comments will be supplied in limerick form.

#1 ( = ) Borderlands
There once was a border in the lands,
Where warriors would make their stands,
They were shot in the head,
And then they were dead,
I'm the best sniper in all the lands!

#2 ( \/ ) Left 4 Dead 2
There was a zombie apocalypse,
Some of them had quite massive hips.
Those boomers just ate,
Ellis off a plate,
All in one of Louis's drug trips.

#3 ( ! ) Torchlight
There's a light from this torch so bright,
It lights all corners of the night,
What is this game about?
That I need to find out,
Before judging it at first sight.

#4 ( \/ ) Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition
Dragons must be so full of hate,
Surely their age must be very great!
I sit to theorise,
Will people realise?
This game is the same as Baldur's Gate!

#5 ( ! ) Football Manager 2010
The sport's alright, I shouldn't knock her,
So much fun, the riots that occur.
Balls have so much heft.
There's only one fact left,
Football is actually called soccer.

#6 ( /\ ) Killing Floor
The floor has so very much killing,
No wonder it receives top billing.
When it comes to death,
This game is hardly bereft.
So much that the blood just keeps spilling.

#8 ( ! ) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This game has many different guns,
Weigh them all, and it must be tons.
Pull a gun, take a stance,
See them all crap their pants,
And suddenly they all have the runs.

#9 ( ! ) The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut
Surely with a game title so long,
The game it describes must be strong.
I was so deceived,
I had really believed.
Why must cows always be so wrong?

#10 ( ! ) Team Fortress 2
The scout double jumped towards the point,
The pyro he seeked to disappoint,
The spy was not deferred,
Then a whirring was heard,
From then it was the heavy's point.

#10 ( \/ ) Aion Standard Edition
For a game with the power of flight,
Surely something is lost from the fight.
Players of this must bow,
Before players of WoW.
Lest they all be slaughtered on sight.

#10 ( ! ) S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Surely one must wonder about how,
Would survive a radioactive cow?
Something about the milk,
Makes it shiny as silk,
And deadly to humans as a plow.

Note to Valve: fix up your RSS feed, damnit!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 25/10/09

Yes, I'm a day late. No, I don't care. Also worth noting: this list contains the duplicates that show up in my RSS feed. Because I feel like it.

#1 ( = ) Left 4 Dead 2
Come on people, if you want to preorder it you should have preordered it by now. And if you're in Australia, you shouldn't want to preorder it any more.

#1 ( /\ ) Borderlands
This one's ironic, considering the head of Gearbox doesn't like how Steam is run.

#2 ( ! ) Dragon Age: Origins
Everybody know's BioWare's best game was SW:KOTOR. And no, I won't listen to extremely futile arguments otherwise.

#3 ( /\ ) Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition
See my previous rants about digital special editions. Or just read the summary... there's nothing special about them since you can sell as many as you want, and exclusive in-game items can often be cheated in.

#3 ( ! ) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
First thing wrong - it's CoD. Second thing wrong - it's $90 US in Australia. We're supposed to pay 33% more than the yanks because of what exactly? A cent or two that it would cost to get the data over here? And no - isn't that - as there are plenty of Steam content servers in Australia. So WHAT THE F%&K IS IT? Third thing wrong - it's $60 US in the US. That's too much for a game, lots too much for a PC game, and and WAAAAAY too much for a digitally distributed PC game, since it costs practically nothing to get it to the consumer.

#4 ( ! ) ARMA 2
What's more fun - a hardcore realistic PC shooter, or a game where I can beat overgrown chickens to death with my bare hands? Doesn't seem much contest to me.

#5 ( = ) Aion Standard Edition
What's more fun - a MMO, or a MMO with dancing cows? Doesn't seem much contest to me.

#6 ( ! ) Tropico 3 - Steam Special Edition
What's more fun - a game whose cover has a Fidel Castro look-alike, or pictures of Fidel Castro? Doesn't seem much contest to me.

#7 ( ! ) Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition
What's more fun - a game that has you skulking in the shadows, sneaking carefully up in your prey, or a game where you ride on top of a carriage driven by an overgrown cyclops knight who has captured a princess, with thieves swinging down onto the carriage, all while fighting a giant troll who shoots laser beams from his eyes? Okay, this is getting silly - but my point is still valid.

#8 ( ! ) Killing Floor
Troy: Come on Jimmy, let's take a peek at the killing floor.
Jimmy: Ohhh!
Troy: Don't let the name throw you Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported.

#9 ( = ) Left 4 Dead
How to have your own zombie apocalypse, Australian style:
1) Get Michael Atkinson, Stephen Conroy and Malcolm Turnbull in a room together.
2) Kill them.
3) Who cares about the zombie apocalypse? You just solved all the country's problems!

#10 ( = ) Counter-Strike: Source
Why buy a $20 game when there's a game at half the price which is basically the same thing? And the less 10 year olds in the game, the better, obviously.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Further Musings: Stargate Universe: Air (Parts 1-3)

Further musings is the place for stuff that either doesn't fit in the original article, I think of afterwards, or I just feel like doing separately. And generally lack any semblance of structure.

  • There's been no main villain introduced yet - and every TV show (especially sci-fi) needs a good villain (and obviously I don't mean the antonym of evil good).
  • Some of the characters (I'm looking at you Greer) do either nothing or very little to make you care about them.
  • It's too much like Firefly. Only Firefly works well at being Firefly. Now give us more Firefly.
  • It's way too cliché... O'Neill would have a field day.
  • The cool nerd guy (Eli) isn't on screen enough. He's no Rodney McKay, but it's possible to actually like him.
  • I'm not sure if it's right to call SGU a spinoff of SG1... there's nothing familiar from either SG1 or Atlantis - I'm not saying you NEED something you've seen before in a spinoff, but it helps. And I don't mean five minutes of screen time in the first couple of episodes.
  • Some parts of the premise just seem like an excuse to force the show along.
  • Rush just spreads the positive though correct stereotype of the extremely selfish scientist. That's McKay's job.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 18/10/09

The problem with the frequency of these posts is that they make the infrequency of my other posts that much more obvious.

#1 ( = ) Left 4 Dead 2
It's maintained the top seller spot, and it isn't even out yet. Shouldn't everyone who wants to preorder it have already done so?

#2 ( /\ ) Borderlands
Show me a co-op shooter that isn't some variety of L4D that actually works, then I'll buy it. But I won't preorder it.

#3 ( \/ ) Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Show me a realistic tactical shooter that actually works, then I'll laugh at you and call you crazy.

#4 ( ! ) Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition
1) It's a preorder. That costs more. For the PC version, I'll bet you anything that within 3 days of release, you'll be able to cheat to get the "exclusive" items. 2) When was the last time Bioware actually made a different game? The past few have just been basically the same game with different settings.

#5 ( /\ ) Aion Standard Edition
Why do people keep buying this? It's not WoW. From what I've read, it isn't better than WoW.

#6 ( ! ) Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
People are only buying this because it was on special. People should already have it.

#7 ( ! ) Saints Row 2
It's a GTA ripoff. It's a good game, but it's a GTA ripoff. Why don't you just buy GTA?

#8 ( /\ ) Cities XL Limited Edition
I've made my thoughts about digitally distributed limited editions before, now, and repeatedly. And as I said last week, while I'm not sure how well the concept works, it sounds awkward.

#9 ( = ) Left 4 Dead
The sequel's coming out in a matter of weeks. Sure, the original is great, but save your dough and only get eaten by the newer zombies.

#10 ( ! ) Counter-Strike: Source
TF2 is the obviously superiour Source multiplayer FPS. No, really. Even without that, I'd still rather play DoD:S than CS:S.

Note: These are based off the RSS feed, which often contain different games at the same positions (don't ask me why, ask Valve). I use whatever's at the top of my RSS reader's list (most recent posts first).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

TV Review: Stargate Universe: Air (Parts 1-3)

I'm a bit worried here. SG1 and Atlantis have always been more traditional TV shows. Opening credits a full minute long, credits actually in the opening credits, episodes that don't follow a continuous arc (which sucks because then it's hard to watch them out of order), not shot from a documentary style viewpoint (which Firefly popularised... why did it get cancelled anyway? It's hard to find a sci-fi show these days which isn't at least a little influenced by it). SGU is, by the looks of it, none of these. It's still early days, so I'm hopeful about what it'll become, but don't expect a traditional Stargate experience here.

That's not to say it's not good. Stargate generally has a good attention to detail, this is no exception. Unfortunately, I'm also not seeing of the trademark Stargate humour here, either. Again, this could change, but it doesn't leave me particularly hoepful.

This is probably the point where some people would tell you the plot - to me, that's not particularly important. If you like the plot of Stargate, you're probably going to like this (I'm not a fan of the emphasis on flashbacks for the first part though). If you like sci-fi these days, there's a good chance you'll like how the story goes. It's slightly predictable and slightly cliché, but that doesn't make it bad.

Sound is good. I'm not too picky on sound in anything. As long as I can hear everything, and explosions sound like they could scare the crap out of the neighbours if you turned them up loud enough, I'm happy. How things look, I tend to be a bit pickier with the visuals. Everything's got a decent amount of detail and the special effects are great (I've never seen the kawoosh look that awesome). The Destiny looks great, too.

In short, since this is the point where I'm not really sure what to say: It's different. I want to like it, and while it's good, it's not quite Stargate. It's just that it's not really anything else, either. I'll keep watching (or just buy it on DVD when it comes out, importing if necessary).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 11/10/09

The previous installment was a bit late. This one is on time. Don't count on this happening again. Also new to this installment (since they wouldn't have worked last week), I'll provide how they've changed. Work it out, shouldn't be hard.

#1 ( = ) - Left 4 Dead 2
I understand that those of us in Australia have only just been able to preorder L4D2 through Steam. But since we're obviously so few in number (that has to be the reason game publishers don't care about us, right?), we shouldn't be able to push it up to #1. And in theory (for everyone else, anyway) if you're going to preorder you've had plenty of time to do so by now.

#2 ( ! ) - Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
A tactical, realistic shooter. Why would I want that when it's much more fun to walk around as a fat guy with a big minigun, mowing down scouts while I'm being healed by a German guy with a magic beam?

#3 ( /\ ) - Borderlands
Gearbox's CEO doesn't seem to like Steam (or to be more exact, Valve running Steam). If he had such a big problem, I don't think we'd be able to get it from Steam. I'm not sure why he's complaining anyway, since this seems to be doing quite well.

#4 ( = ) - Risen
Still not interested enough to look into it too much (which itself should say something), but it just seems like an Elder Scrolls/Fable clone to me.

#5 ( ! ) - Empire: Total War - The Warpath Campaign
It's DLC. That costs $10. That's either too expensive for what you get, or too much content for traditional DLC yet not enough content for traditional expansion. It's stuck in limbo.

#6 ( ! ) - Empire: Total War
Is it just me, or is the Total War series just the same game with models for the relevant time period hastily slapped over whatever's already there so as to shove it out the door as quickly as possible?

#7 ( \/ ) - Aion Standard Edition
An MMO shouldn't focus on looking pretty (I'm not saying it does, but since it runs on CryEngine it can't be too bad), it should focus on not being mindlessly repetitive. From what I understand, Aion doesn't do too well in that department.

#8 ( \/ ) - Aion Collector's Edition
Come on people, when the limited edition isn't limited you should be willing to shell out the few extra bones it costs to get it.

#9 ( \/ ) - Left 4 Dead
Come on people, the sequel is coming out! You should already have this! The only situation I can think of for actually preferring this to the sequel is if you're in Australia and you don't want the pussy version which the government thinks is the only one we can handle.

#10 ( ! ) - Cities XL Limited Edition
Hmm, MMO SimCity. I prefer playing in the same room as other people, so I can criticise their city in person, and "accidentally" cause disasters while they're otherwise occupied.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Hate People: Steam Top Sellers, Week Up To 4/10/09

People do things they shouldn't. People do things which don't make sense. That's why I hate them. That's usually not enough explanation for people, so I thought I'd explain through the most illogical means possible - why people shouldn't have bought whatever the top sellers are on Steam.

#1 - Left 4 Dead 2
I don't get preordering games through Steam - do it in a store, and you're guaranteed to get a copy when it comes out. Come on people, it's digital distribution. They don't run out. So all you're doing is letting them sit on your money. Admittedly I'd be letting them sit on my money if I could, but I never said I don't hate myself.

#2 - Left 4 Dead
The problem with people buying this is that they should already have it. That and the whole the-sequel's-coming-out-in-a-few-weeks-why-buy-the-original deal.

#3 - Aion Collector's Edition
Collector's editions used to be called limited editions. You know why. BECAUSE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE LIMITED. You're supposed to fight to get one, preferably with firearms. But when you're selling as many copies as people will buy, what's the point?
Oh, and for everything else I find wrong with this game, look at #5.

#4 - Risen
I've never heard of it. The only thing of any value that I've never heard of is my loyal cannon fodder readers. No, seriously, I've heard of every other game in this list. The fact that I haven't heard of this one has to mean something. What exactly I'm not sure.

#5 - Aion Standard Edition
It's an MMO. Which isn't WoW. I'm not saying that WoW is perfect (okay, I am), but considering the number of players it has, Blizzard must be doing something right.

#6 - Batman: Arkham Asylum
If the point of this column wasn't to criticise, I wouldn't say anything here. Since criticism is the name of the game however, what sort of people buy a game like this through Steam instead of going to a store? Comic book fans still living with their parents, going outside so little that mere seconds of sun exposure will cause skin cancer?

#7 - Counter-Strike: Source
I've already had enough 12 year olds swearing at me in voice chat in CS:S. WE DON'T NEED MORE OF YOUR KIND, THANK YOU AND PISS OFF.

#8 - Borderlands
See #1.

#9 - Resident Evil 5
Everybody that matters (me) knows the best RE game in recent memory was Resident Wiivil 4.

#10 - F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
C.R.A.P.P.Y.: Constantly Racketeering Acronyms Puposefully and Potentially Yelling. That and anyone who wants to be really scared need only look at a picture of Susan Boyle's face.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Overanalysis: Shaman changes in WoW 3.2.0-3.2.2

Shaman changes in 3.2.0:

Shaman
  • A customizable totem bar will now be available for shamans allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
    Finally! Now I don't have to spend half of every fight mashing totem buttons.

  • All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
    Being enhancement this doesn't really affect me (well, might make me pull using a shock
    instead of a LB, but that's about it).


  • Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
    Correcting a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place. In other words, it's about time! Now we might be able to die approximately 7% slower in PvP.

  • Chain Heal: Jump distance increased by 25% to 12.5 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
    Chain Heal jumping further, AND healing more? Sweeeeeeeet. Especially since when I'm healing there isn't much else I use.

  • Earth Shock: Redesigned. This spell no longer interrupts spell casting, but rather reduces melee attack speed by 10% for 8 seconds (exclusive with similar effects such as Thunder Clap).
    The exclusive part hurts a little, but to be expected. Still, making the enemy do less damage is always good. Read down a little bit to see why I'm not worried.

  • Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
    Being level 80 and not intending to level a shammy (until maybe Cataclysm comes out), the first part doesn't really affect me (okay, it's bringing the whole mounts at 20 thing into line, but it does make ghost wolf fairly useless for transport). Not being able to be snared below normal run speed is awesome though, as it makes for easier escapes (not that we SHOULD need them, but we do).

  • Wind Shock: Has been renamed Wind Shear and no longer shares a cooldown with Flame, Frost or Earth Shock.
    So now I don't have to constantly use Earth Shock to interrupt casters? Sweet.
Enhancement
  • Maelstrom Weapon: Now also has a chance to reduce the cast time of Hex.
    Instant hexing sounds fun!

  • Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman's attack power, down from 30%.
    I'd prefer the more intense mana regen, but this is probably a good thing, since if you blow it at the wrong time for whatever reason it's not as long before you can use it again.
Restoration
  • Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target's armor.
    A reduction is damage is always easier to measure, and will probably help casters more, should they need it.

  • Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
    I can't think of any situation where I've needed to use both at once, but saving a spot on my bars is always nice.

  • Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
    Earth Shield lasting longer. Anyone who objects shall die. Probably because the Shaman's enemies are the ones who object.

  • Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman's Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
    Trading a bonus to HWs on one character after using several to a bonus to any character whenever you damn well please... probably a good thing.

  • Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman's health.
    PvE resto shammys aren't exactly renowned for huge health pools, but less likely to die is always good. Probably more of a PvP buff, since a resto shammy in PvP gear would have a decent amount of health.

  • Nature's Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman's maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
    I prefer the effect of the old one, but I like the reliability of this one. Let's call it even.

  • Nature's Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
    More instant spells? No objection here. Not that I need them of course, as my healing is always more than enough to not have to worry about burst healing. Right? *eyes shift around room*

  • Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.
    Personally I prefer the crit bonus, since I like bursts of damage or healing (and tanks hate me). A reduction in cast time is more reliable and more easily measured though.

  • Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
    Now THIS is awesome. Triggered from Chain Heal AND no longer consuming charges? I can stop reapplying Water Shield every 30 seconds!


Shaman changes in 3.2.2:

Shaman:
  • Cleansing Totem: No longer pulses instantly when dropped.
    Mainly a PvP nerf, to stop you dropping it to remove everything from your team whenever needed. That's also a bit of a PvE nerf, but I can deal with it.

  • Flame Shock: The duration of all ranks has been increased by 6 seconds.
    Getting to use less Flame Shocks? More Earth Shocks to go around.

  • Lava Burst: This ability no longer ever consumes a Flame Shock debuff off of the target.
    Awesome. Now I get a bonus from having a FS on the target, but it isn't consumed by the Lava Burst. That means more fire. The only problem is that shammys aren't supposed to be pyromaniacs, but a buff is a buff and I'll shut up about it now.
Elemental Combat
  • Shamanism: Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gain an additional 3/6/9/12/15% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus damage effects.
    More damage is something I never complain about. Unless it's a PvP buff. Or an Elemental buff. Where's the Enhancement love?
Enhancement
  • Earthen Power: No longer causes Earthbind to pulse a persistent snare immunity aura. It does still remove snares from allies as an instant pulse, but there is no lingering immunity. Earthen Power now also brings Earth Shock's melee attack speed reduction up to -15%/-20% (with 1 or 2 points in it, respectively).
    This is both a nerf and a buff. The removal of the snare immunity is clearly a PvP nerf (shying away from PvP is always something I want for the glorious Shammy). A PvE buff (well, I guess it also helps in PvP... maybe if we can actually get a hit on a rogue it'll slow them down a bit) is always fun.


Overall, I'm cautiously optomistic. No major nerfs for once (the nerfhammer has to run out of steam sometime), so either Blizzard has finally realised what Shammys need... or they're preparing us for a double whammy next time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Slashee Rants: In-Game Advertising

It's a fact of life: advertising is everywhere. And while I'm sure we'd all like to shoot the guy who thought of it in the first place, we're stuck with it until I invent a time machine. The theory behind it is actually pretty good: you get something for free, whoever made it gets some money, everybody wins.

I don't mind ads on TV. I'd rather get ads than have to pay for TV. Of course, with technology these days we can skip ads. Naturally the people paying for the ads, and the ones making money from them are outraged. I'd like to point out though, that while I can only speak for myself, I can't remember any times that I've bought something just because I saw it an ad on TV. If I'm not going to buy anything from an ad... does it really matter if I skip them?

Still not touching the original subject, I'd like to discuss the internet now. Ads have been around since the start of the internet. These days, they're not hard to block entirely. That's what I do (I love you, Adblock Plus!). I might not block ads if they weren't so obnoxious. But when you've got a flashing thing over here, a flashing thing over there, pop ups, pop unders, and if you're really lucky, a healthy dose of spyware... that's just taking things too far. Google text ads are pretty good... they're unobtrusive and relevant, unlike most ads (you wouldn't believe how many websites I'm the millionth visitor to). If they were the only ads around, I'd gladly leave them on.

While that is all well and good, the original subject was games. If you take away one sentence from this, then let it be the following: Ads in something that's free are alright, but if I pay $100 (or more) for something, it shouldn't have ads. Ads are used to provide revenue when you're providing a free service. Free games, I don't mind ads in. But if I've paid plenty of money for a game (and they cost enough these days), I think I have the right to be a little pissed at some game company executive (probably Bobby Kotick) lining his pockets with ad money, when there's already plenty coming in from sales of the game. And most of the time, they look damn out of place.
  • Screaming through Paradise City, there are plenty of billboards for the game (those you can destroy), and plenty of billboard ads (which you can't)... at least let me take them out for a bit of revenge.
  • Swinging through a destroyed city in Bionic Commando, there are billboards. How the hell did the bomb manage to destroy everything EXCEPT the ads?
  • Rocking out on stage in Guitar Hero, there are ads. While plenty of real stadiums and wherever the hell else you play music have ads, they look completely out of place in the stylised world of GH.
On the other hand, the ads in Midnight Club: LA don't look so out of place... to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure whether they're in there for authenticity or because they're getting paid for it... that's how suitable they are.

Also worth noting: I'm sure we all don't remember when an update for SWAT 4 not only added ads, but tracked how long you looked at them and sent that data back to the mothership. While that's far from the biggest invasion of privacy I've ever seen, it's still not something you want to be a victim of.

In summary: either get rid of the ads in games or give me the games for free.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not Photoshopped, I Swears: Part I

I sure hope so.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Movie Review: Ponyo

I'll start by filtering out the crud:
If you think animation is only for kids, this movie isn't for you.
If you think Family Guy is the height of animation for adults to watch, this movie isn't for you.
If you think that animation only exists to be funny, this movie isn't for you.
If you've never seen a film by Hayao Miyazaki, you might have no idea what the hell I'm talking about in this review.

None of that is to say that this isn't suitable for kids or adults or isn't funny. It's more suitable for kids than any other Miyazaki movie I've seen (although some things might need some explaining to the little ones). It might not as good to the older set as Princess Mononoke. And while it probably is funnier than any of the Miyazaki movies I've seen, that's not its sole purpose for existence.

I'd give you the basic idea of the plot but that's really not necessary, look it up somewhere else. Yes, the plot is important (and quite good for the medium), bet regaling you of it is not why I'm here. It's told quite well, never leaving you confused as to what's going on (except maybe at the start, but how often do you know EXACTLY what is going on at the start of a movie?). Most importantly: it's fun! Yes, it may seem like it's aimed towards kids (as I said before, not necessarily true) but it really can be enjoyed by anyone, assuming you have a heart.

The art style is quite nice, full of vibrant colours and has just the right amount of detail (not much)... I guess you could say it has kind of a picture book look to it, but it suits and looks great doing so.

Now for the audio portion of our tour... music is quite nice, fits in perfectly... you may not notice it's there but if it wasn't, then you'd notice. Some of the voices are done by people you might recognise (Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon), but they're in it because they're right for the roles, not to try and get people to notice the movie. There are a few things that crop up from the dub, the one I noticed most was that nobody could seem to agree on how to pronounce Sōsuke's name. I think it'd be nice to learn Japanese and listen to the original soundtrack (which should be on the DVD, as it is with other Studio Ghibli DVDs... while I'm on that, PLEASE, PLEASE stop correcting for overscan on the disc masters).

Summary: This movie may not be for everyone. It should be, though, and you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. Anyone who just brushes it aside because it's an anime movie or for whatever reason is doing themselves a big disservice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review: Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods: Final Cut

For those not familiar with Stargate, Children of the Gods was the 2 hour (with ads, so it ends up being closer to an hour and a half) pilot that premiered around 12 years ago. And, to be honest, it hasn't aged well, especially when compared to newer episodes of the series.

Okay, first let me discuss finances. I paid $50 for the first season. This DVD of just the first episode is $30. Is it worth it? Hell yes!

If you like CotG as it is... congratulations, you're in the minority. While it's a decent episode (most Stargate episodes are), it's pretty poor compared to some other episodes. Some of the dialogue in it is just painful to listen to, the pacing slows to a crawl at some points, the special effects are bad, inconsistent, and badly inconsistent, the video quality is pathetic in some spots, some of the shots give you a great view of everything but the action, the music feels like awkward mashup of the Stargate movie theme and new stuff, some people's voices sound nothing like they should, it's completely unsuitable for kids (hey, Stargate is supposed to be a family friendly show), and there are plot holes big enough to fly a 747 through. In short, calling it a train wreck is overly generous. Despite all that, it's a good episode (by TV standards. By Stargate standards, it's not great). But it stands up to the test of time far worse than most of the early episodes.

If you don't want me to spoil anything for you, just scroll down to the second bold text after this. If you've already seen it or you don't care, read on.
Okay, now let's look at what they've done to make it better. First, visuals. The old opening title sequence is gone and there's a new one, not similar to anything you've seen from Stargate before. It's not badly done, but it does nothing to seem like it belongs to Stargate - just change the text and it could serve for anything even remotely related to sci fi. A decent number of the special effects shots have been redone, things like gate puddles and wormhole effects have been redone to look like they do later in the series (although some of the puddles don't seem to have been redone, and they stick out pretty badly). There's also more serious changes like redoing the glider chase on Chulak, as well as a couple of fairly distinctive scenes (like leaving the pyramid on Abydos). Some of the shots in the original were actually pretty poor quality, and some had noticeable defects, these have been fixed.

Sound: Most of the music has been redone so that it doesn't awkwardly include the movie's theme... sounds good but isn't particularly notable (unlike the original, in which it was notably bad). Some of the dialogue has been recorded, so characters now sound much more like... themselves.

Okay, now I really have to warn you. SPOILERS AHEAD. If you don't want to read them, scroll down to the next bold text (not far).
Now for how it's been cut. I'm not going to lie to you (about this): it's about 5 minutes shorter than it used to be. Among the cuts are possibly parts you may like (such as Carter's famous line when meeting "the boys" for the first time), but many of those are "so bad it's good" parts, so not a great loss. Also gone is the infamous nude scene. Stargate is supposed to be a family show... in that kids may not like it but there's no harm in showing it to them. There are still scenes with unclad ladies, but everything's tastefully obscured. Also gone is the bit just before the end with Kawalski alluding to the next episode... now it can stand by itself. This maybe gives the episode a bit of a happier ending than it should have (since Sha're and Skaara have both been made hosts) but is better in the long run. Overall it feels like the whole episode goes together a lot better... and it feels like it belongs to the series a lot more. The original cut, excluding the familiar characters, settings, themes and basic premise, could almost seem like it belongs to another series.

Good news! No more spoilers. Bad news! There's not much review left. Good news! There's not much review left.
Special features: sadly not much. There's a new commentary on it, full of Brad Wright pointing out changes you may or may not notice and Richard Dean Anderson being funny. No, really, if you have the DVD, listen the commentary now. If you don't have the DVD, buy it and listen to the commentary. There's also a short piece on how this came about and a few of the changes they made - it's good for watching once but that's about it. And... that's it, no more special features. I would have preferred some more in-depth stuff about redoing it, maybe some interviews with some of the cast... oh well.

Overall: if you're a Stargate fan, buy this. If you're not a Stargate fan, buy this (it makes for a great introduction to the series, better than the original cut).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Demo Impressions: Batman: Arkham Asylum

As a general rule, licensed games suck. In fact it's a statistic that I just made up that 95% of games based on movies suck. Other licenses tend to fare a bit better, but not by much. Comics tend to be the exception (and by exception, I mean 1 or 2 percent more don't suck). So don't worry, this Batman game is based on the comics. Don't worry if you don't read the comics (I don't, but I do tend to know a bit more than the average person), as most of the major characters are either obvious (like Batman) or in the moves (like the Joker). Well from what I've seen anyway (for a 2 gigabyte download, the demo isn't very long). It does help that there are profiles of all the major characters. There's also trophies of some of the characters, that you can zoom and rotate on, to either get a better view of someone, or the perfect crotch shot of The Dark Knight himself.If you're expecting a story like the latest movies though, it looks like you'll be disappointed, as the story has a real comic book sort of vibe to it.

Okay, for the graphics... they're damn fine (that is to say they're completely awesome). As this bat is based off his comic appearances, don't expect anyone to look like someone from the movies (well, the Joker looks a little bit like Heath Ledger, but that could just be because Heath Ledger makes a damn fine Joker). Places aren't too dark (there's no point having a dark hiding spot if you can't see it yourself). Arkham looks creepy enough that you'd want to be crazy to go there (wait, that's not right). There are plenty of excellent graphical cues for things like dropping down from a ledge and grabbing someone, or swinging around with the grapple.

Sound, like graphics, is top notch. Music helps to set the scene but doesn't get in the way (although with how some of it sounds, I almost wish it did). You may or may not recognise any of the voice actors - it really doesn't matter, as they all do a great job. All your attacks sound like they connect (and really hurt), and all the other sound effects (gliding, grappling, etc.) sound like what I'd presume they'd actually sound like. Like the graphics, it's all the small touches that make the difference... like the chatter between all the goons (just for one example).

All that I've described so far would make a fine movie for sure, but this is a game so I must talk about what makes it a game. Firstly the combat... it's very fluid, goes together very well and before you know you'll feel ready to take on a whole room of goons at once. It's a nice nod to the comics in that you never actually kill anyone - you just knock them unconscious. Unlike the last Batman game I played though, you don't have to go to the ridiculous length of slapping the batcuffs on every thug you K.O. in the first round (and run out of cuffs 10% of the way through the level). I guess the combat is probably most comparable to Assassin's Creed, but it tends to be a lot better here since I'm not just blocking until I can get a counter in. In this, it's just lots of fun to pull of different combos and beat the crap out of anyone stupid enough to fight you. Of course if you don't want to fight someone, assuming you can get a decent vantage point you can glide kick into them for an instant K.O.

This isn't really a platforming game (if there was a way to jump I didn't find it), so any elevation will have to be achieved by using grapple points. This brings me to the fairly cool detective mode - at the press of a button it tints the screen blue but highlights things like grapple points, vents, and enemies, Look at an enemy and you can see their heart rate (how alert they are) and whether they're feeling fine, nervous, unconscious, etc. As for the rest of the HUD - does its job, stays out of the way, just like a good HUD.

Finally... controls. I used a 360 controller (but I have the PC demo... go figure) and it works great. Various fighting commands and context sensitive actions are on the face buttons, the right trigger crouches and the left trigger pulls out tools (in the demo, Batarangs are all you have). The bumpers handle detective mode and the grapple, sticks are as you'd expect (left = movement, right = move camera - for the most part it's a third person affair but it does occasionally go into first person). The d-pad selects from your tools (as I said though, Batarangs only in the demo). It goes together quite well and I can imagine that the 360 version would control in exactly the same way. Keyboard and mouse controls (I tried them for a little bit) aren't too bad but this really is a more controller-oriented affair.

And the all important question will I buy it? Of course I will!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Game Theory: Racing

(those of you looking for a discussion of economics relating to motorsport should go here)

This is a somewhat more serious (and looooooooooooooooooong) article about game design. Now, don't get me wrong, I've never studied game design professionally, but I knows what I likes, and if anyone reading this has ever played War Pong, you'll know that I know how to make every mistake possible.

First, I'd just like to point out that this is probably the worst subject for me to start on. I suck at racing games (could have something to do with my complete and utter lack of perception, reflexes, decision making skills and manual dexterity) but that doesn't mean I don't try. Racing, it seems to me, can be inherently boring. After all, you are just going around circuits again and again, no? Needs a bit of spicing up, me thinks. There are three common ways of doing this:
  • Uber-realism: generally going extremely realistic will only appeal to a certain group. Turn down the realism a little bit though, and you appeal to a much broader audience. Some people like tuning every single tiny detail of their cars, and having a single tiny mistake in the race (which could well take you an hour) either make you lose or at least be a significant penalty). This leads into our second category...
  • Arcade: still uses real cars, and sometimes real tracks, but you probably don't have the opportunity to spend days tuning your car. Also, the physics tend to be a bit more forgiving, generally allowing you to drift, as well as not punishing you as harshly for making mistakes. Races are generally shorter.
  • Ridiculous: Mario Kart.
Let's look at what's most important for a game: fun! That's why you play a game, isn't it? Single player, I find arcade racing games the most fun. I don't want to have to spend hours setting up my car perfectly for a race. I don't want to have to try to figure out what car is best based on measurements I haven't the first clue about. I don't want to have to use those measurements to pick upgrades for my car, and if I do, please don't make me choose what brand of part I want if it doesn't matter. And it better not matter. As such, I don't want a realistic racer.

On the other end of the spectrum, games like Mario Kart aren't as fun by yourself. Half the fun of MK is hitting someone with a well placed green shell (or a well deserved blue shell) and then gloating about it, preferably because they're right next to you. Online, that isn't so bad, as you at least know that another human is suffering. Yes, I'm cruel. Get over it. That leaves arcade racing games what I'd pick as best for single player, because you can just get into a race and you aren't penalised too badly when you screw up.

As for multiplayer, I do tend to prefer games like Mario Kart. Not just for the human suffering, but because races in it generally don't have any lulls where you're just zombieing around a track, and they're fairly short... not only do you get a change of scenery fairly often, but if you're doing badly in a race it's not long until you get a fresh start and a new chance at REVENGE. Sims tend to attract the wrong sort of crowd in multiplayer (the obsessed, who can't believe that the setup they spent weeks tuning lost to some idiot doing donuts on the main straight), and while arcade tends to attract a better crowd, the racing doesn't tend to be as action packed (still awesome when you beat someone despite doing donuts).

Next up: control. There are three main controllers that you use for a racing game: keyboard, gamepad, or racing wheel. The problem is that as accuracy of control goes up, difficulty in controller accurately goes up too. A keyboard is generally the easiest to use but offers the least precision (as a base, you're using 4 digital buttons)... is good enough for many things but you can do better.
Gamepads generally have analog sticks and these days analog triggers. Yes, theoretically, this does give you much finer control, but some of us just move the stick/trigger as far as they'll go 90% of the time anyway, so while it feels different, it's not necessarily any better. BTW Sony: Analog buttons - WORST IDEA EVER. Seriously, half the time when I play the PS2 I have to push the buttons so hard it hurts my finger hoof.
Finally, we have racing wheels. Yes, they're designed to be as similar as possible to driving a real car. That has both good and bad parts. Yes, they're more like driving a real car. That's good. Yes, they offer finer control. That's good. No, not all of us know how to drive a real car. That's bad. Racing wheels probably fall into the uncanny valley (if there is one) of controllers. That's not to say that they're bad, it's to say that they come close to real control but don't quite make it the whole way. Personally I prefer whichever controller gives me an excuse to spend the most money.

Okay, time for a short section: graphics and sound. Graphics I don't care about too much, as long as I can see everything clearly and the game isn't GT Pro Series (that thing is fugly). Sound, again, isn't too much of a worry, as long as it has all the appropriate vrooms and such. That just leaves the soundtrack. Now, realistically, for a racing game, you have a few choices for what music you should include. These include:
  • Rock
  • Rock
  • Rock
  • Maybe a little classical
Of course, the good thing these days is that most of the time you can bring your own music. If I had to pick one racing game for a standout soundtrack, it'd be Burnout Paradise.

Finally, how a racing game motivates you to drive correctly, and how that never works on me. Surely losing a race is punishment for not doing well; I'm sure it is, but generally games don't care how you reach the finish line first. PGR4 probably has the best example of what I'd like to see more: not only is there a reward for placing well (that gets bigger the better you do) but there's a reward for driving well throughout the race. It only has a minor punishment for screwing up, too (losing all the kudos in your current "combo", which also encourages you to calm down a bit now and then).
I guess on the other side of the proverbial coin there are the games where you can take damage. This isn't so much rewarding you for good driving (positive reinforcement, which is always a good idea) as it is punishing you for bad driving (which is better than nothing), but it doesn't really act as a deterrent to me, since I just restart the race if I deliberately ram some other car too hard.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

6000 Gamerpoints!

Yes, another pointless day to be marked in your calendar and celebrated for nanoseconds to come.

Still, this deserves another competition (and yes, there might be a prize*) so here's the question: if a mini-Slashee weighing 100 grams is sitting on a completely flat beach, with no buildings or geographical formations within the nearest kilometer in all directions, and there is an off-shore breeze blowing at 25 kilometers per hour, how far into the ocean will the mini-Slashee be after 20 minutes, and how would you get it dry?

*How much prize would a prize-chuck chuck if a prize-chuck could chuck prize?

What the Gamertag?, Part 3

mwalker95
This is more of a question here: is that 95 a random number like I see in so many names, or did that many people actually want a name that stupid?

Elvis 56 zZz
I'm not sure what to think here, so I'll just say that you're right, he is "sleeping" now.

Achille2000
You have 2000 heels? All those legs must get in the way of each other.

SaLaMaH55
Crime one: abusing capital letters. Crime two: random number at the end of the name. Crime three: not realising you're guilty of the first two crimes.

AlarmingMergim
Not so much alarming as confusing.

BloatedNaxo
Firstly, how does a naxo get bloated. Secondly, what's a naxo?

MrDevil99
You know, I think the lord of darkness uses a somewhat more impressive title than mister. Like "lord of darkness".

i9 Blkfxx
Let me try to decode this. You're nine years old, black, and using a fax machine?

stama69
You stammer during 69? That must get painful for the other person.

SharpFrozenDuck
You're right, that beak hurts. But you have one weakness... the sledgehammer.

ReflexiveSTIAN
How exactly does one stian, let alone do it reflexively?

Henrey Moochow
I didn't realise grass had a name. Mmm, grass.

SkilfulLion
And yet, not skillful enough to spell skillful.

Kronik Anarchy
Not as chronic as bad spelling is these days.

CheekyDOKERrus
Stop being cheeky or you'll get a slap in the face.

Nacho velazquez
As a general rule, naming yourself after food just seems stupid. There are, of course, exceptions.

one lo ping
That's to be expected, not bragged about.

daz11k
There are eleven thousand daz's? I think I would have met at least another one if there were.

FLisONLINE
Except when he isn't.

WHITE3WOLF
No,1number2aren't3substitutes4for5spaces.6See,7it8just9doesn't0work.

dom is 4REAL
Here's a hint: how awesome you say you are and how awesome you actually are are inversely proportional to each other.

Olli the Pro
See above.

TT810
Next up on rejected Star Wars droids: LJ490!

realman33
Slight modification of the rule above: in most cases, the more you feel the need to say something, the less likely it is to actually be.

PwntByMe
The only things you beat are spelling and grammar. Also see above.

LimpCub
Revealing how weak you are in your gamertag isn't a good idea. Instead, try to reveal how pathetic you are by swearing constantly in voice chat.

dirtywater74
Water can play GTA4? Very impressive.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Slashee Sells Out

Yes, just in case you didn't have enough Slashee in your life, you can now get some merchandise featuring your favourite cow at http://www.cafepress.com/slashee (Australian bovines go to http://www.cafepress.com.au/slashee). If you want me to add more, motivate me by buying the stuff that's already there (or at least tell me what you want in the comments).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Line Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade Trial Games: Part Five

Space Invaders Extreme
News flash: slightly fancier versions of really, really old games are still as old as the original. Now excuse me as I install neon lights on my Monopoly board.
Would I be caught dead with it? Those invaders won't find it on me.

Star Trek: D.A.C.
Ooh, I love acronyms. Star Trek: Damn Annoying Crap? Star Trek: Damnit, Another Camel? Star Trek: Danish Astronauts Carpool? Star Trek: Destroy All Creatures? Who knows?
Would I be caught dead with it? The English language will kill me for what I just did to it, but no.

Texas Cheat'em
Damn this is ugly. And boring. Any game designed around quick-time events deserves its own circle in hell.
Would I be caught dead with it? Hell no!

The Maw
A game about my life. Except I'm not purple. Or one eyed. And my name isn't Maw. Still, it reminds me of me, and that's good enough in my book.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, as an autobiography.

Ticket to Ride
I've made it clear before how I love a nice physical game to video game transition, and this makes the cut.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, although without thousands of REAL cards to choke on, I'll live forever.

Uno Rush
How fun would real games be if you forcefully sped them up? Think about it. "Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. And do it in the next 5 seconds or I whoop your ass!". It just doesn't work.
Would I be caught dead with it? No. (just imagine that in a really high pitched sped up voice)

Worms
Sure, it's not the best version of Worms around (and no, I won't tell you what is, as I'll get flamed... and by that I mean BBQ'd). But blowing little worms straight to hell never gets old.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, and I'll have left a little explosive present for anyone nearby.

Zuma
Don't get me wrong, I hate this on computer too, so I'm being completely fair. But this simply DOES NOT WORK WITH ANALOG STICKS. You need a mouse. And to have lost all self respect to be playing it.
Would I be caught dead with it? Not a chance in hell.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One Line Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade Trial Games: Part Four

N+
The full version is saved for the masochistic elite.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes. And then I'll start cutting myself (but not in an emo way).

NEW RALLY-X

If by "new" you mean "the same as the original with slightly newer levels", then yes. The only problem is that the same isn't very good.
Would I be caught dead with it? No.

OutRun Online Arcade

Finally, a racing game that understands those of us who don't want to touch the brakes.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, because I'd probably die crashing head-first into a wall.

PAC-MAN

The yellow guy's starting to get a bit old. Seriously, at his age he needs the power pellets mashed up first.
Would I be caught dead with it? No. And get off my lawn, you damn kids!

Pac-Man C.E.
Also known as "son of Pac-Man". He's also learned a few tricks, it seems.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, possibly only because it reminds me of eating.

Prince of Persia

There's a reason Ubisoft saw to "carefully forget" everything when they made Sands of Time.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only if I was bored to death.

Rez HD
Bringing great games to bigger masses. But they still won't play them.
Would I be caught dead with it? Everyone should!

R-Type Dimensions

This series seems to have failed to successfully travel the fourth dimension: time. That, or we're still in the early 90's.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only for want of more shumps. Actually screw that, I'll stick to Ikaruga.

Small Arms
Not small enough it seems, since this piece of crap managed to reach me.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only if I'm bribed to.

Smash TV
So average you'll want to smash your TV.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only because it has hordes of stuff to kill.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Demo Impressions: Zeno Clash

Zeno Clash is a fairly unique title. It's a first person game using the Source engine, but you can't really call it a FPS. Sure, it has guns, but most of the focus is on melee combat. Personally, I never thought that would work from a first person perspective. But it does. It does make it a bit more challenging, since you can't see all around you (not at once, anyway), but it ends up working quite well. I won't bother trying to tell you the controls (it has different moves up the wazoo), but take my word for it that when you end up losing (and you will, at first), you won't have the game to blame.

As for graphics, I'm not going to lie to you. The Source engine isn't as impressive as it used to be. Don't get me wrong, it still looks great, especially compared to other game enginesa of its age, but by these days I've seen better. Portal gets around it by going for simplicity (though frankly I don't think you can make the companion cube look any better. TF2 uses a striking (and awesome) art style. So does Zeno Clash. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't look anything like TF2, but it has a bright and varied colour palette which makes objects stand out and makes you forget that it doesn't have insanely high texture resolution or something like that.

Sound... not really worth a mention. That's not to say it's bad (that's worth a huge mention), but like I see sound in a lot of games, it's just fairly forgettable. Weapons make appropriate noises and you have average sort of voice acting (though to be honest, the actors sound a bit bored).

In short: this is worth buying. Just because I'm too cheap to doesn't mean you should be.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One Line Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade Trial Games: Part Three

Heavy Weapon
The most boring dual-stick shooter since I took a dump on Geometry Wars.
Would I be caught dead with it? Probably, but I wouldn't admit it.

Ikaruga
There's but one conclusion to be had from this: not enough decent shumps.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes. Very yes.

Lode Runner
What a lode of crap.
Would I be caught dead with it? Nope.

Lumines Live!
Good, I didn't want the pre-recorded version. Oh, and it's synesthesia-tastic!
Would I be caught dead with it? No (I have a better version), but you should.

Marble Blast Ultra
The best time I've had playing with balls since Kula World on the PS1.
Would I be caught dead with it? Depends how long it is before I die.

Mega Man 9
Some things should stay in the past. This shouldn't have been there, either.
Would I be caught dead with it? No. Just no.

Meteos Wars
Teaches valuable lessons about falling blocks, matching colours, gravity, rockets, and unfair game mechanics.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes!

Minesweeper Flags
By definition, minesweeper is a boring game. Would solitare be more fun if it was competitive and had powerups? I thought so.
Would I be caught dead with it? Not a chance.

Mr. Driller Online
Lesson one: the demo should at least live up to the title of the game (this doesn't). Lesson two: don't play this game.
Would I be caught dead with it? No way.

Ms. Pac-Man
What, did she and Pac-Man get divorced or something? Maybe she had an affair... Oh, and the game's flat average.
Would I be caught dead with it? No.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Line Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade Trial Games: Part Two

Dash of Destruction
Advertising meets crap gameplay in a mashup of bastardly proportions.
Would I be caught dead with it? Not once I got my free gamerpoints.

DOOM
Sure, it's among the first FPS's. But if we thought the first of everything was good, I'd be riding my penny-farthing everywhere. There's a reason I don't.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, because I'm a completionist.

Duke Nukem 3D
Come get some!
Would I be caught dead with it? Groovy.

E4
A game that's just about blowing things up should be more fun than this is.
Would I be caught dead with it? Depends on whether I die by self-destructing.

EXIT
For someone who's trying to get out of emergencies, this guy sure is slow... he looks cool though.
Would I be caught dead with it? Maaaaaaaaaaybe...

Frogger
Gaming has come a long way. Oh wait... beep bloop bloop.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only if I was a frog.

Galaga
Again, one of the classics I'm not really a fan of. To put it less simply, I'm not particular fond of shumps inherently because of their nature.
Would I be caught dead with it? Nope.

Galaga Legions
Like Galaga. Looks better. Don't care.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only slightly more than regular Galaga.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Pew pew pew!
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, if the sequel didn't exist.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Pew pew pew pew! Haha, die you mischievous shapes.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes, and get some revenge on that triangle for me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

5000 Gamerpoints!

Yes, a slightly less pointless milestone (5 is a bigger number than 4), I've reached 5000 gamerpoints on Live. The fact that with all the games I own, I could easily have more than twice that, but that would involve playing them.

Anyway, here's another pointless question for another mostly pointless* prize: How much L2 cache did a Covington Celeron processor have: 32, 64, or 128kb?

*Prize may have points, but has a high chance of not having a point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Line Reviews: Xbox Live Arcade Trial Games: Part One

I'm too cheap to buy the games, so I'll just play the demos to death! At least I can give you a decent opinion of them then.

Age of Booty
A little simple, but awesomely fun strategy-ish game.
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes

Assault Heroes
It's assaulting my eyes and good taste! At least it's doing it heroically.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only if there was nothing better. Unfortunately, there is.

Banjo-Kazooie
A fine example of why Microsoft should never have bought Rare.
Would I be caught dead with it? You need to ask?

Banjo-Tooie
You can never have Tooie much Banjo.
Would I be caught dead with it? See above.

Bomberman Live
He's not quite at his best, but it's still blowing $%@# up, so how can you complain?
Would I be caught dead with it? Sure, why not.

Carcassonne
All the nerdy tile-playing goodness, now without the actual tiles!
Would I be caught dead with it? Yes!

Castlevania: SOTN
Sure, it's supposedly a classic. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Would I be caught dead with it? Not if my life depended on it (which it wouldn't, with me being dead and all).

Catan
WILL SOMEBODY JUST TRADE ME SOME LUMBER?!?!?!?!?!?
Would I be caught dead with it? Sure, you can grab it and my secret stockpile of lumber from my corpse.

Cloning Clyde
Gives me some ideas. Like cloning myself and punching you in the head from four different directions.
Would I be caught dead with it? Not really.

Crystal Defenders
Hint to Square: When porting a mobile phone game to the Xbox, don't make it look, sound, and play like a mobile phone game.
Would I be caught dead with it? Only if I've played 80% of the world's games before I die.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Demo Impressions: Guitar Hero Greatest Hits

It's err... Guitar Hero.















Okay fine, you deserve a little more than that. For those not in the know, this is taking songs from the first five GH games (GH, GH2, Rocks the 80s, GH3, and Aerosmith), updating them to support a full band, and using master tracks where they weren't before. The demo features one venue (some icy place, not sure what it's supposed to be), I'll get to the songs later. The graphics are about as good as World Tour (funny about that, since it uses the same engine), though the HUD seems updated a bit. I only had a chance to play solo (if the demo supports online play, I couldn't find it). And when I say updated a bit... the only real change I could see is that you can now see the progress towards stars for a song (kind of like Rock Band, but it's a bar that fills). Sure everything looks a little bit different but it appears to be nowhere near the makeover Harmonix is giving Rock Band for The Beatles. So, yeah... it's Guitar Hero.

Oh, and like any good music game, it has songs (the bad ones are pretty boring). The demo only has three (one each from GH, GH2 and GH3), all of which were covers in their original appearances, but as I said earlier, are now master tracks.
Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand (first appearance: Guitar Hero).
It's awesome. This song is probably more hit and miss when it comes to liking it than the others, but I say it's awesome, and my word is law.
Rating: Awesome

Rock and Roll All Nite by Kiss (first appearance: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock)
Not as awesome, but hearing the proper version is soooo much better than the crappy cover in GH3. Don't get me wrong, it's a great song, just not so much my sort of thing as the others.
Rating: Mostly Awesome

Woman by Wolfmother (first appearance: Guitar Hero II)
I probably like Take Me Out more, but this is just a rockin' song that is so much more deserving of being turned up to 11. Or 12, if 11 isn't enough for you. The important part is that it's turned up.
Rating: Awesome

And for the most important part of any demo review... will I be contributing to the cash cow that is GHGH (or GH²): Yes, but I didn't need to play the demo to tell me that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What the Gamertag?, Part 2

Following with the policy of changing features whenever I damn feel like it.

ii mcQueen ii
I thought Ronald McDonald was enough of a queen, but he doesn't make it quite this obvious.
Sir Jaaw
What's the problem? Your jaaw lock when you were saying the word jaaw? And what have you and your jaaw done to deem yourself worthy of being knighted? Maybe some spectacular jaaw tricks performed with your amazing jaaw?
vVBRANDONVv
No offense, but if I had a name like Brandon I would be doing everything possible to hide it. The incredible hiding power of the letter V... isn't so incredible.
CCGCAWG
Now I'm just confused. Constantly Confusing Gamers Continually Always Wearing Green? Cowardly Cow Gone Copying Another Wavy Grain? Convincingly Coagulating Great Cleats And Wombat Growers? Please, stop this madness and tell us!
PTTR93
You're the 93rd PTTR. Great, what's that? I'm all acronymed out from the last guy.
MonkiOnsterOids
No comment... well maybe one. I understand that you're a Monki, but what are OnsterOids?
Chinahead
That head must get in the way a bit.
turdblanket
How do you get to sleep with all that stink?
KS COOLFACE
Anyone can have a cool face... just sit in front of an air conditioner.
MyMindsMine
You can keep it.
d4 4n0yin6 l337
Da anoying leet? Your spelling and frankly retarded use of 1337 is the annoying part.
arisen8889
Since when does having seemingly random numbers at the end of your name count as anything?
Bateman Begins
I bet you started regretting that one around 2007 or so.
xXx Sharkey xXx
If I want to see marine life in that sort of thing, there's plenty of YouTube to go around... so I don't need you in my Burnout game.
JOEXXXBUTCHER
Well at least I know where Sharkey goes when he dies now.
FiercestPlaya3
Being 3rd at something isn't usually something to brag about. Your spelling is somewhere below 3rd though.
man of war12345
I know that the army is lowering their standards, but I didn't realise that you had to prove you could count to get in these days.
M3RCIL3SS NINJA
OH GOD YOUR BAD SPELLING AND GRAMMAR!!! AHH IT'S MERCILESS!!!
xXxM1NDL3SSxXx
Finally, someone who admits it.
XTheLoneDriverX
You may be alone, but at least you have those X's to keep you company.
xX SOEM Xx
So, you can't spell. Is that why you only have 2 x's each side instead of the standard 3?
StinkyJester
So THAT'S what that smell was.

And I apoligise for the post being so long, but that should be an indication of the people on Xbox Live.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Demo Impressions: Bionic Commando

Allow me to pose you, the reader unfortunate enough to be here, a question: what do you get when you start with a regular third person shooter, and turn it on its head by having rocket boots, and MASSIVE arenas to fly around in? Think about that before you start reading the next paragraph.

Thought about it? That would be awesome. Unfortunately that's not Bionic Commando. In Bionic Commando you have a stretch arm with a claw on the end. That makes you either a watered down Doctor Octopus or a one-armed Bender without any of the awesomeness. It's fun swinging around though. The thing about BC is that you tend to be moving around a lot more than another TPS (unless you're using the sniper rifle, in that case you're only moving after I smack you with a zip kick). Most of the weapons aren't particularly accurate, but they don't really need to be, as whatever weapons aren't one hit kills only take a few shots. This really forces you to stay on your feet (proverbially anyway, a lot of the time you're off them), as you never know who's going to wipe you out next. Most of the time I find myself swinging around, looking for the next weapon pickup (or grabbing a grenade launcher, gripping the nearest horizontal beam then blowing anyone who gets close straight to hell.

The graphics... well, they're not great. They're pretty good, and they're more than good enough to get by, but I've seen a lot better. It doesn't really help that there's not much variety in the demo... one map, at night, so dim you can't see a lot of stuff. I get the feeling it would look a lot better during the day. The player models almost look like they're ripped straight out of Tron, and since it's multiplayer only, you don't even get to see Rad.

Sound... is sound. Fast paced music designed to create an arcade sort of atmosphere (which it does, and works great with the arcade-y VO). Fairly generic weapon sounds, but enough to know how much arse you're kicking.

Control is probably the most important part with a fast paced game like BC. For the most part, it works, although the are some things I really don't agree with. Swinging is handled with the left trigger, after it targets something. The arm targeting follows the crosshair, but isn't directly linked to it (it's sticky). The problem with that is that while it makes it easier to target some things with your arm (particuarly fast moving players), but you can't always target what you want. Thankfully, the gun follows the crosshair (no lock on aiming), so you can blast away freely. Evading is mapped to left bumper and the left analog stick, but I barely ever use it (most of the time it's easier to just swing out of the way). Quick turning is mapped to the directions on the d-pad, and I'd much rather have that on the left bumper (since it's dangerous to stop to turn).

You want to know the real problem with the Bionic Commando demo? The demo! There's nothing to it, and I''m not trying to say it's easy. You have one game mode (deathmatch), one way to play it (online), one map (Vertigo), you can't set the time limit (5 minutes, whether you like it or not), and after every match you just get forced back into finding another game. No way to keep a group together. No way to make a private game. No way to invite someone else into a public game. And then there's the bugs. Random disconnections? Consider yourself lucky. Everyone disconnects? Minor annoyance. Game freezes and you have to go back to the dashboard? It happens. Entirely freezes your 360 every 4-5 games? ANNOYING AS HELL! Then there's the minor bugs, like how should someone die while holding a sniper rifle, the aiming beam remains in the level. Somehow I don't think they did that much QA on the demo (and I thought Microsoft had a strict control process before you could get anything listen on Live). Then there's the lag. Either nobody else in Australia is playing this or they're actively avoiding me (not sure how they'd do that, since I can't even find someone half the time, let alone avoid them). It just tends to be annoying, shooting where people apparently were 5 seconds ago. It doesn't affect your movement, which I guess is something.

Overall? It's fun. Lots of fun. Swinging around, blowing people to hell, leaving craters where someone was, and delivering kicks that would make Chuck Norris proud. Not necessarily the most technically advanced game, but that never stops things being fun. In short: come out sooner, you damn full game!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Burnout Paradise DLC Review, Part 3: Boost Specials

There's only two of these cars, so they get a bit of special treatment.

Carson Extreme Hot Rod
If there's one thing to be said about this car, it's this: you WILL crash. That or you're going to have to slow down enough so that you lost all the speed you gained. For those of you not in the know, this car has unlimited boost. Just press the button and boost away. The catch? There are only two ways to stop boosting: crash or slow down until you're barely moving. If you're really careful, it's almost possible to keep some semblance of control... but not really. While it's not recommended if you're making a multitude of turns, it can't be beat for leaving someone choking on your dust on the I-88, through the mountains, or anywhere with few objects and a decent road:traffic ratio. And if you see that smartarse in the Nighthawk who never seems to run out of boost, you're more than capable of shoving him (or about anything short of a Takedown) into the next state. Just learn from my mistakes and don't t-bone anyone at inordinate speeds. Satisfying, yes, but respawning will lose you valuable seconds you could use taking other people down. And you know better than that, don't you?

Oh, one final warning: don't activate the boost just before a corner. If only I'd heed my own warnings.

Performance: 9/10. It's not exactly the fastest accelerating car in the world, since it's kind of heavy. Boosting removes that problem though.
Handling: 6/10. It'll get you around corners and into other cars with relative ease... not much else though.
Boosting: 11/10. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SLOW DOWN!!!!!!!
Crashing: 8/10. It'll usually be on the winning end of crashes. Which is good, because you'll be doing it a lot, whether you want to or not.
Useful for:
  • Destroying Paradise City, one wall at a time. It doesn't really matter whether there are people driving these walls or whether these walls are in fact "cars", because you'll be destroying them anyway.
  • Bringing the world's rubber supply to its knees. Why do burnouts for fun when you can ruin your tyres AND the atmosphere at the same time?
  • Demonstrating new heights of overkill... that I've probably broken already.
Overall: 9/10. Massive speed cancels out crashing more often than Windows ME, giving you one nice happy smashy speedy death/speed wagon.

Hawker Mech
This is actually a hard car to review positively. Again for the unwashed masses, this can switch between stunt, speed and aggression boost modes whenever you want. The problem is that it's about as agile as a cow riding a bike, about as fast as... a cow riding a bike, and nowhere near as strong as...... a Takedown 4x4 (or a cow riding a bike). That's the problem with branching out: you're never as good at any one thing (except for the cow riding a bike... once it gets back to the paddock, it'll be milked dry then taken to slaughter, you heartless bastards). The Mech's good enough for stunt events (let's face it though, I've beaten a stunt event in a toy Citizen), not really fast enough to beat a lot of race cars (or the Extreme Hot Rod), and nowhere near strong enough to win most of the road rages. So what is it good for? Not bad at marked man, since you frequently have to switch between defense, speed, and trying to make jumps you don't think your pursuers can. It's also not a bad choice for a freeburn online, as you'll be able to at least come close to doing most of the challenges.

Oh, and it has a rather nice light/paint scheme. But that doesn't really make it any more useful.

Performance: 7/10. No slouch. But not a real winner either. You make sure to tell that to the guys whizzing past you.
Handling: 9/10. It'd have to be for the stunt boost to be any good... and it still isn't. But it tries, damnit!
Boosting: 7/10. It's a 10/10 on the cool factor. But since when did I care about the cool factor?
Crashing: 6/10. There's a lot it can't stand up to. Make sure to pick on those weaker than you, in case you weren't already.
Useful for:
  • Looking cool. No, really, it does. Well, mostly. Okay, maybe a little. Possibly a smidge on the fat side though.
  • Changing styles in the middle of a race. All the superheroes do it. Well, maybe just the supervillians. I haven't been to a meeting with those guys in a while so I'm not so sure.
Overall: 6/10. All the cool looks and good ideas in the world wouldn't change the fact that this isn't good enough at any particular thing to beat cars designed for it... or a cow on a bike.

Best in set for:
Burning petrol faster than it's capable of being produced: Carson Extreme Hot Rod
Jumping, changing boost types midair, then wondering why just changed boost types midair: Hawker Mech
Lighting up a small neighbourhood: Hawker Mech
Involuntary destruction: Carson Extreme Hot Rod
Lifting the front end of your car in the air, then crushing a small car under it: Carson Extreme Hot Rod
Staying Alive (cue music): Hawker Mech

If you're only going to buy one, then buy: Carson Extreme Hot Rod. If you can't afford that, then buy the GT Nighthawk and the Manhattan Spirit, put them together and it's basically the same thing. If you still can't afford them, there's only one real option for you... a cow on a bike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What The Gamertag?, Part 1

For this debut (and knowing me, final) installment of WTG, I'm supersizing it. That's right, 4 gamertags for you.

Today's assailants on sensibility are:
ImBadAtForplay
UltimateForplay
Masterforplay
iwantforplay

Seriously, what the %$@*? Oh wait... Seriously, what the just before %$@*? Now for those of you haven't figured it out yet... I'm betting these guys are related. Either that or four people just found new friends just as juvenile as themselves within 5 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly expecting class from GTA IV players, but I think this is taking things a little too far. That and last time I checked, gamertags like these were against the Live rules. Still, I think if you're this interested in a certain act then you should be doing said act instead of playing a game where they're censored.

Here's an idea: make everyone's gamertag their IQ. Based on my experience with Live, you'll only need to hand out a few in the triple digits anyway. Think about it... you'll immediately know who to kick from a game before it even loads for them; you'll have a clear reason why that guy in Halo teabagged you and it will be clear why that car in Forza can be heard halfway across the track even though it's constantly doing donuts on the main straight.

If you like my idea (and let's face it, who would?) be sure to either send your support to Microsoft or put a horse's head in Bill Gates' bed... he'll get the idea.

Friday, April 17, 2009

4000 Gamerpoints!

Yes, if you'll look to the right my Xbox Live profile has reached 4000 gamerpoints.
Since I like celebrating pointless occasions, the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many more electrons than protons an atom needs to have to be positive will win a fabulous prize*!

*Actual fabulousness of prize my vary. Prize may not be enchanged for money, any form of currency, anything that costs money or a pat on the back. Prize may or may not be imaginary purely at Slashee's discretion. Have a nice day... unless you're the prize winner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shaman Changes In 3.1 or: How I Learned To Quit Complaining and Accept My Fate

My notes are in italics, for those who care (how many people have mental illnesses, anyway?)

Shaman
  • Bloodlust/Heroism: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes, but Sated and Exhausted now last 10 minutes.
    This is bad - soloing it's not going to make much of a difference, as you'll still only be able to use it once every 10 minutes (although if you die you can use it sooner, but that's about it). In groups however, if you have more than one shaman you'll only be able to use it half as often.

  • Earth Elemental Totem: The summoned Earth Elemental should now have significantly more health and slightly more armor.
    Huzzah - now reduce the cooldown so I'm not always saving it for "when I need it".

  • Fire Elemental Totem: The summoned Fire Elemental should now have moderately more health and mana, and its damage scaling has been increased. In addition, the Fire Elemental's spells now cost less mana.
    Great, it'll survive a little longer. Soloing this won't make much difference, as by the time it's done either all your enemies are dead or you are. Might help a little in a group, for when you need a little extra kick or just feel like showing off.

  • Flametongue Weapon: Bonus damage from spell power now based on weapon speed. Slower weapons will benefit more from spell power.
    Well at least now you're finally recognising that you want us to use slow off hands as Enhancement, or probably some nice staves for our Elemental brethren. I'll stick to Windfury for now though...

  • Frostbrand Weapon: Damage increased by approximately 20%.
    Making this 20% more useful make it about... 20% useful. In slightly more seriousness, though, any more damage is good.

  • Mana Spring Totem: This totem has been redesigned. It now provides the same mana benefit as Blessing of Wisdom to the entire party or raid, but is exclusive with that effect.
    Great, so you're giving the small group a benefit (as BoW does give you slightly more mana), but screwing over the large group. You want us to use Healing Stream... just admit it.

  • Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem have been merged into Cleansing Totem. Cleansing Totem pulses every 3 seconds, down from 5.
    Less totems are good when they merge the effects, but I wasn't using either of these unless the situation called for it, and it's going to stay that way.
Enhancement
  • Earthen Power redesigned: Your Earthbind Totem has a 50/100% chance to also remove all snare effects and make you and nearby friendly targets immune to them for 5 seconds when it pulses.
    Okay, this is a buff, I'll admit that. I disagree on principle though... this is clearly a PvP buff, and I don't want Enhancement to become a strictly PvP spec.

  • Flurry: Now provides 5/10/15/20/25% haste instead of 10/15/20/25/30%.
    Last change was a buff. It was also a mostly useless buff for me. This is clearly a nerf, which will hit me (and all Enhance shammies) hard. Well, maybe not hard, but still a hit.

  • New Talent: Frozen Power: Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Lash and Shock spells by 5/10% on targets afflicted by your Frostbrand Attack effect, and your Frost Shock has a 50/100% chance to root the target in Ice for 5 seconds when used on targets at or further than 15 yards from you.
    Didn't I just make myself clear on PvP changes? Frostbrand is mostly useless in PvE, and this isn't likely to change that. It's almost like they want us to ignore Windfury and go Frostbrand/Flametounge though. Seriously, WTF?

  • Lava Lash now has a new icon.
    Sorry, Blizz. Nobody cared when it came to Stormstrike, nobody cares about this. Is the new Stormstrike icon nice? Yeah it is. Would I rather you actually fix the class? HELL YES!

  • Spirit Weapons: Now reduces all threat generated by 30%, not just physical attacks.
    Introducing: the change that should have been introduced in 3.0.2 . Seriously, you make us stack intellect, you give us Maelstrom Weapon with which to cast more spells, and you don't help us reduce our spell threat? Well you do now, but that's beside the point...

  • Stormstrike charges have been increased by 2, and cooldown reduced by 2 seconds.
    Finally, something I can't really complain about. I could complain about lack of originality if I wanted (and I do), so couldn't you give us something more than just folding Improved Stormstrike into the base talent?

  • Improved Stormstrike redesigned: When you Stormstrike, you have a 50/100% chance to immediately grant you 20% of your base mana.
    Look at the Spirit Weapons change. We either needed this or a reduced cooldown on Shamanistic Rage, preferably both. Again, a buff, but it's like breaking your leg then putting it in a cast... sure it'll heal eventually, but it'll never be as good as it was.

  • Toughness: No longer increases your armor. Instead, this talent now increases your total stamina by 2/4/6/8/10%.
    More useful. Still mainly a PvP talent. You know how I feel about that.

  • Unleashed Rage: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. No longer increases agility, but instead increases your total expertise by 3/6/9.
    This is just brilliant here, where the class is being taken. Burst damage used to be a Shaman's bread and butter, we couldn't be beaten. It was (among the other things that made us so awesome), what made us unique. But you keep picking away at our burst damage. Sure, our average DPS remains about the same, and we'll probably be more likely to make friends of the local tanks. But it just doesn't feel the same.
Elemental
  • New Talent: Booming Echoes: Reduces the cooldown of your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 1/2 seconds, and increases the direct damage done by your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 10/20%.
    This is a buff. But why should Elemental get all the fun?

  • Elemental Mastery redesigned: When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost and Nature damage spells have a 15% increased critical strike chance for 15 seconds. Elemental Mastery now shares a cooldown with Nature's Swiftness.
    Again, sacrificing burst damage for consistent damge. It all evens out in the long run, but it's just not as fun.

  • Elemental Reach: Now also increases the range of your Flame Shock spell by 5/10/15 yards.
    If, considering the next change, this hadn't been done, there'd be rioting in the streets of Dalaran, and I'd join them. Not that I'm Elemental... I just like rioting.

  • Lava Flows: No longer increases the range of your Flame Shock spell, but now increases your casting speed by 10/20/30% when your Flame Shock spell is dispelled for 6 seconds.
    There's a trend towards casting speed lately - why? Not that I'm complaining... a buff is a buff (which, again, PvE Elementals get to enjoy), I'd just like to know. I for one would prefer massive hits to fast ones. What am I, a mage?

  • Lightning Overload: Reduced to 3 points (7/14/20%), down from 5.
    Can't introduce a new talent without giving you some points to spend on it, and as long as it ends up the same I don't particularly care one way or the other. Well, I care if the new talent is cool.

  • Storm, Earth and Fire: No longer increases the range of your Earth Shock or Wind Shock spells, but now also causes your Earthbind Totem to have a 33/66/100% chance to root all nearby enemies for 5 seconds when initially cast.
    Oh crap, not even Elemental is immune from the PvP-oriented changes (read: nerfs). RUN FOR THE HILLS!

  • Thunderstorm can now be cast while stunned.
    Well hot dog. And that's what someone will be if they think they're safe while you're stunned. A buff with no negative side effects, what could go wrong?
Restoration
  • Ancestral Awakening: This talent now accounts for your ineffective healing, rather than effective.
    Another buff... that Enhancement doesn't get. I'm not going to start overhealing like there's no tomorrow just because I can get Ancestral Awakening from it. But it might make the difference between a Lesser Healing Wave and a regular Healing Wave.

  • Ancestral Healing and Healing Grace have swapped places in the Restoration talent tree.
    Meh? Restoration isn't exactly a hugely popular leveling spec (might be used a little bit more thanks to dual specs), but at low levels like that it's not going to make any difference.

  • Cleanse Spirit now has a new icon.
    Restoration: The New Enhancement.

  • Mana Tide Totem: This spell no longer costs mana.
    Irony 101... wait, that was it costing mana in the first place, never mind. Again, a nice buff.

  • Restorative Totems: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 15/30/45%.
    For those of you playing at home, that's a slight nerf (5%) to Mana Spring and a decent buff (20%) to Healing Stream. I use Healing Stream more so I'm calling this a win, you may not feel the same way.

  • Riptide: This spell has a new icon.
    Riptide: The New Cleanse Spirit.

  • Tidal Force: Now has a new spell effect.
    Slightly more effort than a new icon, I'll give them that much. Should that mean I have to like it? Yes. Do I like it? Not in principle... I haven't seen the effect but it'd have to be pretty awesome to make me think it's worth taking the place of an actual change.
I'd like to make it clear that I will neither quit complaining or accept my fate, but it makes for a good title.