Friday, January 16, 2009


Amenacier writes "Recent studies by Finnish and Swedish researchers have shown that drinking moderate amounts of coffee can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease in people. The reason for this is as yet unknown, although it has been hypothesized that the high levels of antioxidants found in coffee may play a role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's. Alternatively, some studies have shown that coffee can protect nerves, which may help prevent Alzheimer's. Other studies have shown that coffee may also help to protect against diabetes, another disease which has been shown to have links to Alzheimer's disease. However, researchers warn against drinking too much coffee, as 3 cups or more may cause hallucinations."

I dont' know if people know this about me, i drink about 4-5 cups a day, which i consider normal. Reading that on slashdot made me think that maybe it isn't so normal. My highest coffee intake was 14 cups in one day. Good times.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tomb Raider anniversery and legend review

There are major spoilers in here. If you don't want the games spoiled, don't read this.

So i finally got around to playing tomb raider anniversary. I had picked it up in a slew of games on black friday. I've never really saw the appeal of tomb raider before playing anniversary but the series has gone on to a whopping 8 games so i assumed that there was something to it that i had missed. Anniversery is a remake of the first tomb raider game which came out in november 96 so I figured it was a good place to start if i was going to start. I got the first one from my grandfather on my mom's side for the pc way back when it first came out, but i think i was too young to understand what i was getting into. I had picked it out, and when i did I think that my thoughts at the time were "boobs and guns" which isn't really what tomb raider is about. Having just played both tomb raider aniversery and tomb raider legend, it is no surprise that i was immediately frustrated because there was barely anything to shoot at and at the time I had no appreciation for the 3-d platformer. I never even got to the T-Rex in TR1 and was glad to put it down and pick up goldeneye.

My taste in games has changed over the years and i love games like portal and puzzle quest where you don't actually shoot at anything. I picked up anniversary on a whim. Those of you that haven't played it but have had a passing interest in the series should really pick it up. The isolation you experience coupled with the huge beautiful expansive areas to play through make this game an amazing experience. The main plot is ok, but what really got to me was Lara's first kill. The game does a fantastic job of making you really feel the consequence of your actions and gives Lara a real personality by making her silently regretful for the murder she has committed. In my opinion the story absolutely peaks there. To hammer the emotional point of killing a person home, the enimies that you encounter in the game are all wildlife. This also creates these massive feelings of regret. You are in these creatures homes and attack them with guns for no other reason then to pass through. They are not bad people or any creature that deserves a bullet- the wildlife is just there. Anniversary does a great job of making you feel like every time you have to fire your gun you wish you didn't. Offhand i can't think of any other game that has done that. The platforming at times comes across very straightforward, but in later levels I found myself getting a little lost (in a good way) in a few areas where there were multiple ways to do things. By the time you get used to the controlls and types of puzzles presented, you can easily move through rooms in these really amazing fluid ways that feel fantastic to play. The game does a great job in giving you just enough options to make you think about how to approach the situation, but not overwhelm you.

After being so jazzed about anniversary i picked up legend. Now- I enjoyed legend... but.... not nearly as much as anniversary. I understand that it is game 7 and that anniversary is game 1 in the tomb raider franchise, but i really thought they were also trying to reboot the series. The once silent contemplative remorseful Lara has completely changed. In the first level she has absolutely no problem mowing down faceless bad guys with a machine gun. That is all well and good for a game mechanic I guess, but it was a bit disappointing. I liked that Lara was making moral decisions with consequences. Choosing deliberately to kill and regretting it. Here in legend we have the same old video game story. Three or four types of bad guys over and over again that don't mean anything at all, only to serve as a place to put your bullets. Which is fine, but certainly doesn't emotionally rope me in and after the first game it isn't where I expected the franchise to go. That coupled with her awful banter over the wireless with the Zip the hacker back at home makes this game feel very very different then anniversary. The isolation is gone. Zip even helps you with puzzles before you are actually even starting to explore the room taking some of the problem solving thrill out of it. It was like having someone who has already played backseat game me. I want to make my own mistakes and learn to handle the situations the game throws at me, not have a puzzle and solution all at once. Plus- because of the mindless banter they exchange the whole game, nothing seems like it has any kind of emotional weight to it. Everything is business as usual rather than life hanging in the balance. I wouldn't mind the exchanges so much, if they actually meant something. I feel like legend also takes a few miss steps in the plot. I loved the last boss fight, the exchange that Lara has with her mother in the past was a great twist and something i really didn't see coming. That whole exchange and the exchange with Amanda afterward was great. However, i would've liked to have a little more emotional investment in Amanda's character. Lara seems regretful i guess because she flat out tells me she is, but it would be nice to have Amanda be more than a character you chase down a hallway. That way the player has a connection to her and Lara doesn't have to inform the player about the connection that you should be having. The choice of letting Amanda live when she was semi responcible for killing/taking your mother away as a child needs this emotional connection between Lara and Amanda to feel right. Otherwise you only wonder why Lara, who had no problem piling up bodies for the last 8 levels just didn't put a bullet in her and be done with it. Also, how the fuck is this game going to allude to yetis in the beginning with young lara's drawings and then not put a single fucking yeti in there? The whole game i was waiting for that shit! I also would've liked more than a nod to the scion with the pattern on the floor. In fact, some more story telling referencing anniversery would've been good. Other than those major things, i felt like it played short with an emphasis more on combat then on platforming. I would've liked more puzzles. I feel like i got one good (if that) puzzle per board and out of the 8 levels i think i did all of them in under 40 minutes each. Some WELL under 40. The subtle nods to the soul reaver world was fun though, and made me want to play those games over again.

I would recommend anniversary to anyone that loves 3d platformers and puzzles. I would only recommend legend to people that already love tomb raider.