City Of Heroes

Yes I will admit it, I play an MMORPG, no I don’t play World Of Warcraft. My online massive multiplayer game of choice is City of Heroes

I have been playing City of Heroes off and on pretty much since it came out. I took a year long break in 2007, but have recently picked up the game again. I keep most of my characters on the virtue server. I enjoy playing COH because it is a game you can just jump into and play. You don’t have to worry so much about having the best gear, there is not really gear in the game at all. There are enhancements, but all those do is enhance your powers. You also don’t have to spend hours leveling up. The game moves rather quickly, even more so with the recent faster xp upgrade.

You can play as either a hero or a villain, the two sides do interact in several areas such as Pocket D a sort of nightclub hang out spot , also you can take out the alien invaders in the Rikti War zonae, there is also the newly added Chimmora zone, which seems to place you back in time in the Roman era.

I recently got my main character up to level 50 which is the current maximum level that you can get to either Hero or Villain Side. Doing this unlocks a pair of new power sets. Of course with a game like city of heroes it is hard to keep to one character. You can have up to I think 30 characters per server so many of the game players have what we like to call alt-itis. The process of getting stuck making many lower level alternate characters that we can never really level up our main characters.

I am also in charge of a Super Group, called the Torchwood Institute, yes I named it after the TV show of the same name. It isn’t really that big a group, mostly for my alternate characters and friends. We do have a good base going that can only grow if more people join up.

More About The Game:

It is a free download. I can send you a 10 day free trial key if you give me your email address.
If you want to avoid the download you can pick up the DVD Good VS Evil edition
That comes with 1 month free.

If you are wondering about time frame and if we would have time to play together, I usually play anywhere between 4:30-9:30pm eastern on weekdays and more on weekends. There is also a great bunch of guys from www.arstechnica.com that have a decent super group. Also lots of others playing so you rarely go solo unless you want to.

Cincinnati Zoo

Recently I took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati Ohio.

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I went with my wife and a friend. We spent a few hours wondering around the zoo checking out various animals and scoping out the new Giraffe habitat that they were building. This was my first trip to the zoo, and having grown up in Southern California, which has great zoos, I was expecting something a little bigger.

The entrance was nice, the walkways were clean. The animals seemed happy and they were very eager to pose for a few pictures. They did have a cute baby rhino who looked like he loved sticking his face in the mud. Also the elephants seemed extraordinarily happy with their environments. The peacocks were pretty much free to roam around the zoo. We got through the zoo in a few hours. I am sorry to say there was not much more to see than that.

I went in with the intention on getting a year pass so I could return, but left without one, feeling that I wished there was more to see. Overall it is a fun half day or full day trip and worth it if you have kids that want to see the animals.

Here are some photos of my time at the zoo.

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Click to view more photos from this set

Cereality, A Great Choice For Breakfast Any Time Of The Day

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I have always been a fan of breakfast any time of the day. I have recently stumbled across a new breakfast joint that looks very interesting. Now most of us have been to a Cold Stone Creamery or a Marble Slab Creamery where you get ice cream mixed with toppings of your choice. Now we have Cereality, a breakfast bar with a similar concept. From the Cereality Website:

“When you walk up to a Cereality, something immediately feels familiar. That’s because we serve dozens of brand-name cereals (both hot and cold), just waiting to be combined.

And ordering at Cereality is easy. Pick two cereals and a topping. Be creative. We’ll mix it up, and then you add as much milk as you like (including soy and lactose-free).”

Now I have never personally been to this marvelous eatery, but I do plan to spend some time there sampling the goods when my travels bring me closer to one of their locations.

Big News For Doctor Who?

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There is a new man behind the wheel in the Doctor Who Magic Bus. According to the BBC Russell T Davies is to step down as executive producer of Doctor Who. Davies is credited with breathing new life into the show he brought back to television screens in 2005.

Bafta-winning writer Steven Moffat, who has already written some of the most memorable Doctor Who episodes of recent times, including The Girl in the Fireplace and The Empty Child, will succeed Davies as lead writer and executive producer of the fifth series of Doctor Who.

Guitar Hero 3 Vs Rock Band

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Guitar Hero 3 It was a good game in my mind until I played rock band. The song selection is great, the game is a bit easier than GH1 and GH2 were. The wireless guitar is great. The boss battles are a bit lame. Medium seemed a lot harder to take on than easy did. The multiplayer battles are cool, and playing guitar and bass is what most people are use to for co-op play. Online score ranking is a neat feature, but compared to everyone else on the lists I really suck and guitar gaming :).

Rock Band Guitar + Drums + Mic = Fun. It is a great group game as well as a solo game. There are no boss battles here, just playing. It seems to me like all the sound guys from the original group stuck with Harmonix with Rock Band. The songs are more polished, the notes seem to fit the songs. This is a bit easier than GH1 and GH2 at least for me on guitar. I easily moved from easy to medium while touring with my rock band.

Drumming is pretty fun, it is loud, so if you live in an apartment you may want to try tone down the sound a bit. I did this mod, now while it does dampen the sound it also lowers the pickup level of the drums, not to an unusable level, but I did seem to miss a few beats now and again and I know I was hitting the drums. I’ve only made it through the first set as a drummer, but I am able to pick it up pretty well. You really do have to be able to make and follow the beat though or your band mates will get mad at you.

Singing. Personally I have yet to sing, but everyone else that has tried it in my band has loved it. It is a great karaoke game. The higher difficulties don’t seem to do much to the singer, at least by medium. The words are easy to see on a decent sized tv, they may be harder to see on smaller ones.

Guitar/Bass is pretty much the same from other Guitar Hero Games, so I won’t say much other than that I like the new guitar, but it needs to come with a longer strap for us tallies. Song selection is pretty good, you will find yourself playing the same songs over and over in the beginning, but once you get the tour bus you will quickly unlock more songs. The downloadable content is also pretty decent.

Overall if you have a wii you should get GH3, if you have anything else you need to get Rock Band.

Assassin’s Creed

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Assassin’s Creed for the Xbox 360 is one of the best games I have played in a while. I am only an hour or so into it and am in the second main city, but so far I am really impressed. The graphics are top notch and it is hard these days to find a game with a true story that flows throughout the whole game. The story in Creed starts the moment you to begin and it unfolds throughout the game. The story is delicately woven into just about everything you do. It tells the player why you are where you are, what you need to do to move forward, and it helps create atmosphere throughout each of your quests.
 
I don’t want to give away the big “secret” twist here, but I am sure you can find out about it in other reviews. The basics, you are an assassin, you are in ancient times. No guns, just amazingly simple hand to hand and blade to blade combat. You are a member of the Assassin’s guild, but you become arrogant, break the rules, and get demoted. You must go off on a quest to reclaim your skills, weapons, and position in the guild. The cities are spectacular, in general if you can see it you can go to it and climb to the top of it. Creed uses a character control scheme that Ubisoft calls puppeteering. There are parts of the cities which become blocked off, probably so you don’t accidentally go flying out of the city while jumping around roof tops evading capture or death at the hands of the city guards. The outdoor areas, especially the kingdom, evokes the same feeling Shadow of the Colossus did/does, as in this could be a real place. The first time you approach a city, it is extremely cool. The NPC’s are the best I have ever seen in a game.
 
Yes there is repetition, but standing in the marketplace in Damascus really felt like a bustling, busy place. Really something we have not seen before. Assassin’s Creed controls are amazingly smooth. You control your characters feet, head and arms. This really just means that you can move your character, attack, use skills, and look at people, but it works out quite well. You can jump, attack and use your other skills all while running at a sprint or walking slowly to avoid detection. Creed uses a free running based movement system. You see a window or door jam, you can run up to it, jump and grab on to it to start climbing a building. Want to jump from one building to another, you can with ease. Watch out though because a high fall can kill you. Water also seems to be deadly so avoid falling into rivers or deep ponds as well. The controls become intuitive very quickly.
 
The free running is just great. I think Ubisoft really nailed the control on this one. I have read that people say it is too easy as you hold the right trigger and the A button to run and navigate with the left stick. This works so well because you are running so fast navigating is a full time job. Creed also has some of the best horse riding controls I have ever seen in a game. Riding a horse acts pretty much like you always thought it should, quick turns, gallops, rearing up to attack, jumping over stuff, its all there. You can also use any horse you see. Fighting is pretty simple, with your main sword, you can block, you can attack, you can counter attack, and you can throw. With your arm blade you can sneak up and assassinate anyone you want. You also have fists and throwing knives as choices for combat. You can also choose to kill everyone in town or just go after the bad guys. I like the combat a great deal. The reliance on timing for counter strikes is the main skill aspect, followed by positioning yourself to not leave your back exposed for the stabbing.
 
The AI is pretty decent, but it does have a few issues that come up when you start hiding from the guards who are trying to get you. When running from the law you have a few options to escape, you can fight, you can evade their line of sight, or you can jump into a hiding device such as a pile of hay or a roof top garden. When you evade your pursuers they just go back to what they were doing as if you never existed, good for a game, but not really realistic. It would have been nice if a few of them would wait around near where they just lost you forcing the player to avoid contact by choosing an alternate route out of the hiding spot. Fighing AI is pretty decent. If you end up in a fight with a group of people and one gets behind you he will stab you in the back while you are fighting the guy in front of you. Holding down the block button seems to protect you against these types of attacks pretty well.
 
If you like a video game to have a story you will love this one. There are many side quests to keep you playing the game for many many hours. The graphics are some of the best out there at the moment. Overall I would label this one a buy.
 
I give Assasin’s Creed 4 Out Of 5 Monkeys