Reviews of the Games I’ve Been Playing

Remember the time I got Eddie?

Yeah, so let’s come to the point. I’ve used it to play a lot of games. And here are short reviews of each, in the order I played them.

Burnout Paradise (The Ultimate Box)

The Burnout series of games by Electronic Arts is hailed as one of the most innovative and fun games ever made. With Burnout Revenge!, and Burnout 3: Takedown hitting it big across the world, and Burnout Dominator failing to, emulate that success on a large scale, EA returned with Burnout Paradise. And boy what a return it was. Brilliant visuals, superb car modelling and even bikes as a DLC!

The entire game is set in the fictional Paradise City, named after Guns ‘n’ Roses‘s hit song of the same name from Appetite For Destruction. The game always starts with this great song, but the soundtrack does remain a problem for the rest of the games, as it recycles tracks from earlier Burnout games. In Burnout Paradise, you’re supposed to take up challenges like takedowns, races, burning laps, etc. to climb through the achievements and earn your “driving licence”. Despite awesome crashes and challenging races with fiery opponents, the game starts to feel repetitive and you soon get bored with it. Climbing from a Class E to Class A requires more than a hundred races to be completed, leaving you bored midway. It’s like a toy you’d play for a while, and throw it away.

Rating: 8.6/10

Call of Duty : Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Image via Wikipedia

Call of Duty has always been about gut-wrenching blowing up of bad guys and have plots which may be good for some B-grade war movie. Modern Warfare is only slightly different. Only engaging in bits, Modern Warfare does surprise you in some portions, especially in the ending. The graphics are pretty good, but nothing extraordinary to blow you away. I wasn’t very impressed by this over-hyped game. Although the game makes it up with an extra-ordinary ending, I was like “What Modern Warfare? What’s so special?” Trouble is, the single-player campaign gets over in a blink. I was able to do it in really short time of about a day.

But you know what really saves the day? Multiplayer. It has a great multiplayer mode which does make up for the single player campaign. It’s exhilarating, and fun.

Rating: 7.8/10

It’s not that short games can’t be fun. Especially if you’ve played…

Portal

When the Orange Box debuted, a small insignificant game based on the Source Engine was released, known as Portal, along with the much more anticipated Half Life 2: Episode Two and Team Fortress 2.

Portal was instantly the surprise favourite of everyone. It is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played in my life. I took about five hours to complete it, and that is quite long by any standards.

The great thing about Portal is the wacky sense of humour it packs in, along with an engaging gameplay. GLaDOS and the Companion Cube are lovable creatures too. Although the single-player campaign is short, it’s so enjoyable, that it has an immensely high replay value. Few minor bugs occasionally spoil the fun, but the mind-boggling puzzles make you want to come back for. Finishing the game may get you a “Portal hangover”, where you’d want to create portals to various places instead of traveling there.

Rating: 9.5/10

Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2

One of the most anticipated games of all time, I finally got my hands on the reason I bought Eddie. After the disappointment that was Modern Warfare, it’s sequel takes the game to new heights where no game has ever been before.

Like it’s predecessor, it has a small single-player campaign, but it is much more sweeter, and has a darker and more powerful plot. The graphics are also significantly improved, and the controls seem much more easier to use. What makes it distinct from Modern Warfare is that it doesn’t feel repetitive at all.

The variation in gameplay is so amazing, it’ll blow your head off. Be it driving snowmobiles in freezing temperatures or “earning Makarov’s trust”, Modern Warfare 2 is a game that is sure to stay etched in your mind eons after you’ve played it.

Rating: 9.3/10


Assassin’s Creed II

There was no game ever like Assassin’s Creed, and boy there won’t be any like it. Upon it’s released, Assassin’s Creed II was called as the game the first one should have been. Based in the 1480s, you play Desmond Miles/Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who’s a total vagabond. He loves spending his dad’s money and enjoys with the girls. But his father and brother’s death changes him forever as he vows to avenge his death.

What makes Assassin’s Creed II distinct from any other game is its emphasis on non-linear gameplay and the importance given to character development. The graphics are superb, especially in the places where Ezio dives in the water. His clothes actually look wet.

The problem with the PC version of Assassin’s Creed II lies in its DRM protection. Skidrow claimed in his .nfo file that he thanked Ubisoft was such a challenge the game posed for him and his team to crack it.

Unfortunately, the game suffers from a really long plot length. Despite some awesome characters such as Leonardo Da Vinci himself (who makes a “flying machine” a.k.a hanglider), the game suffers from being very repetitive. It’s got its heart in the right place, but just gets a few things wrong. When you reach the end, and defeat the main villain, you’re really bored and don’t care any more. What could have been a spectacular achievement just ends up being fairly awesome.

Rating: 8.8/10

Mass Effect 2

Hardly ever has game been made which is so diverse, so imaginative, so… real. Commander Shepherd is back in Mass Effect 2, and Electronic Arts has done a marvelous job of putting together one of the finest games in recent times.

Commander Shepherd is back, and immediately killed due an attack on his ship, the Normandy, but soon resurrected at an astronomical cost by pro-human organization Cerberus, that has some shady origins…

The game is placed well into the future, giving you the liberty to navigate your spaceship to different galaxies, and explore new planets, and even mine them for new minerals. These minerals help you research new technologies for your weapons, or armour or biotic powers.

But what really separated Mass Effect 2 from the rest is the extreme emphasis on non-linear gameplay. As Shepherd you decide how the game should go ahead, and the game travels willingly based on your decisions alone, seriously impacting the story line. This is managed by a well established (though occasionally tedious) planet exploration activity to mine minerals.

While certainly one of the best games ever made, Mass Effect 2 suffers from an awkward and slightly unbelievable plot line. The wide variety of missions did put me off on many occasions, but that’s probably only me. But one thing’s for certain: Mass Effect 2 has an immensely high replay value.

Rating: 9.2/10

Batman: Arkham Asylum

I thought I had seen it all with Mass Effect 2, when Batman: Arkham Asylum came over and swept me off my feet. Batman: Arkham Asylum is that kind of game that you’ll hardly ever see.

Such a superhero game has probably never been made before. Ever. Superhero games don’t actually have a history of doing great with the critics and the masses (remember Superman 64?)

Following its release. Batman: Arkham Asylum has received massive critical acclaim and does so from me too. Set in Arkham Asylum, the institution set up for the mentally insane, the game starts off with Batman transporting the Joker to Arkham (who submits too easily). What Batman realises is that the Joker planned to be caught, and there was a much darker plot afoot.

The boss battles, though numerous, never bore you for once with the sole exception of Poison Ivy. You’ll face the Scarecrow thrice, and the others like Killer Croc, the Joker and Bane as well.

The tone and color of the game is so well set and the graphics are so beautifully merged with the storyline and gameplay, that it is difficult to set your hands off the keyboard. You’ll always be hungry for more and will come back all the time.

Be it Joker’s crazy sense of humour, Batman’s brilliant martial arts assisted with fluid controls, or gliding seamlessly over Arkham’s dark landscape with the skyline of Gotham in the view, Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the most perfect games ever created. I’m only disappointed with the font in which “Batman” is written on the box art. Looks a bit weird, if you ask me.

Rating: 9.8/10

So what did you feel about my views on these games? Let me know in the comments section.

Advertisements

Download And Install All Software You Need On A New PC

Apologies for a really long (and lame) title.

We’ve all faced the problem of a crashed computer. (Thank you, Windoze). And almost always, once in half-a-year your Windows machine will crash. And mess stuff up to such an extent, that you have to reinstall Windows.

After you’ve done that, you reinstall all drivers necessary, and you proceed to download all the other software you are used to. At bare minimum, you’ll need a browser (Firefox), a media player (VLC), media codecs (K-Lite), software bloatware for your iPod (iTunes), and so on. It’s highly impractical to download all setup files one-by-one (but that is what you do anyway).

What I had planned initially, was downloading all these files once, and storing them on a DVD. But again, it will be outdated soon. Then you’d install all those apps, realize they’re outdated, and update them manually again.

Here comes Ninite Easy PC Setup. This brilliant initiative by Patrick Swieskowski and Sascha Kuzins ensures that you don’t need to do all that manual download and install stuff. Just download a custom installer, and leave your PC overnight. There are ~75 applications to choose from, and it’s really, really simple. Below is a screengrab of the website. Notice the clutter-free design and clear cut objective – select, download and enjoy. As you can see, nearly all popular apps exist. Four browsers, twelve media players, and even important stuff such as .NET Framework, Java and Flash.

Ninite Easy PC Setup

Applications I Download Using Ninite

The best part is that the entire process is unattended. Only one window is open – the Ninite Installer Window. You won’t even have to restart your computer. Be warned though. Ninite will install everything in the default path Windows installation path.

Amazingly, each installer you make gets a unique link, which you can share with others, or even keep with you for downloading the online installer for all these apps again. Of course, you can always store the installer…

Applications Download Page

Applications Download Page

There’s also a Pro service Ninite provides, known as Ninite Pro (how innovative!). It’s a paid service and costs $20 (Rs 950) per month. That is, in my opinion, quite steep. I still recommend it for use if you are an administrator in a school or office. Ninite Pro offers an offline installer, which works just like the one in the free edition – unattended usage. You can download a set of software on the offline installer, copy it to each computer’s hard disk, and sleep while they all install away.

Ninite

Ninite Pro

Link to my customized installer (the software in the image above).

Do tell me about your experiences with this service in the comments.

Eddie

His name’s Eddie. Eddie is the Heart of Gold’s shipboard computer, and is always in a constant state of amazement and excitement. That’s how this new PC is.

It was a real pain to get this one. My older PC was pretty much dead. It wasn’t broken down, but all support for hardware had ceased. Intel’s graphics drivers for 82845G had a virus which disabled the Task Manager and Registry, and I was forced to use Process Explorer, which, for the record, is fantastic.

Right, so I had to persuade dad to get a new PC. He delayed it till the boards ended, and little further away till the holidays started. Then I really began to pester him, with constant reminders. He gave an offer for a Dell desktop, which didn’t have even half the configurations I actually wanted, and cost nearly as much.

With Digit magazine’s help, I could design a PC which fit my budget, and conveniently forgot to include a PSU. The Zebronics cabinet I mentioned was not designed for the motherboard, and I now have this iBall cabinet. Dad was getting my PC assembled with the help of his office’s technicians. Apparently, none of them understood by AMD-based configuration. After a lot of “please papa”, he finally relented, gave the go, and here the PC is ready.

2×2 GB Corsair 800MHz DDR2 RAM

AMD Phenom II X4 @ 3.00 GHz per core

Leadtek GeForce GT 240 1GB

ASUS M4A785D-M PRO Motherboard

Seagate Barracude 7200.12 SATA 500GB Hard Drive

No floppy drive šŸ˜¦

While it may be a “far cry” (pun intended) from a gaming rig, it is enough for me. I’ll just play the occasional game at medium settings, but I really wanted to watch videos in HD. A friend handed over a Blu-Ray rip of Avatar. Bliss…

I have Windows 7 installed, and a download of Ubuntu’s Lucid Lynx has just been stopped. It’s Isadora all the way.

Now why did I go for AMD? Simple. It’s cheaper. Way cheaper. Core i7 began at Rs 14000/- and I could get my Phenom at 7500/-. Nice, huh?

Well, I’ve already finished Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As usual, don’t expect any reviews.

*

Do watch this.

Don’t forget to watch in full screen high definition.

“Ronal–d’oh!”

**

Also, the UEFA Champions League final was epic. Hats of, Milito, though I was really was supporting Ribery-less Bayern Munich. Seems like Jose has got a magic wand with him.

Don’t worry, the best football club in the world will win the League next time.

Prepare for trouble treble

And make it double!”

Of svchost.exe And Problems

Quite recently, I began facing this really irritating svchost problem on my computer. I’m running Windows XP Service Pa(ni)ck Two, and really haven’t had this problem before. A certain process called svchost.exe began eating up most of the CPU power, and here I was, unable to do absolutely anything on my computer for the next five minutes to five hours.

Yes, the problem never had a defined period of time, and often came and went randomly. And if I decided to end the process from task manager, Windows reverted to the good ol’ Windows Classic theme, and convinced itself that it didn’t have any sound devices installed anymore. This was too much, and I decided to explore.

What is svchost.exe?

svchost.exe,Ā as defined by Microsoft themselves

… checks the services part of the registry to construct a list of services that it must load. Multiple instances of Svchost.exe can run at the same time. Each Svchost.exe session can contain a grouping of services. Therefore, separate services can run, depending on how and where Svchost.exe is started. This grouping of services allows for better control and easier debugging.

For a quick check, click on Start and then, click on Run. In the Run dialog box, type cmd and smack enter. Congratulations. You are now inĀ primitive, but more powerful, DOS mode.

Type tasklist /svc and hit enter. A long list of processes currently running will follow, along with the services it is taking care of. The svchost.exe entry is so prominent, that it’ll catch your eye when you scroll down the list. But contrary to what the movies force you to believe, typing something and getting a list of results isĀ not hacking. (I’m talking about you, Swordfish).

Tasklist /svc

Tasklist /svc

Whoa.

Okay… Now what?

You’ve seen for yourself that ending that svchost.exe process will cause unprecedented andĀ irrevocableĀ damage to your computer, thus angering Lord William Henry Gates the Third, who will ensure that you rot in the bowels of hell forever! [Citation Needed]

Don’t worry. I have a solution. In fact, Mr Important, I have four simple solutions I have for you. You will, I know, make the right choice.

I was elected to lead. Not to read.

I was elected to lead. Not to read.

What’s the name again?

It is possible that the process you noticed in the task manager was not svchost.exe but scvhost.exe. The latter is a spyware, which will allow users to access your computer remotely. You must get rid of it at once by installing an anti-virus RIGHT NOW. You can also choose not to react to this situation, if you are totally okay with Ho Chi Minh’s grandson in Vietnam enjoying a holiday in Bermuda, with the money he stole from your bank account with the help of the net banking passwords he found on your PC.

Linux rules.

If you use your computer primarily for browsing the web, watching movies, playing music, or basically anything that does not involve gaming, you can switch to Linux. If you simply love orange colour, start with Ubuntu. If you’re a fan of black ‘n green, start with Linux Mint.

Best of all, Linux is free.

The real (temporary) solution.

It’s alright. It’s okay. You can keep that gun on the table. Heh. *wipes sweat off brow*. I was just joking. I know what the solution is. Heh. Right here.

So here’s a temporary solution. Basically, what I figured out was, that if you have a really old computer with automatic updates disabled, then Windows will try to get them by itself. So it forces you to update your operating system, if you don’t want to. And all this Nazi stuff is managed by one single process. You guessed it. svchost.exe.

So here’s what you do:

1] Open Task Manager, right-click on the svchost process, and click End Process. The process is gone. What follows is complete disruption of your computer’s sound capability. This is definite. Sometimes, even the themes may get messed up. To verify this, you can open that the Volume Control by clicking on the tiny speaker in the taskbar. Instead of getting a sound mixer, you’ll be greeted with this.

Greetings

Greetings

2] Click on Start button in the taskbar. Right-click on My Computer and click on Manage in the drop-down menu which follows.

Manage

Manage

3] In the right pane, double-click onĀ Services and Application. Double-click on Services. If you get this, you’re on the right track.

Services

Services

4] Scroll down, and you’ll find something known as Windows Audio. When you select it by single-clicking, you’ll see its description on the left-hand side. Not the left pane. To the left of the list of services. The service is currently stopped.

Windows Audio

Windows Audio

5] To the immediate left of the services list, you’ll see Start the service. Click on Start.

Starting the Windows Audio Service

Starting the Windows Audio Service

You may follow the same procedure to restart the Themes service as well, if you want to.

But the problem is that this is still a temporary solution, so you’ll have to do this all over again when you restart your computer. So I suggest you Hibernate Windows, rather than restarting it or shutting it down.

The permanent solution

I suggest you do this after you’ve attempted the previous one. That will speed up work.

In the same Computer Management window in the above solution, search for Automatic Updates. Double-click it. You should see this.

Automatic Updates

See that Startup type: dropdown box? Yes, that one. Click it, and choose Disabled.

Automatic Updates Disabled

Automatic Updates Disabled

Then you click okay, and you can close all open windows now. Congratulations, sire, you have now fixed your computer.

I would be extremely grateful if you leave a comment below, or rate this post. Please let me know if this worked or not. Thank you!

Enable Task Manager And Registry, If Disabled By Administrator

This. Is. The. Most. Irritation. Error. Message. Ever. And. So. Is. This. Writing. Style.

Seriously, when I get this, I freak out. What does this mean? That I’m not in control of my own computer? Shouldn’t I be incharge? But viruses think otherwise. They prefer to disable the task manager and the registry. And they amuse themselves. No amount of antiviruses out there can get rid of this. At least, that’s been the case with me. A Windows reinstall is always a viable option, but not in my case. My Intel 82845G Graphics Controller is so outdated, that even Intel doesn’t consider it to be worthy of getting a decent driver. The latest driver carries this stupid trojan, which disables important stuff. Tech gurus like me always like to mess up the Windows anatomy, and set it back again. Even novice users three-finger-salute Windows occasionally always, and kill processes. What now?

As always, here at Shadow Line comes another tutorial without using any third-party application. To fix this stupid error.

1] Open Notepad, by going to Start–>Run… and typing Notepad.

2] For enabling Task Manager, paste this:

REG add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v DisableTaskMgr /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

Or, for enabling Registry Editor, paste this:

REG add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v DisableRegistryTools /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

3] Once you’ve pasted the required one, hit enter and open the Task Manager or Registry normally. Note that you’d have to do this always to open ’em up

Lets take it a level further. Lets make a batch file, so that you can enable both with a single click from your desktop.

4] In Notepad, paste both the lines separated by a line.

REG add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v DisableTaskMgr /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

REG add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v DisableRegistryTools /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

5] After you’ve done that, go to File –> Save. Save it as fix.bat. You can replace fix by anything. But the .bat thingy is important. Save it at the desktop. Its easily accessible now. Double-click it, and you should see a command-prompt window for a split second. Open Task Manager and Registry editor normally now. You have to repeat this again, if you want to access the registry once more.

But if you’re the busy types, and you want someone else to do the dirty work, I’ll help you. Download the batch file itself.

So, thats it! Its fixed! But if you really want to stay away from all these viruses, I suggest you go elsewhere.

Download The TCS IT Wiz 2009 Quiz Finals

I’ve given you the prelims, Now eat the finals. The prelims were compiled by Shikhar, and hosted by me. The finals are compiled and written by Shreyans, and hosted by me. You can now see how I love to take credit for others’ work and boost my blog views.

Download The TCS IT Wiz 2009 Quiz Finals

A small note here. This quiz archive is EPIC. It’s simply awesome! Download it for sure. At. Any. Cost. Shreyans has compiled a truly magnificent archive. Never before have a seen something like this. If possible, print it on photo paper and frame it.

Windows UAC

Hey! Looks like you’re trying to install a new software! And it looks like its downloaded from the internet.

Yes.

Hmm. iTunes 9. Do you really want to install this?

Yes.

Alright. <wait a minute> I really don’t think you should. It may harm your computer.

I don’t care.

Ookay. But still, I must ask again. Do you really want to install this?

Yes, you idiot!

Alright! There’s no need to get so angry! <wait five minutes> Unfortunately, this program doesn’t seem compatible with Windows. Wanna try with recommended settings?

Hmm, alright. Ballmer didn’t leave me another choice, did he?

Er, no he didn’t. Lets go over this again.

Hmm. iTunes 9. Do you really want to install this?

Yes.

Alright. <wait a minute> I really don’t think you should. It may harm your computer.

I don’t care.

Ookay. But still, I must ask again. Do you really want to install this?

Yes, you idiot!

Alright! There’s no need to get so angry! <wait five minutes> Looks like you don’t have the permission to install software. Do you have an administrator password?

This is an administrator account, you twat.

I know, but still. Gimme a password.

Here goes…

Alright, then.

Hmm. iTunes 9. Do you really want to install this?

Yes.

Alright. <wait a minute> I really don’t think you should. It may harm your computer.

I don’t care. No wait. Cancel the freakin’ installation!

But why?

Psst! Lemme give you a piece of friendly advice. Use Windows Media Player.

That doesn’t work with iPods.

Do I care? Buy a Zune, for Bill’s sake! And oh, that installation you wanted to cancel? You can’t. Its hung. Its crashed.

Die.

Now WHERE did I keep those Linux disks?