The Journey Begins – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS… (or nuts)

If you haven’t seen The Hobbit, STOP READING NOW. I’m not certain I won’t have spoilers…

However, if you’ve read the book a bunch of times (or even seen LOTR) there really isn’t a lot of big PLOT spoilers to be spoiled.

The-Hobbit-HERO-2I really enjoyed the movie. Being that he’s made the book into three movies, it stopped about where I expected it too, being the completion of their escape from the Misty Mountains, but before their adventures in Mirkwood.

I watched it in 3D and the new framerate and to be honest, I didn’t think much of it – I mean it still doesn’t seem like either of those technologies significantly adds to the viewing pleasure.

The movie itself – as I said it was good. I already feel like you should watch this series before you watch LotR, but I’m not sure how that will hold up through the trilogy. One of the biggest things I noticed was the omens and portents of what is coming in LotR. They were eventually made clear (to us, not to the characters), however fans would pick up on them a lot earlier. For non fans, they do get explained, but a little later (so the fans can lord it over the others for about 30 mins). As the Lady Galadriel says “Something is moving in the dark and in the shadows.” Saruman already seems a little out of touch, or is he being duplicitous.

It had a lot of humour (but I noticed myself giggling a lot more than most in the cinema, so maybe it was just me) and was overall pretty well paced, with only a couple of moments of boredom. I have read some comments about the songs, but I quite enjoyed the action of “That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates”. 

Uninvited Guests

Uninvited Guests

Dwarves… Ever since reading The Hobbit (think I was about 8, as I know I read LotR later, when I was 10) I have been a huge fan of dwarves. In RPG and computer games, if given the choice I would play a Dwarf. I was always sad that both the LotR book and Jackson’s movies had such small parts for dwarves.

Thinking about it though it does make sense. Dwarves have never really engaged with the world, content as they are to mine and mind their own business. Sauron’s influence on the rings of power didn’t really work on the Dwarven Rings either, certainly not as he had hoped.

But, YAY, three movies of serious dwarf :)

It was a great movie, I can’t wait for the next two and then to watch them all in order….  Hey Lucas, maybe you should have got Jackson (or Tolkien) to pen Eps 1 to 3….

Oh no, I’ve got no Psykers!

x-com-enemy-unknown-3-1Working my way through XCom still. I built the Hyperwave Relay and assaulted the UFO it eventually detected. My engineers are busily building some contraption to allow Psi trained soldiers to access/communicate?? or something so we can get at the aliens behind the whole invasion.

I don’t have any psi gifted troops on my roster at the moment. I have tested everyone, but every one successful has died within a mission or so. I’m going to have to recruit, test and train a bunch from scratch. The good thing is that I really need to redo my snipers as I have totally picked the wrong skill for all of them early on, I should have picked squad sight. There’s that silver lining :)

Training a bunch of noob soldiers will be tough as the aliens are getting really tough now. I’m facing the walking mechanicals almost every other mission at the moment along with some large hp hitters. Whilst my men can now absorb at least one attack from most aliens and have some serious firepower to hit back with, they are still tough kills.

I have no serious upgrades left either. Just some extra stuff around the peripherals which do add options, but no serious hitting power or protection upgrades.

On another note, I am seriously considering a third computer for the house. I upgraded the PC in order to let it run the media services in the house, but the kids are now hogging both the computers. I am leaning towards a cheapish, small footprint PC, something that will do iView, YouTube and iTunes, email and stuff, in a little case with a big screen. Upgrade the main PC video card at the same time, giving the kids the iMac and the new one, and the big PC for me to game on.

Might just keep it as a thought until I finish XCom though… no need to rush into things.

Desk space could be a problem too

What has Miss 5 learnt in School?

Miss 5 completed her first year (Kindergarten) in school this year… amongst the reading, writing and maths she also learnt that a snack should be left out for Santa and his reindeer, so they’ve piled off to bed but not before some milk, cookies and an apple were left out.

Not sure how all the reindeer are going to split one apple, but never mind. Maybe Santa will share his cookies?

Merry Christmas everyone. (yes I know I said it a couple of posts ago as well)

XCom – turning up the heat

The Sectoid alien. These are quickly replaced by tougher enemies.

The Sectoid alien. These are quickly replaced by tougher enemies.

Oh my, this is starting to get tough now. I’ve been steadily upgrading my troops equipment, so now I have a full complement of Titan Armour and Plasma Weapons for all. I’ve even started building a couple of Plasma equipped S.H.I.V (I forget what it stands for, but its an armed robot, looks kinda like those bomb disposal robots). So I’m geared up… but so is the enemy.

A lot of them have shown up in upgraded versions, elites with better weapons and tougher to kill. So far working as a team and concentrating my firepower in both location and time is proving effective (except for my Heavy gunner skill at missing the target).

My last mission had me investigating a UFO landing – they have great loot that’s fantastic for building stuff. Just prior to this mission I faced a new enemy, a walking tank with very heavy weapons. It can fire twice per turn with the choice of a wide beam weapon, some kind of ballistic AOE weapon or a self defense plasma weapon. With 30 hit points and up to 2 repair drones floating beside it, its a tough opponent. (my toughest troops have about 20 hit points)

My first meeting went poorly, with 3 troops quickly dead. A restart and a change of tactics helped and I got past it. If you’ve faced the Cyberdiscs, these are much worse.

Now back to the UFO landing – I came up against not one, not two but three of these machines, almost one after another (thankfully, not at the same time….yikes!). I lost two troops (including a Psi Colonel which sucks) but put all three down.

Tips (These are aimed at fighting the Sectopod, but most apply equally to all opponents) -

  • Use your heavy weapons, don’t forget the Shredder Rocket.
  • Stay in heavy cover (the beam can shoot straight through light walls, cars etc).
  • Don’t group up, it invites AOE attacks, and lets you flank.
  • Have you team organised to step out of cover and shoot at the Sectopod, the whole team, in the same turn. Concentration of Fire – Principles of War 101.
  • Don’t forget your Sniper’s Headshot ability
  • Take out the drones first as they provide a significant repair ability to the main unit. They also shoot, but are easy to kill.
  • I haven’t tried it, but capturing a drone may help.

So before the enemy gets too tough, I’ve decided to move the storyline ahead and am building the Hyperwave something. Let’s see what that brings.

Haven’t got to it…

There’s been a significant new patch in MWO – map changes, a new mech, new hero mechs, a whole bunch of tweaks.

But I haven’t even started the game in more than a week. Honestly the motivation just isn’t there.

I’m enjoying XCom much more at the moment. I think I’m actually getting somewhere, though its hard to tell. The aliens have gotten a bit tougher in the last few outings, but my troops are still working through the missions. Teamwork is helping a lot there. The turn based fighting is probably simpler than the real time C&C type game, but it still has its own tricks and strategies.

I am always chronically short of money though. I’m not sure if that’s normal. I suspect that it is, as that’s how the developers have limited us. With infinite money, imagine what I could build :)

Christmas is around the corner so work has finished for me. School has finished for Miss 5 too. Mrs is still working for a couple more days. Then its present time :)

Merry Christmas to everyone, hope you have a great few days and get some cool stuff…. me, I’m hoping for a new bike, but can’t see a bike sized crate anywhere in the house yet, lol.

Tired of not getting anywhere

I logged in for some serious game time last night. I hung about in the Corp teamspeak for a while prompting folks to get at least a 4 man going… then missed out on the invite, argh. Launched into a PUG as I was so frustrated – probably not the best mood to launch in….

Frozen City and I hung back. It was evident that there was a lot of ECM about still. The enemy pushed unmolested through the tunnel and spied me easily on my own. Never a good situation. I warned the team and backed up, but the two full frontals from an Atlas quickly cleaned me up.

In a fit of frustration I ragequit and went and turned on the PS3 again.

I have two problems – I am getting behind the skill curve with the current changes… I haven’t found a way to play within them yet. Second, I’m just not getting enough playtime to improve it. Its actually even worse than WoW was, as I could stumble my way through quests and PUG some things and still get somewhere. This game is a little more easy to learn, hard to master.

Or maybe its just me…

To be fair, I have had only three attempts at playing since the ECM patch and they weren’t very long so perhaps I just need to get in there in a serious onslaught and practice practice practice… The holidays are coming up…

Frozen City launch. About 2 mins later I'm a pile of burning wreckage :(

Frozen City launch. About 2 mins later I’m a pile of burning wreckage :(

On a better note, I am enjoying XCom. Plays very like the original. I am starting to worry that my months of hardwork (in game) is about to come crashing down as I face tougher aliens, and have some serious panic levels in some areas.. But I am having fun.

ECM Here, ECM There… ECM Everywhere

After the drama the other night, I gave up and played Xcom. Last night I tried again and I got into a group from my new clan, OMC.

It was an interesting, but not successful evening. Initially I launched into my normal LRM Cat, but it became quickly evident that too many LRM boats on a team wasn’t tenable in the new ECM world.

Spectating from a K2 Cat.

Spectating from a K2 Cat.

So I switched to my Jenner. This has some limitations now. As a scout without ECM I can be detected from some distance. I might have to investigate purchasing a Commando or a Raven if I want to continue scouting.

The games themselves were pretty average. We struck the same team several times. Heavily laden with ECM fitted mechs, including at least a lance of ECM Atlas, they proved decidedly the strengths of this ECM blob. They stayed together and meant that our limited ECM couldn’t counter act them. Equally as a blob of Atlas, they were difficult to take down quickly, meaning that they could wear us down. Three times they smashed through our lines and won the game. Even with some individual performances and some good teamwork, we were unable to beat this group.

So there was some complaints of the ECM. Not in the performance or abilities of the ECM, but the feeling was more that there should be limited in the numbers per drop. I’m not sure that this is the solution. Whether the limit is 8, or say 4 there will be groups that drop with the maximum. There has to be other ways around it.

At the moment, its a massive force multiplier. But if we can find effective counters then the teams that run ECM heavy will find themselves at a disadvantage and stop using it. I heard some talk of TAG range being lifted from 450m to 700m. Perhaps this is one. LRM boats will actually be able to self TAG (though this removes their indirectness). That’s what we need to look for.

I’ll tell you what awaits me….

Corps drama, that’s what.

Ok, as I said in … oh, no I didn’t end up posting that entry.  So I better back up a bit.

I think mid week, there was some drama in the senior leadership in the Corp. I’ve ha a two line explanation that didn’t really explain anything so I’m not going to comment on the reasons but it has resulted in a break up of the Corp with a fair chunk of the players restarting a new corp.

I hadn’t made any decision on what I was going to do, whether to stay with the old Corp or join the new one.

And tonight, I really don’t need to think about it as the old Corp has removed me from their ranks. So an attitude like that, to someone who hasn’t been involved is pretty average, and I’m not interested in pursuing the matter with them.

So it’s Friday night and I want to play in 8 mans… but I can’t get onto either TS server. This really sucks. Not involved in the drama at all and the best night of the week to play is going to waste….

Oh it looks like I’ve picked up a random group on US Beta server, see how it goes I guess.

What awaits me?

The latest patch dropped, overnight I think. Amongst the return of 8man drops, a new hero mech and the release of some more cockpit decorations (for Christmas) was the activation of Electronic Counter Measures devices in selected mechs.

It has the following effects on enemy mechs when you are within the 180m effective range:

  • You will not know where your teammates are, and they won’t know where you are, unless you have direct line of sight to each other.
  • You cannot share any targeting data with the rest of your team, and vice versa.
  • Your Beagle Active Probe ceases to function.
  • You cannot achieve any missile locks.
  • Your TAG laser can still fire but provides no bonuses.
  • Your battlegrid and targeting information will flicker.

Now as an LRM mech I shouldn’t be this close…. except this can be where the scouts who provide me with targeting information are. Outside of 200m, the mech with the ECM is hidden from the enemy observers radar systems (though they will still be able to see the mech, they aren’t invisible – I guess thermal will also work)

  • Enemy Mechs will have to come within 1/4 the normal distance (200 m instead of 800 m, by default) for hidden Mechs to show up on their battlegrid and HUD.
    • The Beagle Active Probe is of no use in extending this range.
  • It takes twice as long to achieve a missile lock against a hidden Mech.
  • Narc beacons will stick to hidden Mechs, but they won’t provide their normal bonuses until the Mech leaves the ECM’s range.
  • Artemis IV does not provide any bonuses against hidden Mechs.

Now this has a direct effect on my ability to fire at the mechs. The scouts have to be really close (but not too close, as above) and it takes me twice as long to lock up the enemy.

So what counters have we got….

ECM carrying mechs can counter another ECM mech by switching modes, that’s counter one.

TAG visually, and I can still prosecute the target. Effective range of TAG is 450m, and as long as the TAG mech is outside of the 180m, they can target the mech visually, fire TAG and this reveals the mech. Of course you will have to keep the mech TAGged. Sometimes this can be very hard.

But I think the big one will be ECM mechs being primaried in any organised action. Similar to EVE where Electronic Warfare ships are often primaried by Fleet Controllers.

I won’t get a chance to try this out until Friday I expect. The forums are already starting to buzz on this subject too. Its a new weapon and we have to refine our tactics. LRMs are still a valid weapon, but once again…. teamwork.

 

PlayStation Report

Ah, I’m enjoying this PS3. I hit the shops yesterday and rummaged through the sale and preowned stuff to see if I could get some interesting games for cheap. I’ve never been one to grab the latest games, mostly as I don’t feel like paying that much. And I haven’t usually finished the last one at that point.

So anyway I added Dirt 3 and Batman: Arkham City to my collection. XCom is good, and a real thinker game. I’m getting nervous though as I usually don’t end up to well in these build, strategise in the end game. So we’ll see. It’s very similar to the original game though, and that’s good. So I’ve been working away slowly at it during the week.

XCom Enemy Unkown

XCom Enemy Unkown

I’ve been a big fan of rally games since the old Sega Rally game. I spent many hours in the old Colin McRae Rally games on the PS1. So with the good reviews, Dirt3, by the same company (Codemasters) seemed like a no brainer. This afternoon I sat down to have a go at their latest.

Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Wow, so familiar, yet better. Sure it didn’t have the WRC connection, but I think that might actually help as they can add in a whole range of race types. I did have to get used to the different default control layout, but quickly settled into following my co-drivers instructions… just like old times.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City

This evening though I cracked open Batman. I feel a bit silly as I just purchased it in the Steam sales, but I don’t think I’ll be playing it there. I’ve only just started so I’ve expected it to be a little linear as they tutor me in the controls. Hopefully this improves somewhat. Or it may be a bit like Assassins Creed with the side quests and challenges if you want to. About the only thing that’s bothering me is that the controls seem dynamic. They change depending upon the situation which is kinda making it hard to remember what to press to do what.

I started it a couple of times before I really read one of the warnings. It has a 3D mode. Finally I have use for those silly the glasses that came with my TV :).

It looks pretty cool in 3D, actually a lot better than in 2D. Sort of smoother edges and its umm more 3D lol. And it doesn’t matter that I only have 1 set of glasses.

So far I’ve met Catwoman, Two Face, The Penguin and Harley Quin. I think I saw a picture of Poison Ivy so the gang is all there. Very cool game.

So I’m enjoying the PS3 a fair bit. A lot more than I expected actually.