Mechwarrior Online Impressions

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Mechwarrior 2: 31st Century Combat and its expansions are some of my favorite games of all time. It pushed me to learn technical skills that would help me tremendously in life. I stopped playing those games after Mechwarrior 3 because Mechwarrior 4 just didn’t click with me — it didn’t feel like a sim anymore. After that I stepped away from Mechwarrior completely.

For the next several years the only time I thought of Mechwarrior was if FASA Corporation was mentioned along side the likes of MechAssault or Shadowrun. Then I heard the Mechwarrior license was purchased by Piranha Games and that they were interested in creating Mechwarrior Online.

I was excited to hear the news and looked forward to the release of the game. But as news and e-mails of the “Founders Program” came, I became skeptical and largely ignored what was being offered. It was a free to play game so I wasn’t worried about missing out on some significant promotion. Fast forward to January 10th of this year and GiantBomb’s weekly multiplayer show, Thursday Night Showdown. It was there that I saw the first raw glimpse of the Mechwarrior Online experience. Later that night I downloaded the open beta client and began my Mechwarrior Online career.

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ASUS RT-N66U First Impressions

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My ASUS RT-N66U arrived from yesterday. I installed Tomato (Shibby) on it and have it up and running.

The build quality helps justify the $150 price tag. It has heft and a solid feel unlike any router I’ve ever owned. It even has a power button and a stand which may seem like odd things to highlight but these are the kinds of features that I expect from a router this pricey.

Initial performance impressions are positive but it did not quite achieve the level of exterior wall performance I was hoping for. The 5 GHz antenna on my E4200 was good. It was able to reach all the way from the top floor to the basement with a reasonable signal. The RT-N66U signal, however, is excellent no matter where I am.

The WDS performance is better but it’s not a night and day difference. The signal strength and quality seems to be more stable than with the E4200 I previously used though. Stability with reasonable throughput (10+ Mbps) is the goal here and so far this RT-N66U is delivering on that front. I’ll check in after some days have passed. Hopefully the link stays up.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown PC Demo Impressions

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I already knew I would like to play XCOM: Enemy Unknown one day and this demo is making that day sooner rather than later.

It wasn’t a particularly long demo. As soon as I got a hang of the mechanics, the demo was already over. But it was a very convincing demo that sold me on the game.

I played the demo with a controller which naturally lead me to draw comparisons with Valkyria Chronicles, another strategy role playing favorite of mine. It felt natural. The turn based nature of it gives me plenty of time to survey the area and plan out my approach.

The game ran very well on my machine — even at 1080p. It’s not pushing the technical limits of the Unreal Engine 3.0 but it is still a nice looking game. The art style is deceptively inviting and friendly. The first time I witnessed a soldier eat a plasma shot to the face with a burst of blood spewing out was a bit shocking.

The music and atmosphere drew me into the alien invasion and the idea of building an elite force to repel the grey skinned invaders. Seeing the cross section of the underground base with all the little soldiers and scientists doing their thing was very nostalgic for me.

The demo wasn’t very long and thus I couldn’t see the outcome of the one decision I made. Help the Chinese or the Americans? Did I want money or scientists? I chose the scientists. I’m curious how influential these decisions will be in the final game. With Firaxis behind this title, I’m hoping for some eventual deep diplomatic game where I’m pissing off one nation but gaining a much more powerful ally in the process.

It may have been only a taster but I was already itching to pre-order XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Unfortunately, I haven’t stumbled across any substantial deals and I do have a sizable backlog to wade through. Maybe in the next few months.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown debuts October 9th, 2012 on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

For more information, visit the official website.

2010 PC Rev. 1.1 was used to play XCOM: Enemy Unknown demo.

Resident Evil 6 Xbox 360 Demo Impressions

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Through ingenuity and guile by others, I was able to get my hands on the Resident Evil 6 Xbox 360 early access demo. My impressions of this demo were surprisingly positive.

Resident Evil 6 features multiple “campaigns” and the demo gave us a taste of each. The first was Leon’s campaign which featured the hero of Resident Evil 4 and his inability to protect the President. His campaign showed the slower crawl through a dark mansion. It showed some promise for a horror atmosphere but it wasn’t nearly the kind of scares or unease found in the Resident Evil remake. But it was a promising start.

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