Archive for December, 2018

Sulphur Aeon – OMFG

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music on December 29, 2018 by slateman

This band’s last effort ranked #5 of 2015 and shocked me entirely at its outrageous heaviness, absurd speed and killer cover. Here I am, at the end of 2018, writing up my best albums of the year and I stumble upon its follow-up. And what have I here? An album that just crushes, easily surpasses its predecessor, whose cover is as nightmarish as the last and which very well could rival even my top-three of 2018. WTF?

The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos is a grand continuation of the last masterpiece and is so goddamn heavy, it just has to bring a smile to your angry, Lovecraftian face. It’s fast, contains melodic breaks and has impeccable production. With me being so wishy-washy on the three records atop my list, it’s refreshing to have something just knock me on my ass. It may not be #1…but who knows…this album is that fucking good. \m/

Oh – and the full image of the last album…just because it’s so insanely awesome.

Just Cause 4 – Mini-Review – Disappointment

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Reviews with tags on December 27, 2018 by slateman

Just Cause 4 is out and considering how much fun I had with the second and third iterations, I just had to dive back in to see Rico’s newest adventures. Despite the poor reviews installment #3 got, I quite enjoyed the romp through the fictional environments, blowing up virtually everything and scouring the world to collect all those obscure hidden treasures and spots.

However, while JC4 fixes some of the basic issues inherent in JC3, the end result is a lackluster title, missing much of the heart and soul of what the series so fantastic. Bottom line? I’d play 3 over 4 any day – warts and all.

Let’s get the good out of the way first. This game looks good, runs smoother and more fluidly than the last and its load times have been drastically shortened. Explosions and chaos in general is still rather impressive.

With that short list covered, what remains is more of the same…except it’s sometimes less of the same. The series has never striven for realism or depth. Quite the contrary, really, and locating bases to simply reduce them to rubble was genuinely the reason I signed up. Now, there’s no specific purpose to do that. Instead, causing chaos fills a meter which leads to more squad reserves which leads to advancing your frontlines in order to unlock new supply drops. Ummm…OK. So, I can still blow shit up, right?

Sure! Except you can’t keep track of the places you blew up. And while you do so, let’s say in a helicopter, you can raze an entire base to the ground without anyone even complaining. “Enemy chopper noticed,” or some similar message is mentioned, but that’s OK. Just keep destroying the bad guy’s satellites and fuel reserves. They won’t mind. If going on foot, on the other hand, expect some serious resistance. But who cares? Rico can absorb 8,000 shots before the screen gives you warning and then you can just grapple hook elsewhere and return 4 seconds later to continue the mindless fun. There’s no reason to actually kill the baddies because they appear to just keep respawning. Oh, and those remote mines I used 90% of the time in JC3? Yeah – Inexplicably gone. Quite literally the best parts of JC3 are gone. At least they added nitro boosts and jumping abilities to boats. Maybe that evens it all out???

Missions fare no better, mind you. It’s always about flipping switches and then hacking consoles. Well, sometimes it’s about hacking consoles and then flipping switches. Oh no, sometimes it’s about driving some dude to hack some consoles and then protecting him. At least you’re not flipping switches. It’s fucking stupid – and I say that having played the barely-more-than-skin-deep JC2 and JC3. I’m sorry, sometimes it’s about blowing up generators and THEN hacking consoles. My bad for missing out on that mission diversity.

Now – of course, there’s new stuff! New grapple hook loadouts allow you to make them liftoff like MGS5 or shoot boosters. I suppose they’re nice, but their implementation, some 6 hours into this venture, are also skin-deep at best. I use them when I need to, but, perhaps b/c I’m not 14 and have all the time in the world, I find the entire system clunky and unwieldy. In this effort, I’m assuredly missing out on the game’s best features.

But one of the greatest portions about JC3’s beautiful, open world was the exploration of said world. Here, there’s literally no incentive to do so. There are no secrets or perks or hidden awesomeness. Nope…if there’s nothing on the map, then there’s literally nothing there. You could wingsuit over it for shits and giggles, but like I mentioned, there is no reason to go there. Screw it. Just load up the next shitty mission which happens to be the same as the last shitty mission. The forgettable story with forgettable setpieces and forgettable characters are there simply to move forward towards what I’m envisioning is a very non-memorable finale.

So, the final verdict is that this game takes the best parts of the prior game, relegates them to meaningless side notes, adds some weather effects that I simply don’t give a shit about and fails on about every level beside the frame-rate and load times. No remote mines, a shoddy lock-on system, no incentive to explore, weak missions and average everything else really hurts what could have been a phenomenal game. Of course, things might get oh-so-much-better in the coming hours, but given how it’s gone so far, I won’t hold my breath. Might as well just boot up JC3 instead. :(

Some screenshots forthcoming…If I care enough to upload them.

Skewb Ultimate Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on December 13, 2018 by slateman

I grabbed this little guy while in New York and, it being a Skewb variation, I quickly ran into troubles. Not quire sure what’s up with these friggin’ things, but my brain breaks a little bit, particularly this dumb dodecahedron. It didn’t help that after getting a few steps in, I kept getting confused by orientation and the tutorials out there leave a bit to be desired. Not knocking their content – but they’re not too organized. Anyhow, here’s my solution, which will likely require some tweaking before I forget how it’s all done. That’s kinda silly though, as it only really requires the same one algorithm all Skewbs need. R’, L, R, L’. You can reverse it (L, R’, L’, R) for step 2.

Step 1: Solve an X
This isn’t so bad, though sometimes moving an item out of the way takes a second. This should really be intuitive, but worst case, you might have the piece in the correct spot but not oriented.

If so, move it up to the opposite side. If moved to the right, rotate counter-clockwise, if on the left, CW. Then bring it down and fix the initial turn. Note, if the color you want is facing up when starting this, you’ll have to do this step twice. You can situate all four without breaking one another.

Step 2: Position remaining centers
This will swap the top and front centers as well as the left and the right. If you’re smart enough, you can plan this out. I, on the other hand, just keep bringing the top piece down to its correct spot (and messing up the rest in the process) until everything is right. Don’t worry about orientation – just getting them in the right spot. You’ll know which algorithm to use based on its upper-level orientation. If the piece you need is on the left face, start with a R’ to bring it to its position. If on the right, start with L. This takes a few tries, but it’s easy.

Step 3: Orient top-layer X
This can be a pain. Figure out the top-layer colors (here they’re pink and green) and you want there to be two on one face. In this photo these stickers are close, but it could be on the other side where they are farther apart. These can be any combination of those colors too. G,G/P,P or how it is here, one of each. You’ll put these on the left side and rotate the puzzle up so your algorithm is done adjacent to your bottom layer. Doubled algorithm this time: R’, L, R, L’ (x2).

If you have no doubles, which is likely, find one sticker you want. If it’s on the left, start with the R’ version of the algorithm and vice versa. I believe this should consistently give you a usable pair.

Step 4: Orient remaining centers
The very same algorithm will be used to rotate centers. This will flip four centers: U, F, L and R. If you only have two, you’ll be doing this algorithm twice – by fixing one and breaking three others (3+1=4).

Get the four centers U, F, L and R as mentioned and rotate up slightly. You will be performing this algorithm on a properly-oriented side as shown here. Do the same algorithm 6x. Every so often you will have four mis-oriented centers in a row and not a plus pattern. Despite having four, your goal, you still have to perform this step repeatedly. Use your intuition to figure out which to fix so to prep yourself for a proper final step.

Good luck!