Heroes of Newerth

Heroes of Newerth is your standard real-time strategy game with a slight twist, taking from Warcraft’s most popular game-play mode called “Defense of the Ancients.” This up and coming game looks as though it has a chance to make a large dent in the lagging game market. Currently, the game has been in beta for, a little under a year, with an unknown, but expected release date later this year.

Game Play:

Unlike most RTS out there, Heroes of Newerth does not follow the set-in-stone model of build an army and have the two armies collide somewhere on the map until on side is overwhelmed. Now, what Newerth does instead, creates a siege-like environment where one team or one player is setup in a base that they have to defend by building up its defenses. The other players on the map then have the job of attacking the defending side as they attempt to win the match. Character selection is a sort of new option, most games at best you got to pick your race, and then if you were lucky, maybe your alignment or some similar thing. The number of races would be extremely limited and what you were capable of building was based on this. Instead, you pick from 40 different heroes, each having their own skills and abilities. The heroes are broken down into three times: intelligence, strength, and agility. Heroes of Newerth has stores where one can upgrade their chosen character. Scattered throughout the map are monsters, which players can use to level and upgrade their characters. The armies in Heroes of Newerth are AI-controlled, taking away part of the RTS element many players look forward to. You still command your units, but the players’ view of the battlefield is limited, and your main focus is leveling your hero.

The Good:

Depending on the players, style of play can be quick, short or long and time consuming. The short games are fun and intense, but lack the build-up that long ones have. Either style of play is good, though sometimes you can’t spend four hours leveling characters to create an epic final battle. Playing as a single hero is fun and really does help to draw the player into the game. This is a vast improvement over most RTS, where the players tend to sit back and critically look at the game as they play it, rather than allow themselves to be immersed in the actions of the units on the screen.

The Bad:

Kind of difficult to come up with negative things to say about the game. For most people, going into this game and expecting a classic RTS, they will be disappointed. While this is an RTS, it falls under the sub-genre of “Arena RTS.” The limited battlefield view will upset people who are use to playing Age of Empires and the like.

Final Thoughts:

While still in beta, this game already has a large following of players. It is nearly impossible not to find a game waiting or additional players at any given time. Though it does not fall into the pure RTS category, the game still should do extremely well, maybe even redefining the entire genre.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Size doesn’t matter

I’ve noticed that my generation can be too obsessive about their weight, size and shape. This is something that disturbs me greatly. When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, it’s generally a good idea to let go of those old middle school insecurities and try to be comfortable in your own skin.

In the time I’ve attended school here, I’ve realized that people think nothing of commenting on the way other people look, and they even comment too much on the way their own bodies look. What I’m trying to say is this: please get over yourselves. Of course, everyone should strive to be healthy, but for some of us that means being a little over or under the average weight for height. It’s alright to have a different body type than other people.

I have a personal problem with people judging themselves and others for their weight, because I know what it’s like to be judged. In high school I became fairly underweight because I couldn’t keep my food down no matter how hard I tried. No, I didn’t have an eating disorder. I have acid reflux, which is now totally under control by prescription. Even though I didn’t have an eating disorder, it bothers me to hear people judged so much because I was made fun of mercilessly by my larger friends during the time I was underweight. Their attempts to make themselves feel better by putting me down led to ruined friendships, and that is the sort of petty thing that young adults shouldn’t have to deal with anymore.

Don’t think that this is only aimed at the excessively skinny, it goes for larger people, too. No one should have to feel bad about themselves, and that includes the overweight. I know that in the past our culture has been more accepting towards the girls who resembled Twiggy, but the times have changed. Big people are beautiful too, and they deserve just as much respect as everyone else.

The sad part is that I can’t even aim my disappointment toward men. They can be pretty horrible with their judgments at times, but I hear worse things more frequently coming from young women. What’s worse is that they attack each other when they should be more supportive, because we’re all in the same boat when all is said and done. Even the most stereotypically attractive people have tons of insecurities. One could probably write volumes about how much they criticize themselves.

By the way, this goes for clothing, too. It’s not right to make fun of people if their style isn’t the same as yours. In high school I was one of those creepy kids who came to school wearing all black, glaring at everyone. Now my wardrobe is practically all pink and blue, but I’m still the same person I’ve always been. Clothing may reflect how a person feels on any given day, but it does not make the person who they are. Don’t write someone off just because you think they dress oddly.

What this has been leading up to is this: our generation needs to learn how to accept ourselves, and each other. Life is no longer a popularity contest. People want to be around you for your personality more than anything, so don’t try to be something you’re not, and don’t expect other people to do that, either.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

The Hangover, most epic adventure ever

The Hangover” is a great comedy that was released last year. It features a man named Doug, played by Justin Bartha; and his three friends, Stu, played by Ed Helms; Phil, played by Bradley Cooper; and Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis. Each character is unique so that they fit the story. “The Hangover “is a great comedy from start to finish, and definitely a movie you’ll want to watch more than once. It’s full of outrageous jokes and exciting adventures.

The story begins with Doug about to marry his lovely fianc

Watch the brake

Cars are an amazing way to get to and fro in this modern age. It’s so nice to be able to drive to Northern Virginia from Radford in less than four hours instead of in the olden days it would take 100 years ago. With all of the marvels of modernization, there do come risks however. One particular automotive company is learning that the hard way.

Starting in 2002, Toyota Motors Inc. began receiving complaints about problems with their vehicles.Those small errors led to one of the biggest automotive recalls in history.

The recalls have been such an issue that the International President, Alki Toyoda, himself, appeared before the US Congress Feb. 24 to address our nation concerning the faults of the company that he inherited from his grandfather. The name “Toyoda” when translated into English is written “Toyota”. The main and most frequently reported problem was sticky floor mats. These mats caused the accelerator to stick to the mat preventing the car from slowing down, leading to many accidents.

Toyota Motors prides themselves for decades with their infamous “Flawless Toyota Way”. If you recently bought a 2010 Prius, Camry or Lexus you should Toyota consult consumer sites to check out Toyota recalls to insure your safety. According to President Toyoda, Toyota Motors knows they made mistakes and will be making sure that there will be changes made. In an interview with Business Weekly, President Toyoda said that Toyota Motors will have, “a redoubled focus on putting our customers first.”

Hopefully Toyota will have all recalls taken care of and everyone on the road will be safe.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Weekends aren’t all fun

As far as I’m concerned, weekends can be just as bad as the weekdays. At least during the week you have classes, work and meetings to attend. I generally go out of town in some way or another on the weekend, so I spend every waking moment of the week doing homework, which only works so well seeing as, without fail, I manage to have homework for the weekend.

Where I’m going with this is that college doesn’t seem to be cut out for people who want to be able to have the weekend to themselves. Maybe I’m the only one who has this problem, but I found it terribly inconvenient this weekend when I couldn’t start part of my homework until Friday afternoon and I found that it was due Sunday at midnight. On top of that, I was going to a friend’s birthday party at JMU. Come hell or high water, I was going to be there. So I did what I hate doing more than anything: started my homework at my boyfriend’s apartment and finished it on Sunday evening when I came back to Radford.

Many people put off their homework until Sunday night, but to me, Sunday is still a part of the weekend, and I’d rather be able to come back and relax. I really feel like the weekend is too short because of that. I still have to go to classes on Friday, but it’s basically replaced Saturday, and Saturday is my new Sunday. Unless both of my teachers get horribly ill, Sunday will always be an extension of Monday.

On top of the weekend seeming so off-kilter, when I go to a party of friends, I usually expect it to be fun, until something bad happens. I should have probably been more careful, because it was going to be a highlighter party. This means everyone wears a white shirt, which gets written all over by everyone else with highlighters. It’s pretty fun because it’s done under black lights that make everything glow. However, I managed to be the one person with a white cotton shirt too thin to actually glow. Instead, my white and pink striped bra was glowing through my shirt. This made me the phantom bra walking around the apartment.

The problems didn’t stop there. The majority of my friends are guys, so obviously giving them highlighters and the ability to draw all over your clothing is not a good idea. My own boyfriend decided it was a fun idea to outline my bra lines in yellow highlighter. Way to make my glaring mistake even more obvious. An assortment of other nasty things were written on other people. I’m not complaining though; some of it was pretty funny. Just beware of letting those of the male persuasion have too much fun with highlighters, or anything they can write with for that matter.

Even so, I believe weekends should be treated as the break they were meant to be. In order to do so, people need to know how to work hard and play hard. It’s just too bad that you end up with five straight days of working hard.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Battlefield Bad Company 2 the demo

Demos are not normally given a full review of their own. That being said, the demo for Battlefield Bad Company 2 demanded to be reviewed if a game can demand such things. The demo offers a fast and dirty sneak-peek of what is to come in this best-selling series that follows those known as Bad Company.

Game Play

The previous game ends with your team managing to capture their objective, though as players quickly discover what the retrieve was, just a dummy run. The crate is empty, and the mission rendered pointless. Bad Company is once more out on the field of battle as they move to intercept the shipment once more. The game features what is being called “destruction 2.0.” This is an upgraded version of the game’s original destruction system. Destruction 2.0 is a clear step up from the original destruction system, allowing you to not only blow up walls and doors and pretty much everything, but also allows you to bring down entire buildings. Along with this new system, they also added a bunch of new vehicles to the game. Such vehicles are an unmanned aerial vehicle, an improved light tank, quad-bike and personal watercraft. Each of these vehicles allows people to play the 10 hour single-player campaign differently. Battlefield Bad Company 2 is one of the only Battlefield games to have blood without use of a third party patch. New items were added to the game. These new items also add a new element to this game, especially for the support classes. Medics can now revive downed soldiers on the spot with a defibrillator that can also be turned into an instant kill on enemy soldiers. The time in which medics can revive a downed ally is very limited, since it has to be done before they re-spawn. The assault class is now able to drop ammo for teammates to pick up.

The Good

Multiplayer game-play is fast and intense. There is little room for error, which forces new players to get used to the system, and fast, since there is no hiding to wait for the game to slow down. Everything is destructible: trees, buildings, and most importantly, people. While what little of the soundtrack has been released in the demo does not sound nearly as good as the original game, it does show some potential. Though one does miss the catchy beat of the original that always welcomed players on the loading screen. Sniper class feels like it has been much improved from the first game, while movement is still slow when crouched the developers decided to speed it up enough so the sniper could be a bit more mobile when getting into position. UAV is both a fun, and annoying new addition, allowing you to fly silently over the heads of enemies and rain down shots, or fire hell-fire missiles at them.

The Bad

The UAV is too powerful. Unless you get off a lucky shot or two, the UAV will dog you the entire game, silently getting kills from just about any where it seems. Since this is a demo, there is no telling how much the final game will improve this unfair advantage. The controls at times can seem a bit sticky; your character moves a bit when it isn’t suppose to. Hopefully, this is just a bug that is affecting the demo, and not the greater game at large. Beyond those two minor issues, it is hard to find anything in the demo to complain about.

Final Thoughts

Though the demo was purely multiplayer if it is any indicator how the single-player portions of the games are to unfold, then the second installment of Battlefield Bad Company looks to be an intense, though short, play-through. A lot has been made over the announced short single player campaign, though without the full game in hand, it is hard to make any decisions on such a short campaign at the moment.

Whim Rating 4/5

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Ghostly experiences

Every place you go, you may hear stories of ghostly experiences. Our very own Radford University West has a haunted history of its own. Before it became part of Radford University, the land was owned by St. Alban’s Psychiatric Hospital (SAPH).

Before SAPH was a sanatorium it was a school for boys. St. Alban’s School is the oldest chains of academies for men to date, starting in 948 in London, England. The Radford campus opened in September of 1892 with a grand total of 70 boys attending. St. Alban’s was widely known for their athletic teams competing against schools such as UVA and Virginia Tech. The school had to close in 1911 after the Headmaster’s death.

In January of 1916 St. Alban’s Psychiatric Hospital opened its doors with the admittance of four patients. Over time the location became home to over 65,000 patients the building facilitated a psychiatric hospital, morgue, and nursing home. In 1960, SAPH became available for outpatient services and was the only non-profit, full service, and private psychiatric hospital in the nation. The building underwent a huge renovation in 1980 and was eventually moved in 1990, as the property as RU bought to create the adjunct campus, RU West.

So now for the juicy stuff; what actually happened that we have decided to call it haunted? Seven different descriptions were given by people who worked at the institution, as well as descriptions from researchers from the Virginia Paranormal Society. One former employee of the hospital said that during the time that she worked there she would hear footsteps in locked parts of the building where she was the only one with access. Chairs rocking by themselves were a common sight through the building. There were multiple claims that ghosts were talking to individuals. Frequently visible ghost that were present and suddenly disappeared. Also that a ghost in the same room where female patients committed suicide reached out and touched them, though when they turned around, no one was there sometimes.

Not only does RU West have a deep, somewhat dark history; but many of Radford’s residence halls claimed sightings on and off campus.

Things can get pretty creepy be sure to check in next week’s issue for a look at buildings on campus that are haunted by past RU students.

Cover photo from Creative Commons

Story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Snow days and student teachers

Remember when you were in grade school and a snow day was the best thing ever? Well, for student-teachers here at Radford University, a snow day isn’t on their list of best things ever. Many student-teachers had to say goodbye to their Spring Break beach trips because of local schools being canceled up to two weeks straight, according to WSLS News.

Student teachers are required to have 150 hours of in classroom, hands-on experience with students. If your concentration is Special Education, or a number of different concentrations, you may require to have even more time in the classroom in order to receive your teaching license. RU’s student calendar never matches up with local schools, so that brings challenges alone, then add snow and you have quite a mess.

“Students complete a number of assignments inside and outside of the classroom to show that they are knowledgeable of the skills and the responsibility of teaching,” said Dana Rose, a student-teaching instructor . Earning a teaching degree at RU will grant graduates the ability to teach in 48 of the 50 states. Rose requires each of her students to have two concentrations and monitors them closely to make sure they earned their credibility.

As of right now, with the amount of snow the New River Valley received if student teachers work through RU’s Spring Break, everyone will be able to go home in May when the semester ends instead of staying to finish up teaching. Since grades are due as well by the end of the semester, it would make it really difficult to continue the semester for those student teaching. RU builds in snow days into their student-teaching calendar for this very reason.

So, if you are a student-teacher, don’t give up on those summer plans, because you can still have a vacation this summer!

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Free private servers mark the end

For massively multiplayer online games, popularity is both a curse and a gift. These games live off the donations made by their following in the way of subscription fees. These fees allow for the company not only to provide a good lag-free environment, but also goes towards developing new games for the future, or in World of Warcraft’s case, new expansion packs. These things are vital to keeping the genre alive. As much as we all would love to play these games for free, there is a reason they cost money.

That being said, there is a way people can play Massive Multiplayer Online games, or, MMO’s, for free. Not only is this method of playing considered a form of pirating, it also has no benefits whatsoever to the game developer. That being said, there are some distinct advantages of private gaming servers. That is, if one ignores the moral aspect of stealing from the companies who developed the game. Private servers on average, tend to have higher leveling rates than the legitimate game servers. They also provide services that the real game may not, such as custom items, all in one non-player characters, or, NPC’s, thus, making them smaller and easier to deal with communities, the list of advantages can go on forever. There are even some servers that have modified the game entirely creating their own classes and adding different systems to the game play.

With all the advantages provided by the free servers, there are some distinct downsides to them, one being there is no guarantee what you are getting from the free server site. If you do donate to a private server, there is no telling how much of that money is being contributed to keeping the server up and running. Also, most private servers only exist for a short period of time, or, however long it takes for them to get big enough to draw the attention of whatever game company they are stealing from. LAG, or low bandwidth, is a fairly common problem on free servers, many go deserted due to it. Those that are lag-free tend to have a fair number of donor items, which can change game dynamics entirely, ruining whatever experience you are used to.

All this being said, free private servers are a form of piracy that has been around just as long, if not longer, than music piracy. It does have a detrimental effect on the industry, even with all of the advantages to playing a private server. Some companies do much better about stomping out this piracy, while others don’t really seem to care either way. That being said, the choice is yours, choose wisely.

Cover graphic by Kasey Sutphin

Story photo from Creative Commons

Top 5 useless USB devices

Here are my top five useless USB devices. They range in size, function and pointlessness. Hopefully they will have everyone wondering who thought these were a good idea.

5. USB Coffee Warmer

This one made it to number five, depending on what type it can serve as a hub for your USB ports. Still, anyone can see the problem with having a hot plate sitting next to a computer. This seems like a fire waiting to happen. It would take a couple of seconds at most to go refresh a cup of coffee. There really is no point to this device at all.

4. Flower Pot Speakers

Apparently, speakers were such an unsightly thing that a company somewhere had to figure out a way to hide them: flower pot speakers brought to you by Thanko, a Japanese company. It would seem simpler just to find some place to hide the computer speakers when you weren’t using them. After all, when has a fake flower really added anything to a room?

3. USB Greenhouse

Since the last one was about fake plants, it is only fitting that this gets the number three spot (At least the flower pot speakers served some sort of purpose). This, on the other hand, serves next to none. It would seem that growing an actual full-size plant that didn’t drain power from your computer would be much more reasonable, but apparently not. Though this does have one advantage for the forgetful, the device will remind you to water the plant on a set schedule.

2. USB Missile Launcher

While not useful in the least bit, this is one of the more amusing items to make it on the list. The USB Missile Launcher allows one to shoot plastic missiles at those annoying people who just tend to hang around with nothing better to do. It does this through the USB port and control software that comes with the toy. Once the software is loaded, it brings up a fake tracking screen which allows you to direct the missiles toward your intended target.

1. USB Chameleon

Now this little device is utterly useless beyond belief. The entire purpose of this device is to add to needless clutter around a computer. I guess the flicking tail and moving eyes could be somewhat amusing, but the company ShinyShack does not even allow you to pick your own color. The chameleon would be so much more awesome if it could change colors, but it doesn’t.

These are just some of the examples of the useless devices you can use to plug up one of the pesky USB ports that you could be using for something useful. There are a ton more of these devices floating out there, each more useless and pointless than the last.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons