Gears of War 2: back to war

In this second installment of the acclaimed Gears of War game series, you are once more a member of the Cog army facing down the enemies of humanity known as the Locus. In this sequel to the original Gears of War, the Locus grew stronger since your attack on them in the first game. As a result, the Locus multiplied and different types began to appear.

This sequel features a much needed improvement to the storyline with characters who seem much more human, displaying a greater range of emotions than those found in the original game. Along with a greater amount of story and improved characters, a number of other additions made an already solid game all the better. With the improved storyline comes the game’s biggest flaw. Once the bullets stop flying and all calms down, you are still left with way too many loose ends. More than likely, the game’s designers left it that way for yet another Gears game.

There was considerable improvement to the cover and blind fire system, enabling better control. The improvements to the cover system in the game allow for players to hug much closer against walls and various other forms of cover. This prevents many of the stray hits and kills that occurred in the first game. The game flows more quickly and smoothly thanks to the improvements made to the blind fire system. It enables you not to waste as much time taking aim and instead fire wildly, pushing the Locus back when needed.

The original Gears of War was marked as one of the most violent and gory games to date. The addition of the execution system for downed enemies, initiating a different execution style for each lettered button on the Xbox controller makes it unlikely that the series will lose that reputation. Hitting A enables you to use a downed enemy as a shield to protect you from enemy fire. Pressing B initiates the quick kill; using the back of your gun, you crush your opponent’s head in. The X button causes you to curb-stomp the enemy, while Y triggers the extended execution style. The problem with the extended kill style is, once it starts, you can’t do anything to defend yourself. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself down and frantically crawling for help.

The weapons system, while not getting a complete overhaul, did get some minor tweaks that make gameplay easier. In other words: no fear, the chainsaw-equipped assault rifle remains a main staple in the game, so go forth and hack your enemies to pieces. On a more serious note, beyond the addition of a flame thrower and heavier weapons like a grinder and mortar, the only real difference is the balance of the guns. This minor (but needed) tweak enables quicker targeting and better all-around gun movement.

Another much more obvious change is the utter overhaul to the revival system. In the first game in the series, once downed you had to wait around and hope that one of your teammates would stop by and be nice enough to revive you. In this installment of the game, that is no longer an issue. By tapping A you can crawl toward your teammates in a desperate attempt to avoid becoming someone’s meat shield.

The online play for the game gained four additional play modes: horde, submission, wingman and guardian. Horde pits yourself and four other brave Gears of the Cog Army against wave after wave of attacking Locus. This mode of play is by far the most addicting, as players push themselves to improve upon their previous best survival. Submission is an interesting take on capture the flag. In this mode, the flag is a civilian that you have to capture and use as a meat shield. The only catch is that your flag is hostile and carries a gun, shooting at any opponents that get close. Wingman pits players in teams of two. The main point is that the teammates work together, reviving each other and working toward killing the enemy teams. Guardian pits two teams of five against each other, designating one member of each team as the team’s leader. The point of the game is to kill the other squad’s leader. Anyone but the squad leader can respawn after death an infinite number of times.

This is definitely a game that should be in everyone’s Xbox game library. Aside from its one flaw, this is a very solid game. The sheer amount of carnage you are capable of inflicting makes this one of the more fun recent releases for the Xbox.

Whim Score:

Check out the trailer!

A deer issue

You are driving down the road, just cruising along. All of sudden a deer jumps into your line of sight and you desperately try to slam on the brakes, swerve; anything to avoid hitting it. However, all this is useless as you slam head on into the deer. You have just become another statistic in what is turning out to be a growing problem in the country: deer-vehicle collisions.

Animal collisions are nothing new to the roadways of America, but the increase in cars on the highway and increase in deer population has created an even more dangerous situation. This has led to billions of dollars in damages and the loss of human life.

In 1980 there were 800 thousand reported according to an Iowa Animal Collision task force. The number has risen to around 1.5 million according to a recent report from These incidents have caused 150 deaths and ten thousand injuries. These numbers might not even be reliable, since a lot of incidents are not reported.

This part of the country is usually a hotbed for deer. Virginia ranks eighth in the nation for deer accidents, while its neighbor West Virginia ranks first. Virginia crashes are up over 30 percent in recent years according to a Virginia initiative call Drive Smart Virginia.

All these show a correlation between a rising deer population and more vehicle accidents. Most of the accidents happen between 6 p.m and 9 p.m.

At night the deer are blinded by the headlights and are usually unaware of traffic. They move quickly and are hard to predict which makes it harder to avoid them. Another hazard with deer is that they move in packs; so when you see one, you will usually see more. The months of Nov., Dec., and Jan. are usually worse as well because deer move around more due to hunting season and because it is their mating season.

The deer problem is also an economic one as insurance companies and accident victims attempt to cover the damages caused by these accidents. According to State Farm, deer accidents cost over $1.1 billion a year in damage.

Despite the erratic nature of deer; there are steps one can take to lower their chances of an accident:

  • Keep you headlights on high beam. This will help you see their eyes sooner.
  • Be aware of signs that could warn of high deer activity.
  • Stay alert.

If it seems that you are going to hit the deer; do not swerve. Many of the fatalities come when people swerve to miss and end up in a bigger wreck.

“Air Force One”: remembering the ride

Surely you must have seen this movie at some point; if you haven’t, check it out. It’s an amazing thriller from beginning to end. The story takes place on the president’s plane, Air Force One (of course). On the plane, a band of terrorists high-jack the plane in an attempt to get the United States government to comply with their demands. Harrison Ford, who plays the role of the president, single-handedly faces the terrorists on board to retake his plane.

The movie has some pretty good fight scenes, some good shoot-out battles, as well as a cool airplane fight in the end. The whole story has a pretty good plot behind it. If something like this ever happened in real life, it’s unlikely the president would be able to get away with staying on the plane when he should evacuate. As cool of a movie as this is, when the terrorists attempted to take over the plane in the very beginning, the president’s Secret Service agents attempted to evacuate him from the plane. He managed to get out of the pod to stay on board, which probably isn’t possible–there shouldn’t be any way to get out of a pod like that when it’s about to be dropped from the sky, and if there is a way to get out, then you may not want to get into the pod in the first place.

Also, the terrorists took over the plane with help from one of the president’s own Secret Service agents. Why would a Secret Service agent want to betray the man he took a vow to give his life to protect? Not only would that provide a great deal of guilt to live with, but Secret Service agents probably make more money than most people can ever hope to see in their lifetime. What could anybody possibly offer a Secret Service agent that would convince them to do something like that? It’s extremely unlikely that anyone would have that much money, especially if they weren’t American.

One final flaw in the plot is the fact that the president should never risk his life the way he did in this movie. If something like that ever really happened and the president didn’t end up getting killed, he’d probably be impeached as soon as he returned to the White House. The only reason he stayed on the plane was because the terrorists had his wife and daughter. Quite frankly, when the president makes a trip to another country to deal with issues concerning terrorists and things like that, if there’s even a chance that something like this could happen, his family should have no place being there with him. If his family wasn’t on the plane, he would have been evacuated and the terrorists’ whole plan probably would have been foiled.

The movie is definitely worth watching. If you’ve never seen it, try and find it sometime; it’s a great action movie. There are many ways you can look at this movie and compare it to something that can actually happen in real life, but it’s not very likely.

Interested yet? Check out the trailer:


My generation, otherwise known as the “Millennial Generation,” has been influenced by movies, television and magazines more than any other generation. Everywhere we go, everywhere we are, we see advertisements. It forces us to believe that we need to be something specific, so we can fit in with our society today. My generation is said to be lucky, because a lot of us have advantages like education, rich parents and designer clothes. However, outsiders of our generation do not see what we have to really emotionally and physically deal with on a daily basis.

We are surrounded by pressures from skinny models in magazines, significant others we want to make happy, and overall pressures about what we should look like. Don

I play chicken with the…

I have been living in Japan (Nihon/??) for about two months now, and I have realized a few things about the Japanese. For example, the Japanese love their cell phones (keitai/ ????). These things can do anything you can think of, from reading a certain type of bar code, going online, checking e-mail, making video calls and of course, making voice calls. If you want to go anywhere you take the train (densha/????). In my case, I have to take the bus to get to the train, but the train system can take you anywhere in Japan.

If you want to go anywhere local you must take your bicycle (jitensha/?????). Everyone rides their bike; once I even saw a mother with two small kids and a load of groceries on her bike. There is something else I should mention: you buy your groceries every day in Japan because space is so limited in the house. Back to what I was saying, bikes are used by everyone. There are grannies, young kids, crazy teens, and workers in suits on bikes. You even see people carrying other people on the back of their bike (which is illegal in Japan). It is hard to have someone on the back of the bike since there is no seat, not to mention the extra weight over the rear wheel makes it hard to move.

I have used a bike here in Japan a few times. I have done so with my host family, with some friends while carrying a Japanese girl on the back and by myself. When I was with my host family I almost crashed into some other people on their bikes.

The most interesting ride was when I had a Japanese girl on the back. She? thought that I couldn’t ride a bike with someone on the back, so she wanted me to sit on the front and she would ride it. Well, I did, and we didn’t even make it five feet before the bike went in the air. She hit a bump, and the front of the bike went up. Somehow as she got off. I ended up catching it. She went to the back. It’s easy once you start to move, the hard part is getting started and stopping. While most of that bike ride was done at night on the street, it was still quite busy.

When I was riding by myself a couple weeks ago ?it made me realize something: Japanese people (Nihon-jin/???) will play chicken with you, and they will win! When you are on the sidewalk, you ride your bike on the left side. If Japanese people are walking on that sidewalk, they will walk wherever they like. That means they won’t move out of a biker’s way, regardless of the biker’s speed or size.

It is even worse when there are Japanese people walking and riding bikes. No one will move out of the way, so you have to get off of the sidewalk and brave the street. If you have to get onto the street, you must make sure that you don’t hit a car (kuruma/???). Cars just go around bikers as if they are not there. You see, I am not really one to play chicken, and since I am the foreigner (gaikoku-jin/??????), I think they are even less inclined to move aside and let me go on my way without playing chicken.?So, there are bike riders everywhere in Japan, and if you want to ride a bike with them you’d better be prepared to play a couple games of chicken when you are out on the bike. Even the grannies will challenge you, and they are the hardest to beat since they are old?ladies (obaasan/?????).

Cover photo by Erin Foley

Story photo from Stockxpert

Power hungry? Maybe there’s a better way

You flip on your computer. You flick off the lights in your room. You eat in a dining hall or other eatery that is alternately heated or air-conditioned, where there are also lights and stoves on. They are all powered by energy of some kind. We take all this electric power for granted; we hardly ever, if ever, think about what it would be like to live without it.

So what