Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

Street Fighter 4, back to the basics

In the fourth installment of the Street Fighter franchise, all of your favorite characters are back in the new take on the arcade game. You battle through story mode, making your way to the final battle as you unlock characters and alternative colors. This game is a classic throughback to all those people who loved the earlier editions of this game.

Game Play

Game play can be downright intense. Even on the easiest setting you can feel overwhelmed as you battle your way through arcade mode, fighting the various opponents available. The game runs rather fluidly though there were times when I wished it ran smoother; but over-all it’s fine. The cut scenes prior to the fights can at times be extremely funny and some of them actually give the game a bit of a story, barely any real story at all. There is an new addition to this game where the EX moves allow you to absorb energy from special attacks and use it to recharge your health. This can be useful if you time it right, allowing you to gain back just enough energy to push through to your eventual victory. All of the specials are back, along with a few new ones. The configuration for combat follows the old rock, paper, scissors format. This means one move beats another and then another move beats the first type. The game in and of itself might be ideal for those who play fighting games, for the people who pick this up for the casual experience they will be disappointed. The controls are somewhat difficult and the easiest setting can been very difficult.

The Good

The game’s graphics are a big step up from the previous games, though they managed to keep that sort of old-school arcade look with the extremely disproportionate body figures. Not to mention the graphics feel 2-D at times even when they are 3-D. This is not a bad thing. In my opinion, it allows for a continued enjoyment of the game’s heritage. The backgrounds to the fights are also a big plus. A great deal of time and detail has clearly been put into these backgrounds, which range from a random parking lot to a stadium full of people falling into the arena you are fighting in. There are a bunch of unlockable characteristics, and while not adding much to the game itself. They do add a nice bit of customization to the characters.

The Bad

There are a bunch of bad things about this game, though the majority more or less have to do with your level of experience in fighting games. If you are new to fighting games then you will be in for a shock. The controls are difficult to master, coming out downright clunky and awkward. The voicing, while not a key component, could use some work. Also, arcade mode defaults you to play ranked matches while connected to the Internet. It takes some doing, but there is a way to turn this off. It’s just a pain to find and more than likely whoever is playing will become frustrated to the point that they will disconnect so they can make it through the game without receiving the overly annoying “New challenger” notification.

Whim Rating:3/5

Official Trailer

Video from an outside source

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The end of the paper books?

The book lovers within all of us cry out as yet another electron reader is announced, signaling the beginning of the end. Imagine the concept of having thousands of books at your fingertips a simple tap away. That has become reality with the planned release of Barnes & Nobles “Nook” E-reader.

Electronic readers have been billed as the end of paper books, the end may be one step closer. Barnes & Noble recently announced that they are prepared to release an e-reader later this year. While at the hefty price of $259 it may not exactly be a book killer, but it is comparable similar devices on the marketcurrently. E-readers have been on the market for quite some time, providing electronic forms of paper back books. The fact that this is being pushed by Barnes & Noble puts a fair amount of weight behind the companies’ choice to provide this product.

The e-reader will be called the Nook. It will sport the most recent version of electronic paper. E-paper is a recent novelty and this version of it will be provided by E-inc. The Nook will also sport a wireless connection allowing it to connect to other Nooks along with a retailer’s Web site, enabling people to purchase books electronically. Purchases can be lent to friend’s Nooks for up to 14 days at a time. The Nook will also have a small touch screen for control and typing, making it among the most impressive e-readers to be released in the past few years.

The Nook will run on google’s micro-operating system known as Android. This OS is designed specificallyfor small mobile devices. The Nook will offer subscriptions to over 50 different news papers. With two gigabytes of internal memory, the Nook will be able to hold up to an impressive 1,500 books, and with the addition of a additional flash memory slot, it can hold a great deal more. It is hoped that eventually customers will be able to read e-books for free while inside of a Barnes & Noble store. Along with this option users will also be treated to special offers while inside the store that will pop up on the screen of the Nook.

While the Nook may not be a book-killer quite yet, but it is obviously a move in the right direction. As more and more of these e-reader devices flood the market, the prices will be certain to drop. It will not be long before people weigh the portability and ease of having a mass number of books at their fingertips with the price. It is entirely possible that paper books will eventually become a figment of the past.

Ad for the Nook.

Video from an outside source.

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Barnes & Noble

South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!

Earlier this month, the producers of South Park, with the help of Microsoft and its game studios, produced the game South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!. The game is more or less a bigger version of a standard flash game. The story revolves around the town of South Park being attacked by various enemies. The player must protect the town from these invading forces of evil. The early part of the game is spent focusing a decent amount of time unlocking Kyle, Stan and Kenny. Though you start the game unlocking the original four characters, as the game continues there are opportunities to unlock more of the characters from South Park, each one playable.

Game Play

The game is more or less your standard tower defense game. The players runs around as their favorite character setting up towers to defend the pathways that lead into town. During this endevor you willface the evil forces of gingers, hippies, cows and more. The only real twist to the normal tower defense gameplay type is when it comes to the usage of the main characters from South Park. They work likemobile towers and are able to move from one side of the map to another, under control of the person playing, allowing one to shore up areas where defense looks as though it is going to fail. Another interesting addition to the over all game play is special powers that are specific to each character. For instance, Cartman’s power, once built up brings down fire, while Stan’s restores the town’s wealth which more or less acts as the towns health. A knocked down character stays down until another character comes to revive them, this has become an extremely common aspect in just about every game so it is no surprise to see it here.

The Good

This game is great for people who are fans of South Park. The dialog for the game is extremely amusing as Cartman or one of the other boys chimes in with some random comment about the enemies. The transition screens are funny, as well. The voicing for them fits in very nicely with the game’s concept. The scenes when your characters use their special powers are well done and well planned. The games multiplayer function is actually useful and encourages you to play with three other people in the harder parts of the game having some back up can be a good thing. The storyline is uniquely South Park in nature; your enemies are those who you have seen throughout the series which is a nice touch for South Park fans everywhere.

The Bad

There really isn’t all that much that is wrong with this game. There are times when the game play seems a bit glitchy where you try to attack one of enemy and attack and entirely different one. This can be truly annoying when you are attempting to prevent one enemy from slipping through and end up hitting and entirely different one, costing you the game. The music for the game can become annoying at times, but it’s well suited for the fast paced game play that comes with the tower defense genre.

Whim Rating: 4/5

Video from an outside source

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The rise of the Social Web site

In recent years there has been a surge in social Web sites. These Web sites are not limited to social networking, they expand to cover a variety of Web sites, each dedicated to sharing parts of peoples’ lives. These things can span from humor to art. The Internet has just become another device to express oneself. This usage of the Internet as a form of expression is the natural progression as social Web sites become more common. Whether humorous or not these sites are a good way to waste time or brighten a bad day.


This is an example of one of the more humorous social Web sites. On this site people post everyday stories where things have gone wrong. The stories can range from being humorous and funny to being down right disgusting. The only real issue with this site is that as it has grown more and more popular as the stories have become rather outlandish and at times, clearly made up. This Web site is now actively documenting the best of its stories and puttingm them in a book that will be published later this year.

Texts from Last Night (TFLN)

TFLN is a Web site that documents those texts that probably would have been better off not sent; these generally involve drunk texts, stupid texts. The vast majority of the texts found on the Web site are either extremely funny or just nasty at times. The Web site has a somewhat unique way to rate submissions. You can either rate the post as being a good night or a bad night. The vast majority of posts on TFLN come off as being genuine, even the odder ones. This is definitely a great site to waste time between classes.

My Life is Average (MLIA)

This is the third in several very similar websites that give a brief glimpse into peoples’ lives. My Life is Average is a Web site very similar to FML. The main difference between MLIA and FML is that FML focuses on how things have gone horribly wrong, whereas MLIA focuses on everyday things. The things which the story cover can be negative, positive or just down-right strange at times.

Other sites

The sites above are purely social. While not encouraging networking they do allow people to reveal glimpses of their everyday lives. In this way, they are social Web sites creating a line of communication that would not normally be there. There are sites designed purely for socializing, though the majority of those Web sites are well known. Examples of such sites are Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Twitter may not be not as widely used as the other two, because the concept of a micro blog is still rather new, but it is quickly gaining ground on the others. Myspace and Facebook, both of which are extremely well known social networking sites, also fall into this category of social Web sites.

On the note about Twitter you can follow me @whimtech on Twitter.

Halo 3: ODST dropping into stores near you

In this installment of the well-known Halo franchise, players play as an orbital drop shock trooper. You are put into the shoes of the teams rookie, who, like in most games, is simply referred to as “rookie.” He is the strong silent type\. You and your squad are orbiting earth as you get orders and prepare to take the leap. Before the rookie makes the jump he is introduced to two new faces: Buck the squad leader and Dare, a woman full of mysteries.

The rookie quickly learns why others call those in the

ODST “Hell Jumpers” as he plummets down toward the waiting battlefield of New Mombasa. The jump goes wrong as the Covenant ship makes an emergency escape, sending your squad scattered about the city. The rookie wakes up six hours later to find much of the city in ruins.

Game Play

The game in and of itself plays very much like the previous editions of the game. The gameplay is smooth and rather simple, what one would expect coming from Bungie. While the game plays like its predecessors, there are still enough changes to make it fun. Gone is the self healing and gravity defying spartan amour, replaced with light combat armor. While your character can still jump higher than most normal people, it is hardly the super-jump of previous Halo games. The loss of regeneration means you have to be much more careful in the urban battle environment as you face the troops of the covenant who are searching the city for survivors. The heads up display (HUD) for the game is built into the visor for our ODST rookie. The HUD in ODST is a rather unique and fun addition. Not only does it work as a form of night vision, it highlights enemies and points of interest. Another addition to ODST is a new game mode known as firefight. It is very similar to horde in Gears of War 2, where you face countless waves of enemies, hoping to survive until the end.

The Good

The graphics for the game were stunning, especially the drop scene as you cut through the clouds and come flying towards the city as it is under attack. The detail put into the city is great, including the cities AI, the Superintendent who helps guide you to hidden audio tracks and provides health and ammunition packs at various stations. The game has an in-depth and intense story as you try to piece together all that has gone wrong in the six hours while your rookie has been unconscious. The story is what makes this game, with its in-depth acting and rich content. Without the story it would just be another Halo game; nothing special.

The Bad

There isn’t all that much that is overwhelmingly bad about this game. There are a few things, like the maps being confusing at times, or that the HUD can be very disorientating at first as it makes everything shiny. My main point of contention with the game is the firefight mode, the mode in and of itself is solid and fun, but the restriction to friends-only can make it a pain to get people together to play it at times. Often times you can find yourself just lurking on the 360 dash board, waiting for someone to get on so you have someone to play with.

My Rating: 5/5

Official Game Trailer.

The live action trailer.

Videos embedded from an outside source.

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Saw: The Video Game

Saw: The Video Game is a interesting mix of the numerous movies, incorporating things that are iconic to the movies into a hodge-podge mix. The game opens up with your character being among Saw’s latest victims trapped in an insane asylum. You must find your way out or face death at the hands of the master of riddles and puzzles: Jigsaw. This game follows the basic storyline for the majority of the movies, and is rather ideal for anyone who happens to be a fan of the “Saw” movies.


Game play itself is rather simple and straightforward. The game is more or less a combination of a puzzle and adventure-fighting game. The overall graphics are okay nothing to get excited over. The atmosphere for the game really captures the spirit of “Saw” as a dark foreboding place. You truly feel as though you are in an abandoned insane asylum. The controls can often be somewhat clunky at times, not nearly as smooth as you would expect with this generation’s games. Though overall the game has its fun moments: as you fail to solve a puzzle and your character gets its head crushed or is killed in any number of random and gruesome means. These cut scenes used for the executions are among the best in the game.

The Good

The scenes where you are executed are always shocking and good for a gross-out moment or two. This can really cause you to become deeply engrossed into the game, soaking up every aspect as Jigsaw gives your character a mission for whichever level of the game you are playing. You will find yourself desperately moving to solve the puzzles and trying to find your escape from the insane asylum and get away from Jigsaw. The music also helps set the atmosphere with suitably creepy and dark-sounding music as you make your way through the asylum.

The Bad

At times, the game is extremely clunky when it comes to the combat. While not horrible, it is still notably awkward. The puzzles become tedious and utterly repetitive at times; there are only so many times you can search for a key or try to find a combination while enduring some horrible pain or having to preform some gruesome act before it becomes utterly and completely boring. While the game has its fair share of scenes where you fail a mission and are swiftly killed by one trap or another, the game animation itself becomes sort of repetitive as you make your way through the various puzzles.

Whim Rating: 3/5

Official Game trailer

Video from an outside source.

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Stumbleupon: a new way to browse the Web

While perhaps not as new as the title of this article suggests, Stumbleupon is definitely a different way to browse the Internet. What was originally a tool bar add on for Mozilla’s Firefox has taken on a life of its own. Released sometime in 2003, this add on to the popular browser allowed you select things of interest on a list. This was done of course after one had made a profile, allowing Stumble to store the information you selected. This way, even if you changed computers you were still free to stumble. From there, all you needed to do was press the Stumble button and away you went: a website would randomly be picked that matched some of your interests. You can keep on stumbling until you found something you liked. The majority of the sights were user submitted and labelled.

From its humble beginnings, Stumble has grown, now allowing you to add your own categories, not just the suggested few. It also gained a ‘pictures’ and ‘movies’ feature. These two features allowed you to sort through user suggested movies and pictures, making it almost certain you would find something that you would like. It was not long before Stumble was no longer a purely Firefox add on, making the jump to Internet Explorer as well.

Users can even jot down reviews and a rating system for the websites, giving the user submitted content real scrutiny, allowing to avoid the sites that somehow managed to get submitted that really didn’t deserve

to be. Letting someone know whether the site you are visiting is worthwhile or not is as simple as a thumbs up or down, both of which are a built-in part of the tool bar.

In its own way, Stumble is helping us to reclassify and organize the Internet in a way to understand it better. No longer do you have to spend countless amounts of time aimlessly wandering through search engine after search engine looking for something to interest you just based on your key-terms. Now there is a way to sift out the good from the bad and someone else has done most of the work. That is half of the advantage of Stumble. If someone else likes the web site enough to submit it, then more than likely you will like it was well. Another thing that makes stumble such a great program is that it helps you find those small sites that normally wouldn’t receive that much attention on a standard search engine. In this way, Stumble certainly helps you stumble upon the unknown. There is a bit of a downside to having all you want just one click away: the purely addictive nature of Stumble. More often than not, you will find it ever harder to stop cycling through that ever-growing catalog of web sites in anticipation of what stumble will bring up next.

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OnLive: the future of gaming…or not

OnLive is being billed as the future of video gaming. To explain Onlive is sort of difficult. It works via the principle of cloud processing. Cloud processing is where the majority of the processing and the work that would normally be associated with something like playing a video game or running a CPU-intensive program is done in a remote location and the results are streamed back to you.

Onlive plans to use cloud processing to run video games and then stream the video content back to the individual’s computer or OnLive console. The idea behind this is that it would eliminate the need to constantly buy games. Instead, one would sign up to a subscription service, allowing them access to the Onlive system. From there, they would be able to purchase licencing for games stored on the Onlive servers. No more waiting to receive a game disk or even download and install it. Also, there would be the entire death of the whole console-wars concept, since what would be updating would be the massive amounts of servers that would be required to run this system.

Onlive often-times seems as though it is going to run purely upon voodoo magic. Many of the designers’ concepts and ideals seem rather unrealistic. One of the major claims that the makers of Onlive are claiming is that Onlive will eliminate lag all together. While that seems like a great idea, how will there not be lag when the video stream on which you are playing is streamed to you from a central server somewhere? Another one of the company’s strange and somewhat premature claims involves claiming to have a massive community when the system has just entered beta.

Most recently, Onlive got a huge shot in the arm as far as its finances were concerned. It looked as though the Onlive project was going to be a pipe dream lacking serious capital to help support the massive amounts of servers required to for the system to work as proposed. The sudden addition of sponsorship by AT&T is making people look again at Onlive’s somewhat outrageous claims. Perhaps there is more to it than a company just trying to drum up business.

While this concept seems rather ideal at the time being, it may be harder to take off in the gamer community that still looks somewhat wearily at the latest and greatest concepts of motion-capture gaming. To them, this will just seem like one more abrupt change for the game community, a change that will take more of the material aspect of games away. However, there is something to be said about being able to hold a game in your hands and know that you own it. That will ultimately be lost by this streaming gaming concept.

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Google Chrome: Both an OS and a Web browser

Late last year Google unveiled Google Chrome. Rumors were abound about it being some sort of operating system (OS) to give Microsoft Windows a run for its money. At the time, people and rumor-mongers alike could not have been further from the truth. What Google instead unveiled was a simplified web browser called Google Chrome. It was a sleek, simple browser that loaded pages faster and more accurately than most of its counter-parts. It included tabbed browsing along with a pallet page which showed the user’s most frequently visited sites. That was about it as far as Google Chrome was concerned… Or was it?

Earlier this year, rumors once more abounded about a new OS from Google, though many thought it was in reference to Google’s Android OS, something they had come out with for mobile devices earlier in the year. Once more, the name Google Chrome was tossed about and the rumors eventually died down. Then in July, Google made an official announcement about the Google Chrome OS.

The Google Chrome OS will not be like another OS in current existence, it will be an OS targeted to light-weight, low-powered netbooks. Instead of focusing on the processing power of the OS, it is more concerned with getting people online as fast as possible. The OS itself works like some sort of sped-up web browser, ideally allowing someone to connect online within seconds of loading up their computer. Google also made it clear that security would be a major part of their emphasis for the new OS, trying to make it as virus and spyware-proof as possible. Google has claimed that much like the browser, the OS will be simple and sleek. Will this be on the market for desktops and laptops? Probably not, though netbooks could certainly use something like this.

Google Chrome OS could cause a stir in the netbook market, as the tiny laptops are often bogged down by cumbersome Vista or Mac’s OSX. The two major OS eat up a fair amount of the tiny netbooks’ hard drive and a decent amount of its ram, slowing down what should be a fast little machine. One can always go open-source and find a simple and clean Linux-based OS, assuming you can figure out how to run it. The Google Chrome OS promises to be open-source, meaning it will be more or less free. Combine that with the promise of a sleek, simple interface and it could cause series trouble for its competitors in the netbook market. Google states that the OS could be found in some netbooks as early as the second half of next year, leaving one more thing for those who love all things “google” to look forward to.

Google Chrome OS preview

video embedded from outside source

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Castle Crashers a Flash Game on steroids

Castle Crashers is a unique and intense game, despite its unassuming flash-like graphics. The game comes from the same minds that brought Alien Hominid to the world, which is a game that was among the most well-received flash games ever and later made the jump to consoles. The game’s story revolves around knights in their epic quest through the lands to save the kingdom. Along the way, the knights get a chance to rescue four kidnapped princesses. As the game moves forward, the battles get more and more difficult, finally leading to the apex of the game: a five stage boss battle.


At the beginning of the game you get to choose from four different starter knights: fire, lightning, ice, and poison. Each knight has a different special or magic attack whose range and recharge time vary. The game has a fluid simple interface for battle, and is pretty much what one would expect from a flash game.
It has simple, quick combos and employs an effective use of the Xbox controller for spells. Physical attacks and spells chain together with ease, allowing for greater experience bonuses. The game’s leveling system is based upon hits instead of the number of enemies you have slain. Game play is fairly evenly split between melee and magic. Early on in the game it may be more advantageous for people to start with melee attacks until you get used to the relatively quickly paced game play. As the game progresses you also finds pets hidden throughout the world. Each pet gives you a different bonus, some better and more useful than others. Along with the pets are a seemingly endless number of unlockable characters for you to play the game through with again and again. When playing multiplayer mode you can play with up to four other people through the campaign. Once you and your comrades have vanquished the foes you fight each other in a freestyle battle for the right to receive a kiss from the princesses you save throughout the game.

The Good

The game has some of the most in-depth backgrounds I have ever seen in a game of this type. At one stage in the game your character is battling on a field and a massive battle rages in the background. The music in the game is extremely catchy, with the exception of the music for the world map. Each boss is unique and strange and there are more than enough to keep one interested in the game even during the more repetitive parts. Along with the strange and sometimes amusing bosses, the game has its fair shares of odd twists and turns that serve to keep it from getting too stale.

The Bad

There isn’t much that is wrong with this game. A few of the unlockable characters that are found throughout game play are extremely similar regarding their special moves and attacks. At the same time, a lot of the remaining unlockable characters are fun to play with and more than easily make up for the less-than-stellar ones.

Final Thoughts

The game is well worth the 1200 Microsoft points that it costs to buy and download the game off of Xbox live. This is definitely for anyone who enjoys playing flash RPGs and is in need of something more intense than their normal flash game.

Whim Rating: 5

Check out a video of the game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

The classic arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time has made its way to Xbox Live thanks to Ubisoft. There isn’t much that Ubisoft has changed about the original Nostalgic game, instead leaving it entirely intact for those who wasted small fortunes as children playing the game at their local arcade.

Game play

Even if one was unaware of the game’s humble roots it becomes instantly recognizable where this game gets its origins. Its simplified game play can make the game go by rather fast as you rapidly hit the ‘X’ button on the Xbox controller, bashing your way mindlessly through each level. In fact, the levels may pass too quickly for you to really enjoy the updated graphics as the turtles are rehashed into more current 3-D environments. The game itself is rather short. It consists of maybe an hour of play at its most difficult setting. This addition of the game does support Xbox live, allowing you to play through the games stages with up to three other people. It is also possible to do so locally with four controllers, though this tends to shorten the game length rather drastically.

The Good

As was mentioned before, this game is a nice retro throw back, and is good for a nostalgic play-through or two. Another nice feature is the creators kept much of the original dialog between the turtles and their adversaries, not that there was that much of it to begin with. But it is still nice to know that the shredder will taunt you pointlessly throughout the game. The updated graphics are a nice touch and pretty much the only real makeover added to the game. If you are among the many achievement seekers on Xbox live, the game supports a few fairly easy ones for you to rack up your gamer score.

The Bad

There is a lot more bad with this game than good. Unlike a number of other retro games found on Xbox live, the player is unable to choose between the updated graphics and the retro graphics. Game play is really too quickly paced to make it worthwhile. Ubisoft could have updated the controls for the game and added different moves to different buttons or triggers on the Xbox controller. Instead it kept with the overly simplified arcade style game play which only added to the extremely short play. The update to this classic game did not really add much of anything besides graphics, which are mediocre at best. Ubisoft could have certainly put much more effort into the game than they did.

Final thoughts

The game was a nice throw back to the past, but that was about all it was, making it clear that some things are left better off in the fond memories of childhood. It would not have been difficult for Ubisoft to add content to the game while remaining true to the original. If you feel like burning some Microsoft points on a game you may play only two times at the most, feel free to dish out the 800 points for a rather disappointing update to the original TNMT.

Rating: 2/5

Check out the trailer

Pet cloning: wave of the future?

Dolly, the first cloned sheep, started it all. It began a massive debate on the ethics of cloning. The debate of animal cloning did not stop purely with Dolly the sheep. It continued on to reach into our homes and the pets that we see as our constant companions. In 2004 the first commercial pet cloners made their way out onto the market. The first commercial pet-cloning was Genetics Saving & Cloning. The company later closed its door due to a failure of technology to allow them to clone dogs as well as cats. From that point on the market has boomed as people seek to clone their pets, hoping to recreate their best friends and keep them around indefinitely.

This service has been constantly plagued with controversy. The main point of discontent that many people feel is that the organizations which offer this service misrepresent it; that they act as though the cloned pet will be the same as the original. While their appearance may be identical, the pet’s personality will most certainly vary. Those opposed to pet cloning also make the argument that the vast majority of cloned animals suffer health issues later on in life. There are those who argue that all the money that is being spent towards cloning research for pets should instead be focused on providing vaccines and basic care for those pets who are not fortunate enough to have homes.

Those who are for pet cloning argue that what should matter is that it makes the owners of these animals happy to have cloned replacements of animals who they have lost. There are some that claim that it is just the natural progression of the market and there is no point in fighting it because if people want it badly enough they will get it. And still some claim that cloning is a tool that can teach veterinarians the anatomy and function of animals’ organs.

No matter where one falls in this debate one thing is certain: this is an issue of ethics that needs to be addressed. With cloning becoming more and more sophisticated, it is only a matter of time before cloning becomes an everyday option. As cloning progresses it will not be too long before we will forced to consider the issue in regards to ourselves. Do we wish to be cloned? Before that occurs, it is certain that whatever decision is made will certainly have a long-reaching effect.

Ghostbusters: the Video Game; still the ones to call

This latest addition to the Ghostbusters franchise is Ghostbusters: the Video Game. In it you play as a rookie on the Ghostbusters squad. Each member of the squad is voiced by the original characters. The game’s story is written by the original writers of “Ghostbusters”. The events that take place in the game do so two years after the second movie. The game begins with your first mission, which starts at the Sedgewick Hotel where you face off against an old foe of the Ghostbusters, Slimer. From there on it quickly becomes apparent that something is going on in New York City as more and more ghosts begin to appear and Peck tries to shut down the Ghostbusters once more.

Game Play

It is easy to see how people would expect for the game play to get extremely repetitive and boring, the majority of the game being spent catching ghosts and forcing them into traps or destroying them alltogether. The game manages to avoid that problem by the introduction of various types of ghosts who do different things and are affected by different weapons. For instance: one of the new weapons in the Ghostbusters’ arsenal is the slime blower/tether. The blower portion of this weapon is used to save people who are being possessed while the tether is used to solve a number of puzzles throughout the game. The slime blower/tether is just one example of the various new weapons and devices added to the game. Another new device is the PKE meter. When used in conjunction with the Para-goggles, it allows you to view and find paranormal activity that would otherwise be undetectable. The game itself is basically set up as a first person shooter with various quirks of its own. Instead of having a side bar to display health it can be found on your proton pack, along with any signs that your pack may be overheating. Overheating is solved simply by venting the pack. It’s like a much quicker form of reloading for a first person shooter. You will be surprised at just how long the game’s simple but extremely fun concept will have you glued to your controller as you work to discover why the ghost world appears to be fusing with our own.

The Good

The voice acting for the game is just amazing. This has a lot to do with the fact that the old cast returned to voice the characters, giving the game a very movie-like feel as you progress in the story. The characters’ interactions felt very natural and for the most part were extremely funny. The game makes plenty of references to the movies, sometimes using the same dialog while other times having past ghosts return to fight the Ghostbusters once more. The game play is among best: simple and fluid without many flaws. The computer generated cut scenes were nothing less than amazing. The amount of detail put into the game was beyond impressive.

The Bad

The main problem I have with this game is a mechanical one. While the computer generated cut scenes were beyond amazing, at times the ones built around the games storyline were less than great, even pixelated. There are parts in the game where Bill Murray doesn’t quite live up to the acting he put into the movies, but it is only a minor distraction from the game.

Final Opinion

This game is a must have for any hardcore “Ghostbusters” fan. It stays true to the characters and true to the series. More often than not the comedy in the exchanges between the characters will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. Even if you are not a huge “Ghostbusters” fan, the game is solid and extremely fun to play.

My Rating: 4/5

Finally a Batman game we all deserved Batman: Arkham Asylum


Arkham Asylum was released late summer of 2009. The game puts you into the shoes of Batman as he returns the Joker to the island prison. Once there, the Joker breaks lose with the help of his side kick Harley Quinn, who has taken control of the asylum. After a few cut scenes, the game thrusts you into the thick, battling the Joker’s henchmen and various other villains that Batman has put behind the walls of Arkham. It quickly becomes apparent that Joker’s plan is more than a common jailbreak as he leads Batman ever deeper into Arkham and the story continues to take strange and unexpected turns.

Game Play

Story mode for the game is intense and in-depth, drawing you in and making it hard to put the controller down even when reaching the more difficult portions of the game. The combat style of game-play for Arkham Asylum is as free-flowing as you would expect, coming from The Dark Knight. Each attack easily and fluidly flows into the next, leading to massive chains of hits. Though the free flow battle system is nice, it is not the only way in which Batman dispenses his foes. More often than not, the game will require the player to sneak around, taking enemies out from the shadows. To aid you in this task are a number of gadgets and weapons you obtain as Batman throughout the game. Some are old classics like the “Batterang,” while others are new to Batman’s arsenal. Each item gives you a new way to approach each level, making it fun to go back and replay levels once you have acquired a new tool. A new aspect of game play involves the NPC’s (none player characters) they wander about each level with no set pattern. This feature allows them to respond instantly when you have snared one of their allies and left them dangling up in the air overhead. However, the free roaming feature can also be very annoying. Upon sneaking up on an enemy you are often surprised to find another coming up behind you, seemingly out of nowhere.


Throughout story mode you will be given a chance to face the Riddler’s challenge. This mainly involves solving riddles or finding a hidden riddler trophy somewhere throughout the game. More of the unlockable content involves interview recordings with a number of Gotham’s villains. More of the hidden content in the game revolves around the founder of Arkham and the secret he left behind in various encoded drawings scattered all over Arkham. These are much like the Riddler’s trophies because you more or less have to stumble over them to find any. Searching for these can be a fun diversion when you have hit a wall in the gameplay. Online play for this game is more like a challenge mode where you consistently try and beat other player’s scores or times on any particular level with the two different modes of play. Exclusive to the PlayStation 3 is the ability to play one of the many challenge modes as the Joker. The Joker has his own assortment of weapons and gadgets to be used against his opponents.

Final Thoughts

There is hard to find much wrong with this game. It is clearly well developed, thought out and made a solid impression as a game based on a movie. The only real issues I have with the game are more of personal preference and that is in regards to the Joker. Yes, his quips and comments are for the most part funny but he has way too much dialog. You spend most of the game listening to him ramble on about one thing or another.



Pocket projectors: the future

While everything has been shrinking in size, digital projectors for the most part have remained about the same. Those giant, clunky cubes are hardly something you could call portable. Several companies have been working towards fixing this issue. They’re trying to shrink those massive but useful devices down to a much smaller and more manageable size. Technology has finally reached the point where such a feat is in fact capable.

It is now a brave, new world for projectors as several companies have come out with pocket projectors a.k.a pico projectors. Ever wanted to watch a movie on your mp3 player on something besides that tiny screen, without losing its portability? Well now you can. Just imagine the fun that could be had on camping trips or any other vacation when there is no need for a source of power for a television. You can just hook up your battery-powered pocket projector to the portal device of your choice and have an instant movie theater. Some of these projectors also have the ability to hook up with dvd players and most console gaming devices. One is not limited to mp3 players alone.

The two leading companies in this new emerging field are Microvision and 3M. As with any new field, competitors are quickly rising to fill in the void of this new market, hoping to make some money on this budding niche. As a result, it will be only a matter of time before this technology continues to adapt and grow. It will not be long before pico projectors become common place items in everyday life, much like how the mp3 player was rapidly accepted into common use.

Admittedly, these projectors have their limitations. Some of these pocket projectors produce too dim of an image to be used in lit rooms. However, this is not really much of an issue since most of the time these products would be used in the dark. The images produced by these projectors are not the most sharp, but for their size they pack a big punch. For the ones that run purely off battery power, the battery life is relatively short but long enough to go through most movies. Another common complaint with these devices is the low sound quality, but some products avoid the issue by having a jack for plugging speakers or headphones in.

These devices could very well become a hot item for the Christmas season. They are pretty much an ideal gift for those who love to have the latest little gadget to show off. The price range starts as low as $170 and works its way up to $550. It may not be the cheapest item but it would be among the cheaper of the big ticket items for sale this Christmas. Whether they do well or not this Christmas, pocket projectors are certainly something to keep and eye on in the future as technology develops and they are certain to get only better.

Video games Fall 2009 preview

The Fall season is something certainly worth looking forward to this year with a number of well known and not so well known titles coming out for all three of the major consoles plus PC.

Dead Space: Extraction, September 28

This Wii exclusive is the prequel to the Dead Space game released earlier last year. This game promises the same amount of necro-morphed zombies as the first game and more twists and turns, this time for Wii owners. It is certain that this game will make use of the Wii motion sensitive control system for both shooting and slashing the alien zombies to pieces.

DJ Hero, October 27

This is the latest game in the ever-growing genre of music playing games. DJ Hero is hoping to bank into the success that its predecessors Guitar Hero and Rock Band have achieved. The game title is self explanatory. In the game you play a DJ and gradually work your way up as the game becomes more and more difficult.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, November 10

This is a sequel to one of the best selling first-person-shooters of all times. This game promises much of the same experience. Although a third party developer is responsible for making it, all indications show that it will live up to the precedent set by the original.

Dragon Age: Origin, October 27 Xbox360, November 17 ps3

BioWare, a powerhouse in creating role playing games, returns with a new addition to their impressive line up which includes Mass Effect. Though this time they have returned to their roots of fantasy role playing games. Activision has made it clear that this game should be equal to if not better than their epic best seller Baulder’s Gate.

Left 4 Dead 2, November 17

This sequel to the original Left 4 Dead game promises to be as good if not better than the previous game. This game boasts the addition of melee weapons for your heroes to use as they fight off the zombie horde. The game also sports brand new character. Say goodbye to Zoey, Bill, Francis and Louis and hello to Nick, Coach, Ellis and Rochelle. Left 4 Dead 2 is set in Louisiana and promises more special zombies along with stage-specific zombies.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, October 13

This Play Station3 exclusive game promises to be one of the most visually stunning games to be released this fall. This sequel to the original Uncharted is perhaps the most anticipated game coming out for the PS3. The original game is still in many regards, considered the best game to come out on PS3. Combine that with the stunning graphical display that was put on during the Electronic Entertainment Expo and it is easy to see why.

Forza Motorsports 3, October 27

This Xbox 360 exclusive is the third game in the stunning and fun Forza series. This sequel to the game promises more than 400 different cars, over 100 tracks and 50 different car makers. This makes Forza 3 perhaps the most in-depth Forza game to date. This is among the most anticipated car games coming out this year.

Saw: The Video game, October 6

Yes, it is here: Saw on a console. Play as one of jigsaws victims as you try and make your way through his traps and keep alive. This game very well may be a sleeper in a season full of certain blockbusters and a year with above average movie-based games.

Avatar: The Game, November 17

This game is among the most hyped coming out this season, with good reason. With its story driven content mixed with in depth multiplayer gameplay it is hard not to agree with all the hype. If all that was not enough, the game will be in 3-D on televisions, with the ability to support such features.