Way Of The Samurai 4 Looks Interesting

While digging through Steam the other day, I happened across this game up for sale. Way Of The Samurai 4 is what appears to be an old world game where you play as a samurai. Sounds fun and I’ll definitely snatch it up someday when it gets a price drop. I’ll definitely have to get around to buying it at some point, but it just isn’t in the cards right now as I’m saving up cash.

Gonna Start Playin’ Crash Test 2

My real-life friend and pal, 92Days recently gifted me Crash Test 2, a car combat / racing game that I have yet to play. I heard the game is super-fun, so I’m definitely going to give it a shot! Hopefully this will be a car game I don’t suck at. I’ve had terrible luck with playing any kind of game involving cars or combat or racing. Still, I’ll certainly give this a try!

The Sad Passing Of Mr. Iwata

Earlier this week, Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo passed away. I personally didn’t know much about him and I haven’t really watched Ask Iwata before. Despite that, I have played some of the game he’s worked on and enjoyed them thoroughly. The stuff I’ve seen of him depicted him as a rather fun and likable guy. I’ve never really heard anything all that bad about him, aside from some of the decisions he made when running Nintendo. That being said, I’ll still miss the guy no matter what. He always brought a smile to my face, despite the fact that I wasn’t a big fan. My condolences to both the fans and family of this great man.

Winds Of The King Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Restless Wind

I wanted to train right away, yet I was way too tired after the events of today. It’s not surprising, considering I just headbutted a tornado and talked to a magic statue. That kind of weirdness could tire anyone out. I found myself both stretching and yawning as my eyelids fluttered up and down uncontrollably. I laid down on my bed as I rested my body against the soft bed-sheets. My eyes slowly closed as I drifted off to sleep. That night, I had very vivid and surreal dreams.

The dream I had was me as a baby in my deceased mother’s arms. Barely a year old, she cradled me in her arms and smiled.  It had been so long since I’ve seen her face, yet in the dream I could remember every fine detail of her appearance. Her warm embrace, her loving smile, all of it was nostalgic in every way. In face, the area surrounding my infant form seemed very familiar too. I felt like I had been here long ago, a very long time ago in fact. Just then, I heard whispering, something my mother couldn’t hear. That’s when I noticed it, a man laying behind the bushes. He didn’t appear to be hiding in wait for an ambush, in fact it looked like he was bleeding! I couldn’t make out his whispers at first, but I somehow managed to make out the words: “Continue where I left off…” After I heard those words, the man behind the bushes collapsed.

I could see his blood stain the grass and leaves around him. I wanted to do something to help, but all I could do was bawl my out like the baby I was! And that’s when I heard a voice, I couldn’t discern who it was though. “Give me the baby!” Shouted the voice, to which my mother responded by screaming for help. She cradled me close to her chest and ran. She ran and ran with the man in pursuit, I could hear her screams as they echoed through my very soul. This person cornered her in a back alley, at which point I got a look at his face. I found myself looking at what appeared to be a man with no face, no identity. He appeared to be floating off the ground and he was baring down on both me and my mother. Before he could attack, I woke up in a panic.

I was sweating profusely, my heart was beating an immense speed, and my fingers were twitching nervously. I was so flustered that I could only mutter one word: “Mother”. That’s the only person who I could think of at the moment. That dream felt so strange, especially with the bizarre circumstances surrounding my mother’s death. All of the witnesses claim to have seen different people chasing after my mother, no one could agree on one assailants. Everyone who was identified as the murderer had alibis and no one could be sure of who exactly did the deed. To this date, the murder of my mother remains one of the mysteries that has been eating away at my soul. What was stranger still was the other man, who I never knew about. Was that man behind the bushes? Was his purpose? I wasn’t too sure, but I had a strange feeling I would find out.

It was at this point I realized something, that the answers I seek may be more than I bargained for. I just wanted to know how I got these powers, yet the deeper I dive the more questions I have. The Jackal, The Stag, Nile, and my mother, these were all pieces in some great puzzle. I wondered what I should do now, I could go outside and train. However, it was the middle of the night and people would get curious. I’d have until morning before I could do any hard training, so I had to rest for now. I threw my head against my pillow and fell back asleep. This time, I wasn’t interrupted by bizarre nightmares or prophetic dreams. I woke up the next morning, stretched, and got up. It was going to be a long day and my goals were clear: Become strong, get answers, and then figure out where to go from there.

I knew none of those goals would be easily achieved, yet I was determined to pave a path for myself. I slowly wormed my way out of bed as I pried my sweaty skin off of my bed-sheets. I wiggled my toes around and took a deep-breath in before exhaling. Afterwards, I prepared for the day ahead. I did my morning stretches and proceeded to jog in place. As I exercised, I noticed my door was ajar. The door slowly opened and I found that my dad was standing there. “Hey, son! I heard you scream last night, anything wrong?” My eyes opened wide, I didn’t remember screaming at all! Then again, I was so flustered that I don’t recall half of what happened. “Well, I did have a bit of a nightmare last night, Dad.” I said with a frown plastered all over my face. My dad furrowed his brow and walked up to me. He proceeded to throw his arm over my shoulder and looked me straight in the eyes. “I can tell you want to talk. What happened in this nightmare?” There was no hiding the nightmare from dad, I would now have to tell him all about it.

I told him all about it, the bizarre events depicted in the dream, the things I had never known about before, all of it. Strangely enough, he seemed to believe it. “Son, the world works in mysterious ways. Perhaps what you saw was less of a dream and more of what may have happened.” I looked at dad in astonishment, he never struck me as the kind of man who would believe in in the supernatural. “What are you saying? Are you saying that all of that actually happened?” Dad nodded. “Son, after the bizarre happening of your mother’s death, I believe in everything. I may not have told you this, but I’ve been watching a lot of supernatural programs for the past months or so.”

My dad watching supernatural programming? Now, that was just bizarre! Despite this, it brought a smile to my face that I had so desperately needed. “Thanks, that cheered me up a bit.” My father patted me on the back and grinned. “That’s what fathers are here for! So… What’s on the itinerary for today?” I shrugged and gave a response. “Not sure, probably just going to go outside. I’ll just go whichever direction the wind takes me.” Dad grinned and reached over, noogying my head in the process. “Alright, just make sure the wind pulls you back here by nightfall!” Exclaimed my father as he stood up and wandered out of the room, leaving me to my own devices.

I sighed as I sat up from my bed, I knew what I had to do. Nile told me to train and get stronger, that was the only way I’d learn about my powers. I came to a realization that I should be happy about the fact that I now had super-powers, yet I was more obsessed with the reason behind this strange new power. I’ve always sweated the details behind everything good I had ever been given. I was always too busy unraveling secrets in order to enjoy what was before me. And even now, I wasn’t too sure of what abilities I did have. All I had done so far was stop a tornado, yet what Nile said made me think I was capable of much more.

I thought about the oddities that surrounded me for a little bit, before deciding to leave. After changing into a grey shirt and some raggedy old sweat-pants, I left the confines of my home in order to look for a proper training ground. Of course, I didn’t want to train anywhere that’s over-populated with people. I wasn’t sure what kind of powers I had, aside from tornado-stopping powers that is. The only place I knew of that would be a suitable place to train would be the section of town that was destroyed when that tornado rolled in. That place was pretty much destroyed and abandoned yesterday, it’s probably the best place to get some solitude in this city.

I strolled down the street towards that area, my feet kicking up dirt and rocks as I happened across the area. Policeman had put up tape around the area, but hadn’t fully quarantined the area. There was still gaps in the tape, enough for me to squeeze through. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be stopped by any policemen in the area. I slipped into the nearly-quarantined area and looked around for a good place to train myself. That’s when I looked over at Pyramid,only to find the store completely gone! In its place stood a new building named “Pyramid Gym”. How bizarre! It was as if the building had transformed over night.

I walked up the building and noticed the slick silver exterior, the shiny well-cleaned windows, and the revolving glass doors. This looked less like a gym and more like a hotel. I walked up to the front of the building and wormed my way into the revolving doors. After working my way through the revolving glass merry-go-round, I made my way into the lobby. The inside of the building was just as nice as the outside! The walls were a bright shade of white and there was exercising equipment everywhere.

I was a little put-off by it all, I felt as though I had just stumbled into some kind of training nirvana. I walked around, noticing that the place was completely empty. “Why, hello again!” I heard a voice say. I turned and saw the golden cat statue from yesterday resting on top of the service desk. “Nile! What’s going on here? What is this building?” The cat snickered. “That’s not important at the moment, what is important is you getting strong. Now, let’s get to work!” I figured Nile wasn’t going to give me answers, much like before. Now was the time to get stronger and get answers. Today was the day I begin my grand evolution, from gust to cyclone.

Winds Of The King Chapter 2

Author’s Note: Been about a month since I updated this series. I’d like to make this into an ongoing written series about the adventures of a young man gifted with amazing powers trying to find his place in the world. Not the most original concept, I know but I hope to amaze at least 2 or 3 people with the series!

Chapter 2: The Cat Who Pawed At The Wind

I stepped into the building, my shoes clopping against the dusty welcoming mat in the process. The interior of the building looked abandoned, everything was either covered in dust or cobwebs. Despite all that, I felt drawn to something in this building. It was unexplainable and mysterious to me. Whatever it was, I could feel it calling to me. I felt that only this power would explain to me what had just occurred and it was the only way I would learn of my new abilities. My shoes beat against the dusty carpet as I ventured into the supposedly abandoned store.

Antiques lined every corner of the building, leading me to believe that’s what the store sold. Despite this, not a single object had a price tag on it. Could this be a museum? No, that wasn’t likely either. No museum is this unkempt, it felt more like a resting place of forgotten treasures. A person like me could probably snatch and grab this stuff, but I didn’t fancy myself a thief so I left the objects alone. The power drew me towards the back room and I believed that the person who knew of my power was behind this door. Is if to confirm my suspicions, I heard the whispering voice of the wind reverberate through my ears.

I gripped the dusty door-knob and slowly opened the door. The ragged wood door opened with a loud creaking sound, alerting anyone or anything in the room to my presence. I entered the room and found it filled with dusty old books. Books were everywhere in this room, they lined the walls and shelves and the desk was covered with them. Oddly enough, none of the books in the room were books I heard of. The books seemed to have several underlying themes, with titles that revolves gods or immortality and some cases even the apocalypse. I was a little creeped out by the situation at hand, had I stumbled into a cult meeting of some sort? Heck, there was even a book in the room written by an infamous cult leader! The book was titled “In Pursuit Of Immortality” and was written by the man known simply as “Norba”. I haven’t heard too much about the man, supposedly he was a Russian who worshiped various gods and pledged his life to them. He disappeared after a few years, but still left his presence upon the world.

Wandering through the collection of books, I stumbled across a single shelf with what appeared to be a golden statue shaped like a cat sitting atop it. The golden cat had small red rubies where its eyes were supposed to be and looked rather pristine. It also possessed what appeared to be ancient Egyptian markings. The statue had no dust or cobwebs lining it, something that struck me as odd. It was almost as if the object was brand new, despite the fact that everything else in the building was worn or damaged. Why was this object in such good condition when everything else was in decay? I gently reached my left towards it, raising it high in the air. Before I could reach the object, a new voice echoed through my ears. “That’ll be quite close enough, I don’t need you mishandling me!” Said a strange disembodied voice. The voice itself sounded ethereal yet more human-like than the whispers that had hounded me today.

I looked around for where the voice might be coming from, yet found nothing. “Up here, you daft goofball! The thing you’re looking for is up here.” I looked up and found myself staring up at the statue once more. My eyes opened wide as a realized where the voices were coming from: They were emanating from that statue! “Y-you can talk?” I asked nervously, feeling somewhat put off by the bizarre statue lying before me. “Well, of course I can talk. The question is, do you want me to talk?” I was confused by the way the statue phrased the question. “Uh… Yes, I want you to talk.” The voice emanating statue let loose a chuckle before interjecting. “If you wanted me to talk, then why did you act like I shouldn’t talk? You humans and your bizarre sense of reality.” I found myself being very put-off with the personality of the statue. I had only met this strange talking statue 2 minutes ago and I was already fed up with it. “Look, I came in here because I wanted to know why I stopped a tornado just by standing in front of it. I didn’t come here to discuss your ability to talk.”

The statue let out a low purring sound, emulating that of a common house-cat. “Ah, yes, how could I forget about the awakening of you powers? That tornado became just a footnote in your upcoming great legacy of triumph. Or your downward spiral into despair and loneliness, whichever comes first.” What the cat said just left me even more confused. “What are you talking about? What great legacy? What will it actually lead to?” The statue purred once more before speaking. “Wouldn’t you like to know? Unfortunately, I am only allowed to say certain things to you for the moment. My information is restricted, you understand how it is.” I scratched at my head as I muttered a response. “No, I don’t. You are being very vague about this whole thing, stupid cat statue.”

The eyes of the statue lit up. “My name is not “Stupid Cat Statue”! I am referred to by those who created me as “Nile”. I am an Egyptian construct of immense information, yet I am restricted into what I say to certain individuals. Nevertheless, you will get all the answers you require but you must prove it first, Sean.” I looked at the statue named Nile and glared intensely. “How do you know my name, Nile? And what must I do to prove myself?” The statue cackled as its ruby eyes lit up once more. “I know everything about you, Sean. How I know this information will remain my secret for now. As what you must do, you must prove your strength. In a graveyard near your house lurks a being known as “The Jackal”. He is the man who bares the face of a beast. Train and become and strong and then face him with all of your power. Only then, will you learn the truth.”

I sighed and rubbed my hand through my hair. “What’s with all this vagueness? Why can’t you just be straight up about this?” The cat’s eyes glittered as I heard the voice chuckle slightly. “Because where would the fun be if I just told you everything straight up? Plus, you wouldn’t believe half of it anyways! The only way for a person to learn the truth is to experience most of it for himself. Now, leave me. I must go back into my slumber and you have to train for your meeting. Hone your powers and prove yourself or go back to doing nothing. The choice is yours, Sean. And one last thing: Trust not The Stag. I’ll let you piece together what means on your own.” The eyes of the statue lost their glow as the voice of the statue ceased. “Nile? You still there?” I heard nothing, the statue didn’t respond me in the slightest. I had half the mind to break this stupid statue right then and there, but I had a feeling he was right about certain things. He knew my name and that I currently did nothing of importance. He told me to not trust The Stag, whatever that is. On top of that, he expected me to fight some sort of Jackal-headed beast in the graveyard! When did my life become a horror videogame?

After the statue ceased communication, I made my way through the store. I wandered through the musty store and exited the building, only to find two men standing outside. One had green hair that was styled in the shape of a Mohawk and possessed an immensely skinny body. The other fellow was bald, overweight, and multiple lip piercings. The two of them looked at me in utter astonishment. “Woah, dude! Are you some kind of magician? You just came out of nowhere!” Shouted the green-haired fellow, who was surprised by my sudden appearance. I looked at the two men and narrowed my eyes. “Uh… Are you serious? I just exited from that store behind me.” The two looked at each other before turning back to me. “Wait, what store?” Asked the inquisitive bald man, who somehow failed to see the store behind me. In fact, neither one of them could see it! I was drawing unneeded attention to myself, I knew that I had to get out of here. “Nevermind.” I said as I walked off. The two men didn’t try to run after me or anything, they continued to stand there in shock as I wandered away.

I made my way out of the destroyed street and back towards home, where my dad was waiting on the porch. His face was ghost-white and his forehead was covered in sweat, it was obvious that he had been worrying about me. “Sean! Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick!” I shrugged as I looked him dead in the eyes. “Sorry, dad. I went to a friend’s house and lost track of time.” The father wiped the sweat off his brow. “Well, as long as you’re safe, I’m glad. I heard the tornado touched down and I feared the worst. I’m just glad you’re okay!” I grinned, my dad always cared as much about me as I did about. Just seeing him every day was enough to tell me that my life has purpose. “Dad, I’ll always feel safe as long as you do.” The middle-aged man smiled and wasted no time in embracing me in a nice warm hug. I returned his affection by wrapped my arms around him and hugging him back. After we took some time hugging it out, I went back inside and up to my room.

What Nile said was still echoing through my brain though. What he said about my destiny, how it could lead to either despair or triumph, and how I would have to face “The Jackal”. Nile said that I must train to become stronger, or go back to living a life of doing absolutely nothing. There’s always secret option C: Get a girlfriend and get a life. What’s the fun in that though? I found that it was time to find out what I was and who I was. I was going to train and hone my powers and I will find out why I have these abilities. I was going to find out who I was and nothing was going to stand in my way!

Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords + Restored Content Mod Review

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Star Wars time again! (Image property of Obsidian, Bioware, and LucasArts)

Way back in the year 2003, Bioware thrilled audiences with a game like no other: Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic. I talked about this game already, but it was a smash hit. It sold a ton of copies and we just generally well-received. It received a lot of mainstream attention and a lot of people consider it better than the Bioware RPGs that came before it. So, naturally a sequel had to be made to capitalize on it. Since Bioware were busy on their own games, Obsidian was tasked with making the sequel.

The game was going smoothly and it featured a ton of improvements over the original game. The problem? Development was being rushed by the game’s publisher, LucasArts. Obsidian was given a measly 18 months to pump out a sequel. The game was released and received really good reviews, but ultimate was buggy and unfinished in a lot of areas. After nearly a decade though, fans came together and build a mod that restores all of that lost or cut content and fixes almost all of the bugs. As such, the game was finally and truly completed. Even the director of the game, Chris Avellone, approved of the mod. So, how good is this game and its Director’s Cut mod? Well, let’s see how deep this Sarlaac Pit goes.

Plot

The game takes place 5 years after the first game. You are a Jedi Exile who has been drugged and taken to Peragus Mining Station. Once you wake up, you find an elderly old Jedi crone known as Kreia and a cocky young man named Atton Rand. Kreia knows much about the force, yet her knowledge extends far beyond the common Jedi understanding of the force. Unlike most characters in the series, she doesn’t see the world in black or white but instead in shades of grey. Kreia is probably one of the most well-developed characters in a videogame you’ll ever see and she ends up being of the best characters in the whole franchise. Her entire arc is the best part of the game and the way you find more about her is well put together.

Atton isn’t as well-developed as Kreia, but has an entertaining personality and a good backstory. Atton served in a war and distrusts Jedis. He’s killed hundreds of Jedis and has proven himself a competent warrior, despite being a smart-alec. Speaking of anti-Jedi sentiments, the entire plot of the game seems to be geared towards deconstructing the Star Wars universe and the concept of Jedi themselves. You see, in the game you are a Jedi but you aren’t respected. You are an exile with a large bounty on your head and nobody cares about what you have to say. You can help as many people as you want, but by the end of the day you are still can’t erase that large bounty on your head. To make matters worse, powerful Sith lords are after you. These lords are so powerful, that they have denied death itself.

The game’s plot makes you question what you are doing and why are you doing it and makes you think about your choices. The character of Kreia illustrates this perfectly as she is designed to make you view your choices as more than just option A or B. Other characters you meet on your journey will be just as well-developed as your initial party members. You get to meet old and new faces on your quest as well as face great challenges. It’s your job to gather up the Jedi council, defeat the Sith once and for all and find your place in this grand universe. The story is further fleshed out by the Restored Content mod which adds in a large heaping handful of additional scenes.

Gameplay

The game plays remarkably similar to the first, yet gives you a ton of new abilities and some new gameplay features. The game features better lightsaber customization this time around. In the first game you only had access to a handful of lightsaber colors. You could make your lightsaber blue, green, yellow, violet or red. However, this game adds more colors such as viridian, bronze, silver, gold, orange, and cyan. On top of that, there are far more parts that you can add to your lightsaber in this game. You can get lightsabers that do a ton of damage, or have sabers that can do elemental damage. Likewise, upgrading other weapons has been enhanced as well. You can switch out even more parts in your swords and guns as well as create new parts and items through a crafting system. The system allows you to use spare components or materials to develop new items that you can use.

The combat remains mostly the same, but you now have access to over 30 new force powers. I thought that this was a really good addition, as I felt the first game was lacking in terms of force abilities. You can control animals, breathe clearly even when walking through poison, or even absorb the life-force of defeated Jedi! Heck, you could even toss your lightsaber at your enemy now! The added options were a nice touch. Sadly, there are no new weapons types. Another new feature of the gameplay is the ability to affect the alignment of your allies. This system is called “Influence” and was a game-changer at the time .You could turn your trusted friends over to the dark side, or bring your evil friends closer into the light.

One feature that the game removed was fast-travel. You see, in the last game you could fast-travel between your ship known as the Ebon Hawk and your current location. This saved you a lot of time, so you weren’t constantly hoofing back to the ship to upgrade your gear or heal up. However, this game removed it entirely. This was probably due to the fact that every planet you visited would have special encounters on your way back to the ship. This game also streamlined the inventory and interface, making it much more pleasant to look at. The only major annoyance I had with the game, was when I would be tossed into the shoes of a lone underused party member to fight off some baddies. I would be so unused to using these characters, that I would often get destroyed easily. Luckily, these sequences are few and far between and don’t detract from the core experience all that much.

Restored Content Mod

The game used to be rather buggy, but the content restored mod fixes much of the problems and gripes people had. It fixes up graphical errors and removes game-breaking bugs and the like. On top of that, the mod features an excessive amount of restored content that adds more to the world. To date, this mod is the best and only way to play the game as originally intended. The mod itself is easy to install, all you have to do is download the .EXE folder and extract it in to the KOTOR II game folder. More instructions can be found on the mod’s website.

Graphics And Sound

The game uses almost the same graphics engine from the last time, which isn’t an entirely awful thing. The last game looked amazing for the time, so the graphics in the second are still fairly state-of-the-line. The new character designs are interesting and striking, especially the general design of Darth Nihilus. Even certain characters from the last game have undergone visual overhauls, such as Mandalore. The soundtrack is still impressive, using much of John Williams’ score once more. The only track in this whole game that I didn’t like was a rather bizarre tune that plays in the first Cantina you visit. Other than that, it’s a pretty solid soundtrack!

In Conclusion

Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords acts as a good followup to the original game. Dark, moody, and emotional, it offers a wealth of new content and a few enjoyable gameplay tweaks. With the Content Restored mod installed, the game becomes much more like it was originally intended to be. If you enjoy sci-fi worlds and like to see fan projects come to fruition, then I highly reccomend both the game and mod. You can usually get the game very cheap on Steam when it goes on sale, which is when I reccomend you snatch it up. This game gets an 8.5 out of 10 from me, I would definitely play through it all again once more!

Wedding Tomorrow!

I’m super excited to attend a wedding tomorrow as one of my close relatives is tying the knot! I look forward to meeting with family members I haven’t seen in a long time and partaking of cake and soda. Most of all, I am excited to see a sibling marry the love of her life and it fills me with such utter glee. It’s going to be a fantastic day, I look forward to the proceeding ceremonies!

The Possible End Of An Abode

Recent news has saddened me greatly, a forest fire has spread throughout the woods near my parents’ cabin. While I haven’t been there in a couple of years, the building holds a great sentimental value to me. It’s where I spent a lot of my childhood, I’ve had so many pleasant adventures near that cabin and now it may all burn to cinders. The cabin that I had grown up is now in jeopardy of burning down. While it is true that we have insurance on the cabin and the boats seated next to it, nothing will ever replace those cherished childhood memories.

Edit: Luckily the fire never touched my cabin, but it did come insanely close to doing so. It’s almost a miracle that nothing important burned down.