Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blizzard Must Be Getting Worried

I wouldn't believe it if you told me but... there's a World of Warcraft commercial going around.

I can't in all honestly say if this was the first WoW ad to ever grace Portuguese television screens but I can say that they're everything but common. It's the first I've ever come across.

First thought that crossed my mind was "oh, TOR must be making a dent."

That's it. That's what I took time from my busy schedule to come tell you. :3 I'm a sweetie, I know.
You know how they say that looking for a job is a full-time job in itself? Well, it's not, but it sure is tiresome and frustrating.

Here, let me leave you with something a bit more rewarding.

My ass is behind the camera, not in front.

Friday, January 13, 2012

They're Killing Us

I'm not a politically conscious person. I've never been even remotely into politics or kept up to date with the state of affairs. I should, I know. These men and women are shaping the world I live in, I might as well know what's going on. Well, my posture might be about to change as they seemed to have finally started shamelessly killing us.

For someone on the outside, the economic crisis that is currently sweeping smaller European nations might seem overplayed. But from the inside your blood chills when you start paying attention to what's really happening.

I won't lie, some things might not be how I'll phrase them further down but this is what I've heard. This is what reaches the little people, the politically illiterate.

  • The most important aspects of our civilization used to be represented and managed by a Ministry: the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, so on, so forth, such like. We had a Ministry for Culture. They decided it was too expensive and we didn't need it.
  • The national health system used to be (mostly) free; for more crucial, life-saving drugs and treatments the government would pay the bulk of the price if not it's entirety; now, it has been proposed that anyone over the age of 70 with kidney problems that requires to undergo dialysis pay for it in full from their own purse. Dialysis costs €2000 a month. If they can't pay they can't get it and if they can't get it they die.
  • Young graduates have been advised to jump ship and look for work abroad.
  • They have been closing down hospitals, clinics and maternity wards. Even the pediatric liver transplant center. As a result, waiting lists have skyrocketed, people need to drive for miles or even to Spain to get to a hospital and children have died as a result.
  • Some people getting government aid were mistakenly given more money than they should have (around 570 million euros over the years). They are now ordered to pay back the money they were given with funds they didn't have to begin with.
  • The average pension for a retired person in Portugal is €400 a month. Some people in public office (in the present or past) are paid €600.000 a year.
  • Ports have been shut down for a week, workers strike
  • Mass transportation stops almost once a week, workers strike.
  • The government declared workers (and not just public servants, the private sector as well) should work an extra half hour a day. Employers stated they didn't feel that was the right approach and have claimed they would rather cut their worker's pay by 20% instead.
  • The  Madeira Autonomous Region had a budget hole of over 1000 million Euros they only recently disclosed to the mainland. Their government hasn't the money to pay public servants in the next two months. 
  • Also, that said government has failed to pay back pharmacies for the drugs they had been selling. Thee pharmacies were owed 77 million Euros from drugs the government was supposed to make available for the people. They failed to pay. Now patients with blood pressure afflictions must dish out around €60 for a box of pills.
  • A large number of people in positions of power have recently been outed as Freemasons and although I could care less what they believe in or where they shove their fingers in the late hours of the night, I'm concerned of where their loyalties lie and to what lengths they'll go to help and protect their "brothers".

This is madness. This isn't Sparta, this isn't Portugal, this is just shit. More than angry it frightens me. People who have worked their whole lives and have set aside some of their every paycheck so they would have their money back in their golden years are being shamelessly robbed, the government cutting their pension because "times are tough". People who have worked two jobs to do that same things now see only half of their money given back to them because "times are tough". Old people with measly pensions are denied vital drugs and treatments because "times are tough". Seems they're hoping we'll go gentle into that good night so they can stop paying pensions or healthcare all together. Weren't we supposed to be part of the so-called "civilized" world?

And where the fuck is all this money heading anyway? Who are we paying it back to? Europe? And who in Europe is in more dire need of money than us here, dying hungry in our sleep? So, we've been living above our means? I don't doubt that but why realize it now? Is it because the world is coming to an end and we better get our affairs in order?

The thing is we have no one to turn to, no one we believe will step up and take charge and make everything better for us and not themselves. We've been proven time and time again that all they'll do is blame problems on past regimes and kneel down to stronger economic powers.

Seems to me only Coca-Cola still believes in us.

video

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mass Effect: Revisited and Dissected

Not so long ago, though it seems a lifetime, I replayed Mass Effect. I wanted to have the "perfect" save game for the upcoming ME3 and so I decided that the best thing to do was just replay the whole two first games.

When you come back to a game you love you take it with a pinch of salt brought on by detached perspective. That's what happened to me and I found a completely new set of things to love and hate about it.

Let's take one of the trailers.


Now, if you've played the game you'll notice a few things aren't quite right with this trailer. Noveria isn't actually in such a dire need for help as it may sound here. In fact, most of the people in Noveria are having drinks at the hotel bar or busy with their corporate espionage shenanigans. At best, Noveria has a slight bug problem in a remote research facility and this problem is being kept very much on the down low. None of those big mushroom clouds the trailer starts off with. Besides, you have to stop by Noveria eventually, its a mandatory storyline development. Another thing is that Caleston isn't actually an important place in the game. I'm not even sure it is explorable (although you can survey it in Mass Effect 2). It may just be one of the N planets that you go to to complete sidequests you stumble into. So what can we deduce from this? Noveria is making a big fuss over very little and Shepard has decided to go off and drive around his Mako for a while before actually heeding that overly dramatic distress call. But I'm just nitpicking

While we're at it let's discuss the Mako: without a doubt one of the sorest points of the game. Many rose up against its impossible controls and the usefulness of the thing as a vehicle. To be truthful, the Mako handles like a drug-frenzied baboon thrown off a gelatinous cliff tied to a bungee cord. You don't get much satisfaction from driving it. In fact, if you attempt to actually drive it you will most likely end up belly up in a ditch on a remote planet followed by a Game Over screen because Shepard is all about saving the galaxy and not hauling his ass out of a turtled vehicle and righting it. God forbid. The best way to get any handle on the thing is to simple turn its nose to where you want to go and keep pressing forward without any attempt of steering it whatsoever. In most cases, you'll get there, minus a little vehicle health.

The story is exactly as I remembered it, meaning it's good. Characters (except the two semi-optional ones) have enough depth that you can really get to like them or not at all. For instance, I love Wrex but I could do well without Liara and her 160 years of stuck-upness.

The human companions (the aforementioned semi-optional) are, for the most part, negligible. Ashley has that whole bigot thing going for her but, for personal reasons, that was never my thing so the gut-wrenching moment of deciding who lives or dies was made pretty easy. Kaidan, well... Kaidan is just the guy, like the one you'll bang because he's the only guy there. The voice casting helps, making him a bit more loveable to all things straight with a vagina. Males unexceptionally hate him because they hated Carth. And Kaidan is Carth, minus the stuttering, we all know this. He was put on this earth to please us little Carth groupies.


The whole game has a very distinct feel due to, in great part, the soundtrack. After listening to it out of context I realized it has much of the Blade Runner about it and although I was initially resistant to the song that plays during the credits, I eventually became a fan. Imho, it's so cheesy it works. And who can not love the sheer epicness of the main theme? To be honest, I only realized the piece's true worth after wrapping up Mass Effect 2 and heard the Suicide Mission adaptation of it. But it's going on my top ten favorite instrumentals of all time.

But, in the end, for me Mass Effect lost some points on the whole elevator business. Not elevators in general, mind you. I kind of like it when my companions banter. In fact, I spent a lot of time in Dragon Age finding banter trigger points so I could pass over them frequently just to hear the dialogue. No, my gripe is with that very specific lift I like to call  the TLX 008 WXM AT. In that one single place I would have preferred a loading screen.

There's more I could say but the game speaks for itself. All things considered, not the best of games for a shooter lover but a solid title and a good jump-start for bigger and better things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Comfort Food

So. Yeah. Might have left this on a bit of a depressing tone. But bad things happen and you deal. Life is for the living and all that.

While I grieve the loss of my old life and start building a new one I'm planning on drowning my sorrows on a few oldies but goldies I found lying around. I might pick up Dragon Age or KotOR again. Funny how I find most solace in Bioware. Funny or predictable. Your choice.

Also amusing is that I am now apparently the proud owner of a retail copy of World of Warcraft which spiked my interest for about 3 seconds. GuildWars is sitting right next to it, though... Hmmm.

Well, I prolly won't have much time for playing whatever anytime soon, just a few minutes/hours at bed time. Packing and unpacking is always a bitch and I should know, I've done a whole lot of it these past few years.

I just hope I actually get to play something soon so I'll have less gloomy things to post about.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

one of those days

You know those days when you wake up after 30 minutes of sleep in unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings? Still, you wash your face and muster some determination to march forward and do something good and worthwhile and you even find a song to get you through the day with a smile.

And then a friend calls you. You haven't seen this old friend in a long time, he's moved away and you've missed him. For half a second you think this might be a good time to catch up to go catch some air, maybe laugh a little at the whole thing. Until you hear the panic in his voice and as his world shatters so does yours as he tells you that what was once a common friend has died and he's in desperate need of help. As your knees falter and you crumble to the floor in a heaving heap of limbs your brain somehow manages to get him what he needs and you're left there, alone with news you're not sure how to process.

Because you'd never known someone that's died. Because you're not sure if you can handle more grief. Because you were never really close. Because you were maybe unkind and brutish when you shouldn't have been. Because you're not sure if you should but in.

And so you're left alone on the floor gasping for breath and begging for a minute, gladly forgotten for what feel like years instead of hours. You stare out at the gray sky that just yesterday was so warm, inviting and promising and you send through what little social feelers you might have that whatever might be wrong with you you'll gladly put aside to help. Because you don't want your friends to suffer and you don't want to add to that. So you're left to contemplate your own mortality and how petty some things ultimatly are, left alone to commit a final act of selfishness in a relationship that never really was. Again.

So. It's one of those days. One of those days when all you want is a hug but all you can do is rant on your special little ranting corner for the reading pleasure of people whose business it is not.

But hey. This blog is for me. Said so from day one. I'll need to see this one day, when I'm older and happier and look back pointing and laughing at sad little young me.

The Happiest of New Years

Decided on a resolution. My resolution is simple: my mother knows best. I'm going to listen to her from now on.

Surprisingly upbeat today. I guess the closing of a door always means the opening of a window, my window being the chance to reinvent myself. No pressure this time, at least I don't think.

My mother always said that the best attitude was a "I'll show them" one. And I did say I'd always listen to her.

So here's to my mother, the wisest of them all. And hey 2012 means not only the end of the world but also the arrival of Mass Effect 3. That in itself is pretty damn good. The game part not the...

Happy New Year.