February 22, 2009

The world's gone mad: Red Bull Cola

Red Bull apparently came out with a cola last year, but I've never seen it until now. It's not what you think; there is no Red Bull/ Coke infusion type of deal. Red Bull Simply Cola, as it is called, is an all natural cola slapped with the Red Bull brand name. There is no secret formula and the entire ridiculous list of ingredients is listed on the back of the can. Seriously, it's like drinking your garden. Ingredients include: water, sugar, carbon dioxide, caramel flavor, galangal, vanilla, mustard seed, lime, kola nut, cocoa, licorice, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, coca leaf, orange, corn mint, pine, cardamom, mace, clove, lemon juice concentrate, and caffeine from coffee beans. I don't even know what half of those things are. I also find it curious that they list carbonated water as water and carbon dioxide separately. It's funny, in a strange way. So, we know it's all natural and made from random garden herbs and whatnot. But how does it taste? Not bad, actually. Not bad at all, though it does have a lightly bitter aftertaste (which I vastly prefer to that horrible diet soda aftertaste). I've never actually had regular Red Bull, but I hear it's absolutely terrible. This Cola tastes like a stronger Coke. That's probably because of all the random-ass natural ingredients, though that should be expected. After all, the can does say it's "strong and natural". All in all, it actually seems healthier than drinks like Coke or Pepsi because of its lack of artificial garbage, and I like that I actually know what I'm drinking even if I don't know what the hell it is. I might just start drinking this regularly from now on. Red Bull Simply Cola is available where ever you can find it in 12 and 8 oz. cans. Give it a try, you may or may not like it!

This commercial... WTF

Did you catch it? That was an ad for chocolate.

February 15, 2009

If only he used his tallent productively...

But no. Instead he plays Mario. Hell of a drummer, though. Hats off to you, sir, whoever you are!

February 12, 2009

Random Video for Today

Well, I wanted to post this, but embedding has been disabled on every posting of this video on Youtube (or, at least the uncensored ones). So, here's the link instead. Enjoy.

February 10, 2009

Dark days for Mario and Luigi

Well, this was pretty entertaining so I thought I'd post it. It just proves what a loser Luigi is...

This is just too cool to pass over

So I was randomly surfing Youtube because I was bored and I found some fan-made trailer for something or other. It was nothing to spectacular, but I noticed that everyone seemed to want to know where the music came from. That lead me to Imperativa Records, who has put out an entire album of epic trailer music. Seriously? That's pretty sweet. There's some demo tracks on the page to listen to and the entire CD is available for the low, low price of around $15 (really, that's not so low). The whole idea made me crack up to start with, but once I warmed up to the idea it actually seems pretty cool.

February 9, 2009

My jaw is on the floor.

If you don't want to pick up a copy of Halo Wars after watching this, there is something seriously, seriously wrong with you. It makes me wish these movie companies would quit their petty squabbling and release a CGI Halo movie that looks a little something like this. I said my mind was blow before... well, I've got no mind left to blow. My whole head's gone now.

Looks like that was a leak from Microsoft that wasn't meant for release. That means they're pulling it down all over the place. To my knowledge, you can still watch it and download it directly from here. If you missed out because the link was bad, make sure you check it out now. You'll thank me later.

February 7, 2009

Halo Wars: Day... uh... what day are we on, again?

Regardless, today's Halo Wars goodie comes in the form of three downloadable tracks from the Halo Wars soundtrack: Spirit of Fire, Through Your Hoops, and Under Your Hurdles. The second is my favorite. Epic, yet Irish.


So, I'm not sure how well this will role with people, but I'm looking at the options. I've recreated Installation 04 on Wordpress to try it out. It's got a couple of handy features that I like better than Blogger, but that also comes at a cost to usability. In any case, this is nothing final and in no way a replacement of the Blogger blog. I just want opinions on the subject so I can make a decision in the future whether to move it over or not. View here. At the moment, it's very basic stuff. I've tried to recreate it as well as I could, but I'm still trying to figure Wordpress out so bear with me.

February 6, 2009

Halo Wars Impressions

I have played it. I can now die happy.

Wow, where to begin? First, I'll start off by saying that Halo Wars (at this point at least- no final game yet, you know) does live up to everything that's been said about it. The demo contains the first two campaign missions as well as a stripped down skirmish mode. Before I detail every little thing in great detail, for those of you on the edge know this: Halo Wars is a fantastic game. Despite whatever concerns you may have about the "Halo" aspect of it, know that as a game it is fantastic in its own right. Now, on to nitpicking.

If you're like me and you've researched everything there is to know about this game already (sans plot) then when you first boot up the demo you'll want to skip the tutorials and get right to the good stuff. Oh, one last thing before I get into it: If you do plan to download the demo, know that it is 1.4 gigs in size and that it takes a ridiculously long time to download. Personally, I continued my three-year-old game of Hexic HD while I waited and achieved a new high score.

Ok, enough blabbering, let's get to the good stuff. So I booted up the campaign and I was treated to those stunningly beautiful cutscenes I've seen a million times by now except this time on my HD TV. Wow. So, I finally get into the game itself and that doesn't look half bad either (by that I mean unexpectedly good). In the first mission you're tasked with steering Forge's Warthog around the snowy terrain collecting your scattered forces so that you can reclaim Alpha Base. This mission is really just like an in-game tutorial that teaches you how to move and attack. In about five minutes, it's mission complete. This concerned me. The game has 15 missions total and if the first only takes five minutes, I'm worried that the game will turn out quite short. Hopefully, it'll be like the Halo trilogy where the levels vary in length meaning that some will be quite long. I was a little more reassured in the second level that took me about half an hour because I decided to build up my base and complete side-objectives. Still, if you run through the missions bear bones, I'm afraid the game will be over before it started.

Anyway, the second mission has you start out at Alpha Base, build up your army, and take on Covenant forces on your way to "The Relic" where you have to prevent the Covenant from blowing the palace to bits. Again, If had just enough forces to get by and went straight through, you'd be done in no time. I suppose, with an RTS game, you can't stages be terribly big or you'd never be able to transport units from one place to another without waiting five minutes in between for them to get there. I hope the later levels have "checkpoints" like secondary bases where you can regroup and build forces so you don't have to go halfway across the map to your base, thus making longer missions. My guess is yes because the whole "multiple base" thing seems big in this game. In fact, I've found it hard to get by if you only control one base. There are more buildings than you can build on one site and you often need multiple reactors or supply pads, taking up extra space that you can use for, say, vehicle depots. If you destroy an enemy base, you can claim it as your own.

At the end of the second campaign mission, you're treated to another nice cutscene and the demo abruptly ends. I want more, damn it! Apparently, what is found in that relic re-routs everyone to another UNSC colony named Arcadia. For all I know, the entire rest of game could take part away from Harvest. Classic Halo-style move there, Ensemble. Still, I can't wait to dig into the full campaign and find out more about the flood.

So after I finished the campaign levels (two out of 15- very, very, short...) I loaded up skirmish mode where you can fight one-on-one as either the UNSC or the Covenant with either Captain Cutter or the Prophet of Regret as a leader unit. Only one level is available, chasms, and it gets old after a while. The action, however, does not. I must say that this now famous control scheme is, indeed, as good as they say it is. It's beautifully designed to give you all of your most necessary commands at your fingertips with no need to dig into tunnels of menus. An interesting thing I noticed in the options menu was that you can adjust the cursor stickiness. A sticky cursor will automatically attach to nearby units when you scroll near them. Very handy, indeed. One of the main problems with RTS games on consoles was solved outright by centering the cursor in the middle of the screen. So, actually, your scrolling the screen around and not the cursor.

Another ingenious addition to the controls are the socket bases. You're base starts out as a hub with five empty "sockets" attached to it. You can select on and create a building there. Simple, easy, ingenious. It really simplifies things and gets you right into the action. The best thing about the socket bases is that your most important structures that you'll need multiples of (supply pads, reactors) can be upgraded so that one then equals two. Speaking of those, let me get into a little more detail about those all important structures. Supply pads do exactly what their name suggests, they bring in supplies via Albatross dropships from Spirit of Fire. This means that, once you build one, you'll have a steady stream of supplies always coming in adding to your supply points needed to build anything. This eliminates the need to have units go hunting for supplies so that you can build things (though there are supply crates you can optionally pick up). If you think about it, this makes sense in the context of the game in which you control the military in the future. Supply runs may work for other RTS games, but they really don't make sense in the context of Halo. Reactors basically upgrade your tech level and allow you to build more advanced units including the Vulture uber unit.

Selecting units in Halo Wars is a breeze and, although you can't necessarily regroup units into formations, all five methods are useful in the heat of battle. I found myself using all of them. Tap A to select an individual unit. Double tap A to select all units of that type. Hold down A to create a "paintbrush" and highlight the units you with to use. Hit the left bumper to select all units on screen and hit the right bumper to select all available units. Easy peesy.

Another innovation is the circle menu which pops up when you select a building. It works exactly as you'd expect. Highlight an option using the left stick and press A to select. No messy menus to dig through. It also pops up when pressing up on the D-pad to open the leader menu, which gives you access to special leader-specific abilities at a great cost to supply points. The D-pad can also be used to navigate around. Hit left and you can cycle through your bases, hit right to move to an alert location, and hit down to cycle through your armies.

I must say, Ensemble did a good job of making the Covenant play differently from the UNSC. The biggest difference is that the Covenant tech increases by researching "ages" and not by building reactors. This is good because it frees up space at your base, but it can also get costly. Each tech upgrade seems to be 1000 more supply points than the last, though the Covenant seem to have a limit. If you play as the UNSC, you can build as many reactors as you want. I can't figure out why you'd need to do so, though. Most stuff you need caps off at a tech level of 4. The other major difference between the two factions is that the Covenant have their leader unit on the ground. Once you build a temple, you gain access to your Covenant leader who can use his "god power" via the Y secondary attack button. Regret has a cleansing beam, which is basically what the Covies use to glass planets. You can imagine how powerful that is. Each Covenant hero can be upgraded and also have their secondary ability upgraded. Full strength cleansing beam is instant death. I once pimped out Regret so he had a flying chair that shot three fuel rod shots and had sentinel guards hovering around it. Pretty sweet indeed. The only other difference I see (besides the obvious- they're different factions) is that the Covenant unit cap is higher because they are typically weaker basic unit wise. If you have, for example as I did once, an army of pimped Regret, a Scarab, and seven Locust then you really don't need all those weak infantry. Getting to that point, however, was not easy.

The units are awesome, and well balanced. There are plenty in the demo and even more in the main game. I'll detail each separately in later updates, but I'll say now that my favorite is probably the Cobra. It's a great anti-(almost)everything unit. It takes out infantry well with its duel cannons and can lock down for long range, more powerful shots that are particularly effective against buildings. I also like that the game has leader-specific units and abilities. It adds variety and strategy to the game. I think it'll be especially cool in 3 vs. 3 matches where everyone has a different leader. One last, unrelated, thing- the soundtrack is spectacular. I'll have a full writeup soon, but just from the demo I can tell how well it goes with everything. It's Halo-y enough, yet holds its own. I especially enjoy it on the skirmish levels. A welcome change from Halo 3's silence. Each has a different theme, apparently. Oh, and not much sign of ambient life. Is that still in? Unless those birds flying overhead count. Here's hoping.

At the risk of rambling on too long, I'll now bring this preview to a close, though there is so much more to be said. All in all, I think Halo Wars will live up to all the hype. The controls certainly do. I know one thing for certain, though, and that thing is this: My only complaint is that this is a demo. I want more. This demo has reassured my gut feeling that this game would be a great addition to the Halo franchise. I can't wait until March 3rd!

February 3, 2009

Halo Wars Month: Day 2

Captain's log:

Today, Microsoft released a new ViDoc showing off the units of Halo Wars.

Also, you can sample the soundtrack here.

As an added bonus, you can get a ringtone of Spirit of Fire by texting the message HALOWARS to 30360.

February 2, 2009

A Field Trip to Harvest

February is Halo Wars month which means a new Halo Wars feature every day until the game releases. Today, we take a look at at the planet that takes the main focus of the game, courtesy of our friends at Halopedia.

Planet Statistics


Star, Position

Epsilon Indi






Unknown, Likely circa 38% of Earth Normal



Technology Tier

Tier 3


Harvest was the seventeenth colony world, and one of the most remote. The colony was founded in 2468 by the UNSC Skidbladnir. Located in the Epsilon Indi System, the planet had the unfortunate distinction of being the first human planet discovered by the Covenant. After disastrous First Contact, the planet was subsequently glassed by the Covenant during the First Battle of Harvest, but most of its population managed to escape in freighters.
Harvest was one of the UNSC's more productive and more peaceful colonies. Within two decades of its founding it had the highest per capital agricultural manufacture of any inner colony. Major crops, such as corn, wheat, watermelon, peaches, apples, grapes, and numerous other foodstuffs nourished the inhabitants of more than half a dozen other colonies. The population of Harvest was three hundred thousand but most were killed by the Covenant in 2525 by invasion and orbital bombardment. The capital city and its largest population center was Utgard, also home to Harvest's seven space elevators connected to the Orbital Space Station, Tiara.

Harvest was a small planet, approximately one-third the size of Earth with only a 4,000 kilometer (2,484 mile) equatorial diameter, slightly smaller than the Sol planet Mercury. In terms of surface area, Harvest possessed ~50 million km², roughly one-tenth the surface area of Earth. Harvest orbited Epsilon Indi extremely quickly, much faster than most other UNSC colonies, at roughly 150,000 km/h, or ~41km/sec (by comparison, Earth orbits Sol at roughly 30 km/sec). Harvest had no natural satellites. Out of a total of five planets in the Epsilon Indi System, Harvest was the only habitable planet, as well as being fertile for farming. The super-continent Edda dominated the planet, taking up roughly 67% of its surface. Two low-salinity seas covered the remainder of the planet, Hugin to the north, and Munin to the south. Almost 86% of Edda is within 500 meters of sea level, the only major change in elevation is the, an escarpment that "cuts" Edda in half. Harvest's surface was once beautiful, covered in grassland and forests, lush fields and rolling hills, and a thousand lakes swarming with fish. The orchards with luscious crops. At night, bats filled the skies. After being glassed, the surface was reduced to a layer of melted glass, the destruction visible from orbit. The environment suffered a catastrophic blow as a result, the once glorious landscape turning into a nearly frozen tundra, causing most species to quickly go extinct. Soon, all that remained of Harvest's original ecosystem were the scavengers, feeding off the rotting remains of the planet's once abundant wildlife, and even they perished before long.

In 2502, Avery Junior Johnson was involved in the assassination of Jerald Mulkey Ander, the head of the People's Occupation Government on Harvest as part of the ORION Project's Operation: KALEIDOSCOPE. Harvest was the first colony to be attacked by the Covenant and the first human world to be glassed. It was also the first place humanity officially made contact with the Covenant, after the incidents on This End Up and Minor
Transgression. In 2524, Staff Sergeant Johnson returned to Harvest along with Staff Sergeant Byrne and Captain Ponder, all survivors of Operation: TREBUCHET. They were to train a Colonial Militia and, unbeknown to them, fend off what UNSC had believed to be Insurrectionist attacks on ships in the systems. On February 3rd, 2525, the Harvest orbital platform, the Tiara, made long-range radar and spectroscopic contact with Rapid Conversion. Contact with Harvest was lost thereafter.

The citizens of Harvest soon found themselves in the middle of the first battle between the Covenan and humanity, using their newly trained Militia to herd hundreds of thousands of civilian survivors from Gladsheim, Vigrond and other locations to the Utgard Space Elevators to escape the planet. During the first Covenant attack on Harvest about +250,000 humans managed to escape the planet by packing into 236 freight containers which were then loaded into seven elevator depots in Utgard. Every five to seven minutes, seven pairs of freight containers were loaded into the Space Elevator. Loaded ahead of these freight containers were seven "grease buckets", maintenance containers, two which were loaded with Johnson's men and Jilan al-Cygni. The other five were decoys rigged with claymore mines which were used to soften the Brutes, Grunts and Drones which had boarded and taken control of Tiara. While the other two "grease buckets" holding Johnson and Co. stopped and they were fighting off the Covenant, the number seven strand of the Space Elevator snapped a few thousand kilometers above its anchor due to the stress caused by the load becoming unbalanced. There were 11 pairs of freight containers on the strand when it snapped, killing around 40,000 people. The remaining freight containers carrying the survivors of Harvest continued up the elevator, out into space, where they met up with propulsion pods that Sif had placed previously. Once Johnson and Co. finished fighting the Covenant on the Tiara, they joined the survivors and used the propulsion pods to enter Slipspace.

By April 12th,2525, the Colonial Military Administration sent the scout ship Argo to investigate. Other then confirming its arrival at Harvest no other transmissions were sent, and Argo was presumed MIA. On October 7th, Fleet Command assembled a battle group to investigate, due to the fact that the Harvest situation was deemed to have become serious. The battle group consisted of the destroyer Heracles, commanded by Captain Veredi, as well as the frigates Arabia and Vostok. They entered the Harvest system only to find the planet's surface almost entirely melted down to glass. While there, the battle group encountered an unknown alien vessel. This vessel immediately fired on the inferior human vessels, and the Vostok and Arabia were lost with all hands. The Heracles managed to jump out of the system, but took several weeks to return to Reach due to damage sustained in the battle. Vice Admiral Preston Cole fought and barely won the Second Battle of Harvest in 2531, six years later. This battle was the single most titanic battle ever fought by the two opposing forces before the Fall of Reach in 2552, and resulted in the creation and implementation of the Cole Protocol. The UNSC was able to retake the planet but with the massive loss of 2/3 of their fleet even then they had outnumbered the covenant. Soon after Admiral Cole's victory, the UNSC Spirit of Fire arrived in the system and found the Covenant had once again returned to the planet's surface, and more shockingly, had uncovered previously unknown Forerunner relics.

Fun Facts
  • A day on Harvest lasts only 17.5 hours.
  • The "nuclear winter" effect caused by the Covenant weapons fire was the first snow the planet had ever seen. By the events of Halo Wars, the poles have completely frozen over.
  • Many of the population of Harvest is of U.S. Midwestern descent.
  • Harvest is inspired by Norse and Scandinavian culture. The landmasses and oceans are inspired by Norse mythology.
  • The Prophets mistranslated a Forerunner glyph meaning "reclaimer" to read "relic" and therefore began to destroy all the humans on Harvest who they thought were hiding relics from them. In reality, the glyph was representing each human on the planet. The Covenant, therefore, were from then on mislead to believe there was a relic at every location there was a reclaimer.