Monster Hunter World PS4 Beta Ongoing

If you’re looking to take a quick breather from finals, how about taking some time to slay giant monsters?

Monster Hunter World is an upcoming action adventure game being developed by Capcom. It’s the next entry in a long-standing series about hunting down and defeating giant creatures which is now seeing its way to consoles – and is available to play now as a beta!

The Monster Hunter World beta is divided into three missions where you’re tasked with hunting down a monster of Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty alone or with friends. You’ll track and fight these creatures in ever-evolving boss battles across two stages from the full game – the Ancient Forest and Wildspire Wastes, pictured above. These stages also contain an Apex Predator monster, something you’d normally fight in its own mission which is instead just roaming the three missions available to be tackled as an optional boss.

None of these monsters are to be underestimated though – they’re fierce and unique, with styles of attack and characteristics unique to them that change the fight. An example is the above pictured Barroth, a monster with a rock-hard skull who coats itself in mud and muck as a sort of outer shell or armor.

You’ll be fighting these monsters using a plethora of tools and a wide array of weapon types to choose from, ranging from long-range options such as the Bow or Heavy Bowgun to more melee centered options such as the Longsword or Insect Glaive.

The beta is available to download on PS4 right now and the beta will last until 11AM Tuesday (12/12/17). Better get hunting!

Hidden Secrets in New Ready Player One Trailer

The recently released trailer for Ready Player One packs some nice pop culture references! Here’s the trailer:

Ready Player One takes place in a world where the depletion of fossil fuels and global warming have led to a worldwide energy crisis. People now seek refuge from this harsh reality inside a virtual reality world called the OASIS, where anyone can be anybody and do so much more than the real world now allows. It’s founder announced in a postmortem message that he left a treasure within OASIS that when found would award wealth and control of OASIS itself to the person who discovered it.

Much like Wreck-It RalphReady Player One is jam-packed with references to other people in pop-culture, namely games and movies. Here’s a couple I could spot myself:

  • The Iron Giant, from Iron Giant
  • Even more obviously, King Kong is shown
  • For a moment, you can spot Tracer from Overwatch and Chun-Li from Street Fighter

There are surely more I couldn’t spot without rewatching the trailer a dozen times over. Ready Player One releases March 30th, 2018.

LA Noire Review: Devils in the Details

LA Noire is a remastered version of the original 2011 title released by developer Rockstar Games. This action-adventure detective game portrays all the glorious conventions of its namesake, even if it’s still very rough around the edges. You play as Cole Phelps, a veteran of the Okinawa campaign turned police officer turned LAPD detective. You play through many, many cases in Cole’s career through various departments – Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson – including all cases from the original release that originally existed separately as pre-order DLC.

Each case feels distinct from the other – although depending on your sleuthing skills, each case isn’t necessarily as satisfying to solve as the last. LA  Noire’s cases play out through two primary ‘phases’ – gathering evidence and interrogating witnesses. Gathering evidence is contextual as Cole navigates crime scenes or locations of interest – your controller vibrates to show you’ve found something. While it isn’t all of value – you can interact with stray liquor bottles irrelevant to the scene itself – Cole’s dialogue about the items that actually are of import to the case conveys a sense of discovery the player is feeling in equal measure.

This evidence is catalogued in Cole’s notebook and used in the other distinct ‘phase’ of LA Noire – the interrogations. This part of LA Noire is what stands out from the rest – the game uses advanced facial mapping to represent real, emoting faces. This means that people look like and act like people, which the game means for you to interpret to properly progress in dialogue. This all works but only to a point – the technology was a little odd even back in 2011 and there are definitely signs of age in the remaster because of how almost experimental this technology was. It makes the other facet of interrogations – choosing how to interpret witness statements – a bit of a chore, and that’s before you factor in the game’s ever-changing logic. In the original release, you had three ways to react to testimony – you could Believe it, Doubt it (if you thought the person was lying but lacked evidence) or call them out on their Lie with gathered evidence. These options exist in the remaster under new names – Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse. It’s less a criticism of the remaster as it is the original but it’s very misleading as to which choice is the correct one. You may think because of analyzing the testimony and reading the dialogue that you can only play Bad Cop to a statement but in reality you were supposed to Accuse them and the game wasn’t giving you a clear picture of the situation.

A remaster is ultimately a rerelease of the original game – LA Noire is served well by a fresh coat of paint in the modern gaming era, even if it’s still bogged down by its original issues.

Windows Mixed Reality (VR) Demos in Shreveport!

Looking to try out some new technology this holiday season? Here’s a suggestion – come get a demo from me of the new Windows Mixed Reality headset in Shreveport!

What? The Windows Mixed Reality headset is Microsoft’s own entry into the field of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. It’s been out since mid October and I’ve had the pleasure of demoing it for customers since! To go into detail here would detract from the demo but allow me to leave you with a slightly better idea of the system – Windows Mixed Reality is a VR headset designed to interact with your Windows 10 PC for a more accessible, more valuable VR experience.

Where? At the Best Buy at 7080 Youree Dr, Shreveport, LA 71105. That is unfortunately a full hour and a half from the Texas A&M campus so I’d suggest planning a day out in Shreveport with visiting the store at some point in mind – the demo’s about 7-10 minutes of time with the headset.

When? Here’s my schedule in store:

  • Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Thursday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Friday: 12PM – 9PM (Out for lunch between 4PM and 5PM, roughly)
  • Saturday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)
  • Sunday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)

This schedule continues until 8PM December 31st, at which point my job (as it is contracted) ends. There’s no word on if I’ll continue afterward or if it would be at the same store so you’ve got the next three weeks to decide if you’d like to stop by!

How? Easy – just come to the store and find me in the Windows department on the right hand side. I will be hanging around that area and I’ll be the only one in a Microsoft uniform – so feel free to flag me down!

Demos are first come first served – especially considering the drive to Shreveport from Texarkana (and I should know – I make that drive twice a day, four days a week!), I’d recommend earlier in the day and not later.

Of note, however, is that you’ll need to sign a waiver before putting this headset on and the powers that be use this to create an age restriction – Anyone under 13 cannot be demoed and anyone under 18 needs a Parent or Guardian signature in addition to their own.

That’s all you really need to know – anything other than that, I’d rather tell you in person. If you do stop by, I’ll be happy to run you through the demo – although as a favor to me, let me know you’re from Texarkana and saw this story when you stop by! I don’t post this expecting a large showing but it’d be pretty neat to know you’re a reader of the newsletter.

‘Remediation’ is Everywhere

November 16th, 2017 – Squeezed between two Mass Communication courses Dr. Morton was teaching, he found the time to hold a PLACE Lecture in UC 210 – the subject, Bolter & Grusin’s Remediation, a subject dear to his heart (or as close as he can get with a subject so often covered in his courses) and one that I, a Mass Communication Major myself, find fun food for thought when it counts.

While the lecture got described as a 40 minute crash course, the topic of Remediation thankfully is one that’s simple to understand but difficult to master. Remediation, in the case of Bolter & Grusin meaning representing one medium in another, is something we don’t spot enough in everyday life for how prevalent the concept is – it’s essentially the ‘borrowing’ of ideas from one medium (Film, TV, Video Games) to enhance or otherwise detail another – consider Film and TV in the 90’s, two very distinct mediums that aren’t so different in modern terms.

The paradox of Remediation, however, is that often media need to borrow from each other to feel real – they must be less like themselves to be themselves. Think long enough about your favorite property and you might find that you can make a stronger argument for it being a medium other than one it actually is.

Dr. Morton was by the day’s end more than a bit exhausted but he did want to comment that if the lecture (or what’s being described by me after the fact) was of interest to anyone they should consider stopping by the Red River Innovation Lab in the Science and Technology Building on campus, Room 120. As of now, they’re shooting for a full launch of the lab before the beginning of Spring but there’ll be events to get a game plan going in the coming weeks.

‘Ethics in Science’

November 14th, 2017 – After an hour of frank discussion, the low lighting in UC 217 did well to capture the mood of the audience as Dr. Walter Casey’s PowerPoint ended on a slide with the phrase ‘I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS’. They, myself included, had just reached the end of an open lecture on Ethics in Science as part of the Science and Technology theme of this year’s PLACE lectures/events. Where the ethics of the subject lay, none could say.

The two main elements of the lecture – Ethics and Science – got covered in sequence. Ethics, the enforcement of a moral standard or system, are something we know a lot about, even if we don’t think of them as such. You can think of them – broadly – as actions taken because they serve a greater purpose – they are what’s ‘right’. This isn’t to say that this line of logic is wrong – only that Ethics and the morals they stand for are muddy at times. Is a bribe, for example, always unethical to accept?

It’s even muddier in the realm of Science. More specifically, Engineering. Consider whether or not a building code is enforced, or safety rules are met at a chemical plant. Do you think it’s unethical not to keep things up to code? There are those that don’t – catastrophe after catastrophe can me attributed to a lack of ethical standard. Just look into the Bhopal Disaster, for example.

Dr. Casey argues we’re guilty of this in our own lives, too, even if we’re not given great and obvious responsibilities like the upkeep of a chemical plant. We worship technology as a people and give it far more power than we realize. Ethics can quickly turn into a matter of security and we are not safe. As Dr. Casey says, “Read your End User License Agreement.”

Thor Ragnarok: Calm Before the Storm

Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Action, and Brief Suggestive Material

Thor Ragnarok represents the calm before the storm – the latest in the ever progressing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it works to answer lingering questions while setting the stage for the highly anticipated Infinity War films. Unfortunately, it isn’t much aside from that – Ragnarok tries to be some sort of 80’s film homage and succeeds, much to its detriment.

Underneath the highly appealing aesthetic, Ragnarok is chiefly concerned with Thor saving Asgard from, well, Ragnarok – the prophesied apocalypse he’s been receiving visions of since prior MCU films. The film moves full speed ahead to resolve this plot, quickly tossing aside plot points from The Dark World to make way for new dilemmas, such as whatever happened to the Hulk or to throw out there that the antagonist of Ragnarok is Thor’s heretofore unmentioned sister.

It isn’t as though the film is inherently bad – the fight scenes are nice to look at, the music adds to the energy of the film and the chemistry between characters (such as Thor and the Hulk, who can now speak) makes for great laughs. It’s more so that the only aspects of the plot that feel like they were thoughtfully done are those related to Infinity War and unfortunately, they’re the sort of things that make Ragnarok a required view for those fans of the MCU that want to keep up to date for it. But that Ragnarok seems so keen on doing away with old plot points for the sake of progressing the MCU makes me a little concerned that these portions of the movie will be just as simply discarded for the sake of Infinity War.

Thor Ragnarok – come for the Hulk, stay for the post-credits scene!