Friday, October 15, 2004

Dawn of War

So I picked up the new Warhammer 40,000 real time strategy computer game Dawn of War. It's not bad. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the RTS format. I'll play it, and indeed I've wasted more hours than I'd care to admit on, but on the whole I think it is actually a pretty shallow genre. RTS games are all about resource management; how you spend your first thousand points, gold, minerals, whatever, will generally decide the whole game. And, in those cases where such expenditures are not decisive, between players of equal skill for instance, the vagaries of micro-management dictate the final outcome. On the whole I suppose it isn't the worst way to wittle life down twenty minutes at a time, but there are certainly better game formats around.

Measured against other RTS types, Dawn of War isn't bad. The graphics are nice, though large battles and certain terrain types can cause some lag, especially on lower-end machines. I play the 40k miniatures game, so the background story is of some interest to me. Dawn of War actually captures the 40k flavor pretty well, and I recommend it to fans of the table top version. The four races have are all fairly equal, though the Eldar are probably the best and the Orks are probably the worst. Leaders are too important though, and they come out too early. It isn't as bad as Warcraft 3 in that regard, but it would've been better if leaders were higher up on the tech tree.

So, if you are a fan of real-time strategy games, or if you're a Warhammer 40,000 player, I recommend you pick up Dawn of War and give it a try. If you're on the Gamespy multi-player thing they have, the LeperColony is always up for a match.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Pointless Factoid II

Did you know that the president is completely immune from civil suits arising as a result of the execution of his official duties? It's true. See Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Shuffling By

I saw Shaun of the Dead today, treating a friend to the movie and lunch in exchange for having missed the birthday party. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting much from it. The trailers and TV commercials left me with the impression that it would be similar to those "Scary Movie" or "Another Teen Movie" lampoons, trading on vulgarity and cliche in place of commentary or actual comedy. To most people now, and even more so "comedians," parody seems to require nothing more than profanity and absurd exaggeration.

Shaun of the Dead is more than just a parody of zombie flicks. To be sure, it does that well enough; the movie pokes fun at more than one tenet of the genre, and even at the end manages an amusing aside to the movie 28 Days Later. But amusing as the movie may be on the surface, as nothing more than simple parody, there are a number of unexpected, and still more surprising, engaging, subtexts. Shaun of the Dead is really quite clever, and the more you notice, the more you'll enjoy it. The movie deals with some serious issues; relationships, the banality of modern existence and the search for personal fulfillment, and still more than you could pack into a pretentious art film, yet it still feels fun.

The movie is British, so I couldn't say if the actors were well known there, but I didn't recognize any of the faces. Still, a lack of fame didn't detract from their performances, and I think the cast did a good job. There really wasn't much to recommend the score or the effects, but neither did they detract from the overrall experience. The zombies looked dead enough, and it wasn't that kind of film anyway.

Even if you are not a fan of zombie movies, I recommend Shaun of the Dead. It's funny and clever, but there's real substance underneath. If you find there are parts where you're the only one laughing, don't worry. That means you get it.