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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Fable 2

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

Fable 2 has a HUGE amount of content in it, but a lacking for how much of that is required for the storyline. When I say “lacking,” I mean you could commit hours and hours and hours to this game, but never get more than half-way through the storyline because you simply don’t feel like triggering the next instance. What happens when you don’t continue the story? NOTHING! There is zero encouragement to continue the story at the half-way point in the game.

But what about the game itself? It is pretty close to the first in the series, with the exception of changing both the spell engine and the introduction of firearms. That’s right, they added firearms and modified the ranged targeting system so that you aren’t just standing back and trying to snipe off the enemies’ heads with a bow and arrow. I think that the bow and arrow removal did nothing for the gameplay itself though. It does allow you to build your ranged attacks the way you want to (more DPS with a pistol, big damage with rifles, or somewhere in between with crossbows), but to me that didn’t really change the feel of things, especially with the ability to get a level in one of the skill abilities that allows you to tap “Y” at the right time after firing to immediately fire again. Suddenly the rifle turned into a DPS’ing cannon!

What about the spell changes? They honestly didn’t do a whole lot. Yes, you can now charge-up to the higher levels of a skill, but there is no reason to charge up the majority of the skills in the game because there is no mana bar. Yup, they removed the mana bar and in return made it so you would likely have to sacrifice HP to charge up to a higher level of a skill. Since I like to spam the “time control” skill so that I can fly past enemies and then strike them from behind, there was no reason to ever charge up a skill other than to either slow down time with the “time control”s AOE version or to farm gold in one of the later quests with the “raise dead” spell level 5.

So then what did you actually like about the game? The volume of content outside of the storyline itself. There really aren’t that many quests outside of the main storyline, but it is essentially a free-world. You can buy ANY property in the game essentially and either move-in or rent it out. You can marry (though I didn’t try to find out if polygamy was possible in the game) and eventually have kids in the game (grow a family, nurture them, etc.). I spent most of my game time (about a month and a half ago now) becoming a real estate mogul in the game (owned a blacksmith, couple bars, a bunch of houses, and I don’t even remember what else now).

There was a large change that made a big difference in gameplay from the first one, and that was the introduction of a companion. Think Navi from Zelda, but your dog can actually fight if trained enough, and helps you find those hidden dig spots and treasures in the game. It went from a game of guessing where to dig or find treasure to running around and waiting for your dog to let you know where to get the next bit of treasure or quest item.

But what of the storyline itself? Was it at least intriguing? Not really. They seemed to take the story from the first one and recast it for a different time in the same world. I did like how they continually tried to connect the first game and the second, but found the story incredibly short (as stated before). If I had actively tried, I likely could have beaten the main story in about 3 hours of playing. That’s right, a single sitting if I had followed all the in game cues to go through the story. The final boss fight was even disappointing. The hardest fights in the game are against the “trolls,” and they just require standing back and dodging their attacks while you shoot the targets on it as they appear and then take your final shot when the health bar of the troll is low enough. Pretty disappointing from a challenge perspective, of course, that’s not why I played the game through in the first place.

Then why did I play it through? Because of the side-story content. Buying up all the property in the game was a fun goal for a while, but I eventually did get bored. The dog was a fun addition, and its existence greatly affected my end-game “big decision.” But it simply bugged me to no end that the majority of the unique weapons in the game were all in the downloadable content. I’m sorry Microsoft, I’m not going to pay for Xbox Live just so that I can download an extra island of content in the game. Overall, the game was pretty disappointing, but entertained me for a brief period of time.

Windows Shortcuts = Dangerous

July 20th, 2010 No comments

Well, I wanted to have my first blog post of the week be about a different topic, but since this is breaking news, I’m going to post about it.

There has been a new vulnerability discovered, and reported by Microsoft as of July 16th with security advisory number 2286198. It affects all Windows operating systems (XP, Vista, 7, and correlating service packs), and the source code is already publicly available. The worry is that this will start to experience wide-spread usage within the next few weeks by malware writers.

What It Does

When we browse the file system in Windows, it shows icons for each file/shortcut/directory, and these can be customized. This malicious code is hiding in the simple viewing (not even running the shortcut) of the shortcut’s icon containing the malicious code. The malware utilizing this exploit can spread via infected USB thumb drives and the usual unintentional downloading of trojan horses and the like.

How to Protect Against It

Follow Microsoft’s instructions for not displaying shortcut icons. Microsoft’s temporary fix can be found with their security advisory number 2286198 (see the Workarounds and Mitigating Factors sections).

My Original Source

I found out about this issue through Trend Micro’s CounterMeasures blog post about the situation.

Parting Advice

Follow the workarounds described by Microsoft in their security advisory and hope that they can push out their fix by Patch Tuesday in August (closest planned patch date).