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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year in Review: Hewso Style

Ok it is that time of year again, the time when we all look back at what has happened and reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly. 2011 for me was a great year, a year where some big changes have occurred and some bigger surprises.  So to sum it up I thought I might share my thoughts on the year that was. What was good? What deserves to be forgotten? What you might have missed? These are the questions I will attempt to answer in my highly self-indulgent year in review.

What a year, I mean there is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about the amazing year video games had in 2011. From Skyrim to Batman, from Portal 2 to LA Noire some superlative games have been released this year and due to the sheer number of quality releases I am sure some gems will be missed. One of those gems is The Witcher 2. Released early in the year to little fanfare, The Witcher 2 was a master class in RPG storytelling and style. Great characters, amazing graphics (some of the best around) and a crushing difficulty made The Witcher 2 a game that no PC player should miss out on.  (If you want to read my full thoughts on the game click here - http://blackpanel.com.au/2011/06/20/the-witcher-2-assassins-of-kings-review/ )

Another game that you shouldn’t miss is Driver San Francisco. Everyone thought the Driver franchise was dead. The last two entries in the series were rubbish and no one had any real interest in returning to the world. So it was with some surprise that Ubisoft announced another entry in the series. What was an even bigger surprise was that it was really really good. A game of pure fun, Driver SF has one of the stupidest premises in a video game ever, you can body snatch any driver in the city, but it works so well you wish you had more time with it. The game it’s self would be more accurately described as a Movie Chase Scene Simulator than a racing game but don’t let that put you off it is a mountain of fun from start to finish. (Once again I was lucky enough to get this to review. The review can be found here - http://blackpanel.com.au/2011/09/27/driver-san-francisco-review/)

It wasn’t all roses in the gaming world this year, gamers the world over suffered their fair share of disappointments. Duke’s long awaited return was not worth waiting for, Blizzard let the release date slide on Diablo 3 again, Australia still doesn’t have an R18+ rating (though we are closer) and Mortal Kombat (Another quality game, Get it you won’t be disappointed) was refused classification in Australia. 

IMPORT MORTAL KOMBAT
But the single biggest disappointment for me this year was RAGE. RAGE was the long awaited new IP from shooter masters ID software (they made some small games, like Doom and Quake you might have heard of them) and unfortunately it seems that they are still stuck in the past. Shooters have come a long way since their last release and while RAGE is a solid game, it was severely lacking in areas that gamers take for granted these days leading to a mediocre experience. The worst part of the whole affair was the disdain that ID treated their PC fanbase. ATI video card users had an especially hard time in getting the game to even work. It took me 2 months, 2 patches and 4 Video Card Driver updates before I could play the game. This is just not acceptable in this day and age and I am sure ID will have a lot to do to make it up to its Hardcore PC community.
RAGE looks good, when you eventually get it running.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Join me for Movember


Join me, grow a mo and change the face of men’s health.

The humble mo is a misunderstood creature, for 11 months of the year mo’s are often thought of as nothing but a bad taste remnant of the 70’s. But for the month of Movember (formally known as November) mo’s are not only hip, stylish and desirable but indicate the wearer of said mo is a fine human philanthropist with the wellbeing of others on their mind.

For those that could never understand why during November half the male population was walking around with furry lip warmers, Movember is a charity event where men from all around the world grow moustaches and get sponsorship to raise money for Men’s health programs such as prostate cancer research and male depression.  I have been supporter of Movember for quite a few years and while contemplating which style of face caterpillar I would don this year. I wanted to do something a little bit more for the cause.

With this goal in mind, and knowing that my gaming brethren love to support a good cause, I set about organising the Australian Gaming Community Movember Team.  A group of games writers/players/developers who not only want to support a great cause but have no fear in showing a hairy upper lip to the world.


The Following is from the Movember Website


"Movember is about raising funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and male depression. Close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer in Australia each year and one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. Many of these men do not seek help. 

I’d like to try and change those statistics. 

The more people I can get to join my team, the more lives we can impact. You can either grow a moustache as a Mo Bro, or join as a Mo Sista and help to recruit other Mo growers to the team. 

Once registered, the Movember team will send you all the information you need to raise funds and start growing as part of my Movember team."

So if you would like to join me and many others in raising some money you can join our facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/170839739664200/?notif_t=group_r2j) or join the team directly by visiting our team page on the Movember website: (https://www.movember.com/au/register/details/team_id/206020). The lovely ladies out there are more than welcome to join as a Mo Sista and help the fella’s raises their money and provide support during what is likely to be an itchy time.
So wear your mo proudly, whether it be the Magnum PI, the Merv Hughes or the Uncle Chop chop and change the face of mens health.

*This article was originally posted at www.blackpanel.com.au Check them out for all you gaming news/reviews and features. Great site!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Five Fast Human’s With You

I thought I would do another quick round up of what has been hitting my media intake for the last little while. There are some corkers and some shockers in this entry. You have been warned.
Too much man for anyone to take

 Fast Five is the latest entry in the bazillion dollar rev head franchise and it is the best one yet. Some have described it as Oceans 11 for motor heads and that is a pretty accurate description of what is going on here. All of the cast from the previous movies have made a return and they seem to slip back into their respective roles with ease. The biggest addition (and I mean big) to this movie is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a bounty hunter sent by the FBI to catch Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.  The Rock (and he is the candy ass whooping, smell what I'm cooking, “Rock” of old in this movie, not the fellow that did the abysmal The Tooth Fairy) and Vin bash manliness for the whole movie setting up a fight scene that didn’t disappoint. This movie has enough testosterone to make any 12 year old boy watching immediately go through puberty.

Basically the movie was a load big dumb fun, I had a grin on my face the whole time I was watching. Since Director Justin Lin took over the franchise with Tokyo Drift, each movie has been getting better and better, and with the enormous amount of money Fast 5 made at the box office it is safe to say that there is more Vin, Walker and Johnson coming our way in the near future.

I'm With You is the latest “effort” by funky rockers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I use quotation marks as the album doesn’t seem to have had any effort put into it at all. All of the songs seem like half-finished leftovers and B-sides from Stadium Arcadium and there isn’t one exciting song on the whole album.

This fly must be attracted by how much the album stinks
I have been a fan of the chilli’s for pretty much my whole life. The first album I ever bought was Blood Sugar Sex Magic and I have purchased every album since. Needless to say I have never been this disappointed with a band I love. There is no magic anymore and if it wasn’t for Flea trying his hardest to carry the band (he is smashing the bass the whole album) I could have sworn that this was not the chilli’s but a band that resembles them. No band is ever beyond redemption but I think RHCP will find it hard to win back fans after this shocker of an album.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was probably my most anticipated game of the year and boy it didn’t disappoint. Set as a prequel to the original Deus Ex (a game which many still consider to be the best game ever made, 11 years after its release) DE:HR tells the story of Adam Jensen, a security expert in the employ of a human augmentation company. Starting with Jensen becoming augmented, DE:HR takes players on a ride of stealth/action/adventuring gameplay that has rarely been done this well. The game tailors itself to the player, giving you the choice on how you want to approach any given situation. Want to sneak past the guards and go straight to the objective, sure. Want to hack the security system so the turrets and robots attack their own masters , not a problem. Want to punch a hole through a wall, break a guard’s neck and  shoot his squad mates down with an automatic shotgun, yep you can do that too.

Buy this game, you won't regret it
DE:HR is about choice, and with a story that simply outclasses just about any other game out there,  the choice to play DE:HR is a no brainer. I cannot see a better game coming out this year. If you have the slightest interest in gaming you owe it to yourself to get this game. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mythbusters. Gaming myths busted for those in older generation



Being an older gamer I thought I would put together a little guide for those well matured folk out there that are a little scared and confused about how a fat plumber with a mushroom addiction can not only be fun, but be one of the biggest entertainment phenomenon’s in human history.

Myth 1 – Playing games is for kids. 

If this doesn't say fun for everyone, nothing does.
Well technically this is true, it is for kids but (and there is always  a but) it is for adults too. Gaming is a genuine family pastime and something that even my really really old parents are now starting to enjoy. In this wonderful day and age instead of the family crowding around the Monopoly board, rolling dice, counting fake money and loosing pieces this can be done in front of the TV with with nothing more than a console and a controller. No more arguments over the rules, no more kids eating the pieces and no more cheating bankers. What can be bad about that?

Myth 2 – Playing games leads to an increase in violent tendencies.

For a gamer the reverse is the actually true. If you ever see a person at work who is loud, irritable, sweating and prone to bouts of Tourette’s syndrome this person may not be coming down from the latest designer drug or recovering from a late night session at the local but be a gamer who hasn’t gotten a chance to unleash his worries on an unsuspecting pirate/ninja/gangster. Therapeutic violence is something that everyone should get behind, after all who doesn’t feel better at the thought of unleashing some of that pent up tension on a virtual representation of the telly tubbies (ok that game doesn’t exist, but it should, instant bestseller).

Myth 3 – Games are only played but antisocial nerds in their parent’s basement.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In a recent survey that I just made up, 100% of sports stars used their first pay cheque to buy a gaming system.  But in all seriousness (not really) gaming is a wonderful social experience. With the success of multiplayer games like Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and Mario Kart people are increasingly enjoying their gaming time with others. Another recent discovery is gaming goes well with alcohol (as proven by the success of the Mana Bar) and alcohol goes well with friends. Drunken singstar sessions is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life, after all how can you say you know someone until you experience their drunken attempt to bring soul to Ke Shan. Yes the antisocial roleplayer does exist but everyone else is having too much fun playing Rock Band with their drunken mates to notice.

Myth 4 – Games will rot your mind.

If there is anything more incorrect than this statement I am yet to see it. Games make education fun, easy and exciting as well as offering life lessons not available anywhere else. For example, with the inevitability of the Zombie apocalypse where are people going to get survival training? Educational documentaries such as Dawn of the Dead and Army of Darkness will only get the potential Zombie survivor so far. Without the interaction given to people by video games how will people know how to use common household items to create weapons of undead destruction. 

Not only will video games assist your survival in this situation, they will teach you how to drive a million dollar sports car, build and manage a large scale army bent on planetary conquest, use a portal device to escape an evil AI contruct and the ins and outs of the economic structures within a large scale drug operation. All of these skills are essential for a rounded education experience and until the government realises this and Zombie kills 101 becomes a compulsory course in all high schools, video games are the only source of this vital knowledge.

So hopefully my guide has helped you folks in the blue rinse brigade understand this scary movement and to all the gamers reading this, I sincerely hope my article hasn’t made things worse for us. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Final Farewell for the Big Man

Losing your pet is always a hard thing for a family. Only other pet owners know what you go through when you lose a loving member of your household. I am going through this now having lost my Great Dane today, to what I can only assume was in relation to a tumour that had recently been diagnosed.

Sampson, was a loving member of my family, my wife and I bought him before we had children and really was always an important part of our life. From the first day we got him and he left a nasty package in the hallway (it wasn’t a small one either, the size of the dog = the size of the surprise)to me going crook at him last night for barking at someone walking past the house, his presence was always appreciated.

Now owning a Great Dane leads to unique problems like owning a snow shovel to pick up the poo, losing small children in holes he had dug and assuring the elderly neighbour that the dog sticking his head over the 6 foot fence was not standing on anything and he was just saying hello. 

I buried Sampson today at my In-Laws farm, which itself was a challenge. The size of the trench we had to dig to give the big fella a proper burial was enormous and took myself and my father in-law the better part of an hour to dig out. The hardest part was telling my son that Samps was no longer with us. My youngest (2) was too young to realise what had happened but my eldest (6) knew exactly what was going on. My wife was the person that had to tell him and I don’t envy what she had to do. Dealing with her own grief and telling a crying child that he couldn’t play with his puppy anymore is a task I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

In the end you have to look back at the fun, I know it is clich├ęd but really how else does one deal with grief.

I know that this blog post is self indulgent, but giving Big Stoopid a proper Eulogy is something I had to do. Every family member deserves a proper goodbye. So goodbye my mate you will be missed.

He was a lap dog.


R.I.P Sampson
5/1/2003 – 20/7/2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

True Electric Worms

Time again for me to put some of the things I have seen, done, experienced down on a digital page for your perusal. It has been a little while since I have done one of these so I have a few things to write about.

First is Electric Mary.  Now for those that don’t know, Electric Mary is an Aussie rock band from Melbourne. They play old style rock, in fact the band slogan is “Rock and Roll served up the way it used to taste.” The band sticks true to this slogan with clear influences from classic bands like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue and even a little bit of AC/DC. I first became aware of this band when they supported Alice Cooper on his most recent tour. They played for about 45 minutes and kicked it the whole time. Massive guitar solo’s great vocals and blues rock riffs abounded and I was immediately in love. I promptly purchased their CD “Down to the Bone” and it has been in heavy rotation on my Ipod ever since.

That was 2 years ago now and I have been anticipating some new material ever since. Well on the 17/7/11 my wish will come true. “Long time coming” is the name of their new EP/DVD that brings 6 new tracks on the CD and 7 live performances on the DVD. Trust me if you like hard rock and want to support Aussie music you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Their album can be bought on iTunes and the new EP can be pre-ordered here: http://www.waterfrontrecords.com/product/78102

Remakes are the current flame of Hollywood. Old movies are being remade daily saving viewers everywhere from any spark of originality. Most of these remakes have been worse than the original but with the release of a new version of the John Wayne classic, True Grit that trend has been busted. Starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and directed by the ever reliable Cohen brothers this remake is one worth watching. Telling the story of a young girl on a mission to track down her father’s killer, True Grit is one of the best westerns in recent times. Solid performances by Bridges and Damon, amazing cinematography and a breakout performance by Hailee Steinfield make this a movie that everyone should see.

Steam sales are event that no PC gamer ever wants to miss. Every six months Steam has massive reductions on almost all games with daily deals that simply cannot be ignored. These sales are on right now and for a measly $15 I managed to pick up 3 great games. The first being Command and Conquer 4, a game that, while different to the previous entries in the series, is more than worth the $6 I paid for it. The second game was Oblivion, a game that won so many “Game of the year” awards, that it became the standard that all fantasy RPG’s are held to, even to this day.  Yet even with all of this acclaim I have somehow missed playing it for the last 4 years but no longer. For a pauper’s price of $7 I got Oblivion and all of its expansions giving me about 100 hours of gameplay to look forward to.

The final game I picked up was a classic that has recently been remade. For $2 I got a game that contains over 86 weapons, advanced tactical turn based combat, hand drawn 2d graphics and most importantly small pink invertebrates. That’s right I picked up Worms (yes, I know how bad that sounds). For the two of you out there that have never played a Worms game it is simple. Think Tank Wars with Worms as the tanks and Sheep, Cows, Cement Donkeys and Holy Hand Grenades as weapons. The insane humour makes this a game that almost everyone will get a giggle out of and the gameplay is simple to lean yet difficult to master so there is a lot here to like and keep you playing, and at the cost of a can of coke I just couldn’t say no.

So that’s it for the entry, remember to comment below if you have anything to add or if you simply want to say hey and you can check out my Video game reviews at www.blackpanel.com.au . I am also now on Google+ so look me up if you are a member, I am the only Matthew Hewson on there at this point so I shouldn’t be too hard to find.


A Great Gaming Website featuring yours truly

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Story of A Sci/Fi Convention Virgin: My surprise trip to Supanova.

It was any normal Friday afternoon, working away at my place of employment. Suddenly I received a phone call from my wife.  She promptly instructed me to leave work and head home.  After voicing my concern that this wasn’t possible as I simply had too much to do, my boss strolled over to me and told me to leave. It seems my wife had a cunning plan. So out the door I dashed and quickly headed home. Once there I found the family car packed, my bags included, and my wife waiting patiently to hit the road to our mystery location.


So it was with a quick de-tour via school to pick up my youngest son we headed off for my surprise trip. It was clear fairly soon that we were heading to Sydney and therefor I assumed that we were going to visit my parents for the weekend. I was right (or so I thought.) and after a slow drive due to an accident and road works, we arrived at my parents flat. We quickly followed the usual routine, dragging the bags up stairs, settling in for a drink and to watch the footy. It was then that my wife surprised me a second time with a ticket to Supanova.
With a grin on my face I continued getting comfortable; assuming that we would catch the train to Homebush in the morning and my parents would look after the kids for the day. Just as I got my laptop out my wife told me to pack it up and grab my bags. It turned out there was one surprise left, which was a hotel room for 2 nights in Kings Cross. My parents had agreed to have the kids for the weekend and Amy and I were going to get a weekend together.  So after a bit of a train ride into town we quickly found our hotel room, grabbed some dinner and drinks and hit the hay.
Just a small part of the line up to get in.

After rising at a reasonable hour, we had a quick bite to eat and jumped on a train to head to Olympic Park and the Supanova pop culture expo.  The first thing I noticed was the size of the line to get in. It was enormous, at which point I almost thought it would be better to do something else for the day. But after a few seconds we noticed that the line was moving through quickly and we took our place at the rear as we headed into the event. After a short wait of about 20-30 minutes we reached the front, paid our entry and went into the event.

Some of the great Cosplayers
My god there were a lot of people, and the cosplayers were out in force. Some were simply outstanding and I could do nothing but applaud the effort they went to in order to look like their favourite Sci/fi hero. Ezio to Aliens, Ariel to Poision Ivy. The variety of characters was amazing. My personal favourites were the girls who came as the weeping angels from Doctor who and the two lads dressed as Alien and Predator.

Moving on from simply gawking at passers-by, I went about checking out some of the stores and displays. GAME, Madman Comics and JB HI FI were probably the biggest stands there but there were many, many others to check out.  As I made my way towards the centre of the expo, I was greeted by a wrestling ring, with two very bad performers pretending to hurt each other in the middle. After seeing this, I can see why professional wrestling never took off in Australia. To be honest the acting in a Uwe Boll was more convincing, and even more entertaining to watch.

After a quick marvel at how bad the so called “wrestlers” were I moved quickly to the theatre section of the expo to try and catch some of Amy Acker’s Q and A session. As my wife well knows I have somewhat of a crush on Amy Acker’s “Fred” character in the TV show Angel and I was surprised to see she was even better looking in person. Even my wife commented on how good she looked. Yup my nerdy dreams were coming true. So my wife, being the greatest wife ever, lined up to get us some autograph tokens. An Amy Acker token for me and a James Masters token for herself.  While she was lining up I proceeded to wander around the expo, checking the sites and buy a few things here and there (I bought a Mario and Yoshi plush toy for my boys.) After almost 2 hours (I kid you not) my wife calls me and says she has finally gotten to the front of the line. So we both line up for our chance to meet our chosen crush and get their autograph. Apparently Amy Acker isn’t as popular as James Master s and I managed to get in, say a few polite words with Amy, and get out in under 15 minutes. My poor wife had a much longer wait.
A sneaky shot of Amy Acker

So once again I went a wandering while my patient wife waited in line, luckily for her she had her Kobo with her, giving her something to do while she shuffled forward ever so slowly.  I went off and decided to try and get in to a demo session for the upcoming game “The Darkness 2” (Which I wrote about in my last blog entry) which went for 35 minutes. While in there my wife finally managed to meet “Spike”, went weak at the knees when he called her a “pretty little thing”, and come out to the front of the expo and waits for my demo session to finish.  As I exited the demo I spied her seated on the overhead balcony, exhausted from all of the waiting she had to do. 
The Expo floor


And that was it, both of us a little tired and hungry we decided to call it quits and begin our train trip back to the hotel room. I had a great time and it was a wonderful surprise and early birthday present. While I am glad I went, the expo its self was a little hit and miss, some things I loved and some things were poorly organised to the point of frustration.  I don’t know if I will go back again, I think it would depend on which stars were in attendance as I can’t see it being too different year to year. In saying this it is something everyone with a little bit of “nerd” in them should do at least once, even if it is just to see to sights and maybe meet one of your crushes.





Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Darkness II - Hands off preview.

The Darkness II – Hands off preview.
The Darkness holds a special place in my heart. It was the first game I bought for my brand new Xbox 360 and it was a great game to boot. Going back and playing it now though shows how the mists of nostalgia can play with memories. The game looks quite “last-gen” and there are quite a few narrative and pacing problems. Even though I felt it had dated badly it still had one thing going for it, The Darkness itself. Voiced by the legendary Mike Patten, The Darkness was a great gameplay mechanic that stayed fresh for the whole experience.

So with this in mind I was glad to get the opportunity to see a 25 minute hands-off demo of the Darkness 2 at the Supanova pop culture expo in Sydney.  I was ushered into the only quiet area on the venue’s floor, eagerly grabbed a front row seat and waited to see what the design team at Digital Extremes (who replaced the original’s developer, Starbreeze Studio) had to offer.

As the demo started I was immediately impressed by the graphics, gone was the realistic look of the original and in its place is a Cell Shaded world, heavily inspired by comics the story is drawn from. As I was taken through the demo by the presenter, some new gameplay features were pointed out. The player has a lot more control over the Darkness in this game. One of the tentacles can be used for grab and the other for melee attacks. When combined this led to some wonderful uses in combat. From holding a car door as a shield with one tentacle as the other rips out a gangster’s heart to impaling enemies with thrown poles as you finish others off with a shotgun.
Things are not going to end well for this bloke.

Another feature shown was the minion, this foul mouthed, vulgar little goblin makes his return from the first game and I was assured that this time he was more than just comic relief. In the demonstration I was shown how helpful the blighter could be. Opening doors, attacking enemies, searching for ammo all were shown and the presenter promised me that he had a lot more tricks up his sleeve.

This led to the demo’s conclusion. I was impressed by what was shown with the increased emphasis on using the Darkness as a weapon and the new look of the game. When I first heard that a sequel was coming I was unsure of how it would be received but after whetting my whistle with this teaser, The Darkness 2 is firmly at the top of my most anticipated list.
I was right, It didn't end well.

Of course I had one final question for the presenter, the most important thing to the experience as far as I was concerned. Was Mike Patten back as the voice of the Darkness? With an answer in the affirmative I walked out of the display room with a wide grin planted on my face and the hope for a great game in my heart.

The Darkness 2 is coming to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in October 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Alien, A Dragon and a Wasted Light

Well I thought I would do something I haven't done for a while and write an update on things I have seen lately that deserve some extra attention.

Paul, the latest movie from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost has finally reached Australian cinemas. The wait was worth it. The pair have hit another home run with this charming road trip comedy. The story for those that don't know is about two british lads who, while on a tour of the USA's most famous UFO hotspots, run into an actual Alien (Paul) who is running from captivity. Paul is voiced by Seth Rogan and it seems alot of his personality has seeped through into the CG creation. As you can imagine comedy hijinks ensue but they never get predictable. The supporting cast is all top notch (Jason Bateman and Sigourney Weaver both turn in stellar performances) and the SCI-FI references all come thick and fast (including the film's climax at one of the most famous locations in SCI-FI film history) leaving you laughing out loud. The film is more accessable than the duo's previous efforts so if you are put off by the excessive "britishness" in Shaun and Fuzz you should be fine here. All in all a great movie with plenty of laughs to be had.

Dragon Age 2 is the newest epic roleplaying game from RPG masters Bioware. Once again the player is thrust into the world of Dragon Age however things have changed this time around. The original game was a return to the old-school sensabilities of classic RPG's like Baulders Gate and Icewind Dale. It was lauded by many for this return to crushing difficulty, pause and order combat and massive game length. However many were put off by the game for these very reasons. DA:2 is a much more modern style of RPG and it seems to have more in common with Biowares other key series, Mass Effect, than it does with the original.

DA 2's main character is voiced this time around, creating a sense of involvement that the original lacked. The combat can now be played in real time (the option of pause and order is still there however) and the dialog system has been lifted directly from Mass Effect. In all the game experence has been streamlined nicely and for those that were daunted by the original, this is going to be a much more inviting game. The game has it's problems however. The whole game (all 25-30 hours) are set in one town. This of course becomes more than a little repetative. The other major issue I have with the game is the story. Story is usually one of Bioware's strong points but here it seems little more than a reason to connect quests together. The ending is also increadibly unsatisfying leaving the game open for what is obviously going to be the final part of the triology. Don't let these things deter you too much though as there is a lot of fun still to be had with DA2 and unless you are a die hard DA:O fan you should find something to love.


Wasting Light, the newest effort from alternate rock gods The Foo Fighters has hit the shelves. Labeled as a return to the bands earlier style the album contains 11 short but rocking anthems that should keep any fan more than happy. "Bridges Burning" and "White Limo" are some of the heaviest tracks that the band has released in years and something that fans have been clamouring for. Their pop sensibilites haven't left them though with radio friendly tracks such as "Rope" still getting love from Dave and the band. All in all a very solid effort with the only downside a very short running time. A couple of extra songs would have been nice but what is here is about as good as the Foo's have ever been.

Well thats it for me. Just a reminder I am also writing game reviews for www.blackpanel.com.au. My latest is on Need for Speed Shift 2 - Unleashed. Please head over (http://blackpanel.com.au/2011/04/21/shift-2-unleashed-review/) and check it out. While you are there support the site by subscribing to the podcast and the facebook group. I will love you for it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Quick Favor.

Hey Folks just a quick message to ask a favor of you.

My Wife and Mother In-Law's business has entered a competition and they need your help. If you could all head to http://www.milliondollarmemo.com/en/entries/mitchell-personnel-solutions-australia-218?cmpid=36#. Watch the video and vote if you like it, it would be great. It is a great promo for their company and give them a chance to win a great holiday for the staff.

In case you are wondering the Mango is my Wife and Mini-Mango is my youngest.

Oh and if you feel like you want a chance to win some cool techie stuff and you live in Australia, you should click on this link.  http://c.kogan.com.au/c/mega5/4POlngKE/ and you could pick up $5k worth of goodies.

Thanks for the help.

Hewso

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hewso's Blog - Post EA Sports Active

This is just a quick entry to once again say thanks to everyone who supported me over the 9 Week EA sports active program and barring any mishaps (my Asthma is playing silly buggers at the moment) I will be starting the 9 week challenge again on Monday at the high intensity.


I just thought I would let you all know that I will continue to write here about things that catch my eye. There is no set topic just something that catches my fancy. If you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to leave me a comment and I will do my best. Now I probably wont be writing weekly anymore as I will be writing games reviews for another site and my time is starting to get restricted.



Yup thats right I got a pretty cool gig writing video games reviews for a great little video game site called The Black Panel. You can check them out at http://blackpanel.com.au/ or at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113907277625 on facebook. My first review should be up tonight or on Monday and it is of a little downloadable title called Swarm. Please support the site that supports me by hitting "like" on Facebook or by visiting their site. The more visitors they get the more chance I will get to write for them.

Check them out. I will love ya for it!

So thank you again and please keep reading and adding suggestions. I loved everyone's comments and they got me through some tough times during the program.

Cheers

Hewso

These are Swarmites. Read about them in my review on the Blackpanel.com.au

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nine Weeks Down, Many Many more to come.

Well it’s over. The Nine week EA sports challenge is done and my results are in. My original goal, to see if video games could help you lose weight, has been completed and I feel I have proven without a doubt that if you can improve your health and lose weight by sticking to a workout regime set by a Video game. After completing the challenge I feel I need to clarify something. This is not actually a game. My initial impressions were correct; this is a serious fitness product that you just happen to use on a video game system. It would be a disservice to call this product a game as the reality is that this is one of the best home fitness products I have seen and while it will never be the equal to a personal trainer or a commitment to an expensive gym membership it is a great substitute for those who wish to simply get fit at home.
Worth the $$$ and the time I put into it.

When I last wrote I was on my way to Fiji and was worried about what it would do to my workout schedule. Well my worries were realised when, after I went to the trouble of packing my playstation and securing it for transport, the TV in my hotel room was broken. This fact was compounded by the reality of what locals call “Fiji time” or in other words “why do something today when it could be reasonably put off till tomorrow”.  This is a condition that pervades throughout the Fijian Islands (and the whole pacific island region from what I have heard) and it led to a 6 day wait for the TV to get fixed, putting my plans of working out in Fiji to a permanent rest.

Not one to let something like this get me down I continued to think of my health, even if it was just a little bit. Eating healthy was difficult due to the rich nature of the resort food; however I lived this week by the “lesser of two evils” philosophy and went for the foods I felt were better for me. I also walked when I could and did plenty of swimming. This attitude led to me only gaining 1.2kg over my trip and after the large serve of Lobster Mornay and significant amount of cocktails I consumed over the 8 night period I am pretty happy with that result. I have since lost 1kg of that weight on my return just by going back to a healthy diet so things are still looking good.
Yup, this is me busting my diet wide open. Enjoying it too!

Now that my 9 weeks are over I would just like to point out a few things that have happened to me in this time.

-          My fitness has noticeably improved

-          I have lost 2 shirt sizes

-          My jeans are noticeably too big

-          I have dropped three belt notches

These are just some of the additional benefits I have gained through the use of EA sports active 2. Along with my significant amount of weight loss all of the above results make me very glad that I took the step (and the $120) and participated in the challenge. In fact I am so happy I am planning on starting the 9 week program once again after another week off (the diet is not off, nor is the walking. Just the program.) This time I plan to do it on the high intensity and make it through without missing a workout. With this plan I hope to get to 120kgs in time for my 30th birthday in August.

Well that’s it for this part of my blog. I just want to say a quick thank you to all of you out there that have read, offered support, given advice and basically just helped me on my way. It made the hard weeks easier knowing that I had many readers out there keen to see me finish this challenge and improve my health. Special thanks have to go to my Wife and kids, who supported me throughout the whole challenge. Without their help it simply wouldn’t have been possible to complete.  Finally I would like to say that I will be going back to my old style of blog and basically writing about what I feel like. If you like what I have written so far please feel free to hang around and read my future entries. I will also provide the occasional update on the weight loss if you are all interested.

So once again thanks for the support and here is what you have all been waiting for. The final ever “Hewso’s Stat Tracker”.

Workouts completed                      - 33

Hours of Exercise                             - 18 hours 33 minutes

Calories Burned                                - 11 078

Distance Ran                                     - 40.76km

Average Heart Rate                        -126bpm

Max Heart Rate                                -195bpm

Total Weight Loss                             - 12.6 kg

Total Measurement loss                   - 17cm