Archive for February, 2009


Little Bad Boy!

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Ever been to a LAN and think to yourself “Jeeeze I wish I had a kick ass PC that was like, a quarter of the size of this bad boy”? Well your prayers have been asnwered! Shuttle have unveiled it’s newest liquid-cooled SDXi Carbon Extreme gaming solution.
Featuring a top of the line Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 280’s, and with enough room for up to 16GB of DDR2 this machine will easily keep up with, or dominate other PC’s in the room.

That being said it is bound to produce a bunch of heat right? That’s where Shuttle implement their new liquid cooling solution, custom built for small form-factor systems, keeping things ice cold and whisper quiet.
Price is unknown, all we know is we’d like a few here in the office The company claims this new liquid cooling solution delivers the most efficient performance in an extreme small form-factor system, while at the same time keeps it quiet even during the hottest gaming session. Cosmetics-wise, the SDXi Carbon looks decent as it’s painted in a unique-looking premium automotive level finish.

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Burnout Paradise surely isn’t short of fantastic cars to roam that streets in. The Cagney pack brought the Hippie Wagon and the Steel Oval Racer to our streets, and the bikes back gave us some 2 wheel action. These packs were free for the masses, but that hasn’t stopped the ideas flowing over at Criterion.
Mere weeks after the launch of the first paid downloadable content, the Party Pack (review over here) Criterion are launching the Legendary Cars Pack on Feb 19th.
Inspired by classic cars from movies, the pack will bring to us The Jansen 88 Special, which seems to be inspired by Back To The Future, why with all the hovering an all. We also get behind the wheel of the Manhattan Spirit, the Carson Nighthawk and last but not least The Hunter Bootlegger.
The pack will be live on the Burnout Store on Feb 19th for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, no word on a PC release yet.

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In each and every wave of games that come through on the PC platform, there is always that one, must have game that will have people all over the world buying new systems, just to play the game at full spec. Quake 2 did this, Unreal did this and Crysis is still doing this. In 2006 Monolith’s horror FPS F.E.A.R was that must have game that had people buying more RAM and more graphics grunt than they could afford just to play the game in its full glory. To say F.E.A.R. 2 had a lot to live up to would be the understatement of the year and I’m happy to report it exceeds expectations.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is the sequel fans have been waiting for. It picks up all the pieces from F.E.A.R and runs with them, improving almost every aspect of the game. Visuals are outstanding, AI is still smarter than most, even if it can be a little easy for some. Backed up with a strong narrative, fantastic atmosphere and a decent multiplayer offering, this is truly the horror FPS many have been waiting for.

To read the in depth review, including scores and much more info, please check it out here

9/10

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Criterion Games have truly gone above and beyond to support and evolve the Burnout Paradise universe. We’ve seen bug fixes and tweaks, right up to game changing elements such as Day/Night cycles and of course, the introduction of Motorbikes to the speed frenzied streets of Paradise City.

With the introduction of Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box for PS3, Xbox360 and PC we see the next change in the Burnout franchise, Party Mode. The Ultimate Box includes not only the previous free DLC on the disc, but also includes the Party Pack DLC. For those of you who already own the game, Criterion are asking a mere 800MS Points/$14.95 respectively. Is it worth the price of admission?

What the Party Pack brings to Burnout is a fun filled, pass the controller type scenario for up to 8 of your buddies to face off in a number of challenges. These vary from events such as longest time into oncoming traffic, the fastest time through a checkpoint race, or even as simple as landing a barrel roll. Throw in some great music, a bunch of mates and even some drinks and you are set for a night of furious competition, many laughs and a dangerous amount of sledging.

The presentation of the Party Mode is slick, and offers a real friendly, pick up and play feel that won’t scare the non-gamers off. Using the PSEye or the Xbox Vision you can take snapshots of each player which will display in the corner as they race off to complete the objective.

The only criticism I have with the Party Pack is the challenges run out to easy. With a party of 8 and a full length game of 8 challenges you will find yourself repeating the same conditions and areas over and over again. Sure it’s still fun, but would have liked to see some more variation in there.

So is the Party Pack DLC worth the coin? If you have some mates who come round and don’t cringe at the idea of playing some games and having a few drinks or just relaxing (depending on your age) then it will find a spot on the shelf right in between Rock Band and Singstar. It offers a great experience that can be enjoyed by everyone! If you mainly rock it solo, then you aren’t going to gain a lot from having the party pack

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After hearing the buzz surrounding Mickey Rourke’s latest movie The Wrestler I was dubious. Often indie flicks will get rave reviews, and more often than not I will walk out of the cinema, or leave my couch stumped as to why. No it’s not because I don’t understand movies, I love my movies and I love the really weird and out there ones, but often a buzz ends up killing a movie for me. The Wrestler was an exception to this rule.

Rourke brings a surreal aura to the screen as he fills the role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a veteran wrestler from the 80’s clinging onto his former glory and still battling it out in the independant wrestling arena.

The movie is gritty and isn’t afraid to show the “acting” portion of “Sports Entertainment” but manages to show that there is still a huge physical demand of Wrestlers, that injuries are common, and even goes as far as to show how some of the “tricks” are done.

The movie take a no frills approach, nothing is over dramatized which makes this film feel very, very real. Rourke’s amazing performance is backed up by equally amazing performances from Marisa Tomei as stripper slash mum Cassidy, and Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie, Randy’s estranged daughter.

If you get a chance to see this limited release movie in the cinema make sure you do, it’s easily one of the best movies I’ve come across in the last 12 months. Don’t let the buzz keep you away like I did, The Wrestler is well worth going through a No Holds Barred Cage Match to catch a glimpse at a world, often hidden behind smoke and mirrors

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The nation has stopped and watched the horror as hundreds of people died, and even more were left homeless as the worst bushfires in the state’s history charged through on Saturday 7th of February.

Some light rain offered some relief for firefighters here in the Gippsland region, but it didn’t last long. The Churchill/Jeeralang fire is still active, and with weather conditions heating up this weekend, the possibility of a hard weekend is looking worse and worse with each passing hour.

Chris and his family got a chance to finally get up the hill to Koornalla and see first hand the damage the blaze had caused not only to his families property, but the houses that were missing in his block. He has been kind enough to provide these photos so everyone can get a sense of the damage that has been caused.

More Exclusive Photos from the Koornalla region can be found here
http://gallery.me.com/hellerphant#100191&view=grid&bgcolor=black&sel=73

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The sky was a display of fire on the 7th of February here in the Gippsland region. As bushfires roared across the state, just a mere 25km out of town a fire started in the town of Churchill. Smoke soon filled the air as the fire spread, and within minutes it was already crossing over closer to Traralgon.

Conditions were the hottest we have ever seen during the month of Feb, the winds were hitting over 50km/h and when you are in a rural community, fire fighting authorities are always going to be sparse.

 

The fire reached the communities of Traralgon South, Calignee and Koornalla, burning everything in it’s path. Houses, cars, livestock, and of course, people.

The town was completely black by 5pm, it was as if it was raining pure mud from the sky. Driving was becoming hazerdous as people began to flee their homes, taking what they could.

Support centres have been setup across the town, with the Red Cross giving families information when it comes in.

The fires are suspected to be an act of arson, and already 2 suspects have been apprehended for this tragic disaster. Details are yet to be released to the public.

The official death toll is constantly rising, and it seems that everyone has a connection to someone who perished in the fire.

Chris Zaffina is one of the many people who left their homes behind in Koornalla and retreated to safe ground in Traralgon. Taking only what he could fit into his car, he along with his family are one of the lucky ones in their area who’s house actually survived the blaze.

Here is an interview I conducted with him tonight about his feelings on the ordeal.

http://web.me.com/hellerphant/The_Hellerphant/Blog/Entries/2009/2/9_Scorched_Saturday_-_Traralgon.html

Another family who I know rather well have lost their home and all of their posessions. They have been left with nothing but the clothes on their back, and the money in their bank accounts. It’s times like these that the community pulls together and really shines. A rental property has been offered to them free of charge, a local electrical store has provided them with a brand new Fridge, Washing Machine and Lounge Sweet, the Traralgon Ultimate Frisbee Club has donated a weeks worth of player fees to the family in form of Coles Gift Cards so they could purchase food, and the amount of support has restored my faith in humanity.

I am going to be updating this blog with what is happening in my town as time goes on.