Zhooibaal\’s house of the unholy

27 January 2006

IE vs. Firefox vs. Opera

Filed under: Browsers, Non game, PC — zhooibaal @ 12:03000000
Browser logos

I’ve used IE, Firefox and Opera, I even still have all of them installed on my laptop so I can switch to the other if a site doesn’t load properly in one browser. But I have complaints on all of them so now I’m going to compare these 3 browsers with on another to conclude which one is the best.
I have used IE Version 6.0.2900, Firefox version 1.5 and Opera version 8.50.

Speed

Speed can be quite an important issue for some people and I can already conclude that Opera is the fastest browser and Firefox is the slowest.
IE: IE is quite a quick browser, it loads quickly and is also pretty quick in displaying pages and loading images.
Opera: Opera is even faster than IE, it loads faster and displays pages also quite a bit quicker.
Firefox: Firefox is by far the slowest of these browsers when it comes to starting up. Browsing then goes pretty quick as with the others.

User friendlyness

Another very important issue is the user friendlyness and on this point I can’t complain about any of the browsers. They’re all very user friendly in their own kind of way.
IE: simple, that’s the word, the interface just works, the only real bad thing is that it has this close integration with Windows, it doesn’t even have it’s own configuration.
Opera: easy to use, but the standard interface configuration is a real pain. It takes some time to get it configured properly, so here it loses a point.
Firefox: 1 word: brilliant, no configuration required to tweak it in any way unless you need to use a proxy or if you want to change the standard downloads folder.

Downloading

All browsers have a built in download manager, here is a comparisation.
IE: downloadmanager? Barely. No list and no option to continue an aborted download.
Opera: winner. A good list and the ability to pause and resume downloads, even those which have been accidentaly aborted.
Firefox: it’s limited, but it works, unfortunatly it has no built in resume function.

Extendability

All browsers can be equiped with plugins, good or bad?
IE: bad, lot’s of evil plugins available which try to break into your privacy or bugger you with spam. Maybe it’s too easy to install those.
Opera: good, well protected against evildoers and easy to install.
Firefox: like Opera, it’s well protected against evildoers and probably because it’s open-source software there is a huge amount of handy as well as other useful plugins available, here Firefox is the definite winner.

Safety

Maybe the most important issue is safety.
IE: not safe, that’s it, it has many security leaks which are exploited in every possible way.
Opera: I haven’t had any problems with this one, it seems safe as it blocks incoming bad code automatically.
Firefox: open software, leaks and other bugs are fixed quickly simply because anyone can, better safe than sorry.

Bottom line

Stay away from IE, use Opera or Firefox instead. Opera is the faster one, but Firefox has more options when it comes to plugins and the open software concept helps Firefox to stay up to date at any time. Like with IE, with Opera you will have to wait for yet another patch from one closed team.
I like both Firefox and Opera, but now I’m using Firefox instead of Opera, because Opera doesn’t really like WordPress. I suspect this to be a bug in Opera and not a bug in WordPress though, simply because it works fine in both IE and Firefox.

Ofcourse there are many other browsers out there which are good too, but I haven’t used them… I once played a little with Konqueror, but not enough to say it’s good or bad. I have also used Mozilla Suite for a while, but then I prefer Firefox as a browser. Mozilla Suite is a bit less user friendly.

…End of line.

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Beyond Good and Evil

Filed under: Bargain hunting, Games, Modern, PC games — zhooibaal @ 9:55000000
Logo Beyond Good and Evil

Is was going through the bargain bin at Intertoys in Sittard (Limburg, the Netherlands) the other day and there I found the game called Beyond Good and Evil for PC. This game was also released for GameCube, Playstation 2 and XBox, so it isn’t really what you would call an exclusive title.

Beyond Good and Evil is a platform style game in which you play as Jade. Jade is a normal human girl with green lips and she is pretty acrobatic, a bit like Ms. Croft, but I prefer Jade over Lara simply because I hate the Tombraider series…

The story goes a bit like this: you live on the planet Hillys which is under attack from an alien force called the Domz. Luckely Hillys is being protected by an army called the Alpha Sections which kind of replaced the normal Hillyan army.
Unfortunatly the Alpha Sections aren’t what they seem.
Jade has a little company of her own called Jade Reporting. She takes on missions to take pictures of all kinds of things for money and one day she is hired by the IRIS Network who oppose the Alpha Sections to find proof of a conspiracy with the Alpha Sections and the Domz.
Jade takes the mission and then your big adventure starts.

When the game starts you are presented with a cutscene that cannot be skipped, I found this rather annoying, because I had to restart several times before the game ran properly. The first thing that happens is that the Domz attack the exact place where you live and the children that live with you are being captured. I was slightly relieved to find out that saving them wasn’t a very long and standard quest, it was just one battle which mostly serves to get used to the controls, it’s not very tough either, more like a little “before-work-workout”. Lot’s of this kind of small battles are present in this game becoming tougher and tougher as you make progress through the game.
The boss battles can be quite tough as I have noticed, I have only yet fought the first real boss and it was quite a fight already to find out how to fight it.

The overall look of the game is very good, it may not be of the graphical quality we are used to from current day games, but you have to keep in mind that this game is already 3 years old. The sounds are pretty good too except for the fact that the majority of conversations lack the presence of a voiceover, which is a shame, because I kind of like the voices of the characters where they are present.

Then the controls. Playing this game using a keyboard and mouse is horrible and unfortunatly is doesn’t support anything else… This is one thing that I would never expect from a game that is released on 3 game consoles as well as the PC. Gameconsoles have no other option than using a gamepad, but I find it really weird that the PC version doesn’t even support them. Another thing is that it doesn’t run properly on my Athlon 64 desktop, but it does on my Pentium M laptop. Apparently this is a known bug which won’t be fixed anymore. I’ll just play it on my laptop then, it doesn’t have any problems running it anyway on 1024×768 with all details at full except for shadows.

I did manage to get my gamepad working with this game though. I have a Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 which is a very nice gamepad and has a little software program delivered with it with which you can assign keyboard and mouse commands to the buttons, d-pad and analog sticks. These options will then be activated when the selected game is started. I have to say that this works really well and that playing the game goes a lot better now. So that problem has been overcome, but for people who don’t have a gamepad on their PC which comes with this functionality, then I wouldn’t recommend the PC version, get one of the others instead. But if you have a gamepad with which you can do the same as I did, then this is a great game.

…End of line.

26 January 2006

Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams + Daytona USA (Saturn)

Filed under: Bargain hunting, Games, Retro, Sega Saturn — zhooibaal @ 20:05000000

After waiting for over a week, they were finally delivered at my home. I’ve had barely any time to play them yet, but I did do a testrun on both of them.

Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams
Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams
Daytona USA
Daytona USA

Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams

Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams is a special edition demo version of NiGHTS into Dreams created by Sonic Team. It’s a platform like game in which you can play either as Elliot Edwards or as Claris Sinclair, but the main character of the game is neither one or the other, the main character is called NiGHTS who was a first class Maren together with Reala who were both created by Wizeman, the evildoer of this game.
When NiGHTS realizes how evil his master is he gets locked up in an Ideya Palace. He managed to find a way to escape with the help of a human dreamer. These dreamers are Elliot and Claris.
The gameplay consists of a mix between platform jump ‘n run and some kind of flying and dancing around the air. The “normal” platform style will be as you are playing with either Elliot or Claris, depending on who you choose before the game starts and the flying around style will be when you are playing with NiGHTS. First you play one of the kids and on certain points you can change to NiGHTS. To finish a level you have to fly through a certain number of rings. On the way you can collect all kinds of bonusses and perform dancing moves while in the air for extra bonusses. A special controller is available for this game, but unfortunatly I don’t have it (yet).

Daytona USA

The box of this game claims it to be a pixel-perfect conversion of the popular arcade racing game Daytona USA. Well, I can tell you one thing, it isn’t. The arcade machine’s hardware is far superior to the hardware of the Saturn, so even if they wanted to get close to make it as good as the original, they would certainly need a stronger machine than the Saturn.
But this doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, on the contrary, I think this is a very fun racing game albeit that it has only 3 tracks and very few cars to choose from. It doesn’t look too good, but still way better than other racing games like Hi-Octane. I did notice, however, that the screenshots on the back of the box are from the arcade version. This doesn’t really matter too much though considering the size of the shots, Doom has shots from the PC version on the back of the box.
In the bottom line, Daytona USA is what you would expect from it, a racing game that has nice speed readouts on the speed-o-meter and plays very smooth, this being for as far as I have played it yet. The only real drawback I noticed is the absense of any multiplayer modes, nothing beats a 2 player splitscreen race with a friend.

…End of line.

Command and Conquer first decade collection

Filed under: Games, PC games, Retro — zhooibaal @ 14:10000000
Command & Conquer the first decade

When browsing this forum I came across this post.
So EA is re-releasing the entire C&C series? Is that good or bad? I guess it’s good for whoever hasn’t played the old C&C titles ever before, but I doubt the usefullness for someone like myself who already has them all except for some of the expansions… But I don’t think all expansions are really worth the trouble of getting them or this collection for.
Here is a link to the original article from EA: C&C first decade collection

For some weird reason though, I don’t think Generals and it’s expansion Zero Hour should be in this collection as they are not made by the original developer Westwood Studio’s. Added to that is the fact that Westwood studio’s doesn’t exist anymore, but some of the former members have founded a new development studion called Petroglyph who are working on a Starwars based RTS for Lucas Arts which looks very promising. The demo version of this game is available from their website. I haven’t yet tried it, I’ve only seen some screenshots from which I can tell that the game at least looks very good. I will try the demo sometime soon and share my experience here.

…End of line.

25 January 2006

Saturn controllers

Filed under: Bargain hunting, Retro, Sega Saturn — zhooibaal @ 20:06000000

One of my Saturn controllers was busted, the “B” was hanging and because the case is unrepairably damaged, there’s nothing I can do about it. So I decided to venture into the World Wide Web to find a replacement.
Not long after that I found someone who was selling 2 controllers:

  1. Saturn Super Pad 8
  2. Saturn Hyper Controller

I decided to grab both and I received them today.

Super Pad 8
Super Pad 8
Hyper Controller
Hyper Controller

The Super Pad 8 works perfectly, but the Hyper Controller’s start button didn’t work at first so I opened the little bastard up and concluded that the contact was faulty because of dirt, I cleaned it and voila, it works.
Now I have 3 controllers for my Saturn so that means that I have 1 in reserve. That never hurts.

…End of line.

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