Tag Archives: Starcraft

Wanna try out SC2: Heart of the Swarm?

If you do, then all you need to do is buy yourself a ticket to the StarCraft II World Championship Series Nordic Nationals on July 28. And then if you don’t live locally to the event in Stockholm, organise some form of transport. And probably a hotel or something unless you’re really hardcore and want to sleep rough outside in a tent made of your vanquished foes.

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Top Ten Video Game Guns!

DAKKADAKKADAKKA!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Here it is, after much debate on Facebook, the Cantina Crowd list of the Top Ten guns in video games! The rules (if you could call them such, since I made ’em up as I went along) were as follows;

  • No melee weapons (obviously)
  • No superweapons (ie. Hammer of Dawn, Orbital Ion Cannon, etc), but vehicle/ship mounted weapons DO count.
  • Has to be from a game that saw general release (No alpha/beta test games that never made it onto the market!)

Had quite a few interesting suggestions, some of which I’d never even heard of and had to go away and research before I could decide if they deserve a place in this list (my eternal thanks to Brad for introducing me to the Cerebral Bore!). I’ve avoided including any real world guns in this list, since they’re all pretty tame by comparison, and saying things like “My favourite gun is the M16-4A with an ACOG sight and under-slung shotgun” makes you sound a bit of a douche. So without further ado, here’s the list, in ascending order.

10) IM-822 Handheld Ore Cutter Line Gun (Dead Space) – The Line Gun is the Plasma Cutters souped-up big brother. When upgraded this gun will comfortably fill the width of one of the games innumerable corridors, slicing off limbs and leaving twitching dismembered corpses in its wake. The power and size of this weapons blast allows it to take down multiple enemies (the mutated Necromorphs) in a single shot, even passing through enemies to continue the messy slicing with those behind. And its alternative fire is (rather bizarrely) the Line Rack Mine – a timed explosive that can reduce a pack of Necromorphs to nothing more than gristle and goo. Although its firing rate is far from dazzling, and its reload time feels like an age when there’s a pack of face-eating minsters closing on you, all is forgiven when that blazing line of death-dealing light blasts through your enemies. This is real fun with power tools!

9) Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (Portal 1+2) – The only entry on this list that’s not explicitly an offensive weapon, the Portal Gun as it’s more commonly known is apparently a quantum tunnelling device which has the ability to create two linked portals on most flat surfaces. Regardless of the distance between them, anything that passes through one portal will emerge from the other instantaneously. Basically make one portal in your kitchen, and the other in your local pub and voila! No more cab rides/long walks to and from (although I can imagine the drunks would be an issue)! This is possibly the coolest non-lethal gun ever, it’s so brilliantly simple, and has so many ingenious and devious ways it can be used – as is seen when you play through the Portal game’s, and have to get creative. Or just angry. I favour angry.

8) Enforcer (Unreal Tournament) – Ah, the humble enforcer pistol. Your basic starting armament in all the award-winning Unreal Tournament series (except for the awful UT 2003, but the less said about that the better), the Enforcer is a solid, reliable weapon that is instant hit (you fire, it hits the target, no annoying transition time like you get with missiles and the like), and has the same range as the in-game sniper rifle, and a similar accuracy too! This means that in the hands of a skilled player the Enforcer is a compact dose of lethality. And guess what? You can pick up a second one, giving you double the killing power and awesomeness. Just don’t use the alternate fire, because it’s bloody useless.

7) BFG 9000 (Doom) – The grandfather of all super weapons, the mother of video game overkill, and a really big gun. Getting your hands on this bad boy in the original Doom was like Christmas come early. Suddenly those CyberDemons didn’t seem so scary – probably because you couldn’t see them behind the massive blast of the BFG firing. A huge angry sphere of green and white plasma that vaporised all in its path with a huge blast radius, followed by a massive spread of invisible lasers that did  even more damage, and usually finished off whatever had survived the initial blast (which often wasn’t a lot). Ok, it used a lot of ammo (40 plasma rounds per shot) and if you were too close to the target it would wreak horrendous damage upon you too, but hey, what do you expect? You want to rip those demons a new one, there’s gonna be some risks. Just stand back, grin maniacally, and reduce the minions of Hell to smouldering ashes.

6) Yamato Cannon (Starcraft 1+2) – The only entry in this list that’s not from an FPS, nor carried by a human-sized character. The Yamato Cannon is mounted on a Terran Battlecruiser (both Behemoth and Minotaur classes mount them, for you SC nerds out there), and uses an intense magnetic field to focus a nuclear explosion into a cohesive particle beam. It basically takes nuke and turns it into a massive laser blast, so none of that awesome destructive power is wasted; it’s all concentrated on that one single target. Only the most powerful units in the game can take a hit from this weapon without being instantly destroyed, and when you consider that with careful husbanding of resources (or a reliable ally in multiplayer) you can build, say, twelve battlecruisers all armed with these bad boys, you can see why it makes it onto this list.

5) Cerebral Bore (Turok 2: Seeds of Evil) – This is a particularly nasty weapon which until we started taking suggestions for this list, I was completely unaware of (probably as a result of never playing any of the Turok games). Once fired, this weapons projectile whizzes off, tracking the targets brainwaves. It then latches onto their skull, drills deep into their brain – spraying bits of brain and skull out behind it – before exploding, messily decapitating the unfortunate target. That is a spectacularly unpleasant way to kill someone, and yet is a very cool weapon, the very sight of which would scare of would-be attackers in the games multiplayer.

I’ve included a picture of the Cerebral Bore in action, since the pictures of the actual gun itself are all rubbish!

4) Redeemer (Unreal Tournament) – The Redeemer is a man-portable Thermo-Nuclear missile launcher. Yep, that’s right, the good folks over at Epic Games (or Epic Megagames as they were called when Unreal Tournament first hit the streets) decided that standard rockets, assault rifles, and plasma powered weapons weren’t enough for their game, and that you needed more firepower. And the Redeemer certainly delivers. Although it’s technically classified as a superweapon, I’ve allowed it into the list because it’s carried by a single person – that is, the launcher, targeting system, and payload are all carried by one person like some kind of bazooka on steroids. The primary fire shots the massive missile in a straight line until it hits something or someone, whereupon it explodes with a massive blast radius that atomises every target in it – including you if you’re stupid/mad enough to be that close. The alternate fire is even better, because it allows you to actually fly the missile yourself, piloting it through doorways and corridors, and find where your prey is hiding before you detonate it, reducing them to greasy smears on the walls. Although whilst piloting the missile you’re completely defenceless, so it’s best launched from somewhere relatively safe. And far away.

3) Astartes MK Vb: Godwyn Pattern Bolt Gun (Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine) – Being a massive Warhammer 40k fan, I could rant on about the holy Bolter for hours (and have done before, much to the annoyance of all non-40k fans around me), but here I shall focus on the one used in the THQ video game Space Marine. The Bolter fires a self-propelled .75 calibre bolt, composed of a diamantine tip, depleted deuterium core and mass-reactive detonator. What this basically means is that the Bolter fires little rockets that explode once they’ve penetrated their target, blowing them up from the inside. It also has a low recoil (thanks to the self-propelled nature of its ammo) and an excellent range meaning that it’s effective at pretty much any range, be it a mad charge into the enemies midst, or picking off targets at long range. Plus it’s the first in-game representation of a twenty-five year old weapon that actually got it right!

2) Needler (Halo 1/2/3/Reach) – There are few things more terrifying than rounding a corner in Halo multiplayer and coming face to face with an enemy wielding a Needler (or two Needlers in Halo 2). In a matter of seconds, this esoteric Covenant weapon can fill your brave Spartan with somewhere between nineteen and thirty (depending on which game you’re playing) glittering shards of pink death. And as if that wasn’t enough, moments after they’ve embedded themselves, the shards explode. And don’t try running away, even with that ever-reliable zig-zagging pattern, because the needles will track you like a cloud of angry pink Bees. So in summary; a rapid-fire weapon that shoots homing, exploding crystalline needles. Nice. Or nasty, depending on who’s being shot with it…

So here we are, the top slot in the list! But what clenched this most auspicious of awards? Well, before we get there, I’d just like to take a moment to say there were quite a few names I expected to see in the suggestions that were conspicuous by their absence – weapons such as Unreal Tournament’s Flak Cannon, and the Ghostbuster’s Proton Pack – but I suppose it comes down to who saw the question, and had the time/inclination to actually answer! Anyway, here you go, the number one slot…

1) Mk2 Lancer Assault Rifle (Gears of War 1/2/3) – A low recoil, medium range assault rifle with a firing rate of 800 rounds per minute, and an integrated carbide-tipped chainsaw bayonet. It’s a big gun with plenty of dakka and bloody chainsaw on the end! So what you can’t shoot to bits at range, you can dismember in a loud and messy fashion when it gets close. The chainsaw bayonet is so good that often in multiplayer, all it takes is a rev of its distinctive engine noise to scare away enemies closing in on you. However, thanks to its low recoil, the Lancer can be used to keep enemies at bay if fountains of gore aren’t your thing. Although it’s best range is short-medium, it’s still reasonably effective at long range, allowing decent players to dominate any battlefield with their standard issue weapon. Plus, did I mention the chainsaw?

And I swear, I didn’t give this the top slot simply because I have one of the replica’s that I’m repainting at the moment!

So there you have it. Filled with rage/despair that your favourite didn’t make it in? Or maybe you want to congratulate me on a damn good call? Whatever, feel free to shout/applaud me in the comments. Or if you really want to see a completely different view on this list, check out Mr. Fish’s list on his blog Fishy’s View!


The Top 10 Villains

Almost every film, comic book, novel, computer game, and nerd fantasy has a hero. And every hero needs a villain who can challenge him but not (usually) actually defeat him. It’s the heroes that generally get all the glory, saving the world from the evil clutches of the villain and getting the girl. But often it’s the bad guys that really capture our imagination – they get the coolest weapons and costumes, or have the coolest goals. Most often, that goal is to rule the world/universe/galaxy.

Of course, then this upstart hero comes along and ruins the would-be rulers carefully laid plans without a care for the hard work and thought that’s gone into constructing a planet-killing space station or all-encompassing religious regime.

However, there are also those villains that haven’t quite thought it out. You know, like the guy we all know who has this great plan to make a fortune, but hasn’t really figured out how it will make any money. Yeah, that guy. They get their own list a little later.

So here is our list of the ten bad guys who did it best! (In no particular order)

10) Sauron (Lord of the Rings)

 

Sauron

A being so powerful that even when robbed of a physical body, he can assemble a horde of orcs, goblins and Nazgul, and build himself an awesome pointy tower. And then take over a land for them to live in. He’s been around since the world was created (in fact he had some part in its creation according to the Silmarillion), and even after his boss was caught and banished, he escaped. He creates the Rings of Power in order to get the Elves on side, and then forges the One Ring to rule them all! He wipes out the Numenoreans (Aragorns ancestors) and is a hairsbreadth away from conquering the whole world when the Last Alliance of Elves and Humans stops him – barely. Then he comes back, looking for his bling, and once again is poised to trample all before him. If only it hadn’t been for those damned Hobbits…

9) Boba Fett (Star Wars)

 

Boba Fett

Unlike most of the others in this list, Mr. Fett (my personal favourite entry to this list – Rooney) doesn’t lead an army or head an organisation. He’s just a lowly bounty hunter, whose dad happens to be the DNA donor for the entire clone army. But he is indisputably cool. He has the armour, the ship, a flamethrower gauntlet, the freaking jetpack – and he captures the roguish Han Solo! Ok, ok, so he also has the dubious honour of lamest ‘death’ scene ever, but as readers of the Star Wars novels will be aware, he actually kills the Sarlaac and busts out of there to resume his galactic arse-kicking. Oh, and did we mention that he has a fight with Darth Vader and doesn’t die? I mean, he doesn’t kill Vader, but he also doesn’t get chopped up with a lightsaber. He also eventually goes on to rule Mandalore and makes the Mandalorians a warrior race again. Much cooler than Dog the bounty hunter. And no lame sunglasses either.

8 ) Predator (Predator I/II)

 

Predator

Wrist blades: check. Swivelling shoulder-mounted plasma cannon:  check. Boomerang-blade thing:  check. Big crab-like alien face: check. Wristwatch that doubles as a nuclear bomb: check! If I had to be hunted across the galaxy (or even just the South American jungle) there are few things I’d like to be chased by less than one of these chaps. They live for the hunt, and care nothing for the suffering of their prey – though they do have a twisted code of ethics, and won’t usually attack unarmed targets. They’re bigger than you, have better tech than you, and want nothing more than to rip out your skull (complete with spinal column) and polish it up to display on their spaceship’s mantel piece. So fighting them is hard at best, and even if you do succeed, they’ll just set off their gauntlet and blow up you and everything else in a two mile radius. Violent, ugly, ruthless, and good at it. Oh, and did I mention that they can turn invisible? Pretty effective villains if you ask me!

7) Warmaster Horus Lupercal (Warhammer 40,000)

 

Warmaster Horus

For those familiar with him, Horus needs no explanation. For those not, here we go… Once the favoured some of the Emperor of Mankind, he turned on his father and Humanity when they were on the verge of a golden age for mankind, with aliens and mutants wiped from the galaxy leaving mankind unchallenged and guided by the immortal Emperor. He lead fully one half of his brother Primarchs (genetically engineered super beings) and their Space Marine legions (lesser genetically engineered super beings) in revolt against their former allies, and brought the Imperium and indeed Humanity to its knees in the name of the Chaos Gods. He killed at least one of his brother Primarchs (the noble Sanguinius) and his actions resulted in the death of more. He even mortally wounded the Emperor himself, at the cost of his own life, thus condemning Humanity to a slow decline into a dystopian empire and ultimate defeat. Not only was this chap a great villain, but he was never really stopped. He was killed utterly, even his soul being destroyed, but his work was done, and Humanity was doomed to descend into chaos and death.

6) Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt (Watchmen)

A villain who wasn’t in the strictest sense, a villain. I mean sure he detonates a series of massive bombs/fakes an alien invasion (depending on whether you’re referring to the film or the comic), and is thus responsible for all the associated death destruction, but he also prevents mankind from destroying itself in a nuclear war. He’s a genius smart enough to fool the world into uniting together to face an outside threat (either aliens or Dr. Manhattan), he outsmarts and/or kills his hero peers, has near super-human abilities, and only reveals the final stage of his plan when it’s already happened! That final trait would get him on this list even if he were a dribbling idiot in a nappy, even though it is terribly unsporting of him. He also sits at the top of both a business empire and a criminal one, both of which he has built from the ground-up himself with his considerable mental prowess. So even though he’s ostensibly a good guy, the ends don’t really justify the means…

 

5) Padan Fain/Mordeth (The Wheel of Time)

 

Padan Fain/Mordeth

Master Fain starts the series (which is finally concluding after twenty years of books) as a travelling salesman and – secretly – a Darkfriend. As the series progresses, we find out that he gets taken by the Dark One (the source of all evil and the ultimate bad guy in the series) and changed, so that he can always track the series’ protagonist Rand al’Thor. Then he goes to a damned city that is possessed by the spirit of its deceased corrupt people, and basically merges with it. He has crazy powers, a big ol’ dagger that kills instantly from the smallest scratch and he is nasty. Like straight up, baby-eating nasty. The Dark One can’t stop him, and he’s hell-bent on killing, well, pretty much everyone. The final book hasn’t been released yet, so we don’t know Fain’s eventual fate, but I’m betting it’ll be awesome.

4) Kerrigan, Queen of Blades (Starcraft)

 

Kerrigan, Queem of Blades

We first meet Kerrigan as a feisty psychic assassin. She then gets captured by the hideous Zerg Swarm, and is reborn as the Queen of Blades, a strangely arousing (or is it just Rooney that feels that?) Zerg/Human hybrid bent on dominating the galaxy – starting with the Humans and Protoss found in her home system. She creates Psionic storms with her mind, eats underlings to heal herself, has weird claw/wing/tentacle things that can tear siege tanks apart, and after the Overminds demise, she rules billions upon billions of very nasty face-eating monsters. Of course, by the end of Starcraft 2’s first chapter she’s been “saved” and returned to Human form, but until then, she was a sexy villain that’d eat your face off. And you’d die smiling (well, Rooney would at least).

3) Cthulhu, (Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos)

 

Cthulhu

A creature so far beyond Human comprehension that just to see it would drive you stark-raving mad. High Priest of the Great Old Ones (unnatural alien creatures who ruled the Earth before Humans appeared), Cthulhu generally spends his time ‘sleeping’ in his home, the sunken city of R’lyeh, dreaming the dreams of an abomination and awaiting the day when he and his kin will awaken and cause mass insanity and mindless violence in mankind before removing us and resuming their rule of all that we know. This chap can’t be fought, can’t be bargained with, and can’t be stopped. All we can do is hope that we die quickly and relatively painlessly when he finally awakes and reclaims the world we inhabit…. (And don’t ask me how to pronounce his name!)

2) The Saint of Killers (Preacher comics)

 

Saint of Killers

A Confederate soldier with a hate so cold and immense that it froze the flames of Hell when he got there. Then God gives him a pair of pistols that can kill anything, will never miss, and never run out of bullets. Which the Saint promptly uses to kill the Devil himself. And some time later he uses those very same pistols to wipe out half the US Army, almost the entire Angelic Host, and God. That’s right, this chap (who, incidentally cannot be killed, even taking a direct hit from a nuclear missile without a scratch) killed God. Blam. Shot him down. He cannot be killed, he cannot miss, and if he shoots you, you will die. Possibly the scariest villain on this list.

1) Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (Star Wars)

Emperor Palpatine

First off, this chap succeeded. He ruled the galaxy with a (wrinkly) iron fist and 10,000 volts of Dark Force lightning. Through a combination of intelligence, guile, scheming, and mastery of the Dark Side of the Force, he ascended the ranks of politics until he was legitimately ruler of the Republic. Then he really let rip and took over the galaxy, killing off or apprenticing almost everyone that could be a threat to him. And although his methods and ultimate goal (the complete enslavement of all sentient life to his will – a bit like David Cameron really) were a little harsh, the side effects would have been unbroken peace for one and all. Which is more than any of our leaders have managed!

 


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