Posts tagged ‘future’

December 15, 2011

Jsixgun Presents: Fallout Technology


I’m not a fallout expert; my first experience roaming the wasteland was with Fallout 3. I did, in fact, love every second of it (well almost every second, those long foot trips while encumbered to the closest vender so I could sell my goodies did often make we want to try out for backyard wrestling so as to truly test my self degradation).

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October 16, 2011

The Future of Ray Guns


Is there anything that screams futuristic more than ray guns?  I mean, lets face it, the dream of having flying cars is dead.  But who needs new transportation technology when we have so much potential for new weapons, laying right at our finger tips?  Ray guns, laser guns, plasma rifles, these are the inevitable products of the future right?  Where bullets will be relegated to the dustbin of history, along with beards on presidents and the Virtual Boy.  I do have a dream, and its a dream where the chimes of casings falling to the ground will be as quaint as the gift shop of a Cracker Barrel.

Dad, what caliber lasers did they shoot deer with back in your day?

But ray guns are nothing more than silly dreams thought up by science fiction writers, right?  Well, actually, they may become a reality sooner than we think.  For instance, take a look at the Active Denial System, a device that uses technology similar to that in microwave ovens to disperse crowds.  It’s currently a non-lethal technology whose effects make the victims targets feel as though they are burning alive, by exciting the water molecules in the skin.  So far it has seen no use in combat, and less than .1% of those affected have seen actual blisters occur on the skin.  Of course, they use a very specific amount of energy with the ADS, and there is nothing to say they could not ramp up those GHz to a lethal level.  That would be the easy part.  The more difficult aspect, it would seem, would be reducing the weapon from a cartoonishly sized ACME product to something that could be used on an individual level, i.e. a ray gun.

Preliminary tests show it is very difficult to carry without the help of a Humvee.

Attempts to move past conventional bullet-based weapons isn’t anything new, and there are numerous conspiracies, some based upon sparse and controversial factual evidence, that support the idea that the Nazis toyed with ray gun technology towards the end of World War II.  This class of weapons, not all of which were energy weapons, were deemed the Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons).  The most outrageous example of which would be the German WWII Sonic Cannon, a type of Long Range Acoustic Device that had the effect of shaking apart the enemy from the inside, and claimed to be able to rupture vital internal organs within a set distance by focusing sound waves like a magnifying glass does to sunlight.  It was never effective, nor widely used, because any blasts (which, strangely, are quite common on the battlefield) disrupted the sound waves.

This was also the best defense to such a weapon

It’s believed that Nikola Tesla was possibly the first to attempt to develop an energy based weapon, and he outright claimed to have invented a death ray.  Robert Watson-Watt initially looked at developments in radio to develop a ray gun, but instead used his knowledge to develop something called radar.  Nowdays, DARPA has developed something called the PHaSR Rifle (Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response Rifle), which is non-lethal and used to blind and disorient enemies.  In an attempt to make it as cartoonishly awesome as possible, they designed it to look exactly like this:

Which, while cool to me, I still can’t help but think that without the ability to defend himself, a person armed with this gun is pretty similar to the guy tasked with playing the flute during old school battles.  It may have been fun as hell, but it still doesn’t mean you get to live.  Nevertheless, Directed-Energy Weapons seem to be getting tons of that substantial DARPA money, and I can’t help but believe that within a few decades we’ll see substantial use of ray guns and plasma rifles on the battlefield.  The benefits are obvious.  With projectiles that move at the speed of light, accuracy is greatly enhanced.  Because there is no combustion, recoil would be eliminated.  Without having to carry ammunition, soldiers won’t have to carry as much weight on the battlefield.  And last but certainly not least, the fact that shooting lasers in a war is awesome is something we, as a people, can all agree on.  And those that disagree will have to fight us with outdated bullets, bullets that I assume will only be used in the future to bead those massage chairs.  The major problems in developing these weapons seems to be the blooming effect, where as the energy travels across a distance, it begins to widen and dissipate, thus reducing its effectiveness to a short range.  These problems, of course, are not insurmountable, and it will be interesting to see if the military embraces such a revolutionary change such as the replacement of munitions as the technology becomes viable.

September 25, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review


First things first, we need to clear something up.  This game is pronounced Deus, as in Day-Us, not Deuce, like the act of dropping one.  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, lets dive right in.

I never played the first two installments of Deus Ex, and thus had no prior familiarity with the game.  In fact, I bought it on a whim and didn’t even know what type of game I was getting into.  Now that I’ve beaten the game, I can say with full certainty that it was well worth the money.  In fact, Deus Ex hangs with you long after you’ve beaten it in a way the grand majority of games do not.  It is simply an astounding game.

Its a FPS RPG set in the not too distant future, 2027.  You play as Adam Jensen, a man born in 1993.  That’s right, if this game were real life, Adam Jensen would be playing Hey Mister outside of a liquor store as we speak.  Young Adam Jensen would be stressing over his SAT score and worrying about scholarships.  He would be yelling at his parents about how they don’t treat him like an adult, though he totally is one now.  Well, he would if he had parents.  But we wont get into all that here.  This is a review of the gameplay, and I won’t spoil the story for you.

This game is not like the many, many others which set the future in a post-apocalyptic setting.  Indeed, the world has progressed in many non-surprising ways.  Technology is obviously better, but by no means unrealistically better.  The main technological advancement though is human augmentation.  This is the science of augmenting humans with technological improvements in order to aid human evolution, as the supporters claim.  Of course, and quite realistically, this has garnered its fair share of detractors as well, those who claim that augmentation is unnatural and thus needs to be eliminated.

You are an augmented human, but one who came about this change by no choice of his own.  This of course helps with the overall aim of the game, to allow you to choose any path you want.  You can choose to be angry about augmentation and be opposed to it just as you can be a supporter of the practice.  You can beat the game without killing anyone or you can run, guns blazing, roughshod through the levels.  I chose the latter, but fully intend on beating the game again, on the hardest difficulty, without touching a soul.  And that is the beauty of this game, its replayability value.  Many games, even many amazing games like the Uncharted series, just don’t open themselves up as easily to a second playthrough.  This game almost demands it.

The first thing you will notice when playing this game is the incredible graphics.  I found that the extremely detailed and realistic graphics are bar none, and most games aspire to be as well done as Deus Ex.  There are few-to-no glitches or bugs, and the facial features rival that of L.A. Noire.  The game is also stylized in a unique and wonderful way.  Those who are nonaugmented dress pretty similarly to those of us today.  But those who support augmentation, as well as those who are rich and powerful (they go together pretty hand-in-hand) dress in a strange futuristic steampunk fashion.  This is also expanded upon by the heavy use of yellowish sepia colorization within the game.  Almost everything is washed with a yellow hue, something unusual for a futuristic game whose brethren in that genre are usually blue to the core.

Similar to the Hitman franchise, you will often enter a room and see multiple enemies.  How you get to the other side is completely up to you.  You can sneak, and that system is extremely well done, or you can fight.  The weapon mechanics are excellent, including reloads that show the smoke pouring out of the barrels.  The story is easy to understand so you don’t get lost in a sea of confusion, but so well written it draws you in to the detriment of such trivial things like homework and hygiene.  And the choices you make, and you have plenty of them, heavily affect the way the game plays out, soaking it in a level of realism that few games are able to match.

You are given a skill tree, one based upon your augmentations, that you are able to spend rare Praxis points to level up in any way you choose.  These choices also affect your gameplay, and you will want to spend your Praxis points as carefully as possible.  The characters are interesting and the voice work is well done too.  Often I found myself on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, as I realized just how limited my ammunition was, and just how difficult it would be to get through the labratory that was before me.  Looking around, I would find relief in the form of an air vent, hoping I could slither away unnoticed, leaving any consequences of my carnage behind.

And that’s the beauty of this game.  Its excellence lies in its immersive capabilities.  You are drawn into a world and you play it the way you want to.  And I guarantee your style of gameplay will be different than mine, simply based upon the number of choices available.  One especially satisfying factor of the gameplay is when you are able to successfully manipulate someone or win an argument.  Even when the outcome was less successful, the immersive aspects of this game kept me from simply reloading to a previous save.  I accepted the consequences, like in real life, and continued on.

I chose to smoke, and accepted it when I was kicked out of the restaurant

Honestly, I could sit here all night and discuss how amazing the game is.  But I do hold myself back, out of fear of ruining anything for potential players of the game.  There is so much to discover, and the world is so wonderfully done, even reading emails on someone’s computer in this game is interesting, and you’ll spend hours searching for more information about the world of the future.  Furthermore, as a testament to the detail of the game, those same emails will often include people discussing serious things like the security of their warehouses, to the silly things, like putting porn on their coworker’s computers.

There are a few interesting things about the future as presented in Deus Ex that I just don’t think will exist in 2027, however.  I honestly do not believe that desktop computer towers will still be in use, and I have my doubts that CDs will still be the storage medium of the day.  Those things appear in the game though, but who knows.  My parents still have records and I’m sure there are people out there today who still use floppy drives.

In the end, this is a game you can read about all you want, but you won’t fully understand the appeal until you actually play it yourself.  It is one of the more surprising games I’ve played in recent memory, and could be a contender for GOTY.  Well, except it was released the year Skyrim comes out.  That being said, in my opinion, it will still be a close match.  And good news for fans, next month we’ll see the first Human Revolution DLC in the form of Missing Link, detailing three days of Jensen’s life that he goes missing during the original story line.  Its rumored to provide 5-6 more hours of gameplay, so I’m definitely excited.