Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lost Photos of World War III



So, I was rummaging in the basement of my apartment building the other day, looking for some stuff I dumped down there when I first moved in, when I came across this old, dusty shoebox.  I didn't know what was in it, but I could see that on the outside someone wrote the words "Norway '85" on it's top with a pencil.  Out of respect for the privacy of whomever owned this box I should have really put it back where I found it...but I just couldn't resist taking a peak.   I've read a lot about the '80s over the years: that iconic decade of music, movies and, sadly, the 20th Century's last great war, what was logically called World War III.  Heck, it was the decade I chose to do my freshman history thesis on!  So I had to take a peak.

Inside I found a bunch of old analog pictures of some battle in Norway involving the Danes and some Warsaw Pact troops.  From what I could gather the pictures were taken by a pool reporter sent to the front.  Sadly, I couldn't find his name anywhere, but I know he was a reporter because of the comments he wrote on the back of each photo.  Take, for example, the photo at the top of this blog.  On the back, this unknown Walt Whitman wrote: "Damn Dane tanks!  No match against the T-72 at range!  The darn things brew up far too easily.  This won't play well in Copenhagen!"

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gamer's Movie Review: I Declare War



Another review on ol' Burke's Joystick?  Yup!  I haven't had a lot of time to blog, so I am catching up on some stuff that was on the backburner for the last two months.  Also, I just seem to be stumbling across some fresh entertainment lately that is worth spreading the word about.

I Declare War, a recent independent film from Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson, is definitely a movie that deserves wider attention, especially from gamers.  In many ways this movie is a love letter to gamers everywhere who grew up playing "War" or "Soldier" with their buddies after school. 

In fact, that is precisely what this movie is about: a fierce game of make believe War between two very competitive kids: P. K Sullivan, the undefeated master of the game (expertly played by Gage Munroe), and Quinn Wilson (an uneven performance by Aidan Gouveia), P.K.'s most capable opponent yet.  Well, Quinn would have been P.K.'s most feared opponent if not for a coup de etat that removes him from power.  This coup, led by the emotionally unstable Jamie Skinner (a fantastic performance by Michael Friend), doesn't just displace Quinn as the OpFor leader, but also changes this particular session of War from mere innocent competition to something much darker and emotionally charged.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gamer's Book Review: Hard Target (The Zone)



Once upon a time my gaming used to drive my reading.  That is, whenever I would come across a really good game - you know, one that really fired off those neurons - I would inevitably find myself running to the local library (for you Millennials, that was the Amazon.com of the pre-internet age ) or the bookstore to find a book that matched the subject matter of the game I was currently enjoying.  Heck, if you take a look at my bookshelves you can almost track what I was playing back then!   Such a gaming-reading connection seemed to happen a lot back in the good ol' days of gaming.  Sadly, not so much today.

However, you might have noticed that as of late I have been playing a lot of Wargame: AirLand Battle and, now, Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm (you haven't seen anything on that...yet!).  Clearly, I am enjoying gaming's rediscovery of the epic standoff that was the Cold War.  No surprise: the very first serious wargame I ever played was a SSI title called Reforger '88, a game that explored the opening act of World War III in Europe.  In fact, it was that game, along with other gems like NATO Commander and Theater: Europe, that awakened me to the larger world of international politics, something that would lead to my two degrees in political science.  So, yeah, I will always be fond of this period, particularly the end of the Cold War circa 1975-1988. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Delaying the Devil Dogs: A Wargame: AirLand Battle War Story


Well, this continues to be embarrassing.  After just swearing off video games, I am suffering from quite the addiction to Eugen System's Wargame: AirLand Battle.  I really have to say how impressed I am with the amount of polish that Eugen has applied to the game over the last few months.  And they are clearly not stopping, what with the news that another patch and the "Magna Carta" DLC (free!) were released today!  I might have my gripes with a big portion of the industry, but I think Eugen is one of the good guys of 2013.

Anyway, to celebrate my new addiction, I'd thought I do another AAR, this time with me playing as the East Germans against the AI-controlled United States Marine Corps!  Can I stop the famed Devil Dogs?  Check and see.  And to just switch things up a bit for this AAR, I will be using touched-up screenshots for a more realistic effect.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Oh Canada: the Assault on Delta 3



It looked like such a nice place to work.  I mean, the map merely referred to it as 'Delta 3', but it must really have had a much nicer name that that, something like "Happy Cow Milkery"...or something:


Sure, it was only two agro centers - Agro South and Agro North, as I referred to them - but what nice places they were.  I imagined myself as someone who had to work there, imagined driving through the pastoral fields, admiring the bucolic scenery the entire way, and pulling into my parking spot with a smile on my face because I was just thrilled with working in such a beautiful settng.  What could ever go wrong in paradise?

Well...this:


War.  War never chan...er, I mean: WAR!  War came to paradise!   Right out of the blue.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

You Made Me Do This!



...And by "this" I mean a return to tabletop gaming.  Oh, and by "you" I mean you lousy game developers.  Okay, that might be a bit harsh, but I am angry.  Very angry.  You have killed PC gaming for me.

Kaput.  Finished. Done.  I just can't take anymore of the slop being shoveled my way.  And I certainly tried to put up with it for as long as possible.  I mean, just take a look at this blog, one of my many, many blogs, where I desperately tried to put lipstick on a pig.  But in the final analysis it has proven to be all for naught.  PC gaming, video gaming - whatever you want to call it, - is now dead to me.  For the time being, anyway.

I think this realization really hit home with the spectacular launch fiasco that was X: Rebirth.  I mean, here we had a dedicated PC game developer, one beloved by fans around the world, that released what could be described as an awful and incomplete console port.  This fiasco was made all the more horrendous by the fact that the devs, Egosoft, have been proudly beating their chest that this game has been in development for over seven years.  SEVEN YEARS.  And what do we get?  A console game in a late alpha stage.  At best.  (Good summation here)