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Malik (11/28/11)

I hate seeing a good vacation end. The five days I had for Thanksgiving were too good to see them end so damned soon. While I stayed at home, I think it's safe to say that in my mind I spent my time in the land of Skyrim with a brief layover on my flight home in the Mushroom Kingdom.

First off, I have no played about five worlds of Super Mario 3D Land and can say a little bit about the game. What can I say? The game, and this is a double edged comment, is a poorly designed game that is very fun to play. It plays too slow to be a traditional non-3D Mario title, but the game is engineered to feel like a traditional non-3D Mario title. In other words, the game doesn't know what it wants to be. It wants to be many things, and feels fundamentally flawed in all regards...but it still is mildly addictive. Is it as fun as an old school Mario (Super Mario World, for example) or a 3D masterpiece (Super Mario Galaxy 2)? No. Not even close. However, it still has it's charms in several regards.

I'll try to finish the game sometime, but ultimately it will be left to slow times when Skyrim is not demanding my full 100%.

Speaking of Nintendo failures...I actually used my Wii for the first time since playing Super Mario Galaxy 2. I needed a Netflix box for my bedroom (well, Velveta did since I was using the main TV of the house for the somewhat interesting and exciting Seahawks game yesterday), and the Wii seemed like the perfect fit. I forgot how lame this thing feels when compared to any of the other consoles that have been far more streamlined over time with firmware upgrades. The Wii is so damned clunky and the Wiimote interface just lost all of it's charm in the last couple of years. Yes, using Netflix is possible. However, it's an annoying experience from bed when you need to point and click your options while trying to remain comfortable for a movie.

Anyway, without further ado...Skyrim! Damned game has devoured my free time (I'm nearly at 100 hours now) and still has all of its charms. The only thing I am not enjoying is that it becomes too easy, with the right plan, to make the game too easy. For example, I now take nearly no damage from anything (including dragon breath or physical attacks). I also heal all damage I take thanks to my bow. With a little work, anyone can break the game in four easy steps.

1. First, you must play as a thief type of character. You need to use sneak, bows, and one handed weapons (daggers are best, but a sword for intense moments is good). Now just level up sneak to get the damage bonuses (the right hand path of perks), and to get the bonus to not make extra noise if you move fast while sneaking. Also boost the archery skill to get zoomed in and slowed down time features on the left archery path.

2. Smith. You have a ton of ores and hides after playing for a bit. Well, find a house to store them in and then hit the blacksmith when you have enough. Just go crazy with smithing and enjoy the items that comes out. Sell anything large or useless, but keep your rings (two rings from a piece of gold or silver). The quality of item you make doesn't matter. Only how many things in total you make. You want to hit 100 and pick every perk (five of the first perk).

3. Take all that junk you made and hit an enchanting alter. Just check the wizard's room at Dragonreach for an easy to find alter. You also probably have a ton of petty soul gems by now. First, enchant a bow to steal souls. Always use it in the wilds to get some quick petty and lesser souls off of the wild life in the game (will also boost your archery and sneak if you hunt while sneaking). Now just keep enchanting stuff. Being a thief helps since you'll find many more free soul gems and minor jewelry to enchant. When you hit 100 on enchanting, you're there. Now pick the entire left path (elemental bonuses) and the top option (two enchantments per item). Now make some "enhance smithing" items (take the enchant perk for bonus skill enhancement to make this even more broken). First drink an enchanter's elixir (boost enchant score) and make sure you took five levels of the first perk.

4. Wear the smithing enhanced items (ring, armor, and necklace...there are also gloves in the world that do this if you find them). Make a dragonscale armor set and some daedric weapons (a bow, a sword, and the dagger to end all daggers). Now drink a smithing elixir and hit the grindstone and workbench. Upgrade everything and you now are nearly broken. To round it out, take everything to an enchanting alter and drink another enchanter's elixir. Make sure you have some grand souls ready. Now make sure your sword and dagger have fire and ice damage (really broken combo since it will deal massive damage on almost anything, without worry about immunity and resistances). Put soultrap and drain health on the bow (keeps you filled with soulgems for recharges and will ensure even a dragon will not be a problem with the health drain to keep you going during damage intensive fights). Put a mixture of fire, electricity, and ice resistances on your armor pieces and your jewelry. Also, on the ring and necklace, add a sneak enhancement to keep you stealthy at all times.

Optional step 5. Win!

Optional step 6. Turn up the difficulty slider because the game is now on easy mode.

This is how I approached the game, without knowing what I was doing. I just started by wanting to make some armor out of the dragon bones and scales that I had painfully lugged home after many journeys (painfully due to the massive weight of these things), and then it spiraled out of control. Also, on the note of how heavy this stuff is, a couple perks in pickpocket are great to get the +100 encumbrance perk.

Luckily, the game is fun enough with the plot to negate the loss of challenge. Also, having the ability to change the difficulty on the fly is a blessing when you no longer feel any challenge due to making a broken character like the one above. For the record, I also have a few perks in light armor, which rounds out the awesome and broken nature of this character. In total, I am running with ~90-95% immunity to all elements (dark elf gets 50% from the start on fire), 490 armor with a shield (about 95 less with a bow equipped due to no shield), a bow that does greater than 100 with iron arrows (before the sneak attack bonus), a dagger that does 55 base damage (before the 15X sneak bonus), and usually will use my gloves that grant double damage sneak attack on one handed weapons (making a dagger attack for 1650 base sneak attack before the 32 fire and 32 ice damage bonus, but with a loss of some armor that isn't too bad due to my shield no being in effect). If this isn't broken, then I don't know what is. My only dream now is to get a 30X dagger sneak attack on a dragon to one shot it.


Malik (12/2/11)

This week saw me finally upgrade my CPU. It wasn't needed, since Skyrim (the most tech intensive game I'm playing) was working fine, but I still needed to get it done. After a lot of swearing and some small wounds (it's always fun getting cut on the sheet metal of a computer case), it was done. Then I added in some tweaking to overclock the new CPU and can now feel good to know I went from a 2.6 GHz (overclocked) CPU to a 3.96GHz (less overclocked) CPU.

However, with that minor change, or maybe with the supposed Skyrim update that came along this week (with Steam, you never know if you're getting updated or not), Skyrim is no longer running perfectly, beyond some minor annoyances. It now has a major problem...a very major one that pisses me off but still allows the game to be played. I use a lot of magical weapons (a sword for fighting normal, a bow for getting soul gems filled and for sniping, and a dagger for my insane times sneaking around doing 15 or 30 times normal damage). I also have to charge them often. When I now charge, by hitting the T key while highlighting a drained weapon, I still get the soul gem selection menu. However, I cannot scroll this menu, so I have to chose either one of my two sizes of black soul gems, or a common soul gem. There is no going down the list to find my petty, lesser, or my rechargeable black star soul gem. It doesn't break the game, but it is annoying and leaves me either wasting larger than needed soul gems or unable to use the refillable black star (my old favorite charging source)...or I go through the hell of transferring all soul gems except the star to a container or my partner and then being able to recharge my weapons.

I suppose another option may exist, but I really don't want to try it. I could see if my 360 controller will allow me to scroll down the list, but then I have to play with my input source every time I want to recharge a weapon...and my weapons do require constant maintenance. I mean if you have two enchantments per weapon and they are all full powered with grand soul gems to make them...well, you recharge quite frequently. For now I'm stuck with wasting common souls...but I don't want to keep that up when I have a ton of petty and lesser souls doing nothing for me but wasting inventory space.

Bethesda needs to do a good solid update to solve the menu control issues, since these are not new issues, even if it was an update that caused them. The menu always has had some quirks. Now it just feels worse due to either an update or a new CPU.

On a different note, who the hell was playing against the Eagles last night in Seattle? That was not the Seahawks. The Seahawks don't score first and maintain a lead the entire game. The Seahawks don't have a running game that puts up more than 100 yards every single game for a month. The Seahawks are not that dominant and don't play with so few penalties. Whoever this team is, I wonder where were they at the start of the season. Even with T-Jack...even with an injured T-Jack, the Seahawks are looking pretty solid. They are not a Super Bowl team...but they are a playoff team with how they have been playing since November started.

Of course, despite how the NFL Network kept saying the Seahawks are "in the hunt", they are not playoff bound. When you have the Lions, Bears, Giants, Falcons, and a few other teams with more skill who may not be the division champs this season, you cannot except one of the two wild card spots to land in Seattle. In fact, Seattle only has a chance right now to have a better than expected record at the end of the season and a lower draft pick, but not chance to play after game 16 ends. The only way Seattle could see the playoffs is if San Francisco loses every remaining game and Seattle wins every remaining game. Could it happen? Yes...I mean a 7-9 Seahawks may the post-season last year despite a losing record. Will Seattle make the impossible into reality? Hell no.


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