Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mass Effect 2: N7: Imminent Ship Crash Tips for Insanity Difficulty

Here's some tips for the Mass Effect 2: Imminent Ship Crash mission on the Insanity difficulty setting. Now I played this mission way after the Suicide Mission which should tell you how imminent the ship will crash. :-) Before we begin, you might want to check out my general tips for the Insanity setting.

1. Know your enemy. Geth. Geth with shields on Insanity. That leads us to the selection of your squad.

2. Your Squad. Since it's Geth, on Normal, I take Tali and Legion. They make the mission a snap. Their AI hacking and combat drones are the key. Well, on Insanity, I still choose Tali and Legion. Well, the same powers are still effective though to use AI hacking you have to take down a target's shields. However, combat drones work on shielded targets.

3. Weapons, armor and powers. As a soldier, I take the Revenant machine gun. Armor is Kestrel. My bonus power is Slam.

4. Walkthrough. As soon as you board the ship, the MSV Broken Arrow, EDI will tell you have six minutes to stop the ship from crashing into the planet. Hack the door and get into the control room. Once inside, Geth will attack you. Get to cover. Take then out. Okay, once they're down get the Medi-gel and iridium. Access the console and open the door to the engine room.

In the engine room, to your left is iridium. Grab it. Okay, right behind you is the first power coupling. But you must hold your Omni-tool over the controls to turn it on. There's a meter which will tell you when you've established power. However, if you get shot, the meter falls back to zero. You have to start again. And that's the rub.

Above you are two balconies. Geth will rain fire down on you. And they come in infinite waves of Geth trooper, and rocket troopers. Now if you have to take cover, there's a wall before each power coupling. But time is winding down. What to do?

Use Tali and Legion. For each balcony, ask them to launch a combat drone. That should give you time to access the controls to activate the coupling. Now Mass Effect Wiki suggest you wait for a lull after killing the Geth. But what happens with me is that the lull is too short. So use your squad's powers. And if a Geth loses his shields you can AI hack him to fire on his own troops.

Now run to the other power coupling. Same procedure as above. Once done there, the rest of the mission is a snap. Run up the ramp. The third control to activate is here. It's under cover so the Geth can't shoot you to stop the activation. Finish activating the engine. Mission complete.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mass Effect 2: N7 Quarian Crash Site Tips for Insanity Difficulty

Here are tips for Mass Effect 2: Quarian Crash Site with the difficulty setting of Insanity. I played this mission sometime after the suicide mission so my Shepard was pretty strong. Don't forget to take a look at my general tips for Insanity.

1. Know your enemy. It's varren. But on Insanity, they have armor.

2. Your squad. Zaeed. His Inferno Grenade burns armor and flesh. And its splash effect will damage nearby enemies. Plus he uses an assault rifle.

My number two is Tali. She has a shotgun for close encounters. Plus she has a combat drone which can distract varren.

3. Your weapons, armor and powers please. I play as a soldier. My primary weapons is the Revenant machine gun. My heavy weapon is the Firestorm or you can use the Particle Beam. Note since it takes time switch, you may not use the heavy weapon. You may find the machine gun to suffice. I did.

My armor is the Kestrel. It came with Aegis DLC pack. Gives me more power to the shields.

My bonus power is Slam. Once a varren's armor is down, I can Slam it. And if a varren is in the air, Tali's shotgun will do a lot of damage if not kill it.

4. The Walkthrough. In the Hades Nexus cluster, go to the Sheol system. Land on Gei Hinnom. In this first area, scan the camp. Get the Medi-gel, remember it doesn't replenish on the Normandy so learn to hoard it. Get the palladium. Save your game.

Now go to the larger circular clearing. Okay to your left, you see the wounded Quarian. Position Tali next to her. Scan her. That starts the varren to attack you and the injured Quarian. They come from the cave openings in front of you and to your left.

The first varren usually come from the left. So use Zaeed's Inferno Grenade. Armor down. Feed the varren lead from your machine gun. Here's where Tali comes handy. The combat drone does a great job of distracting varren away from the injured Quarian. Now when you pause with the Power Wheel, look to see where the varren are. If any are near the injured Quarian, give that varren priority. Slam them if you can. It's easier to lost this mission by the Quarian dying than you falling. Keep fighting until the shuttle comes. You can board it and end the mission. But I decided to stand next to the injured Quarian and kill the rest of the varren.

The video below shows how this player got through it. He placed his squad in the cave openings and forced the varren to come from the left. Now note he uses Legion instead of Tali. But it's still the same principle. Legions' combat drone distracted the varren for you to finish it off.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Love And Hate Affair With Carson Palmer

When the terrible Cincinnati Bengals drafted quarterback Carson Palmer in 2003, I thought the end of my fan nightmare was over. This was to be a new era. We had a new coach in Marvin Lewis. He was supposed to have more power than any other coach. That meant no more boneheaded decisions by owner Mike Brown. The Bengals would win again.

And Carson Palmer was a very good quarterback for the first few years he started. His career climaxed when he led the Bengals to an AFC North championship in 2005. It looked like the Bengals would win the Super Bowl. Then Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen shredded Palmer's knee in the first playoff game. But Palmer showed his resolve and worked his way to come back in the next year. How good was Palmer? He made the Pro Bowl in 2006.

But Palmer knew the history of the team. He knew of the boneheaded decisions by Mike Brown. He knew the team had only two winning seasons in twenty. He could see the Bengals slipping back to their losing ways. It had to come clear to him how badly this team was run when owner Mike Brown resigned wide receiver and one man crime wave Chris Henry in 2008 after head coach Marvin Lewis explicitly said he didn't want him back. It had to come clear to him when wide receiver Chad Ochocinco started to care more about his post football career rather than being a team player. And while 2009 was a successful year, the Bengals went back to their losing ways in 2010. Palmer didn't play all that well in 2010 and any problems that wide receiver Terrell Owens brought were partly Palmer's responsibility since Palmer wanted Owens. But the history of the last decade had caught up with the Bengals.

I admire Carson Palmer for the years he spent here as quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. He showed courage and determination when he overcame that possible career ending knee injury. He was a model citizen, generous and a honorable guy. And when he was on, he was a great quarterback.

But what bothers me about his recent demand to be traded or he will retire threat is its selfishness. Palmer made a lot of money off the Bengals and the fans through endorsements. Yeah, he was a winner all through his high school and college years. However, life doesn't always allow you to win all the time. Many of us suffer from financial and personal problems. Carson Palmer was unlucky to be drafted by the worst professional football team in the history of mankind. That's life. Sometimes when faced with adversity you have to deal with it. And demanding a trade, makes Palmer a guy who quit on his teammates and the fans of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Carson Palmer has been criticized for not being a leader. His stance might be his best example of leadership. He is saying he would rather quit, leave millions of dollars on the table than play for a dysfunctional team like the Bengals. But doing so has returned football fans of Cincinnati back to the dark days of Bengals football.

Cincinnati Bengals Owner Mike Brown Is Right, Part 2

You'll hear sports pundits call Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, a hypocrite for holding quarterback Carson Palmer to his contract while Brown cuts players still under contract. The argument is that Brown is not honoring his part of the contract. Well, that's not a correct way of looking at the rights of a NFL owner. Brown under the NFL collective bargaining agreement and the players contract has the right to cut players. That's part of the agreement, so Brown has not violated his portion of the contract. Carson Palmer signed a contract to play for the Bengals and the Bengals have the exclusive rights on him for the next three years of his NFL career.

I've argued that Brown was right in holding his ground by not trading Palmer. Can't let the inmates run the asylum. By the way, asylum is the appropriate description for the Bengals. It would set a horrible precedent since you would not be able to sign important players to long term deals. But this fiasco would have never happened if Mike Brown had run a competent NFL franchise. The problem is whether Mike Brown sees what is happening and changes his ways.

Mass Effect 2: Tali: Treason Tips For Insanity Difficulty Setting

Here are more tips for the hardest parts of Mass Effect 2 on the Insanity difficulty setting. Today we take on the Tali:Treason mission. As you well know, this is Tali's Loyalty mission. These posts cover only the hardest parts of the mission. If you want a walkthrough, check out this one from Mass Effect Wiki. Also read my general tips.

1. You can play this mission after the Suicide Mission. Yes, you can take Tali without loyalty into the Suicide Mission and she will survive. Just don't send her into the tube and keep the fire team strong with everyone else loyal and manned by guys like Grunt. She will survive. And you can play this mission after you've defeated the Collectors. Plus, when you take this mission on, you've probably upgraded and are pretty strong.

2. Know Your Enemy. Geth Hunters, troopers and a Geth Prime are your opponents. On Insanity everybody has shields. The Prime has shields, armor and health.

3. Your Weapons and Powers Please. Since I play as a soldier, I take the Revenant machine gun. More punch than all the assault rifles. My heavy weapon is either the Collector Particle Beam or ML-77 Missile Launcher. Now this is important. My sniper rifle must fire quickly. I choose the M-97 Viper Sniper Rifle. Bigger clip. And the sniper rifle is important for this battle.

My Loyalty Bonus Power is Slam. Once a Geth loses his shield and is down to health, I can Slam him a couple times to kill him. It also is a life saver since I can stop a charging Geth in his tracks assuming I've taken down his shields.

Your Squad. Of course, Tali is one. But I've always taken Legion when I play this on mission on the Normal difficulty setting and I'm going to take him on the Insanity difficulty setting. First, you get some interesting dialogue with the Quarians. Second, Legion is great against Geth. He uses an assault rifle. And this is most important. He can launch Combat Drones against Geth even when they have shields. And on unshielded Geth, he can use his AI hacking to turn one against the others. By the way Tali also has Combat Drones and AI Hacking powers.

4. General Tips. Stay in cover. Keep your distance. If Geth Hunters are on the battleground, take them out first. They charge your position and have a devastating shotgun. Let's proceed to the two hardest parts of this mission.

5. The Stairway To Heaven. You know where we are at. You examine a console and talk to Tali about her father's experiments with Geth. Save your game. Get ready for the hardest part of this mission. Now open the door to the stairway that leads down to Tali's father.

This sounds counter intuitive, but take out your sniper rifle. Get into cover behind the walled railing. Aim your rifle at the door on the lower floor. Here they come. Unleash rounds into the Geth entering. Don't worry about missing when you aim for the head. Keep the fire going. When a Hunter comes through the door, let him have it. Now you should have killed a few Geth by now. Pause the action with the Power Wheel. Okay, scan the battlefield. Locate the enemy and identify any that are on the stairs and about to breach your position. If none are on the stairs, use your squad's powers whether they be Combat Drone or AI Hacking.

A Geth or two will make it upstairs. Switch to assault rifle. If there are two and one is a Hunter, he gets priority. Dont' forget to use your squad's powers and Slam. They could save your life. And watch out for the Geth across from you on the upper floor. If you have to, retreat to the room with the monitor. Wipe out all the Geth from the upper floor.

Okay, the coast is clear. Go downstairs and scavenge for ammo and credits. Discover Tali's father and comfort Tali. Yeah, you heard me, don't be a jerk. Hug her. Go to the room to the left and hack the lockers. Get credits. Save game.

6. Battle Of The Bridge. As you enter the bridge, there's a Geth Prime, a Geth Hunter, and two Geth troopers. They're surrounded by walls with two openings one on each side and a back clear wall. Okay, starting with Legion use his Combat Drone on the Hunter. I start with Legion because sometimes will use his shielding to deny access to you assigning a power attack to an enemy. Then immediately use Tali's combat drone on one of the troopers.

Stay away from the openings since the Geth will be gunning for you. Focus on the Hunter and feed him a healthy heaping of lead. Move if you have to. Don't forget to use Combat Drones, AI Hacking and Slam. Slam is especially effective if an unshielded Geth is on top of you. Once these guys are down, it's time to kill the Prime. Drones, and once the Prime is down to his health, Slam are effective. Eventually he can't stand the attacks of the three of you and goes down.

7. Don't Forget. Before you disable the Geth console, go to the back clear wall. Get the Quarian model and credits. Okay, now go back, disable the console and preserve the honor of Tali's father. Yeah, that's Paragon. I'm a nice guy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mass Effect 2: N7: Abandoned Mine Tips For Insanity Difficulty

Sometime ago I gave tips for the mission from Mass Effect 2: N7 Abandoned Mine. That was on the normal difficulty setting. Now let's get through the mission when it's set on the Insanity difficulty level. First, read my general tips to play on the Insanity difficulty setting.

1. The Enemy. All husks, all the time. The further you move into the mine the more Abominations you face. These guys are husks but will blow up in your face. And to make matters more interesting, all the husks on the Insanity difficulty level have armor.

2. Your weapons, armor and powers, please.

a. Weapons. I play as a soldier. So my assault rifle is the Revenant. It packs more punch than the other assault rifles. Now shotguns sound good but if you have to take one out when surrounded by a bunch of husks, you are a good candidate for the grave. My heavy weapon is the flamethrower aka M-451 Firestorm. You get this from Zaeed's mission. It burns through armor. You can also use the Collector Particle Beam if you don't have the Firestorm.

b. Armor. I use the Kestrel armor which comes with the DLC Aegis Pack.

c. Power. My loyalty bonus power is Slam. Evolved Slam on a husk without armor usually kills it or pretty much weakens it to the point of death.

3. Squad. While experimenting I come across this effective combination. First, Samara is good for this mission. She uses an assault weapon. Second, her biotic powers work on husks with armor or without. Reave works against a husk's armor. When evolved to Heavy Reave, it will rip down the armor completely or at least come close to taking it all down. Her Throw power when evolved to Throw Field can wipe out a group of unarmored husks. Second, pick Zaeed. He also uses an assault rifle. Plus he has the Inferno Grenade. It has a terrific splash damage that will hurt nearby enemies along with the primary target. If you've picked up the Geth Pulse rifle, you can now arm your squad with this weapon. It's a little beter than the other rifles with the exception of the Revenant machine gun.

4. Walkthrough on Insanity. You'll get this mission by buying the star chart for Minos Wasteland from Baria Frontiers on Illium. Once you're in the cluster, head over to the Fortis System. The planet you'll need to head to is Aequitas. Your mission is to investigate why the mine went silent. By the way, I played this way after the Suicide mission so my Shepard was pretty strong.

You land. Before you head into the mine, go left. Scan the body and get credits. Okay enter the mine immediately you get jumped by husks. Use your squad's power, your Slam and give them a healthy dose of lead. Move through the mine but don't forgot to look to the sides of walls for minerals. You come to a clearing where there are a couple of explosive containers. Husks come down from the ceiling. An Abomination joins them. Blow up the containers to damage them. If the Abomination is still alive, put him down first. Finish them off. Get the minerals. By the way, save your Medi-gel for reasons which I will discuss below.

You come to a cliff with a ramp. Husks jump you, along with an Abomination. Now, you can kill an Abomination close to other husks to hurt them with his explosion. Collect the minerals and go up the cliff. Hack the locker on the table for credits. By the way, during this section if you need to fall back you can. Head down a hill. Get the minerals to the side. Okay, you come to a circular room with a console and a Medi-gel dispenser. More husks jump you, finish this group off. Fall back if you have to, but don't move forward until you finish this group off. When they're dust, save your game. Then read the logs and grab the Medi-gel. If you don't move too far ahead, you may be able to save after the logs. And just in front of you is a thermal clip on a table. It will replenish itself, during the upcoming battle.

DOING THIS THE HARD WAY IS THE MOST FUN. You heard me. We're going to wipe out all the husks even though it's the hardest way to complete the mission. I mean you could destroy the alien husk making device and end the mission quickly but you would lose out on hacking the last locker and the fun of wiping out a ton of husks.

Okay, the room branches off to two paths. Left and right. Both paths lead to another chamber. Beyond that chamber is a hall with the locker and more Medi-gel. There is a room beyond that which has the alien device. Go right young man, and move up the ramp to an overlook. There is a ramp which leads down to the chamber. EDI tells you about the alien device. Now here come the husks.

The advantage about going right is that you have the high ground. And the husks won't flank you right away. They will run up the ramp. Feed them lead. And when they bunch up, use Zaeed's Inferno Grenade. Wow. That blast damages a bunch of them. Samara can use her Reave to rip down the armor of any husks that are too close. Use Slam to kill any husks without armor. And don't be afraid to use the Inferno Grenade on husks on top of you. It does very little damage, if any to you but is marvelous against husks. Must be smart bomb technology.

Pause and look around. You should bring up the squad power wheel. The game pauses and you can look around. See if there any husks on top of you or behind you. This pausing will work even if your squad is "dead."

Save your Medi-gel. If you used your Medi-gel down to two from the last mission, that's what you get when you start this mission. Yeah, it makes no sense. I mean shouldn't you be able to replenish Medi-gel aboard the Normandy? So, don't use it on this mission and save them for the next. Trust me you can easily complete this mission without using any Medi-gel.

MOVE AND RUN. Eventually you will get overrun. Move away from the husks and run down the ramp from which you came. Note that the paths form a circle. So run around in circles. And take out your Firestorm. If your squad gets killed, don't panic. And don't revive them. You can handle this on your own. But keep running around this chamber's circle, i.e. down the ramp, to the left then up the ramp. Avoid falling back out of these last chambers to the cliff with the locker on the table. That causes more husks to regenerate to that area even though by doing so will revive your squad. Just remember you can win this mission by running around in this last chamber. Also, note that killing husks causes them to drop thermal clips.

Burn and Slam. Follow this rhythm. When you see a husk, burn down its armor with the Firestorm. Then immediately Slam it. Husk goes down. Keep moving so the husks don't surround you and beat you to death. Try to move to the high ground again. Pause to see where the husks are. When you are about to be flanked, move. There are power cells on the table on the high ground and in the left path next to the hole in the wall. But because the husks keep dropping thermal clips when killed, I found that out that I had ample ammo for all my weapons. Just remember to keep moving if you have to.

After what seems like a hundred husks, you eventually eliminate them all. Your squad wakes up and you can save your game. Okay, go to the locker in the hall. Hack it and get the credits. Pick up the Medi-gel. Here's where you have to be careful. According to Mass Effect Wiki, you could lose credits, minerals and experience if you stand next to the bombs connected to the alien device when you destroy them. So take out your sniper rifle, or assault rifle or use a biotic power to detonate them from a distance. Watch cool cutscene where falling debris crush some more husks. The end.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Republicans Are Hypocrites When It Comes to Tax Policy

The Republicans are really the party of the big rich. When it comes to ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the Republicans can't be budged. But when it comes to ending payroll tax cuts for working class Americans, they're all for it. Here's the story. What a bunch of hypocrites. The Republicans should just come out and say we should tax the poor more than the rich. It so far right-wing, I need Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to help me laugh about it. Check out his piece about conservatives blasting billionaire Warren Buffet suggesting that the rich pay their fair share.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Conan the Barbarian 3D Review

Did you know that Morgan Freeman was in the young people's TV program from the seventies, The Electric Company? I'm sure you're asking what this has to do with new Conan the Barbarian movie. I'm just thinking that back in the day, Morgan probably would have done a movie like Conan to make ends meet. I'm not sure why he narrated Conan but I'm pretty sure I know why he didn't ask for screen credit.

Conan the Barbarian starts out with a female being sacrificed. Then it moves on to something a little more violent. There's a battle in Conan's village where his mother carrying him in her womb gets stabbed. Her dying wish? Kill me so I can get out of this movie. Okay, that wasn't her dying wish. She asks her husband, Corin (Ron Perlman) and Conan's father to let her see her son. So he does a Cesarean and cuts the baby out. Hey, they didn't have health insurance. Not violent enough? Years later, the boy Conan gets attacked by some warriors. The boy slays the soldiers and brings back the severed heads as trophies.

Back to the plot. Anyway, Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) is looking for seven pieces to a magical mask that will 1) allow him to live forever with unlimited power and 2) bring back his dead wife who was a witch. By the way, she died by being burned alive. He's aided by his witch daughter, Marique. (Rose McGowan) Zym destroys Conan's village and kills his father by rigging a pot of molten metal to fall on him. Zym also needs the body and blood of Tamara (Rachel Nichols) and for her to be the love interest of Conan and to be filmed in a shadowy peek-a-boo love scene. Okay, that's cynical. How come Hollywood is scared of lovemaking scenes yet revels in violence? But I digress. Zym needs Tamara's "pure" blood to power the mask and her body to be possessed by his dead wife. When Conan (Jason Momoa) becomes an adult, he hangs out with a Bob Marley type pirate named Artus. (Nonso Anozie) Well, Conan decides he wants to be a comedian and host a late night talk show. Sorry, that's the wrong Conan. Anyway, in his quest for vengeance, Conan hacks, mutilates, tortures and beheads people for the rest of the movie. Hey, you didn't think human sacrifice, outdoor Cesareans and people getting burned alive was enough? They're trying to set a record for the most beheadings in a movie.

One big problem with this movie is that the action is unrelenting. The constant sword fights with all that blood is mind numbing. And the fight scenes aren't well executed because the fast cuts seem to be a cheap way of trying to generate excitement. It's also an ugly movie. By that I mean no one is worth rooting for. Yeah, I get it. Conan is a barbarian, not a florist. Still, all the characters are nihilistic with the exception of Tamara. There becomes a point where I didn't care what happened to any of them.

Then there are dumb moments in this movie. Conan's fight with sand warriors looked cool until you realize how silly it is. You see, the sand warriors are pretty easy to destroy since um, ... they're made of sand. And at the end of the battle, Conan lights a cache of gun powder. It's just an excuse for the movie to blow something up. But if they had gun powder why don't they have guns? My favorite stupid moment is where Artus who's supposed to be taking Tamara to safety aboard his boat, suggests she go ashore and make love to Conan. Huh? On shore, Zym's men are looking for her. So Tamara and Artus risk world domination by evil so Conan can get laid. And by the way, she does get captured.

As far as the performances, Jason Momoa thinks acting is about looking at the camera and uttering his lines like an Iron Age Dirty Harry. Stephen Lang chews up the scenery more than he did when he was in Avatar. Rose McGowan is unrecognizable in her make-up as Zym's witch daughter. That's good because she's not going to want anyone to know she was in this bomb. Only Rachel Nichols is good as a woman who seems more to be of the twenty first century rather than a woman alive 1300 B.C. But the writing is so bad, it makes no sense why Tamara loves the barbarian. Hey, that sounds like a new sitcom. Tamara Loves The Barbarian.

If you must see this movie, skip the 3D version. First, it's a conversion from 2D. I will give the director and writers credit for staging most of the action during the daytime. This movie doesn't suffer as much as other 3D movies for being too dark. Since it was a conversion, you can tell not much thought was given to setting up 3D shots. The picture doesn't pop. Nothing in this movie excites me about the 3D. The only shots that work are the CGI scenes of cities. And those usually look two dimensional cut outs with depth in the background. Look, what can I say when the best 3D effects are the title credits.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan in 1982 was more fun. Why? Because Arnold's wooden acting coupled with his thick muscle bound Austrian accent was funny. That didn't make his version much better but at least you could laugh with all the debauchery. This Conan looks cheaply made. It is full of unrelenting violence, dumb moments and bad acting. There's a moment where Jason Momoa utters Conan's goals in life. They are he lives, he loves and he slays. That's this movie in one sentence. I just saved you ten bucks. The grade is C-.

Stephen Colbert Takes On Rick Perry's Call On Obama To End EPA Regulations

Stephen Colbert shows his love for Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry by taking on his crazy comments. Check out his funny piece below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Obama panders to a young girl

With the Republicans in full Obama bashing mode, even President Obama is campaigning in Iowa. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show caught him pandering to a young girl. Check it out.

Jon Stewart Takes On Rick Perry

Yes, the Presidential election season has started. That means funny stuff from Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Check out his hilarious take on Republican Rick Perry's "love" for his country.

Mass Effect 2: Suicide Mission Tips For Insanity Difficulty

Okay, your ship, the Normandy has just been attacked by the Collectors and the crew has been kidnapped. Remember, you must go through the Omega 4 Relay to save the crew. If you do another mission, you will lose the crew. You want to be a nice guy, don't you? By the way after the ship has been attacked, you can save your game on the bridge but the next mission must be the Suicide Mission.

Today, I'm going to give you some tips on how to complete the Suicide Mission or Endgame Mission on Insanity difficulty. And believe it or not, this final mission against the Collectors isn't as hard as others on Insanity. I mean it's easier than say, Horizon on Insanity. First, of course go over my general tips. If you need a walkthrough, check this one out from Mass Effect Wiki. Okay, let's get to it, shall we.

1. Save your team of Samurai also. I'm not going over how to save your team, but here's how I did it with this post. Note that there are multiple variations as to how to save your team along with the crew. So choose wisely who gets what assignment.

2. Your team and equipment

a. Know your enemy. They are Collector soldiers, husks, abominations, Scions, and of course Harbinger. Their defenses will range from barriers to armor to health.

Remember to focus on charging enemies first. Husks, abominations, Harbinger and Scion will be the enemies that move on your position.

b. The best squad. Choose Miranda who's good against barriers with Warp
and Zaeed whose Concussive Shot works against barriers. Miranda can also Warp armor and Zaeed's Inferno Grenade is effective against it also. Plus the grenade has a splash effect which damages nearby bad guys.

c. Weapons and Powers. I play as a soldier so the Revenant machine gun is my choice. It' packs a bigger punch than the other assault rifles and that includes the Geth Pulse rifle. My heavy weapon is the Particle Beam.

My bonus power is Slam. Once an unshielded enemy exposes himself, I can do grievous injury to him. It also can be a life saver when you get overrun, giving you time to put an enemy such as a husk on the ground so you can waste him before he kills you.

d. Armor. There are two sets of armor that I recommend for Insanity. Cerberus which comes with the Network. Or I've recently had success with the Kestrel armor which comes with the Aegis pack that is downloadable content. It's a little bit better than the rest of the armor you can use. Also save your Medi-gel for the Human Reaper fight.

3. First, objective: Open the valves. I've sent a loyal Legion into the tubes to get the doors open. He'll get stuck and you will have to open valves with a control panel to allow him to proceed. The tube is hot and he is in danger. The health bar is at your right. When it hits critical, it will countdown. Plus, Legion will tell when things start to get bad.

a. Harbinger first. The main thing about moving and opening the valves is that when you are attacked by Collectors, there will always be Harbinger. Now in the later part of the section, you run into Collector assassin with particle beams. These guys are second as far as who to kill first. It's always Harbinger first. He will kill you in seconds and he moves on your position.

Stay in cover until you kill Harbinger. Remember to avoid his Push attack which is a slow ball of energy. It will force you out of cover and his minions will kill you quickly. Unleash your assault rifle on him. And use the squad's powers to bring him down.

There's no need to position the squad. That sounds somewhat counter intuitive. When I did position them, they would get killed. Letting them move seems to keep them alive. Maybe that's because they're moving targets.

b. Open those valves even when there are still enemies. Let me give you a caveat with that statement. Check Legion's health. If you have time, then finish off the rest of the Collectors. But if you've killed Harbinger and Legion is suffering, you'll have to RUN to the panel. Hit it. Then get into cover. By the way you are saving your game as go, aren't you?

4. Second Objective: The Long Walk. Jack is my biotic for the Long Walk. She will escort you and your squad. You cannot leave the biotic bubble without damage from the Seeker swarms. But you can launch attacks within the bubble.

a. The Bridge. As you approach a bridge, you see Collectors flying in. You can attack them in the air with biotics so do so. Stay on the high ground. Harbinger will try to advance up the bridge, but you can rain fire on him. Eventually you wipe this group out.

When you cross the bridge, you're attacked by husks. Remember to use Zaeed's Inferno Grenade. Kill them. The move again. Collectors fly in. Pause the game with the squad power wheel. Target flying Collctors. Okay, you now take cover in a ditch. Remember take out Harbinger first. Stay in cover but don't be sparse with the lead you feed him. Let him have it. Once he's down, take out your sniper rifle and take out the rest of the Collectors. Once you're done, scavenge for ammo and save your game. As you move forward, if you made Garrus the leader of the fire team you will hear him praise the squad over your radio.

b. The Scion. Eventually you reach another ditch. You get jumped by husks and abominations aka exploding husks. Oh, there's a Scion in the mix too. It gets a little hairy.

Unleash your assault rifle on the husks and especially the abominations. You may have to pause the game by accessing the squad power wheel to see where the bad guys are. If you're lucky, some of the husks will no longer have armor. You can now Slam them. If husks breach the bubble, don't be shy about using Zaeed's Inferno grenade. Better to have a little damage from friendly fire then to be killed by an abominations' explosion while getting beaten by a husk. When there's a clearing of the husks, now let the Scion have it. Once everyone is dead, scavenge for ammo. Then save your game.

You climb out of the ditch. More husks confront you. But these guys are easy. Objective over.

5. Third Objective: Platform Fight. My squad for the last battle is the same, Miranda and Zaeed. Okay you give your command the room speech. Platforms come in to attack you. This section is not hard.

Stay in cover. As soon as you kill the bad guys on one platform, another one flies in. Keep a wall between you and the new enemies. Remember to target Harbinger first. Eventually you reach the last platform with husks and and two Scions. Husks get it first. Then while staying under cover, let the Scions have it. Objective done.

6. Fourth Objective: Destroy the Reaper.

a. Destroy the Feeding Tubes. Okay while you're destroying the feeding tubes, Collectors fly in on platforms. You know the drill. Stay in cover. Harbinger gets his first. Once, you've destroyed the tubes, this part of the objective is over. Cool cutscene and the Reaper attacks again.

b. Destroy the Reaper. On Insanity, the Reaper is stronger. It will take more time to bring him down. Use your heavy weapon. Target the energy vortex around the Reaper's cannon. Stay under cover. The Reaper will telegraph his attack with a loud windup so it's easy to get into cover. Just don't caught in it. Other Collectors make an appearance, stay in cover and deal with them.

Good to see you Mr. Harbinger. Huh? You say. Later in the fight, Harbinger makes an occasional appearance. He's usually alone. He takes priority. But get this. If you kill him, he drops heavy weapon ammo. Yeah. You will run out of heavy weapon ammo while taking down the Reaper. So when you whack Harbinger, he drops a clip for your heavy weapon. Keep the pressure on the Reaper. Eventually you bring it down.

7. Conclusion. Watch the cool cutscene. See the Normandy get away. Tell the Illusive Man off. And get the gratitude of your entire crew. Oh, and collect the Insanity Achievement worth 75 Gamer points.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cincinnati Bengals show new plans on how to lose games

FAKE NEWS- Tung N. Cheek here. Today I talk to Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and offensive tackle, Andre Smith, about Friday's preseason loss to the Detroit Lions, 34-3.

Cheek: Mr. Brown, what did you think of the Bengals' performance in their first preseason game?

Brown: I'm so giddy about this. I'm going to do my Tony the Tiger. It was greeeeat.

Cheek: Huh? The Lions ran over your defense like road kill. You fumbled your first kick-off. And quarterback Andy Dalton's first pass was an interception.

Brown: This is the Bengals way.

Cheek: Remind me. What is the Bengals way?

Brown: To lose in epic fashion.

Cheek: But what about winning?

Brown: Winning shminning. It costs me money to field a good team. Winning is expensive. I don't need to win to make money. This is the NFL. It's socialism. Plus, I'm fu#king the sh#t out of the people of Cincinnati in the stadium deal. Hey Cheek, I would like to thank the Lions.

Cheek: For what?

Brown: Well, we couldn't get our field goal team to line up before the two minute warning. The kick went through but was nullified. Well, you know what happened when we had to kick it again. We missed. The Lions were able to get their field goal unit on with less than ten seconds. They made their kick. The Lions really showed us. See epic losing.

Cheek: Anything else about the game?

Brown: Did you like the 5/3 Bank commercial with the old lady dancing to a boom box?

Cheek: You mean the one with the lady who looked like she was ninety, barely moving and wearing Bengals gear? (TV ad posted below.)

Brown: Yeah. That was my nanny from childhood. And she's ninety eight. She was also my wet nurse.

Cheek: Too much information. Coach Gruden, what did you think about the game?

Gruden: Well, watching it from the sidelines, those guys are big. Hard to see what the defense was doing.

Cheek: You know you can watch it from above.

Gruden: Really? (Looks at me cross-eyed.) Well, I'm really mad at the Lions, a couple of times they rushed seven guys.

Cheek: Um, this is the NFL, not the UFL. They're allowed to do that.

Gruden: Hey, remind everyone I'm Jon Gruden's brother.

Cheek: Andre Smith, on the broadcast, color man and Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz criticized you for an ole' move that missed a block.

Smith: Ain't going to mess up my face for the Bengals. Just got a deal to be a Hollywood superstar. Going to be a superhero.

Cheek: Really? What's the movie character?

Smith: Listen to this. (Sings to the TV Batman theme.) Yada, yada, yada, yada... FATMAN. Yada, yada, yada, yada... FATMAN. FATMAN, FATMAN, FATMAN.

Cheek: So what's your costume going to look like?

Smith: Ain't going to need one. Let me take off my T-shirt. Check out my man boobs!

Cheek: They're big.

Smith: Wanna feel them?

Cheek: No thanks. I think they would give Dolly Parton's breasts a run for the money.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mass Effect 2: Legion: A House Divided Tips For Insanity Difficulty

I've read some posts on forums where people have trouble with Legion's Loyalty mission, "A House Divided" for Mass Effect 2 on the Insanity difficulty setting. How about some tips for the hardest parts of this mission? If you want to read a complete walkthrough check this one out from Mass Effect Wiki. And remember to check out my general tips for playing Mass Effect 2 on Insanity.

To get this mission, you have to activate Legion. In a short period, he will tell Yeoman Chambers that he wants to talk to you. Now remember after you get Legion, there are two missions left before the crew gets kidnapped and you must go through the Omega 4 Relay. Assuming you want to save them. You do, don't you? :-) I make this mission one of the last two.

1. The Squad. I bring Tali. That's because the enemy are Geth. Tali has the two talents that Legion has which are Combat Drones and AI hacking. On the normal difficulty setting this squad makes the mission a snap. On Insanity, all the Geth have shields. In fact, Mass Effect Wiki suggests Miranda. I completed this mission on Insanity with Tali and Legion without too much difficulty. That's because once you take down the shields of a Geth, he can be hacked. And remember that combat drones work on shielded Geth. One thing about Miranda is that I use her Slam power as my bonus power.

If you evolve AI hacking to the highest level, choose Improved AI Hacking. It allows the hack to last longer. I have found evolving Area AI Hacking to be lacking. Sorry for that. Really Area AI Hacking doesn't work that good. Plus if you bring Tali, you can hack multiple targets with her power.

There are two really difficult parts to this mission. So let's get to them, shall we?

2. The Room With the Ramps. As you move through the Heretic station, you enter a room from the top on a ramp. Data streams lead down. And try as you might, you cannot avoid stepping on them. Because one of your squad, does the honors. Doh! Now you wait for the onslaught but the Geth don't come. You have to go to either the alcove to your right or left to get them to engage. And each alcove has a Hunter with two troopers! And there's no cover.

Well, you gotta die sometime. First, station your squad at the top of the ramp. Then engage the Geth on either side and get a few shots in before they overwhelm you. Run up the ramps. Use your squad's tech powers to hold them off. Use Slam on unshielded Geth that get too close. And of course, give them a generous heaping of lead. Yeah, you will probably die a couple of times. But it's not impossible. You just have to keep using all the powers available which are weapons, AI Hacking, Combat Drones and Slam.

3. Defend the Core. On Normal, with Tali and Legion this last part is a snap. On Insanity, it's a little harder. When you first enter the room, look around. There's a C shaped low wall at the back of the room. This is excellent for cover when the Geth breach your position. There are two rocket turrets on this floor also. Go to the railing. Down below is a maze of computers and there are more rocket turrets.

The rocket turrets. Preserve them. Activate one for each wave of Geth that will attack you. And when the Geth breach the top floor activate the rocket turret on this floor.

Okay, time to start. Activate the terminal. Here they come from the bottom floor. Activate a rocket turret. You can use combat drones on shielded Geth. I like ripping down a Geth's shield and hacking them. There are three waves with each wave getting harder. There will be rocket troopers, in the second and third waves. Take them down first. The third wave features Geth Hunters. Now the mixture of AI hacking, combat drones, weapons, and your Slam power should make the first two waves manageable. The Geth will only get to the top of the ramps to your floor.

It's the third wave, where the Geth Hunters will likely breach your position. Relax. Run to the C wall in the back. Take cover. Activate a rocket turret. With all this fire the Geth Hunter doesn' move a whole lot. Unleash your assault rifle on him. You eventually overcome this last wave. Now go back to the terminal where you make your final decision to reprogram the Geth or destroy the station. Once you decide, you've got three minutes to leave. Collect ammo clips if you need them.

Marines, we are leaving. This is important as you escape. DO NOT PANIC. There's plenty of time to escape. Continue to stay in cover as you move down the hallway and kill Geth. Eventually, you will face a Geth Prime. There is cover in a low wall. Use it. You see, I almost blew it by not staying in cover. Unleash any heavy weapon the Prime. Again, you've got plenty of time to wipe out the Geth including the Prime. Finish off the Geth and get off the base. Congratulations, you've got the loyalty of your trophy, Legion. Um, that's an inside joke. You see if you take Legion to confront the Council, the Salarian calls Legion, your trophy. Okay, you have to be there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mass Effect 2: Dossier: Tali Tips for Insanity Difficulty

Here are some tips for completing Mass Effect 2: Dossier Tali recruitment mission while playing on the Insanity difficulty level. Again check my general tips and remember this is just for the hardest parts of the mission. If you want a walkthrough, check this one out from Mass Effect wikipedia.

Lately, I wait till after I recruit Legion before I attempt this mission. The reason is twofold. First, the enemies are Geth. Legion can hack them or you can use the combat drone on them. Now on Insanity, it's harder since all the Geth have shields but you can still use the combat drone on them. And once you take down the shields of a Geth, you can hack them. Second, the Colossus at the end of the mission is really difficult on Normal. On Insanity it's insane. And remember once you recruit Legion, you've got two missions before the Normandy gets attacked and the crew is kidnapped. That means you've got to go through the Omega 4 relay right after that event if you want to save the crew.

The Squad- Again, I choose Miranda. She can overload shields and warp any armor. Legion is number two. He can use combat drones on shielded Geth and can hack unshielded ones. If you maxed out his AI hacking, choose the option to extend the length of the hack, i.e. improved AI hacking.

As stated above, we're just going to go over the toughest parts of the mission. For heavy weapons, I use the rocket launcher. Though the Mass Effect Wiki suggests the M-920 Cain. It's powerful but slow and uses a ton of ammo. Anyway, there are basically two tough spots. They are when you go to get the charges and when you face the Colossus.

1. Get the charges. When you approach the garage, you will get jumped by Geth. Take cover and eliminate them. Remember to take out the Geth Hunters who are cloaked and Geth Destroyers first. The Destroyer has a flamethrower who wreck your day. Both charge your position. Once you get into the garage, you will see the charge. Before you take it, salvage supplies in the room. Then set your squad into defensive position behind cover. Once you get the charge, get ready for some bad guys.

Okay, you get attacked by the Geth Prime. He has shields and armor. He will advance on your position. Use your squadmates powers and use your assault rifle to unleash hell on him. After you get past the Prime and his buddies, make your way out of the garage. Yeah, there will be Geth streaming across the field. So take cover and keep the pressure on them. Eventually they stop and you can move towards the next buidling where the second charge is. As you move forward, do not back track since this causes the program to spawn more Geth. Once you get to the room with the last charge, get the power cells. Before you get the last charge, look out the door. There's a building to your left with an open door. That's our destination after you get the charge.

Get the charge. You get jumped by Geth attacking you from where you came. Run to the left and enter the building. Go upstairs. Open the shutters on the second floor to allow you to shoot out the windows. First guys you should kill are the rocket launchers on the bridge. Then nail the guys on the ground in front of the building. You may have to go to the first floor and get them to move but keep to the second floor. Why? The Geth don't chase you to the second floor. Eventually you wipe them out. Go ahead and plant the charges.

Now let's skip ahead to the hardest part of the mission. Get ready for ...

2. Colossus. You know the drill. You get to the room with the shutters right before you face the Colossus. Save your game. Open the shutter, start this last part of combat. When you talk to Kai' Reegar, I usually tell him to stand down. Yeah, I'm a good guy.

a. Save your squad. Okay, you're under fire from the left, center and right. Yikes. So take your squad back to the shutter room and station them there. Yeah, they can't shoot but get this, you can still use their powers. Get back to the platform with Reegar, take cover and start picking off the Geth. Use your squad's powers to help you. Of course it doesn't help when the Colossus fires that homing rocket at you while getting fired upon by the Geth.

Okay, you've taken out the bad guys to the left, center and right. Move down and take cover behind some crates. Get ready for three Geth to come from the center. First, command your squad to follow you. Now, one of the Geth is a Destroyer. Take him down first. Then take down the other two. Now get ready to move.

b. Become a leftist. You've got three choices to get at the Colossus. They are the left, center and the right. First, I never go up the center. Too much open ground. If I play on the normal difficulty, I like going to the right even though I will get confronted by a Destroyer. It's elevated and you eventually get to a ledge overlooking the Colossus. One big problem when you get there. On Insanity, the Geth are shielded and harder to kill. They will overwhelm you. They do this by moving on your position because there's a ramp that leads right to you. But going to your left, the Geth will not flank you from behind. So the killing zone is in front of you when you face the Colossus.

So go left, young man. Okay, you've just killed the Destroyer and his two escorts who came from the center. Move up the ramp to your left. Take cover behind some machinery before you cross the bridge. Another Destroyer and two escorts attack you. Again, focus on the Destroyer since he has that flamethrower that will mess up your day. Once you've taken down his shield, and if you have Slam, you can use that power against him. Once these guys are dead, run across the bridge and get to the crate across from the Colossus. Take cover behind the crate. Remember you can pause the action when you access the squad's power wheel. Check out who's on the battlefield.

Now Geth troops come and attack you while the Colossus will also fire on you. Stay under cover and don't panic. If you see any Destroyers, focus on them. This may sound cruel but let your squad run around to take the focus away from you. The Colossus has a repair protocol which allows it to regenerate its shields but not its armor. Once the Colossus shields' are down, unleash your heavy weapons on it. Use your squad's powers on both Destroyers and the Colossus. Now if the Geth are about to overwhelm your position, retreat across the bridge. Heal any dead squad members and bring them with you. Okay, go back when you're refreshed and continue to chip away at the Colossus. Just remember to be careful. If you die, you'll have to go over that long cutscene again. So when your health is down to dangerous levels, hunker down and wait for it to regenerate or use Medi-gel. You did save all the Medi-gel for this battle, didn't you. :-)

Okay, eventually you destroy the Colossus. Kill any stragglers and do it carefully, i.e. stay under cover to do so. Now get the iridium which is all over the battlefield. Open the door to the room where Tali is.

3. Don't forget. Once you enter Tali's room, scan the ground. Yeah, there's a reward for beating this mission on Insanity. It's the Geth pulse rifle. It's better than the other assault rifles but not as good as the Revenant machine gun. And once you get aboard the Normandy, talk to Tali in engineering. You pick up the Cyclone Shield Tech, which will be needed when you enter the Omega 4 Relay. The shield tech will save a member of your squad.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Trading Joey Vottto This Year Would Be A Mistake

Lance McAlister of 1530 Homer and Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer (8-7-2011, col. 5, pg. c-9) have suggested that the Cincinnati Reds trade their first baseman, Joey Votto. (Pictured.) This all stems from a report by Reds beat reporter John Fay that the Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays were exploring the possibility of trading Joey Votto and a good pitching prospect for the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista. Yesterday Lance posted an USA Today report about Toronto making their team one that would represent the nation and compete big time with Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Let's take a look at this proposed trade from a Reds fan viewpoint.

1. The Pros. This requires some assumptions. Joey Votto is signed through 2013. He's owed seventeen million for the last year of his contract. Assumptions require that Votto will not resign after year three. Another is that the Reds can't afford Votto when he's owed seventeen million. So the pro would be the money savings and you get something since Votto will leave in 2013.
The next assumptions requires that Jose Bautista will continue to blast home runs like Barry Bonds and that Votto's replacement, likely Yonder Alonso, would hit like Votto.

Now Jose Bautista is contracted through 2015. His salary is approximately 14 million per year. However in baseball terms, Votto's salary of 17 million is only slightly higher than Bautistan's 14 million. On the other hand, you would have Baustista for two more years.

2. The Cons. If the Reds trade Joey Votto, they would trade one of the premier players in baseball. He hits for power, average and with runners in scoring position. Joey Votto's career average is .316. Last year he blasted 37 homers. His career average with runners in scoring position is a fantastic .355.

Before 2010, Jose Bautista was a journeyman player. His big year was last year when he launched 54 home runs, had 124 RBI but batted only .260. Yeah, he's having another good year this year. But his career batting average is .253. Worst, is that his career average with runners in scoring position is a paltry .226.

Votto is 27. Bautista is 31. Joey Votto was a MVP. Looking at just numbers, it's a no brainer. Joey Votto is a great player. Jose Bautista reminds me of 1996's Brady Anderson who out of nowhere hit fifty home runs for the Baltimore Orioles. He never approached that number again. There's nothing to indicate that Bautista would be consistent with power or average. And frankly Bautista does not hit with runners in scoring position. Simply put, Joey Votto is the better player. And that's by a longshot.

Why this trade is as bad as the Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez trade. Trading Votto in 2011, sends the white flag up for 2012. If the goal every year is to win the World Series, you have a better chance with Joey Votto and Yonder Alonso than Jose Bautista and Yonder Alonso.

On the money front, we don't' know what the Reds budget will be in 2013. Nobody knows how much the Reds can spend. We don't know if Joey Votto won't resign with the Reds. We know what we get in Joey Votto. If Bautista tanks, the Reds are stuck with his contract for an extra 28 million dollars. It's that fact, that makes me doubt the wisdom of the Enquirer's John Fay. And trust me, I've read Fay for years and there are times he makes goofy comments.

What you get with Joey Votto is a guy who hits in the clutch. And if you know the problems with this team, the 2011 Reds don't hit in the clutch, i.e. hitting with runners in scoring position. Hitting in the clutch leads to victories. We don't know if Yonder Alonso can hit like Joey Votto. The tandem of Bautista and Alonso would not hit in the clutch like the tandem of Votto and Alonso. And Bautista has red flags of not hitting in the clutch and no long term of evidence that he will produce home runs at the 2010 level. Even if he could, he's more like former Reds outfielder Adam Dunn who could hit home runs but was bad hitting with runners in scoring position. It would be a terrible trade.

So why raise the white flag on the 2012 season now? The goal is to win world championships, isn't it?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bill Maher Calls On Liberals To Form Their Own Crazy Tea Party

Friday was Bill Maher's last Real Time (HBO) for the season. And his last New Rule was the best of the season. He called on liberals to form their own Tea Party as crazy as the right wing yahoos in the Republican Party. Hilarious. Thanks to Mediaite. Check it out.

Contributors To Colbert Super PAC Use Gag Names

Some of the contributors to Stephen Colbert's Super PAC have used gag names. In the video piece below, Colbert joined in the fun and has trouble finishing his commentary because he can't stop laughing. Check it out.

Republicans Are To Blame For S & P Downgrade

Wow, the Republicans have the gall to blame President Obama for the S & P downgrade after a last minute deal to raise the debt ceiling. First, why are we listening to the guys who gave mortgage backed securities the highest ratings right before the 2008 economic meltdown?

But I digress. Republican House Speaker John Boehner crowed he got ninety eight percent of everything he wanted from the debt ceiling deal. And the Republicans are considered the winners in the deal. Obama wanted to raise taxes on the rich and that didn't happen. So raising the debt ceiling on August 2, was basically a Republican plan. And guess what? The stock market went into a nose dive immediately. Yeah, some of that is over concerns about Spain and Italy's debt. But if cutting spending is supposed to create jobs, Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs? Okay, it doesn't happen that fast but should the markets react so negative when government is cutting spending? And I ask Republicans, if government cuts spending and consumers cut spending then who is putting money into the economy?

What The Cincinnati Reds Must Do For 2012

With a little less than two months left, the season is over for the Cincinnati Reds. They're nine and one half games out. Unless there's a baseball miracle left for this year, it's time to look to next year.

1. What went wrong in 2011. In order to figure out what to do next year, we have to see what went wrong this year. Somethings can't be changed, others can. It's easy to see what was wrong this year. One, the team was terrible hitting with runners in scoring position. Two, starting pitiching was erratic until Johnny Cueto got back. Bronson Arroyo was simply dredful. Relief pitching was inconsistent. Lately, they've been choking in the clutch.

There were breakdowns where the Reds could least afford them. Left field was an offensive nightmare. Jonny Gomes went back to the back of his baseball card. So did shortstop Paul Janish. Both could not hit for average. Third baseman Scott Rolen was recently shut down and will have surgery to clean out his left shoulder. Centerfielder Drew Stubbs will lead the league with strikeouts. He's absolutely horrible batting in the clutch. That's four spots out of eight position players.

2. What the Reds Must Do For 2012.

a. Don't ignore trends. The Reds must not ignore trends. This occurred in 2010. Towards the end of the 2010 season, Scott Rolen began to show his age. Injuries began to slow him down. The Reds should have had somebody to share third base with him since it's clear he cannot play more than one hundred games. Jonny Gomes also began to show signs that his early part of 2010 was a career perfomance. The second half of the season wasn't all that good. Drew Stubbs played better in the second half but was never a contact hitter.

b. Bring up Devin Mesoraco and play him. When its time for the September call ups, the Reds should bring up big time catching prospect Devin Mesoraco and they should play him. The Reds should not resign Ramon Hernandez, so they can afford to sit him for a month. Let the kid learn the ropes. Mesoraco is the future catcher for the Reds.

c. Let the outfield derby begin. Left field and center field should be up for grabs. Yeah, I'm suggesting that Drew Stubbs have to earn his spot since he strikes out at an alarming pace. The challengers are Dave Sappelt (pictured) who can hit, Yonder Alonso who can also hit and Chris Heisey. My gut feeling is that next year, the outfielder should be Sappelt, Heisey and Jay Bruce.

d. End the Paul Janish at shotstop nonsense. Janish can field but can't hit. He's either a bench player or a guy you keep in the minors as a safety valve. That leaves Zack Cozart. He's hurt and by the way the Reds should send him to get surgery on his elbow now. The Reds are not going anywhere this year, so get the surgery over with. Anyway Cozart looks like he wants the job. Todd Frazier is also a possibility.

e. Scott Rolen cannot play more than 100 games. Look, Scott Rolen has been playing with a bum left shoulder. He can't play a whole lot. Plus at thirty seven next year, he's at the back end of his career. Time to groom his replacement. Todd Frazier is playing over there now. But you must find a spot for Yonder Alonso who can hit the daylights out of a baseball. Alonso played third in high school before the University of Miami moved him to first base. Come fall, Alonso should get some training to get back to third.

f. End the Joey Votto trade rumors. Joey Votto was MVP for 2010. He's signed through 2013. Votto is a premier player and is owed 17 million for 2013. If owner Bob Castellini can't afford a great player like Votto, then he should sell the team to somebody who can. Regardless, it's ludicrous to trade Votto now because you don't know what you're going to get from the kids. Yeah, I agree that Yonder Alonso could play there but could he hit like Votto? Too big a risk to lose Votto prematurely.

g. Sign a closer or make Aroldis Chapman your closer. The Reds probably are not going to shell out the money they are giving to current closer Francisco Cordero at fours years for 46 million. Cordero walks after this year. They could sign a cheaper closer. Promote the inconsistent Nick Masset. Or they could designate flamethrowing lefty Aroldis Chapman as Reds closer. Look Chapman throws over one hundred miles an hour. He's got a devastating slider. But he's basically a two pitch pitcher. You need three to be a starter. I've seen games where Chapman is unhittable. Somebody has to close games. Why not Chapman?

h. Let Edinson Volquez walk. What a terrible trade getting Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton was. Too late to cry over spilled milk. Anyway Volquez has not matured since he came over from Texas. No need to resign him for 2012. He's no longer worth the headaches. Besides, the Reds can roll out three quality starters in Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.

i. Convince Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to become leaders of the team. When Scott Rolen can't play, there's no leadership on the team. The Reds two best players Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips have to step up and lead.

j. Conclusion. The Reds can't stand pat like last year when they assumed everything would work out. On the other hand, the Reds do have up and coming offensive talent. It requires the team to do something whether that means playing the prospects, trading, or free agent signings. I'm still optimistic for this team in 2012. There's enough talent for the Reds to win it all next year.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights Review

Released in conjunction with the big screen release of Green Lantern, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is a direct to DVD animated feature. It's similar to Warner's direct to DVD release of Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) was to The Dark Knight.(2008) Both movies are a compilation of short stories.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights starts out with the discovery that Krona, an evil alien from the anti-matter universe is using the sun of Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps, to launch attacks against it. You see the Guardians have established the cosmic police force, the Green Lantern Corps, to enforce justice through out the universe. The Guardians recall virtually all the Green Lantern to Oa to defend the planet.

Rookie Arisia (Elisabeth Moss) is taken under the wing of human Green Lantern Hal Jordan. (Nathan Fillion) Being recently drafted into service, she knows very little of the history of the Green Lantern. So while the Green Lanterns gather to confront Krona, he tells her the stories of various Green Lanterns. It's these flashbacks that make up the movie.

There are five flashbacks. I found three of them compelling. These three range from the tale of the first Green Lantern to the story of Laira to a tale about Abin Sur, the predecessor for Hal Jordan. The first Green Lantern known as Avra tells the story of how a scribe became a Green Lantern. It talks about the need for a cosmic police force to prevent evil beings from preying upon the weak. It's an inspiring tale about the power of will to overcome one's obstacles. Laira's story is about her having to confront her father who is leading a rogue attack on his enemies. Confronting her father has a Shakespearean vibe to it. It's an emotionally deep tragedy. Abin Sur's tale is about his fight with Atrocitus. Atrocitus for tells the betrayal of the Corps by Abin Sur's friend, Sinestro. Abin Sur must confront how much he believes in destiny.

All five stories are epic in scale. There's much action here. And battles between armies and Green Lanterns are well produced. The planets, and aliens are cool looking. The animation mixes CGI 3D and 2D very well. Unlike Batman: Gotham Knights, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights has a unity of animation style. The artists don't veer to deep anime from 3D CGI. It all looks great on the screen. And the unity of animation styles helps tie all the tales together.

Kudos to directors Christopher Berkely, Lauren Montgomery, Jay Oliva and voice director Andrea Romano for combining six stories with different writers for a cohesive narrative. It all feels organic. And while there maybe too much action, it doesn't overwhelm the drama of the situation. I appreciate that this film explains the genesis of the Green Lantern Corps. By doing so, one gets a feel for the heroic nature of the Corps. That's something missing from the live action movie starring Ryan Reynolds.

The voice acting is top notch. Three performances stand out. Elisabeth Moss gives her character, Arisia, the proper fresh off the bus feeling. Arnold Vosloo, on the other hand plays a veteran Green Lantern in Abin Sur, one who completed many missions. Whereas Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan surprisingly comes off as a father type figure.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is heroic and epic. It's better than its companion live action film. The grade is A.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals Are Little Bitches, Part 10

Thanks to 1530 Homer's Lance McAlister and Mo Egger for posting these articles on their blogs. In this article, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa whines about the Milwaukee Brewer's TV color man for comments said during last night's game. He seems to take offense of the color man calling the beaning of Brewers Ryan Braun as bush league. Memo to Tony LaRussa. Hitting Ryan Braun was bush league. And if you Mr. La Russa ordered it, you're a bush leaguer.

The second article is from a Brewers Blog. It details La Russa's history of being the biggest little bitch in baseball. Here it is. The Cardinals take their lead from their manager. That's why they're the "little bitches."

St. Louis Cardinals Are Little Bitches, Part 9

The Milwaukee Brewers are learning about how the St. Louis Cardinals are little bitches. Part 8 of this series covered the Cardinals whining about the lighting around home plate and the Cardinals allegation that the Brewers were stealing signs.

Last night, the Cardinals were in full "little bitch" mode. With no outs in the seventh, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito hit Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in the wrist to load the bases. Now, folks at the time the Brewers were leading by one run. It makes no sense to hit Pujols. Pitching inside is part of the game. Of course the Cardinals know as the "little bitches" whined about it in two ways. Cardinals Jason Motte plunked Brewers All Star Ryan Braun with a 97 mph fastball in the next half inning. It was clearly intentional as stated by Brewers Jonathan Lucroy. Then at the end of the game, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa whined by saying, "The ball that they tried to throw on Pujols was aimed right where they aimed it. Did they try to hit him? No. But there’s a small window there.” Then he said something stupid, "Do you know how many bones you have in the hands and the face? That’s where those pitches are. And Braun, we were trying to pitch him in, too, it’s just a little stinger. I don’t want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back when we almost lose (Pujols) in several ways.”

Okay, Tony La Russa, I'm sorry. Pitching inside is part of the game. That means you get under the hands of the hitter. Yeah, it's dangerous because you may hit the batter or leave too much of it over the plate. And those pitches over the plate get deposited over the left field fence by Mr. Pujols. So you try to keep the ball under his hands. And popping Braun with a 97 mph fastball is not a "little stinger." Does this whining sound familiar? Yeah, the Cardinals bitched when Cincinnati Reds closer Francisco Cordero hit Pujols in May.

Is there anymore to the Cardinals whining? Yeah. In the tenth, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina got into an argument with the home plate umpire, Rob Drake, after getting called out on a third strike. Molina was so incensed that he bumped the umpire and may have spit on him. Now remember Molina was catcher who started last year's big fight with the Cincinnati Reds Brandon Phillips. Here's the story about last night's Cardinals-Brewers game.

The Cardinals have whined about the Colorado Rockies, the Cincinati Reds, Houston Astros Carlos Lee, and now the Milwaukee Brewers. Yes, baseball fans if you didn't know already, the St. Louis Cardinals are little bitches.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals Are Little Bitches, Part 8

In our ongoing series detailing the whining little bitches known as the St. Louis Cardinals, here's more proof. The Cardinals complained that the Milwaukee Brewers were playing around with the lights to make it darker when they were batting. They also accused the Brewers of stealing signs. Here's the story.

Last year I posted this Denver Post article. I also detailed the Cardinals bellyaches about the Cincinnati Reds. Now the whole league is enduring the Little Bitches aka The St. Louis Cardinals.

Mass Effect 2: Arrival, "Last Stand" Achievement Tips

To get the Arrival DLC's "Last Stand" Achievement for Mass Effect 2, you must withstand five waves of attackers while "defending" Object Rho. These bad guys include flamethrowing Pyros and Engineers. What you have to do is stay alive until the power bar at the right fills up. Here's how I got the achievement.

1. Are you Insane? Don't try to get this on the Insanity Difficulty Level. That's because it's insane. Don't torture yourself. I got the achievement on Normal.

2. Don't move right away. When the mission starts. you are hunkered down. Enemies are to your left and a soldier is to your right. Kill the guy on your right without delay. Stay under cover and don't move. Why? All the bad guys will come from your left. Now if you move, they will flank you. But staying where you started, the enemies won't move to your right. Take a look at the video below and note the bad guys flanking him. That doesn't happen if you stay put.

3. Pyros first. When Pyros show up, nail them first. Their flamethrowers will wreck your day.

4. Move when the YMIR Mech comes close. You will hear the steps of the YMIR Mech. Don't panic. It will be on the opposite side of the artifact. When this thing comes into sight, get ready to move. So run and seek cover. Use your weapons to take it down. Eventually, the power bar fills up and you get the achievement.

Here's how another guy got the achievement. Note how he gets flanked when he moved from the original position.

Mass Effect 2: Arrival Tips For Insanity Difficulty Setting

Why play Mass Effect 2: Arrival on Insanity? For the challenge. So, here are tips for playing Arrival on the Inanity difficulty setting. Remember to review my general tips for playing Mass Effect 2 on Insanity. This is not a complete walkthrough but will cover the most difficult areas. If you want a walkthrough, check this one out from Mass Effect 2 Wiki.

1. Make Slam your extra power. That will become apparent at the last section of the mission.

2. Save your game often.

3. Fools rush in. Don't rush into rooms. A lot of times you should seek cover next to the door. Let the enemies run around and pick them off. If you need to, retreat and lure bad guys to you under cover. And remember that all enemies have shields now.

4. Take out pyros first. These guys will try to flank you. And on Arrival, they're faster. A pyro's flamethrower will ruin your day. So when they appear, give them special attention.

5. Tips for hack the terminal. Before you enter the room with Dr. Kenson, save your game. Okay rescue her, get the credits in the room and take out the guard that comes to attack you. Head downstairs to the elevator room.

When you enter the room, you come under attack from four guards. Take cover and take them down. Kenson has two powers. They are Overload and Incinerate. Use her powers. As you move forward, doors open up and more guards appear. Again seek cover. Take out these guys. Okay, once they're down, take a breath. Because you won't be able to save your game until you reach Kenson's base.

To start the next part of the mission, you must activate the terminal. Kenson comes over and will hack it to bring down the elevator. Now there's a vestibule outside of the terminal that has a turned over table you can use for cover. Kenson tells you to hold the fort but she can't help you. Enemies come from the left in waves of three. They have shields. And they make a beeline for Kenson. They will shoot at you as they approach. So be careful.

I first seek cover behind a wall in the vestibule. I try to take down the shields of the guards but eventually they will be on top of you. I move back to the hall where Kenson is and take cover. This causes the guards to seek cover behind the fallen table. Okay, here's the order. As soon as you defeat these first three, Kenson tells you that you need to close the door from where they entered. Guards in waves of three will continue to enter until you shut the door. But there will be only three at one time. This is what I do. I kill two guards and weaken the third significantly. I then run to the door's controls, the weakened guard heads for Kenson. If you're fast enough you can get to the controls and shut it before other guards appear. If guards appear, there will be only two but it will be difficult to keep Kenson alive while you're putting down the two new guards. Regardless, get to the controls and shut the door. Head back to Kenson to kill the guards that are moving on her.

Now a group of guards now appear from the right. Stay under cover of the vestibule's walls. They don't advance so pick them off. After they've been defeated. Another group comes from the elevator. You might want to take out the sniper rifle. Once you're finished with these guys Kenson moves to the elevator. Take a breath. Collect ammo clips and then head onto the elevator.

Now you head up a floor with the shuttle. Remember fools rush in. You're immediately under fire. Get under cover and start taking out the guards on this floor. Use Kenson and be careful. Once you've defeated all the bad guys, destroy the locks on the door. You can use your power of Slam on them. Get in the shuttle and escape to Kenson's base. Once you get there, you can save your game.

6. Object Rho. No need for tips here. You can't survive the attack. And if you're looking for the "Last Stand" achievement, you would be insane to do this on um, Insanity. Get the achievement on a lower difficulty level like Normal.

7. The Final Battle. You're on the surface. The asteroid is heading toward the Alpha Relay. Strong "winds" are swirling above you. There's a crate in front of you but don't run there. Go to the right and take cover behind the wall of crates. Why? The guards won't flank you. They take cover in positions in front of you.

Now here's where the Slam power is worth its weight in gold. Use your assault rifle to rip down the guards shields. Now use Slam on unshielded bad guys. It throws them high in the air and the "winds" sweep him up and away. Instant kill.

Finally, there's only a YMIR Mech between you and the communications control. Use the crates for cover. And don't get careless. Remember once you get the Mech down to its shields, you can use Slam. It won't throw the Mech up but it will freeze and damage it. Eventually you destroy the Mech. Get to the communications control and call the Normandy. That's it. Enjoy the cutscenes.

Mass Effect 2: Arrival DLC Review

Arrival is the last DLC for Mass Effect 2. It's a short mission that a good player will get through in a few hours. In Arrival, you get a mission from Admiral Hackett to rescue Dr. Amanda Kenson. She's being held captive by Batarians on Aratoht. Hackett asks you to go alone because he fears a squad will alert the Batarians and they will kill Kenson.

You land on Aratoht. You break out Kenson. She tells you why she was captured by the Batarians. You travel to her base which is on an asteroid. The purpose of the base? Delay the Reaper invasion which is coming through a Mass Effect relay by crashing the asteroid into the relay.

One third of the mission is stealth. That's unusual for Mass Effect. It requires you to see where the Batarians are looking to avoid them. The other unusual thing is that you control a mech. That's not a big deal. The rest of the game is combat.

Some have said this mission is essential for the Reaper storyline. That's not correct. Look, we know the Reapers are coming. That's the plot of the upcoming Mass Effect 3. Destroying a Mass Effect Relay only delays the Reapers. So you don't really need this DLC. But the question is whether it's fun. There's nothing new in terms of combat. Still, it's fun as you battle Batarians and possessed humans. The few hours of entertainment are worth the 560 points and right now if you are a Gold member, it's only 280 credits. The Arrival DLC is short but fun mission. The grade is B.