Technology, Isn’t it Grand?

For the past few days, I have been playing Watch Dogs 2. It is by far better than the first issue of the game. I have played both and the second one has many, many, many more options than the first had. Watch Dogs’ story was awful in the sense that it was about a very boring person (Aiden Pierce) and his niece’s death. He wanted to take down a company called Blume and a ctOS operating system that enabled the city of Chicago to be a ‘Smart City’. This enabled Aiden to manipulate various aspects of the city to his advantage, etc. I never finished it because it was too dull. And the driving engine was awful. Cars seemed like they were not allowed to leave the ground and they could only drive in four directions, i.e. forwards, backwards and only left and only right – nothing in between.

Now, without getting into too much depth about the game, I can say that Watch Dogs 2 is a lot better .You have more things to play with, such as two remote control (RC) vehicles in the form of a small, two-wheeled RC car that can do physical hacks (which is useful) and a RC drone that can fly around and hack other stuff. The only problem I have so far with the game is that you cannot complete all the missions with just the RC vehicles. I was breaking into the game-world’s version of Google and had gotten to the objective with the RC car, but it didn’t activate since the character wasn’t there. I was a bit annoyed because I avoided all the security and droids and everything. Then when I moved the character in, all the guards saw him and I had to use the tazer on them.

Anyway, this game has got me thinking. In it you take down big corporations and organisations and so forth exposing them for who and what they really are. But you can also hack many things. Things like phones, grenades, cars, etc. and this is what got me thinking. In our own world, technology is becoming more and more integrated with each other. In Smart Homes, the fridge can talk to your local server which then sends you a text saying that the milk is finished or that your eggs are a bit smelly. The Home is also connected to your security system with all the cameras and sensors and stuff, as well as to your car. And if you have an electric car, the battery power in your car can be used to keep your lights on when the power goes out, but let’s face it – if you have enough money for a Smart Home then you wouldn’t live in a power-outage prone area.

Then we get to the military. Many, if not all, of the equipment and weapons these days in modern armies have a chip or two in them. This means that if hostile forces acquire the weapon, it can be remotely aborted or sabotaged making it useless. We have ‘smart grenades’ that can be fired from a computer-controlled M32 grenade launcher that can change direction in mid-air. The same goes for ‘smart bullets’. Fired from a M99 sniper rifle, it can make subtle adjustments in its telemetry due to wind resistance or the Earth’s rotation to assure the shooter of a hit. (Personally, I believe that it takes the skill out of the entire exercise.)

All of these things can be hacked, probably. And if they can be hacked, then there is a huge risk in creating them. But we humans only greedily think about being better than everyone else and so these smart weapons will be produced as it is all about having the edge, whether it is on the battlefield or in suburbia.

Now, if you ask me on which side I would be in the inevitable upcoming war on technology, then I would still say technology. Technology has the power to save this planet. Technology can stop Global Warming, it can fix the ozone layer, it can stop the pollution in Beijing and it can save the Internal Combustion Engine from extinction. It can do all of those things, but only if we let it. At the moment we are too concerned with what our neighbours are plotting than what we can do to make life on our side of the fence better.

 

© 2017 Michael de Kock

Car Enthusiast Extraordinaire (not)

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Drake’s Review

So a few months ago, I bought the Nathan Drake Collection on the Playstation 4. It is essentially the first three Uncharted games remastered and sold for the price of one. Now, I have played the first two so far and a bit of the third one. The graphics are okay in Drake’s Fortune, except that when aiming, Nathan holds the firearm at an angle, yet the bullet still manages to hit its target. This annoyed me a lot. Luckily, it was fixed in Among Thieves.

The stories of Drake’s Fortune and Among Thieves were pretty good. The goblin zombies and Shambhala-enhanced warriors were really unnecessary and honestly quite cliché. If it was just normal people, then the game would have been better. It needed to be supernatural enemies. I hate that in videogames. The Uncharted series is such a good exploration series and I feel they ruined it in a few ways.

Firstly, the positives. I like Nathan Drake and Sullivan for that matter. The supporting characters such as Chloe and Alena are brilliant as well. The romance between Nathan and Alena is well written and the voice acting is up to par. The facial expressions are nicely done and movement in cut-scenes are quite good.

Now the negative and, oh boy, there are a bunch. Firstly, why the heck did Naughty Dog think it was smart to put in this many combat zones in a game about solving ancient mysteries? Seriously! There were like two actual puzzles to solve in Among Thieves and the rest was sneaking and shooting. I looked forward to the bits where I actually had to open Nathan’s journal and solve the puzzles. The good thing about Uncharted is that the textures don’t really give away the answers. You actually have to look around for the answers. That went a bit off the point, but anyway.

Secondly, the movement of Nathan Drake has the same problems as Edward Kenway had in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. You want him to do that and go that way, but instead he goes and jumps off a cliff or let go of a pipe. It is really annoying. I felt it was worse in Among Thieves than it was in Drake’s Fortune. In the twenty-odd percent that I have played Drake’s Deception, it seems to have improved significantly, as did the shooting mechanics. And the graphics.

Thirdly, I believe that, since the Middle-East is involved, there will be ‘undead’ mummies that I have to shoot at some point. I include this prediction in my list of problems because I assume it will probably happen.

With all this negativity, you would probably be wondering why I even bother to play it any further. The reason is, I actually like it. Yes there is too much emphasis on combat and too little on puzzles, but I enjoy the story. Plus Nathan Drake can be quite a badass sometimes.

So would I recommend the Uncharted series to anyone? Yes, I would.

Why?

Because it is actually worth the money. Looking at you, No Man’s Sky…