Month: May 2012

Killzone 3: Gravity Doesn’t Work That Way!

I recently beat Killzone 3 for the Playstation 3.  I’m not entirely sure why I bothered because I don’t play first-person shooters online (why? because I tried playing this online and died ten times in the first three minutes … I wish I was kidding.) As such I was stuck with the single-player campaign for this game.  Maybe it’s just that I have a thing for shooting space Nazis.  Overall I found the experience slightly better than Killzone 2.  Why?  Because it didn’t have sections where the game would crush you if you didn’t do things the exact way it wanted you to do them.   I’m not looking for an open-world experience, but a little freedom in the order in which I kill enemies would have been nice, especially when the rules around this seemed wholly arbitrary.

But it’s not like I don’t have complaints about Killzone 3.

  1. This really is the single worst army in the universe.  Soldiers seem to occasionally follow orders only when they get tired of hurting their superior commander’s feelings by constantly ignoring him.
  2. Stealth was non-existent.  There was one sequence in the game where you were required to use stealth because your weapon couldn’t handle an all-out firefight.  However as soon as this sequence was over you might be inclined to continue using these new tricks the game forced you to learn; no deal.  Suddenly the same enemies you were able to sneak up on by thinking quiet thoughts can spot you from miles away despite crouching in the shadows while wearing camouflage.
  3. Oh, god dammit, another storyteller starting the story off at the midway point then flashing back for no reason other than being bad at telling stories.
  4. Towards the end of the game the soldiers have a battle on a space station.  Combat goes mostly the same as when it was terrestrial based; chucking grenades with reckless abandon and shooting all over the place.  One would think those would be bad ideas on a space station.  Anyway, at one point the klaxons go off and a computerized voice warned that the artificial gravity had been disabled.  Did this mean that suddenly characters were floating around?  No.  It meant jumps suddenly went for much longer distances, throwing grenades became unpredictable, and when somebody died they’d float off.  Apparently, one’s ability to stay bound to the floor persists so long as you can tell yourself “gravity is just fine.”  
  5. The finale of the game didn’t involve first-person shooting.  Instead it was an on-rails segment where the troops fly around in combat spacecraft to take out a ship.  I won’t complain about the presence of sound in space; the only people who would have more knowledge of science than sense in how to tell a story. My problems with this were that it seemed odd to make the finale of the game unlike the meat of the game, but then I guess I should be happy that it at least wasn’t a quicktime event.  My second problem was with how arbitrary it was.  I replayed a part of the damn thing a couple of dozen times, and at no point was I ever aware of what killed me or what I had done wrong to die.  When I finally did pass the part I’d kept dying on, I had absolutely no idea–besides the game taking pity on me–why that attempt had worked when so many others failed.  

Overall, there would be worse things to spend a little money on.  I wouldn’t pay more than $15 for this game if all you’re going to do is play single-player.  Sadly I paid $60 for it when Best Buy was clearing out the collector’s edition.  At least I got a nifty Helghast Helmet, which I’ve kept on display.

It watches me sleep.

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Auditor Independence & Audit Rotation

The women wear glasses and have their hair pulled back so you know they’re serious and smart!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I had a career as an auditor, primarily internal audit. I’m currently between careers.  However, the audit field does interest me … at least so far as I need to continue earning cpe to maintain my CPA.  I recently sat through a cpa session concerning the controversy over government-imposed mandatory audit rotation.  To the uninitiated,  this would mean that companies required to have audited financial statements would have to change their accounting firm once every few years in order to prevent their auditors from becoming too “familiar” with their client.  Naturally, almost everybody was opposed to the idea.

One thing that struck me as odd was this particular general complaint:
“They expressed concerns about both the cost of the audit and the cost in management and audit committee time that would be required to bring a new audit firm up to speed so it could perform a high-quality audit.”

I get the thing about costs.  It’s the second part that I find vexing.  You see, the audit field actually discourages the use of previously gained knowledge for the sake of efficiency.  Not in the sense that there are rules against doing such a thing, but in terms of its culture and the way managers train their staff.

First, there’s a thing called “SALY” which is an acronym for Same As Last Year.  This is used disparagingly, and every audit senior/manager  will be all too eager to correct a staff accountant who dares to use the previous year’s audit work to guide their current testing.  Did you refer to last year’s walkthrough to figure out what the key controls were?  Tsk tsk.  You need to do a new walkthrough because, who knows, the process may have completely changed.  Did you conclude something based on knowledge you gained previously?  That’s assuming, and it’s very, very bad.  You need to go and ask someone a startlingly obvious question you already know the answer to.  Nothing you infer could possibly be correct.  You need to be told.  Even then, there’s always the matter of professional skepticism which means you can’t trust anything you’re told.

So I find it funny that the audit field will insist that mandatory rotation of firms would be bad because it would result in a loss of knowledge when, in practice, audit firms discourage the use of knowledge in the first place.

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It Works!

I own an Asus Transformer. Ever since they upgraded the OS to Ice Cream Sandwich the damn thing was experienced a problem wherein it randomly reset itself–unsuccessfully–while asleep.  Since it always froze while resetting it would would burn through its battery and so the stupid thing became useless to have around for extended periods of time.  When I recently went on my three week cross country trip I didn’t even bother bringing the stupid thing with me (making me feel all envious of my friend and his fancy iPad.)

Well lo and behold, they’ve finally pushed out an update that seems to have fixed the problem!  Well, so far at least.  Now my only problem is that I was also saddled with a detachable keyboard with extended battery that seems to drain power rather then provide it.

I don’t know if this is an endorsement for Asus or not.  I mean, on the one hand they have a bad habit of making crappy products.  On the other, they do seem to make an effort to fix things.  I’m generally happy with my Android device, but ultimately I wish I had bought an iPad.

I Actually Kind of Agree with Loki

In The Avengers, Loki grandstands by proclaiming that freedom is something that only results in unhappiness and that people would be better of just submitting to others (their superiors.) People are eager to follow trends, fashions, fads, revolutions, political dogma, religious dogma, and other things that sublimate their individuality. I’ve encountered people who hate gays because “Jesus said so,” who were fans of soccer for no reason other than they were Latino, or ate Pocky because they watched anime.  These were things they did not necessarily because they wanted it, but because it was an easy choice to make instead of learning what they wanted.  I can’t exactly judge, I too have experienced the joy of having limited choice.

The problem was that Loki was kind of a dick.  What if someone benevolent came along and offered genuine fulfillment and happiness but at the cost of freedom?  You know, like in Colossus: The Forbin Project, but a little less cold?  Would people still want to oppose that?