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26-11-07

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

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Developer: Gas Powered Games

Publisher: THQ

Platform(s): PC

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (SupComFA) is the standalone expansion set to the critically acclaimed real-time strategy game Supreme Commander released earlier this year. Being a standalone expansion, you can play this game without the original SupCom, but be prepared to juice up your hardware to run this freakishly intensive game.

SupCom puts you in the shoes of a giant bipedal robot – an Armoured Command Unit (ACU) – to build a base, and from there build a wide variety of units by advancing through the various tech levels to crush your foes on huge maps. The tactical zoom function in SupCom not only gave commanders a whole new perspective to the battlefield, but also gave Gas Powered Games the opportunity to introduce gigantic units into the RTS genre. The only gripes about this otherwise perfect game is its non-intuitive interface, and of course, the heavy graphical requirements to run the programme.

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SupComFA is essentially the upgraded version of SupCom, boasting superior graphics (the polygon count on most units have been increased, giving them added detail), a new, more user-friendly interface, as well as improved game mechanics and dynamics. A new playable race has also been thrown into the mix of the Infinite War: the Seraphim, the aliens who got slaughtered by xenophobic humans and the ones who showed the Aeon “the Way”. Despite the Seraphim’s status as a new race, gameplay remains largely the same, with the Seraphim ACU building similar base structures and almost parallel units with the other factions.

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Speaking of units, SupComFA has outdone itself once again with the addition of more than 100 new units. The bulk of this number of course belongs to the Seraphim, whose units are stronger than the other factions’ but are more expensive. The Seraphim are a little overpowered though, as according to in-game screenshots, a single Seraphim experimental bomber is capable of evading anti-air defences and leveling a whole base with just one bomb. Also, the individual units of the Seraphim are able to stand their own against superior numbers of enemies from the same tech level.

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Fans of the Cybrans, UEF and Aeon, fear not. SupComFA has included new units to the existing factions to give them something with which to fight the Seraphim. The Cybrans get a new experimental walker amongst other units, the Megalith, bristling with weapons and the ability to lay “eggs” which transform into a single land unit. The UEF obtain the Spearhead mobile missile platform, which fires a salvo of three deadly missiles at once. The Aeon are granted the ability to build the Quantum Resource Generator, a resource building that provides unlimited resources, balancing out the Aeon’s economy.

In short, SupComFA is a must-have for all SupCom fans. Players will be guaranteed hours of fun waging huge battles across enormous landscapes. Pity about the graphical requirements though, they’re still as taxing as ever.

Sony Ericsson k630i

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Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson

Tech Specs:

Available: Q4 2007

Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
UMTS 2100

Data: GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA

Screen: 176×220 pixels, 262k colours

Camera: 2 megapixels

Size: Medium monoblock
103 x 47 x 16mm / 97 grams

Bluetooth: Yes

Memory card: Memory Stick Micro

Infra-red: No

Polyphonic: Yes

Java: Yes

Battery life: 9 hours talk / 16 days standby (GSM)
3 hours talk / 16 days standby (3G)

The k630i is the latest series of entertainment phones produced by Sony Ericsson. Instead of the monolithic designs that dictate most cell phones these days, the k630i opts for a lightweight, basic design, which also cuts down its cost.

A slick candy bar design complete with a Quick Black or Havana Gold finish, the k630i sheds features for weight. That’s not to say that the phone suffers in the features department. The k630i comes loaded with entertainment and multimedia functions. Sure, the 2-megapixel camera does not have a flash nor auto-focus, but if you want to take sharp pictures you’ll be better off with a true blue digital camera. The k630i shines with its dedicated music key – browse through your entire music library with a touch of the button, and play your favourite tunes through the powerful in-built external speakers, without the annoyance of static or interference. A memory stick slot allows for the storage of high amounts of music.

The final thing that makes gives the k630i an edge over all the heavyweight PDA-ish phones in the market recently is the integration of a high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA). What this nifty little gadget does is to give the k630i an almost comparable browsing speed of a regular PDA. Much faster than a standard 3G internet connection, the HSDPA will ensure that your music and multimedia downloads are completed more quickly, provided that you’re in a coverage zone. Then again, with the proliferation of Wireless@SG hotspots islandwide, that little detail is negligible. The HSDPA also allows the usage of the k630i as a modem for a laptop.

A feature-packed phone in a clever little package, the Sony Ericsson k630i is the answer to consumers seeking a utility handset without the monolithic designs of modern all-in-one machines. It tries to be all in one, a pretty decent effort.

 

Newgrounds.com

Weblink: http://www.newgrounds.com

As per its tagline, Newgrounds.com is indeed “everything, by everyone”. With a plethora of portals bristling with user-created content, Newgrounds is the ultimate congregational spot for online modders and creators.

Newgrounds has a well-stocked and well-maintained flash portal, where flash games and movies of each and every genre can be found. Some games are imported from other websites like Freewebarcade, while some are originals created by the member community of Newgrounds. Players of these games and movies can vote as to whether or not that game they have just played is good, or otherwise. A list of top games and movies graces the front page of the flash portal, giving newcomers and regulars alike a snapshot of the more popular content onsite. Further, users can write their own reviews about each individual game and post it up for all to see, leaving quality control in the hands of the users, not the administrators of the site.

Apart from games and movies, Newgrounds also features an audio portal, animations, a forum, etc. To truly experience Newgrounds, you’ll have to explore it yourself.

Newgrounds.com is truly everything, by everyone, with its myriad of user-created content and self-regulatory guidelines of the site.

 

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19-11-07

Hellgate: London

Hellgate

Developer: Flagship Studios

Publisher: Namco / HanbitSoft / EA / IAH

Platform(s): PC

Hellgate London is the latest creation coming from the hands that created the classic hack-and-slash role-playing game (RPG): Diablo and its subsequent sequel Diablo 2. While doing so, Diablo’s creators inadvertently defined the RPG hack-and-slash genre, from instancing to intuitively simple controls to lush backdrops and environments rife with unique flora and fauna. Since their departure from Blizzard, the game-makers have set out on their own through the unforgiving plane of the Gamer, and it is a rough ride through the streets of Hell. Indeed.

Fortunately, Hellgate: London is a remarkably crafted, well thought-out, and beautifully fleshed out result of artistic creativity. The developers have put a twist on the traditional doomsday genre, and added their own Midas touch into it, complete with hulking knights wielding long swords alongside rifle-wielding troopers donning futuristic armor guarding a contingent of demonically altered warlocks with flaming fists.

Welcome to London, 2038.

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Hellgate’s plot is relatively simple: London has been invaded by the demons of hell that entered the Earthly plane through the titular Hellgate. This event is not isolated, as in the past, the demons of hell have repeatedly tried to invade and claim Earth as their own. However, due to the efforts of the famous Knights Templar, the flood has been held back, till now at least. Various real-world events are referenced as background for the plot: the Crusades were actually undertaken to combat the minions of hell, and the Great Fire that swept London not only wiped out the Plague, but also the demons sowing the seeds of death as well. Despite the chivalry of the Knights Templar, some were jealous of their achievements and set out to eradicate the organisation, which forced the Templar to go underground, until the day their services are needed once more. Well, the day has come.

As with all good RPGs, there are character classes to better suit the individual player’s playing style. Hellgate has three main classes with two sub-classes each, giving it a total of six playable classes. They are, in no particular order, the Templar, the Hunter and the Cabalist.

The Templar is the requisite RPG melee attacker, specialising in swords, blades and all manner of close-combat weaponry, although they are also quite adept at handling firearms. The Templar has a choice between the Blademaster and the Guardian, both with rather distinct styles of play. The Blademaster has a skill which grants him the ability to wield a second melee weapon, effectively doubling the Blademaster’s offensive ability. Although the Blademaster’s defense is rather low, he more than makes up for it with brute force. The Guardian on the other hand, has very high defense, and is more than capable of taking on many enemies many times his size at a time. The Guardian possesses several defensive skills, one of which when activated, boosts the Guardian’s attack and defense ratings whenever he is surrounded by enemies. The more the enemies, the greater the boost. With the ability to wield the heaviest shields, the defense of a Guardian is near-impenetrable, making him the default “tank” in Hellgate.

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For the trigger-happy gamer, the Hunters are the equivalent of first-person shooters in Hellgate. Hunters, being ex-military operatives prior to the events of Hellgate, use specialised firearms to combat the minions of hell, from conventional rifles with arcane and futuristic add-ons to powerful advanced weapons combining theoretical science with latest technology. Hunters excel at taking out enemies from afar, and as such do not require the heavy armor donned by the Templar, and thus suffer with regards to physical defense.

The Hunter can branch out to become either a Marksman or an Engineer. The Marksman is the standard first-person shooter, relying on high-powered weaponry – from handguns to rifles to lightning guns – to take out foes from a distance, with many skills to improve and augment the Marksman’s already-impressive firepower. Skills range from adding arcane elements onto ammo as well as the granting of specific weapon stances catered to taking out according targets. The Engineer is rather different from his Marksman counterpart. For one, the Engineer does not directly engage his foes, instead he relies on focused aid in the form of robotic drones capable of wielding weapons. The Engineer still has access to most firearms, but he will not be confronting his foes directly, preferring to stay in the shadows and let his minions do the dirty work, and coming in when the target is weakened thoroughly to finish it off. The Drones are not to be trifled with, as they can hold and use the most powerful ranged weapons in the game.

The final class in Hellgate: London is the Cabalist, or in common gaming lingo, the spellcaster. Cabalists are modern warlocks and witches who tread the fine line between good and evil. Rather than merely destroying the minions of Hell like the other classes do, the Cabalists wish to understand their enemies on top of gaining mastery over them, and from there glean a solution to cleanse the world of the Hellish plague. That does not mean that the Cabalists are weak, in fact, they pack a very huge and painful punch.

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The first sub-class of the Cabalist is the Evoker, the proverbial long-range “nuker” class. A dedicated spellcaster, the Evoker is capable of dealing enormous amounts of damage to a large number of enemies in a relatively short time. With a skill enabling Evokers to equip two focus drives – the staffs and wands of Hellgate – on both arms, the offensive capability of the Evoker is effectively doubled, much like the Blademaster. Although the Evoker also has some basic summoning abilites a la the Engineer, it pales in comparison to its Cabalist sub-class counterpart: the Summoner.

As per its name, the Summoner shines in summoning lesser minions to do its bidding. They can either beckon a number of smaller, weaker underlings to overwhelm soft targets or call forth a main minion that can be enhanced over time with various skills and buffs. Although the Summoner can equip no more than one focus drive, the sheer power of its minion more than makes up for that loss. Imagine a massive winged demon with a great scythe cutting through a horde of undead with ease while its Summoner master merely stands back and watch. The Summoner is indeed the one who calls the shots.

Hellgate features an amazing extensive array of skills for all classes, although players are encouraged to invest heavily in a few main skills to avoid spreading themselves too thin. In addition, skill damage is calculated based on weapon damage and not skill damage per se, therefore, a better weapon will provide more damage with a lower levelled skill as compared to a weaker weapon casting a higher levelled skill.

The items in Hellgate are also extensive and interesting: most items can be combined with one another to create specialised articles. For example, a normal handgun can be equipped with a vial of Greek fire bestowing it flame elemental damage in addition to a battery providing pulses of crackling lightning. This makes for a huge variety of tactical options as well as replay value.

Hellgate: London is a fantastic remake of the doomsday genre, fighting demons on the streets of a post-apocalyptic urban district has never been more fun.

Dell XPS M1730 Gaming Notebook

Dell XPS M1730 Notebook

Manufacturer: Dell

Tech Specs:

Intel® CoreTM 2 Extreme Processor X7900 (2.80GHz,4M L2 Cache,800MHz FSB)

Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate

Up to 4GB Dual Channel 667MHz DDR2

Dual 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® Go 8700M GS

17″ UltraSharpTM Wide Screen WUXGA (1920×1200) display with TrueLifeTM

64GB4 configured with a Solid State hard drive

DVD+/-RW with Dual Layer DVD+R write capacity

Blu-rayTM Disc

Weight: Starting at 10.6 lbs5 (4.81 kg)

Width: 16.0″ (406 mm)

Height: <2.00″ (50.7 mm)

Depth: 11.9″ (302.6 mm)

4 USB 2.0

Integrated 2.0 MP camera

The M1730 is the latest in Dell’s XPS series of high-performance gaming laptops marketed specifically to gamers. The laptop packs quite a punch for its rather small package, although the weight may and could be an issue with users.

Switching between programs and processes has never been easier and the M1730 allows you to toggle between programs without any visible lag time. No more accidental deaths just because your friend just signed in into an instant messenger program. In addition, being a gaming laptop, the AEGIA PhysX physics processing unit allows for an unprecedented level of dynamic motion and interaction in mobile gaming. With 512 MB of dedicated video RAM, it feels like gaming on a desktop rather than a laptop.

The M1730 also has a number of interesting gadgets, chief being the Logitech Gamepanel LCD screen nestled in the top right hand corner of the keypad. This nifty little addition allows you to keep track of the ammo count of all your available weapons or take inventory of your stash with a glance, keeping you constantly updated on the ever-changing digital battlefield. The M1730 also comes with a numpad, allowing you to avoid that deadly strafe attack coming from an opposing plane. Both the keypad and the numpad are fully-illuminated, so playing in the dark has never been more cool.

The M1730 is the best there is when it comes to mobile gaming, fully capable of supporting even the most graphic-intensive games on the highest settings. The downside: it weighs a ton.

Free Web Arcade

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Free web arcade definitely lives up to its name of being, number one: it’s free, number two: it’s online, and number three: it’s an arcade. Indeed, the website’s catalogue of nicely crafted Flash and Java games can rival any real-life video game arcade.

Like any good Flash-game website, Free Web Arcade prides itself on its high quality games, of which, several are taken to other websites providing Flash games. Free Web Arcade’s games are of the usual mixed variety – from warfare to espionage to the insane, mundane and logically inane. Regardless of which genre, there is sure to be something in Free Web Arcade for everyone.

One of the most popular and fun games has to be Age of War. It is essentially a war game (DUH) which has the player fielding units to try to destroy the computer’s base on the other side of the map. Units are bought using gold earned from slaying enemy units, and turrets can help defend your base as well as the computer’s. Sure, it is a done-to-death- defend-the-castle formula, but Age of War’s creator adds in an interesting twist: age advancement. Yes, as the game progresses and you gain experience from either slaying enemies or getting your own units slain, you can advance to a higher age, granting you access to more powerful units as well as defensive turrets. The ages are quite similar to the ones used in Empire Earth: Stone>Medieval>Renaissance>Modern>Future, and each epoch features unique units. Word of warning though, the computer does not advance at the same time as you do, which means that the computer can and will advance before you. To help players ease the tension when the computer manages to slay all your units and is advancing onto your base are special powers, or rather, superweapons. Each age grants you a different superweapon, although most weapons are offensive in nature. Graphics-wise, Age of War blends some very realistic animation with nicely drawn character models, and it is a blast seeing your knight stabbing an opposing swordman to death.

Free Web Arcade is a nice website to go to kill time, and games like Age of War will definitely keep you on the site for hours at end.

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12-11-07

The Orange Box

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Developer: Valve

Publisher: Valve

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3

The Orange Box, to put it simply, can be considered the best there is in recent gaming times. Where else can you find not one, not two, but five different and very well-made games in one package? Nowhere but the Orange Box, that’s where.

The critically acclaimed Orange Box contains five original games from the creators of the hugely popular Half-Life: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal. At the ridiculously reasonable cost of S$71.90, this is a must-have for all hardcore or casual gamers, that is, if your machine(s) can support the graphical requirements of these visually pleasing games.

For the uninitiated, Half-Life 2 and its subsequent expansion Episode 1 follows the trials and tribulations of Gordon Freeman, the scientist-turned-hero who fights off an endless tirade of enemies with a crowbar famously from the days of Half-Life. Now, blessed with a graphical upgrade and a plethora of gameplay innovations, Gordon has now turned savior to the world after his exploits in the first Half-Life resulted in the takeover of Earth by an alien force calling themselves the Combine. With allies – both alien and human – Gordon fought his way out of City 17 and blew up the Citadel by the end of Episode 1. I will not spoil the experience for you much; you will have to play the game to find out more.

Episode 2 thrusts the player into the thick of the action right from the get-go. When the game begins, Gordon must find his way out a sinking train and rejoin Alyx, his female companion from Half-Life 2. The entire game plays out like a adrenaline-charged chase movie, where the duo must deliver a set of abort codes to Alyx’s father in the old missile base codenamed White Forest to thwart the Combine’s efforts to open a portal to their homeworld. Expectedly, the Combine catches wind of their plans and literally throws everything they have at Gordon and Alyx, from Hunters to Striders to Antlions.

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Episode 2 does not shine much in terms of innovation – it is essentially a continuation of the plotline in Half-Life 2. Although new enemies and allies are introduced, as well as some cool new vehicles (read: muscle car) and new mechanics, gameplay remains relatively the same as before, with little novelty present. Still, Episode 2 is a decent extension of the Half-Life 2 franchise, and for die-hard Half-Life fans, Episode 2 will serve to answer some of their nagging queries.

That said, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is not the only bulb shining in the Orange Box of Valve’s brilliant lightbulbs. Enter Portal, the first-person shooter (FPS) 3D puzzle game. Portal breaks new ground by introducing intricate and highly challenging puzzles in an FPS environment. Although some FPS games, like Half-Life, feature puzzles interspersed within the gameplay environs, Portal takes this to the extreme by focusing the core gameplay on mind-melting challenges given to the player level after level, termed “tests”. In fact, the only enemy you will see in Portal is the puzzle environment itself. That and the presence of a monotonous, pessimistic female AI voice urging the player on with the promise of cake if the player finishes the series of “tests”.

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The player in Portal is tasked with navigating through a progression of 3D puzzles using only basic movement and the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or simply the Portal Gun. Fire it once and the gun opens a circular portal on a suitable surface, the entrance. Fire it again and the gun creates a similar portal with a different color on another surface, the exit. There is no definite entrance and exit with regards to the portals opened, as both portals can and will function as both entrance and exit. The player must use the portal gun to get from point A to point B in each level using any means possible: movement, momentum and the laws of physics. As with all good FPS games, a plot – with decent twists – exists in Portal to make it a truly memorable FPS puzzle experience. Portal alone is worth the price of the entire Orange Box. It is that good.

Why stop when you have all of it going for you? Valve throws in one final ingredient to the mix of already awesome games that makes the Orange Box stellar: Team Fortress 2. Hailed as the best thing to happen to multiplayer team-based FPS games, Team Fortress 2 is built around two opposing teams competing for an objective, much like its predecessor. However, Team Fortress 2 supersedes it’s ancestor in numerous ways, the chief being the graphics.team2ss.jpg

Team Fortress 2 does not utilize the naturalistic graphical approaches taken by other games under the Valve umbrella or by any other FPS developer for that matter, instead it adopts a more stylized, cartoonish approach, much like Pixar Studios’ popular CGI flick The Incredibles. The wacky graphics puts a lighter and more humorous feel onto the entire game as opposed to the dreary atmosphere associated with highly realistic FPS games, and the blood and gore that is inevitable with shooter games becomes less noticeable, and even funny.

Graphics aside, Team Fortress 2 features a heavy remake of all the classes present in the first Team Fortress. Although the classes – scout, soldier, pyro, demoman, heavy, medic, engineer, spy and sniper – remain essentially the same, they are all given graphical and gameplay upgrades, to better suit the individual player’s play style. For example, the scout has the fastest speed in the game and has the ability to double-jump, giving him the ability to secure objectives faster than any other class in-game. This class is most suited for players who prefer to complete objectives rather than participating in extended firefights. For players who are fond of spearheading assaults, the soldier with his high-powered rocket launcher will be their choice pick.

 

 

There is something for everyone in Team Fortress 2, and the entire awesome package that is the Orange Box.

In summary, the Orange Box is nothing short of a modern gaming gem.

 

 

Nokia N81 8GB Phone

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Manufacturer: Nokia

Price: From S$938

Features:

– 2.4’’ QVGA LCD

– 2.0 megapixel camera, frontal CIF camera

– Bluetooth, GPRS

– Internal dynamic memory: 96 MB

– Internal flash memory: 8 GB

– MP3 player and FM Radio

– 240 Minutes talktime

– 140g

The Nokia N81 is the latest in the N-series of smartphones released by handphone manufacturing giant Nokia. It includes gaming features similar to that found on the N-Gage and has been touted to be Nokia’s answer to the iPhone.

The Navi Wheel and a clean multimedia menu allows the user to easily load up and sync tunes. The N81 can also store about 6000 songs.

The N81 supports landscape or portrait gameplay and has dedicated game keys with interactive multiplayer support.

The Nokia N81 is Nokia’s alternative to the iPhone. If you can’t wait for the iPhone to be out next year, satisfy yourself with the Nokia N81.

 

 

Orisinal: Morning Sunshine

URL: http://www.ferryhalim.com/orisinal/

At first glance, the website appears to be of Japanese origin, with its cutesy graphics, stylized interface and unfettered layout. However, the website is the brainchild of one very talented Ferry Halim, an American residing in Fresno California. Created in 2000, the website features an astonishing 59 Flash games, mostly based around small animals, little girls and other cutesy themes. Apart from games, the website also has an online store, wallpaper downloads, trailers and a guest book for visitors.

The majority of Orisinal’s games involve cute characters, beautiful outdoor backgrounds and relaxing ambient music, some composed by Steven Cravis. The games task the player to perform simple tasks, such as collecting food for a squirrel, jumping across ledges and swatting spiders, although there are certain games associated with war and battle. The games on Orisinal load amazingly fast, spanning less than ten seconds even for the more graphically intensive games.

Notable games include the very popular The Truth is Up There, whereby the player controls a life-like video camera and attempts to record footage of passing UFOs in exchange for money at the end of the game. The money awarded is equivalent to the score and watchability of the entire video. Furthermore, the videos of the top ten players can be watched from the leaderboard, inciting players to constantly play and replay this highly addictive game.

Another game that will hook players is Winterbells, a somewhat mindless, platforming game involving a cute white rabbit and Christmas bells. The player controls the rabbit and must guide and steer the creature up a beautiful winter nightscape by jumping onto increasingly small white bells. All of the rabbit’s actions are controlled by the player’s mouse. It is satisfying to see the little furball hop onto the elusive bells and go up and up, and even if the rabbit falls (no worries, there is no death here, or anywhere within Orisinal), the player will want to start over and try for a higher – literally – score .

In sum, Orisinal is a very fun and addictive website to go to kill some boredom time. If you’re a fan of cute animals and flash games, Orisinal is a godsend.

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Play! is the weekly digital lifestyle show brought to you by Jie Wei and Mok.

Besides presenting game and gadget reviews on-air, I’ll also put my weekly content up here, as an hour is not enough for me and Mok to talk about the stuff that we like.

So do check back here often for the latest in the gaming world! Beware though: the posts can be long, but readable.

1 Comment

  1. windows vista ultimate key generator

    haha gotta love Windows…


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