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A&E

Dota 2 is a better version of an already great game

by Douglas Wong

 

“What is with all that clicking?!?” is a question I am asked all the time by my family and friends.dota0005.jpg It should be obvious that I am playing “Dota 2”! “Dota 2” is a remake of the previous outdated Warcraft 3 “DotA 1,” a multiplayer online battle arena. A MOBA game has the player control one or more units that engage in battle against an opponent. In Dota, the player is given four other humans to battle against five human opponents. “Dota 2,” is not bought at your local video game store, instead Valve, the company who made the game, requires you to be invited by another player for a key to unlock the game. It has satisfied me with its graphics and release of content every week. 

 

Since “Dota 2” is the remake of “DotA 1,” it shares almost the same gameplay as its predecessor. I would describe “Dota 2” as being a reskinned version of “DotA 1.” Not only have all 98 heroes been given visual upgrades, but the entire map has been given new life. Heroes that the player controls have all been given the necessary upgrade to make the game more balanced. 

 

In 2009, Valve took on the job of remaking “DotA 1,” by working with its founder, IceFrog. Valve was originally famous for games such as “Team Fortress,” the “Half-Life” Series, and of course, “Counter-Strike.” Valve was founded by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. Newell being respected as a type of god like figure by many gamers.

 

Although they share the same gameplay, the game engine Valve has built “Dota 2” on is completely new. The player is allowed to flip between the main menu and the game freely. This feature allows the player to customize and see what their friends are doing, which is something I love. Your friends can also spectate your game, a feature not seen in “DotA 1.” Who would not want their friends to commentate and heckle as you played your game? 

Since “Dota 2” is free, something Valve rarely does to their games, you might wonder how Valve makes money on such a popular game. The “Store” within the main menu of the game allows players to buy certain customizable skins and equipment for their favorite hero. The prices however, are unreasonably high. Ten dollars for a piece of equipment for my hero?! That’s malarkey! 

 

For those coming from a Role Playing Game or any other story-driven game, “Dota 2” lacks any amount of story; unless you see your win/loss record or how well you do as a certain hero as a type of adventure. However, each hero is given a small backstory to describe themselves. 

 

League of Legends, arguably Dota’s rival, has been said to be the better game. I have played both and believe both games have a certain aspects that makes the games different. “League” is much easier to get creep kills for gold, while in Dota your opponent can deny you from getting this. Dota is also much more team oriented, in “League” one player can “carry” your team completely without help; something I did not like as I played League. I feel as if MOBA’s have to be team oriented. You’re given four other allies for a reason! 

One of the only complaints I have about “Dota 2” are the patches given to improve the game. Although the patches are good and improve the game, they are released at the oddest time. Instead of releasing them at the time with the fewest amount of players, usually dawn of each time zone, they are released in the middle of the day. This has forced me to completely patch my game after my client had crashed, which takes about five minutes. Do not say five minutes doesn't matter; in any game five minutes can mean life or death or a hard to get achievement. 

 

I also have an issue with the playerbase. Although Valve has placed a specific filter to match players with people of the same skill level and language, players still do not always represent their skill level and the language they select. Players could have been given extra high rating through playing with their less-skilled friends. Something should be done to make playing with friends a factor in matchmaking. 

 

Communicating through language is an everyday problem we must go through. Players do not always choose the correct language, forcing other players to deal with that player that does not speak the selected language. Communicating is a key factor when playing Dota. This pisses me off, but this problem is found within all MOBA games which makes me really wonder if it can be fixed. However, this problem has been attempted to be addressed by Valve and other companies by allowing players to select a region where they would like to play in. Choose your region with your language! 

 

Overall, I loved this game when I was first introduced to it back in 2005 and I still love it now. “Dota 2” fulfills the required changes “DotA 1” needed visually and in its gameplay. I hope that Valve continues with its constant release of good games such as “Dota 2.”

Although “Dota 2” has its two HUGE issues, I’m still satisfied; 4.5 out of 5.

LMFAO is the funniest thing since the old school lunches

by Hans Oberschelp

 

I'll be honest, when I sat down to watch the Lincoln Mustangs Funny Actors Organization improv show, I wasn't expecting too much. 10998_2853751159343_285425050_n.jpgSure, there are some funny students at school, but put on the spot, how clever could a club of high school students be? To my delight, the show proved to be much faster paced, crazier, and most importantly funnier than I had ever imagined.
 
The show, on Friday, February 22nd, consisted of three overarching segments, each with a theme. Of course, half of the time, this theme was completely ignored. Within each section, three to four skits, (or as Ian Enriquez, club director said it, ìTheater Gamesî) were put on by four to six members of the club. 
 
Skits ranged from parodies of books taught in Mr. Kim's English class, to infomercials of terrible products. Each skit had rehearsed rules, (for example, in Death in a Minute, a character had to be killed off in sixty seconds) but the specifics of the skits were revealed to the improvists moments before the skits (maybe in practice, the skit was about a picnic, but during the show, it was about the apocolypse). This is where the improv came in. The club members had to think on their toes to incorporate the scenario they were given just seconds before.
 
What surprised me most about the show was the type of humor that was so successful in the show. I found myself laughing the hardest not at a witty line or a bad pun but at ridiculous accents and funny faces.
 
Sometimes, it was the pure ridiculousness of the situation that was so humorous. The skit, ìHollywood Directorî stands out in my mind. In it, actors (Quinnton Barringer, Kristina Guardin and Ian Enriquez) had to film a scene from a new Hollywood interpretation of a love scene between Gatsby and Daisy in The Great Gatsby. 
 
Of course, as Hollywood goes, the director (Barret Courtney) couldn't make up his mind, and forced the movie stars to do a San Francisco version where Gatsby is more interested in Nick than Daisy, a ìStar Warsî version with Daisy as Chewbacca and finally a version with Barringer and Guardin in switched roles, and Ian Enriquez with a Russian accent.
 
In another skit, called ìSurvivor,î actors got voted off the scene, and the remaining had to reenact the same skit with fewer people every time. By the end, a single person had to simultaneously be a pirate captain, a fisherman, a pirate with one leg, and two scallywags supporting the pirate with one leg.
 
At some points in the show actors blanked and couldn't come up with lines, but this actually added to the humor of the show. There were two levels of humor: the actual skit, and the fact that the club members were expected to come up with a clever response to an insane situation in seconds.
 
The show was supposed to be PG, but who could pass up the opportunity to make a joke about two Australian movie critics struggling to censor an X-rated movie about a relationship between a boy and his dog?
 
I could tell that the actors were genuinely trying to keep the show PG, and the fact that they completely failed to do so was funny in and of itself. I guess sometimes crude jokes are just too good not to make.
 
As a whole, I was blown away by how funny LMFAO's show was. If you have any sense of humor at all, you will find the club hilarious.
LMFAO sprouted from an on the fly improv show fundraiser for the Global Glimpse Nicaragua Trip in 2011, because it wouldn't take much preparation. According to Ian Enriquez, the club sponsor, ìIt started in the spring of 2011. We kinda just did it as a fundraiser for the Nicaragua Trip, and the audience did not stop laughing. The students asked if they could make it into a club.î Barret Courtney, who has been in the club since the beginning, said they started the club ìbecause me and Ian both like making people laugh.î
 
Courtney went on to say ìI enjoy it because it's a family. It's a group effort to create that scene. Seeing that group effort happen is really cool, coming together to make people laugh.î
 
Even though improv shows are unscripted and influenced by unpredictable audience decisions, LMFAO rehearses for the shows every Thursday. Enriquez explains, ìThere's definitely rules to improv. Accepting offers is one thing. If someone says something you have to roll with it. If someone says, 'Here's a donut,' you can't say, 'That's a crowbar.'î
 
Courtney similarly noted, ìKeeping a conversation going and not having it go in circles is important. Don't go 'Oh, hey dad.' 'I'm not your dad.' 'Yes you are.' Don't say no.
 
While each performance is unique, skit structures, or ìtheater gamesî are practiced beforehand. ìThere's a bunch of games that we will play. We found some of the games online. From 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' we took 2 Line Vocab, and Hollywood Director.î
 
Just to give you an idea of how hysterical LMFAO can get, Enriquez recalled ìThe first time we played a game called State Trooper, I kept turning around. I was wondering why, and I realized I was suffocating and my subconscious was making me look away.î So there you go. LMFAO can make you laugh to death.

"Every Day" is a new experience

by Charlotte Woo

 

You wake up to find that you aren’t in your own bed, nor are you in your own room; you may not even be in your home town. every day art.jpgThis is what A wakes up to, and it’s happened since the day A was born.

 

The novel “Every Day” is the amazing newest addition to David Levithan’s collection of work. It is the story of an abnormal teenage love between a spirit referred to as A, who can only spend 24 hours in a single person’s body, and Rhiannon, a girl stuck in a rut with an uncaring boyfriend. They first encounter each other when A wakes up in said boyfriend’s body and spends a day with Rhiannon. A goes against all of the rules it set for itself by getting to know Rhiannon.

 

The unconventional love story is one of the many aspects that makes “Every Day” a unique book. A allows itself to get close to someone it’s never supposed to see again. Day by day, Rhiannon has to get used to seeing A in different bodies, ranging from the all-important jock to the uber-depressed shy girl. Levithan has A make serious attempts to reach this unattainable love interest. But Rhiannon is skeptical. She knows that a legitimate relationship between her and A will never happen because of A’s condition.

I admire A’s valiant efforts: trying to keep a relationship when it has no idea where it will wake up is tough, but for five weeks, A keeps trying, persevering through the crucibles and trials it faces.

 

The central storyline is well thought out, and the development of principle characters leaves little to be asked. Still, I have one bone to pick with the novel: how does A’s condition completely work? The reader is told part of the story, but the entirety of the condition is unclear. We are told that A continuously wakes up in bodies of those around the same age and within five hours of Rhiannon’s town. But what happens if A runs out of people in the area or if A’s host has to leave the general area completely?  The inner workings and operation of A’s condition could be explained in fuller detail, but I fear it could ruin the smooth flow of the novel.

 

Levithan’s latest work contributes to his collection of irregular love stories. Several of his novels have centered around same-sex teenage couples, something that still is not seen often in young adult fiction. Levithan’s writing style is different from most authors. In many of his books, the story is told from multiple viewpoints; he varies the length of sentences to draw in your attention so that he can spread out details. A reader must be observant to catch all of the important and more specific details.

 

With “Every Day” being the fifth title I have read from Levithan, I can genuinely say that all of his novels, especially “Every Day,” are not to be missed.

 

For more information about the author and his work, visit www.davidlevithan.com.

Anime may not be so much of a "freak's obsession"

by Jaimie Liu

 

Anime is a humongous part of Japanese culture! Most people see it as a nerdy hobby, or rather a freaks obsession. ANIME 4TH ISSUE FINAL.jpgBut this is entirely untrue and it doesn’t have to be true for you once you start. As I display my likes and dislikes, you can also find the perfect set of genres that suit you best. Many people that are not involved with anime make the frustrating confusion between the terms “manga”and “anime”. Anime refers to Japanese animation, while manga refers to the comic books in which the animated version is derived from. They differ from regular American produced cartoons obviously; and if you love American cartoons you’ll love Japanese animation ten times more.

Shounen and shoujo are the two categories for anime. Shounen is aimed at young male protagonists and their perspectives while shoujo is aimed at young females and has a girl protagonist. Often times, anime are based on both perspectives; therefore the fun can be shared between both males and females. Most shounen and shoujo also share the same genres; romance, psychological, horror, school life, drama, etc.

I follow the mainstream anime. “Naruto” and “Hunter x Hunter” (1999) are my top two shounen anime. A few others are “Ao no Exorcist,”, “Full Metal Alchemist,”, “Bleach,” and “Soul Eater”. It would be difficult to understand precisely ‘why’ each is so great due to the different characters and plots and therefore difficult for me to explain. These all share the genre of fantasy, travel, comedy and action. It just so happens that I am most drawn to these when it comes to shounen! The characters are super close -knit and you’d feel close to the characters as well. A reason that all these titles are mainstream, or popular, is because they are the kinds that will leave you mesmerized to the point where you will definitely be left with a strong impression.

 Shoujo anime I have enjoyed have been “Gakuen Alice,” “Vampire Knight” and “Kodocha/Kodomo no Omocha.” These share the genre of romance, school life, drama and comedy. Why do I recommend these? For the same reasons I’ve listed for shounen, but this time with the excitement of romance. You can ship whichever characters you like! There are so much more that I can list but these remain at the top.

A certain genre called ‘harem’ consists of a male protagonist whom is surrounded by a bunch of girls with different personalities – or sometimes the opposite occurs. My only experience with this would be the trilogy of Key, a Japanese comic story author and artist. This trilogy consists of the anime “Air,”, “Clannad” and “Kanon.”. They were extremely depressing but incredibly beautiful. The factor of death is emphasized in each.

There are mainstream anime for genres such as psychological, horror, mystery and even friendly gay/lesbian exists of course. I don’t “dislike” these types. I simply do not interest in them. I generally do not dislike anything about anime.

“Hunter x Hunter” (1999) AND “Full Metal Alchemist” have most recently been remade to follow the storyline set within their manga version. Because anime is derived from manga, it is not strange for them to follow as so. Though I dislike nothing of anime, I view these remakes in a negative light. I watched the original “Hunter x Hunter” and “Full Metal Alchemist” in grade school and since then the everlasting influence has stuck with me. Nothing compares to their originals. Everything about the original was perfect – perfect voice actors, graphics and plot.

Anime is based off of manga, however they do not always have to precisely follow it! The anime was something of its own. Hunter x Hunter(2012) changed their voices, and the characters look deformed. As I compare the two I cant be in any more disgusted. “Full Metal Alchemist(Brotherhood)” had a touching ending, the only part I liked. The voices for the two protagonists stayed the same, and the graphics are prettier, but many of the characters changed I couldn’t stand the new characters that were introduced. I highly suggest the original anime for these two series if you choose to watch anime!

If ever you decide to stay home and choose to be inactive, be inactive with anime! Let your mind wander into their world. Take a break from your games and instead start on a series of anime that will leave you mesmerized and feeling bittersweet because of the ending.

That is not my motherf**king hat

by Charlotte Woo

 

Imagine yourself in a messy space full of constant swearing. Not the occasional kind of swearing, but the kind of swearing where it becomes every other word. Got the picture?the cast of mf with the hat.jpg You’ve just gotten a taste of the world of “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” a play currently showing at SF Playhouse.

 

“The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” written by Stephen Adly Guigis, is the profane tale of Jackie, a former alcoholic drug dealer who just got out of prison. After joining the workforce and coming home to celebrate with his drug addict girlfriend, Veronica, Jackie finds something that does not belong to either of them: a man’s hat. He accuses her of cheating and leaves to seek help from his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Ralph. And so the story unfolds.

 

Guirgis’ choice of vulgar vocabulary is an interesting choice. I am not one to enjoy listening to a large amount of profanity, but the effect is powerful. It captures the audience’s attention and makes a statement about our society that nothing is as clean and innocent as it may seem. Once I was able to look beyond all the obscenity, I found a lovely underlying message that doesn’t become fully apparent until about two-thirds of the play was over. Ralph sums up the message nicely by saying, “And the fact is that in that moment, we were both happy. I was happy, you were happy. Fact.” Ralph says the only idea that matters is the present; let the past stay in the past and live every day to its fullest.

 

The acting choices are wonderful. I could feel the emotion gushing out of the actors; all five members of the cast really become their characters. A standout is Rudy Guerrero, who plays Jackie’s cousin Julio. I’m not sure if it was the way Julio is written or if it was Guerrero’s portrayal of the character, but he is clearly a highlight of the play. Julio is a flamboyant hispanic. Guerrero uses a heavy stereotypical-Latin accent to emphasize certain syllables over others. Toward the end of the play, he takes on the hilarious tough guy persona of Van Damme. The voice he uses to imitate Van Damme was my favorite part of the play; it’s so different from everything Julio does beforehand. The audience’s positive reaction fed Guerrero’s performance, and his comedic timing is great.

 

The set designs from double duty director Bill English are flawless. His attention to detail and his arrangement of the stage are impeccable. At first glance, the set seemed like it was all one apartment, but in fact, the stage is divided into three sections by setting half the stage up about a foot above the rest and by doubling up the lower half with two levels. The first level shows a shabby bedroom to represent the entirety of Jackie and Veronica’s apartment. The smaller details, such as what is on the nightstand and how the bed is a mess sends a message about their lifestyle. Above the bedroom was a terrace, which is Julio’s home. The way he moves around his terrace shows the attention that went into designing the terrace and the staging done by English. The third section is much cleaner and neater; this is Ralph and his wife Victoria’s apartment. The artwork on the wall and the minimal amount of objects around showed their cleaner-cut lifestyle.

 

Overall, the production is enticing. Though mass amounts of vulgarity is not my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed the play for its meaningful dialogue and complex storyline.

 

“The Motherf**ker with the Hat” plays at SF Playhouse until March 14. Tickets range from $30-$70. More information can be found at www.sfplayhouse.com