Sunday, September 27, 2009

ODST Firefight screen shots

Here are a few screen shots I grabbed after a round of Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST tonight. I use the same Sun Crow emblem in Halo 3 multiplayer.

The first one below shows me having to reload my pistol at the most inconvenient moment possible ...

Below, see me taking out five enemies at once with one hammer blow, Thor-style:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Knife throwing in MW2

In the multiplayer trailer for Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2, which Fartknocckker analyzed in a recent post, the last scene shows a kill by throwing a knife. The scene renewed my longstanding interest in this arcane skill of the warrior.

When I was an high school, a contractor who laid some carpet at our house was skilled in throwing knives. He said he'd taught knife throwing in the Army. The guy could take any knife and flip it effortlessly, making it stick anywhere in the room. I was amazed.

I asked him to show me how he did it, and he tried to teach me his technique of holding the blade, and flipping the knife so that it rotated 180 degrees in flight. This technique involved judging the distance to get the right amount of spin, so the tip would be pointing at the target when it got there.

I tried and tried to do it, but I could never master this method. I had a cheap knock-off of a Sykes-Fairbairn British commando knife, which I managed to stick in a tree a few times. I ended up breaking about a half-inch off the tip of the blade of that knife, ruining its appearance. I gave up throwing knives after that, but I always thought it was cool.

I normally take a fixed-blade knife camping. I've noticed that Bear Grylls always carries a fixed-blade on his survival excursions, frequently using it to chop wood by holding the knife by the handle and pounding the back of the blade with a stick.

Bulk and weight are issues in backpacking. That's why I admired this United Cutlery Combat Commander knife I saw a few months ago in the BudK catalog, which has a full-tang skeletal frame for a slim profile and minimal bulk. It also reminded me of the knives used in Starship Troopers -- the one Clancy Brown throws to skewer Jake Busey's hand, and that Denise Richards uses to cut the snout off the brain bug.

BudK was selling the Combat Commander for a good price, so I ordered several of them -- one for myself, as well as blades for Fortiscule, jrySix and crownshend. I engraved our names on them, as you can see in the photo!

When I saw the knife thrown in the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer trailer, I was excited to see a blade similar to my Combat Commander! The scene renewed my contemplation about knife throwing.

I have a theory that the method the man tried to teach me in high school -- the 180-degree tumble -- wastes energy with superfluous movement and wind resistence. It seems to me that more energy is transferred from the thrower to the target when the knife flies as much like a spear as possible.

After exhaustive research, which consisted of a Google search and viewing about a half dozen clips on YouTube, I found a video that seems to confirm my theory. This man, whom I gather might be a Russian paratrooper or Spetsnaz commando, demonstrates a quarter-turn technique that looks deadly and effective. Holding the knife by the handle, with his index finger stretched along the spine of the blade, he throws the knife straight at the target. He hits a head-sized target with a solid THUNK from across a parking lot!

Here's another video I found that appears to be of the same Russian dude, with a slow-motion sequence showing his arm movement.

This Russian method appears to be the way to go with knife-throwing. I know that some of my gamer friends on Sythbane Squadron are veterans, such as Fartknocckker. Do any of you guys have any training or experience with throwing knives? What was your experience like? What do you make of the technique in the MW2 multiplayer video, and in the YouTube video of the Russian?

We dropped from orbit

The season's cool games are finally starting to drop out of orbit, and you know which one I'm talking about!

Fortiscule and I played through the campaign in Halo 3: ODST last night. It took us about seven hours, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. We loved it. The game is great. It's more human than any previous Halo game. The characters are real people, not genetically engineered, trained-in-a-crucible Spartans, and they are very well acted by Nathan Fillion as Buck, Tricia Helfer as Dare, and all the rest of the cast.

I'll write a full review for Techcetera in the next few days, of course, but that's my first impression of ODST: thumbs up.

I've been busy writing reviews all week. The busy game season is upon us, and I don't want to get behind!

If you're into racing, take a look at my review of Need for Speed: Shift.

If sexy woman armed with pistols and swords is your bag, baby, then take a look at my review of Wet.

If you're curious about Wolfenstein, here's my review of that one, too.

We have new blogging software where I work, and so I'm figuring out how to best display my reviews with it. The new software, a new version of Movable Type, allows for a user profile page that displays all my activity on If you want to quickly find all my reviews, just pop onto that page.

I invite you to please visit my page on often. It doesn't cost you anything, but it helps put bread and butter on my table (or cereal on my TV tray, is more like it), because the more hits we have, the better our ad rates can be, and thus my job is more secure.

You can create your own profile on, too, and leave comments on my reviews. Please do that! It's fun to get feedback, when different gamers have varying opinions on games.

It looks like both Need for Speed: Shift and Halo 3: ODST allow you to take screen shots, which are posted to a corresponding web site. If you grab some screens of yourself in action, e-mail me a copy at, and I'll post them! If we have enough, I can create a gallery of Sythbane Squadron members in action. That could be a hoot!

Back to the game at hand: ODST. It's reported to be selling a gillion copies. Not surprising, because the game is great, but also because it was heralded by the best commercial for a video game ever, bar none, period. Here it is again:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fartknocckker examines MW2 trailer

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

A new Modern Warfare 2 video was released recently that revealed a lot of information that had been closely guarded.

The first was in the title of the video, “Flag Runner.” This is a new, fast-paced capture-the-flag variant in which flags are captured in about a second.

When the video begins, you can see that the weapon has reversed iron sights.

(I asked the esteemed Fartknocckker, who is an Army veteran, what the heck is a reversed iron sight, and he provided this expert explanation: Typically the rear sight of a weapon is a notch or aperture that encases the front sight, which is usually a post. In this case,the front sight has an annular shroud or ring around the post, which should be the rear sight. The MP5 and G3 are also examples of reversed sight weapons. Some rear sights can also be reversed to give you a V notch or U notch, depending on the distance from the rear sight to the front sight.)

Your teammate in front of you is sporting a shield and acts as an escort and spotter on your route.

Heads-up display elements and no team kills suggest the "core" game mode, yet there are no cross hairs, and the slightly increased bullet damage suggest hardcore mode. Is this a hybrid game type, perhaps? Or maybe this is a private match with custom settings.

The new kill streak system is demonstrated when at three kills, the standard UAV is unlocked. At four, an airdrop. And at five, a Predator missile.

The part I found very exciting was host migration in the middle of a match. No more of this nonsense of the match ending just because the host leaves. Just find another host and let’s play. Sweet.

Brok3ntrigger pointed something out to me that I had missed after viewing the video several times and overloading my synapses with eye candy.

(Fartknocckker admitted that he had, in fact, nearly soiled his brand-new Mountain Dew pants because of his enthusiastic physical response to this video. I confess that my Darth Maul underpants barely survived as well.)

At about the 1:50 mark in the video, after a knife is thrown to kill poor Mr. Bowling -- Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling, aka fourzerotwo -- sniping on a hill, the gun begins to be pulled back up into position and is slightly sideways. This is the best angle to view a suppressor AND a red dot sight. More than one attachment on a weapon at a time has been one of the most-requested features by players.

There are many other things to discover in this video, such as a bling “modifier” to weapons, but I’ll let you take another look to see what you can find.

Sythbane would like to see character customization. Big Daddy Ogre wants a “forgive” button for team kills and I already got my wish with multiple attachments. What would you like to see in Modern Warfare 2 or a future Call of Duty title? Leave a comment and let us know.

A powerful ODST trailer

Here's the new live-action trailer for Halo 3: ODST. This is absolutely awesome. I can't imagine why they can't get their act together to create a Halo film, if this is what it would look like.