Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

The Wire, Season Three:
This season brings the action back from the docks to the inner city, and wraps up several storylines that were started way back in the first season. I enjoyed it more than the second season, and about as much as the first.

Final Grade: B+

The Wire, Season Four:
The most impressive thing about season four is how many young actors they managed to find that both look and act like eighth graders -- usually there's either a Glee/Breakfast Club syndrome, or you get a bunch of youngsters who can't act at all. Season Four tackles the Baltimore public school system, and is the closest spiritual comparator to the book, The Corner. The same body of main characters is generally present, although some of the originals are allowed to fade into the background in a natural way to make room for the new ones.

Final Grade: A

Code Complete by Steve McConnell:
I purchased this book directly out of school, probably after reading it on a list of "books you must put on your shelf to make it look like you are truly a software engineer". I then cracked the cover, waded through the initial chapters on project requirements and design and permanently lost interest. A decade later, I'm reading it the way it should be read -- a couple sections at a time like a Tips n' Tricks book rather than a narrative -- and finding it much more insightful. The book is still far too long-winded, and the theoretical sections can kind of drag, but skipping ahead to the practical parts definitely makes this worth a read.

Skip the Kindle edition though -- 900 pages of text translates into 40,000 pages of e-ink, and the formatting is cluttered to the point where the bibliographies and "key point" icons are squished into the text, meaning that you can barely fit a single coherent thought on any given page before jumping to the next one.

Final Grade: B

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes:
I tend to like games that merge strategy with turn-based puzzles, and at $15 on Steam, I decided to give this one a shot. It has an annoying anime art style with an awful anime plot, and instantly forgettable orchestral music, all of which I generally expect from this genre. Gameplay is Bejeweled-esque, as you match army units into groups of 3 to charge them up and attack the enemy forces.

Unfortunately, unlike every other color-based puzzle game I've ever played, the developers of this one managed to select all of the colors that are impossible for a colorblind person to differentiate. It'd be manageable if the units were red, yellow, and blue, but they seem to be shades of orange, sea green, and teal-blue. In addition, entire game pieces aren't colored -- instead, the colors manifest themselves in tiny stripes, or helmet plumes. After I failed the third puzzle a second time because I couldn't compare the brown smear on the bear's ass with the orange tat on the front of the magic elk, I realized that this was not a game I would excel at. My final quibble is that it's a direct console port, so you spend more time waiting at a loading screen than playing the game.

Final Grade: C-, F for the visually handicapped

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