Posted on 24-05-2008
Filed Under (NC Blog) by NightCrawler on 24-05-2008

For Our Troops

By Brooke O’Neill Emery


FOR OUR TROOPS (both past and present, but particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan at present)

Though I don’t know your name
And I have never seen your face
I shed tears for you.

Though my memories don’t contain a time
We shared together
I miss you.

Though we are not related
You are in my thoughts.

When I’m eating, or taking a shower, or doing housework,
I think of you, knowing how much you wish you could be at home,
Your stomach full, doing mundane chores such as cleaning your house,
Clean from a fresh shower.

Though you are at terrible risk, and perhaps may not survive,
You are NEVER ALONE, and will always be alive
If only in our spirits, hopes and memories, our dreams for your future.

There are MILLIONS of people praying for you tonight
And throughout the day.

Praying for your safely and return as a whole person
In mind, body and spirit.

We are crying because we know. We know you are scared, and lonely.
And that you’d give anything to see your family, to hug you mother, father.
Your child, sister, brother, aunt, uncle.

To be showered with love and comfort,
Instead of sand and shrapnel.

We long for you too, with an ache so desperate as to make us insane.
To touch your face, see your smile; share your laughter and your tears.

We love you so much soldiers, you cannot know. You cannot fathom the swelling of pride in our chest as we think of you.
Of your courage and your sacrifice, the hope that you can come home soon.

And those that have returned, we have not forgotten you; you are in our prayers,
That you may recover from your experience and be healed.

No matter what anyone says, not matter the reason you are there,
You are a UNITED STATES SOLDIER, and you make us PROUD!!
Every day for that beautiful flag, for our great fortune to be Americans.

There are no politics, no scandals, no mistakes, NOTHING, which can diminish the sentiment we have for you.
And even as democracy permits free speech, as it should, which some may use to make judgments or cast aspersions,
Remember always, we know you’d rather be on the couch debating it with us than spending your days trying just to stay alive.

Let no “freedom of speech’ EVER make you doubt the American people’s faith in and love for you.
We are PROUD!

I’ve never met you, but I want you to know that I love you.
I’m praying for you.
I honor you.
I’m waiting for your return.

On this Memorial Day, 2008, and every day,
Please know that you are being though of.
GOD BLESS YOU and keep you until the day we can celebrate face to face.

Posted on 10-05-2008
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 10-05-2008

Pandora Tomorrow

Well the past couple of days I have been playing Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and all I can say is “IT IS ROUGH“! Since everyone knows I like the single-player experience I am currently going through the SP campaign. Last night I played it from 6pm till about midnight CST straight through, since Dead and/or Whisper were both a no-show for our nightly rounds of BF1942. (**And sorry Skull for not being able to hear you much when you joined on VT, I was literally under a fast moving train at the time and it was very, very loud down there!**) 

However after my couple of nights of play, here are some of my preliminary findings. Let me first say that if you are a fan of “fast action” shooters, then this is NOT the game for you. Also if you are not a fan of “third-person shooters”, which means your primary viewpoint is directly behind or around your character, this may not be the game for you, as well. That point is where I forgot about till after I purchased it, till York made the point of it being a 3rd person. I really don’t think I ever played a PC 3rd person shooter before, I have played some on the Super Nintendo I played a few years back, but I don’t think I have played one on the computer before this experience. And with this being the first, it is a very challenging experience I must say. 

Well after I finally got used to the keyboard commands, along with making some alterations on keystrokes through my first training level, I now have the perfect feel and smoothness for the game while playing it. I have found so far that the majority of the levels that I have currently played through require you to be very stealthy and to NOT kill a sole, and if you do kill or get spotted, your mission has failed. Which means afterwards you either re-start from the last auto-save point (which is normally the starting point of the level) OR a quick-save point for which you select by pressing the F5 key. That quick-save point selection has saved me many, many times and I use it a lot during my play now. Because if something happens (normally getting spotted) I know what not to do the next time through that section, and to apply a different strategy or move in a different manner. You would have to have played this game to actually and truly know what I am saying here, because you can sort of wall-crawl, jump and straddle close alleyways, climb drainage poles, slide down/across overhead lines, and even crawl under moving trains, as I was accomplishing last night when Skull joined VT. 

But let me tell you right now that accomplishing your mission, to advance to the next one in this game, is tougher than I ever expected. Almost to the point of impossible on some, but there are ways and things to do to keep you out of view of policemen and the terrorists that you are hunting or spying on. It sometimes takes many tries, and this is where those quick-saves come very much into play, so you don’t get to frustrated. And let me tell you, I got frustrated several times last night because it seemed that everything I tried just did not work, but after closer looks and investigation, along with using my head, I found the way to accomplish the task. So I should have added in a paragraph above, that if “frustration” in accomplishing tasks within a game turns you off, then this is NOT the game for you as well. But it is actually FUN to play, even after I almost ripped the DVD out of the drive and broke it in half! 

When the mission’s start you are normally armed with an H&K silenced .45cal, your night-vision and thermal imaging goggles, your lock-pick kit, and maybe a flash grenade or two. However you do pick up along the way other items like a silenced 5.56mm rifle, explosive/camera de-activators, Frag/Smoke/Chaff grenades, a shock gun which shoots non-lethal spy tracker bullets, along with a small sticky camera, and other items including an Alarm snare which makes a whistling sound to attract enemies which is also fired by the shock gun. There are also the old standby medical kits on the walls in rooms/areas to heal you from any injuries that you may have incurred. Hell you can even whistle at the enemy to get their attention so they come your way. Why would this be done? I done it last night to get the attention of a guard, so he would walk right under me while I was straddling an alleyway, and when he passed I dropped down, grabbed and killed him. Got to love when a plan comes together. But this is just a small explanation of things that you are armed with, and I have not used half of the stuff that I have picked up along the course of a level. Probably if I did, the job would probably be much easier. 

The single-player game is everything but boring in my personal opinion. Yes there are areas for which a single shot is not fired, but then again stealth IS the name of the game, and shooting your enemies can only be accomplish if AUTHORIZED. You are always in communication with your commanding officer, for which is voiced by Dennis Haysbert, known for his role as the team leader in the CBS television show “The Unit”, along with being the President in a season or two of the series “24”. Sam Fisher, your character is voiced by the veteran actor Michael Ironside, which has been in many movies like Top Gun, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers. Both of these actors bring the game’s characters to life because their interactions are sometimes very funny and humorous. 

The graphics in the game are OK, being that they are not the quality of today’s games like Call of Duty 4, but since I knew this was an older game that has been out for a couple of years, I am not disappointed. Hey you get what you pay for, and since I only paid $10 at Wal-Mart, and I must say it is well worth that price for all of the fun and enjoyment I am having with it. The sound is spot on, there is a musical score for the game, and however it is not that noticeable and is used at the right time. The atmospheric sound is nothing but outstanding, and the sounds of those crickets in the grass will scare you at times. Most of the reviews that I have read about concerning this game run from like 8/10-9/10 rating, which is not bad for a game, and I must agree with some of the comments made from the majority of the reviews. One which addressed the “frustration value” within the game where I can totally agree with. 

In closing this personal mini-review, this single-player game is what ALL single-player games should be for everyone that enjoys this sort of gameplay as I do. The games of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and FarCry take me on average, to this day, about a week and a half of gameplay to complete. And this game is currently looking like about the same as those above for time consumption. The storyline is also a BIG Plus within a game, and as like all three of the games I mentioned above, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow does have an interesting story it is telling right before your eyes. However as I already mentioned within this review, if you are one that likes a lot of tense firefight action, one that does not like the 3rd person viewpoint, or does not have the patience to play at times a very frustrating game, then this game may NOT be for you. But for those that like stealth, sneaking around in the darkness, killing without even a whisper, this game will reward you to a point that you will always remember. 

Now I know, after this experience, I may be purchasing the newer game named Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent pretty soon!