Welcome to the Inconvenienced Blog. This is a Comedy and Gaming Culture Site all rolled into one. Alongside humorous articles, we'll also be be giving our thoughts on games, and the gaming industry as a whole.

Hope you stick around and get to know the place.

6 September 2008

The only review you can trust

Recently I've been seeing articles about the unclean side of the game-reviewing industry. It goes something like this: Let's say you write for a gaming magazine. People read your magazine if you have the first review. You have the first review if the developer gives a copy to you early. The developer gives it to you early...if you write a good review. This unfortunately happens for a lot of games, the most obvious example being Halo 3, with some occurrences appearing for, say, Bioshock. Having recently bought Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and finding it infinitely more fun than the reviews said it was...and also owning Assassin's Creed, and still having fun with it (maybe because I wasn't the one hanging on every goal the developers planned from the start) I begin to wonder if we can really trust reviews.

In a way, this is a superb metaphor to the actual News. If you, the reader, trust the opinions of Fox News, you can stop reading right now and go on to buying more iPhones. Obviously, their news is often dealt through the opinions and workings of their owners, plus whoever happens to be supplying them. Gun company gives cash, they support the war in Iraq. But I won't be getting into that right now.

However, if we do apply this metaphor, there is one parallel we can draw: Two things that take a completely humorous attempt at each, and actually manage to perform very well. I am of course referring to The Daily Show, and Zero Punctuation.

The Daily Show is a news show free to criticize the actions of other news shows, and thus far seems to be the most "neutral" of the news. They criticize whatever's funny, and do so openly, rather than trying to portray someone in a bad light by toning down the brightness on a particular clip, OJ-style. Zero Punctuation works sort of the same way; it's usually only looking at the BAD parts of what's new, and will normally beat something into the ground on his own. No one is supposed to agree with every word he says, as it's always intended for humor.

But this parallel still brings an unusual realization to me; if it's true, then does that mean that Zero Punctuation is the best review source we have? He's not doing it so the developers will give him early copies (heck, he lives in AUSTRALIA, for god's sake; he gets them last.). He's doing it to be funny, and he definitely need not worry about losing viewership, now that any new ZP is going to go to 3000 Diggs within 15 seconds. This really makes him the most neutral source, and one to really be reckoned with in a way. I mean, sure, you can tell before you watch it that he's going to hate the game, but you'll pick up enough of the bad and good to decide for yourself. He thought HL2:E2 was too linear, and only for HL fans, but there are plenty of us HL fans. He thought Halo 3 was just a "normal shooter", but some people go for that.

By the way, just be sure you remember that there's one parallel that can never be drawn. You can never fly out to Iraq and decide for yourself what's going on; but you can always try out the game, so leave it to your own opinion.

28 April 2008

Best read whilst tripping balls

Title unrelated.

Anywho, remember when I told you the other day about my mental condition? Yeah, I was only partially joking. There actually WAS a diagnosis pending and I am, in fact, mental. Off my rocker. Madder than a hatter on abestos and deliciously artery clogging Cinnabon sticky buns.

Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but I shit you not when I say that I have been clincally diagnosed as "fucked up in the head." Like, by a doctor and shit. I'll spare you the scintillating details, but I can confirm that the disorder starts with "A" and ends with "DHD with predominate innatentiveness."

Yeah, that's right. AD-mofoing-HD. I always thought I might have had mild ADD at worst, and even then I thought I was over-reacting and blaming my lack of focus on a disease because being defficient because of a disease is exponentially easier to blame for missing homework than being a fuckwit. However, since God seems to have an unusual sense of humor, it turns out that I've always had a similar problem to that one neighbor kid that I always hated for being an annoying, fuckfaced, energetic loser. Que sera sera, I suppose.

I can't help but shake the feeling, though, that this is just modern medicine telling me why that it's ok that I suck. They tell me I'm going to get special meds, extra time on homework, special tutors, the whole nine yards and then some, and it makes me really uncomfortable. I've never really liked being treated special, to be honest; it's always felt like people are just humoring me when I get that little extra something that other people don't have access to. It kind of makes me feel like I'm cheating at life or something.

Still, I guess I'm glad I got this shit sorted out now. I don't think I have to mention how much of a pain in the ass it would have been had I gone to college without this information. My tiny brain probably would have exploded from the pressure.

Also, it turns out that the evaluation test I took had an IQ element to it that I was unaware of. It turns out that, while my visual processing of information is sub-par, my audio processing is FANTASTIC, and my total IQ rounds out somewhere around 130. That's right, bitches. I'm practically a motherfucking genius. Hell yeah. I'm a ne'er do well, layabout, lazy, innatentive, scumbag who is bad at expressing his ideas on paper and will probably never be good at any mathematical endvours, but at least I'm a SMART one.

23 April 2008

Updated as frequently as the Dead Sea scrolls

Wow, this thing is still breathing? I could have sworn it entered its death throes ages ago (about when it started), but I've been wrong before, and this time I'm rather grateful for it. Many thanks to Katana for showing some initiative and not only writing stuff, but writing decent stuff. Truly he deserves some mad props for that. Likewise, thanks to drunky for not just deleting it like most sensible people would have. His apathy and WoW addiction are useful for something, at least.

Anyway, yeah, it's me, and I am back to writing on a semi-regular basis. I say this tenatively, though, as I'm still hella busy with school work and my psychological state (diagnosis pending!) isn't exactly helping. However, my writing skill is begining to atrophy and I desperately need to practice my wordcraft, so I asked myself, "Why the fuck not?". I came up with several reasons, but I decided to come anyway and you're just going to have to deal with it.

Look out, world; Pwnzerfaust is writing again! (Poorly)

7 April 2008

8 of the best long-take shots of all time

Primer: A "long-take" is when a camera moves for an abnormally long time without needing to cut to another one. They are often used for feelings of extensive realism or just to impress people with extreme camera work. Often, CGI is used to splice together extremely long ones, or in some of the cases below, they are made almost entirely using CGI. I obviously don't know of everything, and may not have videos for them all, but this is from what I've seen.

8. The Matrix Reloaded: Burly Brawl (Beginning at 4:00)

This one is just barely notable to me, and to some it's just a nice bit of CGI. Keanu Reeves himself is in some of those shots, which shows some pretty nice mixing.

7. Star Wars Episode III: Opening battle (Ending at 1:20)

Like Reloaded, this one loses points for being CGI, but it's still very impressive and enticing, giving an enormous overview of the large-scale battlefield, then rushing the shot through close encounters with the engaging ships.

6. The Sixth Sense: Kitchen Scene ("Oh, you've got a spot!")
The first of our non-combat long-takes, and the first for which I don't have a video. In this scene, we move from the laundry room near the kitchen, into the kitchen where Bobby is having cereal. There is a short interchange between them, and she takes his tie back into the laundry room. When she returns, all the cabinets are open, with not a sound heard indicating such. There is another conversation between them before he leaves for school. Not amazing, but somewhat difficult to do in one take from the enclosed space.

5. War of the Worlds: Conversing in the van
So Tom Cruise is known for nothing more than Scientology now, but you can't deny it's pretty interesting how they got this shot done. The camera circles around the outside of what seems to be the only vehicle working for miles. The conversation held is pretty lengthy and the camera moves to each character as they talk.

4. Touch of Evil (beginning at 0:54)

The opening to Orson Welles' Touch of Evil would be pretty impressive even in today's cinema, but this was made long before even the invention of the steadicam. The camera starts on a closeup of an actor's hands, and ends several blocks down the street in another closeup. Even I don't quite know how they did it so smoothly.

3. The Protector

I don't like movies with throwaway plots, but I also love kung-fu flicks, so overall I enjoyed this; it's a really impressive shot that apparently took about a month of preparation. Some very nice moves in this as well.

2. Atonement (beginning at 0:46)

When I was first shown this, I was impressed at about 3 minutes. My eyes went wider as it went ON and ON. Additionally, all of the extras are very occupied with their various tasks, and it must have taken ages of choreography to get it right.

1. Children of Men: Take a Wild Guess
As disappointing as it is, I don't have a video for this one; YouTube videos of the famous 6-minute take have been removed multiple times. However, on the other hand it would be best for everyone that you watch this movie at your next available chance. Film appreciators everywhere were simply amazed at the fact that this didn't win Best Picture of 2006. Additionally, this isn't even the only long-take in the whole thing; there are at least 3 other scenes that I can recall from memory that involved extremely long takes. If you were at all impressed by the previous video of Atonement, I highly recommend you watch this movie the next chance you get.

5 February 2008

Movies are for the weak. Go read a book, you playa.

Anyone who visits a semi-intelligent discussion board like The Escapist Magazine's forums is going to notice something much wanted by large groups of people; better stories in games. I agree! When a star line in a hit video game is "What if you miss?" "I WON'T." then you know something's probably in need of fixing.

But as I read further I begin to notice some people might even be taking this idea to an extreme. Some people actually say that story is now MORE important than gameplay, and here is where I sort of have to draw the line. YES, the gaming world has needed some actual writers, as opposed to people who pen the dialog as they go along. But taking an elitist stance gets us nowhere.

The fact is, story, while important, is still secondary to what matters most; gameplay. Heck, it's a GAME. You'd think that the attribute that contains the word would be most important. Things like art style, graphics, story, are used to spice up a game that is already great. Case in point...

...a game called Aperture Science. This is a First Person Shooter released by Valve in the Purple Box in 2007. You play as a test subject for a combat facility that has to shoot her way through turrets and androids to defeat the evil AI ruling the place and get out. You get to use the Assault Rifle (a medium-range gun that shoots bullets real fast.) the pistol (a medium-range gun that shoots somehow-weaker bullets less fast) and the BFG (a weapon that programmers spent an enormous amount of time on, but you only get to fire once at the end). The game also has a BF2-clone multiplayer.

Now in this game (yes, end the sarcasm, it's a fake metaphor) the gameplay is dull and repetitive. BUT, the story is superb! Turrets speak in soft voices, GLaDOS mocks you with strangely emotional dialogue...but NOBODY CARES. Because most people stopped playing after having to kill the same turret the fiftieth time with the same circle strafe. Not even having Still Alive play at the end would save this game, because nobody would even play that for.

So there you go. Portal, like many games in 2007, had a great new idea. But not only was that idea just a little bit better, but it also had great art, great dialogue, great story, etc. In fact, here's where I have to make another point.

Far too often, people summarize the voice acting, writing, and plot of a game into just that; STORY. Now even as a die-hard Half-Life fan I have to admit this much; both Half-Life and Halo are essentially about aliens trying to take over the world and create Poisoned Kitten factories. So why does one kind of bring tears to people's eyes while the other brings X-box Live flaming? It mainly lies in the writing. Half-Life has characters that are often with you, make you care about them, have pretty convincing dialogue and not over-the-top personalities. I think if a game just got that idea down, then even if it were about Noir Detectives who decided to go shoot up the streets, it could have something going for it.

Then there's voice acting. This really comes into play with War games. Compare the Medal of Honor trailer's dialogue (GO GO GO! TAKING COVER! WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT!) to the highly approved casual remarks of the AC-130 gunners in Call of Duty 4. I think you'll notice a difference.

Things like writing and voice acting, while important in a game, I consider to be just above graphics in importance. No one can deny that things like UT3 are pretty damn fun, even when the characters all spout one-liners.

22 December 2007

If anyone ever wondered why I hate WoW...


Some jackass on a WoW IRC channel has taken it upon himself to not only have every friend he has vote for his machinima, but also to DOWNVOTE every other video on the site. One machinima that you may have heard of, in which GLAdoS faces off against the HP computer (prize of the contest) was at around 90 votes, and now has -16!

Do not let people win through such cheap and underhanded tactics. One way to deal with it is to vote for the machinima you like, and be sure to vote down on the video of the guy who incurred it.

Also, it would help to E-mail the site's creators and let them know that the public will not let this stand. If general knowledge that they let a spammer win a contest gets out, the site will undoubtably become less popular.
(the contest is not over yet, and there is still time to act)
On December 27th the contest will be over. Let's hope it's over for the WoW jackass.

29 November 2007

Quick rant on Prickly City

Today's point of discussion
Recently Scott Santis has been pissed off at the journalism site huffingtonpost.com because it employs its bloggers without pay. Well, I've got news for you, Scott. Here are a list of other things on the internet that usually have no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

  • Writing this blog (or most blogs)

  • Posting videos on YouTube, or any video site except MoneyTube (whose legality is debatable)

  • Writing an open-source project on sourceforge.net

  • Writing a whole novel on fanfiction.net

  • Editing together retarded yet somehow funny pictures on icanhascheezburger.com

  • Posting the result of 2 days in Garry's Mod and 72 hours in Photoshop

  • Writing a game guide on gamefaqs.com

  • Making a comic that has the exact same joke 4 days in a row

Of course, if the concept of not being paid for something is daunting to you, you can of course stop DOING whatever it is you're doing.

19 November 2007

Game of the Year on Inconvenienced

Well, it's easy to say that there's been a lot going on this year in terms of great games. Which is certainly more than can be said for last year. Reviewers said "Gears of War?" and we realized that no one had made anything better.

Now we have a whole slew of things to consider. We have Team Fortress 2, Crysis, BioShock, Halo 3, Portal, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Super Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Guitar Hero III, Call of Duty 4, Unreal Tournament III, Ratchet and Clank Future...the list goes on. And amazingly enough, in that list alone, we have FIVE GAMES that aren't sequels! FIVE!!! That's 38%!

But as we all know, Game of the Year can't be about statistics. We don't simply take the game with the highest numerical rating and slap on the medal. The game has to break boundaries, be really fun, and we need to know that we'll remember it next year. (speaking of which, last year's GOTY is now on PC...)

Many of you will know me for being the obsessive Half-Life fan, but in the face of the sheer number of high-quality games that have come out this year, even I have to go into some deep consideration.

2007 has been a great year for games, and so my supreme authority deems the game twenty lines down to be the undisputable game of the year.

Why are we fighting? Why do we have to always pick one over the other? Do we really care if a game on a system that we don't even OWN gets worse reviews than another one? Game of the Year was only established to convince people what games to buy. But it has mutated into something that at this point, I don't like.

It's now a contest of fanboyism, a debate of minute details and things that can be considered so objective that in any other field they would be ignored.

Well, consider this, fanboys. Consider the fact that in the end it comes down to preference, and even the most well-learned psychologist/game critic won't be able to tell why there are people who liked Clive Barker's Jericho. And there's no reason we should make fun of them either. If they like the game, let's not try to convince them that their opinion is wrong. Let's not make the world think we're all game designers and take an in-depth look at the mechanics and decide whether it is allowable for someone to enjoy the game. Let's let them have fun.

The fact is, I don't want one game to be Game of the Year this year. Whereas often we are looking for innovations beyond any other, such as in that ever-distant spectacle, SPORE, I think that what 2007 turned out is pretty damn good. Let me demonstrate...

Team Fortress 2 showed us that Nintendo's cartoony styles could actually work harmoniously with one of the gorier games to come out this year, and remains the one online multiplayer game that anyone can pick up and play.
Crysis pushed boundaries for graphics, in games and even in the general CGI world. It also gave us the perfect way to approach a situation in many different ways. We have no doubt it'll remain the benchmark of choice for overclockers.
BioShock told us a story that seems completely uninfluenced by any of the traditional plotlines we've seen. It's not an alien invasion, a demon taking over the world...BioShock was something else entirely.
Halo 3 finished a wide-stretching storyline, and remains one of the best twitch-multiplayer games around. It also made an enormous leap in machinima with the introduction of Saved Films and the Forge.
Portal took things so much farther than Digipen's original creation. All the incredible writing from Psychonauts has visibly carried over into a solid game mechanic that works in ways even the developers can't imagine. It remains the only game that reviewer Yahtzee Croshaw has no criticism for.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 finally took the Half-Life story somewhere. It reminded us that whereas all acting in movies is starting to look like Keanu Reeves, it's still possible for a game to bring a tear to your eye.
Super Mario Galaxy was more than a "flashback to the platforming era". It EXPANDED on the formula platformer. The gravity flipping and great, while not excessive, use of the wiimote, made this game definitely worthy of the long-standing Mario name.
Assassin's Creed brought Parkour to video games, and provides us with one of the most massive, GTA-style freeroaming games to come out all year.
Mass Effect, like KOTOR, gives you characters you will care about, worlds that will touch your eye, and a story that is truly unforgettable.
Guitar Hero III became the second video game to have a South Park episode based around it, and reminds us all of why we love music.
Call of Duty 4, rather than creating a new gimmick for the FPS genre, polishes the game that it knows so well to a mirror sheen. And it sent a powerful message to EA: WORLD WAR 2 IS OVER. GET WITH IT.
Unreal Tournament III provided a fantastic engine for BioShock, Mass Effect, and many other games to come, and is the first console game to attempt to bring mods from the PC to the consoles. Besides that, multiplayer is undeniably fun and varied.
Ratchet and Clank Future is finally one of the best PS3-exclusive titles, and combines the fun platforming of Mario with the also-fun gunning of Unreal. Except, in a manner of speaking...these guns are bigger.

We don't need a game of the year. As Christmas approaches, let us move our words from hateful fanboying (Altair would SO beat Master Chief in a fight) to mutual love of all games. (What if Altair taught Master Chief to be an assassin?)

Even if that includes Jericho.

12 November 2007

Crisis: Way too Early review

NOTE: Crisis is a game made by a hippy in Southeast Malasia. Thus it's not surprising that you've never heard of it. It definitely has nothing to do with Crysis. It would not make sense for me to be playing the game "Crysis", even though it may or may not be on some piracy sites already.

So not much has changed from the Crisis demo; you still jump out of a plane with a less than adequate introduction and really choppy framerates. I was running the game in DirectX 9 on low settings until NVidia has the good sense to write some real drivers. After the well-known demo, you head further and further into lonely-ville as more and more of your squadmates are killed off by the annoying blue ice alien thing.

I had a lot of fun tossing barrels and broken pieces of buildings at enemies in the demo level using Ultimate Strength, but soon enough the game starts to discourage this. First off, there are exactly one million freaking south koreans (no, not North Koreans, you're thinking of Crysis, and I am definitely not talking about Crysis.) and often you'll be fighting them at a really long range. Furthermore, there will be TWO million South Koreans if you have the sheer lunacy to get seen by someone and let them set off a flare.

Furthermore, there are one too many vehicles than one would like in a Long Cry-esque game. Soon enough you will be pitted against a tank without any helping hints as to how the fuck you're supposed to destroy it. One of them I managed to lure near a gas station, then tear a hole in both its hull and the lurking ozone later. The other, which thankfully seemed to have its turret stuck in a hole in the wall, I left alone for some 15 minutes before finally finding a stack of missile launchers. I used about two launchers (amounting to 6 rockets) before the thing blew up. This sort of brings up the question, what the hell would I do if I had missed with some of these, or blown up the gas station early? I'm not sure if Critek has completely thought that one through.

This extends to helicopters as well. In one section I was using Speed to go down this very long river to an extraction point. I would be using a boat, but unlike boats, my FiberSuit doesn't blow into a million pieces when a bullet larger than a splinter hits it. I kept feeling like the game was supposed to give me something to take these things down, but I ended up putting up with the thing the whole 2 miles or so. Afterwards, the impending boss battle felt comparatively easy.

Let me make this clear; if recent FPS's have felt easy for you, take a look at Crisis. You're going to have enemies all around you and not much cover. In my opinion, Kojima should have given up the tagline "No place to hide" to Critek. You'll need to use the suit abilities to survive, but beyond that you'll need to have some damn good aim, and as hard as it is, a damn good framerate.

7 November 2007

Conundrum: Chapter 2.

The Wildcat's latest chapter in his Conundrum fanfiction of Half Life.

Smoke created a black haze in the vacant hallway. The scent of blood was but a ghost in the thick air. Abandoned offices lined the corridor. Emergency lamps cast yellow light into the darkness.

At twelve feet in height, the creature could only traverse the tiny human structures in a burdened crouch. His thick chitin exoskeleton scraped the ceiling tiles and exposed the electrical conduits above. He occasionally swatted his broad claws against an office door, more for amusement then any true purpose.

His canine head shifted only slightly with each step. Green twinkles flickered from his pupils as they adjusted for the power-drained darkness. His feral snout whiffed the air in search of new prey.

The remains that lay deeper in the facility were bitter. It was as if decay had soured the meat. But the "scientists" had seemed rotten from the moment of the kill. Perhaps they were some subspecies that possessed particularly sickly, stringy meat.

Then again, the creature may have merely imagined the dislike of the scientist's flesh due to the ease with which he had dispatched them. Even the lowliest prey could offer a challenge when faced with certain death. Yet, these humans had been terribly frail.

It was as though they did not wish to live. Some of them had practically waited for the end. The security teams had been armed with automatic weapons and explosives, but they rarely used them until their death was imminent.

The creature grunted with disgust. He hoped to find suitable prey outside. Nevertheless, the humans had been a pleasure to kill. After all, they had kept the beast in a pin and...

Actually, the creature could not remember what the humans had done to him. He blamed them for pains he could not hope to remember. At the first chance to escape, he had gladly torn his victims to shreds.

He ransacked their laboratories and pillaged anything of interest. It was a minimal restitution for his forgotten torments.

He had taken something called a "cloaking field generator". Somehow, he knew that the device had value, but also needed charging. A second lab had yielded two small green balls. The soft, moist orbs seemed useless. If not for the level of security, he would have shown no interest.

The creature growled with frustration. Each floor was a maze of tunnels, hallways, and monitoring rooms. Of six explosive charges he had taken from a nearly empty weapon locker, he had used five for "short cuts".

A muffled sound caught the creature's ears. He sniffed the smoke and snorted. He had almost missed the bitter human scent amid the smoke. They were close, but not in his corridor.

He hammered an office door and pushed through the frame. After tossing a desk aside, he kicked the opposite wall. The concrete cracked and crumbling pieces trickled to the floor.

Both claws pierced the damaged surface. He pried his claws free and placed a final thunderous kick. The wall fractured, allowing the beast to bash through the new opening.

Minus the scorch marks and battle damage of his rampage, the hall seemed sterile. Florescent lights hummed incessantly. Their sickly white glow covered everything. Everything, that is, except the darkened elevator at the end of the corridor.

As twin metal doors sealed the opening, the creature detected the faint scent of fresh air. Instinctively, he knew that night had fallen.

He lurched down the corridor and covered the distance in a few quick strides. With two sharp jabs, he crumpled the metal doors. Their inner workings groaned and snapped under the pressure.

The creature buried his claws in the weakened seal. Twisted steel tore out of its track. He tossed the crumpled hulk aside and kicked the remaining components into the lightless shaft.

Below, dozens of floor entrances counted the depth of the pit. Above, the elevator car chimed its arrival at the first floor.

After he considered his options, the creature groped his bandoleer for the final explosive charge. The blast ripped the lift apart and fragments cascaded down the shaft. Through the thinning soot and concrete dust, the gapping hole in the first floor wall became visible.

Without hesitation, the creature hurtled himself into the void. His claws snagged the opposite wall. In seconds, he scaled the shaft and hefted himself into the opening.

The first floor was different from the other levels. It stood twice the width of the other hallways. Furniture such as waiting room chairs and coffee tables decorated the corridor. Ornamental wallpaper with matching molding ran the length.

An open lobby lay at the end of the hall. Office entrances were infrequent and randomly spaced. The back of a large reception desk guarded the lobby. Of all the adornment, the windowed wall on the other side of the lobby most interested the creature.

Several stray bullets scratched his boney armor. His prey then quickly fled. Two of the humans sought shelter in an open office. The third sprinted for the lobby. Soured odors filled the creature's nostrils. He would not devour them, but he would enjoy the taste of retribution.

Crunching glass and crumbling acoustic tiles dirtied the floor behind him. Thundering feet crushed the delicate furniture.

The first prey dove over the reception desk only to reappear and fire an assault shotgun. The weapon discharged as it spiraled over the desktop.

Shock and terror passed over the pale man's face as he felt of the spurting stump that had been his shoulder. The claws were a blur. Impact threw the body into the plate glass wall. The creature wiped his claws on the reception desk with a wince at the soured odor.

Cowering in their office, the two remaining men checked their automatic rifles. One human hid behind an oak desk. The other dared to peer out of the doorframe.

"Okay... he's out," the leader said into a shoulder-mounted radio. "We'll give him some convincing shakes with our grenades and then point him away from CRI."

As soon as the leader was in the hall, the second man stood and readied his weapon. The wall fractured behind him. A smattering of gore erupted beneath the creature's foot. The remains jerked only slightly and then stilled.

"He came back for us!"

The man raced through the lobby and leapt over his other mutilated accomplice. He crossed the courtyard before stealing a glimpse back and lobbing a contact grenade.

Uncertain of the blast's success, the man ran around the nearest building and began to follow a concrete perimeter wall. A jeep pulled into his path and two men exited. A third readied the mounted 50-caliber machine gun.

"Where is he?"

"Headed this way. Grenades ready."

In silence, the small security team waited. Every whistle of the wind warranted scrutiny. Any groan or squeak from the neighboring buildings required cautious observation.

Pained cries fell beneath the crushing blow. The mounted gun fired a single powerful stream before its action shattered over the gnarled body.

A volley of contact grenades struck the vehicle and filled the night sky with fire. Beyond the flames, the creature watched his remaining prey.

Two quick rebounds from the sides of buildings brought him down atop a hapless victim. He pummeled the snapping body into several chunks and then dove away from twin grenade explosions.

The fireball ruptured the perimeter wall. Chunks of concrete mixed with a cloud of sand veiled the predator. Realizing their weakness, the humans escaped in opposite directions.

One of the men ran between buildings and hid behind a storage crate. The creature leapt to the nearest rooftop in a single effortless bound. His eyes appeared to glow green in the miniscule light of the night. His prey had become too easy. He was sickened by their vulnerability.

Angry with his victims and their pitiful actions, the beast hopped down beside the crate and dragged the human out by his leg. The man tried to fire his puny automatic rifle, but the bullets bounced harmlessly off the heavy exoskeleton.

The creature gripped the man by his chest and crushed his ribcage. He then ripped the corpse in two. With a few strong sniffs, he detected the last prey. It was an easy, though unpleasant scent to follow.

He crawled back to the rooftop and searched for his victim. The grenade struck with a delayed thump. Fire and shrapnel collapsed the ceiling.

The man turned to run only to have the creature pound to the ground in front of him. In a panic, the man fired another grenade. His shot missed wide and obliterated the wall of a darkened warehouse.

The beast's jaws clamped shut on the man's head. A burst of blood and tissue spewed from the dead man as he fell.

Spitting and gagging, the predator groaned with disgust. He stomped on the corpse once for pleasure and then returned to the parameter wall.

In the twinkling light of several small fires, the elongated snout slipped through the opening and sniffed the desert breeze.

"I smell... fresh meat."

The creature darted into the open wilderness. After a few bounding steps, he summoned his great strength and launched into a high arc over the dessert. He sailed above the white sand dunes in silence.

His legs burned as he thumped into the sand. He hesitated long enough to survey the environment. Before him arose a city skyline.

The creature faced the nearest building and leapt into the sky a second time. He thought odd of the city as he approached. It was calm and quiet. Perhaps his prey had conquered the city as he had conquered the laboratories.

Bricks cracked and fell into the street below when the creature slammed onto the side of the building. His weight would have easily carried him through the wall were it not for his own animal prowess.

With a few strong sniffs, he found the scents of many humans. They were pungent, more so then the scientists. But most of the meat smelled fresh, not bitter as his other encounters.

He crawled to the building's rooftop. He moved silently among the buildings. With short jumps, he crossed alleys and streets.

An occasional pause to observe the neighborhood presented only more of the human buildings and their fragile occupants. Had the creature not stalled to double check his own findings, he would have missed the black figure nearly three blocks away.

The silhouette appeared for but a moment above the rooftops before he dropped out of view. He was human, but not a scientist or guard. No flesh was visible. His odor was muted, almost non-existent.

At last, the creature had found his quarry. He dropped into the nearest alley and attempted to scent the man. He followed the dingy pathway with increased stealth.

Near the base of a six-story building, the fading smell mingled with that of a normal human. The creature pulled his weight onto the building's face and scaled the wall with barely a sound.

He stepped onto the rooftop with caution. A human clad in a business suit leaned over the farthest ledge of the roof. The man was watching something down the street. Though he clutched a handgun in his fist, the human seemed unaware of the beast.

"Do not be afraid human. You are too weak to be my prey. But did a human in some sort of body suit pass near here. His scent was obscured, not as rank as yours."

In a panic, the man began to fire wildly at the creature. His bullets harmlessly struck a taller building next-door. Barely two spare shots ricocheted off the creature's chitin.

"That was a mistake."

Into a massive fist, the gun disappeared. An unfired round exploded within the collapsing magazine. The useless chunk of metal cracked to the gravel of the roof.

His fear transparent, the man scurried through an access hatch and slammed the cover. Mildly amused, the creature hurtled across the street in pursuit of his prey.

A strange wind crossed the beast's nostrils. "Something is not right."

It was not his prey. He had sensed something more distant, across the city. The creature dismissed the matter, as he sensed no danger to himself. His prey was close.

High-pitched human screams directed his attention. He sped his pace, careful to retain his stealth.

A double blast broke the night air. He was close. The conflict ahead assured him that his prey was waiting.