LanOC v.11: Good Games + A Great Community = One Awesome Time! September 1st & 2nd 2012

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That’s right friends and neighbors of Geekdom, Its almost time. Time to pack up my rig. Time to say a sad goodbye to my wife and kids. Time to wake up at the crack of dawn (well not quite), and drive the three hours to Van Wert, Ohio. Does it sound like a lot to go through just for a Lan? Maybe for some Lans, but definitely not for LanOC. I would drive twice as far, climb a mountain, and battle a rabid wolverine to the death armed with only a spork if need be, after all its LanOC. With over a hundred tickets sold already, its a impressive sight to see in person. At LanOC v.11 there will be tournaments, raffles/prizes, and of course everyone (new or old) in the community, all signs point to another fantastic event.

This time around the tournaments that will be played are: League Of Legends, Worms Reloaded, Tribes Ascend, and the always entertaining “old school tournament”. League of Legends is one of the most popular free to play MOBAs around. The LOL turney is a 5v5 single elimination match, and the map chosen for this strategic battle to unfold on is the  appropriately named “Proving Grounds”. The Worms Reloaded match is a four person free for all on a randomly generated map. Everyone gets four worms, last player with any left wins. If you haven’t played Worms think chess with a lot of hilarity. Next is my personal favorite Tribes Ascend! Tribes Ascend is a free to play first person shooter. With its old school style of gameplay ,reminiscent of Unreal 2004, and a unique movement system referred to as “skiing” Tribes Ascend is a game that stands out amongst modern day shooters.The Tribes turney is a  random teams 5v5 single elimination arena match, and the maps are Lava Arena, Walled in, and Air Arena. It is played as a three round team deathmatch, and should result in some intense Tribes action. Last but not least is the old school turney. This tournament is a seriously good time. Every participant at the Lan stops by to take a peek at this.It is usualy displayed on a wall via projector making it easy for all to see. The game will not be announced until the time of the tournament. This keeps everyone from practicing, maintaining a just for fun feel to this one. The games I have seen played in the past are familiar to all gamers. Off the top of my head some examples are Excitebike, Mario Kart, and even Pac Man. LanOC tournaments are always great to participate in, entertaining to watch, but above all are intended to be fun.

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LanOC v.10

    Another factor in my complete LanOC experience is Raffles! Every person that attends a LanOC event fills out a raffle ticket upon arrival. Then at some point you see the prize tables. Two eight foot tables filled with your wildest PC desires. From that second on, everytime you leave the Lan your main concern will be “What time is the next raffle”, and the dreaded “Drive faster! We’re not going to miss the next raffle because you needed more Monster” Each raffle has a start time that is posted and that schedule will control your life for the next two days. Its all worth it when you win that expensive full tower, or a shiney new SSD. None of this would be possible without the great support that the sponsors show LanOC. I don’t know what is on the prize tables at v.11, on the other hand, a list of the sponsors are as follows: Trendnet, P3 Computers, Cooler Master, Kingston, Gameskulls, Quixby.com, C.P.U Magazine, Systemax,  Corsair, Western Digital, Gigabyte, Rosewell, TP Link, Raidmax, Antec, Steelseries, Seagate, NZXT, Intel, Prolimatech, Hi-Rez Studios, and In-Win. I hope I didn’t forget anyone, but you have to admit its a pretty impressive list. A big thanks to all the sponsors as well. Prizes are not the reason I go to LanOC, but it is a great time standing there with your fingers hypothetically crossed, with that  “Hope I take home that one big ticket item” anticipation.. After all sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but it sure is fun to play the raffle game.

The main reason I go to LanOC is the community. Sounds kinda lame, doesn’t it, but trust me its not. The first LanOC I attended was v.6. A friend of mine heard about LanOC, and we had only been having four or five man Lans at each others houses. So we jumped in the car and headed off on a road trip to Van Wert. I met the staff and a few other gamers, and it compounded from there. Now LanOC gamers are the majority of people on my Steam friends list. They are the people I game with, talk on vent with, and communicate with on the forums. It is a strong community that broadens everyday.

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Tell me you wouldn’t want to get to know this guy at the LanOC.

    Finally, There it is. LanOC v.11 will be a great time. People come for the experience, the tournaments, and prizes, but they come back for the community. The event consist of more than I discussed here. There’s plenty more: the case mod contest, possibly some tabletop games, and any kind of multiplayer game you can think of. I will post on my blog while at the event, and if you want a truly unique Lan experience take a road trip on September 1st, and 2nd to Van Wert, Ohio. You can find out the detales at http://lanoc.org/, ot the event page http://lanoc.org/lanoc-lanpartys/lan-information, and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/LanOCReviews  Who knows maybe I will see you there!

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 If you see this guy at LanOC stop and say hi.

Borderlands 2: Bigger, Badder, and Back on Sept. 18th!

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     It’s time to wash the roadkill off of Marcus’s bus, because we’re going back. Yep, thats right back to Pandora! The original Borderlands exploded onto the scene in Oct. 2009, and was very successful for a new IP. How successful you say, well thirty-three of my fifty-six friends on Steam own this great game. Even better the word around Geekdom is that Borderlands 2 improves on the original in almost every way! So get in, set down, and buckle up its going to be a bumpy ride.

      Pandora is bigger and shinier than ever. The good people at computerandvideogames.com reported Borderlands 2 is 50% to 60% larger than its predecessor. So all would be vault hunters should prepare for a long haul. The dangerometer (yes I’m inventing words) is ramped up as well. The new Borderlands will introduce at least a dozen new baddies with improved AI to flank and murder you in some horribly demented way. The most impressive change to Pandora for me is look how shiny it is. It maintains the cell-shaded cartoonish art style of its predecessor, but added a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Borderlands was for the most  a bland sandcovered desert wasteland. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but it did get a little redundant.. Borderlands 2 has sand as well ,but also includes grass, an endless sea of mountain ranges, and (according to some screenshots) a tropic forest or two. Just look at the differences in these screenshots.

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Most of Borderlands looked like this: rocks, weeds, bland colors, and redundant buildings.

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 Borderlands 2:  Where in the wide wide world of Pandora is this?

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 Borderlands 2: A cell-shaded kaleidoscope of awesomeness!

    Borderlands 2  is still a single-player or four player co-op experience. The co-op in the original was amazing, and there’s no reason to think that will change in the sequel. As for  classes well, the names have changed, but the song remains the same. Salvador is the Gunzerker with the ability to dual wielding weapons. Salvador is a big guy (ala Brick). He is built to take damage as well as dealing it out. Zero the ninja-assassin is tall and thin. His power is to strategically place a hologram of himself. This tricks the badies into a easley flanked position to finish of with your sword or a well placed bullet to the brain pan squish. He is also intend to be a long distance headshotting destroyer of men (ala Mordecai). Maya is a siren (the only class to emerge with the same title from it predecessor) She is the stereotypical badass female in the game (ala Lilith and thats ok). that works well  for all the elusive women gamers out there, or for you guys who like to play as a chick. Her power is a phase lock which traps the target suspending it in midair. The doomed badie can no longer attack; however, it can still be riddled with bullets. This would will be an invaluable asset for crowd control. Finally this leaves Axton. Axton is a commando, he is a midrange support character (I believe, also ala Roland) Axton special is the turret 2.0 Which almost works as another character dealing damage to anything in range until the ability needs to recharge. Each character has a diverse amount of options in their skill trees, leaving the player the ability to tailor their character to their liking. Introduced in Borderlands 2 is the Badass Point System. These little beauties are earned through you travels by well accomplishing badass feats. BPS earned can be spent on permanent stat boosting abilities, or to change your character’s appearance. With all this depth to the character classes it will definitely lead to a entertaining single player, or (more likely) the best co-op experience available.

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Introducing your merchants of death and dismemberment from left to right: Axton, Maya, Zero, and last but not least Salvador!

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Here is an example of the character customization using the badass point system

   The overwhelming issue people had with the original Borderlands was the campaign’s story. I will not go into details here, but to summarize the story was almost nonexistent, the plot was boring and dull, also the anticlimactic ending was a monumental disappointment. I sincerely hope Gearbox truly attempts to make a fitting storyline this time around. My understanding of the plot goes like this a man named Handsome Jack takes credit for the players’ exploits concerning the vault, and finds a valuable gem inside. These gems appear all over Pandora after the vaults was opened. Jack uses his newfound wealth to acquire the planets largest arms manufacture, Thus positioning himself as the most powerful man on Pandora. Yep you guessed it, his mind is set on world domination, and only you can stop him (with the help of three friends if you want). I believe that is it in a nutshell. If Gearbox can indeed make an enjoyable story that immerses the player in the world of Pandora then Borderlands 2 could be the sleeper hit of the year.

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Spoiler alert! Don’t shake hands with Handsome Jack. He’s a dick.

     Borderlands 2 will be a must have game this fall The amount of character customization in the game is a real improvement over its predecessor. The superbly polished artstyle, along with Borderlands excessive violence will allow you to paint a crimson red masterpiece with you weapon of choice. The demented fun loving npc that roam pandora are always  interesting be them friend or foe, The fact that its co-op is so enjoyable makes this a great game for a group of friends, a Lan, or playing online with strangers. Borderlands 2 is going to be one crazy adventure, and it all starts September 18th. Enjoy the ride!