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Arx Fatalis Review

With Arx Fatalis, Arkane Studios intended to pay homage to the classic early-’90s first-person role-playing game Ultima Underworld, but it has done much more than just imitate that game.

By Greg Kasavin on November 22, 2002 at 7:48PM PST

Unfortunately for Arx Fatalis, it’s arrived on the tail end of what’s certainly been an amazing year for computer role-playing, thanks to impressive games like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights. Players still enthralled by those games are liable to overlook this highly atmospheric first-person dungeon crawl, which boasts some surprisingly impressive production values. But you’ll be pleased that you took the time out of your busy role-playing schedule to read up on another great 2002 RPG. With Arx Fatalis, French developer Arkane Studios intended to pay homage to the classic early-’90s first-person role-playing game Ultima Underworld, but it has done much more than just imitate that game. Arx Fatalis is entertaining and great looking, and it should especially appeal to fans of other atmospheric first-person games, including Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock 2, and Deus Ex, let alone this year’s Morrowind. Though marred by some technical issues (many of which have already been addressed by patches) and at times confusing to navigate in, Arx Fatalis nevertheless delivers a memorable, original role-playing experience.

Arx Fatalis is a subterranean dungeon crawl styled after the classic Ultima Underworld.

In Arx Fatalis, you play as a character who’s lost his memory and awakens in a small cell. That’s got to be the number-one most popular way for a computer role-playing game to start out, but the actual setting of the game is quite a bit more interesting. Arx Fatalis takes place in a world where the sun has fizzled out and civilization has picked up and moved beneath the surface of the earth, since it’s warmer down there. This means you won’t be seeing much in the way of blue skies or colorful songbirds during your stay in Arx Fatalis, but will instead be seeing plenty of caverns, dungeons, tunnels, and such. That might sound pretty bland, but it isn’t. The world of Arx may be lacking in traditional beauty or standard tourist attractions, but it’s filled with detail and highly interactive. You’re able to pick up just about anything that isn’t nailed down, you can use the local flora to brew various potions and such, you can move or throw things around, and if you look down, you can even see your feet. Arx Fatalis does its best to make you feel like you’re actually in the world of the game, and for the most part it does an excellent job of it.

You create your character by applying ability points to four core attributes and skill points to a number of different abilities, from close combat and magic to stealth, intuition, and object knowledge. Gaining experience levels lets you further improve these attributes and abilities. You’re free to specialize as you see fit, though you’ll likely want to play as a character with balanced fighting and magic abilities, since combat is inevitable and magic is useful. At any rate, the manual explicitly tells you what you’ll gain by spending skill points in different ways, and it is perhaps a bit too explicit in providing specific information on many of Arx Fatalis’ creatures, items, spells, and recipes. Your thrill of discovery will be greater if you use the manual only as a reference.

Arx Fatalis is played entirely from a first-person perspective, though the game switches to an external view for its occasional in-engine cinematic cutscenes. Though you might have to refer to the manual a few times and remember a few hotkeys, for the most part, Arx Fatalis is easy to control and won’t be difficult to get into for anyone who’s played a first-person game lately. The early portions of Arx also serve effectively as a tutorial, letting you get your feet wet with the game’s combat, magic, and puzzle-solving elements. The core gameplay and interface do have a few shortcomings. The game’s inventory management, which is based on limited storage space rather than encumbrance, can be clunky. Though you can toggle an automap feature, it covers most of the screen, preventing you from moving around effectively while you’re plotting your course. The diary feature also isn’t all that great, as it only vaguely serves as a quest log for what you’re supposed to be doing–you’ll have to pay careful attention during dialogue with the game’s non-player characters to make sure you don’t miss any vital clues, since they’re not always likely to be noted in the diary. Also, Arx Fatalis imported one of the more notorious features from the game that inspired it: You have to eat. While it’s nice when role-playing games let you do such things as build fishing rods, catch fish, and then cook them over an open fire, your character in Arx Fatalis has to nourish himself seemingly a bit too often. You’ll wish you could just dump all those rat ribs and cheeses and breads, since that’s room you could have used for a nice two-handed sword or other loot. But this is a minor problem. The more important elements, like the game’s combat and magic systems, work very well.

Sure enough, the main character of the game begins with no recollection of his identity.

Dealing with enemies in Arx Fatalis is handled much like in other real-time first-person RPGs, including Morrowind and Ultima Underworld. You’ll be able to find and use some ranged weapons, but much of the combat takes place at close range, where you’ll use things like swords, clubs, and axes to execute thrusting, slashing, and chopping moves against your assailants. Depressing the left mouse button causes you to rear back to strike, and charging up your attack for a few moments causes it to deal more damage. Critical hits are possible, and it’s possible to sneak up behind unsuspecting foes and launch a surprise attack. In any event, the combat in Arx Fatalis looks great, since the game’s enemies animate fluidly and will respond noticeably to your attacks with shrieks of pain or various taunts. Injured enemies may turn tail and flee, and various types of deathblows yield various grisly results, depending on where and how hard the killing strike connected. In short, the combat in Arx Fatalis, while not terribly complicated, is still satisfying.

The magic system is less conventional, but it can be likened to the spellcasting from last year’s Black & White. As in that game, in Arx Fatalis you cast spells using the proper hand gestures. You first need to find the proper runes, and you then trace the symbols on the runes in the air using your mouse. A successful combination of rune symbols will cast the spell. It’s a good system, though it obviously takes some getting used to. The game features 50 different spells spread across 10 increasingly powerful spell levels, and these spells do everything from damaging enemies to healing your wounds to summoning creatures to turning you invisible to letting you teleport, so foregoing the path of magic in Arx Fatalis–while perhaps a viable option–isn’t recommendable. You might think that drawing arcane symbols might be a bit difficult in the middle of a battle, and you’d be right. Fortunately, you can queue up several spells at a time and launch them instantly using hotkeys, which ensures that magic is viable in combat.

Combat in Arx Fatalis is simple but satisfying. The magic system is very good, too.

Arx Fatalis isn’t exactly a linear, straightforward game. There’s very little going from point A to point B, as instead, you’ll find yourself in sprawling labyrinths and free to go any which way, though many of these paths will lead to dead ends at first. The game’s quests aren’t strictly linear, either. Sometimes combat is a viable alternative to discourse, and other times, more than one nonviolent solution is available. Still, you should still plan on getting stuck in Arx Fatalis, a game in which keeping a sharp eye out for little details in the environment will constantly pay off, and failure to do so may have you running around in circles for a while. The game encourages observation, exploration, and experimentation, but at the same time it will punish you if you stray too far from the beaten path, as you’ll all of a sudden come up against a foe you’re not prepared to face. Still, all this is definitely in keeping with the style of classical role-playing systems such as Dungeons & Dragons, and it affords you with a stronger sense of freedom than you’ll get from most other games.

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Considering the game is one big dungeon crawl, it’s fortunate that Arx Fatalis looks so great. Its visuals are nearly as good (and in some ways better) than those of Morrowind, and while the game’s character models can look a little awkward, the level of detail found in its surprisingly diverse-looking environments is quite striking. Some of the various creatures look quite good, and the game presents distinctive visions of conventional fantasy archetypes like goblins, trolls, and dwarves. These are detailed enough to move their mouths when they speak, but not detailed enough to sync their lips with their words. Above all, the whole game has a natural look to it. Arx Fatalis doesn’t overuse any one particular texture set, and each room or hallway tends to look different from the next. Fog and other visual effects heighten the sense that you’re underground in a cold, dark place. Realistic-looking wear and tear in the environments also really helps convey the sense that, indeed, this world has been lived in. You’ll clearly see that you’re not the first adventurer to set foot in Arx Fatalis.

The game sounds even better than it looks. In fact, a lot of it sounds amazing. There isn’t much in the way of music, and what’s there isn’t great. But the game uses a huge variety of incredibly clear and diverse ambient sound effects to try to convince you that you’re really in an underground labyrinth. Your own footsteps will resonate loudly throughout the game, and they’ll sound different depending on what sort of leggings you’re wearing, what sort of surface you’re walking on, how quickly you’re moving, and how stealthy you are. Other ambient effects and almost all the game’s creatures sound equally convincing, and the clamor of battle–including such effects as the sickening sound of blood splattering onto the pavement–is especially terrific. The dialogue in Arx Fatalis is all in full speech, and this too is surprisingly good for the most part. Some of the dialogue and some of the deliveries are actually quite subtle and rather humorous, and they stand in stark contrast to the game’s seemingly dismal setting.

The atmosphere of Arx Fatalis is largely unrivaled.

Arx Fatalis did ship with a number of bugs–the kind that may make you cringe when you read the list of fixes made by its downloadable patch. In short, the retail release of the game is crash-prone and has compatibility issues with certain hardware, though Arkane Studios has been actively working with the game’s growing community of players to resolve every issue that comes up. Two small patches are already available that do much to resolve the game’s technical shortcomings. Beyond that, the game’s 3D graphics engine certainly is resource-intensive, and those running anything around the minimum requirement of a Pentium III 500MHz equivalent should expect slow frame rates and relatively poor performance. Faster machines armed with good video cards make Arx Fatalis look beautiful, yet the game’s loading times between sections of the dungeon can still seem rather long.

If your system can handle it and you don’t have any hang-ups with wandering around in dark places, you’ll likely find a lot to like in Arx Fatalis. Fans of Ultima Underworld or similar games will be especially pleased with how faithfully Arkane Studios managed to capture the same sort of feel–how you’ll sometimes feel that it’s not just some game character but rather you yourself who’s trapped in this fantastic world, filled with interesting, dangerous places visit and characters to meet.

U.S. FDA to allow some labs to use coronavirus tests prior to review

The world is battling the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic.

(Pictured) A passenger wearing a protective face mask stands with her luggage next to the first official train departing from Wuhan, ending more than a two-month lockdown, at the railway station in Wuhan, China, on April 8. Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, lifts the lockdown allowing people to leave the city after more than two months.

A cyclist with a sign reading ‘#PrayforBoris’ rides through Westminster on April 7, in London. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was transferred to the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened last night.

Migrant workers eat their dinner at the closed mall during the nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 on April 6 in Ahmedabad, India.

Albanian people are being disinfected before entering a market, as Albanian authorities take measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease in Tirana, Albania on April 6.

A man walks past a screen showing the news report that Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe plans to declare a state of emergency over coronavirus on April 6 in Tokyo, Japan.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship, the subject of a criminal investigation with Australian authorities after allowing passengers infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to disembark in Sydney the prior month, docks with crew only onboard at Port Kembla in Wollongong, Australia on April 6.

Residents write words “stay home” with their mobile phones as they stand on the balcony of their apartment block during the lockdown imposed by the Belgian government, on April 5 in Ruisbroek, Belgium.

A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep the park open for people observing the British government’s guidance of social distancing, only using parks for dog walking, one form of exercise a day, like a run, walk, or cycle alone or with members of the same household, on Primrose Hill in London, on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Slideshow by photo services

Feb 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday said it will allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus in the country.

The policy cleared the way for state public health labs to immediately begin local testing and possibly get results within hours, which public health officials say will be critical to a rapid response to the fast-spreading virus that originated in China.

“Under this policy, we expect certain laboratories who develop validated tests for coronavirus would begin using them right away prior to FDA review,” Jeff Shuren, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

The World Health Organization on Friday said the virus, which causes a sometimes fatal respiratory illness and has spread to 46 countries, poses a “very high risk” at a global level.

On Friday, New York’s public health lab became the first in the country to seek emergency authorization from the FDA to use their own testing kits after health officials said faulty tests from the federal government left them unable to diagnose people quickly in the nation’s most populous city.

New York state’s Department of Health filed an emergency application on Friday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be allowed to use a testing kit it has developed in-state, an official told Reuters on Friday.

© AP Photo/Marta Lavandier Only a few bottles of hand sanitizers remain on the shelves at a Walgreen Pharmacy, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Miami Shores, Fla.

There are 62 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the United States, most of whom fell sick while abroad then were repatriated. No cases have been detected in New York City, but Mayor Bill de Blasio and health officials have said its arrival here is inevitable.

The weeks-long struggle to expand local testing has been criticized as an early misstep in the response by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to the outbreak.

Three weeks ago, the FDA gave the green light for state and local labs to start using a testing kit developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But most labs that received the kits complained they had faulty components and produced inconclusive results, which the CDC later acknowledged.

Meanwhile, the CDC has been working to manufacture new kits that produce more reliable results.

In a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said a newly manufactured CDC test can be sent to 93 public health labs as soon as Monday.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Jonathan Allen in New York, Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Paul Simao and Nick Zieminski)

Medium

Overview

Medium has a consumer rating of 3.94 stars from 16 reviews indicating that most consumers are generally satisfied with their purchases. Medium also ranks 10th among Blog sites.

“GREAT SPELL CASTER THAT BRING BACK MY EX HUSBAND WITH THE HELP OF DR ONIHA THE GREAT SPELL CASTER HI”

My husband and I have been married for over 10 years. We met when I was 18 and he was 21. We’ve been through a lot emotionally together. There were several HUGE fights and painful situations in our marriage, but we always seemed to come out stronger on the other side. Out of the blue my husband just sprung the divorce talk on me, I was totally depressed until I found a testimony of a woman testifying about a spell caster called Dr Oniha online, And i ordered for a Love spell. You won’t believe my husband called me at the exact time this spell caster finished his spell work in 48hours. I was totally amazed! He is wonderful and his spells work so fast. You could also reach out to him if you are having problems with your marriage or relationship. Website: onihaspelltemple. com

“So Racist it Reads Like the Work of Russian Disinformation Trolls”

A series of racist rants, medium.com is an ill-meaning caricature of a platform for hate. Why is a platform purportedly by, for, and about African Americans entirely devoted to commentary about whiteness? Every article on the site reads like a Russian troll operation’s caricature of black-splaining. As a platform for celebrating hatred and intolerance, it succeeds.

Reviews (16)

While it proclaims to be an open platform for all writers, I would disagree. I submitted a few pieces of content, after paying the fee to join the site. It was supposed to take at least two weeks for the curation process according to the help section, yet mine was turned down in a matter of hours. Curation guidelines are very vague and after some extensive online research, I discovered why.

While anyone is free to publish what they want the curation is geared towards individuals who fit the image of what Medium stands for. This is leftist politics, SJW propaganda, and other extreme left views. Which is fine, if that’s what you want to do. My issue is maybe you should just be upfront with what your goals are. It would be nice so people like me, who are neutral and couldn’t care less about politics, didn’t waste our time and energy trying to please curators. Instead, they dangle a carrot in front of you with the chance of being featured or making money when people read your content. Well, when paying members read your content.

As I said, the curation guidelines are not clear and I can’t understand why there wouldn’t be an in-depth style guide if you really wanted writers to succeed. The only reason I can guess is that they don’t want to come right out and say the content they really want is blogs about Medium (free SEO work), health and lifestyle that borders on pseudoscience, and feminist or SJW propaganda. I use that word for it’s meaning only, those subjects are not a bad thing, and I think they should have a platform. I just want to know if I am submitting to one since my content would not fit in.

Then there’s the lack of customization and I am fairly certain that I had “claps” on a few of my articles that are no longer there. Also, the stats said I had a total of 30 reads on an article, but the next day it was down to 4. On another it had been 25, then 1. So, I don’t know if it was a glitch or, as some others claim, the site being deceitful, it’s curious is all I do know. It would just be nice to see some transparency with these blogging platforms, they remind me of content mills. They want all the content they can get for SEO, but only praise the pieces that fit their mold. But, don’t really tell anyone what that mold is.

I am happy for those who have found success on the site, however, I did notice that the same authors are always featured, even some of the content a year or two old. So, if there are so many writers using the site, how come only a handful are featured? If every writer has an opportunity to be featured or curated why is it these two dozen or so authors that get all the attention? I am not claiming that my content is better than their’s or even worth featuring, I am saying that there are signs that the site is not what it claims to be.

I would really take time and consideration before posting there. As of this, I am working on removing my content and finding a more neutral outlet.

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