Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming update

I realized I never put up impressions of Black-Ops or Gran Turismo. Of
course, that is usually the case, me not putting up anything I say I am
going to put up.

I'm still playing Black-Ops periodically, but I'm spending a lot less
time with Gran Turismo. Some impressions on both titles, listed by
positives and negatives:



+ Online play is more balanced than MW2. Killstreak kills don't count
towards earning more kill-streaks, there are no death-streaks (hated
those, if you suck, you suck), NO SHOTGUNS AS SECONDARY WEAPONS (thank
God!!!!), a lot less knifing from 15 feet away, and I have not noticed
any ridiculously over-powered weapons.

+ All levels are fun and balanced. No real stinkers in my opinion

+ Love the new currency system that lets you buy attachments and perks
in the order you want. Some items and weapons are still locked until a
certain level, but this method works a lot better for quickly setting up
classes you feel comfortable with and suit your play style.

+ The wager matches are a lot of fun and a unique twist to the regular
on-line formula. In fact, I should play more of these. I tend to
forget they are there.

+ The "Service Record" is awesome! It keeps track of a TON of stats
for you. I find myself constantly examining my performance via all the
helpful stats.

+ The Saved Films work basically just like Halo's and I absolutely love
it. Wish I had this since CoD4. Plenty of matches I would have loved
to have saved.


- The visuals seem to be a downgrade from MW2. The game is not ugly,
but MW2's gun models, textures and overall look seems to still be a
notch above this one. I recently played some MW2 and sure enough, I
felt that games does look significantly better.

- Even more so than in MW2, if you have less than 4 connection bars you
have a severe disadvantage to other players who do. This is the most
annoying aspect of the game by far and I almost stopped playing it
because it got so bad. The difference can be huge. My k/d ratio is
probably more than two or three times as high when I have a four bar
connection or when I am hosting as opposed to when I have three. That
Killcam discrepancy can often make you want to throw your controller
across the tv.

- I have been having some matchmaking issues lately (360 version btw, I
know PS3 has had a ton of problems). If I am in a full lobby and after
a match ends players leave or quit and there aren't enough players to
start a new match, other players NEVER join the lobby and I have to back
out and search for a new game. As a test I've waited around for over 10
minutes and nobody ever joins. It says "awaiting "x" new players", but
for some reason, none ever join. My NAT settings are open, so I'm not
sure what is going on there.

That's about it. Other than some network issues, I have really been
enjoying Blops online. I also finished the single-player campaign and
it was entertaining to an extent, but ever since CoD4's campaign (which
I loved), I haven't really enjoyed any subsequent campaign in the
series. It seems like they are just trying too hard to top all the
awesome "wow" moments in CoD4 but they just can't. Maybe I'm just
desensitized at this point to all the over-the-top action sequences.

Another issue is just how linear and scripted these games are. It was
even more noticeable in Blops, maybe because I had played through Reach
about 3 times recently. The Halo "formula" may be getting a little old,
but there is no denying that its campaign gives you a dynamic experience
where the same battles can play out differently every time thanks to the
great non-scripted enemy AI. CoD's campaign and enemy AI is laughable
in comparison.

Gran Turismo:


+ The premium cars look absolutely gorgeous

+ The photo mode can produce some amazingly realistic looking results

+ The driving feels fantastic

+ Plenty of variety: standard racing, NASCAR, F-1, rally, go-karts . .

+ TON of tracks

+ Tuning cars never gets old


- The menu system sucks. Looks like it was designed to work with a
mouse. Too bad you use a controller to play this game!! Just stupid
design. It looks nice, but it's a chore to use

- Even with a pretty large HDD install, the load times in this game are
way too long. Everything needs to load. Even navigating the menus have
enough of a delay that it just makes doing anything pretty annoying.

- Even though the driving itself feels fantastic, the physics for
collisions (against other cars or roadside obstacles) is laughably bad.
For a game that strives for such realism in certain areas, this one
aspect will always make GT feel like a video game instead of a "real
driving simulator". You can hit a barrier, head-on, going 200 mph and
all that happens is that you car will come to a complete stop. You can
then hit reverse, straighten out, and continue as if nothing happened.
Boo Polyphony. Boo. It's 2010 (2011?), these are basically the same
collision physics the series has had since the very first game on the

- Visual car damage is so bad I wouldn't be surprised if they only
spent one week of the game's 5 year development cycle programming it.

- Is it just me, or does it seem like there are too few events to race
in in the single-player? Maybe it is because a lot of the events have
very specific requirements to enter, but I find myself wanting to use
certain cars which I enjoy driving a lot, but I can't really find any
events to use them in. In Forza III it just seemed like there were far
more events to choose from and if I wanted to used my 2010 Camaro then I
would have plenty of events to choose from. Not so much in GT. Yes,
this forces you to mix things up and constantly buy new cars, but what
if I want to use my favorite car more often? I like those specific
events that have very strict entry requirements, don't get me wrong, but
I just want more chances to play the game the way I want as well.

- Overall I'm slightly disapponted with Gran Turismo. The series has
been evolving at a snail's pace and it is being left behind by other
racing titles as far as innovation and moving the racing genre forward.
So far I have enjoyed my time with Forza III more than Gran Turismo.

And that's about it. I recently picked up Lara Croft and the Guardian
at Light and all the Mass Effect 2 DLC thanks to the great 12 days of
Christmas deals on Xbox Live. Lara Croft is excellent. A lot of fun.
Haven't tried the ME2 DLC yet. Maybe I'll put up impressions soon.
Start holding your breath as of . . . NOW!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gaming update

I just recently had 10 days off from work and I did a whole lot of nothing.  Well, I did a whole lot of sitting on my couch vegetating and gaming.  I hadn't done that it forever.  Just hours upon hours of gaming.
You know what?  I don't like it.  Sure, it is just as addicting as it used to be when I was younger.  But I just feel awful about it now.  Countless hours wasted.  I could have been far more productive.  My entire apartment needs a severe deep cleaning.  Laundry needs to be done.  My car needs to be washed.  I need to get back to the gym.  I basically needed to do anything except what I did.
And time just flies when you are lost in a game.  I'd look at the clock, tell myself I would stop playing in an hour and get some things done, and the next time I  would look at the clock four hours had gone by.  Again, terrible feeling.
That being said, I put in a ton of hours in CoD: Black-Ops, beat the game on Hardened, and already reached level 50 (max) in multiplayer.  I also spent a good deal of time with Gran Turismo 5.   I also played some Enslaved, but not much.  Not because it was bad, but because I was addicted to fragging people on-line and modifying cars to make them go fast.  I'll hopefully get back to Enslaved soon.
So I once again find myself with a ton of games left unfinished and not knowing which to play.  Black-Ops and GT5 are no brainers, I'm seriously addicted to those at the moment.  But I have Enslaved going, Castlevania has been all but forgotten, Super Meat Boy is begging for attention, and RDR: Undead Nightmare needs to be finished!  And that is not counting the full back-log of titles I have incomplete and pending.
Anyway, I'm definitely putting up some Black-Ops and GT5 impressions soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Picked it up on Tuesday.  Haven't touched the single-player and I have played about 20 multiplayer matches at this point.  Any CoD veteran will be able to jump right in and feel comfortable with the general gameplay and controls.  I'm just dealing with the initial learning curve of learning all the maps.  I hate this time.  I'm running around lost and scared and getting killed far more often than I like.  But that's the way it goes.  I'll know these maps like the back of my hand in no time.
So far I have found my favorite map.  As is always the case, my enjoyment of a map is solely dependant on how well I do on it.  Nuketown is apparently my map.  I went 30-3 on it the other night and I always seem to finish with a k/d ratio over 4 on it.  The other maps?  Not so much.
Not sure what it is about Nuketown.  It is a small map and extremely chaotic.  I usually don't like those.  But so far I own on this map.
A few things I really like about Black-Ops:
- The Wager Matches are a lot of fun and a great change of pace from the regular Team Deathmatch that makes up 99% of my usual playtime.
- The game keeps track on a crazy amount of stats.  Far more than in MW2.  You don't unlock this until you reach level 12 though, which is kinda odd.  It keeps individual stats for every weapon, every map, and it even keeps track of where you typically shoot your enemies, so you can see if you like to go for body shots, head shots, or if you are terrible and just hit limbs.  It also keeps charts on your performance over the last few games, etc.  Very, very cool stuff.
- You can now saves replays of your matches and create clips and take screenshots, just like with the Halo games.  I SOOO wish I had this option in MW and MW2 since there were plenty of matches or just kills that I would have loved to have saved.
I'll put up impressions of the single-player and further multiplayer thoughts as I dive in further.
On a side note, I ordered Enslaved:Odyssey to the West from Amazon for $25 and I should have that to play over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Sweet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow first impressions . . .

- Don't go in expecting a Castlevania game, because you will be disappointed.  Aside from a few similarities, this is a totally different experience.
- Voice acting is fantastic, although the pre-level narration sections with Patrick Stewart seem off.  You hear Stewart narrating and you see a book with the words.  You can read it yourself far faster than he narrates, the level loads by the 2nd sentence and prompts you to press the "start button" and it comes off as kinda bland and boring.  The narration itself is great (although the script can come off as heavy-handed at times), but this would have been much more effective if done over a cut-scene, or even those little hand-drawn animation parts you see when reviewing new moves in your handbook.
- Controls are mapped well and from what I've experience combat can be pretty deep and strategic if you want it to be.  Sure you can button-mash yourself through most fights if you want, wailing on the X button while mixing in the occasional Y (360 version), but it you actually mix up your moves and take full advantage of what you have in your offensive arsenal, combat can be very satisfying and elegant.
- However, the "feel" of the controls to me are a tab bit off.  It is not that they are unresponsive, but everything feels just a tad off from the "perfect" feel that some games manage to achieve.
- The visuals so far have been pretty damn impressive.  The environments are vibrant and alive, with excellent lighting and textures.  In fact, some sections have been just absolutely beautiful to behold.
- There is a negative to this though.  The game takes a page out of the God of War book and does not let you control the camera at all.  And for some reason, this feels far more restrictive here than it has in any of the GoW games.
- Another negative is that while the environments look very impressive visually, interaction with them are extremely limited and invisible walls are all over the place, really limiting your sense of exploration.  Levels do offer branching paths, but the invisible wall syndrome really stands out.
- I've finished the first chapter and that first boss is straight out of Shadow of the Colossus.  I had read this beforehand but I really wasn't expecting it to be SUCH a blatant rip-off of that game.
- So far the game is pretty enjoyable.  The slightly off feel of the controls (maybe I am alone here) and the pretty limited interaction with the environments and lack of exploration are my biggest negatives right now.  I'm only one chapter in, so still plenty left to go.  I hear the game is actually kinda long.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halo: Reach final Campaign thoughts . . . (Spoilers!)

Having now played through the campaign twice, some final thoughts on the
overall experience.

From a gameplay standpoint, the game is extremely enjoyable. Bungie's
had plenty of previous instalments to polish Halo's "formula" and the
result is the best playing game in the series. The new abilities blend
in extremely well and add enough to mix things up, yet it still feels
very much like a Halo game.

I enjoyed my time playing the game and after finishing it I felt
satisfied. Yet as I've had time to think back on it as an overall
experience, and taking into account what this game is: 1) Bungie's final
Halo game 2) It depicting probably the darkest time in the
human/covenant war, I can't help but feel that it could have done more
from a story/emotional standpoint.

First of all, Bungie again stumbles in the story-telling department.
They do an absolutely terrible job establishing just how important Reach
(the planet) is. I never got a sense that this was a catastrophic loss
for the UNSC. There just isn't any real sense of desperation in
anyone's actions or voice, no sense of impending dread, no emotion,
nada. Maybe I can expect the stoic approach from all the Spartans,
these folks were basically raised for this type of scenario, but it
never really came across from anywhere.

You also do not get a very good idea of the full scale of the
invasion/war. The game has great scale in the sense that the
environments are huge and vast, but you never experience any epic battle
with a whole army of humans on one side and Covenant on the other. The
closest you get to that is in a cut-scene of a whole bunch of Warthogs
charging into battle, but the cinematic is over pretty quick and you
never see the huge clash. No desperate last stand, no sense of the
catastrophic loss of human life, etc.

I also wasn't a big fan of how the members of Noble team died.
Especially Kat, the female Spartan. Sniper shot to the head by an
unseen sniper? Really? What happened to her shields? I'm sure the
developers were going for "shock and awe", but I just found it kinda
pointless and not fitting with the Halo lore. I also thought it was
unnecessary for Noble One to go down the way he did. Sure, crashing the
Pelican into the Scarab was "dramatic", but he could have jumped out
prior to it colliding. I mean, your character just finished jumping out
of that same Pelican without a scratch. Hell, a few chapters before he
fell from SPACE and managed to survive (again, a Spartan can survive
entering a planet's atmosphere and crashing to the planet with nothing
but his armor to protect him, but one sniper shot goes right through
that armor). The only death I felt was effective and seemed to fit into
the story was Jorge's death. Pretty cool scene.

Even with those shortcomings the game is undoubtably fun and exciting.
It just could have been even more so. Oh well.

I just want to take this time to thank Bungie for the many, many hours
of entertainment they've provided me since Halo: Combat Evolved and I
look forward to their future projects. I am also very curious to see
what 343 Studios has in store for the Halo franchise and how they will
inject some much needed new blood and ideas to the series.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

I'm a month late but I finally decided to try out the Trial version of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.  I had heard good things.
This game is a freakin' blast!  I had zero interest when it was anounced and the gameplay videos did absolutely nothing for me.  But boy is it fun to play!  I'm hoping it goes down in proce.  I'd buy it at 800 MS points.
If you haven't tried it yet, give it a go.

Bioshock: Infinite "Gameplay" trailer

Available on the Xbox Marketplace.  Maybe the PS Store too, I haven't turned on my PS3 in a while.  And I'm sure also available on every single videogame website out there.
Granted, the video itself is heavily scripted.  Chances are it is also running on high-end PC hardware and the console versions won't look that good.  And given its scripted nature, the game's actual gameplay won't flow anywhere near as seamless and impressive as that video.
But again.  Wow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Halo: Reach Legendary run . . .

I'm 3/4 of the way through the game on Legendary and like always it can be brutal at times, but it is the most fun you can have with the single-player game if you have the patience.  Some sections are extremely tough and can lead to frustration, but you get a huge sense of accomplishment once you pass them.
Halo plays a completely different game on Legendary.  If you do not have cover or aren't proficient at getting quick head-shots, a small platoon of Grunts can kill you.  Your shields are fully depleted after just a few hits of an energy weapon and one melee hit from an Elite will take you out.  You have to plan your battles ahead of time and try different strategies when one fails.
One thing I really enjoy about Legendary difficulty is that it really makes you manage your weapons, ammo, and you need to plan ahead of your current battle.  You'll often find yourself scavenging the battlefield for weapons, grenades, and mixing it up out of necessity.  It is much harder to stick with your favorite weapon the entire time, because chances are you are going to run out of ammo (I absolutely LOVE the DMR btw, my favorite weapon of the series).  As an example, on Heroic I rarely used the traditional Covenant plasma pistol.  I never had a need to.  On Legendary, with Elites having such powerful shields, the combination of a charged plasma shot to fully deplete shields followed quickly by a ballistic shot to the head, has become almost mandatory.  I've always found this particular combination satisfying to pull off, and it is one I practically did without during my entire Heroic run.
So far Legendary is once again the way to go.  I wouldn't recommend someone attempting it on their very first play through, since it can lead to moments of frustration, but in the overall fun department, when it shines, it takes the cake.
Once I'm done with Legendary, I hope to dedicate some time to Firefight.  I've also played about 4 -5 online matches and they've been standard Halo.  I'm not hooked on it, but it is a nice diversion from the single-player when I need a break.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Halo: Reach impressions

Picked up Reach on Tuesday and finished the campaign on Heroic yesterday.  Not sure how long it took me, but I put in a good amount of time into it the last two days.  Still, not the longest single-player out there.  Overall impressions:
- At its core, it plays like Halo.  I mean, it is Halo.  The special abilities do add a wrinkle to the formula, with the jet-pack changing up the gameplay the most by far.  I actually wish there were more sections that encouraged jet-pack use.  I also think that sprint should be a default action.  These are Spartans.  I'm pretty sure they can sprint without the need of a "special ability".  I don't think I will be able to play any of the previous Halo games now without the sprint.
- After four Halo games, the formula has been refined and the overall experience was great, but this series' gameplay is now starting to show its age.  The fantastic level design and the best A.I. in the biz keeps things fresh and always fun, but Halo needs a revamping in the overall gameplay department for any potential future releases (and since future games won't be by Bungie, we'll probably see just that).
- It goes without saying, but this is the best looking game in the series (it better be).  It may not be the best looking FPS out there, but what it lacks in texture detail or geometry it more than makes up in sheer scale.  The levels are huge and open and just beg for exploration.  Yet the game's sense of urgency almost discourages exploration at the same time.  As might be evident by me beating the game in 2 days, I did not do much exploring in my first playthrough, deciding to stick to character and rushing through sections as the game's tempo dictated.  But I plan on taking things much slower on my Legendary run.  And in reality, the ONLY way to beat Halo games on Legendary is to take things very slow.
- It was kinda strange to basically always have teammates with you throughout the entire campaign.  You teamed up with troops at various times in previous games, but you rarely go lone-wolf in this one.  And as strange as it sounds, I kinda prefer the lone-wolf stuff.  I always tend to enjoy the sections where I am a one man army more than when fighting alongside a squad.
- Story-wise, I enjoyed it.  I've always been a big fan of Halo's campaign, so I probably follow the story a lot more than the average Joe (reading up on it after the fact, etc.).  I feel Bungie has done a pretty poor job conveying the Halo story to the player in their games.  It is pretty hard to figure out exactly why you are doing certain things.  Reach might be the best of the series in this regard, but still, I'm sure 90% of the players have no idea what is really going on, what Reach meant to humanity, what an important turning point it was in the series, etc.
And that's about it.  I'm going to start up a Legendary campaign and will begin to dive into Firefight and matchmaking.  I'll probably post some multiplayer impressions soon.  Although, given my thoughts on the Beta they may just be me bitching that the game does not play more like CoD.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mafia II

Mafia II is an odd game.
It gets solid marks for its technical abilities.  The game looks very good.  In fact, in can be drop dead gorgeous at times.  Environments are large and authentic and there's a good amount of physics at play.
The audio also gets high marks.  Great voice-acting.  Great period music.
The storyline and cutscenes are fun to watch.  Classic gangster stuff, more Goodfellas than Godfather.
The gameplay is solid as well.  Driving physics are realistic and the cars control as well as cars from the 40's and 50's can control.  Gunplay is standard 3rd person fare, with a cover system and familiar play mechanics.  Melee combat is a bit rough around the edges, but not horridly bad.
The one area where the game really excels is overall emersion in the era.  The visuals, audio, voice-acting and story come together very well to create a great setting.
So then why, if all aspects of the game are solid to excellent, am I just not really enjoying this game that much?
I've put in about 10 hours into it, am towards the end of the game, and I just have weird mixed feelings about my experience.  There have been moments when I've really enjoyed the game.  The game gets some tiny details right, making the game seem really realistic (sometimes annoying so), and some other aspects are lazily done, looking totally "game-like" and ruining your immersion in this rich game world.  And then there are just odd things added that seem to serve absolutely no purpose at all.
Some examples.  Note, I am going into total rant/nitpick mode here:
- In your apartment (or the apartment of others) you have the ability to turn off any of the lights, turn on all facets, showers, flush the toilet, etc.  Except it serves absolutely no purpose.  Ok, many games let you do such things, but for some reason it just seems especially out of place in this game.  Oh, you can also grab food or drinks out of the fridge to consume.  Again, I do not see the point of this.  I think it may replenish your health or something, but I have never been in my apartment and needed "health".  Maybe if the game had some hunger/thirst system I could see the point, otherwise, it is just there for no purpose, other than the novelty of drinking a beer the first time and then never doing it again.  Yes, this seems like a nitpick on my end, but for some reason this stuff seems to stand out to me in Mafia II more than in other games.  Almost as if the developer had plans for all these others tasks and then left some gameplay mechanic out at the last second.
- While Empire Bay is a large detailed city, there is basically nothing to do in it aside from whatever mission you are currently assigned.  This is definitely not a sandbox game, even though you can go anywhere you want.  There is no reason (or down time) to explore, because there is nothing to actually do outside what the game has in store for you.
- You have to periodically put gas in your car.  Realistic?  Sure.  Necessary?  Nope.  Again, another example of the game going to extreme lengths to do something "realistic", but in reality, it is just a cumbersome task to do.  One the game could have easily done without.
- Speaking of gas and driving, seems like driving makes up 75% of the gameplay.
- The game also loves cutscenes.  A bit too much.  It has some of that Metal Gear syndrome, in that you might have a cutscene, then 15 seconds of gameplay and then you are right back to another cutscene.  It just seems odd to give players control for those 15 seconds, to then go back to another cutscene.  It is annoying.  Especially when sometimes all you do is walk a few feet to trigger that next cutscene.  Sometimes I'd much rather be actually playing what is going on in the cutscene instead of watching.
- And amusingly enough, sometimes the opposite is true.  There is one mission where you have to pick up a heavy weapon to take to a location.  So you go to the shop to grab this weapon.  You then actually control Vito (your character) as he carries this weapon back to the car.  Mind you it is heavy so you are walking at a snail's pace, and you have to walk through a few hallways and up a few stairs.  Really?  THAT would have been just fine to see in a cut-scene.  It was not entertaining at all to control Vito carrying that heavy box for what felt like 2 minutes.  WTF guys?
- One big problem I have with this game - and sandbox games in general - is that the game holds your hand way too much.  I understand this is a large game world and you don't want players getting lost or wandering around aimlessly wondering where they have to go, but sometimes these games go too far, sucking out a lot of potential fun and opportunities to immerse yourself in your character's situation even more.  An example: One mission tasks you with breaking into a building.  It would have been fun to sneak around, trying to figure out exactly how to break in.  Instead, you have a big dot on your radar telling exactly where you have to go to break in.  That kinda sucks the fun out of figuring it out on your own.  I don't have an issue with the radar showing how to get to a location, but there are times that once you get to that location, the rest should be up to the player.
- I also really wish the player had more input in where to take the story.  Letting the player make some of their own choices would have been just fantastic in this game.  There were times when I really wish I could choose which route I wanted my character to go story-wise.  We don't need Mass Effect levels of choice here, but there were a few key story points where this would have been great, and added a ton of tension to the scene as you choose which direction to take a situation.
And that's where I am at right now.  I've had some really fun, tense, exhilarating moments.  Some pretty emotional ones too.  But the game can't consistently pull them off and just when I was really enjoying the game (a span of 2 - 3 chapters in the later half of the game are really, really good), it throws a curve ball at you and I'm not really liking the direction it has gone since then.
I'll chime in when I finish the game with final thoughts.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday notes . . .

- I picked up Mafia II this weekend.  I've only played for about an hour so far.  Technically, the game is great.  Very nice visuals, great period music, fantastic voice-acting, etc.  The game starts off a bit slow, so I haven't done much yet.
- I'm trying to enjoy Madden, but the secondary play seems pretty busted right now and I don't think sliders will fix it.  It needs to be addressed via patch.  Corners and safeties just do some really stupid things right now and let receivers run by them and they react very slowly to turning up field.  It is making the game almost unplayable because of the frustration the follows one of these bone-headed plays.
I'm also seeing a lot of long drives.  I like long drives, occasionally, but it seems like both me and the CPU are constantly putting up 11+ play drives.  I don't see very many three and outs.
Special teams blocking is also non-existent.  The middle kick-off return is the only play that provides any sort of blocking.  Choosing left or right present you with a wall of defenders rushing at you without a single teammate between you and them.
Punt return blocking looks like it would work if only your stupid teammates would TURN AROUND to block the approaching defenders.  Your teammates just stare at you until you catch the ball, and then decide to turn around to see who they can block.  Too bad by then the defenders already ran past them and are pile driving you to the ground.
I still see plenty of potential for a great game of football if some of these issues can be addressed via patch.
- I have a Wii in my possession, along with a copy of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  A very special thanks to my friend who let me borrow this.  The only problem is I've had it in my house for about two weeks and I have yet to take it out of the box.  I've been dying to play Twilight Princess since the day it was announced.  I almost bought it for the Gamecube.  And now that I have it, it is just sitting there, waiting.
I think it has to do with two factors.  a) I'm terrified of how horrid this thing is going to look hooked up to my HDTV.  I only have regular RCA cables for it, no s-video or component, and I'm afraid my eyes will bleed.  b) I'm actually dreading pulling my entertainment center forward to try and connect this thing.  I'm going to have to mess around with a lot of cables back there.
- Last gaming note, I began playing through the original Bioshock again.  Not sure why.  Probably because of the announcement of Bioshock: Infinite.  I should have just picked up Bioshock 2 instead, to at least be playing something new.  This is my third time through the game and I've been enjoying it.  A lot of the original magic is gone, but it is still a very good game.  I probably won't finish this play through though, now that I picked up Mafia II

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting things done . . .

I was off work last Thursday and Friday and I did something I hadn't done in a while.  Beat some games!
I managed to finally finish God of War III, Assassin's Creed II and Red Dead: Redemption.  Man, it felt great to get those wrapped up.  I was seriously procrastinating when it came to finishing games that I started.
I also attempted to get back into GTA IV, since i just wrapped up RDR and figured both games controlled and played similar enough for me to jump back into it.  But I quickly realized why I had stopped GTA in the first place.  I'm stuck in a very annoying mission, that forces you to restart from the very beginning when you die, making you replay a lot of really long and boring driving sections over and over.  I don't think I am ever going to finish this one.
And then there is Heavy Rain, which for some reason I have ZERO desire to get back to.  Yet I am very curious how the game will end.
I'm also very tempted to pick up Madden today.  And knowing me, that means I will own it before the day is up.  I also would like to dedicate some serious time to Backbreaker now that the patch is out.  I've yet to really get into that game, but I really want to.  It does a lot of things really well, I just have to overcome my own pre-conceived notions of how a football video game should play, since it plays so different from what we are used to that your initial reaction is to just give up and go back to what you are comfortable.  But I am positive that if I can get over that hump and learning curve, that a pretty fantastic football experience awaits.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chiming in

I've been playing Red Dead Redemption for a few days now when I've had a chance.  The game is excellent.  The visuals are amazing, the voice acting and motion-capture for cutscenes are top-of-the-line, and the Rage engine and animations never get old.  Is it GTA in the Old West?  Basically, but the setting and gameplay are just different enough to give the game its own feel.
The game world is absolutely HUGE and if you do not enjoy riding on horseback for long periods of time you might get bored.  Sure, you have other quick travel options, but I personally think riding there yourself is the way to go.  I enjoy taking in the scenery and partaking in some of the many random events that occur on your way to your destination (random strangers needing help, spotting a wild animal you might want as a trophy, spotting some rare plants to collect, or just coming across a cool undiscovered area).
Aside from random glitches and some areas that could use more polish, the game is a top GotY candidate, neck in neck with Mass Effect 2 right now.
I also tried out the Backbreaker demo, and while I do have my issues with the camera angle, I appreciate what the game is trying to do and it peaked my interest enough to pretty much guarantee a purchase from me.  Backbreaker looks to really change up the way we play videogame football.  I have my reservations about the passing game with the camera the way it is, but lets see if it grows on me.
On a final note, I love me Camaro!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Halo: Reach Beta Impressions . . .

I've been playing the Beta the last two nights.  Some quick impressions:
The visuals are definitely improved.  It might be hard to notice immediately, but play some of the Beta and then pop in Halo 3 and you will notice.
Gameplay still feels like Halo and it didn't take me long to adjust to the slight control changes (reload is back to the 'X' button, RB is now melee, and the LB is for your special ability).
While I've found some enjoyment with the Beta, for the most part I just can't stand Halo multiplayer.  It is just not for me.  After playing CoD, I find it very hard to go back to the way Halo does things, with enemies requiring far too many shots to kill (unless using some of the more powerful weapons), and weapons being very unbalanced.  And Reach is similar enough that all my problems with the way Halo plays online carries over.  I believe I've covered these in the past, but I'll cover them again. 
- Success in Halo depends way too much on what weapon you have.  If you (or your team) control the weapons on the map you have a significant advantage over your opponents.
- The default weapons are FAR too weak (assault rifle and pistol).  This goes back to my point above.  So you are pretty ineffective and at a severe disadvantage when you respawn.  I much prefer CoD's system of each player being able to choose their weapon loadout, and the fact that all weapons are balanced to the point that one does not have an advantage over another. 
- I just don't enjoy the circle and spray combat Halo seems to require.  Here is a typical "encounter" with another opponent, lets say with the default assault rifle.  You turn a corner, you and your opponent see each other, you both hold down the trigger and unload your ENTIRE clip as you circle each other, and if you are both still alive at this point (now with depleted shields and low health), you close in to try and bash them with a melee attack.
A variation to the above scenario is first throwing a grenade at each other if you are far enough away, and then unloading your entire clip into each other.
What then usually happens is that whoever won that battle, is now shieldless, with no energy, reloading their weapon and another opponent shows up and shoots you once and you die.
- Going back to how pathetically weak the assault rifle is, here's a scenario.  In CoD, if you find yourself behind two enemies who do not know you are there (lets say they are 20 feet away), you can easily kill them both with your weapon, as you should.  Maybe the second guy will have time to turn around and get a few shots off, but you got them (as long as you don't suck.)  Yeah, this won't happen in Halo.  Engaging two enemies at one time when you have your default weapon is a suicide mission.  Even when you have the clear element of surprise.  Since it will basically take your entire clip to kill the first player, the second will easily be able to turn around and dispatch you.
Alright Halo fanboys, relax, I am not hating on Halo multiplayer.  I am not saying it "sucks", just that it is not my style.  If you are one of the millions that enjoy the way Halo plays, with weapon pick-ups, shields, lots of grenade throwing and punching, that is cool.  The game controls extremely well, the maps are great, and it can be fun, but I just can't get into it on a consistent basis.  After a few matches I find myself longing for CoD.
That being said, I will definitely be buying Reach, because I am a HUGE fan of Halo single-player.
Anyway, those are my two-cents on the Beta.  I'll continue to give it a try, who knows, maybe I'll adapt, but right now it just seems like more of the same with only slight tweaks to the formula.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday notes . . .

Again, not much going on gaming-wise. Looks like my new "thing" is to not finish any games I start. The latest casualties being God of War III and Heavy Rain. I was really into GoW, made it to the final boss, died a few times, and have since lost interest. I never fully got into Heavy Rain. It is an interesting game, but I can't really say it is a "fun" game. I hope to beat it eventually, if I ever get the urge to go back to it.

When I have decided to game lately I've been playing Forza III and Red Faction: Guerilla. Both are great games , yet I'm just not feeling gaming at the moment.

And I am actually glad. I'm getting more things done and enjoying my nights more now that I don't get home from work and sit in front of my couch for hours playing a game. Time flies when you are engulfed in a good game, and it is never a good feeling when you look at the clock, realize you just spent your entire night playing a game, and you now have to take a shower and go to bed because you have work the next day.

So, I hope to stay in this zone for a while. I don't anticipate any game coming out soon that will suck me back in. I haven't picked up Splinter Cell: Conviction yet (and don't feel the need to) and the only other game I want that is coming out soon is Red Dead Redemption. I'm not even that excited about the Halo: Reach Beta.

But I'll tell you what I am excited for. My damn Camaro. My VW Golf is hanging on by a thin thread and if my new ride doesn't get here soon I may be without a car for a while. So, I need it to get here for practical reasons, but I also need it to get here because the anticipation is killing!

In movie news, I saw Kick-Ass this weekend and loved it. Man, the movie caught me by surprise. I didn't expect it to be as violent and gory as it was. And I also didn't expect it to be as serious at times too. Plenty of funny, over the top moments, but the movie can be pretty brutal at times, leaving the viewer not sure if they should be laughing or shocked. But it was great overall.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chiming in . . .

Not much going on in the gaming front.  For the past week the only gaming I have done are occasional matches of MW2, in which I have been doing average at best.
I haven't played Heavy Rain in over a week.  I was enjoying the game for the most part, then I got to one section that was getting a little annoying (have to hold down a ton of buttons at one time) and I turned it off.  Now, whenever I think about playing the game I remember that section that I am currently in and I decide not to play.  Hopefully I'll get back into it soon since I want to at least beat the game, yet at the moment I am not interested.
God of War III comes out today and I am definitely looking forward to that.  My schedule is hectic this week however so I won't be able to pick it up until Thursday the earliest.
That's about it.  The only other thing going on is that I am in the process of buying a new car.  My 2001 Golf has reached the point where the repairs it needs costs more than the value of the car.  So, its time is limited.  I have also completely fallen in love with the new Chevy Camaro and even if my Golf was in tip-top shape (which its not) I'd be looking to get rid of it anyway.
I've been researching the Camaro for a few months now and I am shopping around for a deal.  That seems to be taking up a lot of time.  I think I am spending more time on car sites these days than gaming sites.  I simply CAN'T WAIT to finally (hopefully) get this car.
Fingers are crossed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2009 Game of the Year Awards

Alright, late as always, but here are my picks.  Will try to be brief, since this post always ends up being long. 
2009 Game of the Year
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Simply the most fun I had gaming in 2009.  Rocksteady really hit it out of the park.  Not only did they produce a great Batman game (which hadn't been done before), but it ends up being my favorite game of the year.  Impressive.  I played through this twice, which is something I rarely do anymore.  Last time I beat a game twice was with my 2008 GotY, Dead Space.  Maybe subliminally that's my criteria for this category.
Demons Souls
It was a close race.  Batman had it locked up until I popped Demons Souls in my PS3.  Talk about an innovative title.  On paper, the things I like most about this game sound awful: No checkpoints, dying sends you back to the beginning of the level (even if in a boss fight), dying also then reduces your HP by half, etc.  But surprisingly, it is all those design choices that make this game truly special.
PS3 Game of the Year
Demons Souls
See my comments above.  It almost beat Batman for the top prize, so it easily wins the PS3 category.
Uncharted 2
On a technical level, Uncharted topped every game released in 2009 (or before it).  Naughty Dog has fully tapped into the PS3's power and the result was a visual marvel that awed at every corner.  Throw in what I considered the best voice acting of the year (or again, ever), and you have one wild, entertaining ride.
Xbox 360 Game of the Year
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The single-player let me down, as I didn't find it as memorable as CoD4's, but this series stopped being about single-player a while back.  The follow-up to my favorite online game continues the trend.  Yes, I have my frustrations about the connection quality sometimes, I hate the riot shield, Commando Perk, and anything Akimbo, but it is still the most fun I have playing on Xbox Live.
Assassin's Creed 2
Taking the fantastic foundation of the first game (read: engine, controls), Ubisoft actually managed to make a game out of it this time, with a MUCH better structure, narrative and just about everything else.  A true example of a sequel taking all the flaws of its predecessor and fixing them.
Live Arcade Game of the Year
Secret of Monkey Island
I never played the original since I was never a PC gamer, but I always wanted to.  It was worth the wait.  Fantastic adventure game and a genuingly funny gaming experience.
Shadow Complex
Metroidvania at its best.  Great job taking a classic gaming style and updating it.
PSN Game of the Year
This was the only PSN game I played last year.  Thankfully it was a good one.  The last few levels were a bit too weird and dark for my liking, but overall it was a very unique and relaxing game.
Best Sports Game
MLB: The Show 09
This is getting redundant.  Will any game take this category back?  The Show is simply the best sports sim out there (That I've played.  I hear the NHL series has been great the last few years).
Madden 2010
Looks like the Madden team managed to finally back up their off-season promises .  For the most part at least.  It takes some slider tweaks, but Madden 2010 was probably the best in the franchise.  Keep at it guys!  Pretty soon you'll have this series where it should have been 5 years ago.
Best Graphics
Uncharted 2
Hands down easy win here.  Uncharted 2 is gorgeous from every possible angle.
Killzone 2
If you would have told me prior to its release that Killzone 2 would NOT be winning "best graphics of 2009" I wouldn't have believed you.  The game is absolutely gorgeous.  But as great as it looks, Uncharted is the current king of making my jaw drop.
Best Multiplayer
Modern Warfare 2
I mean really?  This game won my 360 GotY because of its multiplayer alone.  It wasn't even close here.
Demon's Souls
As you can see, I am not much of an online deathmatch guy aside from MW.  I'm sure Halo: ODST could have been a contender here.  Or Battlefield 1943.  But not for me.  Demon's Souls, on the other hand, wins for its ingenious and unique way of incorporating multiplayer into a single-player experience.
Surprise game of 2009
Demon's Souls
I think I heard about this game for the first time a few weeks before its release.  Wow.  Not bad when your runner-up to GotY was a complete surprise.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Sure, it looked good and I had high hopes, but somewhere in the back of my mind I didn't think Rocksteady was going to pull it off.  They sure proved me wrong.
While I had heard of this title way before release, it didn't interest me at all.  The I played the demo and realized I should have been paying more attention.  Solid action/adventure title.  Bring on the sequel.
Shadow Complex
Didn't think much of this title when it was announced.  Little did I know it would be an homage to the great Metroid and Castlevania games from my youth.  Great title!
Biggest Disapointment
Full price for Halo: ODST
I thoroughly enjoyed ODST.  It was a fun experience that felt like classic Halo at times, but was different enough to feel unique.  But this is definitely NOT a $59.99 title.  This should have been released at $29.99.  $39.99 at the most.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Not so much a disappointment since I became interested in the title close to its release, and even then I wasn't feverishly awaiting it, but after playing it I like many, many things about it, but technical flaws and extremely troublesome A.I. teammates really make this game far more of a chore than it needs to be.
Best Sophmore Effort
Assassin's Creed 2
This is how you make a sequel.  Address its flaws, keep what works, add a ton of stuff.  Great job.
Uncharted 2
Even though overall I enjoyed Uncharted 2 more than AC2, the upgrade in overall quality was not as big a jump in Uncharted as it was in AC.  That is more of a compliment to the original Uncharted than a knock against its sequel.
My Most Anticipated Release of 2010
Last Guardian
Anything from Team Ico will be my most anticipated game that particular year.  These people can do no wrong
Alright, that's all.  One year I'll get this list out at the end of the year, instead of 3 months into the new one . . .

Monday, February 22, 2010


Back in the day, I was a huge comic book fan.  I still have boxes of them in my old room at my dad's house.  Towards the end of my comic book run, the very last series I began to collect was Battle Chasers.  I was actually done with comics when Battle Chasers came out, but once I saw my friend's copy of the first issue, I was back in.  I absolutely LOVE Joe Madureira's art style.  Especially his take on fantasy.  So Battle Chasers was right up my alley.
Of course Battle Chasers had a troubled history.  It would take months for the issues to come out and eventually, it just died off, ending after only 9 issues.  Apparently Joe was busy with other things.  Like breaking into the videogame business.
Well, fast forward to today and Joe is the creative director to Darksiders, which I picked up on Saturday, partly because I played the game at PAX and enjoyed it, partly because I love Joe Mad's art, but mostly because it comes with a code that you can redeem for a free copy of Red Faction: Guerrilla.  That's right, each new copy comes with this lovely code.  Since I always meant to pick up Red Faction, this 2 for 1 deal was too good to pass up.  Besides, the reviews for Darksiders were solid.
So far, about 5 hours in, I am really enjoying the game.  I love it when I am pleasantly surprised by a game I was initially not very interested in (inFAMOUS being the last that I recall).  In fact, I am REALLY enjoying it.
A large portion of my enjoyment is coming from the art style.  Like I said, I freaking love Joe Mad's work.  All the character designs are right up my alley.  Visually, the game is great, although it doesn't impress so much on a technical level as it does on an artistic one.  If you break down the visuals, there are plenty of other game that look better, but the art style and especially the color pallette, is just superb.  The color scheme is bright and colorful, which I was not expecting given the post-apocalyptic theme.  But I am glad they went against the grain here.  The world is vibrant and alive.  The game does have a "cartoonish" look to it, which I know some people don't enjoy (they want a darker, more realistic look), but like I said, I love Joe Mad's style and I think it suits the game just fine.  In fact, the visuals remind me a lot of the Jak and Daxter games on the PS2.  Large areas, colorful visuals, and an animated feel to the characters.
Gameplay-wise, you cannot read a review that does not compare the game to Zelda.  It certainly does have a Zelda-feel to its design.  You acquire new items and power-ups which you then use to reach previously restricted areas.  You mostly acquire these in a "dungeon" and once acquired, you use it extensively to solve that dungeon's puzzles and to defeat its boss.  However, for some reason, the Zelda-influence is not beating me over the head like it has to others.  For sure Zelda was a huge inspiration, but it is not the only game it borrows from.  Combat borrows a bit from God of War, but only in that it is often times brutal in execution, and weakening enemies often trigger a "finishing move" you can activate by pressing a button (these are always done by just pressing that one button however, no elaborate QTE like in GoW).  Enemies drop souls of various color which you collect, but what game nowadays does not use some variation of this?
The game's controls took me a little while to get used to.  They feel great and everything is basically mapped where you would expect it to be, but sometimes you are required to hold down various buttons and triggers at the same time to do what you want and that can get confusing.
On the audio-side, voice acting is actually very good.  War himself has an appropriate somber delivery and the other characters (which mostly consist of demons) have their grunting, gargoling, ethereal voices down.  I haven't noticed the music much, which means it at least is not bad.  Sound effects are excellent however.  I've been playing with my headphones, and the clanging of blades, environmental ambient sounds, footsetps on different terrain, etc., all sound excellent.
I'm only 5 hours in, so I have plenty to discover and unlock, but so far, I have greatly enjoyed myself, and considering the free copy of Red Faction heading my way, this is actually one of the better purchases I've done in a while.

More Mass Effect . . .

I finished Mass Effect 2 a few nights ago.  Overall, I really enjoyed it.  It is better than the first one in almost everyday.  My total playtime was around 40 hours I believe.  I probably spent more time mining planets than I wanted.
Even though I clocked in over 40 hours, I felt like the main storyline was pretty brief and not as satisfying as the first game.  Looking back, you spend about 70% of the game recruiting your team and earning their "loyalty".  By the time your team is fully assembled and you take on the main quest, it is over in a heartbeat, and I found that disheartening.
The game's climax also wasn't as impressive as the first one's, in my opinion, although it was still plenty exciting.  I managed to finish the game without losing any teammates, since apparently you can lose multiple mates.  In fact, you can lose your entire time and even Shepard bites the dust if you make certain decisions, leaving Joker the sole survivor.  I find that very interesting and wonder how that will play our for the 3rd game.
I did enjoy the final mission, as you really have to assume command and make plenty of decisions about what to do and which teammates to send to do certain tasks.  I take it that this plays heavily into determining who survives, since choosing badly and sending someone not "qualified" for a certain job probably results in them not making it.  This is all just speculation on my point though.  Bottom line, that final missions was pretty cool and I wish there were more missions like that, where your entire team is involved.  I actually hope that all of ME3's main quest missions use a variation of this, since it makes more sense than 3 individuals going off and doing everything while the others are hanging out on the Normandy.
I want to do another playthrough, importing my new ME2 character, but I'm worried how that will affect my ME3 import.  I want to make sure all the decisions I made in this first playthrough are the ones to carry over to ME3, but I want to mess around in my 2nd playthrough and make some drastically different decisions to see how they play out.  Not sure how that will work.
Anyway, fantastic game.  I'd say early runner for GotY but it is only February, much to early to even be mentioning that.
Speaking of which, I've yet to name my GotY for 2009 . . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mass Effect 2 impressions

I've had zero time the last few weeks for much of anything, aside from
work, sleep and family issues. I leave my house in the early morning
and get home late at night.

I've struggled to squeeze in time with ME2 when I can. Sure, it cuts
into my sleep time (and boy could I use sleep time), but it also helps
get my mind off things and is a much needed and appreciated escape. So
over the last two weeks I've managed to give about 20+ hours to the

My impressions so far are very positive. Leading up to this release I
began re-playing the original ME to polish up on the storyline. That
didn't work, and I just gave up a quarter of the way through, since I
started this endeavor just days prior to ME2's release and I ended up
with the shiny new copy of the sequel staring at me every time I booted
up the original. While those few hours with the original were still
enjoyable, on a technical level, the game didn't hold up as well. The
load times, stuttering and texture pop-in, are a much bigger deal now
than they were two years ago. And the combat mechanics feel even more
stiff and rough-around-the-edges. So I just read a quick plot synopsis
on-line, re-watched the game's finale on Youtube, and I was up-to-date
on the events of the first game (it all started coming back to me

Well, onto the sequel. First, importing my character from the 1st game
was a snap. I hear that some gamers who have multiple characters are
having problems choosing the one they want to import, but since I only
had one, the import process was a simple one. Since we're on the
subject, I will say that the way they implement your choices from the
original game is very impressive. There are the big main choices of
course, which I won't spoil here, but it seems like there are a ton of
other smaller choices that carry over behind the scenes. Very cool.

On a technical level, the game engine has come a long way. No more
texture pop-in or frame-rate drops. The character's facial animations
are also improved. Movement is also improved, as just walking around
feels better. Environments and lighting are impressive, although some
of the environments "scale" is not as grand as I would have liked. It
is not the prettiest game on the 360, but it does an admiral job
considering the game's scope.

The most noticeable improvement is combat. The game's action sequences
play out much better than the original and come very close to feeling
like a dedicated 3rd person shooter during these sections. The powers
and weapons wheels return, allowing you to pause the action and plan out
your attack, but the overall feel of combat is a vast improvement. Good
thing too, since this game seems to emphasize combat more that its

A few notable changes in the sequel:

- The galaxy map works slightly different this time around. When
viewing the map within a system, you move a small version of the
Normandy around to the planets you wish to view/visit, instead of just
having the cursor toggle between them. To plot a Mass Relay jump to
another system you just head over to the nearest Mass Effect Relay and
then choose your location. There are now some systems that do not have
a Relay in them, requiring you to travel to them from the nearest system
that does. When traveling in this manner you use fuel, which you need
to replenish. This is an odd addition. Probably added for an extra
layer of realism or stratedgy (if you run of of fuel you need to burn
valuable minerals to get to the nearest fuel station) but overall it
seems like a pointless addition. Doesn't hurt the game mind you, I just
find it kinda annoying to have to buy fuel.

- No more Mako missions (which had you traversing the barren surface of
planets in search of minerals and resources). Instead you scan planets
now from orbit, using a cursor you pass over the planet's surface. I
wasn't a big fan of the Mako sections in the first game (touchy controls
and pretty bland, empty environments), but I'm not a fan of this new
system either. It is VERY time consuming (that cursor is slow as
molasses, even with the scanner upgrade), tedious, and I just feel like
I am wasting time when I could be out on a mission instead. Can't
anyone else in the Normandy's crew be taking care of planet sanning
while I am off on a mission or sleeping in my quarters? Seriously
folks, I am trying to save the galaxy here.

- You now have to manage ammo for your weapons as well. They don't
fully explain this either, since there was an actual explanation for why
you never had to reload or worry about ammo in the first game. They do
mention something about heat-sinks, to prevent over-heating, and it
being based on Geth technology, but that doesn't make much sense. It
seems like a step back to me. In the original you had unlimited ammo,
you just had to manage your fire rate so that your gun wouldn't
overload. If it did overload, you had to wait a bit for it to cool
down. This "new" Geth technology is just the regular magazines with
ammo we're using nowadays. You run out of ammo, change clips, and keep
firing. Where is the damn Geth technology? If they just wanted to add
a reload mechanic so that it can feel more like a shooter, that's fine,
come up with the heat-sink idea as a way to make you reload, but why the
limited ammo now? It just doesn't fit with the universe established in
the first game (and even discussed in the novel).

- No more loooong elevator rides. We just get load screens now. At
least the load screens are related to what is currently hapening, shown
in some animated skematic form. Or something, hard to explain.

- The Citadel is a shade of what it once was. It is just a few floors
of shops now basically (the sections you're relegated too at least, the
Citadel itself is the same, you just can't explore it anymore). I guess
a lot of gamers complained about running around in the Citadel in the
first game, but I found it impressive. Oh well.

I'm getting tired of writing, so I'll stop now. So far I have greatly
enjoyed the game and can't wait to see where it takes me. So far I've
only been recruiting team members and those missions have been a lot of
fun. I can only imagine how much better it gets when the real story
gets going. Because the main quest in the original game was phenominal
and the final mission/battle/ending was absolutely epic! Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The much anticipated Apple "tablet" was announced today.  The iPad.  Basically a giant iPhone/iTouch.
I want one.
I'm a tech freak and I've been waiting for this thing.  $499 for the 16gb version, $599 for the 32gb and $699 for the 64gb.  Not bad.  Cheaper than I was anticipating.  If you want 3G support (service to be provided by AT&T on a NO contract basis), add another $130.  So I'm looking at $829 for the top of the line model.  I can live with that.
Now I have to ask myself if I should cave and get this upon release (in about 90 days for the 3G models, 60 days for wi-fi only) or do the "smart" thing and wait until next year when a better version is released with cool new features, better specs, and some of the initial kinks worked out.
What to do, what to do?!?!?!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ridiculous 1st Quarter for 2010

Ah, the good old first quarter of a year.  A time when a gamer can recover from the onslaught of games released during the holiday season.  A time for the wallet to heal.  A time to maybe purchase some of the games you weren't able to pick last year, to fill in the void left by the complete lack of quality releases.
Well, not this f'ing year!
The release calendar for the first four months of this season is absolutely crazy.  Here are just the games that have my interest.  I'm adding an asterisk next to my absolute must-have, day one purchases.
1/26 - Mass Effect 2*
2/2 - Lost Planet 2
2/9 - Bioshock 2*
2/23 - Heavy Rain
2/23 - Splinter Cell: Conviction*
3/2 - Battlefield: Bad Company 2
3/9 - Final Fantasy XIII
3/16 - God of War III*
4/27 - Red Dead Redemption*
5/2 - Mafia II
I think that is more quality releases in one first quarter than the last four 1st quarters combined.  Wow.
A quick note.  Out of all titles listed, Heavy Rain is the only original IP.  All the others are sequels.  I think 75% of all the games I've purchased over the last few years have been sequels.  It is getting riskier and riskier for developers to come out with new original content.  People want the tried and true route.
I'm very intrigued by Heavy Rain, simply because it is trying something unique and different.  I don't think it is going to be mind blowing (nor a commercial success unfortunately), but it will be a nice change of pace.  I was very impressed early on, but I've been less impress with some of the latest movies I've seen.  The character dialogue and "acting" seems a little stiff.  As does the lip-syncing.  Hope it is all ironed out by release.
Well, time to start saving!

Just chiming in . . .

Being the incredibly lazy, inconsistent and procrastinating blogger that I am, here's my first post of 2010 (and first one in over a month!).  Happy New Year everybody!  :\
On the gaming front, I'm still churning away on MW2, trying to keep my kill/death ratio above 1.40.  The game is still a blast to play and I continue to be totally inconsistent in my performance.  Last night I went 24-2 in one match and followed it by going 8-14.  WTF?
I'm very happy with the recent patch that nerfed the 1887 Akimbo combo.  That particular set-up was practically ruining my experience, since it would be an automatic one-shot kill from practically any distance without the need to aim.  C'mon!!!
Right now I still have two pet peeves.  First, the freakin' Commando perk that lets you knife opponents from like 10 feet away.  It has the same effect as Halo's energy sword, where you basically lock on and fly towards an opponent, except that you don't need to hold your cursor over the opponent for a second to lunge, it is instant.  And annoying.  I'm not totally against the Commando Perk.  I just don't think that a knife should win in a gun fight if both opponents are facing each other and one guy is shooting with a freaking ballistics weapon!  If I get knifed in the back, that is fine.  Even with the 10 foot lunge.  If I get knifed in the front before I see the guy and can react, I can let it go.  But if I see the person running towards me and I begin to unload on him with my freakin' machine gun, then he should not be able to lunge at me and get the instant kill.  F you Infinity Ward!  You should take a lesson from Epic and the GoW2 chainsaw.  If you get shot while going in for the "melee" kill, then the bullets stop your forward momentum.  That's it.  That's all I want added to the Commando Perk.  Keep the 10 foot lunge.  But if I shoot you mid-lunge, then you better stop in your tracks!
Alright, now that I got that off my chest, my second pet peeve is the damn Riot Shield.  I hate this thing.  Damn you again Infinity Ward!  Is there a way to kill some fool who is crouched down and charging you with one of these things?  Sure, you can sticky them with grenade, if you have one.  Blinding them with a flashbang works, but that is a bad technique if they are right in front of you.  You're just a likely to blind yourself.  I end up futilely shooting at the guy while he bonks me over the head with his stupid shield!  Argh!!!  I hate you guys!
Ok, enough MW2.  I've actually been playing a lot of Madden 2010 recently, if you can believe it.  With the latest patches I've found a set of sliders that I've enjoyed.  I started a new Dolphins franchise and I am currently 2-1.  Game is still a ways off from being the total NFL experience, but it is serviceable this year with good sliders.  That's a start.
I've also played some 1 vs 100 and participated in the Live game this past Tuesday.  I'm a sucker for trivia so it is enjoyable, although all the commercials get annoying.
And that's about it on the gaming front.  Have plenty of games left to finish, which I might never get to.  Mass Effect 2 at the end of the month, although I'm not too excited at this point, although I know it is a day 1 purchase for me.
Oh, I should have my GotY 2009 post up . . . umm, sometime before the end of the year.
Hope to catch Avatar this weekend.  I've been reluctant to go since I can't stand crowded theaters and lines anymore.  Man I am getting old.  The movie has already made over a billion dollars word-wide.  Wow.  James Cameron is money in the bank.  Will this guy ever have a problem getting funding for a movie ever again in his life?  His movies basically print money for the studio.