MGS4: This Game Is Bananas


I love it, don't get me wrong. I just finished the second act, and I can honestly say I'm having a blast. I never played any of the previous Metal Gears, and I think that is helping my appreciation. I also enjoy stealth games like Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell, so that helps too.
But this game is completely batshit crazy. Let us count the ways.
  1. Snake's butt. My special lady is convinced watching Snake crawl around on the floor all day will put me on the other team, if you catch my drift. OpFor as it were.
  2. I played about ten minutes last night. I watched well over an hour of some completely awesome CG cyborg ninja action along with some less awesome egg preparation.
  3. Naomi's outfit. I'm not complaining. It would have given Snake a ripe banana, if he had one. I don't think he does. His lack of a banana is bananas.
  4. Holy christ the opening live action commercials. P.S. OMG. WTF. B.
  5. The alert sound. Feels like a throwback. I love it. Bananas.
  6. The number of gun variations. Astounding.
  7. Meryl's hair. Best if you don't view it from behind. It's a little... texture-y.
  8. Sneaking through huge battles. It's a breath of fresh air for me coming off a dozen other games where the goal is to murder everyone. I love it.
  9. Snake's voice. Serious banana mouth.
I had to share. If you've recently purchased a PS3 like myself, I recommend going back for this one.

Gaussian Blur


 Et tu Mario?
 Et tu Mario?
I drove my way up to about 12,000 fans and level 8 last night in the Blur Multiplayer Beta, and it's a pretty fun game. The comparisons to Mario Kart are certainly apt, but it is a harder *driving* game than its arcade-y plumber based inspiration. Drifting requires more controlled counter-steering, and the surface of the track can make a big difference between a tight drift around the corner and getting wrapped up and backwards on the edge.
The power ups are excellent fun, my favorite being the boost (which I wish had a mushroom icon... my poor brain is having trouble adapting) and the one that blasts energy directly around you to take out neighboring cars. You're given ample opportunity to pick up these power-ups, and learning the ins-out-outs of how they work was interesting. Of particular note is they all seem less cheap than, say, the blue turtle shell in Mario Kart. Most things attacking you have a counter. Use the blast at just the right moment to take out an upcoming red energy ball (aka red turtle shell).
 I started playing in the 4 to 8 player mode, and had a good time, but it was in the bigger up-to-twenty mode that was the most fun. The races became insane with cars bouncing off each other, firing power-ups constantly, and general mayhem. In this type of race getting ahead of the pack gives a big advantage, keeping you out of range of many of the enemy car's attacks. When you're ahead, if you drive well, you tend to stay ahead. The middle bunches up in a chaotic and fun tangle. The end gives a good opportunity to get the fastest lap time without anyone bothering you. Gauss could not have distributed the pack better.
The multi-player is "Modern Warfare Like" with the equivalent of perks and custom classes. Getting a better car, particularly one that can handle tight turns better, seems to offer a huge advantage. The perk that gives you a random power up right at the beginning of the race can zip you to the front of the pack right away, and as I mentioned above once in front you have a good chance of staying there. It's a big advantage.
All in all, it's a fun multiplayer game. My one request would be to make it downloadable, even if it's full price. This is the sort of game I'd want to play a few matches of before or after launching the disk based game in the tray. Having to get up and swtich disks might kill it for me. Yes, I'm that lazy.
Another request: add decals like Forza 2. Mine will be the blue turtle shell. Kapow!

My personal Link to the past

My Original Zelda 2 Cart
My Original Zelda 2 Cart
Digging through a box of -- this is true -- my old Star Wars action figures, I found my original cartridge of the first video game I ever loved: Zelda II : The Adventure of Link. Reading through Giant Bomb's wikis it seems this one isn't well regarded, but at the time there was nothing else I wanted to play. It was the Fallout 3 of my early years. 
The side-scrolling was familiar to me, and my favorite part of the game. The dungeons and their occasionally maze like layout had me drawing extensive maps marked with enemy locations, keys, boss fights, and any other details I could fit in. The RPG-like experience point system had me doing my first instance of level grinding. I could jump and kill birds for hours just to level up and get more life boxes. When I was playing Shadow Complex recently, I wasn't flashing back to Metroid or Caslevania, although it's clearly more directly inspired by those, but I recalled jumping around dungeons, trying to find the boss fight in this one.
Holding the actual cartridge is kind of blowing my mind.
Alright eBay, time for you to find me a functional NES. I wonder if my save game is still good. Twenty four years might be a little long for the battery to last, especially since I didn't always hold down the reset button while I turned the old one off. Now that's living on the edge.

War: The Enemy of Furniture

Dude could mess up an IKEA
Dude could mess up an IKEA
War, arguably the most dynamic of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, carries a ten foot sword, his brother Death's enormous scythe, a dub-horn useful for knocking back enemies and getting the party started, and is tasked with keeping balance between the mighty forces of Heaven and Hell. He does do that, but his real calling seems to be destroying the holy hell out of all of humanity's leftover furniture.
War needs souls, to give to Vulgrim, a demon merchant. Vulgrim needs souls, because he's a pervert. Killing enemies allows War to claim souls, but what surprised me was so did breaking a chair. Or a table. Or a sofa. Or the occasional book shelf. Or fire hydrant.
Here's a brief table of things with souls that surprised me, and a theory on how they got them.
Soul Source
Possible Reason
Fire Hydrant
Dogs leave small amounts of soul every visit, it builds up.
Sweet loving, proof that every sperm is sacred.
Spilled food
One cheek sneaks actually escaping soul. Builds up.
Book Shelf
Authors pour soul into book, book pours soul into shelf.
It's soaking in it.
James Brown
And he's super bad.
Experimentation seems to show that street lights have no soul, which I will extrapolate to mean that traffic lights have no soul, from which we can conclude that I don't need to pay any attention to them anymore. Not that I did. Pffft. Traffic lights. 
Darksiders is a blast to play so far, but has given me pause for thought about the metaphysical world and our place within it. The next time I'm driving around town, smacking mailboxes with a baseball bat, I'm going to stop and think about the soul that mailbox has inside. And then use that soul to buy a sweet-ass scythe.

Modern Warfare 2 Manual Review

I just picked up my copy of Modern Warfare 2 after it was shipped here by Amazon. I can't actually play the game until tonight, so here's my review of the manual included in the stock $60 version of the game:

 Seems so distant lately
 Seems so distant lately
Nine pages, two of which are the software license agreement, one of which is a page for notes. I'm sure I'll make good use of that : (Dear manual, Got pwned today, Love, Alphazero. P.S. Do you think Soap likes me?). Shows the controls, a paragraph about each game mode, some arrows pointing at Heads Up Display elements, and that's about it.
There is a code on the back that gives me EXCLUSIVE access to something or other at Don't be too jealous, but I'm going to try it out soon and probably be chatting with babes all day.
Can't wait to play the game! Big ups to whichever assistant producer at Infinity Ward had to photocopy and staple this bad boy. Top notch work.  You can't get staples like this in a PDF.

Avatar: The Burning Achievements

I'm a little bit torn. For my birthday I was given the game Avatar: The Burning Earth, because people know I'm a big fan of the cartoon and a big fan of those video games as well. What they didn't know, is that this game is famous for having the cheapest and most broken 1000 points of gamerscore out there. The video has been around for a while. I'm more than a little bit addicted to getting those points, but this one just feels wrong.
Of course, I also have most of the achievements from that Doritos game, but I justified that to myself by it being an okay little game. I'd have totally paid a quarter to play that one back when there still were arcades. Sure, I bought a big bag of Doritos after playing it, but that's because I like chips. That had nothing to do with spending an hour playing a fatty snack themed game, right? Maybe?
If you subscribe to the fighting game theory that nothing is cheap, then I guess it's clear what to do. The points inflation from this game has already occurred, I'm just returning my score to its baseline. That's what I'll tell myself, but I have to admit that I already don't really believe it. They're cheap, nearly unearned points. I should feel bad about it.
But hey, a third S-Rank! Sweet!


'Splosion Man (Secretly) Hates You

Doesn't Say Mean Things To Your Face
Doesn't Say Mean Things To Your Face
I had a bad experience with Mega Man 9. I loved Mega Man when I was a kid, but in the intervening years I've gone soft. I don't have the free time I once did, and it seems I've become more emotionally vulnerable. When Mega Man 9 told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was an asshat jerkwad sucktard and then repeatedly kicked me in the nuts, well, I took it personally.

Mega Man 9 *hates* me. 'Splosion Man hates me too, but it hid it so well, and was usually so polite about it, that I almost never minded.

It's easier than Mega Man 9, let's make that clear. You 'splode to jump, you 'splode to detonate various 'splosive objects scattered throughout the world, and then, when done, you can 'splode some more. There are similar instant-kill areas as in Mega Man, and they can be frustrating, but -- with two notable exceptions -- they're not as maliciously placed. The biggest way 'Splosion Man hides its hatred for you, however, is the tight checkpointing.

Not Taking Back What He Said About Your Mother
Not Taking Back What He Said About Your Mother
Mega Man had three checkpoints per level, the start, the middle, and right before the boss. It also threw in a limited number of lives just to further grind its heel into your sack. If you die at the mid-boss, you start right over at the beginning, and if you run out  of lives, guess what, back to the beginning for you. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. 

'Splosion Man has many checkpoints per level, infinite lives, and the levels themselves are fairly short. If done right, most can be completed in five minutes or less. There are many tricky parts, but also some sections where once you have the timing and movement down, you can fly through them in a glorious sequence of 'sploding.

The platforming is fun enough, most of the time, but the goofy sense of humor is what really sells it. When detonated, the scientists spew out cuts of beef, and at a few points you pick up a chubby scientist and are treated to one of the funnier songs in modern gaming. The art design is similarly goofy. Mega Man's pixels couldn't disguise its hatred very well, but this game pulls it off.

Everybody Loves Them
Everybody Loves Them
There are, however, two levels in 'Splosion Man and at least one boss fight that reveal the game's true feelings. They come a bit out of nowhere, ramping up the difficulty tremendously, and then once past, never get that hard again. It's an odd design choice.

While Mega Man 9 was a little bit too hard for my fragile emotions, 'Splosion Man feels just right.

The Deuce

It's the year of the sequel -- the second in the series -- as company after company drops a big number two on the gaming public. Anticipated within the next twelve months are such titles as Assassins Creed 2, Bioshock 2, Left 4 Dead 2, possibly Crackdown 2, Dead Rising 2, DiRT 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Mass Effect 2, ARMA II, The BIGS 2, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Red Steel 2, Lost Planet 2, and Modern Warfare 2 (which might secretly be a 6 disguised as a 2) . Already released are games I loved like Skate 2, Fable II, and -- breaking news -- Worms 2: Armageddon.

I'm sure a lot of it has to do with where we are in the console cycle. A bunch of new games were released when the Xbox 360 (also a second in the series), Playstation 3,  and Wii first came out, and we're hitting the point a few years later where the developers could turn around a sequel for the games that seemed to warrant them. Personally, I think it's a great thing as the second game has a chance to iron out any problems found in the first, while still delivering more of the same game play I loved before.

I'm excited. Who else is ready to go number 2?


Mission Control on SomaFM

This is pretty slick. Radio chatter from the moon landings mixed in with ambient musical droning.

But then I also like listening to airport radio chatter, so I might just be weird this way.

I listened to this while finishing up Red Faction: Guerrilla last night. It made failing at the last mission eight or nine times more tolerable.