Hearing it from the Source

So in my high school there is a class open to seniors that covers the history of World War II.  As the class begins to wind down my teacher got a hold of a local veteran who fought in the Pacific Theater during the war. 

It was very interesting hearing this man tell us about his experiences during his time in the United States Marine Corp. during this time.  I mean sure we play games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor all the time, yet the reality of that time period still seems so far off in the past.  It almost changed my view of games based on historical wars, not so much in the way that I will never play them again but it just made me appreciate the people who served in those times even more than I had before.

Hoisting the flag at Iwo Jima

Some of the stories that he told us were amazing.  One story that we heard was about when he and squad were clearing out a Japanese tunnel that was littered with bodies of Japanese soldiers.  So they began walking through the tunnel with nothing out of the ordinary happening and all of a sudden the man tells us that his friend yelled "Get Down!" and as he hit the dirt a Japanese soldier fell to the ground also.  One of the Japanese soldier had been playing dead and tried to take a swipe at our speaker with a samurai sword.  That sword is now a sovereign of the veteran who spoke to us.

We always see veterans speak on History Channel specials about their experiences in World War II and I have a profound amount of respect for them and any veteran who has served their country, but it was just a great experience to meet this man and hear his stories about his life as a Marine during this time. 
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Tis The Season For Fatalities

I have not made a proper blog on Giant Bomb in a long time so I thought I would make a quick post.  Lately I have not been playing anything new, well I borrowed Star Wars: The Force Unleashed from a friend of mine and played through that.  The game was pretty good, aside from a few major gameplay glitches (I fell through a level twice and could not get back in).  The story was much better than I had expected, even though I already had a good feeling about the game's plot.  Definitly worth a play for any Star Wars fans, but I see little to no replay value in the game.

I began playing some Elder Scrolls Oblivion, which is still just as fun as it was when I used to play it.  Short story here.  About two years ago I let my friend borrow my copy of Oblivion and I just got it back last week...yeah.  So thats fun, I have been doing mostly side quests and finishing up the remaining guild missions so I can get the full 1000 points from the game.  Fallout 3 did not really interest me much, but now that I have been playing Elder Scrolls again, Fallout is looking pretty fun. 

Aside from these two games and the occasional Call of Duty 4, I have been playing A TON of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on the Xbox Live Arcade.  I convinced some of my friends to buy it now that the price has been lowered to 400 MS points and we have been playing.  Well actually we try to play and I win so they go off and play other games.  None of my friends are really into fighting games so they don't think Mortal Kombat is too fun.  I have been playing online mostly, trying to get better with different characters.  Which leads me to this.

Here are some things I asked for this Christmas:

  • 120G iPod Classic - I need a new iPod and I was going to ask for a touch, but I would rather have almost unlimited space for my music.
  • The Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD Collection - Can't beat the classics
  • The Dark Knight - No need to explain
  • Call of Duty: World at War - Reached 10th prestige in Call of Duty 4 and I thought 'hey why not do it again in World at War?'
  • Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe - I love Mortal Kombat and comics, match made in heaven
  • Fallout 3 - Vast open world of wastelands?  Sign me up
  • Xbox 360 controller charger package - Screw scrounging for batteries when my controller dies
  • 1600 Point Card for XBL - Plan on buying SF2 HD Remix and Uno so I can play with some friends

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My brother is also getting his own 360 this Christmas which came with Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda, and I would totally play Lego Indiana Jones.  I'll probably make a blog when Christmas comes a little closer to wish everyone a happy holiday, but if I don't get around to it, happy holidays!



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Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is Valves’s latest game that allows up to four players to join forces and survive a zombie onsalught.  The demo features two chapters from one of the game’s five scenes, which lead the player on a path from a rooftop down to an ungerground subway system. 


The game’s combat is typical of a Valve shooter and feels much like Counter-Strike and Half-Life.  There are a variety of weapons at your disposal, pump action shot guns, automatic shotguns, assault rifles, sub machine guns, and sniper rifles all make killing hordes of zombies an enjoyable experience.  The game can be played single-player, but the real fun comes from playing four player co-op with some friends. 

At the beginning of each game players have their choice of four different characters to play as;  Zoey, a young woman who probably has never held a gun in her life.  Bill, a war veteren who can fight just as well as the other young survivors.   Louis, an electrical store manager who joins the group to escape the city.  And my personal favorite survivor, Francis a tough biker, who gives people named Francis (like myself) a chance to feel cool.  All of these characters play exactly the same, aside from a few dialogue expressions in certain situations.  


Your life is in the Director's hands

 When I had first heard of the game’s Director AI system I was a little skeptical.  I mean how could the game know what the player is actually doing and then change the game based on that?  Well I am glad that I was wrong because no two scenario playthroughs are the same as a result.  For example say your team is not holding up too well against the zombie apocalypse, well it might spawn a pile of weapons around the corner for you to equip.  I began to experiment with the Director and got some interesting results.  For example, in the first level of the demo your crew is held up on a rooftop while zombies populate the rooms below.  If you go down the stairs or jump through one of the windows on the roof then you will be open to attack, but I decided to sit up on the roof to see what happens.

Now I do not know if what happened was a result of the game being on the hardest difficulty, but I was ambushed by zombies who jumped onto the roof from a near by building.  I was not expecting that to happen at all.  On the second level of the demo, which was an underground subway tunnel, you have the oppurtunity to pick up some more firepower.  I grabbed a sniper rifle and camped in a corner picking off zombies from across the tunnel without them noticing me at all.  After about five minutes of sniping the undead I was caught off guard when I stopped looking down the gun’s scope…a horde of zombies was rushing me and too be honest made me jump.

I have had so many memorable experiences play the demo for Left 4 Dead and it only offers two levels to choose from.  I cannot imagine the fun that the final game will offer with the added game modes and scenarios to play through.  This game promises to be a great title for anyone interested in horror games or those looking to shoot up some undead zombies with their friends.

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For Odin's Sake!

At this point the whole Too Human controversy has passed, for the most part.  Personally I think the game got a bad reputation before it was even released with everyone being so negative about it.  When the demo was available on the Xbox Live Marketplace a few months ago I had heard some mixed reactions from a few friends of mine.  Some said that the game was a lot of fun and others said that the game flat out sucked. 

I played the demo and actually enjoyed it, but I did not rush out and buy the game.  Recently I had the chance to borrow it from a friend of mine and I have been playing it on and off for a few days now.  After playing for about 12 hours I feel that I have put in enough time to make a final judgement about the game.  While playing the game I would have fun bashing my way through hordes of cyborg elves and undead mutants, to be reminded that there was actually a story going on and that I had forgotten what was going on as a result of the excessive combat portions of the game.

Mad Loot
Now don't get me wrong the action in Too Human is pretty fun, but it gets repetitive after a certain point, however for the most part collecting massive amounts of new loot and other various items is where I got hooked.  I have been a very big fan of loot ever since my friend got me hooked on Diablo II a couple of years ago and I must say that Too Human fufills my urge for killing a ton of enemies only to find a sword that I can't use for another 25 levels.

The story of Too Human is quite interesting, as it tells the story of Norse mythology with a new spin on things.  Too Human casts away the stories of old and replaces them with a science-fiction themed take on the adventures of the Aesir as they protect humanity.  I enjoyed this new telling of Baldur's tales and the cinematics for the most part are done pretty well.  My only complaint is that the story is too spread out because of the lengthy combat sequences that sometimes make you forget why you are even fighting all of these enemies in the first place.

Damn You!
I went into Too Human with little expectations as a result of the negative comments I had heard, but I walked away with a very enjoyable experience (aside from the god damn death animations!).  The co-op adds a new element of enjoyment that allows you to go loot hunting with a friend and offers the ability to trade with your partner.  For the most part I would recommend that anyone reading this at least gives Too Human a rental to build your own judgement on the game.
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A True Blues Man

I have not blogged recently on Giant Bomb and I just finished on a draft for my school newspaper about seeing John Hammond in concert two weeks ago.  I'm aware there are some typos that I have to fix
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There are many artists that come to mind when you think of the vast history of blues music, as well as the many different styles of playing.  Few musicians are able to interperate the true meaning of the blues as well as John Hammond, who has been performing around the world for decades from venues such as festivals to small clubs, with a Grammy award under his belt.  I had the oppurtunity to see him perform at The Center For Arts In Natick recently and John Hammond still puts the same amount of soul in his work today as he did all those years ago.

Aint nothin' but the blues
After a long drive from Reading on the way to Natick, with a few brief moments of being lost on our journey, my friend and I finally found our way to The Center For Performing Arts In Natick with a sign advertising the entertainment of the night,  "John Hammond Plays The Blues!''.  As I made my way through the entrance to the ticket counter I caught a glimpse of the man himself.  Just a few feet away from me was John Hammond sitting casually with his wife chatting with some fellow fans.  I knew the venue was going to be relativly small, but this was a very intimate gathering of people who wanted to see the blues played by one of the greatest blues guitarists in the world.  After standing in awe for a few seconds I made my way past the main lobby and into the actual stage area.  Once seated two rows from the stage the lights began to dim as the show was about to begin. 

When the stage lights flickered on, Hammond made his way onto the stage with his two guitars in hand.  Once seated Hammond adressed the audience and kicked off his performance.  The set list was filled with classics such as 'Come On In My Kitchen' by the legandary blues man Robert Johnson to the song made famous by Buddy Guy, 'My Time After A While' and a few original songs mixed in for good measure.  Every song was filled with Hammond's amazing ability to play blues harmonica and lead guitar unlike any other musician past or present.  I was stunned watching this performance of musical force taking place less than five feet away from me from my second row seat. 

After the show the entire audience gave John Hammond a standing ovation for his performace which was then followed by an encore.  Once the final note was heared from Hammond's harmonica and steel guitar combonation I figured my night could not get any better.  Hammond made his way off of the stage and everyone else soon proceeded to head back into the main lobby to exit the center.  However as I walked out the arch way I saw Hammond once again seated in the corner of the room.  After missing my first chance to meet the man I had been inspired by, I got into the line to talk with him.  Finally I was second in line and I purchased a DVD which John Hammond offered to sign. 

I will never forget this moment, I was standing face to face with the man himself and got to shake his hand.  After a short conversation about the show he signed 'To Frank, I hope you enjoy this. John Hammond' on the DVD i had just bought.  What amazed me even more than the act of actually shaking his hand was how humble Hammond was towards his fans.  Many famous musicians just play their set and head off on their own way, but John Hammond waited for everyone who wanted an autograph to leave before he did so himself.  This night of the blues was possibly one of the greatest moments in my life as I had experienced an amazing performance and had the oppurtunity to meet the man that has been keeping the blues alive, no matter where he plays his music.
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Gotta Catch 'Em...Wah?

It has been a recent inside joke in the Up Down Left Right podcast that I have been playing Pokemon Pearl.  I would not say that I am addicted to the game, considering I have been playing less and less of the game as time passes, but I have invested many hours into the game.  There is just something about the game that makes me want to play it, it is probably because I have such fond memories of the classic Red and Blue games that I played during my childhood or it could be my annoying sense of needing to complete a gam as much as I can.

With so many new Pokemon added to the universe, most of which I have never seen before the game has both a new element of discovering all the new creatures, but it also added a sense that I miss the games of old.  I remember being about six or seven years old getting into arguments with friends while we debated who would win in a battle as many young fanboys do often.  This feeling is gone now mainly due to the fact that more than a decade has past since those days, but it is also because I have no idea whats going on anymore.

                                                

 Maybe This Is Too Much…

I very much enjoy all the added features of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl and it adds a whole new addition to the longevity.  Online trading and battles are done very well and you can trade your Pokemon in an almost eBay like fashion.  My only negative view of Pokemon as a kid was finding other people to trade with and going through the hassle of going through the linking Game Boy ordeal.  This problem is easily solved and done in a simple managable manner.  Simply place a Pokemon up for offer and choose what you want in exchange for it or you can search through a list of Pokemon to trade for.

This really is going nowhere and I just thought I would blog because I am very bored and would like to continue the madness related to my Pokemon craze.  Listen to the Up Down Left Right podcast (plugs!) and Brendan totally needs to man up and admit he likes Pokemon.
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Newest episode of the Up Down Left Right podcast is available on iTunes.
This Week:
-Adam and Brendan discuss their adventures while attending the Penny Arcade Expo
-Hands on impressions of Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, and Left 4 Dead
-Darren gives his take on the latest Warhammer MMO beta
-Frank calls out a podcast troll

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Don't Blame Us

For years people have been blaming entertainment for society's blunders as an excuse for poor parenting and violent behavior among today's youth.  At one point it rock and roll was the target for outrage due to the artists 'corrupting the minds of young audiences' but today video games are to blame.  Anything from school shootings to hit and runs have been examples of blaming video games for a much larger issue in today's society.  What is this issue?  Some people are just plain nuts!

Mario: Corrupting our minds for years!
Do not get me wrong, I will admit that video games have become more and more violent in recent years.  However, this is not a valid excuse in this debate.  Video games are still fairly new in the entertainment industry compared to films and music, yet problems that have existed for decades are being blamed on them.  People have been killing one another for no reason since the dawn of civilization and a game such as Grand Theft Auto has changed nothing.  Violent films have been viewed by millions of people, yet these are not blamed for anything.  Movies such as Saw and Hostel depict over the top blood and gore with little protest, but when a game like Gears of War is released parents are in an uproar.

Part of this issue may be because many people of older generations just do not understand video games.  By seeing video games as 'murder simulators' to steal Jack Thompson's overused quote, it automatically puts the notion in peoples' minds that they are bad.  Again, I am not saying that a young child should be playing Grand Theft Auto, but games are rated for a reason.  Poor parenting is the biggest problem with this debated topic and the solution is pretty simple.  Do not let your child play violent games, the choice is in your hands, not the game maker's.  For example when Gears of War was first released I was at the mall with a few friends of mine.  We all were purchasing the game and we were some what shocked with who we saw buying it.  In front of us was a kid, probably not older than ten years old with a copy of Gears of War in his hand.  How can someone say that a game is causing an issue and then go out and buy the game for their son because he wants it? 

Bad parenting is one of the issues I have with this topic, but there is another problem I have.  Some people are just not mentally healthy.  If someone cannot seperate a video game from reality then obviously something s wrong.  Do not blame a murder commited by a man who claimed he acted it out in Grand Theft Auto on the game, blame the lunatic who thought it was real.  Much of society is turning away from the larger issue by pinning our problems on a form of entertainment.

'GTA made me do it!'

Video game violence is a very debated topic in today's world and it is not about to go away anytime soon, until people begin to realize what the real issue is.  A form of entertainment is not a valid argument in this debate because for the millions of people who play video games, how many actually act on them?  Not many and these are the ones who are causing the problem.  Just because someone thought they could go on a killing spree and blame Grand Theft Auto is an excuse for their own insanity by blaming something other than themselves or even our society.  Once people begin to comprehend this, we will all be better off.

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New Review and Other Things

Indy's greatest adventure yet!
Greetings Giant Bomb users!

I have just finished writing my long overdue Call of Duty 4 review and it can be found further down on my Giant Bomb profile page.  As well as at my Wordpress blog here.  I plan on reviewing more games in the future and I have a few games that I have been neglecting to review.

I have not been too active on Giant Bomb so much, aside from my few posts in the forum.  Most of my submissions to the site have been accepted and I have a pretty good amount of points, though nowhere near the 1,000 everyone is aiming for.  This site is still going pretty strong and I have not seen as many trolls or spammers lately which is always a good thing.

For those who do not know.  I contribute to a podcast called The Up Down Left Right A B Start Podcast., which can be found on iTunes.  Right now we only have a few episodes up, but we have a lot planned for the future.  Please check it out and leave us an iTunes review if you like what you hear.  Here is a link to the iTunes page

That's it for now.
-Frank

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Let The Madness Begin!

Hello fellow Bombers!  My name's Frank and like everyone else I am new to this site and I'm enjoying all the new stuff it has to offer.  I can also be found on Gamespot.com as FMunro3251, but I do not plan on being very active on that site anymore.  I have already found some people I know through Xbox Live and other various game sites.  I guess all the cool kids are here now.  My gamertag for Xbox Live is Br3adfan, so feel free to shoot a friend request or game invite my way.

Dark Knight also is the greatest movie ever created, so SEE IT NOW!

Well that is it for now

:::End Of Transmission:::

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