So...I've been playing Dead Space interestingly enough. I don't have my Xbox down here at school, but some friends of mine got last Thursday and we've been working our way through the game. Right now we're on Chapter 7 or 8.
This game really caught me off guard. I consider myself to be on the up and up most of the time when it comes to games. Obviously I can't be on top of everything, but for the most part I like to think I am. Not so much with Dead Space. I had heard about it, but I guess I really think much of it. Even though I'm only a little over half way through with the game I can say it's a pretty damn solid game. The story hasn't really gone anywhere crazy, but it's certainly not boring or dull. It's also pretty long, I mean I'm not sure hour wise how long we've been playing, but I think 10+ hours would not be out of the question and again we're on chapter 7 out of 12 so...that's pretty impressive. Oh, and I thought I'd mention it's kind of funny because one of my friends who bought the game is also pretty stoked for BioShock on the PS3 (that's what I've been playing Dead Space on by the way) and while their very different games the similarities are almost comical. Distant human created environment overrun with monsters, the main character is communicating with other survivors, upgrading weapons, ammo, etc. But yeah, I'm obviously not done, so I'll be interested to see where it goes but like I keep saying it's just crazy how much this game just came out of the left field. I'll probably write more if I ever finish it.
p.s Has anyone taken a look at the Dead Space page? I mean, I love Giant Bomb, but man that page is all over the place.
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Well, after a whole week of having my Zune I figured I'd post my impressions in case anyone was wondering. Before I talk about the Zune itself I guess I'll talk about the Zune software, as I actually had that before I had the device. I would make the iTunes comparison, but to be honest (and I'm not the only one with this opinion) iTunes on Windows is just not all that great. It's really bloated memory wise and just doesn't perform all that well regardless of the computer (that's been my experience anyway). Point being I've never really used any sort of music organizational tool. I mostly use Winamp and Windows Explorer, and that's about it. However, I will say while the Zune software does suffer from being a bt of a resource hog by default it's certainly a better looking software then most and it operates fairly well as a music organizer and player. Something I particularly liked about it was the ability for you to look up information on a album, meaning you pull data from the Zune database or whatnot and correctly tag music (which is helpful for me since I have a good chunk of music that is pulled form random blogs and whatnot that are not tagged correctly). it also pulls down cover art and such which is also nice. Navigationally it's not that great, and certainly takes some time to get used to, but it works well overall.
I think people seem to get in this mindset that iPods are the defacto MP3 player. Of course any one who's looked for other players know that not only is that not the case, but there are actually a plethora of quite capable players out there. That said, the device itself is quite solid, more than solid actually. The device has three main 'buttons' a back button, a play/pause button, and the zune pad with a four way directional/touch pad. The zune pad touch funtion actually works really well and can be used for practicaly any input except actually selecting something where you have to 'middle click' the zune pad. I'm probably mudding it up more than it is, but suffice it to say works well and is quite the elegant solution. Otherwise you have your 3.25 inch screen (on the 80 and 120 models) which looks excellent and displays videos nicely. Obviously your dealing with the classic predicament of dealing with the screen size, but if you can watch video on a iPhone/iPod Classic or PSP, it's not that much of a difference obviously. Same goes for the audio. I remember when I was looking around at reviews there was so much about the Zune audio quality and while I'm no audiophile, the Zune certainly works fine. It's got good base, and with a good pair of headphones or earbuds I can't imagine someone having any real complaints.
Other somewhat miscellanious 'features' is stuff like being able to access the marketplace via the Zune, play games, and the dedicated podcasts section. In fact the way the Zune seperates content in general is interesting. Like, you have your music, and you have your podcasts and videos, but you can't really mix in that with your music. Now obviously that makes sense to some extent, but if you just wanted to have your comedy podcasts intersperced with your music you can't really do that. That's a fairly minor issue to me though, and if anything the fact that the Zune has a dedicated podcasts section that devides your podcasts and allows you to stop and resume podcasts is a nice touch (since that's one feature I enjoyed about iTunes when I did use it). As far as marketplace goes it's definately a plus over the iPod Classic. Being able to essentially browse the Zune marketplace while not near a computer is pretty cool, though obviously your at the discretion of whatever wireless connection your on, but that's a given. And their is also games, which I guess is a potential selling point, though at this time you can't really put any other games than what is included in the latest software update (Hexic and Texas Hold'em) so it's certainly something that will grow over time, but still...any device that lets me play Hexic while listening to my music while on the bus or whatnot sounds pretty good to me.
So yeah, I know it's quite the wall o' text but I finally got my thought down into words! It's far from perfect, but anyone who says the Zune isn't a iPod Classic competitor is kind crazy.
So, the DSi was announced today to the many crys of joy and foul play. I guess personally I'm kind of confused by the whole situation. Obviously it would be pretty crazy of
Nintendo to announce anything major (aka a new portable platform), but at this point I don't think offering a new SKU is all that great of a move, especially one without a GBA slot and with only a handful of new features. Granted, I'm far more interested than the majority of the internet it seems, but as a owner of the original DS and a DS lite it's a bit hard to get too excited about the DSi. The more important thing I guess is the aforementioned lack of GBA port (a point put well by Stephen Totilo over at the MTV Multiplayer blog). While it doesn't apply to me so much, I can't understand why Nintendo would allow such SKU to exist when their are games that require such a port to exist. Spliting the market is never a good idea, which probably explains why it won't be released this year in the U.S and abroad, not only because the DS lite is doing well, but Guitar Hero DS is too popular.
I'm not sure what possessed me to do so, perhaps it was the boredom, perhaps the perpetual need for 'new', but for whatever reason I had some sort of strange craving to get a new MP3 player today. Now, to be fair I've had my previous
player (a Zen Micro) since about 2005, so it's been a little while and it's definitely showing it's age in terms of looks, features, etc (e.g. it doesn't have a color screen and I can't file my taxes on it :P). On the other hand though it's worked fine and with my Napster subscription I've actually used it quite a lot over that time, but I just 'needed' something new...so I got a Zune 80 via a wonderful soul over on Ebay. I payed a little more than what I wanted I guess, but I'd say $200 plus shipping isn't bad (considering anything close iPod -wise and size-wise is going to be $250; being as iPods are the standard these days). Also I guess the fact that Zune and Xbox account stuff is so closely integrated and the promise of more connectivity between those two devices seems like a good investment. Besides, I never do stuff like this, and I guess more importantly, I can't let my parents have a 'cooler' MP3 player than me, I mean that's crazy talk.
Oh, and I obviously haven't received it yet, but when I do I'll be sure to let you know how that goes along with anything else that I feel like going on about.
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Another week, another week closer to being back to school, another week of gaming/tech related musings.
I find it pretty funny actually that I can go a entire summer without much of anything happening and then when we get towards the end everything just happens (and by funny I mean ironic I suppose). I already covered the Geometry Wars 2 and Castle Crashers purchases, but this past weekend I also ended up with Mercenaries 2. What a weird game, seriously. I mean, I didn't really play the first game a bunch, but it seemed pretty obvious to me right off the bat that these are two very different games, and looking at some videos of it makes that all the more clear. Sure, the first game didn't take itself too seriously, but Mercenaries 2 is like one big social commentary/parody, and it's not a great one at that. I don't know if it deserves some of the poor scores it's received, but at the same time it's not a particularly good game either. It's plagued by a myriad of bugs and has some weird visual issues, but the core gameplay is so solid that it's hard to sip the collective haterade. But I digress...I'll save my more detailed thoughts for my review...which I will probably never get around to writing, bah.
Edit: Wow, can't believe I didn't mention this (probably because it's not a big deal), I got a new phone. Since I'm not on AT&T nor do I have the interest / trendiness level I don't have a iPhone. I had a Samsung SPH-A900 and I was past due for a upgrade so I looked around and of course found out that theirs not much out there that's really affordable so...I just got a SPH-M520. It's actually not a bad little phone and while it's not a huge upgrade it's still pretty slick.
As weird as it is for me to try to follow a post like my previous one I think it's best for me (and for anyone who wants to read this blog and not get constantly depressed in the process) to return to some level of on topic conversation, so...
Since I haven't had a real blog post since I don't even know when I'm just going to go down the proverbial list of my recent purchases and what not. For the most part it's been Xbox Live Arcade/Xbox games. And by most part I guess I mean 2 out of 3 gaming related purchases. Geometry Wars 2 and Castle Crashers have been taking up a good bit of my time recently, and it's kind of crazy to me that these two games were released so close together and are about on the same level of quality. Sure, Geometry Wars 2 is overall a more polished game, but I was really surprised by Castle Crashers overall. Sure, the online at the moment seems fairly gimped, but I've been playing with my brother locally so I haven't really had to worry about that. As far as Geometry Wars 2 goes it's hard not to like that game. It's about as best of a sequel as you can ask for. It's still retains the challege of Retro Evolved, but adds some pretty ingenious game modes (Yes, I know their not 'innovative', but still). On the not XBLA front I've been playing a good bit of Burnout Paradise. Right now I think I have my Burnout license, but nowhere near my Elite license and same deal with achievements. It's not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it just goes to show you how a series can evolve and still retain the elements that made it popular in the first place (not to mention the crazy amount of post-launch support it's gotten). I dunno if I'll ever get into any of the Freeburn stuff, but considering it was something like $30 and I have something like 20+ hours on it I'd say it was good investment.
This is one of those posts that I've been trying to write for weeks, one of these posts that I wonder if I should make at all because at the end of the day it straddles that line between personal and important and while the previous sentence doesn't make any sense right now I'm sure I hope over the next couple of paragraphs it'll all become a little clearer and I can finally get this down in writing.
About four weeks ago sometime early Monday morning my parents woke me up. That in itself isn't so weird, but I remember not only being tired, but pretty irritated because they were being so pushy about it. My parents sat me and my younger brother down in the living room and gave me some of the most unbelievable news possible...
My two best friends and their girlfriends had decided to go on a trip to Kings Island in Cincinnati for a weekend since they had enjoyed Lollapalooza so much last year and of course just on general principles. I hadn't thought anything of it really because I hadn't managed to get a job, and the prospect of spending $300+ for something like that just didn't seem financially smart, so I didn't. So they went, and I stayed in Nashville. Nothing about this situation is any different than any other trip or excursion with my friends other than the fact that I had decided not to come along. While returning to Nashville, around 8, somewhere in northern Kentucky, their car crossed the median and hit a oncoming tractor trailer, suffice it to say no one survived but the driver of the tractor trailer. We still don't know what happened, other than it wasn't drugs or alcohol, all I know was the end result. I lost four friends that night, that was the difference, and that morning it felt like I had lost two brothers. It's hard to convey the feelings I had for these people, but suffice it to say that we were about as close as unrelated people should be and still have lives of their own, if that makes any sense. I knew both them throughout middle school and high school and their girlfriends both graduated from the same school and while I didn't know them quite as well, this Summer was certainly changing that, as painful as that is. All of these people were in the prime of life with so much more to to do and live for that it makes my head spin if I think about it too long. This just isn't something that you think about or prepare for, I figured I would grow old with these people, that I'd be at their weddings, that they might be at mine, that I would graduate with my friend Ryan who was attending SCAD, etc, etc, etc. So many plans, so many things left undone and yet I was sitting in my living room left with this unnatural, unreal, truth, half expecting my parents to be playing some sort of horrible joke on me, but they obviously weren't. So, it's been a hard couple of weeks and one heck of a emotional roller coaster. I've been working thankfully, but it hasn't stopped me from feeling awful at times. I'm not sure where all my sadness and anger comes from, it's not like they were my son or daughter, but it's there and I know that I care about these people and I know they cared about me too.
So, why am I writing about this now? What do I hope to gain from this post of mine...well, I'm not sure. I'm certainly not asking for anything but your thoughts. Because if theirs anything that I've learned through this is that everyone handles tragedies like this differently and talking about this is the best thing you can do.
Get it? Giant Thoughts, you know, because I'm Hallway Gi...yeah.
Anyway so with Giant Bomb nearly a week old you have to give the team credit for staying on top of things. I mean, with 14,000 registered member as of this writing (and countless more guests I'm sure) the site could of very easily met a very quick demise. Their were some load issues early on, but certainly now I can't complain about the speed of the website itself. However as much as I love it their is still obviously much to do be done, but at the same time much of the complaints have been heard and I know the Giant Bomb crew isn't stupid so it's not like these cries are going unheard so to speak. That said their are still things that need 'fixing'.
For example the more this website can reflect the features of popular wiki software such as MediaWiki and the like in terms of functionality the better. For example, again, being able to review your submissions and having a history on every page and being able to see what was changed and how would do wonders since a lot of the time it is all but impossible to see differences in edits, especially when they are not huge. Also somewhat in that same vein, I think it's really important that Giant Bomb sets up some kind of style guide. I know that their are some outlines in the Help section , but considering how many different types of pages their are it would be helpful if their could be some kind of consistency with the pages. While certainly you could say that all Wikipedia video game pages do not look the same the certainly contain similair elemts and as a whole look consistent. As much as I know Giant Bomb is about freedom some guidelines about the site in general would benefit the site greatly.
At the same time I think their is some new and clever stuff going on with this site. Any time you bring points into the equation you make the most mundane things all the more important and worth while. I'm convinced that that brings a whole other dynamic to the site that will keep people coming back for some time. If anything you can say that points should mean something to the user, like earning them badges or whatnot, some kind of reward, because once you reach a thousand your basically set as it were. As I said thought it's pretty amazing how quickly this community came together considering that this site has only been around for a few days. Sure the blog was their and the Giant Bombcast certainly wasn't scaring anybody away, but the fact that all these people came together is pretty remarkable.