Have You Seen My Bear Tibbers?

How addicting is League of Legends at this point for me?  The best way to describe it is probably a poor analogy, but it feels like an accurate one. 

 Seriously...have you seen my bear Tibbers?!
World of Warcraft was that mainstay in my life, the one that I felt comfortable with and knew so well.  At some point, though, we didn't see eye to eye anymore, and we decided we needed a break like Rachel and Ross.  Along the way, WoW finally found its way back into my life after it had a bit of a personality overhaul and decided to treat me right.  It was working out quite well, almost harmoniously as a matter of fact...
...until League of Legends walked into the room like a bad bitch and we've been chokefucking ever since. 
League of Legends is exactly like that:  a dirty little whore of a game that you love and hate.  You hate what it's done to your relationship with other games, how it denies you so much time with so many other great pieces of work, and you also hate when it mistreats you.  However, when it's good, OH IS IT GOOD!  There's something about getting that impossible victory of pure fucking luck that makes you jump up and shout obscenities in joyous celebration like few other games can accomplish.  A solace almost encapsulates you when you kill that asshole who has been stomping your team for most of the game, just so you can type "LAWL" into general chat as a taunt.  When you level up, there is a great sense of forward progression that you EARNED.
 Muthafuckin' P.I.M.P.
For a free game, it's also amazing how well everything is set up...and how goddamn tempting it is as well.  League of Legends, being the dirty whore that it is, gives you the taste for free but eventually hopes you will toss her some ends.  All of the micro-transactions feel justified enough, and moreover, it feels like you are paying exactly what you want for the game.  You could buy all the champions in the game without spending a dime, but if you feel like Riot Games deserves some money for their work, then you can toss them a dime or two and you'll feel like you are still getting your money's worth. 
On a personal note, I have found that I do not like playing the role of melee in the game, which is an abnormality given my affection for melee in virtually every other game I play.  Instead, characters like Annie, Swain, and Malzahar have found their way into my champion list, and they are truly gratifying players.  The one thing that I've noticed in the last couple of weeks about League of Legends...is that virtually ANYONE can play League of Legends.  Sure, a good handful will probably never be able to compete on a high-end level, but the custom game setup is so damn easy that it really does not matter. 
The moral of this story is simple, folks:  when a game decides that it is going to steal all of your time, do not try to fight it.  You will not win.  League of Legends, you had me at "NEVER STOP FUCKING ME!". 
*P.S. - Bonus points of coolness for anyone who knows where that quote is from.

I'll Be An Uncle By Tuesday

My youngest brother and his girlfriend have been holding steady for the last nine months, waiting to welcome the first child amongst us three boys (me and my two brothers).  It's an exciting as well as scary time for our family at the moment, as it is a milestone for us all.  It means my brother will know the joys and pains of fatherhood, my parents will know the same as grandparents, and my other brother and I as uncles will be able to spoil that kid rotten and send him back to his parents.  As we have heard today, my brother's girlfriend will be induced on Tuesday if she hasn't had the baby by then.
Our family is not a traditional ideal of American families:  we all still live under the same roof.  I know, I know...  Most 28-year-olds are moved out on their own about a decade before this.  However, when I look a place like China...where it is a tradition and even expected to have three generations under one roof, I realize that we all live in the same house not because we don't want to go out and be on our own.  Instead, it's because we value family more than anything in our lives.  We've always been the people we can rely on most.  Also, I pay a total of about $160 a month for housing, electricity, water, etc...and I don't think anyone can beat that price! 
As it stands, there can be no greater Christmas present than having a new life come into your family.

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Uninteresting $#!% 19 - Holiday "Why I Started WoW Again" Edition

Howdy folks. 
It's the holidays, which means we're going to be sitting around waiting for the New Year to come around so we can start getting some new games.  You know what the real bitch is?  It's when you have all these games you need to finish, and then your friends finally make you cave and buy a copy of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, starting you back on the path of the downward spiral.  Sleep deprivation has already occurred, and it doesn't seem like something that will let up for quite some time.  One can only hope that this adventure into the never-ending plummet to the bottom of Hell will end well, but sadly, we've all been here before.  With that said, let's talk about Cataclysm...
...or instead, I should tell you about how I'm not playing Cataclysm.  Rather than starting a level 1 toon of some other class, I started a Death Knight...which kickstarts at level 55.  In turn, it means that I have not seen more than one small piece of the massive change in Azeroth, which happened to be a portion to the south of The Dark Portal in The Blasted Lands.  That portion was pretty awesome, as it involved a ton of murlocs being enslaved by nagas, as well as some forest being corrupted.  Guess what I had to do?  Be a goddamned hero and save some fucking murlocs!!!  It was great fun, and it has me excited to check out the 1-60 content. 
As it stands, though, it's saddening to see such a massive overhaul of the game (to the point that someone who hasn't played in a year feels like a complete stranger to the game)...and yet the Outlands and Northrend remain untouched.  Grinding away XP in Hellfire turned out to be one hell of a painful experience, only made better by getting a flying mount at 60 rather than 70....or whatever the hell it was before.  Why only revamp one part of the world when you could make the game in its entirety something fresh and new?  Let the Outlands and Northrend get some damage, some new initiative, and for fuck's sake, a fresh coat of paint and some reworking!  Streamline those quests for a better experience.  Someone leveling from 1-60 is going to see a lot of fun stuff, but once they hit the 60-80 gap, it's going to turn out to be a bit of a drag until they get into the new stuff for Cataclysm.  Don't just make it to where I'll bust 64 and 65 before I even finish Zangarmarsh:  make it to where I'll feel more involved in Outlands and Northrend.  Part of what made my short stint in The Blasted Lands so exciting, aside from being familiar with the old world of vanilla WoW, was that I felt like I was having an impact on the world.  I was doing something that wasn't just arbitrary "kill 10 of these because we said to".  I dragged a crate of baby murlocs to freedom, dammit!  Give me more of that impactful feeling!
My biggest piece of excitement right now is getting to the high-level content of 80-85.  Having seen my buddies roll through the new territories like Vash'jir and Twilight Highlands, as well as dungeons like Grim Batol (which I've been dying for since vanilla) and heroic Deadmines (ZOMG!), these are territories that I am wholeheartedly ready to explore. 
A trip back to Azeroth didn't even feel like it was in the cards, and for the longest time, fighting that urge to go back seemed a bit futile.  Being back in the World of Warcraft, it feels like a long and arduous road ahead - one that seems like it will have far more rewards than before. 
With that, I retire the Uninteresting $#!% blogs.  Frankly, most never liked the title anyways, and above which, it would seem that playing other games is going to fall to the wayside quite a bit...unless I get tired of WoW and just decide to go back to Xbox. 
Until next time, piece.


jakob187's Best Games of 2010

I'll be blunt and simple...

I'm not a huge fan of GOTY awards.  You have to try and narrow down all these lists to about five nominees or so, then try to narrow those down for each category until you end up with the Highlander scenario of "there will be only one".  That pisses me off.  How is anyone supposed to genuinely create those things?  Have they literally played EVERY SINGLE GAME that came out in a year?  Probably not.  Most likely not.  Fuck, I hope not! 

In turn, I decided to wrangle up the 25 games that defined 2010 for me, package them up in a nice little list (courtesy of Giant Bomb's great list feature), and give a little flavor text to each.  Will you guys agree?  Oh, I mostly certainly guarantee you won't (especially when you see how low Mass Effect 2 is on the list).  Will people call me a Wii hater because there are a total of zero Wii games on this list?  Probably...but as someone who no longer owns a Wii, I can't say that I would feel right throwing any of them in when I haven't played them.  This is a list of games that I personally played in 2010 that I feel are the most exceptional of the exceptional, so there are going to be some games that you may have that I won't.
So with that said, I present to you (and yes, they are in order)...... 

jakob187's Pretentious-As-All-Hell-Because-I-Think-My-Opinion-Matters GOTY 2010 Stuffthings

1. Bayonetta

An interesting protagonist, a convoluted but intriguing story, dynamic-as-all-hell combat and gameplay, fluid controls and animation, crazy Japanese madness, and a great soundtrack - Bayonetta is perfect in every way, and regardless of what comes out, this IS my Game of the Year.

2. Alan Wake

Maybe it's because I bought the limited edition that came with the additional reading material and cool bonus stuff, but Alan Wake really resonated with me. The story was probably the strongest of the year, the characters were highly memorable, and Bright Falls is not a place I'll forget any time soon.

3. Darksiders

Being the first game released this year, it was expected to be a mediocre game at best. I had confidence that it was more than that, and as it turned out, it was easily one of the best games of the year. This is another one that I would label as being perfect, as everything about it was done incredibly well with a great level of detail thrown into every single nuance. Moreover, it's a testament to the old days of gameplay that works on all levels.

4. Super Meat Boy

DIFFICULTY GO!!! It's mind-numbing to believe that a game this difficult can exist in such a casual-friendly space nowadays. Thankfully, Team Meat showed why the downloadable marketplace is the way to go if you want unique and adrenaline-pumping video games!

5. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Pac-Man DX adds a new spin to an arcade classic and arguably makes the most addicting and worthwhile addition to the Pac-Man franchise since the original Ms. Pac-Man. Focusing on time-based chunks of gameplay where you collect up ghosts and then chomp them down in chain-combo fashion, Pac-Man DX gives you a reason to fight for high scores again.

6. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

It's like Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Ridge Racer, and Burnout 3 had a threesome and created the master racing game. Great weather effects, an incredible online integration setup, and thoroughly addictive levels of speed make this a no-brainer for any racing fan. There's a pureness to the game, as it gets rid of customization and all the other cluttered crap, and breaks racing down to "drive car, fuck shit up, have fun".

7. Fallout: New Vegas

It's the game that Fallout 3 should've been. There's far more to do than you can even comprehend, and the world in general is far more in line with what makes Fallout such a revered thing. Is it buggy? Sure. Do I care? Nah. The level of depth in the storytelling and content is goddamn mind-blowing!

8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

With the amount of time I logged into the multiplayer, as well as the level of additional content and support that the game continues to get, it's a title that will last quite a while. Also, I just enjoy blowing shit up real good.

9. Halo: Reach

It's Halo: Reach. I don't think anything more needs to be said except this: when a game has so many technical bugs, flaws, and issues...and you STILL love it...then yeah, it's one hell of a good game!

10. Sid Meier's Civilization V

Having been a fan from the beginning, Civilization is a franchise that grabs me by the left testicle every time and doesn't let go. Now that Sid Meier's has essentially procured that I will never father a child, I will have to deal with the second best thing: virtual world domination...and sex without condoms.

11. BioShock 2

A lot of folks frowned upon this sequel ever being made, and to those people, I say "fuck you". This game, personally, surpassed the original Bioshock in so many ways, especially in how moral choices actually affected something in the game. Mix in the deep multiplayer component, and you've got a stand-up title.

12. Red Dead Redemption

This game makes me wish more people made games set in the Wild West. Unfortunately, I'd compare them all to this, and that would leave far too many games crying in a corner. Rockstar delivered yet again on an open world game, but this time, the mechanics of it all (despite the massive amount of bugs) and more consistent DLC support makes the game a necessity for any collection.

13. Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect sucked. The controls felt like driving a tank, the shooting felt imprecise, and other than the sweet soundtrack, great characters and solid dialogue trees, everything just felt too meh. That's why Mass Effect 2 is so great - it improves on every single part of the "game" side while retaining everything that was done well in its predecessor.

14. Call of Duty: Black Ops

The multiplayer is the best that the franchise has seen yet, and the single player is pretty damn memorable and hair-brained. What makes the game really shine, however, is the overall feature set. Campaign, multiplayer, Zombies mode, Dead Ops Arcade, Zork, all the intel...the level of depth put into this package is really impressive.

15. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

I didn't enjoy the original StarCraft, so I'm kind of astonished that I loved the sequel. The multiplayer features are robust, the single player campaign is varied and intriguing, and the new Battle.net setup is pretty damn swanky.

16. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

This game was a huge surprise for me, as the new isometric viewpoint and dual-analog combat style mixed with traditional Tomb Raider-esque environmental puzzles played out EXTREMELY well. That's not even mentioning the great co-op play (despite online co-op not being available at launch). Great great game and worth every penny you spend on it.

17. Blur

Blur is a real love/hate thing with me. I love the gameplay and what it does for the racing genre. I hate that the game's single player has a pretty steep difficulty curve, even on the lowest difficulty settings. It means that I'm getting my $60 worth, but it pisses me off that I have to restart races soooo often. The online, however, is incredibly rewarding, as even if you don't win, you are still having a tremendous amount of fun.

18. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

While the game may be linear and hasn't sold gangbusters, this Ninja Theory joint features a great narrative written by screenwriter Alex Garland as well as stunning performances from Andy Serkis as Monkey and Lindsey Shaw as Trip. The world has also been well-realized, as mixtures of real world locations and fanciful affections almost akin to Beyond Good and Evil marry together seamlessly. The combat is simple enough that it doesn't get in the way of anything, and traversing this world is one of the easiest and exhilarating experiences in modern gaming.

19. Skate 3

I was surprised with how much Skate has streamlined its controls as well as general gameplay. This, to me, felt like the most accessible of all the Skate games so far. Sure, the single player feels like a big tutorial for the multiplayer side, but the multiplayer side of this game is incredibly robust. One might even compare it to something like Burnout Paradise in size and scale. Great job all around.

20. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Typically, lightning doesn't strike twice when it comes to uniqueness, but Brotherhood proves that Ubisoft can find ways to take a major franchise under their umbrella and add a unique multiplayer component to it that just feels right (ya know, like Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow). There's also the fact that the single player is a deeper experience than its predecessor, even if it misses a couple of beats here and there. Had the multiplayer actually performed better, this game would easily be higher on the list. As it stands, everyone above it did their stuff better.

21. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

This puzzling platformer of paradoxical proportions positively pressed every proverbial button on my piss-me-off-because-I'm-not-that-smart meter. However, once you figure out one of the puzzles in this game, you feel like the smartest goddamn genius on the face of the planet. Again, well worth the small amount of Microsoft Phony Bones you need to spend for it.

22. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

While Dead Rising 2 may be pretty damn sweet, Case Zero is the one that deserves the attention. For $5.00, Case Zero proves that you can release small chunks of the core gameplay from a full disc release to XBLA and make it both compelling and worthwhile. If anything, Case Zero felt incredibly focused, concise, and to the point about what it wanted to do. I'll be honest - I think Capcom could drop making full Dead Rising games and just release these, as I felt completely satisfied by the end of this game...and the subsequent seven playthroughs I did afterwards.

23. Monday Night Combat

Bringing elements of Team Fortress 2 and DotA together for an XBLA game...as well as a RIDICULOUSLY HIGH LEVEL CAP...makes Monday Night Combat THE game that finally proves XBLA titles can be online-specific and still be played for a while after its release. Good job to Uber. Now just balance your shit a bit better.

24. Madden NFL 11

The last Madden game that I liked was Madden 1994. It took 17 years for EA to finally make another Madden game that I enjoyed. Madden 11 is everything that I could've hoped EA to finally make a football game into. It has enough elements that give it an ESPN 2K feel, but it's still very much a robustly featured Madden game.

25. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

Hey, fuck you. Don't judge me. Not only does it apply mega Sega fan service with a brush that never seems to dry up, it also happens to be one of the best kart games out there that isn't named "Mario Kart" or "Blur". If you didn't play this game, then I'm so so so sorry for you.


My Love Letter and Goal for Pac-Man DX

Growing up during a time when three-letter initials on a high score board made you a god in the local arcades, purchasing Pac-Man DX was a bit of a no-brainer.  However, the purchase was less about high scores when that button stating "Download Now" became embossed and more about the rampant rumors that it was an easy S-rank on achievements.  Coming close to rounding out 65,000 gamerscore, I didn't think twice about buying the game. 
In a week where gaming purchases included stuff like Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Singularity, Enslaved, and Split/Second thanks to Black Friday, it felt as though trying to find something to play wasn't going to be a problem, that my gaming time was going to be full for a while.  Hell, New Vegas still sits in the drawer unfinished.  Halo: Reach's legendary campaign and Black Ops' veteran campaigns are feeling lonely.  Even Dead Space's impossible playthrough and Bayonetta's climax playthrough remain unfinished. 

Difficulty in simplicity... 
Yet here I stand, a man bound by the legacy of the gaming world:  I'm fighting for a fucking high score.  The goal is to gain the #1 score in 5 minute Score Attack for the Championship II board on Pac-Man DX.  This was never the plan.  That happened to change when I saw the leaderboards.  It's intriguing how Namco Bandai makes the top score of 2.18 million seem easily attainable when you boast your first 1.4 million score. 
"That's only 700,000 points.  I can do that." 

It's not. 

Very quickly, after putting time into a few more matches and watching some replays, it becomes evident very quickly that there is more to this than just getting a high score.  There are patterns, and within those patterns, there are even more labyrinthine passages to find in order to shave a second here and get an extra ghost there.  Mixing that in with the hyperspeed that the game blasts away at, going for that high score becomes an infuriating experience. 
I emphasize the word "infuriating".  Pac-Man DX is not poorly designed by any means.  Rather, it's the opposite:  the game is so brilliantly designed that making one small mistake can send you into a fucking tirade of anger and hyperventilation beyond words.  It's much the same as Super Meat Boy:  they make it so easy to just restart and try again.  Unfortunately, that restart is typically followed with you telling Pac-Man DX how much of a cocksucking fuckstain it is for being so cot-damned addicting!!! 
An example of a board I'll probably never play. 
And remember, folks...this is just for one board!  This isn't getting into Highway or Junction or any of the other ones.  This is just to have the high score on what I personally consider to be the board that matters. 
As of last night, I moved up to rank #518 with 1.75 million points.  Getting from my previous rank of 800-something to 518...which was a difference between 1.70 million and 1.75 million took nearly four hours of restarts and foul language to achieve. 

It was worth every fucking minute.  

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I'll be in the #1 spot by the time I write about Pac-Man DX again.  Until next time, piece. 
P.S. - Now if there was only a way to directly upload the replays from Pac-Man DX onto YouTube...

Uninteresting $#!% #18

HOWDY FOLKS!  Hope you all had a damn fine Thanksgiving, and for all the foreigners out there, maybe you should start slaughtering turkeys for a feast on the day as well...because why the fuck not?!  Of course, Thanksgiving is great and all, but once all the turkey and mashed potatoes have settled into your stomach for that big-meal-sleepy-feeling, there's only one other thing to look for in the week:  Black Friday.  I started my Black Friday adventures about three years ago with Best Buy, and the one thing I've learned since then is that you don't have to go to a store at 5:00am to wait in line when you are just buying some video games.  They've got tons of that shit.  Therefore, my Black Friday started at a regular 8:00am time frame and lasted for a couple of hours.  Aside from getting the first three seasons of Mad Men on DVD for $10 each, I also got Daybreakers for $5 (love that flick) and a slew of video games (two from Hasting's, but whatever).  So, with that said...GAMES!!! 

Brotherhood and the Frustrating Multiplayer Extravaganza

 Much like Bloody Good Time, the character you pick makes no difference. It's purely aesthetic.
The single player in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, so far, is good.  It's not Assassin's Creed II levels of greatness yet for me, but I'm still early as hell in the game.  Most of my time has gone into the multiplayer portion of the game, mainly as a contemplating factor rather than a solid form of fun.  If anything, the reason I can't call Brotherhood anything close to my Game of the Year is strictly because the multiplayer feels...well, wrong in some ways.  Don't get me wrong - the idea and concept are great, and it's much bigger in scope than the inspiring material of The Ship and Bloody Good Time.  The execution is just a bit sloppier than I'd like.  Most people that I've seen in matches just run around on rooftops, shoot you with guns, and use throwing knives.  They don't try to stealth or sneak or remain hidden, and in turn, this hurts the people that are trying to play the game that way.  The minute one person's target goes to the rooftops, it starts a chain streak of people having to go to the rooftops, negating the majority of gameplay systems that Ubisoft put into the game.  I'm not saying this run-around-and-act-like-a-jackass play style is "playing it wrong" necessarily.  Not all assassins are sneaky, as some are flamboyant and don't care if someone notices.  Unfortunately, those sprinters are usually the ones with the advantage.  They'll burn through their kill contracts quicker, and even at 150 points a kill, they'll finish five contracts before you may get to finish one for 400 - 600 points.  It's a broken system, and I can only hope that Ubisoft will drastically reduce the points given for unsneaky kills at some point. 
Beyond that, there are a couple of times where I'm pounding my head against the controller.  Lower level players are at a MASSIVE disadvantage without any form of skills, something that other games have handled far better.  The way lobbies are set up...which is virtually just a loading screen that shows the number of players found...is uninteresting and limiting.  Why can't I customize my kits in the lobby?  Why do I have to wait until I'm IN THE GAME to do so?  Maybe I'm spoiled by games like Halo and Call of Duty having streamlined and essentially created a great lobby setup for consoles.  It just feels a little janky.  Above that, there's other issues.  I've stood directly next to my targets, hit the X button, and I've gotten no button register from it.  Meanwhile, someone can be what seems like half a mile away, slam that X button, and a series of animations will do the kill for them.  The compass will detect an enemy half a mile away from you in a sea of doods that look like them.  It's more than just a bit frustrating. 
 Also, Brotherhood is about more than just stabbing in faces and necks. There's hacking and pummeling too!
The biggest problem that the multiplayer has is this:  it doesn't take human intelligence into account.  When I see someone sprinting towards me, I'm a little more than positive that it's my killer.  Regardless, I get no form of escape meter when I start to run away.  I can't keep him locked on because I have to look the other way to see where I'm running.  If he continues walking while I sprint, then it penalizes me rather than him for being unstealthy.  There are also times where I say "that's my pursuer, I need to stun him".  Unfortunately, Ubisoft tells you not to rely on stuns.  Okay - I'll use a firecracker.  Oh, it blinded him but he can spam the X button to kill me anyways.  I'll use a smoke bomb.  Oh, the cough only affects him for a second, and even if I go in for the stun, it's a 1 in 3 shot that he can spam the X button and kill me.  I'm going to blend into this crowd.  Oh, he's using Templar Vision which sees right through everything, even though I'm doing nothing conspicuous. 
In concept, the multiplayer in AC: Brotherhood is sound, but in action, there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done.  My idea:  give every player one lock-on every time they die.  Only one.  If they can target the person that they are supposed to be killing, then it stays targeted on them for the duration of the time that the player and/or target are alive.  If they can't, well...tough luck.  This is something incredibly basic that will easily prevent people from being jackasses nearly as much.  Decrease the amount of points for a gun kill to 50 points and a running killing to 25 points.  Promote the idea that people should be sneaky.  Also, populate your fucking rooftops with people OTHER than the players.  You have guards in the regular game.  Otherwise, only allow climbing to a roof when someone is in a chase. 
In other words:  fix your multiplayer up a bit more, Ubisoft.  It's getting there, but it still needs work. 


Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - I finished this over the weekend, and it's a seriously great game.  Animation priority was rarely a concern for me.  However, when you can traverse a world as easily as that, it makes something like Assassin's Creed seem archaic in a way.  The story, character design and acting, and story beats are pretty incredible.  Essentially, the game reminded me of how good something like Beyond Good and Evil was...and I can easily say that if you dig Beyond Good and Evil, Enslaved is a game you need to play! 
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit - I'll speak more about this the next time I blog...I'm sure.  Personally, you are really hurting only yourself if you haven't bought this game yet.  The online is incredible amounts of fun, and the way that the Autolog system works...how you can carry your progression over between single player and multiplayer...just everything is so well-designed.  The graphics are GORGEOUS, the sense of speed is great, and the controls are easy enough that anyone can play but there is definitely a level of mastery possible with it.  My only complaint:  some of the slingshotting and rubberbanding that the A.I. does in the single player is goddamn frustrating.  I understand trying to keep the action going, but if I've gotten 11 seconds ahead of the cops, then don't fucking magically teleport five of them next to me in the last mile of the race and fuck me over!  Other than that, it's a SOLID fucking game, so buy this ASAP. 
Singularity - I've only gotten to the point in the single player where I've acquired the TMD.  However, everything in the beginning of that game...while ringing a little too close to the school level in F.E.A.R. 2, was genuinely creepy for me.  Then again, I have problems with the sounds of babies and children crying in pain (one of very few things that makes my skin crawl).  For being a game on Unreal Engine 3, though, this game is FUCKING GORGEOUS!!!  I have not seen a single instance of texture pop-in yet, and frankly, it gives games like Bioshock a run for their money!  Looking forward to digging in a little deeper on this one...and surprisingly enough, there are still people online with it! 
Split/Second - I'd already played quite a bit of this before I had my gamertag, as a customer had brought it up here to work and let me borrow it for a day or so.  It's a good game, great graphics, solid sense of speed and relatively consistent frame rate.  My only real issue with the game is that it can be pretty shallow after a handful of hours.  Still, I got it on the super cheaps ($15), so I'm not complaining. 
Damn.  This blog got all kinds of crazy long and out of control!!!  Sorry about that.  I wasn't expecting to go on a full-blown tirade with Brotherhood.  It's just frustrating to see something so ambitious be...well...can we say it's a little broken? 
Until next time, folks...PIECE! 
P.S. - How was y'alls Thanksgiving and Black Friday?  If you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, what did ya do instead?

Knee-Jerk Reaction: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Playtime so far:  three hours of single player, no multiplayer 

Good Impressions

  • Great catch-up opening for those who haven't played the other AC games in a while
  • Desmond sequence makes me giddy with goddamn joy, despite its platformy puzzleness
  • Story is just as batshit as ever
  • Opening cinematic that explains what the multiplayer's purpose in the grand scheme of things...is pretty fucking excellent; reminiscent of Bioshock 2 in a great way
  • Combat feels even better than Assassin's Creed II, which already felt pretty good
  • Ezio had the black Altair armor as well as all my money, meaning it read my AC2 file...which is awesome

Bad Impressions  

  • Multiplayer servers were not up when I tried to play
  • Beginning of the game is a pretty slow burn start, reminding me of how long it takes to get past all the bullshit in the beginning of the first Assassin's Creed to get to the actual gameplay
  • Controls for climbing stuff feel clunky in comparison to something like Enslaved
  • While the combat feels good, getting used to the way the kill-streak stuff works takes some time
  • Ezio lost the black Altair armor, which made me subsequently feel like I got all that armor for no goddamn reason!...AND I lost all my money!  SHITTY!
  • A single piece of paper folded together for the fucking manual?  What was even the goddamn point of putting it in there?!  I know that we're moving away from manuals in games, and I'm fine with that...but you seriously felt the need to put that in there?!
Overall Knee-Jerk:  It's got me interested 
Personally, Assassin's Creed II was my favorite game of 2009, and that came from a guy that really didn't care for the first game.  I'm all for more of that.  Hopefully, all of the city management stuff isn't going to be as daunting as I've heard something like Fable III can be.  I'm hoping I can get into some of the multiplayer, but for some reason, the servers aren't up today.  I've heard that there are some issues with the online, but frankly, I expect that an ambitious multiplayer concept like this will take some time to iron out all the bugs on. 
How have you guys been enjoying it?  Do you think it's the best in the series so far?  Is the multiplayer something that you think will continue to be populated for some time?  I mean, I've played Bloody Good Time a bit, and that game is kind of dead for multiplayer (which is fucking sad as fuck).  Is there hope here?  Moreover, does seeing something like this, an AC game with multiplayer, give you some big confidence in something like a possible Mass Effect multiplayer game?

Uninteresting $#!% #17

Howdy folks.  After picking up Call of Duty: Black Ops the night of release (which I somehow coincidentally forgot was coming out that night), I found myself the next day laid out with illness.  As that illness wore on and pain became increasingly impossible to deal with, I went to the hospital to find out what the hell was wrong with me.  In turn, they basically told me that I'm fat and eat like shit.  There was other stuff in there about "fatty liver" and some gallbladder activity or output or something.  It's all written on a paper somewhere.  The long version is - eat healthy and get lots of sleep.  The short version is - I'm eating a lot more Subway.  With that said, games. 

More Like Bore Wars: The Snores Unleashed...  

 Wanna play the game? Get ready for hours of this...and only this...
After listening to Brad talk about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II on the Bombcast a couple weeks ago, I knew I needed to play it.  It's not that I disagreed, as I haven't played it.  It's that I have a fondness for the first game, like many people do, that looks past the blemishes it had and finds something far more appealing.  After plugging TFU2 (which almost sounds like a Valve/Bono charity event) for about four missions, I can now say that I've probably played more of that game than I would care to remember. 
TFU2 sucks.  I wish I could put it lightly or in some nicer words, but I can't.  It's a plain and simple truth, a fact that just has to be stated dry and bluntly:  TFU2 sucks.  The story is almost non-existant, and when it tries to be existant, it's paper-thin and hair-brained AT BEST.  The gameplay itself feels improved as far as controls and general physics go, but the linear level design causes many of those improvements to mean very little in the end.  Part of the fun in the first game was playing around with your Force powers, but this time around feels more like a grind through stormtrooper after stormtrooper just to get to an unsatisfying plot point.  There's also that ridiculous appearance by Yoda, which personally seemed more idiotic than hearing Brad tell us about it.  Oh, and if that wasn't enough, the voice acting is generally T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E here.  How terrible?  I explicitly looked up whether Sam Witwer reprised the role because there were plenty of times when Starkiller is yelling and I told myself "there is no WAY that's the same voice actor, it sounds terrible".  Much to my dismay, it IS Sam Witwer...and I'm just thoroughly baffled by that.
Frankly, TFU2 feels like Devil May Cry 2 to me:  there was a lot of potential here to make a bigger and better game, and what we instead received was an understatement to the potential of its predecessor.  Don't buy the game.  Don't rent it.  Just let it die.  It's sad to say that it's throw-away licensed crap from Lucasarts...but that's just what it is. 

CODBLOPS is Still A Thing  

 Yo, shit's good!  The small piece of single player I've gotten into has been satisfying so far.  I'm playing through on Hardened, but since I'm only about four missions in, I'm thinking I'll just jump back and start it up on Veteran and play through.  I want to play more of the campaign, but the goddamn multiplayer is so fucking good.  Well, let me rephrase that.  
The goddamn multiplayer is so fucking good...until you get to the problems of respawning.  This has NEVER...and I repeat...NEVER been a problem for me in any previous Call of Duty game.  Therefore, when I am in every fucking match...yelling out "WHY THE FUCK AM I SPAWNING ON TOP OF THE ENEMIES?", it seriously gets to be a level of frustration that I can barely handle.  Regardless, I've been pulling my usual 2.00+ KDR rounds (even pulled a 13.5 last night after going 27/2), and it's definitely proving to be fun.  Maybe one day I'll play Zombies or something, but for now, I'm just going to continue giggling at penis emblems and talking shit about how bad other people are at the game. 
That's all for this time.  Hopefully, this healthy eating and no smoking stuff doesn't turn me into some yuppy scum.  If I buy American Eagle, someone strangle me. 
Until next time, piece. 
P.S. - Zork is still my homie.

My Journey To Quit Smoking - Day One

Fuck.  Part of me knew this day would come at some point, and I'll be honest:  I kind of hate it.  I've always been the guy to say "I'll be smoking until the day I die", and that goal seemed to be perfectly in sight for the longest time.  As of this week, it seems that outlook is no longer valid. 
I've been a smoker since I was twelve years old.  I remember my first cigarette being rolled by my friend.  There was no peer pressure, no necessity for cool, nothing of the sort.  I was curious.  I wanted to try a cigarette.  It turned out that I liked it...a lot.  Have I been addicted for the last sixteen years of my life?  Well, duh.  However, it's not just the chemical addiction that everyone is always so quick to bring up.  It's part of me, who I am, my identity.  I'm known as a smoker, and so it's very weird to think of what the world will be like now that I'm not a smoker.  Moreover, it's even weirder thinking about how I can approach the world as a non-smoker. 
It almost feels filthy to say that:  "I'm a non-smoker".  Okay, well, I'm not a total non-smoker yet.  I still have to keep my willpower in check, and I'm sure that I'll end up sneaking one or two in here and there.  However, for a guy that usually smokes at least a pack a day...going down to two cigarettes total in a 24 hour period...yeah, I'd say there's a marked improvement there.  It's not easy to quit, and I have no problem owning up to that or admitting it.  However, there is so much else that's killing me right now with it: 

  • I only smoke outside, so it's weird not having that "break time" now.
  • The oral fixation is being replaced by chewing gum, and that's only mildly helping.
  • The physical addiction of holding a cigarette, twiddling it in between my fingers, flicking the ash...there's nothing to replace it, and it's driving me a bit bonkers.
The reason for this sudden change:  I got the fear of God put in me this past week.  As I found myself in a place I've never been before (dehydrated, in massive pain, and realizing the damage I had done to myself at such a young age), I decided to take my mother with me to the emergency room in order to find out what was wrong.  I could've told any doctor what was wrong with me:  I'm fat and eat like shit, don't exercise or take care of myself in all the right ways, and I frankly don't give a shit about much.  As I laid in bed watching six hours of House M.D. (the irony) waiting for tests, getting my first EKGs and ultrasounds and all kinds of crazy shit, I found myself in a moment of clarity when they injected the morphine into my system for the pain.  While doped up from that crazy shit (which I hope never enters my system again), I opened my fucking eyes for once and saw the genuine sense of dread my mom had in her eyes, watching her son hooked up to all these wires and shit, not knowing what was going on. 
My life for the last five years or so has been incredibly selfish.  I've tried to believe that it hasn't been, but it has.  I'm not a selfish person by nature, at least...I don't see myself as one, and I don't want to be seen as one.  The most selfish thing any man can do over the course of his life is make decisions that could lead to the hurt of their loved ones.  I don't want to be that guy anymore. 
That's where the "quitting smoking" part comes in.  If there's any one crux I need to kick in order to prove to myself that I'm making headway in the right direction, it's cigarettes.  It's not going to be easy, and I don't even know if I'll be able to outright quit as easily as I'd like to.  I may go from being a regular, chronic smoker to being a once-or-twice-a-day smoker.  It may take a week and it may take a year.  I don't know, as I know that my willpower is not completely in the right place but willing to move in that direction for the first time ever...at least, in any serious fashion.
Why write this?  I needed to get it out.  I needed to write a pseudo-farewell letter to this habit, this....thing....that's been a part of my life for so long.  Some people, most people...they'd probably call it some kind of a curse.  I have enjoyed every minute of being a smoker, and if I'm going to die of cancer one day because of it, it won't be a cancer regretted.
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Knee-Jerk Reaction: Call of Duty Black Ops

Rather than include this into my regularly scheduled Uninteresting $#!% blog, I wanted to launch a new thing.  Essentially, it'll be exactly what the title says:  these will be knee-jerk reactions to new games where I've gotten very little time with it.  The first entry:  the hotly anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops. 
Playtime so far:  four hours of multiplayer, including Wager Match (One In The Chamber) and Combat Training

Good Impressions

  • Split-screen Xbox Live play ala Halo (about time!)
  • Combat Record is incredibly in-depth and available right at my fingertips
  • Everything feels right when it comes to weight (you can't lob a grenade all the way across the map)
  • Combat Training, while a little aimbot-y, can really help improve your game in significant ways
  • Work for your Pro perks, and the work teaches you how to be better WITH those perks (BRAVO, TREYARCH!)
  • Gunships are fucking awesome!
  • SAM turrets = <3
  • Good balancing to many perks, including some of the crazy perk combos you can use.  Lightweight, Marathon, and Sleight of Hand with dual mags on a FAMAS?  NUTS!!!

Bad Impressions

  • Obvious balance issues (some guns just don't feel as powerful as they should, like the Stakeout)
  • Map sizes are typically pretty big, promotes long range camping above movement
  • Couldn't bullet pen through a chain link fence on one map, and my friend couldn't through a wooden fence on another...but I can bullet pen through the side of the truck in the middle of Nuketown?
  • RC-XD cars are fucking annoying!
  • Occasional frame rate hitch
  • Host migration still isn't great, typical "hey, the host is lagging and has the advantage" bullshit
  • So far, I can't justify shotguns being a primary when four shots at a medium range from a Stakeout doesn't equal a kill in some occasions.
Overall Knee-Jerk:  Black Ops is the secks so far.
How's it going for the rest of you?  Is Black Ops pissing you off in all the right ways and stroking your cock in all the best ways?  Do you hate it so far and swear to not play anything past Modern Warfare 2?  Obviously, there will be those that need to just generally talk shit about Call of Duty.  It's a good thing that those people don't matter in here.  = D