Boredom and Blogging

I’ve recently been catching up with season two of “Louie,” Louis C.K.’s self-produced television show. It’s a great show, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Seasons one and two are both on Netflix. Anyway, there was a scene with Louie in the car with his daughters and one of them says that she’s bored. As you’d expect from a five year old, she keeps repeating that she’s bored even though no one’s responding. Finally, after asking her dad why he won’t answer her, Louie replies.

“Because ‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none-percent of. And even the inside of your own mind is endless. It goes on forever, inwardly. Do you understand? Being--the fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to be bored.”

I don’t get to be bored, either. Thankfully, I can always write.

I recently decided it was a good idea to buy a Nintendo 64. It probably wasn’t. Certainly not financially speaking.

Nostalgia is a fickle mistress. Memories of the past--even the fondest of which--can have their very foundations crumbled to pieces when met with the cutting perspective brought about intrinsically by the present. Even with this knowledge neatly tagged and filed away in the section of my mind labeled “Recall Before Spending Money,” it was nowhere to be found one fateful afternoon, and thus I now own a Nintendo 64.

Do I actually regret buying a Nintendo 64? Was it really that bad of an idea? No, not really. It’s actually kind of awesome! Not for my wallet, but you know. I decided to hit eBay for some more excessive spending and have thus far come away with both Zelda games, as well as Goldeneye 007. Add the three games I picked up alongside the system (Superman, Episode I Racer, and Tony Hawk) and I’ve got a nice little collection going. Ideally I’d still love to own Paper Mario and Donkey Kong 64 as well as Super Smash Bros., but I’ve managed to contain my excessive spending for the time being.

Speaking of excessive spending, I recently bought a new TV. It’s a 40” LED LCD--not top of the line, but it gets the job done. The only reason I mention this is because my newly purchased Nintendo 64 looks horrific on the thing. I thought it looked grimey on my old 26” TV, but stretching that out to 40” makes it, as you could imagine, even worse. My only hope is to look for an S-video cable, but I’m not sure how much good that’ll realistically do.

Not that the picture is holding me back from enjoying the system. I’ve already saved the Great Deku Tree, ransacked a bunker equipped with dual golden guns sporting infinite ammo, and flown through an ungodly amount of rings in my quest to foil Lex Luthor. I’m having a lot of fun reliving these products of my childhood.

I think most of all, though, I’m enjoying just the simple act of owning this system and these games once again. And maybe that’s weird, or sad, I’m not sure. All I know is that looking down at the floor in front of my television and seeing a nintendo 64 sitting there with the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time peeking its head out of the top, I just can’t help but to feel a slight sense of comfort and happiness. Yep, definitely weird.

I’ve also been playing Persona 4. So, once again maybe this is weird, but I believe the Persona 4 Endurance Run produced by Jeff, Vinny, and Drew to be the single best piece of Giant Bomb content to date. The weird part is that I’ll still go back and watch select episodes occasionally. I do this more often than you may think. If, for example, I’m eating something and sitting in bed, I’ll flip on a random episode of the ER. Episode 50 is actually one I go back to often. Anyway, I’ve grown to absolutely adore a game that I’d previously never even touched for myself. I’d never played even one minute of this game, and yet I’d have likely called it my favorite JRPG ever (I don’t play a ton of them). Anyway, I finally decided that I had to play it. Well, I bought it, and now I am.

It’s strange playing a game that you’ve already seen a couple hundred hours of, for the first time. It’s almost like watching one of those movie trailers that spoils seemingly every aspect of the plot, except you know, more so.

Knowing where things go in advance isn’t limiting my enjoyment, though! In a parallel universe Inaba, James(!) Tunoku has transferred schools and has found himself in the middle of an investigation that can only be solved by some sort of... team. Anyway, I’ve been enjoying getting to hear the voice acting at a reasonable volume. Chie actually sounds different to me coming through my speakers. Weird.

Last I left off, my entire party was wiped out by Yukiko’s shadow boss. I’m so ashamed. I was clearly ill prepared for that battle. I’ll jump back in soon and show that giant creepy bird thing who’s boss.

With the Quick Look of the third episode of the Penny Arcade games, I took to buying the first two via Steam and getting into a series that I really wish I’d gotten into a lot sooner. Those games are pretty awesome!

If I were to pin one negative on the first game, though, it would be the excessive need to backtrack through environments. The first episode relies too much on that, and the environments become tiring as a result. It would help if there were a faster means of travel, but the character’s legs only move at one speed: not fast enough.

I really am loving the humor. I’m not at all what one would call a Penny Arcade fan, but even so, these games are funny. So much so that I’ve gone and read a few Penny Arcade comics as a result. I don’t know, I still think the comics are only so-so.

The Gabe and Tycho characters in game are just fantastic, though. Gabe in particular. Terrific facial expressions paired with perfectly fitting, witty dialog is commonplace, and it’s always hilarious. Tycho’s relationship with his niece is also a great source of humor. This is very much worth playing for the laughs alone.

But that’s not all there is! No, there’s actually a fairly involved battle system that requires some quick reflexes paired with a healthy dose of strategy; I did not at all expect this. You’d think a game like this would hinge on its story and humor, but really, the battle system made combat something that I, honest to god, always looked forward to.

Whether you’re reading the outstanding dialog or beating mimes to a pulp, these games are totally fun throughout, and that was a very pleasant surprise. As I mentioned earlier, the only downside is the trek between these points, but that’s something easily overlooked at the end of the day.

I’m a bit into episode two now, and there seem to be more environments this time from what I can infer, but I’m not sure. That alone could make this second episode perfect if the rest holds up as well as it did in episode one.

Episode three is of course a complete departure from this style of game, which on one hand is sad since I’m enjoying these games so much, but on the other hand is awesome because it’s a game by the creators of Breath of Death and Cthulhu Saves the World. Those roots definitely show, too. I’m super excited to play episode three, but I’ve got number two to finish up first!

The other game I've been playing a bit of is one called Crusader Kings II. This is the game formerly known to me as "That impenetrable game that Dave did a Quick Look of that one time."

I picked this game up on Amazon probably a good couple of weeks ago now, and have finally started to dig in. I decided to watch the Quick Look over again before I jumped in, because you know, I had no idea how to play. Little did I know, that was but the start of the deep, dark hole that is my trying to learn this game.

After watching that hour and a half long Quick Look, I still didn't understand enough to get started, and so I turned to YouTube. There are actually several great video series that have been put together informing new players such as myself of the finer details of the game. These are extremely helpful. If you're thinking of getting into this game, I'd highly advise you to set aside at least a couple of hours and search "Crusader Kings II tutorial" on YouTube. Invaluable.

After watching a couple hours of videos, I went off yet again in an attempt to conquer some damn land. I ran into a bit of a road bump.

So I start up this game as the Earl of Dublin. I was trying to follow the path of this guy in the tutorial, at least to start off. I'm sending my council off to do what they need to do, managing my vassals, granting people honorary titles so that they like me more--you know, Earl-type stuff.

I then notice that my eldest son and heir to my land is unmarried. Naturally I declare that he'll marry this 15 year old girl. But of course not for another year, as 16 is the minimum age for marriage. Being that the county of Dublin is so small, my son and heir also happens to be my Marshal. So this guy's got it made. He's the heir to Dublin, Marshal, and he's got a smokin' hot 16 year old wife now.

How does he repay me? The little prick plots to kill me! Luckily I had one of my council members uncover plots and thus discover this, or who knows what would have happened. So I discover that my own son wants to kill me. I decide that I'll try to talk him down and convince him that killing me is the wrong move. I could have arrested him with a good success rate, as after you discover a plot, that becomes very easy to do. But nay! This is my son, god damn it! He eventually did accept my request to end his plot, but not before breaking my heart. As it stands, I'm not sure whether to let him remain heir, or to make some changes in my succession laws. Or maybe I should just kill him. Would that be evil, or just fair?

Whatever I end up doing, or how this plays out, I think this game's kind of amazing. I've only been playing for a bit, and I still don't know a lot of the basics, but I've been able to have these legitimately heart-breaking moments that have really taken me aback. For a game so rooted in menus and text as opposed to action, the emotions that can come out of this game are pretty amazing.

If anyone has a great Crusader Kings story, I’d be interested to hear it. There seems to be an endless potential for crazy, random fun. I guess I'll attach this to the forums in hopes that some fellow Crusaders see it.

Anyway, I think that’s about enough waffling from me. I’m about to hit 2,000 words, and that’s no good for holding people’s attentions.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Do with this information what you will.

16 Comments

Cloudy With a Chance of PC(!) Gaming

Hello, friends.

Last time we talked, I’d just built my very first PC and began dipping my toes into the endless ocean that is the Steam catalogue. I’ve now played a bit more of some games, and extensive amounts of others, and I’m feeling ready to talk about them. Feeling ready to listen? Good. Let’s begin.

Diablo III

Diablo III is interesting. At the time of this writing, I’ve put right around 40 hours into the game. That’s quite a few, but also not anywhere close to what I’d have expected having owned it for weeks now.

I’ve beaten the game on Normal with a Demon Hunter and gotten halfway through Nightmare with that same character. I’ve also started a Wizard, but haven’t gotten much of anywhere with her yet. I’ve actually started up a character for each of the classes, but have only played Demon Hunter and Wizard thus far.

I’d say my initial impression of the game over the first week or so was that it’s amazing. I loved the action and all of the satisfying ways that the hordes of Hell could be disposed of. The skill system took some getting used to, but after getting a feel for it, I found it to be flexible and interesting in the ways that you can mix and match skills. Even the story had hooked me, and I was finding Tyrael's journey and the drama playing out with Leah and her whole situation to be surprisingly engrossing.

The game’s great, is what I’m getting at. But even recognizing that, the game’s not quite scratching the same itch that Diablo II scratched for years.

Looking at the surface of the game, everything from past Diablo games seem to be present in the third. There are scads of randomly generated dungeons to explore, loot galore, and an RPG element that’s not too complicated, and at the same time, not too simple. The game features waypoints, town portals, merchants, and even such recognizable figures as Deckard Cain and Tyrael. This is a Diablo game to be sure, but maybe one that’s trying too hard to be modern.

This Diablo’s the hipster of the Diablo family. With all of his young wisdom, he thinks he’s so cool with his advanced friend system, intricate story, and unparalleled player flexibility. But with each of those advancements, the core of what Diablo II was to me comes crumbling down.

Let’s start with the story: It’s too complicated. See, in past Diablo games, there was very little voice acting, very little required lengthy interactions with NPCs, and very little fluff in general; everything was very strait forward back in the good ole year 2000. The strait forwardness supported the way the majority of people liked to play Diablo II, which was again and again and again, in rapid succession. with Diablo III, I feel like one of the larger problems with it is that after you beat the game once, going back through it you feel bogged down by a story that’s more in-your-face. Because of this, it’s hard to see myself playing Diablo III in the same way that I did Diablo II, and that makes me a little bit sad.

As far as the way Diablo III handles friends? It works, but I believe it to be shortsighted. The friend list is the most direct means to jump into a multiplayer game and kill some monsters with other folks. That’s fine--great, even--but that’s not Diablo. In Diablo II, the friends list was very archaic and complicated, and so it’s refreshing to see a system in place that works. But then, joining up with my friends was never a huge part of Diablo for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of friends that I used to play Diablo II with, and that was awesome, but the majority of the time I was scouring the list of joinable strangers’ games and joining whichever had the most interesting title. It was fun browsing the game list looking for things like “COWS NOW,” or “BARB STUFF 4 TRADE.” You can’t do that anymore. Maybe this is stupid, but that was a fairly large part of the Diablo experience for me. The best you can do now is jump into a particular act and quest, but that just doesn’t quite cut it. I suppose the auction house stuff negates the need for creating trading rooms, but what about the rooms entitled “I KILL U” of which I’d routinely and arrogantly enter, thinking “Oh, really?” But then there isn’t even PVP in the game currently; that’s another issue entirely.

The third point I wanted to make was about the crazy amount of flexibility given to players. Now, OK, I get it: not everyone likes to have to do lengthy amounts of research on their character builds in order to achieve a powerful character. For me, though? That was the essence of Diablo. That’s what really differentiated the serious and dedicated players from the casual. As nice as it initially seemed to have stat points auto-distribute for maximum benefit and to be able to respec the skill tree on demand and free of any penalty, it ends up robbing the game of that metagame that was so incredibly rewarding when executed correctly.

Maybe I’m just one of those people who’s hanging onto old conventions for the sake of comfort; that’s entirely possible. But really, the aforementioned concepts were a significant part of what defined Diablo II (and the original as well), and seeing Blizzard go away from those systems to create something more modern is a little disappointing for me personally. The worst part is that deep down I know that it being 2012 now, they were probably right to make the changes that they did. I mean, who would actually want to play a game that forces you to browse endless lists of games, meticulously spec out a character build in order for it to end up legitimately powerful, and contain a story which is almost entirely inconsequential? Oh man, I am one of those people. I’m old. You kids and your “games” that practically play themselves. Get off of my metaphorical lawn.

Diablo III’s a great game; it’s just not Diablo II. And that’s fine. It just seems that I may not end up playing it as obsessively as I did the second entry in the series. And you know what? I can see the silver lining to that, because “obsessively” may even be an understatement in describing my Diablo II playing. It’s probably good for my general health that I don’t go through that exact scenario all over again. Instead, I’ll simply appreciate Diablo III for what it is, and try not to think too much about what it isn’t.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

This game’s great! Oh my goodness! I vaguely recall Jeff’s praise of this game back when it was originally released, but I didn’t really understand how cool this game is until I started paying it for the first time earlier today. As some of you probably already know, there’s a Steam weekend sale going on for the game right now(!), as of this writing (go and grab it!). I picked it up and was crazy surprised by the general coolness of it all. Sorry to use the word cool so often, but it’s really the best adjective for this game, I think.

The game has a strong start, intriguing story, vivid and unique world, surprisingly satisfying gunplay, and even a late title card. What more could one ask for?

I’ve actually owned the original Deus Ex for quite some time. I missed out on it around its time of release, though, and no matter how many people recommended it, I could never get into it. Admittedly, I sometimes have a hard time getting into older first person shooters; I was never able to get into the Half Life games, for example. Jumping right into Human Revolution, though, I was instantly hooked.

Adam Jensen seems like he could be a great character. He’s maybe a bit stoic, but I kinda like that about him. The backstory about him being part of the SWAT and then getting kicked off of the force after some kind of disaster, intrigues me; I’m sure I’ll learn more about that as the game goes on. There seems to be a lot of assholes in the world of Deus Ex, and it’s been fun having Adam push people around when given the opportunity.

I’ve probably only played about three hours of the game thus far, and have just finished the first real mission, but I’m already dying to jump back into it (what the heck am I doing writing this, anyway?). I have a fever and the only cure is more cyberpunk.

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 5: Colons: I’ll Stop Now

Hey, remember this game? This is a game I’d been meaning to finish for the longest time, but somehow had never gotten around to it... until now!

Having only the final episode left to play, my curiosity finally got the best of me one day. I started up the final episode and beat it in record time.

I’m not sure if the episodes were actually getting shorter or if I’d just opted to use more hints as the series went on, but my playtime per episode in line graph form would roughly be a 45 degree angle leaning from the top left to the bottom right.

Short as it may have been, I think the series closed on about the same note as the rest of the episodes, which is to say decently. I’m glad to have played these games, but they definitely didn’t live up to the hype I’d built up for them before they’d been released so long ago.

I guess what really disappointed me was the lack of variety in environments. The vast majority of the game takes place in 1930’s Hill Valley, which just wasn’t too impressive to me. Quick visits are made to the future, alternate present, and even further past throughout the series, but there just wasn’t enough there.

I suppose some of the blame has to be placed on the activities you’re actually taking part in as well. There’s some interesting plot points involving a lot of young Doc and his path to becoming a scientist, but there’s also a ton of boring stuff that I just didn’t care for. Maybe it’s the adventure game format that I’ve grown a bit tired of. Either way, I stopped having fun with the basics of the game at some point, and that’s too bad.

Luckily the final episode’s ending is so bananas. I won’t spoil it, but it was a giant “what the eff...” moment that really didn’t make a lot of sense, but it put a big smile on my face, so that was awesome. Having beaten this after TellTale’s Walking Dead game has been released, I was left wondering what they could do with the Back to the Future franchise if they chose to extend it out and make more episodes. Could they take what they’ve learned from Walking Dead and even Jurassic Park and use that to expand on Back to the Future? I’d be interested to see.

Saint’s Row: The Third

Remember when Jeff and Ryan were telling everyone that they should play Saint’s Row? They weren’t wrong.

A lot’s been said about this game already, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but I do want to just say that I’m so happy that the game turned out the way that it did. I played the first Saint’s Row, and it was GTA, but less so. The second Saint’s Row? It was just entirely too stupid. Driving around in trucks spraying human feces all over the place? That’s supposed to be hilarious? Uh, yeah, no thanks.

Honestly, I kind of despised Saint’s Row 2, and wanted to hate this series so badly. I still remember the “Strap it on” press release read on the Bombcast that seemed to justify my hate and guarantee that I’d never play Saint’s Row: The Third. Then of course the game came out, people talked, and I decided that I had to play it.

Bravo, THQ. Really, you pulled off a seemingly impossible feat in making this a game that I actually like a whole lot. It’s always nice to see things turn out this way for a game sequel; it always seems to happen the other way around.

The Witcher

The Witcher’s been on my list as a must-play for the longest time. Now that I own a computer that can play games, I’m working towards crossing it off of said list.

I actually bought this game on a whim one day as an attempt to cheer myself up. I was just having a lousy day and thought that spending money would help. Because that always works, right? Anyway, I didn’t actually fire up the game for a good few days after buying it.

My first impression after starting it? “This game’s pretty old, huh?”

My computer defaulted to lower texture settings for reasons I can’t imagine. The game looked grimey as heck at first, but some adjustment of settings brought the game all of the way up to the standards of 2008--which is to say that it still doesn’t look great, but it’s fine. I honestly expected more visually. And for the lack of visual flair, my framerate sure can get a bit choppy from time to time. And what’s with Geralt’s running animation? Good lord. That’s not even 2008 bad; more like 2002 bad.

Graphics and animations aside, the game actually seems pretty dang cool (there’s that word again). I’ve seen the game via Giant Bomb quick looks and things prior, but getting into the game and feeling how the combat works, I’m really liking it thus far.

The story’s a bit bland to me as it is early on, but I’m sure as I learn more about the world and the witchers, it’ll progressively become more interesting. I was actually strongly considering reading the Witcher books before starting the game, but that never happened. I was a bit confused because there’s multiple books: One’s a book of short stories, which I think is the one that Vinny says he read in their quick look. Then there’s legitimate novels, too. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I just abandoned the idea. Maybe if I like the world enough I’ll go back and read the short stories at a later date.

So yeah, I’m not too far into the game yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. Seems neat.

Other Junk

I’ve been trying to participate in some Giant Bomb game nights that are so tirelessly organized by none other than one AhmadMetallic. Popping into a few matches of Super Monday Night Combat (on Monday nights, folks!) was a lot of fun, despite not knowing how to play in really any capacity. I got to put my Luchadeer costume to good use at least, and that was all I’d really hoped for.

I also jumped into some ARMA II, and that was certainly a hilarious misadventure. I said that I knew nothing about Super Monday Night Combat, but I really, really knew nothing about ARMA. I ended up spending a lot of my time running across the entire map on foot, and then getting shot promptly after arriving in something resembling a town. Strangely enough, I had a ton of fun doing basically nothing for the entirely of the time that I was in there. Oh, and I’m sorry to the guy on my team that I gunned down when I was in the turret seat of that vehicle. I seriously thought you were an enemy, duder. My bad.

Anyway, I look forward to jumping into more Bombing Runs when I can. I really should pick up a headset sometime soon, though.

I was going to mention this earlier, but let’s just put it here: If you want to add me as a Battle.net friend for use in Diablo III (and only Diablo III, as I don’t play WoW or SC), my username is JJWeatherman#1591. I could always use some more duders to jump into games with!

Alright, I’m going to go and play some more Deus Ex: Human Revolution because holy crap that game’s amazing.

Before I go, I should probably ask: What’s up, guys?! It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post here. Well, a legitimate one, at least. I haven’t been hanging out here so much for a good handful of months. You guys all been well? Good, I’m glad. Everything seems relatively similar here, which leads me to assume that this site’s still full of awesome people.

Have a great Summer, Giant Bomb. Never change. And we need to hang out; don’t forget to call me.

--JJ

(555) 555-1234

26 Comments

PC Gaming, and Me

Having done something very gaming-focused, I figured I'd go ahead and write up a post about it. Finally, after years of dreaming about it, I've built myself a gaming PC, and I'm loving it.

Roughly what my shiny new gaming PC looks like. If only; that would be great.

My total cost for the whole enchilada thus far is right around $860. Originally I wanted to keep things modest and only spend about $600, but when I realized that I'd need a monitor, suddenly that looked less realistic. I still haven't bought a keyboard yet (using a piece of junk Dell, at the moment), so that will push things to a little over $900 total. That's a lot of money, but my general attitude has been "Eh, screw it." And I'm glad I didn't go dirt cheap, because I love what I have.

The guts consist of a modest ASUS micro-ATX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM, and a Radeon HD 6870 graphics card. I also went with a 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive and a 520W Seasonic power supply to keep everything running. Many thanks to all of the kind folks at Tested for providing some feedback on yet another of the ubiquitous "help me build a PC" threads. You guys definitely made a huge difference in the parts I decided to go with.

My i3 CPU was the biggest change that came from the Tested community's input. I was originally eyeing an AMD-based Phenom chip, but was informed that for the same price, I could get an i3 that is has better per-core efficiency, will save on power, and was the same price.

Of course switching to an Intel CPU meant I had to find an Intel 1155 socket motherboard, but that was easy enough, and I'm really happy with the ASUS board I chose. The UEFI BIOS stuff is pretty crazy, and I love it. I'm so glad that I'll probably never have to see a traditional BIOS screen ever again. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but c'mon, it's 2012. It's a micro-ATX board, so there's not a lot of room for expandability, but that's fine for my gaming purposes.

But enough with the technical stuff, because games!

Over the years I’ve built up quite the little Steam collection consisting of games I had no business buying as a laptop user, such as Bioshock, Fallout 3 (and all DLC), Dead Spaces 1 and 2, Dirt 3, Just Cause 2, Max Paynes 1 and 2, Civilization V, Rome: Total War, Trine, and the list goes on. Some games such as Portal 2 and the Back to the Future series were too good to save, and I powered through them on low settings. The rest of these, though, I’ve been waiting forever to play, and now I finally have been.

I’d say Fallout 3 is the most notable game I’ve played thus far. It’s a game I’ve been waiting so long to play since buying it during a Steam sale. I’d actually tried to get into the game on my laptop running low settings about three of four times. Once, I'd actually gotten as far as blowing up Megaton, but I just wasn’t enjoying myself. I wasn’t sure if running the game at full settings and not having a hot machine on my lap would be enough to change my “meh” opinion of the game, but so far those changes have made all the difference. I’ve played several hours of Fallout 3 so far and I’m actually really enjoying it this time. I’ll admit that I’ve been cheating a bit to make the early game stuff (that I’ve already seen several times) go by faster, but I’ve just been having a lot of fun. I decided I’d save Megaton this time around, and I disarmed the giant-ass bomb that those idiots decided to build their town around. Before doing that, I cheated to give myself an instant-kill revolver and some ammo, and I took the head clean off of the mysterious man in the suit in one shot; it was glorious and super satisfying. From there, I decided not to eff around and immediately went to find Three Dog, which I did surprisingly quickly; that dude’s great. I’ve decided to spec my character with massive amounts of speech, and not a whole lot else so far. Luckily I'm still carrying that one-shot revolver, but I’m considering playing the game strait once that runs out of ammo. Time will tell if my own personal conviction stat is high enough to hold me true to that.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Just Cause 2, because that game is fantastic. Do you like blowing crap up? Do you like grappling hooks? Do you like stunt position? Do you enjoy massive amounts of general ridiculousness? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, go play Just Cause 2, because it delivers all of that and more. Somewhat surprisingly, This is the game I’ve played the most of since building my PC. I'd always thought it looked awesome, but it’s really better than I’d expected. The only issue I’m having thus far is that traveling can take forever! With a world that huge, there’ll be that double edged sword, I suppose. There is a fast travel method, but it only takes you to discovered locations (of which I don’t have many yet) and costs money, so I try to avoid that. Other than that, it’s like “Action Movie: The Game” and that’s terrific.

I started the first Dead Space late last night, and that game’s quite spooky under those circumstances. But it’s also really damn cool, so I’ll definitely continue playing that. I’ve reached chapter two now, I think, and have just upgraded my suit. There’s a lot of cool systems for upgrading and whatnot going on in this game that I wasn’t ever totally aware of. It’s interesting.

I'm able to comprehend the majority of this screenshot. That alone gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Civilization V is another game I’ve had lying around seemingly forever. I tried to play it on my laptop before, but it was barely playable, even on the lowest of settings. So I tried to jump back into it a few days ago just to realize that it’s as complicated and impenetrable as I remembered! Fantastic! At that point I had the great idea to go back and watch the Civ V Quick Look and see if Ryan could refresh me on some things, as well as teach me a few tricks. Those things totally happened, and after watching that Quick Look, I went back into the game, started a small and fast-paced game with all random settings, and found myself sitting there playing Civ V for a couple of hours before even realizing it. It was about 2 AM when I looked at the clock and I had to get up early the next morning, so I forced myself to stop. But hey, I think I get it now. I understand the Civ fever. I still am not sure I’ll ever get totally sucked into it, but I see the appeal now, and am definitely going to be playing more of that. I saved that random game I started in the middle of a war with the City-State Venice. They’re surprisingly hard to take over, even with an army of ships surrounding the tiny island it’s situated on. Perhaps when I get back to that game I’ll just have to negotiate some peace until I develop my naval fleet a bit more--and then I’ll totally go and wreck them, because I’m a jerk.

I bought a few games over the recent Ubisoft Steam sale. Rayman Origins and a suite of Ghost Recon games are now mine! I’ve been playing Rayman, and it’s absolutely as charming as I recall Patrick claiming on the game of the year podcasts. I’m not quite as satisfied with the Ghost Recon games, however. In fact, I’m downright disappointed with them! I actually haven’t played the original or its expansions, but it’s the GRAW games that I really bought that pack for, just to find that they’re not at all the same as the console versions. I guess they’re Grin-developed alternate versions that are first-person (as opposed to the console’s third-person versions), and are also different structurally. I've actually found the visuals to be a bit grimy, as well. I thought I was missing something when I loaded the game and I was thrust into first-person. I should have done my research before buying a whole pack of games, I suppose, but at like $7, I probably shouldn’t be complaining. I guess plenty of people have gone to bat for the PC versions and believe that they’re actually better than the console versions, but I’m still disappointed, as I just wanted some prettified console ports. I wanted to relive my great memories of GRAW, and I actually never did get to play GRAW 2; I guess I’ll just have to settle for (the collection of people formerly known as) Grin’s take on it. Grin was a great studio, so I’m sure these versions are, at the very least, fine.

Notice I haven’t mentioned Diablo III. Oh yeah, that game. The sequel the the game I just may have put more hours into that any other game in existence. Yeah, I don’t own it yet. I sort of spent all of my money on other junk. But hey, today’s pay day. Today’s also my day off, though, so by tomorrow, I’ll probably own Diablo III. It seems likely that I’ll have a separate blog’s worth of thoughts about that at a later date. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t disappoint.

PC games! I can play them now! I’m pretty excited about it. I’m going to stop wasting the day writing and go play one of the many that are sitting on my Steam list, begging to be clicked.

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Hi

What's up, guys?

I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this blog. Maybe it's because I've been considering deleting my account here on Giant Bomb. To be honest, I'm not even sure that's possible--not with one click, at least. I could go through and delete everything that I can manually. Seems like a lot of work.

Just a little bit ago I decided on a whim to deactivate a bunch of my social network accounts. Fuck 'em. They're all bullshit. Seriously. And I've felt this for a long time, but I could never bring myself to deactivate the accounts, for whatever reason. Well, I've gotten over whatever those reasons were. I was so sick of looking at all of my various "feeds" and "streams" just to shake my head and feel like an idiot for continuing to be a part of it. But that's over now.

Giant Bomb's kind of the last internet account that I've, I dunno, put any time into? It must be the only account that I care about, because even though I haven't used the site regularly for the past eight months or so (holy shit, it's really been that long), I'm finding it much tougher to scrap than the rest of my accounts.

Maybe it's the people. There're some great duders that I'm sure probably still hang out here (What's up, guys?). Then there's the assholes--total dicks, but somehow you still find a place in your heart for them. Then there's the truly disgusting, but let's not go there. Mostly good people. And by the way, if you good people no longer see me as a friend on Twitter of Google+ or whatever... sorry.

I've spent a lot of time here over the years. I dunno, this site's kinda alright. It feels like home in a lot of ways. Yeahhhh, this site's not bad.

Recently I've been visiting just to read over game pages and clean them up--mostly focusing on the new releases listed in the sidebar, Not necessarily knowing a ton about all of these newer games, I've been unable to add much content-wise, but I've been cleaning up grammar and formatting to the best of my ability. Some of those pages, holy shit. Fellow Giant Bomb page editors: you need to read over your edits before clicking save! Just give them a quick once or twice over! It really doesn't take that long, and it would likely make a huge difference. If you're going to take the time to fill in a page in the first place, then take some pride in it!

What else do I have to say? I don't know. My feet are sore as hell. I recently bought those Dr. Scholl's massaging gel insoles, and wow, fuck you, Dr. Sholl! You don't know shit about feet, apparently! Has anyone else tried these? There's either some severe user error going on here, or these insoles are a scam. I'm not entirely ruling out user error, as simple as insoles may seem. Gellin' like a felon, my rear. So gellin' you're like Magellan, my hindquarters.

Oh hey, games. What have I been playing over the last eight months? Ummm. Fuck if I know. I borrowed Forza 4 from a friend, so I've played a little of that. Earned all of the achievements for playing the ten seasons, and then realized that that game's just Forza 3+, and so I stopped. Jade Empire's something I've been playing. Not a lot, but I've gotten into the meat of the game now. It still holds up fairly well, should you be wondering--some aspects better than others, but overall, it holds up well. That's kinda it. I should maybe play some more games at some point.

As it is, I've been using any downtime I have to watch some HBO content. Game of Thrones is pretty good, in case you guys didn't know. The Ricky Gervais Show, equally as good, although in a completely different way, obviously. Planning on watching The Pacific when I have time. Got twenty minutes into episode one of The Wire and was bored to tears. I hear that's the case and that it's a slow build that pays off brilliantly by the end, but it's hard to start such a long series with that knowledge. I've also watched such fine films as The Green Lantern and Cedar Rapids, both of which I was disappointed by. One moreso than the other. I'll let you decide which.

Gosh, I've been writing at a site called 750words.com for (gimmie a second as I look it up...) 232 consecutive days! It being midnight now, I'll hit 233 as soon as I decide to stop writing this pointless blog and go write there instead. So that's pretty cool, right? Why yes, yes it is--quite. I'm talking to myself now. I'm going to regret posting this blog.

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line. It's been a while. Maybe I'll start using this site some more again soon. Or maybe I'll continue my plans for complete internet account annihilation. We'll see.

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Bullshit

A large chunk of my life over the past few years has involved Giant Bomb, and to a lesser extent, the other Whiskey sites. I've spent more time here than I should probably ever admit. These sites have given me such joy over the past few years, but I'm finding as of late that I'm not having those same feelings anymore. Or at least not nearly as strong. I'm not blaming the staff, or claiming there has been any sort of drop in quality. This is purely a personal issue that I hope I'm someday able to overcome.

My life has been going nowhere for a long time now, and I'm not happy. I have no job, I've been out of school, and I've been steadily losing friends as well. Even friends that at one point, I thought I would never lose. I've even lost someone that I once thought of as more than a friend. The past several months have been the craziest roller coaster of emotions I've ever experienced. By far. Here I am, though, at the lowest of lows. If I could turn back time and do things differently, I would. But I can't. All I can do now is make changes. I don't have all of the answers, or really any answers at all, but I have to try. I'm going to start by--obviously--not using Giant Bomb any longer apart from maybe popping on for a video every now and then. This being the case, I'm also stepping down from my position on the Pass the Whiskey podcast. This was already planned due to some personal issues with another person, but now it just makes all the more sense to step down permanently. I'm also likely going to stop using Twitter as much as I have in the past. I may still update that from time to time, though. Basically, I just want nothing to do with anything that's happened over the past several months. I'd like to clear my mind and just forget any of this ever happened. If only that were possible. It's funny how something seemingly so amazing one moment can turn into a pile of shit so quickly. I feel like I've been torn down and stepped on. I feel like I've been betrayed. I just can't believe it all had to happen like this. Good god, I legitimately can't believe it. Things need to change now, though.

This is my life. I don't like this life. I have to do something about it.

<3

--JJ

I didn't want to delete this blog because I appreciate the comments that people have left (With the exception of one. What a load of shit. Haha.). I also find my various states of mind--despite being extraordinarily cringe-worthy--somewhat fascinating to look back on.

Anyway, this blog's a buncha bullshit. Move along; nothing to see here.

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Cartoon Retrospective: Spider-Man (1994)

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus"
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man" (You're reading it!)

I’ve been going back and forth on how exactly I should approach this blog. Initially I wanted to tell you everything I could about the featured cartoon, but then I realized that that’s not really what this blog series is supposed to be about. Not to mention how totally boring the first 600 words I initially wrote ended up. I can be a little slow sometimes, but I eventually remembered what I initially wanted these blogs to be, and what I wanted them to accomplish when I first started this mini-series several months ago. I started this series to look back at a cartoon of my youth and have some fun remembering what exactly I spent so much time watching while growing up. My secondary objective was--and is--to hopefully entertain you all as well, while simultaneously sparking some interesting discussion about whatever cartoon I happen to be taking a look back at. Let’s all jump into my little text-based time machine and take a look at a one of the many cartoons that filled my childhood with joy. I hope you all can relate!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten one of these blogs out there. I’d always planned on continuing this series, but found my memory of certain cartoons to be lacking. Well, that’s not the case any longer with the 1994 Spider-Man animated series. A little while back I found myself frustrated with my routine internet-focused lifestyle. To combat this frustration, I decided to take a break from all normal internet activities. Of course I figured I had to entertain myself somehow, and that’s when I turned to Netflix and watched all 65 episodes of the 1994 Spider-Man, totalling approximately 21.6 hours of showtime. What better time than now to write about it, huh?

I guess we’ll get right down to it: The 1994 Spider-Man animated series is still an absolute delight to watch. Being able to say that even now probably explains why I loved watching it as a kid. Despite a few minor shortcomings like “framey” animations and the occasional cheesy one-liner dialog, this is a very well produced and interesting cartoon. For the record, I’m not the biggest comic book guy, but from what I hear this cartoon stays rather faithful to the comics in terms of plot points and whatnot. There’s a metric ton of interesting, recognizable characters that make appearances, and not exclusively from Spider-Man either, but from other Marvel properties as well. A gallery of important character photos can be found at the bottom of this post for your viewing--and hopefully nostalgic--pleasure. It really is an excellent cartoon, even to this day. Very entertaining and worth watching. With all of that said, let’s look at just a couple of individual episodes that I found to be particularly interesting.

The symbiote attacks the astronauts on their way back to Earth.

I’d have to say my favorite Spider-Man villain ever is pretty easily Venom. I always loved how crazy and scary he was as a kid. I remember having a Venom action figure or two as well. When you get right down to it, the whole symbiote plot is especially interesting. For these reasons, let’s talk about Season 1, Episode 7 - The Alien Costume: Part 1. In this episode you’re introduced to the symbiote that will eventually become Venom. The episode starts with a couple of astronauts mining some kind of asteroid. They get more than they bargained for when they accidentally bring a living black ooze onto their ship and back to earth. This ooze turns out to be an eeevil symbiote that must find a host to bond to in order to survive. Initially, it chooses Peter Parker. This is where the infamous black suit spidey comes from. This was something that was actually covered in the recent live action feature films as well. Anyway, this is a really fun episode and one of my favorites due to how Peter and Spider-Man alike change while under the influence of the symbiote. Black suit Spider-Man is much more powerful and able to do a lot more than OG Spider. Beyond that though, watching Peter act like a total dick is also a good time. It’s obviously a complete departure from his natural personality, and that makes it especially entertaining. Peter calling Flash Thompson a bonehead while they fight over Felicia Hardy is especially humorous. Peter just has a “take what I want” attitude that provides a nice little change of pace from his regular routine. I kind of wish there was a bit more of that. This episode ends before the symbiote has a chance to bond with Eddie Brock to form Venom, but it’s the start of all of that, and a great episode.

Spider-Man's chosen allies.

Really, there aren’t many episodes NOT worth watching, but I’m going to go ahead and skip to one of the final episodes: Season 5, Episode 9 - Secret Was Chapter 1: Arrival: Part 1. They sure do know how to name titles; lots of colons, lots of dashes. Anyway, this is one of the last episodes in the series. The end of the series really goes out with a bang though, so I’d hate to not talk about these closers a bit. So there are three “Secret Wars” episodes. These involve Spider-Man being transported to another universe (or something) to be tested in an epic battle of good vs. evil. Spider-Man is taken by a man known only as The Beyonder and told he’s going to have to defend a planet from evil. Spider-Man doesn’t know that this is all just a test for his final challenge, taking place in the final two episodes of the series. But anyway, the reason I love this set of episodes so much is because of who all is involved. Over the course of the cartoon, several Marvel characters are introduced and fight alongside Spider-Man. Characters such as: Daredevil, Blade, The Punisher, Ironman, and the X-Men all make appearances. This episode brings great groups together on both sides of the fight. The Beyonder selects such villains as Doc Oc, The Lizard, Dr. Doom, and even the Red Skull. Spider-Man then gets a chance to select his own super team to help him take on these foes. Spider-Man brings in such characters as Storm, Ironman, the entire Fantastic 4, and of course Captain America. This is just a really fun episode full of super hero and super villain collaborations. Those are never not fun, and that holds true here. Just lots of good action as Spidey learns to be a leader in order to fight off all dat evil. One of the more interesting episodes for sure, and it leads into the final few episodes of the entire series, which are all great as well.

I’ve talked about a very early episode as well as a very late one. There’s mountains of amazing episodes between these two I chose to talk about, though. Really, I started watching this expecting to get through maybe six or seven episodes. Boy was I surprised to make it all of the way to the end. Despite my obvious nostalgia for this cartoon, I think my making it all of the way through is still a strong testament to how watchable and genuinely great this cartoon is, even still. I’d recommend going back and watching this if you were a fan, or better yet, if you missed out.

I guess that about wraps things up. Before I go though, I’ll of course remind you that I’d loooove to hear your thoughts on the 1994 Spider-Man series. Were you a fan like me? Did you hate the show for some odd reason? Let your voices be heard! And as is tradition, feel free to bring up ANY cartoon you’d like to reminisce about. Perhaps this blog reminded you of another similar cartoon that you loved. Let us know about it! All cartoon talk is welcome; encouraged, even. And don’t forget to look through the character gallery I quickly threw together, below!

<3

--JJWeatherman

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Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 7/16/2011 *Saturday Edition*

It’s been a while since I’ve done this. I haven’t exactly been in the highest of spirits as of late, but I figured doing this could possibly help to take my mind away from the real world for a little bit. I don’t feel like playing games, watching movies, really much of anything at the moment. Good ole writing; you’re always there for me when I want to do nothing else.

Alaska_Gamer deserves some credit for me doing this as well. He wrote his own blog about a week ago that I just now discovered. It was really good and it inspired me to keep writing more for myself. Thanks a bunch, dude.

It’s been too long since I wrote one of these. I’m not even sure which games I’ve played since last time that I’d like to talk about. Let’s see...

I was caught by surprise when I decided to fire up a random Quick Look one day and chose Puzzle Agent 2. I’d remembered hearing Ryan “the narc” Davis talk about how much he enjoyed the original on the Bombcast a while back, but never really looked too far into it. I figured this was as good of an opportunity as ever. I’ve actually been falling behind on Quick Looks recently and not watching every one of them. I couldn’t be more happy that I watched this one though, as I kinda fell in love with Nelson Tethers and the quirky folk of Scoggins Minnesota. I decided not too long after watching to pick up both games on Steam and fulfil my urge to explore what seemed like a super interesting series. The fact that buying the second got me the first for free didn’t hurt my decision either. Thanks, Steam. My memory’s the literal worst, but let’s see if I can keep these two games separate in my head. I beat both in a relatively short time period, and they’re really very similar. Some may say number two is “more of the same”, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.

I remember starting up the first game and being scared. I own a laptop that’s now over three years old. You can understand my nerves when starting a game that I’ve never played on this thing before. Most games released these days simply won’t run at an acceptable framerate. I expected the art style of this would mean it would work fine, but then I was looking at cutscenes that appear to animate at around four frames per second. I soon realized that this was just the way the game was animated. It’s an interesting choice, but I suppose they can get away with this due to the only action in these games being when you’re solving puzzles. The stuttery nature of the animation then just became another layer of charm on this already super charming adventure/puzzle game.

The whole game, both of them, really, just have a super minimalist approach, but at the same time are treated with tremendous care, from the story, to each character living in Scoggins. Each resident you meet has a crazy quirk or interesting twist to them that makes each easy to remember. Puzzles aside, exploring the town of Scoggins and meeting its residents is as compelling (or even more so) as any of the puzzles. I of course won’t spoil the plot threads, but just know that these games definitely keep things interesting. Going into these, I had no idea I’d be chasing [CENSORED] and that I’d find out that they’re [CENSORED] that come from [CENSORED]! Crazy stuff. For just ten dollars, I couldn’t recommend this game more, even to just experience the story.

But hey, there’s also puzzles in these games. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Earlier I alluded to the story and overall setting possibly being more interesting to the puzzles. Well, let me be more clear and say that yes, I found that to be the case. Not to say that the puzzle were bad, but they just were forced to take a back seat to everything else going on. The puzzles were a means to see the next story element play out, and usually not a whole lot more. There are the few really interesting puzzles scattered in there for sure. I sometimes felt like a genius after figuring out coins were representing binary code for example. But the majority seem to be either really simple, or rehashes of ones you’ve seen previously at some point. The latter is especially the case in the second game, which I suppose would have been easy to predict after they were already repeating a bit too often by the end of the first game.

Overall I'd say they're great games worth playing. Just don't expect the most inspired puzzles in the world.

Special thanks to Whiskey user Mushir for designing our new PTW banner, which I’ve placed within my blog banner template because it was easy and looks awesome, even mostly cut off. :)

I would assume (possibly wrongly) that anyone who would read my blogs also would be at least aware of the podcast that I’ve been participating in with two other Whiskey Media users. In case that assumption was indeed wrong, it’s called Pass the Whiskey, and it’s intended to focus on showcasing all of the cool things that the Whiskey Media community are up to. My partners in crime and I collaborate every other week to create this thing. We sit in front of our computers in a Skype call, all hoping that Slowbird’s computer cooperates and records properly. We really have little idea what we’re doing, but that just makes things all the more exciting! Will we have to re-record this entire section? Will Newten’s voice randomly sound like a robot from time to time? Who could possibly say?! But seriously, if any technical difficulties are apparent on the podcast, just know that we know, and that we just aren’t experienced enough to ensure that it’s flawless 100% of the time. I’d say that we can guarantee flawlessness in about 20% of each recording. Take the deal; that’s the best we can offer.

Random tangent: Don’t you just love words with a double “ess“? They’re great. Words like necklessness and flawlessness, make my day. Are they real words? I couldn’t even say for certain, nor do I care. I love them.

Not to, like, recruit you dear readers or anything like that, but if you want to suggest anything for us to feature on the podcast (from ANY of the Whiskey sites), any of us would be super happy to get a PM about such things. Or if you’re so inclined, you can also send an email to askptwanything@gmail.com. We’re also on Twitter and such, but I’ll just link to this previous episode’s post where you can find all of this info towards the bottom. This is a podcast about the community after all, so we’d love to hear more from all of you. I recommend checking out our formspring page. Last recording, ZombiePie thoroughly tainted our question pool, and next episode it could be you! I kid. Don’t follow ZombiePie’s poor example. Keep it appropriate, please. :)

I’m trying to think of anything else I want to say about this. I guess just that I was nervous going into it, but having done it a few times now, I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable in a recording environment. It’s exciting to create something in the audio format. I’ve written plenty of blogs, but this is a whole new world where people are subjected to my awful voice as well as my lack of preparation. Oh, I have to be ready and on top of everything? These concepts are foreign to me and my written ways. I’m trying to get better at speaking and such, but I’ve never been the best speaker. I know, I’m perfect for a podcast, right?

You can find our most recent (episode three) podcast posting on all of the Whiskey sites, including right here on Giant Bomb. I think I can safely speak for Slowbird and Sparklykiss when I say that we’d love for you to check it out.

I’ve decided that I have a few things to mention that don’t necessarily warrant a dedicated section and header, sooo, I’ll just leave those thing here! ...Yep!

Team Fortress: The Second

Literally anyone with a computer now can play TF2 for free. This is amazing for people like me who never bought the game on PC over the years, but probably terrible for everyone who did. I can see why some players wouldn’t want a bunch of new players flooding servers, but really this is for the best. Eventually all of the awful players (myself included) will learn the ropes and there’ll be that many more people to play against. Just, please forgive me when you Ubercharge me and I then proceed to run around like an idiot and not get a kill. That’s happened a couple of times and I’ve felt really bad about it.

I’ve gotten the chance to play on the Giant Bomb/Tested server a couple of times now, and it’s been a great time. Despite playing while listening to stories of Ryan being a narc and Jeff hating Applebee's, I’m still able to concentrate enough to get a few kills and capture some points from time to time. Last time I played this was on the Orange Box back when it first launched on 360. It’s obviously changed a lot, and I’m still grappling with all of the changes, but I’m liking it and getting the hang of it the more I play. I hope to see you guys on the server in the future.

Terraria

This was a Steam Sale pickup for me, and and I couldn’t be happier to get it at just $2.50. There seems to be a ton of depth to this game (pun totally and completely intended), but there’s also very little instruction. You’re kinda just thrown into the world and told to go. I’ve fumbled my way around enough to build some giant words and carve out a cave or two, but I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to advance and what I should be doing. It’s a really neat game, though.

If you guys didn’t already know, there’s an official Giant Bomb Terraria server that you can check out. It’s pretty amazing the things that have been built. Sadly, there have been some jerks coming in and ruining the world, so entry is restricted to anyone on a whitelist. Just send a PM to Shadowsquire and he’ll make sure you’re able to get in. It would be nice to have some more activity in the server.

Steam Sale Purchases

  • Chime
  • Terraria
  • Puzzle Agent
  • Puzzle Agent 2 (Even though these weren’t on sale... >.>)
  • Secret of Monkey Island SE
  • Monkey Island 2 SE
  • Fallout 3 GOTY

I didn’t spend a boat load of cash, but considering my brokeness, I probably should have just chosen one or two of those. Overall, I’m happy with each of them. I’d be more happy if Fallout 3 would run at higher than 25 frames per second, but what can I do? Oh right, not buy games I can’t run. Oh Steam sales. I just can’t resist you.

There’s a look at what I’ve been up to. My weekly blog plans have obviously flown off the rails a bit as of late, but maybe this will get me back on track for a while. Thanks again to Alaska_Gamer for the inspiration.

I really do like to write these blogs, but it’s hard when I’m not feeling myself. I don’t know what you’d call this funk I’ve been in. Maybe depression. Maybe something else entirely. Luckily, I do have someone to talk to through all of this. I’m just trying desperately not to let myself push this person away, because I’m honestly not sure what I’d do without this person.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who reads this. As much as I say that I do these for myself, it’s always nice to know that people are reading what I’ve written, and in some cases being inspired by it (and others) to write for themselves. So leave a comment. I’d love to read all of your opinions on the things I’ve mentioned (or even things I haven’t mentioned). Oh, and last thing: Thanks to Mracoon and ZombiePie for featuring me in the Community Spotlight as this week’s community starlet. I’m definitely very honored to be considered worth mentioning. I’ll do my best to keep contributing to not just Giant Bomb, but all of Whiskey Media. These sites have given me a lot, and I’m always happy to give back however I can.

Have a great week, everyone.

<3

--JJ

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Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 6/12/2011


 
I’m apparently the worst at keeping a regular blog. I plan to do something weekly, and yet somehow I keep finding ways to just say “eff it, I’ll do it next week”. In all honesty, I’ve just had some things going on recently that have kept my mind occupied and not really able to focus. The distractions have been good things though. I’ve been having great new experiences and I’m really glad for that. I guess time’s been flying a bit, but I want to make sure I get some words down on this virtual sheet of paper this week (I’m writing this in Google Docs). The figurative weather has been fairly clear for a while, but I’ve definitely gotten some light gaming showers in from time to time (I'm so corny). Stick around and I’ll tell you about it.


Yes, yes. Against all odds, I’ve kinda sorta kept up with Cooking Mama: Friends’ Cafe. The gamer in me is slowly being killed, but this game’s legitimately sort of enjoyable, as well as addicting.

I talked about this game before, but I may as well sum it up again. This is a Facebook version of the Cooking Mama game we all know, yet maybe don’t quite love. The goal of the game is to prepare various foods and drinks and set up a full menu that can then be tasted by equally crazy Cooking Mama-playing Facebook friends. You earn coins and experience for completing menus as well as specific goals such as cooking specific dishes. Coins are the main currency, but there are also smiley faces as a secondary form of currency. These confuse me, because there’s seemingly no way to earn them other than just waiting for them to slowly replenish, and the rate that they do that is extraordinarily slow. It’s actually been days and I still only have 2. I must be missing something, but it’s not keeping me from cooking, and that’s all that matters.

If you’ve played OG cooking Mama before, you’ll know what to expect of the cooking sections. It’s basically a dumbed down version of regular Cooking Mama. You swirl the mouse to stir a bowl (of which I always crap up and flip over, btw), you line up cuts with a knife, you operate an oven, and you also do lots of spreading of things like frosting, jelly, butter, etc. Lots of simple stuff, but there’s a relaxing feeling to going through the motions. I’m just here cookin’ in my kitchen. Not a care in the world.

Of course this is a modern game and therefore has to have some sort of progression. There’s a leveling system, and that’s actually a nice motivator to to keep cranking out menus and completing goals. You can see friends levels and such on the side of the screen, so it can lead to some friendly competition. Ever since I started, I’ve been on a quest to surpass a certain someone. This will happen. I will be the top chef on my friend board. There’s that bad part of my personality taking over again. All in good fun, though.

I’m sorry fellow Giant Bombers. I really should be playing real games, like LA Noire--which I still haven’t finished--or Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood which I recently picked up and haven’t touched much. I haven’t even finished Dragon Age: Origins, but not out of any disliking of the game; it just hasn’t happened. That’s not even mentioning all of the other great games I have in my backlog; I have a lot. that being the case, it’s probably weird that I have been playing one proper console game recently.


Yep. Even having all of those previously mentioned great games, I’ve taken a trip back to 2008 to experience a game that I’d missed out on... until now. Looking back, it’s funny to me when I recall the level of excitement I experienced as this game crept closer and closer to launch. One trailer specifically where the main character, Baldur, walks into this bar and ends up in a battle with a giant robotic creature, really got me excited for Too Human. I watched that trailer several times over and even showed my friends and was like “Look how awesome this game looks! It’s going to be so cool! Oh man!” I don’t too often often get that sense of joy in anticipating a game, but Too Human had me hooked. I was more than ready to take control of the cybernetic god, Baldur.

I think we all know where this story is going. Reviews hit. After reading review after review and having that feeling of such disappointment, I decided to hold off on the game. I figured I’d maybe just rent it at some point, but I stopped renting games around that time, actually. So the years ticked by and now, finally, in 2011, I decided to pull the trigger on Too Human. I bought a new sealed copy off of eBay for something like nine dollars with free shipping. Deal! I really haven’t played a ton if it thus far, but I’ve gotten through the first big mission and I’ve been taking my time and exploring the menus as best I could as well.

One of the big features that I remember Silicon Knights touting before release was how innovative and amazing their camera system was. Well, at least from what I’ve seen, that didn’t exactly pan out. They do some interesting things with dynamic camera perspectives, but it just doesn’t work well enough a lot of the time. I’ve already run into spots where I couldn’t see what I needed to while fighting or even just navigating the environments. It’s by no means a terrible and broken camera system, but as far as being one of the game’s most exciting features, it totally fails in most cases. There are limited methods of manually managing the camera, but maybe I just haven’t had enough time to get the hang of that stuff yet. I really like how the combat is mapped to the right stick, but that really hinders the camera, and it seems like it could have been handled better than it was.

Speaking of the combat though, I actually kind of like it. It’s awkward, and a bit funky looking, but getting a chain of hitting dudes going is fast and pretty satisfying. There’s all kinds of things you can do with the right stick to knock enemies into the air to juggle, perform finishing moves, or just slash away. the combat seems at least somewhat deep, and can get exciting. That’s the melee combat though. I haven’t found the guns to be quite as fun. It seems like using guns just slows down the rhythm of combat and disrupts any flow you may with a sword or other melee weapon. Not that the guns aren’t effective, because they actually do a surprising amount of damage, but they just don’t feel as fast, exciting, or satisfying as using melee attacks.

Something I was told before playing the game for myself was that the game is packed with loads and loads of loot. I love me some loot, and man were those people right. There’s so many loot drops that I mostly am just confused by. The UI for the equipment menu could have been better, but I more or less figured out how to equip the best items I’ve picked up. I’ve heard of some crazy pieces of loot that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Any game that has mad loot has the key to my heart. (I love you Diablo 2. So, so much.)

Overall, Too Human is just kind of ugly. It has bright spots, but everything just seems unpolished and lacking in one way or another. If I can point out one thing I really hate, it’s the game’s main menu UI. Good god, that’s just the worst. Looks like a much older game’s menu. Also, some (most) of the textures make my eyes hurt, which I suppose is partly due to it being an older game at this point, but still. The story seems interesting at least, so that plus the combat and loot will probably carry me through to the end. Seems like an alright game, but nothing special, which is basically what all of the reviews told me. I’m glad I’m playing it though. Maybe it’ll just get better as I work my way through. Fingers crossed.

  
Alright. Writing about two games seems like enough at this point. I hope I can get more time in on L.A. Noire as well as AC: Brotherhood within the next week. Although I do have some super secret plans that may or may not involve a podcast going on this week, so I guess I’ll just see what happens. I'll save any E3 talk for the audio format. Oh god, you’re all going to be able to hear my voice. This was a poor idea! D:

Anyway, I hope I get another one of these up next Sunday. I’ll do my best! Assuming you’ve read more than this line here, then thanks for reading! Actually, even if that was the only line you read, don't worry, you're almost as cool! Have a nice week, everyone.

<3
--JJ
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