What I've been playing (September)

Now that my girlfriend is back at school, I've had a bunch of free time to finish some games that have been teetering atop my pile of shame for a while:

Borderlands (360): Finally wrapped up Borderlands with jimmah7 (co-op), but we still have a mountain of DLC ahead of us. I played through the PS3 version back in 2009 (and it became my #5 game of 2009), but I never really got into the DLC, so I'm looking forward to it. Can't wait for Borderlands 2!

Driver: San Francisco (360): I rented Driver: SF on a whim at Redbox for $2 and beat it in one day. That's not saying so much about the length of the game as it is how much I enjoyed it. The game is about 8 hours long, and I marathoned through just about the whole thing in one sitting. DSF mostly consists of taking over other vehicles (quantum leap-style) and completing objectives around San Francisco as the main character struggles through a coma. A crazy premise, sure, but it allows for a great variety of gameplay. I also have to mention that I love how the cars handle like they're all from a 70's cop show. Check it out if you feel like playing a driving game, but don't want to be bogged down by simulation handling or generic race types.

Bulletstorm (360): Bulletstorm is way better than I thought it would be. There's actually some really clever writing (and gameplay) buried under the constant swearing. It's a mix of Gears of War, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, and The Club, and like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand it's surprisingly enjoyable start to finish. Developers, please make more games as colorful and vibrant as Bulletstorm!

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA): Jimmah7 and I also finished playing through LC&tGoL during September. I think we both really enjoyed it and I can say that it's easily my favorite game featuring Lara Croft. It's a true co-op game that forces you to work together to complete levels. What a unique concept!

N.O.V.A (iPad): I heard N.O.V.A 2 was legitimately good, so I played through all of this generic Halo rip-off during lunch breaks at work. Not a terrible game, but nothing special. I probably should have skipped it and went straight into N.O.V.A. 2

Mirror's Edge (iPad): Fluid gameplay, intuitive controls and the wonderful, wonderful Mirror's Edge music. What more could I ask for?

Killzone 3 (PS3): Disappointing in comparison to Killzone 2, KZ3 is one hell of a roller-coaster ride, but I constantly found myself asking, "Why am I doing this?" Much like Bulletstorm, the typical answer to the question is "to get off of this planet" but I found myself wanting more of a story. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from a Killzone game, but I honestly enjoyed not only Killzone 2's gameplay, but also it's story. And yes, I still hate Rico.

Plants vs. Zombies (iPad): After starting it on the PC years ago, I always meant to go back but never did. Plants vs. Zombies is still great and I'm glad that I finally got a chance to check out all that PvZ has to offer.

Renegade Ops (XBLA): Apparently jimmah7 and I beat 3 co-op games during September! Renegade Ops is just shear fun. Calling in a fully-upgraded instant airstrike to wreak havoc on my poor enemies brings me great joy. Renegade Ops makes me want co-op Just Cause 3 badly (Renegade Ops and the Just Cause games are all made by Avalanche Studios).

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS): After starting DQ9 in March, I finally grinded out some levels during lunch breaks and finished the game. I thought I'd be going back to play some of the side quests, but grinding levels usually ruins a game for me and wears me out, so I'll be shelving this for the time being.

Minecraft (PC): I've been dicking around in Mincraft for about 10 hours so far. I've mainly been mining cobblestone to make my castle. This game is clearly a game for crazy people, and I'd be smart to stop playing now. I don't really see that happening though.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (360): It's taking forever to suck me into Deus Ex, but I'd really like to get through it before the rush of the holiday game season starts (if it hasn't already). Forza 4 is the next game I'll be purchasing, so that leaves me ... a week!

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What I've been playing (August)

I didn't end up playing a lot of games during the month of August, mostly due to moving my girlfriend into her apartment and spending most of my weekends there. However, during the month of August I did pick up an iPad which has since replaced my laptop as my web-browsing device of choice. I also use it for gaming while watching Netflix, which comprised most of my gaming this month:

Death Rally (iPad): To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from a car-combat game by Remedy, the developers of Alan Wake. Turns out it's one of my favorite iPad games so far. While the controls take a little while to get use to, it's extremely addictive with plenty of unlockable vehicles, weapons and achievements.

Infinity Blade (iPad): From Chair, developers of Shadow Complex, comes an action RPG-lite. It's certainly one of the best games to show off the graphics capable on the iPad. The gameplay gets a bit repetitive, but it has me coming back every now and then to level up my character and his equipment.

Peggle (iPad): Yup, it's Peggle and the iPad version controls great!

Street Fighter III: Third Strike (XBLA): 3S is still pretty much 3S. In my opinion, it's one of the most technical fighting games and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone who joined the Street Fighter franchise at SFIV, SSFIV or AE. I'm a fan of the micro-achievements within the game, but I'm getting destroyed online and don't have anyone near my level of play around me, so I'm not sure how much more 3S I'll play.

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What I've been playing:

Here are the games that have kept me occupied during the month of July:

inFamous 2 (PS3): It feels like it's been so long since I wrapped this one up. I felt it had a pretty weak ending, considering how much I enjoyed the rest of the game. Also, some of the powers I earned near the end of the game could have been spaced out better, considering I barely got to use some of them. One of the better games released in the first half of 2011.

Battleheart (Android): This is a great little Android game (also available on iOS). Calling it little doesn't seem right since I spent about 7 hours playing through the game. It's a real-time strategy RPG where you have up to 4 characters, each with their own classes, weapons and skills. There are about 36 stages to play through, but some of them are tough so I ended up grinding a few to get past some bosses. Definitely pick it up if you have an iOS or Android device.

L.A. Noire (360): Most of what I mentioned in my last "What I've been playing" still applies. I feel like the game really picks up toward the end, but it's a tough game to recommend. I'll end up going back to see what the DLC cases have to offer, but I don't see myself replaying any of the previous missions.

Cut The Rope (Android): This game had me HOOKED for three straight days, during which I didn't play any console games. Once I beat it I uninstalled it so I could become free from its grasp. Check it out if you've got some free time to kill.

Mortal Kombat (360): After three months of owning MK9, I finally sat down and played through the story. I had left off at Chapter 6 of 16 from when I was playing it in April, but I managed to stay up a couple late nights over a weekend to finish it while my girlfriend was sleeping. The story mode was certainly entertaining and hopefully some other fighting game developers start incorporating better storylines into their future games. The boss fights are terrible though.

Bastion (XBLA): After hearing about about it from its Happy Hour appearances and the Bombcast, I decided to pick up Bastion and I really couldn't put it down. The levels are small enough that I always had that "one more level" mentality. This would make for a great PS Vita game, now that I mention it. It turned out to be one of my favorite games of the first half of 2011, and while it may not be a game for everyone, I recommend that everyone check out the demo on XBLA.

Chrono Trigger (DS): Chrono Trigger has been my game of choice during my lunch breaks at work this month. I'm most of the way through my 4th playthrough (all-time, not 4th time this month) of Chrono Trigger. I've gotta say, it's still an amazing game ... I sure do miss old school Square games.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA): Jimmah7 and I have slowly been working our way through this underappreciated gem of the XBLA. A great co-op game that has you actually work cooperatively! What a unique concept! While in most "co-op" games the co-op means: "You can BOTH shoot this dude in the face!", this game makes you work together to solve puzzles, similar to Portal 2. Don't worry, you can still both totally shoot that dude in the face.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (360): Mostly just playing the missions and getting destroyed online. With an online record of 6-18, I love getting matched up against a 5th Lord with a 892-310 record on a 10-game win-streak. Woooo! Moderately looking forward to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

This weekend I'll be watching the EVO 2011 Livestream. Shoutouts to Team Spooky, Shoryuken.com and the East Coast MvC3 5-on-5 team!

What has the Giantbomb community been playing? Let me know what I've been missing out on!

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Give Me Input: My Future "Arcade Machine"

Ever since I was a kid, I've dreamed about one day owning an arcade machine. Listening to the latest Giant Bombcast about California Extreme has me all excited about getting some sort of arcade machine set-up for when I get an apartment next spring. My main uncertainty is whether I want an HD LED-LCD for modern games (MvC3, SSFIV, Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue:CT / CS) or an old-school CRT for classic arcade gaming. I think I've settled on an affordable middle ground that doesn’t lock me into either side. I originally wanted a full stand-up arcade machine and debated between building my own or buying a pre-made cabinet from X-gaming. After spending hours of looking up joystick parts on na.suzohapp.com and looking comparing my budget to the all-inclusive $2200 X-gaming set-up, I’m currently leaning towards the Xtension Arcade Pedestal in combination with the 2-player (w/ trackball) X-Gaming Tankstick. This will allow me flexibility in “swapping out” monitors, eliminating the fear of buying the wrong monitor set-up. This combo will run me $731 with all of the adapter hookups and most importantly shipping/delivery. This $731 does not include the monitor and gaming system (both which I currently have). This would leave me without a dedicated monitor for my PC, so I've been on the lookout for displays with low response times, such as this monitor and this television for the new set-up.

Xtension Arcade Pedestal2 player X-Gaming Tankstick (w/ trackball)*

*With additional adapters, compatible with:

  • PC (MAME, retail or digital releases)
  • XBOX and XBOX 360
  • PS1, PS2 and PS3
  • Gamecube and Wii

My girlfriend/future roommate has already given me the thumbs-up on this, so I thought I'd run it by the Giantbomb community. Any suggestions? Am I overlooking something crucial?

I've thought about getting a full arcade-style cabinet, but we aren't going to be getting a huge apartment, so hopefully the Xtension Arcade Pedestal will keep the room feeling more open, while still giving that arcade feel.

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Steam Summer Sale: Round Two

Steam once again had their big summer sale and for the second summer in a row, I spent more than I should have. The sale lasted from June 30th - July 10th and the following chronicles my purchases, so you can once again laugh at me for how much I spent on PC games that I may or may not get around to playing:

This year's damage: $70.55

Last year's damage: $155.62

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What I've been playing:

Since I'm getting to the point that I'm only updating this once a month, I figured I'd mention games I played in June first:

Just Cause 2 (360): Played through all of the story and many of the side missions, totaling around 19 hours of play. However, since Just Cause 2 is such a big game, I completed it with a mere 28.15% completion rate. Much, much more to do. I really enjoy messing around with the helicopters and grappling hook/tether cable.

Dirt 3 (360): Beat all of the events in the Season mode, still have plenty of side challenges and multiplayer to get to. Amazing game, but I really hope they get rid of the cringe-inducing voice acting in the next one.

Mortal Kombat (360): I've mostly been playing multiplayer against jimmah7, but I want to finish the story mode and work on some of the challenge towers in the next few weeks.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (360): Strictly playing multiplayer, mostly against jimmah7. I really need to work on my LMHALMHALMHA combo because I can't juggle/air combo anyone for the life of me.

L.A. Noire (360): I'm trudging through this one and wishing it was a better game. One of my biggest disappointments of the year so far. Currently on the third disc, vice cases.

inFamous 2 (PS3): Feels like more of the same, which isn't a bad thing. However, regaining powers I had in the first game is really lame and the moral decisions are unfortunately still clearly labeled good and bad. I don't want to sound like I'm shitting all over it though, it is a really enjoyable experience with a better story than the first.

What has everyone else been playing recently?

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Weekend Gaming! 05.27.11

With my girlfriend home and for all intents and purposes living with me, it's hard to find a decent chunk of time to dedicate to gaming, especially when I blow a Saturday looking for a new TV.  I picked up a 42" Vizio LED LCD!  Here's what I'll be playing this weekend if I find the time:

  • Dirt 3 (360):  I've only spent a couple hours to Dirt 3 so far, but I'm in it for the long haul.  The new environments and racing surfaces are just what I was looking for coming off of a 20 hour tour (and 2nd playthrough) of Dirt 2.  I'm not convinced by the current set up of how you tackle races though.  I also need to get some time in with the gymkhana events, a lesson taught to me after I got my ass handed to me online.
  • L.A. Noire (360):  I picked this up last week and solved a few cases, none of them perfectly.  The car AI is poor, with cars constantly running into me or not pulling over for my siren.  Also, the interrogation gameplay doesn't seem to fit the purpose of interrogation.  The purpose of an interrogation is to get someone to talk a lot and hope they reveal some information.  The game continuously pauses and forces you to decide whether the character is lying or not.  The facial animations are amazing, however, and the performances are great.  As with Assassin's Creed, I love getting a history lesson while playing L.A. Noire and checking out the famous L.A. landmarks make the driving bearable.
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3 (360):  Jimmah7 and I will be playing some of this on Saturday and I'm sure he'll be destroying me since I haven't played it in weeks.
Go Bruins!!
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Weekend Gaming! 04.15.11

I wrapped up Dragon Age II earlier this week and I've been thinking about posting my thoughts on it.  'Disappointing' is the first word that comes to mind, but more on that later.  Here's what I've been playing and will be playing over the next few days:

  • Borderlands (360):  Jimmah7 and I have both dinged Level 20 with our Siren and Hunter, respectively.  Now we're planning on finishing the Fyrestone quests and checking out some new areas over the weekend.  Time to start maxing out my bird.  Shit's about to get REAL.
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3 (360):  It's Mahvel Baybee!  Now that I have 2 Hori EX 2 fight sticks, I decided to pick up MvC3 last weekend.  Jimmah7 and I have been trying to figure out which characters we want to start working on.  We'll be playing this on Sunday and perhaps with Rampersand as well.
  • Dirt 2 (PC):  I'm planning on playing through most of this over the weekend (second play-through).  It just might be my favorite racing game of all time.  Give me a little time to think about it.
  • Dawn of War II (PC):  This is a great pick up and play game with fairly short and focused missions, so I'm going to try to squeeze in a few here and there.  I'm addicted to leveling up my squad of space marines!
  • Sam and Max: 105 (PC):  In an attempt to finally finish the first season of Sam and Max, I started playing this Wednesday night but didn't get very far.  I plan on playing through the rest of it while watching some NHL playoff games.

I'd play some NHL '11, but I'll just watch the playoff games instead.  Go Bruins!

Also, I just started watching Breaking Bad (I know, LTTP) and it's really good so far!

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Weekend Gaming! 04.09.11

My girlfriend is home for the weekend, but I'll still manage to fit in some gaming while she studies.  I'll keep my entry short this week though:

  • NHL '11 (360):  Still working on my Be A Pro career mode.  My Phoenix Coyotes are 14-4-1 and my pro is leading the league with 17 goals, 14 assists, and a +/- of  +23. Of course I'd rather be playing for the Bruins, but I'll stick to the team I was drafted to for now. It's sad that nearly half of my goals are scored after my Coyotes are up a goal and the opposing goalie has been pulled at the tail end of the third period. Oh well, a goal's a goal.
  • Dirt 2 (PC):  After checking out some more coverage of Dirt 3, I'm getting pretty excited for its release next month. Since I fixed my PC last weekend, I've started playing Dirt 2 again to temporarily satiate my desire for rally racing and double up on Dirt 2 achievements in the meantime.
  • Fight Night Champion (360):  I'm really enjoying the story-driven Champion Mode. The story itself is rather predictable so far, but I still respect that they're trying something new with the series. Initially I wasn't a fan of the new punch control system, but it's starting to grow on me. I still prefer the old style from Fight Night Round 3 and Round 4 though.
  • Borderlands (360):  GB user and real life friend of mine, Jimmah7 and I have started replaying Borderlands after I picked up the GOTY edition for $20.  My level 17 Hunter and his Level 17 Siren are tearing up the Arid Badlands and ready to move on to big and better areas. I'm hoping he'll be down to play on Sunday night after my girlfriend goes back to school. I can't wait for a sequel!

My NHL '11 videos:
  
  
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Weekend Gaming! 04.01.11

Telling myself that I'm going to update my blog has become a running gag that only I'm in on, so what better a day to start posting again than April Fool's Day?  The last time I updated this people were looking forward to the release of Call of Duty Black Ops and eating leftover Halloween candy, so here's a list of games I've completed over the past 5 months followed by what I'll be playing this weekend:   

November 2010 - March 2011 Completion

Here's a list of games I completed since my last blog post, in order of completion.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops

Purchased for 360. Beat on Hardened.

2. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Purchased on XBLA.

3. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Purchased for 360.

4. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Purchased for 360. Beat both racer and cop campaigns.

5. After Burner Climax

Purchased for XBLA.

6. Castle Crashers

Purchased for XBLA.

7. Doritos Crash Course

Free on XBLA.

8. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Purchased The Sly Collection for PS3.

9. Sam & Max Episode 3: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball

Purchased on Steam.

10. Game Dev Story

Purchased on Android Marketplace

11. Mario Kart Wii

Gifted for Wii.

12. NBA Jam

Gifted for 360. Finished the Remix Tour.

13. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Free pass on OnLive.

14. Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die!

Purchased on Steam.

15. Super Street Fighter IV

Purchased for 360. Beat on "Hardest" difficulty.

16. Dragon Age: Origins

Purchased for 360 (Ultimate Edition).

17. Elite Beat Agents

Purchased for DS.

18. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening

Purchased for 360 (Ultimate Edition).

19. Picross 3D

Purchased for DS.

 
 

This Weekend in Gaming:

 
  • Dragon Age II (360):  So I found out that when I have a huge backlog (pile of shame) of games to play, I'm a huge fan of streamlined RPGs.  I'm really enjoying Dragon Age II, and I'm fine with the fact that it won't take 90 hours to complete like Dragon Age: Origins did.  The less time I have to spend in menus, the more I get to enjoy the actual game.  Dragon Age II seems to handle armor for my companions, so I can focus on my character and get back to the action faster.  Speaking of action, the flow of combat is sped up (mileage may vary, I'm playing as a rogue) and the game feels much more action-oriented, rather than queueing up attacks like an MMO.  I'm planing on delving into the depths of the Deep Roads this weekend.
  • NHL 11 (360):  The AI doesn't seem as smart as previous versions.  The opponent skaters seem to have strange pathing on some plays, and the game overall seems easier.  Maybe I'm just playing more of it than any other previous version.  I'm scoring 1.06 goals per game with my Be A Pro created skater, which may not seem high for some of you, but is high for me.  I'll mostly be playing the Be A Pro mode this weekend.  I've tried my hand at Online Shootout and gotten my ass handed to me a few times, but I'll certainly be coming back to it.
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam (360):  I've been playing a lot of BFBC2V over the past 2 months and I'm loving it.  While simply enjoying the objective-based Rush mode, I've been slowly plugging away at getting gold medals (100 kills) for all of the Vietnam weapons and I finally completed it last night!  Four of the five maps are a blast to play on, but Vantage Point feels very unbalanced.  Being able to shoot down the Vietnam-era helicopters with any weapon introduces a balance that was much needed to the multiplayer component of BFBC2.  Ace operators are no longer absolutely dominating the skies.  The Huey can certainly dish out some damage, but a few clips of ammo from any weapon can take it down, including pistols.  I'm currently Rank 25 online.  Hit me up if you see me on this weekend: JMoney156.

I might also jump into Fight Night Champions, but we'll see.  I feel like I should squeeze in some time on something that isn't made by EA!
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