Xbox One Reveal - Another random on the internet talks ****

I used to write some crappy blogs every now and then on Giant Bomb, I've since moved my crappy blogging elsewhere. You can read a whole bunch of ramblings there if you'd like. In the wake of the Xbox One disappointment that surfaces up here I thought I'd join in with the couple of topics I've seen that aren't so down on the matter. I'm not really talking specifics - used games, internet access, power just more looking at the actual reveal show and my thoughts on what Microsoft is going for. It's pretty long so I'll stop making it longer, read it, read it here with pictures if you're not into the wall of text thing - or don't, there's a lot of other Xbox One talk around here.

The big reveal was much maligned and disparaged by nearly everyone everywhere I went on the internet. I couldn't really understand why. That's a lie, I know why, it's the same why behind nearly every goings on in the world - people are self centered, selfish and arrogant as a whole. I'm not trying to insult what seems like nearly everyone on the internet but if they would take the time to step back and look at the reveal objectively I think it was pretty successful in what they were trying to do. This was a nationally televised conference in the United States and as such Microsoft wanted to reach out to the every man. This was not a reveal for the gamers.

Everyone complaining about the Xbox One is deep into games. They love them, it's a major part of what they do with their free time and they enjoy it. Microsoft knows this audience, they know what matters to them is games but lets face it, games are still looked down upon by most of the mainstream. Games are seen as a waste of time, and gamers are still maligned as geeks, nerds and social incompetents. Microsoft has since come out with the lofty sales goal of 1 billion console sales, which gamers have reacted to with bemusement, seeing it as proof Microsoft have gone batty and they would have, if they were targeting gamers. A quick look for Xbox 360 sales figures found that 77 million were sold worldwide, well short of the billion mark. Looking at their 1 billion aspiration and the previous super popular console sales number, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft might be losing their mind, but then remember the Xbox One reveal.

That's right, they weren't targeting gamers. They know most gamers will buy an Xbox One or an Playstation 4, and that's a battle they probably think they can win at a later date, say E3. This reveal they were targeting the mainstream. This is the first time anyone has seen the console, and they are televising it nationally. If they come out and reveal the console as just that, a console, the mainstream market will nod, put it in their collectively looked down upon console box and won't give it another thought. If they come out and reveal the console for something the mainstream market can use and position it as such, with games being a bonus feature, then all of a sudden they're a lot closer to that 1 billion sales mark.

Do I think Microsoft will hit their 1 billion sales mark? No, probably not, but they're fighting in a much larger area now. Collectively the sales for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii console total under 300 million (with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both selling around 77 million each while the Wii reached 100 million). Now some people bought multiple consoles, and the Wii sales were mostly to people who don't buy consoles and the Wii ran away with it. I think Microsoft saw this and thought "Wii killed it by selling to the mainstream, and it was a dedicated games console. Imagine what we could do if we convinced the mainstream that this box enriches something nearly 100% of people do - watch TV, playing games is a bonus".

Now I hope I don't have to point out to people that companies are in business for one thing, and one thing only, money. Microsoft positioning the console this way does something they want - it gets their foot in the door for mass market adoption. This isn't guaranteed obviously and as such they need to be able to rely on their already established market to catch them if they fall. It's because of this that I find it funny people have been saying Microsoft has forgotten about the gamer. They need us, we're their safety net! They haven't forgotten about us - they're banking on us saving their ass if they fail. Obviously Microsoft has been putting the effort in to make a games console for us. They've been securing exclusives and trying to give us the best gaming experiences they can deliver. This just wasn't the time for them to show it to us, Microsoft knew this and tried to temper expectations. Microsoft came out and said before the reveal that it wasn't going to show games or talk to much about anything gamers would find particularly exciting and they're saving E3 for that.

Will this gamble pay off? Only time will tell, Microsoft obviously thinks they have a really strong E3 line up and maybe they do. Personally the Xbox One reveal was exactly that, they revealed a box, it's called the Xbox One. The other stuff they talked about did nothing for me. I learned a little bit about the console and learned a lot about how they are trying to sell this console to people that aren't me. E3 is coming and coming soon, and E3 is my time. E3 is when I make my decision on what this console holds for me. They will show games, people will be talking about games, and developers for the first time will be able to talk about working on the next generation of games a little more openly. E3 is games and games are what I enjoy, the Xbox One will play games, in fact, contrary to popular internet opinion, it's main focus is games. How they advertise the Xbox One to non gamers is just that, advertisement. Advertisement's job is to bend the truth and sell things to people that they wouldn't otherwise buy, and it's the mass market Microsoft is really trying to hoodwink here. The Xbox One is a games system and I can't wait for E3 to roll around so I can make a more informed decision on which game system is really for me.

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S-Rank Blog Post #17 - More Blogs Whilst Boosting

Another Sunday, another Dead or Alive 4 boost, though unlike the last five or six weeks, this is the first week where I can just sit back, relax and write this blog. Strident has just hit his 23rd win so the boost is almost a quarter done, I guess I better stop dilly-dallying and get on with it.

First some good news, I have somehow managed to win two Diamond Class tickets to the Top Gear event in Perth this Wednesday through the Xbox Live Rewards program. I signed up the second the rewards program became available in Australia and whilst is doesn't hand out points like they were air, to this date I have gotten just over 400 msp out of the program. 400 msp may not be too much, but it's still 400 points that I didn't have to buy. If you aren't in the program I would highly recommend joining, you don't have anything to lose and it automatically places you in the draw for a bunch of competitions and rewards you with points just for doing things you'd normally do, like renewing your Gold membership. If you take less than 2 minutes out of your life to fill in a monthly survey there's another 20 points each month you could grab. A month or two ago the survey was one multiple choice question, usually it's 3 or so, it's hardly a hassle.

Apparently I was chosen to enter the draw for these tickets because I'm "the most elite and dedicated of Forza Motorsport players". I've got the full 1000/1000 in Forza Motorsport 2 and that's it. Last time I played it was September 1st 2008 boosting the 1,000,000 Online Credits achievement which is a bit of a grind. I'm not sure if they looked at total achievements, total time spent online or what but I'm sure there are way more dedicated Forza players than little old me. Anyway I had to enter my details which were put into a draw, no idea how many others entered but a day later I've received another email saying I've won and I have tickets waiting for me at the event. So that's all very exciting, even if I do feel a little bad that I've only got a slight interest in Top Gear, having only seen the show a dozen or so times. I did recently purchase Forza Motorsport 3 Ultimate Collection though, anyway it's game time...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 Arcade

I'm pretty sure this was the first XBLA game I ever bought. I remembered playing it years and years ago at the arcades and bought it instantly. It's and old school 2D Beat 'Em Up, but it is quite a good one. The achievements are quite a challenge and unless you work together in a group you'll never get all of them. This was another game I was sure I'd never complete achievement wise. I still think the game is awesome but the lag online is terrible, and the best way to play this is with friends, so unless they're gonna come round for some good old fashioned couch co-op I'd have to say; stay away. Though if you haven't bought it yet you're out of luck anyway, as I think it has been removed from the marketplace.

De Blob 2

I didn't really have any intention of buying this at first but I watched a couple of videos on Giant Bomb (it's a website) I thought if I saw it for cheap I'd give it a go. Well I did and I'd have to say that while not the most exciting or engaging game play experience I've ever had, it is quite zen. You play as a blob, who is named Blob, which can absorb colour from various pools and sources throughout the levels. This colour is used to destroy the evil black inkies as well as painting the environment which has had all the colour sucked out of it. Basically you just zone out and roll around, collect things, mix blue with yellow to make green, solve puzzles nearly all of which involve painting certain things certain colours and just work your way zone to zone before you face off against your evil colour hating arch nemesis Comrade Black.

No one has played this game, and it's not surprising as it's not anything the so called core gamer would bat an eye at. If you just want to chill out and paint some shit then this game has your back, it does what it does really well and is actually quite long, especially if going for all those achievements. Oh it's also made by an Australian Dev Team; Blue Tongue Entertainment in Melbourne which has now sadly closed up shop, probably in no small part due to how poorly the game sold.

Well two more games covered in this entry, and my boosting session is finished. I think I'll download and mess around with Kinect Fun Labs Battle Stuff for a bit then get back to Skyrim. One more big thing is happening for me soon, next Saturday marks the date on which I'll be moving out properly, into a rental. This will result in me probably having no internet for a while again, but Skyrim should hold me over for now. If I'm not online for a bit you'll know why. See y'alls online.

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S-Rank Blog Post #16 - Boosting and Blogging

Just mere minutes ago, as I start to type this, I finally unlocked the achievement for reaching SS Rank in Dead or Alive 4. I have to say thanks to Akirakorn and StridentPizza for sticking with boosting every Sunday for what must be nearly 2 months now. It'll be a long row of losses over the next few months as I repay the favor but unlike winning all those bouts, barely anything is required of you when losing so I've decided to spend some time typing up my next blog entry.

Not to much else of import has happened lately, I'm still trying to boost a lot more often than I had over the last few months, joining nearly any session I know I can make with the hopes of getting to 90% completion by the new year. It's a lofty goal and one I'm not feeling to confident of making, especially since I'm spending nearly all my gaming time in Skyrim, which I'm enjoying immensely but isn't doling out the points. I know I have a bunch of games sitting near finished that I could easily polish off with some dedication, but man, Skyrim is too good.

Since there haven't been any new completions this week I can close into not talking about games in the past tense, let's get it on!

ilomilo

ilomilo is a great little puzzle game that oozes character and charm. It's really fun and cutesy with it's patchwork/arts-n-crafts artistic style, but also rewarding when you figure out how to get through some of those later levels. It's not frustratingly hard though, with the solutions never leaving you sitting there dumbfounded for hours trying to puzzle your route together. It's a relaxing adventure through their laid-back land complete with some inventive achievements but after a little bit of time you'll find yourself with another completed game.

Stacking

Double Fine brings it again. I'm still waiting on these guys to put a foot wrong. I've got my fingers crossed, hoping that the newly re-titled Iron Brigade hits up DotW sooner rather than later. Stacking is another laid back adventure with a fresh artistic feel. Stacking pulls you into the world of Russian Nesting Dolls, you know the doll within a doll within a doll... Doll Inception?

Anyway this cool little adventure sees you as the worlds smallest nesting doll, which means you're able to nest into and take control of any doll one size bigger than you. You can then nest into another and another as long as they're only one size bigger. Every doll has their own (mostly)unique abilities which combined with the previous stipulation can lead to some clever puzzles. Stacking also features in game challenges involving each dolls abilities which are quite fun to figure out and go for. In the end Stacking is a cheerful adventure with some puzzle solving that was consistently fun and entertaining throughout.

Gatling Gears

This is starting to feel a little more recent. This would have to be one of the more challenging things I've done recently. The achievement for having to complete this game on the hardest difficulty was a real test of skills, especially because I've never been too great at games like this. I did quite enjoy this dual-joystick shooter, partially because its set in the same universe as Greed Corp, which I really enjoyed as well.

Most of Gatling Gears was enjoyable and easy enough until you get to the second last level, where it decides to jack up the difficulty and length of the level big time. I probably spend close to 10 hours trying over and over to get myself through which finally paid off. It was a great feeling, I don't think I've put myself through a challenge like that in a long, long time. I guess that's good for my stress levels and to those around me who haven't had to deal with truckloads of obscenities flung in every direction but that feeling of accomplishment is one hell of a drug. I've been thinking of upping my game and tackling some more difficult games soon, but we will see how it goes. As I said in my previous blog I'll be moving out into an abode of my own so stifling my tirades could become less of an issue, so I'll have no excuses for not stretching myself.

After beating the second last level, the last level fell relatively quick - not a super easy level or anything but it's very short due to it being the endgame boss level. It was just a matter of getting his patterns down and pulling off what needed to be done.

My Dead or Alive 4 boost has just reached it's end for this week, so I guess that will be it for today. I would write a little more but there's questing to be done in Skyrim and if I don't help that Breton woman no one will! As always give me a yell if you want to boost anything.

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S-Rank Blog Post #15 - Another weekend, another home open.

So if you've read my last entry you'll know about the weekly home opens I've been enduring. Well it will end in one way or the other within a couple of weeks, infact a few things have gone down this last week. Firstly I'm sure you're all wondering how someone can have a home-open everyday for three months, well I don't know either. I'm not really privy to the details but someone had put a conditional offer in, which was accepted. Since then home opens were still happening. The condition being they'd need to sell their house first, apparently that hasn't happened and the deals fallen through, which was a bummer for a lot of people. I can't really speak for anyone else so I'll just selfishly talk about myself.

On the back of that news I was dreading the inevitable following slate of innumerable open houses but something else has happened. December 10th is the official date on which I'll be renting. After a month or so of trying (and by trying I mean my girlfriend doing most of the work while I looked at pictures of the houses on the internet) we've been accepted as tenants. I'm pretty excited about that, with a slight nervous twinge when I think about potentially having to deal with Telstra again. I can only hope they've got their shit together and I'm online in a matter of days instead of the near three weeks I suffered through last time. But, as I said, this finally means no more home opens, which is what I'm most excited about.

Renting also means more expenses, which in turn equals less money to throw away on the bundles of games I stupidly keep buying and piling onto my already massive stack of unplayed games. This is a blessing in disguise though, as it means I'll hopefully actually play through my pile now and maybe get my completion percentage up. Though it also means I'll have to work more, the job I have now is quite flexable letting me start at pretty much any time of my choosing and finishing at 4. This has resulted in me not really working full hours for a long time which will now also be a thing of the past, which could also effect the amount and times I'm able to boost. Hopefully I'll get this all figured out quicksmart and get a good rythem going again. After a long while of shunning boosting I've recently been joining a bunch of sessions again and I'd hate for all that to have to stop. But I'll count my chickens when they hatch, lets talk about some games.

Phantasy Star II

This was the game I played for most of the time I was offline during the whole Telstra debacle I mentioned earlier. I remember playing it years ago when I was 8 or something and dieing within the first ten minutes over and over. My 8 year old self just couldn't wrap his head around the RPG trappings. Seeing as I didn't want to be getting a whole lot of achievements offline and this game involves a whole lot of grinding and leveling up/exploring it seemed like the ideal candidate for some offline progress. After making a bunch of slow but steady progress throughout the game I ended up hitting some mountain ranges which just snake around with ladders leading up and down every second cliff face and after reaching two different peaks, both of which were the wrong ones I got frustrated and gave up. The next day I returned with my secret weapon; graph paper. I made my own maps for nearly every dungeon from then on until I finally got my internet back and looked up the maps for the rest and smashed through the last bit of the game without much problems.

I would say that unless you are quite a big fan of the old JRPG style games then this one is probably not for you. Personally I'm not really much of a fan though having some history with the game, however brief, and it's sci-fi setting pulled me in and helped me enjoy it. It's not a quick game, you will spend hours grinding levels, and with only 200 points to gain it's not really one for the point whores. I picked if up for 200 points when sega had discounted pretty much everything on XBLA but at it's usual 400 point price tag it's still worth it if you like these games - this one is a classic for a reason.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

Once again a game I've finished a long time ago scoots up the list due to helping a friend with some online achievements. I have a certain half ironic fondness for gangsta rap and as such I scooped this game up for ten dollars along with Pimp My Ride featuring none other than Xzibit a long time ago. 50 Cent and his G-Unit is in full effect here busting caps and being as G as can be, with the game being a servicable Gears of War clone. The storyline is non-exsistant and the game was getting old by the time I was nearing the end but the achievements are easy (you need a partner for co-op though). If you just want some easy points while switching your brain off for a while you might think about picking this up.

Torchlight

Torchlight is basically a slightly lighter more World of Warcraft styled Diablo (the original) clone made by one of Diablo's creators, if I'm not mistaken. It's quite good, and if you're a fan of Diablo this is right up your alley. Loot lust is a requirement to enjoying these games as I can see it becoming very, very monotonous otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed Torchlight during my playthrough as a big fan of the original Diablo, you should know whether you'll like this or not, if you do like these types of games than this is a well produced one and it's easy to get the full 200 points aswell.

The Fancy Pants Adventures

Fancy Pants started out as an internet flash game. This was followed by another before it arrived on XBLA. The Fancy Pants Adventures sees you controling a stickman who wears not only some rather fancy pants but also a whole bunch of different hats too. It's a 2D platformer styled as if someone has drawn it on a page (I think the original flash games were actually created like that and scanned in) which utilizes momentum and wallrunning kind of like an easier version of N+ (unsurprisingly also started out as a flash game). I actually quite enjoyed my run through Fancy Pants, it offerend something quite different and relaxing. It's not exactly an easy 200 but it isn't anything super hard either. The orignal two games are also available to play through in the game so I feel like quite the Fancy expert now. If you're down to collect some squiggles while chilling out and exploring the hand-drawn levels with the occasional test of skill thrown in then this is your game.

Gunstar Heroes

Another Sega classic that I grabbed during their 200 point blitz. This one is super fast and easy with the same statesave anywhere abilities every Backbone Sega port has. It's a sidescrolling platformer/shooter that you can finish within the hour but is entertaining enough while you're playing it. I actually had never played this before so having no nostalgia for it, it still was pretty compelling. If you want a quick completion then this might be what you're looking for.

That'll be it for this week, home open has finished and I have to get back in time for my Dead or Alive 4 boost, in which I could just get my SS Rank, though it actually looks like I may just miss out and have to wait untill next weekend. After tonights boost it'll be a long night of nothing but Skyrim I think as I've managed to finish Deadliest Warrior and after trying maybe 20 times to pass that stupid pirate ship level in Turtles in Time Reshelled Survival mode I've had enough of that for now. See you guys online.

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S-Rank Blog Post # 14 - Months have passed.

It's been about 3 month since my last post which should hopefully mean a tonne more completions and even more games to talk about in the past tense. I don't think I'll ever, ever, ever get current with these things as I never seem to have a decent stretch of time to dedicate to trying to write one of these things when I couldn't just be playing my Xbox instead. These blogs actually take a crazy amount of time to write, I'm not sure if that reflects badly on me as an illiterate gamer with the typing skills of an amputee, or that I just try way to hard to make these as enjoyable as I can for the 2 people that casually read the steady flow of shit that dribbles out my mouth. Either way I sit here typing away and re-reading the entry a time or two to edit and re-arrange things which I just can't stop myself from doing. I know this before I start so unless I'm certain there's going to be a stretch of a couple of hours where I can't play my Xbox I just put this off and instead get working on some more achievements.

Now is one of those times, and looking back at my last blog it started with word of a home open, which simultaniously aggrivates and depresses me as it means those home-opens have been going on for 3 months now, every Sunday I leave my xbox behind and go visit my parents, waste some hours doing nothing on the internet before returning to the safe embrace of my 360. It's not so bad, it's just I think about having to get up every Sunday morning, cleaning and getting the house ready, leaving, waiting and finally returning only to see that it's 3pm and I've lost most of my Sunday for the past quarter of the year. Now normally my depressive self would figure out exactly how many hours I've pissed into the wind and add it into the already long laundry list of stupid shit I think of but I'm going to stop myself and concentrate on this blog.

What's even worse is I picked up Skyrim on Thursday which is th efirst time I've bought a game on release in years, took Friday off work, told myself I'd have to finish the game I was halfway through (Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon) before starting it. I only managed to just finish it Friday night before going out, woke up Saturday and boosted some Splinter Cell: Double Agent, finally got to put about 2 hours into Skyrim before boosting Saints Row, then helping a friend with Sonic 2, boosting/trying to boost Deadliest Warrior realising it was 11pm and deciding it wasn't worth it to jump back to Skyrim for the little time I had before bed. Sunday starts with all this home open crap and now here I am whinging away on the internet waiting for 3pm to creep round so I can finally play a decent stretch of fucking Skyrim lol. Fuck all this crying let's talk about some games.

X-BladesFirst up is this decidedly average game featuring scantily-clad, if someone wearing a G-string and bra is even defined as "clad", female with aesthetically pleasing body proportions hacks and slashes by way of hammering the X button and pretty much only the X button through out the whole game. When I bought this game I knew it wasn't going to be anywhere near great but I thought they might have put a little effort into the combat to make it not so repetitive but I was wrong. It can't be overstated enough that I basically played throughout this whole game with one button and an analogue stick. I will say that the graphics look clean and crisp though the enemies look dated and basic. There is a very slight strategic element with certain enemies taking more damage from certain attacks but once you unlock a later attack you don't have to change anymoreas it's basically the most powerful on everything.

I feel I have to say that even though the game is incredibly repetitive I didn't really get bored, I would classify the state I was in while playing through the game as weirdly hypnotic and relaxed. Maybe my brain just shut down for a while or I got hypnotised from staring at some anime chicks bare arse for hours on end but the feeling of boredom didn't really set it, I don't really know what to make of that. Anyway I have to say don't get this game unless it's super cheap and you've got nothing better to do that waste away a bunch of hours. It is quite easy to get all 1000 points however, so achievement whores might give it a look, I'm sure there are worse games you've suffered though on the never ending quest for points.

One possibly entertaining thing that did come out of this game was that I decided I'd take it upon myself as some sort of challenge to play all the exploitative style games the 360 has to offer. I already have Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 on my card which is probably the worse one achievement wise, so it can only be uphill from here. I don't have a Japanese Xbox and will not be getting one so only PAL released games apply. So far I have X-Blades, Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad and WET (which I'm not sure counts as an exploitative game per se, but it is based and syled after exploitative grind-house themed movies). I will not be playing every fighting game with a busty lady in it, or female supporting cast member that is only really there for eye-candy. It's a bit or a hard distinction to make on which games fit the bill, as if you go too deep down that rabbit hole every single game released could be classified or atleast have parts of it that are exploitative, but I think you get the general idea from the four games I have listed. If you have any other games that you feel fit the bill, let me know by all means.

UnoNext on the list is Uno which I finished years ago, but has somehow bumped up to this position in the list I'm following. I must have popped it in to help someone boost some online achievements. Either way I haven't done a write up of it so here it is: It's Uno. If you've never played Uno before it's basically a card matching game in which you match cards by number or colour until you get rid of all your cards and you win. That's all I'm going to say, it's a card game it's not nessasarily exciting but I got it in one of those arcade compilation discs. Get it if you like Uno?

Metro 2033Now we've hit a good'un! Metro 2033 was a surprise hit for me. I had heard it was a good but flawed experience, which tempered my expectations. As I first started I found myself slowly enveloped in the world. This is a genuinely atmospheric tale with a decent story and great gameplay. I personally didn't find so much as one thing to gripe about. It's not Call of Duty, it's slower paced and even though it's set in a post appocalyptic world where humanity lives underground in the metro tunnels to hide from radiation and the plethora of mutants said radiation has created I found it more realistic that CoD cold hope to be. I guess the main gripe behind every shooter these days is it's not CoD but this one should wear that on it's sleeve with pride. Everyone should atleast check out Metro 2033 if they like FPS's.

If I were to describe it in comparison with other games I would say Fallout 3 but in a winter wasteland, without RPG trappings with great shooter base gameplay. The scarse ammo combined with the mutants slinking around in the shadowy metro tunnels leads to some of the more tense confrontations I've been in lately and they juxta position this nicely with brightly lit winter wonder(waste)land outdoor areas in which you have to face of against some even more menacing mutants while scrounging around for filters for your gasmask to try and keep the radiation at bay. It's a tense situation when you've been ambushed by a mutant who promptly smashes you in the face shattering your gasmask and sending you running as you frantically search for a replacement among the dead bodies, your screen slowly blurring over as radiation and the freezing cold slowly pull you towards death. It's not all mutants either as whatever war resulted in this fallout has continued on underground with pockets of nazis and russian soldiers still slogging it out. I'm not sure if this is an alternate history type deal where in this fiction it's still WW2 or if it's a different conflict all together. This might have been addressed somewhere in the story but it's been a while now and it's slipped my mind. I would say the game is a must play for atmosphere alone.

Kinect Fun LabsI'm going to lump all the Kinect Fun Lab games/applets/waste-of-times that I've played in here now. If they release some more free-bees I'll grab them and mention them later on but I don't see myself paying for these unless they drop price drastically. I've finished all the previously released free ones so far so we'll start with the first ones and try and get through these as quick as possible.

Kinect MeThis is probably the most of a let down of most of the Kinect Labs because it had the most promise. Being able to scan yourself in to build your avatar would be a good feature and make an instant impression upon a new user who has made a new console/Kinect purchase. Sign up for your gamertag and Kinect scans you and instantly throws together your avatar which you can then customise. They need to do a whole lot of work to this but the basics are there and this in a much improved form on a new console could be awesome.

Googly Eyes

This is one of the worst Kinect Fun Labs has to offer. You hold up an item for the Kinect to scan, front and back, it then interprets it into a crummy 3D model which you can slap some Googly Eyes on it and jump around to shake it about. That's it, boring after and during the very first time you use it. Now sit there and do it 25 more long times to get all the achievements. Oh well it's free points.

Build A BuddyThis is Googly Eyes Plus as far as I can see. There is no reason both these applications should have been released and not combined. You do the exact same thing, scanning your object in front and back but this time go through the extra step of infusing it with different personallity traits and recording some voice samples to end up with the same 3D-ified object but with different personalities jumping around. Is your pillow fun or scared, its up to you! Haha it's still stupid and boring like most of these after a few goes, with the same "do this thing you only barely wanted to do the first time 25 times now" achievement but atleast there's something behind this app, unlike Googly Eyes.

Bobble HeadI think this one pulls off what Kinect Me attempted better than Kinect Me could. Though a combination of both would still be underwhelming and needing improvements. I don't know why either but both Kinect Me and Bobble Head scanned and recognised me as black 25% of the time, which was always funny when that turned up. Maybe it's the hardcore suburban gangsta in me struggling to get out!

Avatar KinectThis idea could also do well implemented in a base level party chat type system. Maybe if you have no game in and are in a party you could hve the option to jump int an area as your avatar sitting around like this. If people are playing a game their avatars could be sitting there with a controller in their hand and an xbox/TV infront of them showing the games splash screen. This has a more annoying achievement requiring getting 5 people together, which can be a bit trying now most people have this.

Air BandIf you come to this thinking you might get some Kinect based Guitar Hero/Rock Band you'll be sorely mistaken. Move your hands up and down and an canned drum sample will play, side to side for a pre-recorded keyboard sample and strum your imagenary guitar for a set riff. All sounds play the same no matter on your rythem, speed, movement or power. You'll show up on screen and depending on the motion a neon see-through instrument will appear where it should be for you to pretend to play. That's it, you just pick your backing track and mess around. You might think this sound stupid and simple and you'd be right but you can grab all the achievements this has to offer in 5 minutes and get out before you're worse for the wear. It's probably the most enjoyable Kinect Fun Labs applet because of the sheer stupidity and it doesn't overstay it's welcome.

Mutation StationMicrosoft has hit it out of the park with these last two Kinect Fun Labs releases. They are both stupid, simple and quick. Finish up with this in 5 minutes and move on aswell. Mutation Station is basically a Fun House Mirror Hall where it scans in the room before you step onscreen and zaps you with different mutations for you to jump around and be stupid on for a few seconds. See every weird warp once and move on.

All together 350 free points, some easy, some way more effort than they were worth but they've been earned now, so onto a real game...

Comix ZoneA Mega Drive classic which I only played once at a friends house even though I used to play the hell out of my Mega Drive. It never clicked but was on sale for 200 points so I grabbed it and just like the other Sega emulations by Backbone you can pause and quick save your way through in no time. Not really worth grabbing unless you have some form of nostalgia for it. Beat 'Em Up your way through one playthrough and you're done.

Gears of War 2

I would say that this is the first game in a long, long time that I've enjoyed the multiplayer (Horde Mode specifically) for any decent length of time. Say what you will about the CoD's and Battlefields but after playing the multiplayer and reaching a level in the mid 30's I never touched Modern Warfare again. Horde mode had achievements to keep you going, and I will say I wouldn't have played so much if they weren't there but that has everything to do with me just moving on to the next game with achievements I want to finish than Horde Mode. After completeing all the Horde based achievements I've gone back and redone a good half of them atleast with friends and found every moment a blast.

Actual online is a different story, only barely having a look, realising how bad I am at it and not finding it to interesting to invest the time to get better. I boosted my wings and was glad to be done with that part of the package. Singleplay was quite good aswell except for a couple of missions that dragged in the middle. Looking at the new Horde Mode available in Gears 3 has me very excited but all my time is going into Skyrim for the foreseeable future. You don't need me to tell you if you like Gears of War, you'll know that by now.

Game Room

Quite a while ago I've written about my progress in Gameroom and the sudden lack there of. I've never done a proper little write up about it, so we'll close this blog with one. First, if you can't remember the status post of an angry guy on the internet from about half a year to a year ago, I'll disclose that I put in a very considerable amount of time, close to 50 hours, getting pretty much every gold medal on every game I got. Some which required me to go over the Time Spender gold medal limit to snag that ellusive gold points or survivalist medal, some which saw me sitting there waggling the thumb stick for three hours waiting for the fucking Time Spender gold after getting gold in points and survival on the very first try. Both examples required extreme effort and patience and were swiftly and unceremoniously wiped out of exsistance.

50 hours of working my way to a level 17, atleast half of which would be sitting there gritting my teeth and fighting back boredom gone. So now faced with having to do all of that again plus more for the very last achievement (reaching level 20) staring me in the face I had to turn my Xbox off and walk away. the next day I came back and couldn't even bare to look at Game Room so I avoided it for a couple of months before finally setting out to climb back up those ranks. Previously I had only bought games that either looked good or could remember fumbling about it on my Atari 2600 when I was like 7. I couldn't do it all again, I bitched out and opted to pay my way out of this pickle. I got all the medals I could that didn't require too much time or effort in the games I already had, which surprisingly took me back up to 13 or so from memory and looked up which of the other games were the easiest to get all the golds on.

I think I must have spent atleast an extra 15 dollars or so than I would have had to if I didn't lose my progress. I don't know how much I would have spent in total on all the games I grabbed but It would be a lot and probably around $50 or more. Game Room is a waste of time and money and unless you have strong nostalgia for old and mostly bad games released on the Atari, Intellivision and Arcade cabinets from years ago. Out of the many games I bought for this achievements I'd say I legitimately enjoyed 3 or 4 (shout out to PitFall!, Centipede and Asteroids), liked 5 or 6 others due to the nostalgia factor and was indifferent, bored or just hoping the game would give me the medals quicker for the rest of the time.

OK that's it, it's time to head on home and dive deep into Skyrim. As always if you ever want to boost something just give me a yell and we'll see if we can help each other out. Until next time.

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S-Rank Blog Post #13 - Catch Up (MOAR!)


OK so there is a home open at the house I'm staying in at the moment, I've been forced to vacate the premises and have another 2 hours or so to fill before I can return. Lets see if I can tear through a bunch of the games I still haven't talked about yet and get closer to the parity I'm striving to reach. As to not leave everyone hanging I'll fill in some more info about this home open thing and where it leaves me. Obviously this home open will inevitably lead to an eventual sale, which inturn will result in a move to somewhere I'm not certain of at the moment. 
 
The plan is to find a rental somewhere with the missus, which I'm fairly excited about as this will be the first time truely being out on our own. Of course this also means an increase in expenses leaving less money to be wasted in the frivolous ways I use it up now. I guess this is called growing up, something I have been dreading for a while now. This eventual move will also result in moving/closing internet/phone plans and maybe setting up new ones resulting in a stretch of down time at some indeterminate future date. This is something I'm dreading due to a previous still semi-recent and sore series of events. If you've read my blogs you'll know what I'm talking about and I can only hope to not be offline for such a long stretch of time again. 
 
I guess it speaks to my priorities that this is the thing I'm most worried about, but I hear maturity is a ongoing process. I'll get there one day. Anyway onto some game details. 
 
Just Cause 2 
Open-world fatigue is something that I've heard a few people talk about. It's something that I'm yet to be aquainted with. Personally I feel every and any game can only stand to gain from an open-world setting.  
 
Maybe the open world has nothing in it eg. Mafia II, in this case it acts like window trimming, not really adding anything to the gameplay. It does serve to give you context and learn the layout of the world your character is in. In the recap I wrote for Mafia II I said "with nothing to do inbetween missions except drive to the next story mission boredom sets in. It actually ends up detracting from an otherwise good game." While this would seem to disagree with my previous sentiments I would argue that this has more to do with the game design than the open world. The reason for my negative sentiments were not acutally the open world but that they insisted in making you criss cross from one side of the city all they way over to the other side and back again for the next mission marker. It was the ten minutes of non-eventful driving inbetween each mission that detracted from the experience, something that could have easily been fixed just by moving the mission markers around a bit. 
 
Then you have cases where the open world is jam packed with stuff to find/destroy/earn/complete which is obviously a better way to utilise your open world. Games like the Assassins Creeds, GTAs and the aforementioned Just Cause 2. In this case it is undeniable that the open-world elevates these games to a level that they would never have been. Imagine Assassins Creed without the cities to mess about in and explore, it would be load screen, assassination mission, load screen, assassination mission. 
 
While all the examples I've given are 3rd person shooters, I stand by my assertion that any and all genres of games can benifit from some form of open world. Some examples straight from the top of my dome; Racers: Burnout Paradise, FPS: Far Cry 2, Borderlands, Bioshock RPG's: Oblivion, Mass Effect. The only caveat being that it's up to the developers to implement properly. From the looks of the lineup of upcoming games open world isn't going anywhere, and I love it. 
 
Anyway enough of my open world ranting, Just Cause 2 is a great game. It takes it's B grade action movie inspirations and thrives within them. You are special agent Rico Rodriguez and you have an infinite supply of parachutes and a blatant disregard for any and all laws of physics and self preservation. In this game at any time you can find yourself riding off a cliff on your motorcycle, deploy your parachute, admire the view for a bit before diconnecting from your chute into a 3 minute freefall. Nearing the bottom you'll then fire your grapple hook onto a passing bus and reel yourself in, then while bus-surfing use your grapple hook to connect a passing helicopter to some poor unsuspecting guys passing tuk tuk. After laughing at the mess you've caused hop from bus to car to truck, hang off it's bullbar while slinging grenades at the pursueing fleet of enemy humvees before using your grapple hook again to skyjack a passing fighter plane. 
 
I could continue but the amount of stupid stuff you can do with unlimited parachutes, a tonne of weaponry, and a grappling hook is incredible. At one stage I was surfing on a fighter plane as it plumitted towards the ground only to jump off last moment and grapple onto a passing speedboat. If you're looking for a serious story and believable action then look away, but if you want a huge island paradise to mess around in doing insane things while constantly blowing up everything around you then this is the game for you. If you are not looking for that, I say have a good hard look in the mirror and give yourself a stern talking to. 
 
Some of the achievements in this game are a bit of a pain however. There are a tonne of collection and completion based achievements, so to complete this will take you some time. 
 
Altered Beast 
Rise from your grave! Altered Beast is a stupid, stupid game. If Just Cause thrives in all it's B-grade action movie glory, Altered Beast lives in its 80s C-grade action movie glory. Nothing but heavily muscled men punching and kicking monsters in the face before transforming into dragons to be found in this retro "classic". I remember playing this on my Mega Drive years and years ago and even then I thought to myself how stupid it was. 
 
I only grabbed this because it was onsale for 200 points at one stage, and you can grab every achievement and be done with it in around an hour. Its a supremely simple side-scrolling beat 'em up that was simple even for it's time. 
 
Wolfenstein 
As my nostalgic love for Wolfenstein 3D knows no bounds I've played and enjoyed pretty much every game in the Wolfenstein franchise. This is game is no different. Returning to my open-world rant, Wolfenstein features an open-world hub city you can explore to find cash, fight enemies and buy upgrades at the various shops. When you're ready you can head off on your various missions, before returning for some more upgrading. The gameplay is fairly standard for a FPS these days, find various weapons, shoot nazis, earn upgrades and your character has some special powers seperating him from the rest (and in turn the game from it's legion of FPS competitors). 
 
In reality I can't really say much about the missions you go on except that it's a competent shooter that you'll probably enjoy. There's nothing extremely special about it, but there's nothing bad about it either. If you feel like playing a decent FPS then give it a go, but there are probably better ones out there for you to spend your time on. Especially if you care about achievements as grinding the multiplayer based ones takes quite a while. 
 
I feel bad writing such a short amount for this game but I guess that tells you what you need to know; it's nothing worth writing home about. Its decidedly middle of the road, definitively average. Not a AAA title, but not something you'll hate either. I want to tell you to give it a look, but I'd feel bad if you did so instead of a better game, especially on my advice. 
 
GripShift 
Here's a weird one. Gripshift is an arcade racer/platformer hybrid. Each world/track you visit has a time to beat, items to collect, hidden things to find and platforming sections to navigate through. This game is simple and elaborate, easy and difficult. It's one of the weirdest mish-mashes I've come across and was instantly drawn to it. I'd strongly recommend everyone to check out the demo. It was one of the first arcade games I ever purchased, it's not for everyone but it clicked with me. 
  
Hardly anyone I know has even heard of the game and it's a damn shame if you asked me. If I had to make a comparison to some games people knew I would say it's like if Trials HD, Mario Kart and Super Mario 64 all got together and had a baby. Wrap your head around that if you can. You race around crazy 3D tracks floating in the sky, there are loops and jumps, nitros, powerups, springs, moving platforms, conveyor belts, collectables, air-control, and more. The later levels are puzzling and difficult and to get all the achievements is a real challenge. If you have some spare time check it out and let me know what you thought. 
  
Viva Piñata                                                       
Viva Pinata is another game I feel some have overlooked. There is a decent amount of people out there that gave it a go and found something enjoyable and different, there are just as many people who saw a kiddy game with colourful graphics and a lack of headshots and went the other way. Only recently I recommended this game to a friend I had made through boosting (we did Wolfenstein actually) over in Canada and on my advice he got a copy cheaply and gave it a go. The game is quite different to pretty much everything else available on the Xbox. It's a slow laid back game, no time pressure, no real goals presented to you upfront, so it was understandable that he was a bit puzzled at first about what he should be doing. I guided him through a few things and game him a couple of hints. 
 
The next time I talked to him, maybe 3 or 4 days later, he was hooked. He had bought the two other Viva Pinata games and was enjoying every moment. In Viva Pinata you build and maintain your garden. Everything you do affects something else, the plants you plant affect what types of pinata come to check out your garden. If an abundance of one type come and have a look, naturally a bigger pinata who preys on the others will become interested in what you are doing. It really is a fairly complex nature simulation disguised behind bright colours and pinatas. 
 
If you overlooked Viva Pinata when it was released you'll be able to find it super cheap now. It's a game that you can just put in and relax, there's no failure. Maybe you want to work on growing some chillis today, or breed an abundance of hippopotami. Whatever you fancy at the time, you'll be rewarded with XP, new seeds, tools, unlocks and new pinata becoming interested in your garden every step of the way. 
 
Alan Wake 
Back to a more classic game game, Alan Wake. It's a pretty great game at that. One of the better stories I've played through in a while now. Also it's one of a very few real thrillers available to gamers. There are some scary games out there, but few have a real thriller vibe to it. It's hard to define what I mean by that, I guess thriller to me isn't synonymous with scary but more a mixture of it and not knowing what is actually happening. Alan Wake has that in spades. 
 
Alan Wake has action, scares and confusion in equal doses and keeps you guessing the whole way through. There's an unsettling feel through out. No character in the game has a full picture of what is going on and as you and Alan work your way through the mystery you'll find yourself nearly as invested in it as Alan is. I don't want to say to much about it, because I didn't know much about it when I played and enjoyed the hell out of it. I feel that that was probably the best way to approach the game, so I'd feel bad if I spoiled it for others. If you haven't played this game just trust me and pretty much everyone else that has played it and play it! 
 
That'll be it for another edition of catch up. Home open is over and I'm heading back now to get online and hopefully finish The Fancy Pants Adventures. As always if you want to boost shoot a message my way.
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S-Rank Blog Post #12 - Catch Up (Part 4)

 
Here I am again, rolling on quick from my previous blog. At this very moment my Xbox controller has a rubberband wrapped around it's left trigger and zombies are going splat by the hundreds. I'm grinding the last three or four thousand kills I need to unlock Zombie Genocidest, the last achievement I need in Left 4 Dead. I'm still half in shock because I remember thinking after trying my first campaign on Expert that there was absolutely no way I was ever going to complete this game. Yet here I am, on the cusp of another completion. 
 
I thought I would stop staring at the mass slaughter of zombies for a while and write some more about the games I've completed. I still don't really have any idea how I managed to rack up so many without writing some blogs. 
 
Costume Quest 
Double Fine brings it again. At this point I don't think these guys can do any wrong. They always manage to bring something fresh and different to the table. Costume Quest is a cool little RPG. You explore your town and other locations during your halloween trick or treating. Your sibling gets kidnapped by Grubbins and using the powers of different costumes and collectable cards found throughout the game you fight to try and get her back. 
 
The combat is a classic turn-based style with a slight action twist, which keeps you engaged. Every attack has some sort of button prompt or movement that if you complete successfully can result in a more powerful attack or counter attack. It's never too demanding however, which fits with the rest of the game. It's a leisurely RPG that has it's own style and while not a complete gimme, won't put you in the thralls of frustration to complete either. 
 
One of the coolest parts of the game is when you get a new costume. As you equip it you can see it for what it really is; a robot made from cardboard boxes, or a knight costume with a trash can lid shield. However when a battle rages you're transformed into a giant merchant of death. The game never really explains if this is some sort of magic and everything is real or if you're just transfered into the imagination of the children that you are playing, seeing through their eyes just how badass that cardboard robot is. 
 
If you're looking for a quality game that you can relax and playthrough and that isn't patronisingly simple or easy then you should really look into Costume Quest. I enjoyed pretty much every minute I spent with it. 
 
Golden Axe 
Golden Axe marks the first of the many games I grabbed for just 200 points when all the Sega games were marked down on DoTW a while ago. This is really a simple completion, it only took me and a friend maybe just over an hour to wrap the whole thing up in a pretty bow. As with all the Sega games the way they are emulated lets you simply state save your way through the game, turning achievements that should be frustratingly hard into a simple process of save and load. 
 
Golden Axe is already a short and simple game, taking all of 15 minutes to run through. Pick a hero and play a fairly simplistic beat 'em up with 5 or so stages and you're done. Always use any and all mounts you come across, and horde magic potions for tough spots and hey presto, the end. You'll have to run through it 3 or so times to grab everything but it's so quick it doesn't really have time to get boring. I don't have any sort of nostalgia for the game, if you do you may see it differently, but I couldn't really recommend this to anyone right now. For 200 points I got 200 gamerscore so at the time I thought it was worth it for that alone and along the way I could experience what some would consider a real classic. 
 
Shinobi 
Now here's a game that I have a heap of nostalgia for. I was genuinely dissapointed that the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection only had Shinobi III in it. I have a lot of fond memories playing this game over and over on my Mega Drive, though I could never get past the helicopter, so with the magic of state saving this is the first time I've ever seen the end of this game. 
 
If it were not for the save and load options available to you there is no way I could have made it through this game. It is super hard, even with the ability to basically cheat your way through the game it still offered me a decent challenge in some spots. You play as Joe Musashi sent on a mission to slice and stab your way through a crime syndicate and save the many hostages in each level. Shinobi has a reputation for being one of the hardest series of games ever, though I remember playing it incessantly and loving every moment of it. I don't think I've ever spent 200 points on anything better.  
 
That's going to be it for this one. Super short but what can I say, Zombie Genocidest just popped and with that I have just finished Left 4 Dead. Time to wrap this up, take L4D out of my console and keep working on Bioshock 2. Though it has also just hit 1am so I think it's past my bedtime. As always send a message if you want to boost anything, I'm always willing.

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S-Rank Blog Post #11 - Catch Up (Part 3)


Back up in your ass with the resurrection. I'm sure that if you're reading this you already know I was offline for close to 3 weeks, without the internet. I'm not too proud to admit atleast 50% of that time was spent rocking around in the fetal position, crying uncontrollably in the shower. But I'm back now ready to wreck shop. I can see you all chomping at the bit for the details so I guess I'll spill the beans, nosey good-for-nothings. 
 
The deal I have with my girlfriend at the moment is she pays the phoneline rental every month (around $30) and I pay for our internet ($75). We live in a sort of sectioned off self contained area of her mum's house so me paying more isn't a problem. One day at work I get a message from her that they've disconnected our phone line, which puzzles me. She then fills me in on the fact she forgot to pay the phonebill for 3 months straight. She says she's paid it now though, so I figure I'll phone up Telstra and try get this shit sorted and they can just flip it back on right? Yeah I wish. 
 
I get informed that the system hasn't updated yet and I need the receipt number, which she didn't have so I'm stuck for the day. Next day I phone up and get told it's not just a mater of flicking the switch back on, and since the phoneline was in my name I now have to give them all sorts of information so they can file a credit report on me. Now I'm fairly pissed off that my credit rating has perminently got a mark against it that wasn't my fault. Oh well, life goes on and I'm to be honest I'm more annoyed about not having the internet still. After taking all matter of personal information I get told 3-5 business days and my phoneline will be up and running. 
 
A week goes by and still no dice, the next 3 to 5 days involve me making around one phonecall a day to Telstra and the people on the other end don't really have a clue what is going on, every call I basically get told to be patient and in 24 hours or so I'll have my phoneline back. After copping every excuse they could come up with I finally get someone who gives it to me straight, says he has no idea what is going on and that no matter what problem there could be I should have had a phoneline by now. He sends it up the chain and the next morning I get a call while at work saying I'm finally reconnected and for waiting so long they are dropping the $99 dollar connection fee. 
 
Excited I go home to jump on the internet, but that would be to easy. After staring at the red light on my router for a while I phone my internet company, they inform me that even though I have the same physical line, with the same number when it got disconnected they lost the ADSL codes for it, and now have to get Telstra to send a technician and that would take 3 to 5 business days. Begrudgingly I tell them to go ahead but it's not that simple either, I need to fill in forms and basically re-order my internet plan to cover them legally. So after around 2 hours sitting on hold, another hour or so talking to customer service people and nearly 3 weeks of waiting I now have internet, which I am using right now to write this blog. It's the simple things... 
 
Onto the real reason for this blog, to take another chunk out of the games I have completed and yet to talk about, first up: 
 
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
I've played and completed every Lara Croft/Tomb Raider game available on the 360 so far, and while not the biggest fanboy they do serve up a change of pace from the usual balls to the wall third-person action shooter. Guardian of Light is a depature from the other games in the series by using a different viewpoint, closest to that of an old-school isometric RPG ala Diablo. It also layers in highscore challenges and other exploration and time based ones which unlock certain buffs or weapons enhancing Lara for the next runthrough effectively adding an arcade feel to the usual tomb raiding. 
 
I'd say these new additions ended up increasing my enjoyment many times. Even if you don't like the gameplay of normal Tomb Raider games I would recommend you having a look at this game as it's challenge based gameplay really drew me in. 
 
Greed Corp 
Here's a change of pace, it's been a while since I've played a proper turn-based strategy game. I'm not a major fan of the genre but I can get into the odd game or two if they offer something interesting. Greed Corp has one of these interesting concepts at the base of it's gameplay, you harvest land to get the resources you need to buy units, obviously you need land for your units and buildings to exist on though. This leads to interesting strategies of harvesting chokepoints in the maps and sending units on kamekazi missions to build harvesters in the middle of enemy bases, efectively cannibalising the land from underneath them. The choice of harvesting most of your usable land and limiting your movement options can easily fence yourself in, but leave you with lots of credits to pump out units. Skimping on harvesting leaves you with room for expansion but also means you'll be at a sizable unit disadvantage atleast early in the game. 
 
Matches weren't overly long and the AI was spot on. Saying the AI is spot on, mind you, is high praise in my book for these types of games. Too often the AI gets programmed to be basically perfect and borderline cheats, leaving me frustrated and forcing you into playing a specific way to beat them. The AI here is more natural, makes to odd mistake, but isn't retarded either and allows you to utilise different strategies depending on your situation. 
 
Being a turn-based game this isn't for everyone, but if you are partial to these games then have a look at this one, it offers something I havn't seen before in this genre which leads to many new strategies to consider. 
 
Mafia II 
The first retail release for this entry is Mafia II. The original Mafia was one of my favourtie games when I played it years ago. The sequel isn't quite up to the same level it still offers a decent Mafia story, cribbing lots of scenes from classic mafia and crime movies. It takes place in a fully open world, however there is pretty much nothing to do in it besides achievement hunt and take on the next story mission. The missions are highly polished and the gunplay and destruction that occurs during gun battles is impressive. The openworld city is basically window trimming, framing the story but not adding anything. 
 
I would rate the story pretty highly, but with nothing to do inbetween missions except drive to the next story mission boredom sets in. It actually ends up detracting from an otherwise good game. I'd still recommend checking out Mafia II, though if you're striving for completion one of the achievements (Explorer) in the DLC Jimmy's Vendetta (which is otherwise a decent DLC, along with the other one) involves clocking up 1000 miles driven only in that piece of DLC. To give you an idea of what you're in for, I 100% completed Jimmy's Vendetta (besides the Explorer achievement) in around 7 hours, with 130 odd miles racked up. That's a lot of hours of driving around aimlessly you've got to look forward to if you're going for it legit. Luckily there is a bit of a glitch you can take advantage of, which lets you fall through the map, rubberband the throttle and rack up miles "driving" while falling endlessly. This still takes many hours of leaving your Xbox on, so I hope you have something else you can do while waiting. 
 
A World of Keflings
Back on the XBLA tip, the sequel to A Kingdom for Keflings, is a relaxing kingdom builder. You find your Xbox avatar walking around the Kefling world and you're regular BFG (in the Roald Dahl sense, it would be a way different game if we were using the Doom definition). You're atleast 5 times bigger than the average Kefling, but you use this size to harvest resources, place buildings and help the Kefling civilisation advance. There really isn't any major hinderence in your journey through the Kefling world, you just leisurely move your way up the tech tree, harvesting the resources you require as you go. 
 
There's some slight strategy in managing your Keflings. You can give them jobs, harvesting resources, carrying them from building to building, converting them from their raw form to more usuable forms but overall the game is very low impact and really is ment to just be a place to chill, maybe with a buddy or two in co-op and build up your Kefling kingdom.
 
Faery: Legends of Avalon 
Now here is an interesting game. Faery, by the by, is the hardcore way of spelling fairy. Fairy implies nice frilly pink dresses and the magical laughter of 5 year old girls playing teaparty. Faery, however, is a distinction made by sad older more mature types to justify their continual intrest in fairys and other impish beings, atleast that's the impression I get. 
 
Whatever I've said previous is irrelevent however as this is actually a really good game. I knew little to nothing about Faery: Legends of Avalon, except that it would have been an even better game if it was actually called Faery: Legends of Mickey Avalon. All jokes aside this is a good RPG, especially for XBLA, with a few rough edges. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the different environments and running into various characters from fairytales and fables which I barely recalled tucked away in distant memories. The whole style of the game is darkly twisted but set in a vibrant and colourful world. Exploring a 3D environment with a character that is able to fly lets you get from point to point very quickly and isn't something you can do in most games.
 
If you have an interest in RPGs you can do alot worse than Faery: Legend of Avalon. It's turnbased party combat is a little bit of a throw back, but it works nicely and picking your party strategicly adds depth to the combat. You'll find all sorts of loot for your guy, and select how you want to level up from tonnes of options, which affect the look of your character. There is even a sort of Elder Scrolls like character builder at the start of the game. I bought it when it was onsale, but I'd say it would be worth full price. People are probably just put of by the title, I know I was at first. 
  
Raskulls 
Raskulls is a sort of platformer/racer hybrid. Looking at gameplay it didn't really impress much but playing it is a completely different experience. It cribs heavily from all sorts of retro games, and provided hours of challenges. It's got a good sense of humour throughout and the sheer variety of gameplay keeps this interesting throughout. You would think racing from point A to B would get repetitive, but the sheer about of modifications they chuck in always keep you on your toes. 
 
It is on the whole a pretty easy completion, with 3 or 4 challenges giving me a bit of trouble. Besides King of Bling (completeing all of the previously mentioned challenges) the other achievements are a cakewalk. 
 
Doom II: Hell on Earth 
Like a lot of early FPS games I never experienced Doom II in it's hey day. These re-releases of classics from the past are always welcome. It gives me an opportunity to brush up on some iconic games while not feeling like I'm wasting time in DosBox that I could be using to play something fresh and new on my Xbox. Doom II seems like it would have been quite the game back then, however in this day and age some boredom and repitition started setting in. 
 
Having no nostalgia for these games I can't be to hard on them, I would say that I liked the original Doom a lot more then the sequel. I'm happy to have played both Dooms, along with Duke Nukem 3D as now I feel like I have finally filled in some sort of void nobody else seemed to have. It's most definately the nostalgia speaking but Wolfenstein 3D is still my favourite out of all of these early FPS titles. 
 
I think that is going to be it for this edition. A quite sizeable chunk down, but still a decent way off from being caught up with my current gaming escapades. A whole heap of arcade titles, and even more to go. It's really weird, I never thought I played so many of them back to back like this. I'll see you guys online (yes!).
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S-Rank Blog Post #10 - Catch Up (Part 2)

Here we go again, if I keep chipping away at this I'll be back up to date fairly soon. I guess the real reason I've been writing these blogs as of late is because I'm slogging back through Game Room again. I had reached level 17 before having the 40 odd hours of progress wiped from the face of my Xbox. I remember loading up Game Room and feeling good about closing in on finally finishing it, only to be welcomed by an empty arcade. Bewildered I checked my progress, I must have reset and rechecked two or three times hoping for a change, wishing it was just a temporary glitch or connection problem and that any second now it would re-download my stats from a server online. No such luck for me, in a mixture of disbelief and rage I turned my 360 off and did something else for a while, I couldn't look my Xbox in the eye. 
 
That's all in the past now and I'm happy to say I'm now nearly level 19, getting oh so close to that last achievement. I've decided to do a few more write ups of the games I've been playing while I wait for those stupid Time Spender medals to tick over. First up is... 
 
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
I think this edition of catch up is going to be heavy on the XBLA titles as well, I didn't realise I played so many of them back to back. This version of Pac-Man is the craziest (and easiest) yet. I think I wrapped this up in about 15 minutes, if I hadn't  have got this on sale I think I might have felt a bit ripped off. The actual game is really fast paced and entertaining, though it is it's speed that is both Pac-Man CE DX's biggest draw and Achilles heel. The thing that separates it and makes it interesting is also the same thing that means you've already played the game and seen what it has to offer 5 times in 5 minutes. 
 
The music and art style are super manic and amped up to fall inline with this package, which was super, super fun to play... for the 15 minutes I played it. I guess I just can't recommend buying something that you'll be done with in the same time it takes to jerk off, which is free. I guess if you want to add another 100% completed game to your card asap then this will deliver not only that but some real fun as well. 
 
Beyond Good & Evil 
I could gush about this game for a while, but in the interest of catching up I'll try and keep it short. If you haven't played this game and you like games that encapsulate you in a completely unique open world, filled with things you've never seen before, offers a fairly intelligent and emotional story, rewards exploration and doesn't try to hit you over the head with how dark and "serious" it is then give it a go. I would say this is one of my most fondly remembered games of the last 5 to 10 years and the opportunity to replay it with enhanced graphics was something that I had to jump on. 
 
This is a full length retail game that I originally played on the Xbox and definitely offers you value for money. It is a little old now so the graphics aren't amazing and some of the game play might be a tiny little bit dated, but don't let that put you off. I try to convince people to play this whenever I can, but most people seem to offer indifference to things that don't have guns and head shots. I don't know everyone's likes and dislikes and it might not be your favourite game ever  but I can honestly say that it would shock me if you didn't enjoy playing through this game. 
 
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project 
Here we have a PSX era, barely polygonal (if Duke's head has more than 6 sides I'll eat my hat) platformer/shooter. While just scraping though most of the way as barely entertaining this game is actually quite long and turns into a major slog. It's been a while since I found myself wishing that a game would be drastically shorter than it's actual length, but after hours and hours of increasingly convoluted and complex levels to try and find my way through, searching out key-cards and rescuing the same 3 damsels in distress (with titties so triangular you could stab someone with them) I more than had my fill. The underlying game play isn't that bad or broken, it's just super, super dated and really repetitive. 
 
Limbo 
I had bought Limbo a little while ago when it was on sale, but the tales of how hard it was had put me off playing it for a while. In the end I feel like these tales of woe were blown majorly out of proportion, that or they all come from someone that has never had to replay a decently lengthy section of game once or twice because they failed something. Your first run through Limbo is amazing, it is an eerie silhouetted adventure across a strange and dangerous landscape filled with traps and puzzles to figure out. It's art style and sparse effects combine with tight platforming to create a game the likes of which I'd never seen before. My first run through might have been about 4 hours, though once you've finished it you'll be able to run through in around an hour.  
 
The achievement everyone was complaining about was No Point in Dying which tasks you with running through and completing the game with 5 or less deaths. At first this seems hard, when you think about the 100 or so times you died in your first run through, but once you know what is ahead, and take the appropriate care at the 3 or 4 more difficult spots in the game you'll cut your deaths to under 10 easy. It took me 3 tries (two proper ones, the first I was careless and accrued a couple careless deaths in the first 15 minutes so I ended that run before even making it half way) to pop this apparently impossible achievement. I went on to finish with 7 and 5 deaths in the next two runs, netting another complete arcade game. I will say that the avatar awards in Limbo are really good (a shirt and a little creature you encounter in game.) 
 
I have now just hit level 19 in Game Room so I think I'll end this and concentrate on grabbing the last few medals i need to put this behind me. The way this is going there will be another 2 or more installments before I'm caught up and write about Game Room for real. I've made my peace with Game Room so there won't be too much ranting and raving, but I'll leave you with a sneak peek: Game Room isn't good.

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S-Rank Blog Post #9 - Catch Up (Part 1)


So it's been like half a year since I last wrote one of these. I guess now I can see just how much I've progressed since then. There's gonna be a shit tonne (Metric) of games to go over so I'm going to have to keep it brief, which is probably a good thing seeing as a lot of details about the games have probably long since faded to the back of my pathetic excuse for a memory. If forgetting things were a sport, I'd be EA's cover athlete on the 2012 edition. I'll have to scroll down my gamercard to see what I've spent the last 6 months wasting time on instead of doing anything practical. Anyway introductory paragraph... check, onto the games. 
 
Comic Jumper 
First up is Twisted Pixel's  Comic Jumper. With this third banger Twisted Pixel game they've established a kind of trust with me, I'll be buying their games until one falls of the wagon. Now I'm not going to say Comic Jumper is the super best coolest game ever, it's a little bit of a one trick pony, but looking back at their previous works (The Maw, 'Splosion Man) I guess you could argue that every one of their games is like that. They seem to find an entertaining idea and make a decent game around it. So why am I so impressed by a "decent game"? FMV
 
Yes Twisted Pixel's penchant for using humorous full motion video in their games pushes them just that little bit further. Comic Jumper they've really crammed a lot in there (it is over a gigabyte), when you trigger your super move the Twisted Pixel dev team pops onto screen and pulverises everything for example. They seem to be one of the few who can actually pull of humour in video games. The underlying game is a side scrolling shooter which they keep fresh with special challenges and different artstyles. You come to this game for the accessories more than the actual gameplay, but I'd say it's worth it. 
 
RISK: Factions 
I never thought I'd enjoy playing what is essentially a board game on the Xbox. Here I am, finished with RISK: Factions and enjoyed it thoroughly. It comes with a basic, or "Classic RISK" mode, but the real reason for checking this out is the new tricks they've taught the old dog in Factions mode. I tried explaining the new additions to my girlfriend but that just ended in confusement and hesitation to play with me, even though she's a RISK fan. Once I insited it was good enough times to break her resolve she played some multiplayer with me and ended up demanding a game or two every day for nearly two weeks. 
 
Before playing this I don't think I'd ever played a proper game of RISK in my life, so if you are like I was don't let that put you off from giving this a go. The way they dress up RISK almost makes it exciting (something I don't say about dice rolls very often, or ever), mixed with the new rules and you have something that, with another coat of paint, could easily be disguised and not being RISK at all. 
 
Arkadian Warriors 
I've had my eye on this for a while, waiting for ages for a price drop or DoTW before picking it up. I've told myself that I'm not buying any XBLA games unless they've been discounted in one way or the other after having bought one or two before only to have them slap me in the face with a 50% off sale the next week. Arkadian Warriors is a fun little action RPG lite type game. With just enough loot to keep you mashing A hoping something good drops. At the start of the game you can choose to play as a Warrior, Archer or Mage/Wizard (whatever they called it), each one plays different in combat, and each guy has the ability to morph into some giant mythic beast for a while to aid in your callous genoside. 
 
My Warrior could turn into a sweet golden armoured lion. It's mostly my slightly nostalgic love for Diablo that keeps me interested in these games, but as a quick little RPG this could hit the spot for you. 
 
Plants vs. Zombies 
I had heard about this from friends with iPhones/Pads and gave it a look. You'd think the battle between plants and zombies would be a fairly one sided one, or that there would be no battle on the account of plants not having anything the zombies crave (brains). It seems however that plants have brokered an alliance with humans and are putting themselves on the (front)line to try and protect their ceribrum enhanced friends. This game really, really surprised me. I loved it and I would urge others to check it out. It is the DoTW  this week, so you got a few more days to grab that demo and decide before it ups in price again. Not only is the basic game a perfect mixture of action and strategy but it's surrounded with tonnes of bonus modes and meta games to sink your teeth into. Once again, if you overlooked this take some time out and give it a try! 
 
DeathSpank 
Here we have another action RPG, it's a step up from Arkadian Warriors in quality but the underlying gameplay of an action RPG hasn't changed since inception. Though this is a "true" action RPG with hundreds if not thousands of pieces of loot and a proper storyline underpinning your questing. You'll know if you like these games or not by now, but as action RPG's go this offers a fresh graphical style, something like Animal Crossing crossed with a pop-up book. It's a cool look mixed with some hit and miss humour. It's written by one of the writers of the Monkey Island games, so it's whacky which isn't something that most self serious RPG's would strive to be. All of this comes together to put a slick new coat of paint over the tried and true gameplay. 
 
DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue 
Continuing directly from where DeathSpank ended this builds on the original game and offers slight improvement everywhere and bombards you with even more loot. I would definately say to play the first game before playing this, the storyline flows seamlessly into this, so much so that it might have been one game at one stage. That's not to say either Deathspank or ToV are lacking in longevity or any other way as they both offer lengthy campaigns. While the original had more of a Dark Ages feel to it ToV ushers in a WWII aesthetic, with the ability to use guns and grenades aswell as swords and magic. 
 
Too Human 
Poor Too Human didn't get the best of receptions, but personally I loved it. I would have to say that I can see how that might be a 100% personal view though, as when I step back and look at the game objectively it's definately not for everyone. As stated above I have what could be descrived as an irrational love for action RPG's, also having a decent interest in mythology of all sorts as well as a interest in vikings in general. Mix in some sci-fi (of which I'm also a fan) and you have an overview of the game. Phat loot, cyber vikings, action RPG... if that sounds appealing to you maybe have a look. 
 
The gameplay isn't bad, though it does get quite repetitive. The thing that I feel went wrong here is instead of controlling like a normal action RPG - massing buttons/clicks until enemy death, they've given it a feel something more akin to the Devil May Cry series and Ninja Gaiden control wise. It's understandable as the games combat is a frantic mixture of the two gametypes aswell, featuring combos, launchers, powerstrikes, area sweeping moves and spells. The problem here is the gameplay falls squarely inbetween these two types of games, not quite as fast paced and deep as a proper action game, but slightly too fast and involved to just relax and quest. 
 
The game does get better the longer you play, which is because you'll have mastered the combat system including all the new skills and atributes you outfit your character with as you level up, however to get to these later stages you'll have needed to play though the campaign atleast twice to earn enough experience aswell as A LOT of grinding. If you're a completionist this game can take 100's of hours to get every achievement. The worst being Relics of a Forgotten Past which will be the last achievement you need and is only worth 5 gamerscore. It tasks you with finding a full suit of Elite armour, during the 3 or 4 playthroughs of the lengthy and repetitive campaign I only ever found 3 elite drops, 1 for a different character class, 1 weapon which wasn't needed and 1 piece of actual use. Luckily a friend was working on the game aswell and we arranged to play the same class and share the loot we were grinding for so we only had to find half a suit each. This still took weeks of killing the same enemy over and over before we were finally lucky enough to scrape all the items together. Big thankyou to Fate if he ever reads this. 
 
Well that's it for now, it's getting late. This isn't anywhere close to caught up but hopefully I'll bang out another blog or two pretty soon bringing me back up to date. I've been doing a fair amount of boosting lately, which I have sort of been putting off for a while so that's brought me back into a more serious completionist mood, and looking to boost a lot more seriously now. So just ask and I'll be more than happy to jump on and grind out some achievements.
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