S-Rank Blog Post #8: Too Many Games!


Wow I've been lazy... I guess I'd have to admit that about a lot of things, but as for right now I'm referring to my blogging. Just to fill everyone in, the reason I decided to start writing these blogs was to complete the Giant Bomb quest 'The Chaste Monk' for writing 20 blog entries. For those reading this elsewhere (more than actually read it at Giant Bomb I'm sure) quests are basically achievements/badges earned by doing certain things on Giant Bomb. Not wanting to cheese it too disgracefully, I decided if I just write a little opinion piece on what games I had completed, I'd get there in no time. Everything was fine and dandy for a while but once I start on something I tend to just keep going and going and what was intended as a little ditty expressing how I felt about the games I played turned into a novel thicker than my penis (huge). All this writting every couple of days turned from fun into work and I did what I normally do when faced with work; run and hide. Now I've ended up in this situation... 
 
Since my last blog I've completed  9 games! That's 6 XBLA and 3 retail, more games than all my previous blog entries combined. Now I can't have this post turn into a small book so we're gonna have to keep things very brief and tear through all of these games, dare I say it, the way I originally intended. Have no fear this will not, by any means, be short and my next entry will undoubtably half the worlds current population of trees if printed out, but let's try and be concice, atleast this time. Atleast most of the games were XBLA titles, which is not to say that XBLA titles are inherently worse, smaller and shallower than disc based titles, but atleast in this case with the exception of one or two they seem to have an easily explained form of gameplay. Anyway enough of the introductory dribble and onto some thoughts, games and thoughts about games! In order of completion, up first is... 
 
Doritos Crash Course 
Doritos Crash Course (DCC from now on) is a free little platformer that takes you to USA, Europe and Japan  as you run, slide, jump and climb your way through a japanese gameshow inspired obstacle course. It reminds me a whole lot of the TV show Wipeout, and it's tremendous fun watching your avatar (which in my case looks a lot like me) get clubbed in the face with swinging mallets as you try and try to make that illusive gold medal time. It's the same sort of masochistic platformer Super Meat Boy is except not nearly as tight or demanding. After playing Super Meat Boy this felt like a day at the beach, not to say that DCC isn't that hard, it's just not throw your controller out the window and threaten to rape your neighbours hard.  
 
The achievements are a breeze with 2 exceptions, Sore wa kantan desu and Going for Gold both task you with getting gold medal times, the former just in one of the harder (if not the hardest level) and the latter in every level. With a little bit of time spent practicing you'll 100% this game without to many problems. Oh and I forgot to mention that DCC only costs 0 points, yeah free, free game, free achievements and unlike last years free adver-game, Dash of Destruction, it's actually pretty damn good. Get on it! 
 
Call of Duty 
I grabbed this probably more than half a year ago while it was on Deal of the Week, and never played it. I have long suffered with a case of CoD fatigue ever since putting myself through Veteran in Call of Duty 2Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and making it half way through Call of Duty: World at War during the same year in pretty rapid succession. It has resulted in me letting Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops pass me by without a care, even though my bro Ice Cube is in one of them. I'm not going to sit here and say I hate the CoD series like some seem to, I've just burnt out on them for now. 
 
Atleast that's how I felt for near 2 years until finally manning up and tackling this game, I jumped straight for Veteren difficulty and while frustrating and difficult at times I'll be damned if, even as old as it is, Call of Duty didn't offer me a good old Nazi killing time. It seems my case of CoD fatigue has finally disipated and I will no doubt be back in the CoD saddle, lapping up everything MW2 and Black Ops have to offer in the near future (when I seem them for a bargin).
 
On the achievement side of things, being an arcade game Call of Duty only has 200 points to give out. This fact results in only 30 gamerscore for putting yourself through Veteren. I would say that I completed this on Veteren difficulty with far less hassle than the other CoDs I've completed but let's not pretend like it wasn't another factor in keeping this on the back burner. "Only 30 points for Veteren, fuck that!" must have run through my head every time I was scrolling my list of arcade games when picking my next project. The rest are quite easy and I only had to replay one level to grab the one achievement I was missing.
 
Harms Way 
Doritos must have had great success with last years adver-game (unlike Toyota, where's 2011 Yaris?) because they've decided to slap 2 games on the XBLA table this year. Harms Way is another freebee, but unlike DCC, Harms Way seems to be a bit of an ultra-nationalist biggot and has been chanting "USA Yay! Other countries gay!" (don't quote me on that) ever since release. You'll need to prove to Harms Way that you're an all american gamer before you get to download and play it. 
 
It's another free and a lot easier (nearly on par with Dash of Destruction) than DCC to grab all the achievements, so fire up that american account I know all your serious achievement whores have and get on downloading it. You can 100% this in 15 minutes if you manage to find a match to join to grab the Affiliation achievement. If you aren't to crazy about the points then you aren't really missing all that much. 
 
Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown 
Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown (FF2 from here on out) is the sequel to Feeding Frenzy! Haha, you learn something new every day! See what I did there? I sneakily implied that you (the reader) are dumb, and then even sneakily-er implied that you are even dumber by expressly explaining my implications, as if you weren't smart enough to grasp sarcasm, and then... ok I'll stop. It really is the sequel to Feeding Frenzy though... 
 
FF2 tasks you with controlling a little fish, because you're used to controlling little things, like your little penis (burn!) God damn it ok, I'm seriously stopping now.  Come on though, you play as a small fish and you eat smaller fish whilst avoiding bigger fish. Eat enough smaller fish and you'll grow making the bigger fish into smaller fish and even bigger fish come along and try to eat you, because you weren't worth their time when you were small, atleast that's what your mum said! (Hey-Oh!) 
 
Achievement wise FF2 is very easy, though it does require a bit of time. I completed it in a day but I must of played it for atleast 6 or so hours. It can get repetitive but I doubt it's ment to be played in one massive chunk and would make the perfect relaxing time filler, probably best played for a bit inbetween other games. 
 
Brütal Legend 
Br ütal Legend, which will henseforth lose the umlaut because it's a pain in the arse, got a bad rap in my eyes. Almost everywhere I go people seem to be throwing shit all over the latter half of the game when it turns from God of War-light to God of War-light-mixed-with-light-strategy. This game in no way requires the use of hardcore micro management, apm, pixel perfect clicks, memorisations of build orders and everything else that is wrong with the strategy games of today. The control scheme is perfect for the game it is trying to get you to play, if you play it they way it's given to you, and without trying to morph it into the next Starcraft
 
It's simple, it's resource collection and protection mixed with unit production and selection. Listen to that, how good does that sound? What it boils down to is you make the best unit production choice you can at the time and send them off to do their thing. The person who has thought ahead with the best macro, fuck micro, wins. Nearly every review I've read has lambasted Brutal Legend for trying something it shouldn't have, basically saying that a sub-par God of War clone in a heavy metal open world would have resulted in a better product, and I am here to say, "Nay, my good man, you are off your rocker!" 
 
Now I am not what you would call a heavy metal fan... most of the soundtrack was pretty good, I enjoyed it, but I won't be seeking any of it out and listening to it again. That along with my Ice Cube love in the Call of Duty section above might hint you more in my direction musically, but I will stand up proudly and say this is one of my favourite games I've played this year. It's no cinematic masterpiece, no heady ideas to wrap your mind around, no deeply touching dramatical force, it's just good old fashioned fun. It was fun to see someone's artistic take on the genre of music they clearly loved, fun to romp around as Eddie Riggs in this crazy world, fun guessing what would happen next and what would be around the next bend, and had I actually been a fan of metal I would have to guess that all this fun would have been double(fine). Not to mention that a lot of the humour in the game is actually pretty decent, and if you're no Jack Black fan then no worries, neither am I. There is nothing too Jack Blacky with his performance here, though if you literally despise him then I'd say there'd be just enough here to throw you off.
 
I played and completed all the single player and most of the multiplayer achievements that I could do in skirmish mode earlier this year, only having the ranked wins to do for quite some time. The multiplayer is a ghost town, as with most games non CoD or Halo, and the servers are complete poo. I had to try 4 different boosting partners before I found one that the game would let me connect to in ranked games. In custom there is no problem but in ranked if your ping drops below a certain amount the game won't let you play together, I guess they were trying to stop connection drop outs in ranked games but it's not the best of solutions. You basically have to find someone in your own country before you can connect.  
 
Other than Cönquerer (the ranked wins) the only other annoying achievement are some of the collectables scattered throughout the world (Serpent Savior, Tourist), though as stated before I just liked exploring this wierd world. There are plenty of fun achievements here, requiring you to test out all sorts of things, which led to some changes to my strategies, and exploration of different ways of playing led to other fun discoveries. 
 
Star Wars The Force Unleashed 
 Now here we are getting a bit more recent. I've had a pretty productive week this week in terms of achievements, due to starting my holidays this week I've managed to go on a bit of an achievement tear. I had heard that Star Wars The Force Unleased (TFU from now on) wasn't all that, but I've been pleasently surprised. I'm not ashamed to say that at one stage of my life I was the biggest Star Wars fanboy I knew, and I knew a few, these days I've fallen off the Star Wars band-wagon a bit (I'll blame the prequel trilogies like everyone else) however, TFU has re-ignited some of my dormant fandom. 
 
It's been a while since anything Star Wars had me this excited, I'll give credit to the super over-the-top force powers. It put a fresh spin on the old Jedi powers, infact there's not really much wrong with this game. Another game that suffers because of its genre, too many people walk right past the newer beat-em ups in my opinion, when lately I've been playing more and more and loving it. The only thing I would improve in TFU is to urge it to take a page from X-men Origins: Wolverine's book and include decapitations, eviscerations and amputations, you've got a lightsaber take it off baseball bat setting and put it on razor sharp samurai sword settings and lets get to cutting. 
 
TFU includes all the trimmings, upgradable health, defence, damage, recovery and other character traits, upgradable and unlocable force powers, unlockable combos, different lightsaber crystals which result in defferent colours and attributes and lots more. Include a whole bunch of character skins, playing through a level using force lightning on Jawas as C-3po is amusing. 
 
I'd heard nightmare stories about the difficulty of TFU but I didn't really find it all that difficult. You had to be strategic and  more guerilla like with your force powers, striking hard and fast before hiding again, maybe not the way of a true Jedi but it worked and that's all I asked for. The game is a bit stingy with the achievements it hands out, but it saves big points for beating it depending on which difficulty you beat it on, 75 points for completing it on Apprentice, 100 for Sith Warrior, 100 for Sith Lord and 100 for Sith Master so once you reach the finish you'll drown in what will surely be a flash flood of gamerscore. The other achievements that are a bit of a grind are the 500 kills with each force power, which require a bunch of mashing the same button combo for an hour or so for each force power. Other than that I really enjoyed this game.
 
Terminator Salvation 
I grabbed this game during the post christmas sale, whacked it in and beat it in the same day, now it sits on my shelf gathering dust. I kind of feel sorry for it, having such a short 15 minutes of fame. It's not a great game by any means, decidedly average but I've spent a lot more time with a lot worse games. Anyway I guess it's fitting that this game has the shortest section in this blog. I can't remember the last time I blasted through a whole game in one day, I even managed to space King Kong over two days. 
 
 Every achievement in this game will be gotten in one playthrough if you chose to play it on the hardest difficulty, which trust me isn't hard at all! Charge through in 5 or so hours and you'll be 1000 points richer.
 
South Park Let's Go Tower Defence Play! 
South Park Let's Go Tower Defence Play! (South Park from now on) is a fun little tower defence game. I've stayed away from most of the little time waster tower defence games over the years so this was pretty much my first experience defending towers... er, using towers to defend things. I grabbed this on special on one of the Holiday Daily Deals and decided to play it straight away. While not as big of a South Park fan as I used to be, I still enjoyed revisiting the old crew, and using light strategy to destroy hordes of mobs. The 'twist' at the end was a classic bit of South Park humour and I had no clue it was coming so I really enjoyed that too.
  
This is another easy beat, I finished the game in two sittings, and while I didn't play it co-operative I could see how it could be quite a fun 2-4 player game too. Next time I have some mates around I'll whip it out and see how everyone takes to it. The achievements are all easy, upon finishing the game and having the control scheme down and all the towers unlocked repeating the early levels to grab a platinum was no problem (Look for Treasure), and after a few tries the last hard achievement for beating one of the last levels without any towers (MANBEARPIG) was mine aswell. 

Zeno Clash Ultimate Edition 
Finally, the last game to grace this blog entry isn't really supposed to be here. As of me writting this, I'm one achievement away from 100% completing this wierd, wierd game. I'm putting it on this list now because I don't want to leave it off and have an excuse to not write about it for a while. I can't let another one of these massive lists stack up and spending another 2 odd hours writing about them instead of playing more games, yeah that's right, I've spent coming up on two hours writting this, y'all better appreciate! 
 
If none of you have heard of this game I don't blame you, according to True Achievements less than 1 000 people have played this game, I will say though that you should, if you have the money, give it a play through. The graphics aren't technically great, they aren't pushing out crazy amounts of polygons, but stylistically this is one of the creepiest and wierdest looking games I've ever seen. The creatures and characters are all messed up mixtures of animal/human hybrids, that look like some sick experement splicing animal genes with human DNA gone wrong. 
 
The gameplay isn't anything superb, it's plays like a slightly worse Condemned, with first person fisticuffs and gunplay. The story is what it's all about, even if it's not Shakespear, but it does all come together to form some sort of monstrosity featuring the most engaging celebration of horrendously wierd characters. They all believe in some abortion of a religion, living in a backwards tribe led by a murderous hermaphrodite half bird man/lady. You play as Ghat, the son of Father-Mother, the giant hermaphrodite bird/person, and the game starts with you murdering Father-Mother, and being chased out of town by your brothers and sisters. All of which are other monstrous mixes of species, birthed by Father-Mother. 
 
A lone friend decides to follow you and learn why you felt the need to murder your parent/s, only to learn half way through the game that Father-Mother had a horrible secret, it would rather die, kill you and/or send hundreds of it's children after you to their death to keep. Ghat decides that even after killing Father-Mother because of this secret that he will keep it to himself. At this stage I was hooked in this wierd world and as I said before, if you have the money and time to spare you should check out Zeno Clash, but know before going in that graphically and gameplay wise this isn't a master piece. I'm not going to reveal any more of the story or the eventual reveal of the secret because I don't want to spoil it and even the little I've revealed now doesn't do it any justice compaired to playing it. 
 
Achievement wise it's also a weird game, with only 4 of it's 12 achievements related to playing the story, the other 8 are challenge rooms you can play after. All the achievements are very simple and Zeno Clash is another game you could 200/200 in a session of 6 or so hours if you so chose. 
 
Well that's it, I'm back up to date in the blog world, I'm not going to spend anymore time than I already have on this conclusion. By the time I write another entry it will be a new year, so I hope you all have a happy new year and all my best for any and all experiences you decide to undertake in 2011!
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S-Rank Blog Post #7: Prince of Persia & X-Men Origins: Wolverine


Here we are again in my rapid succession of 100% completed games. I've been lazy with writing up my blog so we've got two times the excitement in this installment. First it's Prince of Persia, which afforded me a pretty good time. This re-imagening of the Prince of Persia series is running on an updated version of the engine used in Assassins Creed, combined with the "Illustration Style" graphics (which is pretty much just a fancy name for Cel-Shading) which results in a smooth controlled and pretty looking game. There's a new Prince, who isn't even a prince as far as I know, and a new Princess, Elika, with fancy magical powers. 
 
The "Prince" is actually on his way home with a bunch of treasure he probably pilfered from a someones tomb, when a big sandstorm hits and is seperated from his donkey (which was carrying his epic loot). He ends up stumbling into a major power struggle with a evil God and has to put things right through lots of jumping, climbing, swinging and other means of traversal mixed in with some light puzzle solving and duels with some powerful creatures all while reminiscing about the sweet purps he lost from his Tomb Raid-ing.
 
Unlike the previous Prince of Persia games the combat in here is always 1 on 1 and is very combo based. The previous trilogy was mostly crowd control and slogging bunches of dudes with big swings of your blade, here we have to be a bit more precise. The combat's enjoyable, you can do normal attacks, air attacks, magic, agility and grapple types of combos and combo different types of combos into each other... combo combo combo. For instance you'd normally start of with a normal combo attack of 3 or so moves, before rolling into a magic combo, then into a grapple and finishing with a few air attacks. It's a pretty good system which isn't used all that much in the game, because like a mentioned before the focus is on traversal here, with only a few one on one battles popping up now and then.  
 
Also keeping it fresh is the different enemies you'll come up against usually have an immunity or are able to counter a type of attack. It forces you to change up your go to combos and keeps things fresh. I thought that some of the achievements would require another playthrough but apparently some of the harder ones like Be gentle with her (which is supposed to require you to die less than 100 times) are glitched as of an update to unlock no mater how many times you died. I suppose it's a testiment to the quality of the game that upon finishing it I was actually a little dissapointed to be moving on.  There is a DLC Epilogue that picks up right from where the game ended which is slightly different in tone but pretty much just as enjoyable as the main game.
 
The game is light hearted, and relaxing. It's not too demanding but at the same time not boring and doesn't feel easy because what you're doing (exploring and collecting orbs mostly) isn't that competitive. The graphics look superb and the art style makes everything look like a painting. The only downside is that when nearing the end the game decides to try and ramp up the difficulty a little by requiring you to use the different magical abilities you've been giving Elika, but this actually turns it into more of a Quick Time Event with the Prince flipping out all over the place on the screen but all you're doing is hitting a certain button when the next seal comes up. As a result I would say I liked the earlier half of the game more than the latter, but don't let that influence you into thinking the latter half is bad. 
 
Ok, Achievement paragraph to sum up Prince of Persia... This is one of those games where the graphic designer just couldn't be bothered because all of the achievement icons are the same blue firey orb. I obtained all the achievements in 1 playthrough, there is a lot of orb collecting in this game, so if you're against collectables or something this game probably isn't for you. The good thing is that they are all very findable and I actually enjoyed searching them out, then figuring out how to get to some of the harder ones. I got all 1001 orbs without the help of any guide or walkthrough. I had to start a new game and quickly play through about an hour or so of it to get the last achievement or two I needed but appart from that, it's a fairly easy and very enjoyable 1000. The DLC is harder in regards to the achievements and the platforming, but by the time you've played through the game you'll be more than ready for it. The collectables in the DLC are hidden far better and I had to use a video walkthrough to grab them but don't worry, unlike the 1001 orbs in the main game there's only 10 paintings you have to wall run over here. You'll reach 1250 in no time.
 
So time to move on to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Here's another example of a Beat 'Em Up done right. Wolverine has character progression with leveling up, putting experience points in to health, damage, special moves etc. Also you're able to equip different Mutagens which buff different stats (like health regeneration) and you also get experienced at fighting different enemies, ie the more dual machete weilding lunatics you kill the more damage you do against the next ones you meet. You have a bunch of moves at your disposal but most of all, the one thing that makes this game actually pretty damn good is the gore. But first a little something about Wolverine incase you've been living under a rock. 
 
If you don't know much about Wolverine, he is a mutant with accelerated healing powers. Depending on different sources (Movies, comics, videogames) he heals at different rates, from a day or so to seconds and everything in between. According to a loading screen in game Wolverine was once ripped in half by The Hulk and he regenerated from that so the dude's one tough mother. He also has a set of bone claws the erupt from inbetween his knuckles. Because of all this the military saw potential and experimented on him by injecting and coating his bones with Adamantium, which is apparently some pretty much indestructable metal. Obviously this would have killed anyone else but his healing powers allow him to survive and it's turned him into basically a more agile, more angry Terminator then poor Arnie could ever hope to be. Wolverine vs Terminator? Wolverine wins no doubt.
 
Now onto the gore... you may think that that's not something that really makes a game good, but think about it for a second.  He's nearly indestructable, pissed off with 6 massive razor sharp claws throwing himself against an army of guys with guns, grenades and more. I was worried this would be based off the movie, PG rated for the masses crap, but I was assured otherwise and it's true. Unlike so many of the Star Wars games with Jedi fighting people with their light-battons, bludgeoning Stormtroopers to death (Force Unleashed I'm looking at you) Marvel's had the balls to do what Lucas Arts can't, and be true to their character.
 
Wolverine is a dude that can take crazy amounts of damage, because of his accelerated healing. Dude gets impaled on a spike, only to pull himself off with a giant gaping hole through the middle of his chest, you can see the ends of shiney ribs and all sorts of gruesome shit through there, not to mention the enemy about to try and put a machete through your head coming up from behind. He gets caught in explosions and has half his face blown off, showing his adamantium plated skull. Then as you're fighting and walking around you see him starting to heal and his wounds close up, his face grows back, it looks awesome. 
 
Meanwhile your eviscerating guys with your claws, cutting arms and legs off in a flurry of adamantium and blood. You can grab guys and insta-kill them which looks similarly brutal or throw them out of windows or impaling them on the nearest tree branch/spike/statue. If you're making a beat em up these days, it needs to be stylish, brutal and intense. X-Men Origins: Wolverine delivers. In the end it's a beat em up, they reached the pinnacle of beat em up design in the mid 80's, you'll know if this style of game appeals to you or not. It's a damn good beat em up though so if you like them check this one out (maybe Afro Samurai too, I have an earlier blog about it.) 
 
Under all this gore is a great game, good combat with some new twists. The lunge move is particularly badass, Wolverine will just lunge 10 meters or more claws first into some dude like a tiger on steroids.The graphics are nice, although I did suffer some frame rate drops here and there when activating a special move in the middle of 10 or more enemies sometimes. The story is cool, it's basically everything you'd want out of a Wolverine game. 
 
Achievement wise there are some cool ones to go for here (set 20 on fire, impale 25, kill 25 with their own weapon etc) You will have to playthrough the game twice (once to unlock the harder difficulty) and a few achievements require some minor grinding (2 or 3 hours was all I needed to finish off the achievements I hadn't got during my playthroughs). All in all another enjoyable and while I wouldn't say easy, it's a very doable 1000. 
 
That's my two game conquests since last time. I hit 100 000 gamerscore since my last blog so yay me! The long road to 200 000 awaits. I also managed to scrape together some dough and got a Kinect. I've been playing Kinect Adventures and it does a great job of showcasing the Kinect and what it can do. I've watched a lot of videos with people showing off the Kinect and it always looks to be lagging a lot but during my time with it the lag seems to be a lot less, hardly noticable so far. I'm actually very impressed with how good it actually works. With that said I don't see any 'hardcore' games utilising it too much. Maybe some creative type can come up with a new IP, from the ground up, that blows everyone away but tacking normal controls to kinect movements is never going to work. 
 
I did have one good idea though... remember back in the day shooters used to let you lean. Well maybe they still do, but I can't remember the last time I utilized a lean. I realised this when I booted up Call of Duty Classic today, it has a lean. You have to use the D-pad to lean which is unruly, and not very practical, however utilizing the Kinect and leaning over a bit on the couch would not only be pretty useful but could help the immersion aswell. It wouldn't be out of most gamers comfort zones to lean left or right a little would it, and you would still be sitting on the couch with a controller in hand. So basically head tracking is about the only thing I could see the Kinect adding to the more traditional 'hardcore' game. 
 
Kinect has had me sweating my ass off though, it really makes you move around. My goal of total completion will no doubt include hours of kinect time to here's hoping some weight loss comes from it. That's all for now, this long ass, two in one blog post has gone on for long enough. I think I'll jump into some more Kinect Adventures and make a fool of myself some more. Until next time!
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S-Rank Blog Post #6: Fairytale Fights


So it hasn't been very long since my last post, due to me not writing it for a week or so, but here we are again! The spotlight is thrown onto Fairytale Fights this time, and it isn't worthy of the attention. This game has been long due to be finished by me but the super repetitive and shallow nature of the gameplay has kept me from jumping back in. After slogging away at it for a long time I ran out of steam and put it away, out of mind, playing and finishing all of the games I've blogged about and more before managing to stomach some more. 
 
One of the main reasons for this is the non-stackable difficulty achievements. Not only for single player, but multiplayer aswell. All up you need to play the game on easy, medium and hard in singleplayer, then easy, medium and hard co-operatively. Now I should include the fact that I got bored of the game before even hitting the halfway mark in my first playthrough. This is another game that I wish I hadn't purchased, another impulse buy I regret. My mate and I ran into each other in the shops, both having nothing to do and both were just there to waste some time during a boring weekend we decided to get a cheap, simple and short game we could take home and blast through in an afternoon together. Fairytale Fights was cheap and definately simple, but short it was not. 
 
So we get home, crack it open and whack it in. Jump on and first impressions are good enough, drop-in/drop-out co-op made it easy to get going. You have a little hub town that changes as you progress (the heads of each different enemies you slay get mounted on the walls, you can spend money to upgrade a statue of yourself eventually blinging it out in all gold), the game has a weird sense of humour, super violent mixed with cute, cartoony, slightly off-tilt characters and obscene amounts of blood pooling on the floor which you can slide around on by running through it. All of this sounds well and good, but after a few hours of it, it became old and it was up to the gameplay to sustain our intrest. 
 
This is where the problems come in. This is basically a hack & slash mixed with a platformer... but worse. In most hack & slashes there is some degree of strategy. Light and heavy attacks, blocking, maybe a grapple or something. Here there's nothing. Also the way the game works is it maps the attacks to the right stick, up swings the weapon up, down goes down, left... well you get the idea. Now this could have been cool if some enemies were vulnerable to horizontal slashes, some verticle, some only from the right. It would have helped mix it up, but no. You play this game by wiggling the right stick like a retard. I ended up doing the fighting through the last few run throughs of the game without even looking. 
 
I said there was no strategy to all this before, I lied... sort of. You can do a heavy swing by charging up a swing one way before swinging back the opposite way. This seemed like a decent move for about the first level, where you only get 3 or 4 enemies thrown at you at a time. Then it starts getting harder, and near the end of the game your facing groups of 20 all attacking you at the same time, there is no time to charge up anymore. Plus charging up slows you down to "look super cool, slicing all these fools all matrix like and shit" except while you're cutting in slow motion an enemy will hit you normal speed in the back cancelling your charge and leaving you back at square one. Also a charged move might be worth around 3 times the damage a regular attack does, but by wailing on the right stick you can easily get 5 or more normal attacks out in the same time. So the strategy is that it's more strategic to not use strategy.
 
There is also a block, but the enemies have no noticable tells or anything to warn you of an incoming attack. So basically you're left to guess when to use it, or waste your time holding block while you could be attacking. The best defence is a good offence as they say. That mixed with the fact that you have unlimited lives, with the penalty for death being you drop your weapon and some money. However if you hammer the A button you can spawn fast enough to collect it all again. 
 
So in the end Fairytale Fights is a game where you walk through a bunch of levels wiggling the right stick, where they drop a new enemy and weapon on you every 10 minutes will be enough to keep you interested. These enemies and weapons all bring nothing new to the table, being basically new skins for the same damage sponge enemies and sharp or blunt weapon types. There are some guns, but they only carry 10 shots each, and potions, none of which are of any real use. After the "fun" of sliding through countless blood pools and watching Fairytale characters tear each other to shreds wears off you're left wiggling the stick through super long levels (each one taking 30 mins or so) for a total playthrough time of about 10 hours. 
 
Now do that another 5 times due to the afforementioned non-stackable difficulty achievements. Then the glitchy A+ achievement (Who Wants My Autograph) which wants you to complete each chapter from start to end with an A+ rating, which I had to attempt twice to get and the achievement for opening every treasure chest (Treasure Hunter) which is also tempermental. Including the few proper co-op sessions I played this game I think I've played through this piece of crap atleast 9 times. 
 
Plus the secret achievement (Got My Wish) which I'm sure glitched on me. To obtain Got My Wish you need to put money in wishing wells (which you use to get special weapons) you find through-out your adventure and randomly the achievement will pop. I had played through 6 or 7 times, putting all my money into every wishing well I could find and nothing had popped. That sucks because another achievement (King Bling) requires you to fully upgrade your statue, requiring a total of around 5 million coins. So because I had been wasting all my money in those wells I had only reached about the half way mark before my console decided to freeze. 
 
It must have frozen while saving, and corrupted my save data because everything had wiped. I was just about to kill someone, but every cloud has a silver lining and this one is no different. Within 30 minutes of regaining self control and putting my gat back in the closet, Got My Wish popped up. I was in shock and remember just sitting there for a minute before saying "You're shitting me." Once that popped I knew it was time to finish this game off because the one achievement that was out of my hands I had now obtained. I hunkered down and busted out the last two play-throughs I needed. All that was left now was King Bling. 
 
Luckily due to getting Got My Wish straight away and in two playthroughs with out having to waste money in those wells I reached 2.5 million again. All that was left is to grind out another 2.5 mill to finally put a bow in this piece of crap. I looked up the best way to get money online and luckily it turns out the level I enjoyed the most was the one you grind. You can get 400 000 in a 20 minute run through a level. So gritting my teeth with the ending in sight I grinded my favourite level slowly turning it into my least favourite. But I got that achievement, and by god I'm glad it's all done now! 
 
So now free for my next completion, I'm thinking of starting Alan Wake or Bioshock 2. I've got a few long ass grinds that need to be started on and a bunch of other games that I need to get back to to 100%. We'll see what happens... oh I nearly forgot! This marks my 100th 100% completed game (including arcade games). So party on Xbox and you're all invited! Haha I'll see ya next time.
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S-Rank Blog Post #5: Super Meat Boy


This post is a bit delayed, I beat Super Meat Boy maybe a week ago I just havn't had time to write a blog until now. Lately I havn't had much time to put into anything, boosting and playing my Xbox included. I've been reduced from what must have been somewhere around 5-6 hours a day minimum to 3 maximum with the start of my new exercise regime.  

I used to get home from work at around 5 and hop straight online (after a shower) and game away untill 11 or 12 at night. Not anymore, now I'm heading to my parents place straight from work because they have a decent amount of exercise equipment and I store my stuff there too (don't have any room where I live at the moment). We've accumulated multiple dumbbells, barbells, treadmill, medicine balls, resistance bands, boxing bags and more over the years. I get there and hop online using my dad's laptop for an hour or so just to recouperate and store up some energy before hitting some weights or jumping on the treadmill. By the time I'm done, depending on what I'm doing it's around 7:30 or 8, I pretty much collapse for 30 mins before I'm able to pack up and go home, hitting the shower and finally being able to jump on the box at around 9. I miss my Xbox time, but I've let myself go a bit the last year or two and I've decided it's time to claw my way back.
 
I've always been pretty heavy, not really fat more solid. In highschool, in year 10 I was one of the heaviest kids in school weighing 86kg and I hadn't hit my growth spurt yet. After finishing year 12 I weighed 92 kgs at 186cm, I was the fittest I've ever been due to all the walking I used to do (didn't have a car yet) and even had a sweet 6-pack, that helped me pull all the bitches (not). I've always liked sports, used to play a decent amount of soccer, and have been doing Karate for what must be nearing 15 years now, and I have to thank Karate in particular because doing that twice a week was really the 1 thing stopping my from gatting fat, I've always had a bad diet and been pretty lazy when it came to anything else but I love pretty much anything fighting. I'm always watching UFC along with other MMA organisations, if there's boxing or Muay Thai on I'll be watching, I've trained Jui-Jitsu for a while and loved it, but went through a tight spot in regards to money and had to drop it.

With the start of my new work placement and my Karate class being moved about (in place and time) I could no longer make it to the lessons, and didn't do any real form of physical activity for over a year. After gaining around 20 kgs (last time I weighed myself I weighed in at 116kgs) I decided that I needed to put a stop to this and try and get back to where I was. I told my boss that I need to leave early on wednesdays so I can atleast make one Karate class a week, he understood and now I'm back at it. It's only once a week but it's better than nothing and I'm enjoying it, didn't realise how much I missed it.  I don't think I'll ever hit 92kg again, because believe me I looked skinny at that weight. I must have been walking 6-8km or so minimum every day, to the beach, shops, mates houses (ahhh back when I was a bum, no job, no school, no car, good times) and while I hadn't done much during my year or so off I would hit the weights sporadically and have bulked up bigger than I used to be. I would be more than happy to get back to an even 100kg.     
 
So the past 2 months or so I've been running on the treadmill Tuesdays and Thursdays and hitting some weights Mondays and Wednesdays (sometimes Friday too, depending if I'm heading out or not and have the time) and according to the scales I've lost 6 kilos and am sitting on a even 110. I'm feeling pretty good lately, my cardio has pretty much shot up from nothing to a level that I'm pretty proud of (maybe even the highest it's ever been even though I'm carrying atleast 10kg of fat I need to lose). I've never liked running and could never make myself do any decent amount of distance running. I'd be up for some sprints or something but running for more than about 2 minutes at a time resulted in me running those 2 minutes in the other direction. 
 
At the start of this venture my treadmill time consisted of around 2 kilometres in 13 minutes before I ended up half passed out on the floor, now I do 5 kilometres in around 25 minutes and while being dead tired afterwards I don't feel the need to collapse anymore. I don't really have any idea about what a good distance/time is for running but someone told me that 6 km in 30 mins is a decent time so that's my goal an so far I'm on track and hoping to smash it out before December rolls around.  
 
I did a little research on the internet and put together a decent weight schedual. I chose to go for a full body program instead of what seems to be the norm of a different muscle group per day. Apparently full body workouts, while not as effective for building strength and bulk, are more condusive to loosing weight as they burn more calories. Also I read that because the legs and back are the biggest groups of muscles in the body working them burns more calories, so doing a full body work out multiple times a week results in working out the muscle groups than burn the most calories multiple times a week, instead of just the once if you had say a legs day. 
 
So everything is going swimmingly, except my diet. My diet is my one hold over. If there is one thing I won't change it's that. I'm not an idiot though, it's not like I'm having McDonalds every day, or even every week. I know what's bad and what's good but I would rather eat what I want to eat and spend hours having to burn that shit off than be living of salads and controlled portion sizes. I'm a binger too, my diets average during the week but then the weekend will come which results in bourbon and Cokes, followed by an order of Kebabs big enough for 3 people. Wake up hung over and heading over to the shops to down the greasiest thing I can find, feel bloated for the whole of Saturday before getting back to normal Sunday. Yeah it's not healthy, but at the moment I enjoy it, so it's what I'll do. Even with this self-sabotaging behavior the progress I've made is promissing and I hope to be in decent shape for the new year! 
 
Enough about all that, I've been dribbling on about nothing for too long. The reason this blog is here is because I finished Super Meat Boy. Because I can't put the solid hours I like to put into most games SMB was perfect for me. Each level can be beaten in 30 second or less (maybe a few exceptions), but don't think that that makes it easy. You have to work for those 30 seconds, the rush of a perfect 30 second run through the hardest motherfucker of a level is something that's only experienced because you've been working on it for 30 minutes if not more. 
 
Don't take that as the game being bad or unfair, infact it is the opposite. Every death, every failure is 100% fair and 100% on you. You may have died because you missed that jump by 2 pixels, but the sense of control SMB gives you results in you knowing that you pressed that button half a second to soon, or didn't change direction fast enough. This combined with near-instant respawning, and the ability to get back to that point and try again in seconds results in an addictive challenge I couldn't tear myself away from. I found myself realising it was 1am, and having work the next day, only to think "OK, last shot". 
 
Last shot, as we all know, is never THE last shot. And after playing for another 30 minutes and finally beating the level I'd end up in bed. I'm also known as somewhat of a screamer, hurling metric tonnes of abuse at my poor Xbox when smashing my head against things like CoD Veteran, Lost Planet or, more related to SMB, N+. SMB on the other hand barely heard a peep out of me. My girlfriend, who barely plays games but seems to like these masocore platformers (she loved N+), has thrown more abuse SMB's way than I ever did. 
 
At the end of the day SMB is a hard as hell (hell is one of the worlds you visit in SMB, suitably) 2D platformer, but the controls are so good, and the gameplay so addicting that I would recommend anyone check it out. This one is one hell of a challenge to get all the achievements in, so if you're a completionist make sure you're up for it, but going for all these achievements gave me hours of fun, and a real sense of accomplishment. SMB is a 5/5 game, atleast check out the demo. Team Meat has even confirmed they're releasing 5 free DLC level packs for SMB even though there's around 300 odd levels in the game, so there's definate value for money too!
     
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S-Rank Blog Posts #4: Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

 
So it's been a lot longer than I thought it would be inbetween posts. I've basically finished 2 games (Dark Void and Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazzard) in the time between the last post and this one, but Dark Void glitched on me. This leaves me unable to unlock the last achievement and incredibly annoyed and frustrated. I'll try not to get too down on that fact but I'm constantly trying for completion so having this happen is a major bummer. Seeing as I'm in the mood to pour shit all over Dark Void we'll start by talking about that. 
 
I remember watching all the teaser videos and developer interviews and then reading comments about how awesome the game looked and how people were looking forward to it. I remember thinking "Am I the only one who thinks the game looks pretty average, why's everyone getting all excited about it?" Then reviews started coming out and basically mirrored my thoughts, but all of them seemed to think Dark Void had promise and that it was dissappointing that it didn't live up to it all. I never saw such promise... why do I have the game then? Because it cost me $5, thats why. At the time I thought $5 for what was sure to be a pretty easy 1000 points by playing an average, but by most accounts not bad or painful game, how could I pass that up? I wish I did now. 
 
What makes me more annoyed is the fact that I checked out Dark Void's achievements and everyone was talking about how Grease Monkey was glitched and offering up all these tips and tricks to help. Now I'm happy I found that and followed those hints and precautionary measures because it popped for me, but nowhere did I find anything about Book Worm glitching. Until it happened to me and I searched specifically for 'Book Worm Glitched' I found a few things about it being glitched. Now before anyone says just play it again/delete your save and start again... Nah son, it ain't work like that here. See Grease Monkey is unlocked by purchasing all the upgrades for your guns and jetpack and Book Worm for finding all the collectable journal entries in the levels. Capcom apparently thought it would be cool to tie the progress of these achievements to your Gamer Tag. So no matter if I delete my save\wipe my cache when I jump into the game my Gamer Tag says I have all of the journals so they don't reappear in the game. 
 
What makes me more annoyed is the precautions you take for Grease Monkey involve only buying upgrades in game at supply boxes and to disconnect from Xbox Live before you purchase your last one. So if it doesn't unlock the fix is to delete your Gamer Tag, connect to Xbox Live and recover your Tag again, thus returning your Tag to the state it was in when you disconnected and try again. Now if I had of known Book Worm was glitched I would have used the same precautions. Also I was planning to go for Grease Monkey but decided to do Book Worm first, and seeing as I try to get all my achievements online (so people can't accuse me of cheating) I plugged my ethernet cable back in just to get the last journal I needed. Then it didn't pop, and I pretty much shat my pants. I tried deleting my profile and recovering quickly to see if it hadn't registered yet but no dice. Fucked in the ass, by this god damn achievement. 
 
So now I'm super pissed and at the mercy of Capcom's good graces to release what is sure to be an easy patch. Just check the progress of the achievements tied to your Gamer Tag when the game boots up, but I know how things work, it'll never happen. Capcoms moved on, Dark Void was a major failure and they're trying to put as much distance between them and it as possible. So I'll be stuck here forever it seems. I was so annoyed that I looked up and found out how people glitch their Gamer Tags to unlock achievements and found out it's pathetically easy with the right programs. I haven't glitched it and don't plan on it now I've cooled down but maybe one day if I ever hit 99.9% completion and it's the one achievement standing in my way of 100% I might cave in. I don't see it as cheating because I went through and found every single journal in the game, used a guide to make sure, it should have unlocked but because of sloppy coding I'm denied something that is rightfully mine. The thing stopping me from doing it is the threat of having my score wiped. It would probably be the end of my playing Xbox, losing 3-4 years of Gamerscore. 
 
Not to mention that Dark Void likes to just lock up sometimes for no apparent reason. I played around 3/4 of the game in 1 sitting, went to bed then when I booted it up the next time it would lock up right before the main menu would load. I checked online and people have had it lock up on them in movies, inbetween level loads all over the place. I had to try installing, clearing my cache, playing it offline without the patch, downloading DLC, deleting DLC, uninstalling with patch before giving up and playing something else, only to try it again the day after and have everything work again. Now add to that to the DLC I mentioned above which 'should' add 250 Gamerscore to the game. But this is also glitched all to hell, you can unlock the achievements but they don't add to your Gamerscore. The Game shows only the original number of achievements when you look at it in the dashboard. It's another fuck up. I got all but 2 of the achievement in the DLC before deciding to fuck the game off and just move on. 
 
If I seperate myself from all the hate expessed above, Dark Void is OK. It's nothing new or special, but the shooting, flying around using a jetpack and exploring the world is decent. You could have some fun playing this game, it is fairly short though. If you have any interest in achievements avoid or atleast take special care. Enough about Dark Void, you are dead to me until you get a patch, on to Matt Hazard! 
 
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is another pretty average game. It got some pretty average reviews aswell, but I for one enjoyed it. It's silly jabs at gaming tropes, call backs to styles of games from the past, parodies of some of the Gaming Industries most iconic characters and games arn't the most intellectually stimulating, but then again I didn't expect that. It's got some funny scenes and interesting concepts which kept me engaged through out, plus I love Wolfenstein 3D. It is however just a straight forward Cover-Based Shooter, you shoot things... from behind cover, before you move on to shooting more things. The guns feel decent and the shooting action is pretty good, it started to drag a bit at the end but in the end I would say I enjoyed the ride. 
 
The achievements are also fairly easy, I only had some trouble with 2 of them. Some are silly (Take 5. which you get for pausing the game for the first time), some easy (It's HAZARD TIME! for starting your first game) and some are little throw away jokes tied to the removal of a game feature. You even get one if you watch the whole credits. The two I had trouble with were Bedlam Basher and Observe the Grenade. Bedlam Basher requires you to melee a Bandit from behind. Now enemies have this annoying ability to always face you, even when encased in ice. The way you need to do this is by shooting them in the leg or shoulder so they stagger and quickly get behind them for a melee attack. It's not easy and I had to try for a good 30 minutes before getting it. You can try to get behind them as they spawn in, but this never seemed to work for me as they're immune to damage (or melee atleast) untill they're ready to go and then they instantly turn to face you. 
 
Observe the Grenade requires you to kill 3 Testers with 1 grenade. The best place to do this is when you are fighting the last wave of guys at the last boss. You need to have saved a Grenade Launcher in your inventory untill now. Testers are the enemies in the pink suits, just try and get the enemies to clump together and get a direct hit. This took me over 3 hours of trying one night, only to turn it on the next morning and get it first go. 
 
Apart from those two it's an easy 1000. You have to play the game twice (once to unlock the hardest difficulty, although I am told there is a cheat to unlock it from the get go) but by playing it twice it ment I didn't have to grind anything like shooting 50 explosive objects, shooting 30 potted plants, getting 20 super shields or whatever they are. Once again, not a "must have AAA title" but enjoyable. That brings me near the end of the stack of average games I only got because they were super cheap. Which means it might be a while before I get to post some more blogs. I might concentrate on finishing off some left over achievements in the games I have now though so I could be back faster than I think. 
 
I am closing in on the fabled 100 000 GS. Being in the mid 98 000's right now. I could hit it fairly soon depending on what I decide to do. I'll probably post something about that when that happens too. Until next time!

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S-Rank Blog Posts #3: Bionic Commando


Another few days another game finished. Bionic Commando took around 5 days for me to 100%. It's received a lot of negativity but I actually thought it was a pretty good game, the shooting is good and swinging around like some badass gun-slinging Spiderman is suitably badass. I would say it deserves a look, especially now that you can probably find it for like $10, atleast thats what I paid for it. It's not the longest game but it's a fun silly ride. 
 
The one annoyance is the character you control, Nathan "Rad" Spencer. The story is so obvious and the incoming radio messages you recieve give so much away that he never picks up on. They basically slap you over the face with barely hidden cliches of "somethings not quite as it seems" yet he doesn't even get it. Not only that but Nathan is nothing but a straight boy scout. It's pathetic, I actually got angry at some of the cutscenes due to the combination of an IQ below plant level and the black/white state of mind "Rad" can't break free of. 
 
The story goes something like you stopped all the bad things happening in the previous game (Bionic Commando) and everythings cool, then some dickhead that's basically butthurt he didn't get as much praise/fame as good ol' Spence, decides to launch some scare campaign against Bionics. He get's elected or somehow gains power and hill anti-bionic bill passes because they're too dangerous apparently. Never mind that Bionics were the reason the world didn't fall to the 'evil facists' last time. I 'spose I should explain what/who bionics are, well they're basically soldiers that suffered injuries (ie legs blown off by a landmine is an example in game) that get a/some bionic attachments to not only let them live a normal life again, but to return to service and actually be better than they were before (bionic legs gave the soldier the ability to run super fast, naturality). 
 
So basically this bill demands that bionics be seperated from there bionic enhancements. Lets see you go up to someone that had their legs blown off to defend you and demand they give up their chance at having some legs. It's bullcrap, and you feel for them, and you hate the high and mighty dickhead that chimes in on your radio that was responsible for it all. Nathan has spent years in deathrow, without his arm, and now the city is under attack from some pro-bionic "terrorists" and he's the only one that can help. So he does, barely holding a grudge and the annoying self rightious crap he spews about what the bionics are doing not being right and blah blah, basically he's fine with laying down and taking it up the ass. Maybe the story's ment to be that he's so brainwashed by the military to protect his country that he doesn't care at all about himself and his situation anymore, but he whinges about it the whole game through and still waxes poetic to the bionics. They're basically just fighting for the chance at a normal life and acceptance while Nathan wants the omlette but refuses to crack an egg.  
 

All through out the story the main mystery is the sudden disappearance of his wife at about the time he got his arm. Halfway through the story you've got some idea that either she volunteered of they used her in some capacity to get his arm to work. Three-quarters through you know they used her life essence or something for his arm. But Spencer is to dumb to put 2+2 together. It takes him all the way through the last level before he finally realises, even though you see a cutscene where he sees a schematic of his arm with his wifes name and a god damn arrow that connects the two. Pea brain still can't make sense of shit.
Also his voice acting is completely over the top, I don't know if this was on purpose (I think/hope it was) but it's still incredibly stupid. 
 
So I've been fairly negative so far but It's only the story, character backgrounds and voice acting thats on the bad side. The part where you actually play the game is quite good. Your arm is badass, you can pull trains down off monorails to crush dudes, grab cars and throw them at robots, swing around like a mad man firing off lock on missiles, it's a load of fun. The plink sound you get for pulling off a headshot is super satisfying lol. As I said before if you see it cheap and are in the mood for some silly fun then you can do a lot worse. The achievements are easy as hell and you could get the full 1000 in one playthrough if you wanted, though I did it in two. The only annoying achievement is The Collector, there's 150 of them scattered throughout the game and while they're bright and stand out you have to get them all in one runthrough. There is no way to go back to get one you missed. Also if you die without getting a checkpoint you have to collect them all again, which is quite frustrating at times. 
 
Well that's about it. I don't have much to say about Bionic Commando, which is telling. It is a decidedly average game, borrowing bits and pieces from all over but nothing really stands out except the swinging. Which basically is the reason to come here. Get it on the cheap and you'll enjoy it, I know I did.
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S-Rank Blog Posts #2: Afro Samurai


So my last entry was quite long, these hopefuly shouldn't be that long anymore (though I make no promises). Last time I had a bit of a intro with a lot of backstory about my RPG habits. What we have here this time is a straight up Hack-n-Slash. Afro Samurai didn't recieve a lot of love but I actually quite enjoyed it. While it's not some original masterpiece it's got style and some good ideas. 
 
A lot of people have put Afro down because of it's repetitive combat, which is something I thought most of the way through my first playthrough. I basically button mashed X all the way through 5 of the 6 hours it took me to beat it on Number II difficulty. Yeah it's a short game. It's in the second playthrough that things started to get good. Should someone have to play through the game a second time before they get presented with some decent combat? No. It's stupid that it's rolled out in this way. The reason for this is the level up system. 
 
You level up by the amount of blood spilled. The more bloody cuts/dismemberments you pull off the more blood spills the faster your bar fills. Simple, badass, effective but ultimately maybe to the games downfall. I was a bit puzzled at first because you just get these level up messages and nothing else. Coming straight from Dragon Age I was thinking what do I do? Do I put stats somewhere? Did I unlock something? Did I get more health, more focus? It doesn't tell you what you got or anything beside the fact that you leveled up. What I eventually realised is each time you level you recieve a new combo/move. The shit thing is that they've got 50 levels to fill so it's like level 1 - unlock X,X combo, level 2 unlock Y,Y combo, level 3 unlock X,X,X combo etc all the way up to near the end of the game on your first playthrough you're still unlocking like X,X,X Y,Y,Y X,X,X and Y,Y,Y X,X,X Y,Y,Y. Basic combos that should be open to you from the start, maybe if they were the game wouldn't give of the shitty first impression it makes combat wise.  
 
Most of the best moves are attached to the collectables. You miss one of them on your playthrough you cant use that move until you go back and find it. Atleast you have an incentive to find things and level up but it seems like they've banked on the fact that people are so into achievements that they'll play it a second time to get to the good things. Completionist achievement requires you the beat it on both difficulties, and by the time you're two thirds of the way through your second playthrough you've finally maxed out you're level and have access to some decent moves/combos that you need when facing the later groups of enemies. The last two levels have some hard ass fights in there.   
  
The good first impression it gives however is it's style. It's got heaps. If you've watched the anime then you know whats going on here. Afro's got some of the best Cel Shading I've seen. It's got Samuel L. Jackson being Samuel L. Jackson. It's got the ability to cut dudes however you want in slowmotion. Get in focus, charge up your horizontal or vertical slash right, aim for the head, arms, feet where ever and let fly. Body parts go flying, blood shoots everywhere it's fantastic. Now obviously when your cutting up 100's of dudes a level it's not like you stay amazed at some slicing forever but the fact that it dynamically slices exactly where you aimed leads to some funny results when you just end up slicing willy-nilly. Dudes tryed to dodge me and ended up with their face sliced off Equilibrium style. Try to roll away and ended up without any buttocks, tryed to jump and got the soles of their feet sliced off, once I somehow managed to only slice a guys knee caps off. Sometimes you just look around afterwards and wonder what kind of horrible position did that poor ninja have to contort himself into for me to be able to slice the front of his toes, the back of his hamstrings and 2cm of the top of his skull off in one swing. It's always entertaining. 
 
All that mixed with Hip-Hop. If you havn't seen Afro Samurai I'd recommend you do. I havn't seen the movie but the 5 part series is well worth it. It's basically old school Fuedal Japan (Samurais, Ninjas, Decapitations and Dismemberment, Japanese Style and Cliches) with Hip-Hop culture (Swearing, Rap, RZA, The baddest Mofo on the Planet Samuel L. Jackson, AfrosCell Phones) and basically anything else badass they can think off (GunsRocket Launchers, Robots etc) It's nuts. It's like Wu-Tang Clans wet dream, It's awesome. Speaking of the Wu-Tang Clan, the RZA is incharge of the music in the game and it's awesome as expected. There's only a couple of tracks with rapping in it, and while they are good they are repeated one or two too many times in an already short game.
  
Most of the achievements you'll get on your way through, you'll be cutting dudes in so many weird ways that achievements related to that will pop randomly. Achievements related to blood spilled will come up randomly, a bunch of story related ones pop when you beat each chapter, collect every collectable, you know, the usual. There are two big achievements Completionist for 200 gamerscore and The Number One for 100 gamerscore. Completionist requires you to beat both difficulties in the story. So unlike other games you can't just playthrough it on the hardest and get it, which I doubt is even possible with the lack of skills you would have unlocked anyway. And The Number 1 is for unlocking every skill, which will require you to have played the game atleast 1 and a half times anyway and found all the collectables. So most of the achievements are all tied to each other which means doing one thing is always getting you closer to another aswell, which is nice. 
 
The ones that stand out from the crowd and by far the most frustrating are the Body Part Poker achievements (Kunoichi Suicide Queens in particular). Body Part Poker is a mini game you can play inside the combat. Every so often your friend Ninja Ninja (he's a Ninja called Ninja I think, or maybe his full name is actually Ninja Ninja...) appears somewhere during a combat situation and by running up to him you can start playing Body Part Poker (BPP from now on). BPP is played by hacking of enemy body parts to form poker hands. Enemy types become the suit of the card, and body parts become values. If you create a proper hand you are rewarded with health and stamina. For eample if you hack of 3 enemies legs you create a "Lower Pair", but if you hack of the legs of 3 of the same type of enemies you get a "Lower Pair Flush" which will reward you more stamina. You can get 3 heads, 3 hands, 3 legs, any mix of heads, hands and legs as long as they are the same enemy type for a flush, a head, hand and legs will result in a straight and for the best hand possible; a head, hand and legs of the one enemy type for a Straight Flush. BPP isn't explained in great detail in game or the manual so you've got a step up from reading this. 
 
All BPP achievements require you to get a Straight Flush from each different enemy type in the game (Ronin, Ninja, Android, Kunoichi and Samurai). Seeing as these are the hardest achievements in the game I'll post a bit of a guide here while it's still fresh in my mind. 
  
Ronin Straight Flush: By far the easiest. They are the easiest enemy, and hardly dodge/block. You just use a horizontal focus slash for everything here. Aim for the head, middle of the body and legs and you have it. If you're not to good at aiming wait until you unlock the pounce move. After performing a properly timed block (RT) press A to pounce on the and press X to instantly chop of their heads. There's many opportunities in the game to get this.
 

Ninja Straight Flush

: These dodge a bit which makes things slightly harder but at the same time it also leads to some lucky hits sometimes. You can usually perform the Pounce move on the ninja aswell so do that for the head and horizontal slice the legs/arms. They jump or duck when you go for it so aim up or down and you'll easily get the legs. If you're having trouble for the arms you can always sweep them (LT+B) then vertical strike. They normally jump the sweep so just stay in focus and wait for them to nearly land and sweep them again. Lots of opportunities for this one aswell.
 

Android Straight Flush:

These are easy, they have longer limbs than the others so much easier to aim for. Just use the above techniques and you'll get them. Plenty of opportunities for this too.
 
Kunoichi Straight Flush: This is the hardest one to get in my oppinion. Kunoichi are basically better ninjas, they are stronger and dodge more. They are always female and wear the yellow/tan clothes. What makes this one hard is not just the fact that they dodge, but the only encounters you have with them are in the middle of battles with other enemy types and they just love to get in your way. I did this on the snowy bridge level. Theres two other areas you can go for this the level before and after I think but both of these spots require you to fight a bunch of other guys before you get to them and when you fail and have to redo those fights 10 or 20 times it gets old fast. So pick the bridge level, turn around and find a bear behind a rock down the stairs (don't get ther collectable and you wont have to fight the guys that come down) then run back up and onto the bridge, wait for the god damn annoying cut scene with the god damn slow talking goliath retard every god damn time then activate BPP and grab the bear on the bridge this will give you full focus which allows you to go into Over Focus. Run past a couple of ninja and hit LB to get into Over Focus, position yourself infront of one of the Kunoichi and don't move and press Y for a slash. Somewhere around 50% of the time you manage to get a head. This is the only way I could possibly get a head that wasn't 100% luck. Sometimes doing this will net you a hand for some reason, if that happens go the the next one and try again. We want a head, if you get a hand and the head then thats a bonus and you are pretty much home free. So you've got your head, now run away and mash on some ninja or whatever to get some more focus then you want to sweep the Kunoichi using the double sweep trick outlined in the Ninja Straight Flush section and do a perfect verticle slice while tilting it all the way to the right this will get you the hand with some degree of consistancy. Now the legs are just a properly aimed horizontal slash away. Unless some motherfucker gets in your way and you manage to accidentally lop off something of theirs. Which happened to me, if you mess up (and you will, lots of times, although far less than me hopefully now you've got this sweet guide) cuss like a sailor with Torettes, punch something, glare at your Xbox like you're about to commit a hate crime on it and then jump off the bridge and try again. After about 2 hours of trying I finally got this. (Thanks to Molloy2006's Guide mixed with some other hints I found using google)
 

Samurai Straight Flush:

is gotten easily at the end of the snowy bridge level. You have to fight 5 of them and no other enemies. What makes these guys anoying is they always block your attacks, just keep trying and if something messes up jump off the bridge to restart. You'll get it eventually, just time your blocks and you'll be fine. These guys block a lot but atleast they're not flipping around everywhere. 
 
Thats it. In summary I'd recommend Afro Samurai to anyone that likes a good Hack-n-Slash. It may not be on the level of a Ninja Gaiden but it's style and unique twists make up for it. The camera is a bit shitty (go into options and invert the x axis, trust me) but only rarely was I blaming it for my failures. It's got something to show, sweet music, the achievements are pretty easy besides one or two and I S-Ranked it in around 12 hours game time (though I don't know if that stat counts deaths). Next up I think I'll be doing Bionic Commando.
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New Idea: S-Rank Blog Posts #1: Dragon Age: Origins


Ok so I need that quest for 20 blogs or something, and I'm not gonna spam it. I'm doing this legit, damn it! Thing is, I don't really find myself wanting to write about much, so I thought that seeing that this is a video game site about video games I'll write about video games. So every game I S-Rank from now on will have it's own little blog post in which I rant, maybe provide a tip or two and just whatever I feel like writing about. So without further delay; S-Rank Blog Post #1: Dragon Age: Origins. 
 
So I bought Dragon Age: Origins a little while ago and just put it off because I wasn't willing to make the time investment. I've had a love/hate relationship with RPGs for a while now. While I like them a lot, the time investment just keeps me away. So what usually happens is I decide to play one, pick my class, set my dude up (and if they have a decent character creation system this can sometimes take me an hour plus) play for a number of hours and wonder if I should have picked another class/race/speciality etc etc. It was this way with The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on the PC ages ago. I think I had like 7 characters each played for 5-10 hours before starting a new one. This led to boredom and eventually getting burned out with the game because I had repeated the same first section over and over, barely getting anywhere in the game. I don't think I even got to the first major city in Morrowind. 
 
This leeds to me getting burned out with RPGs as a whole. I need to give myself a bunch of space inbetween them before I feel like I'd enjoy some more RPG action. It sucks because I really like RPGs, it's just the completionist inside turns on and I end up wanting to see/do everything, which is pretty much impossible with some of the newer RPGs these days. I mean in Morrowind in each playthrough I would steal every bit of silverware, everything you could pick up and carry from every house I could find and sell it. I have a problem. 
 
Onto the first RPG I played for Xbox; The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion! When I went into Oblivion I did the same exact thing. The one thing I will pat Oblivion on the back for above all others is that the plates and cuttlery I had spent hours stealing and selling in Morrowind was now worth nothing. So I had no reason to take it all, oh how I rejoice lol. I started about 4 characters, each getting nowhere. Barely out of the dungeon you start the game off in before I would restart. Nord, Argonian, Orc, Khajiit I couldn't decide. Eventually I burned out and forgot about it. Then a year or so later, my completionism had it's hooks in achievements! Oh god, the sleeping monster had awoken.  
 
Achievements it seems are exactly what I needed to help me enjoy and work through RPGs like Oblivion. I had a higher goal, a cross game compulsion I was focused on instead of picking up every item in game, I was worried about collecting every achievement, something that had lasting value, something that didn't automatically mean nothing the second I was done with whatever game I was playing. I returned to Oblivion with new resolve, told myself sternly; "One character, one save, no go backsies, no other road". It worked. I still play my games looking in every shadowy corner, making sure there is nothing I missed, making sure to complete every quest but forward progress is always made. I ended up beating Oblivion, I think it may have been the first RPG I've ever beaten. It took around 100 hours to get every achievement, another 40-50 hours or so to get through Shivering Isles
 
Now this was a bigger time investment than I was ready for at the time. I binged my way through it, at the time I had no job and I did it in 2 weeks. Needless to say the girlfriend was not happy. So I once again put off RPGs, I played a couple more during the next 3 or so years (Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata, Fable II, Fallout 3, Overlord and it's sequel) but most of them where RPG hybrids so they were easier to play for me, shorter to finish. Then Dragon Age came out and I knew I wanted to play it, but memories of Oblivion come back to me pretty much every time I think about starting a 'proper' RPG. I waited a while until I saw it for sale at half price, bought it and then let it collect dust until I worked up the courage to start it about a month and a half ago. 
 
It was a lot easier to get through than Oblivion, because looking at the achievements I knew I'd end up playing through as each class, which afforded me the opportunities to see the end results of pretty much every choice in the game. It ended up taking about 60 hours on my first playthrough as a Dwarven Warrior, just over 50 as a Dalish Rogue, and 45ish as my Human Mage. It was only during my third playthrough that I was running out of steam. Like most RPGs it seems like you have a lot of choices, but in the end it boils down to 2 different paths. I guess such is the nature of a game, it is ,after all, a binary product. It was on the whole an enjoyable ride. 
 
I then got stuck into the DLC and the expansion; Dragon Age: Origins Awakening. The DLC was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. It offers an opportunity to play as a different character in some (Leliana's  Song, Darkspawn Chronicles) which is welcome after spending 50+ with one. While others (Golems of Amgarrak and Witch Hunt) fill in some of the back story. I don't know if I just had enough of the main game after playing it 3 times but the DLC seemed better than the main game to me. Each can be finished in 2-3 hours so they are only breif, but they are of high quality. 
 
Awakening was another welcome diversion. Putting you in control of a territory of land awarded to you after beating back the Blight in the first game. It was refreshing exploring a new place and ruling over your land. You build your Keep back to it's former glory while trying to help the populace of your Arling against a new Darkspawn threat. The story was more interesting than Origins aswell, I thought. I was actually a little dissapointed at the length of this expansion. While longer than the DLC it only took  around 10 hours for me to beat. I was actually hoping for a longer ride; ala Shivering Isles, especially since I had paid about as much for the original game. New party members, the chance to level up higher to obtain new skills, cameos from people you met in the first game it has everything it needs. Other than the length I don't have any complaints. 
 
The only achievement that game me problems was Blight-Queller. You're ment to kill 1000 darkspawn total, across all playthroughs. Each one of my playthroughs had around 700 when I beat the main game, a lot more if you include DLC and the expansion but no luck. The achievement is bugged in a way that means you have to do it in one playthrough. Luckily it doesn't seem to just unlock off the stat it shows in game, it also includes darkspawn you've killed before dieing or loading. At the end of the game you're powerful enough to kill Darkspawn in 1 hit and there is a series of battles with heaps of them for you to mow through so I ended up having to farm those areas then load, farm then load etc for around an hour before it popped.  
 
The other achievement people seem to complain about being hard didn't seem that hard at all to me. Grim Reaper tasks you with defeating the Harvester on Hard or Nightmare. If you're going for this, make sure to play through pretty much everything else first. My warrior was about level 33 at this stage, wearing some sweet armour with 3 rune slots. Made sure to make one of my party members learn Rune Crafting skill in Awakening and got them to make me 3 Grandmaster Stout Ruins. Each gave me +10 constitution, 30 constitution onto a already 70 constitution having Dwarven Warrior specialising in Shield and Sword was a walk in the park made even easier with Carapace skill. Also I made sure to buy as many potions as I could find before importing him into the Golems of Amgarrak DLC but it was barely necessary.
 
Thats it. Dragon Age completed, took me about a month and a half in what must be close to 200 hours. I'll be taking a break from RPGs for a while now, the next one I have my eye on is Mass Effect 2. But for now I'm gonna work on some less time consuming games. Until next time!
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Falling further behind...


Being a completionist is annoying sometimes, intensly gratifying other times. Finally getting that last achievement for 100% or the fabled S-Rank on Giant Bomb will never lose its buzz. It does however take time, time I could be using to play other games. I will say that being a completionist does squeeze every drop of value out of a game, multiple playthroughs for difficulty achievements, finding every collectable, doing things differently that you normally would... I love achievements. But again, the time you put into one game to get 100% would have been 2 other games normal playthroughs. 
 
This is where my downfall is. I love gaming, I love going for those achievements, I want to experience every "big" game released. However the stack of games piling up waiting to be played gets higher and higher every month. In one way I do save money. I used to buy games when they came out, only to get to them a month later. I've put a stop to that now. Which for a while was good because I was making progress through my pile, but now the games I havn't been buying are dirt cheap and I end up buying 3 or 4 a month in one fell swoop as to not miss the bargins. So it's two steps forward, one step back... but I love it. 
 
This past E3 week was 6 times the experience in Gears of War 2 (one of the games I bought when it came out, only to have never put it in my system untill the start of last week). I had to take advantage of this, make some big headway to that most grumbled about level 100 multiplayer achievement. In one week I got from 0 to 47(at the moment, I'm still hoping to push for 50 if it's still 6x when I get home) a decent effort, although nothing in the big scheme of things. It is however lowering my completion % and anothing huge grind I'll be dumping hours and hours into that could be used to complete, even 100%, multiple other games. 
 
Here's the crazy thing... I've begun to love the grind. Grinding is mindless, repetitive, boring... but turning on your xbox and having a clear longterm goal that isn't stressful, swearing at your tv as some other achievements (Mile High Club, most of Lost Planets achievements, Dead Risings aslo etc) is oddly relaxing. It does mean my pile will slowly fill up higher and higher, and the idea of one day being ontop of it and just concentrating on one new release at a time  slips further and further into pipe dream territory. It hurts... It hurts so good.
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