Hello peeps, just wanted to write a quick post about what I got (myself) for Jesus' birthday. Now while that may sound like I'm calling my family out for only getting me shirts and gift cards, the truth is I'm glad I received cards and monies. I've never been a very easy person to buy gifts for. Usually whatever it is I want I've already planned out how to obtain it, so most holidays are filled with clothing and novelty items. So as usual, after Christmas I go and buy a few of the things that had caught my eye at one time or another.
The Dark Knight (Blu-ray)
I saw this one on sale at Target today, so it seemed like a good idea. Watched it in a theater and thought it was pretty great, so I wouldn't mind seeing how it looks in HD. The only problem I've found is I have a hard time telling the difference in quality between DVD and Blu-ray. This might be in part because my HDTV sucks, or that I'm going blind (a possibility).
Lost (Season 4)
I'm a big Lost fan, so this was a definite purchase. Maybe without commercials messing with the flow of the episode, I can finally understand what the fuck is going on. Though now that I think about it, that probably won't be any help....
Halo: The Cole Protocol
I've read the other Halo novels, so I have a fairly clear idea of what my experience will be. Before you laugh and call my a closet fanboy, I would just like to say that I know this book is going to be terrible. The only reason I picked this up is to see just how terrible it really is. I kind of expect this one to be a step above a porno script, but perhaps that's giving it too much credit.
I've heard good things about this novel. Hell, it even says "The Most Celebrated Graphic Novel of All Time" on the back cover, so how could it possibly be disappointing. Of course, I've also heard negative things from certain people, so once I have read this "masterpiece" I might perhaps give my impressions, if anyone actually cares.
Several weeks ago my email's inbox was greeted with a message saying (in the fewest words possible), "Welcome, you have been invited to the Playstation Home beta." I can tell you a feeling of contempt washed over my face, as I had not signed up for any inclusion process or beta-code giveaway. So I said to myself, "Well, I guess I should be a good little beta tester and find as many bugs and/or glitches as I can so the masses won't be annoyed at launch day."
Now here I am, weeks later, not having 'played' more than ten minutes since my invite, and Home is open for public use. "Oops," was all I could say when I first heard the news of the grand opening, and as I continued to play more Prince of Persia, the same feeling of indifference flooded my body like it had weeks ago. I had not gone back into Home for various reasons, one being the lack of English-speaking members (which made me feel a bit like I was lost in a foreign airport), and another having to do with the lack of......well......anything interesting to play and/or interact with. So with those experiences in mind, I was not too eager to "go back" Home once again, and with my newest trip through that virtual world, I was right to be hesitant.
Booting up Home was a bit of an arduous process yesterday, with many updates and re-downloads souring the experience. The avatar I had made before barely resembled me, mostly because I could tell any difference when I moved the face editor's sliders around. You're not given a lot of clothing to start with, just a few outfits and head accessories. Your living space is also very sparse, with only some white chairs and a sofa to decorate your swanky pad. Once your ready to leave your oceanside nest, be prepared to be greeted by many download/loading screens and prompts. These seems to happen whenever you enter a new area, but thankfully you can download these while you walk around in previously explored zones.
Downloading really seems to be a big krutch in Home at the moment, but that is natural considering the influx of new players. Waiting several minutes for the Theatre's entertainment to download was a very comical experience though, if only because of the commentary by my fellow audience members. "This is bullshit," one infuriated onlooker shouted through his grainy microphone, as several others began yelling at him to STFU. Once the video finally finished buffering I was surprised to find that instead of some Sony released movie or video, I was bombared with ads about the clip-on keyboard that was just released. Oh, how wonderful. So with that pleasant experience out of the way, I decided to head over to the mall to see what goods were available for purchase. The prices in the mall were reasonable, with most items ranging from fifty cent to one dollar, but as I continued with my shopping trip I realized something about myself: I refuse to pay for pointless, virtual goods. Before I exited the mall I noticed there was one avatar commenting on another's appearance. This went along the lines of "Damn, you looks fine...."
After browsing through the Home stores I decided to hit up the local arcade/entertainment-type place to see what fun could be had. Outside of the arcade was game where miniature spaceships pop bubbles for points, this by far was the most fun I had had in Home so far. Once inside the arcade things seemed to settle back into their usual internet ways. High pitched, horrible sounding microphones filled my speakers as memes were said aloud frequently and without justification. I was able to try a few arcade games, which while amusing few a few seconds, became very dull after several playthroughs. I was also able to participate in a game of bowling, which was interrupted by a player named GRAYFOX10, who decided to dance in our lane (much to my amusement). Afterward I tried a few of the sponsored areas, became even more bored and frustrated, and finally decided to sign off.
Truly Home, as it is now, is a pointless experience. Perhaps once more games become integrated and the space given to them is used to a better result, Home may be a worthy substitute to the XMB, but at the moment it feels like nothing more than another virtual chatroom. And if you consider the average experience you have online, that might not be a good thing.
Thanks to the GiantBomb IRC, specifically JackiJinx, I now have a German disco hit seared into my memory. I can't quite understand why I find this tune so catchy, perhaps it's the beat or their Power Rangers outfits, but most likely it's because of the sweet 70's hair and mustaches. Maybe with time this will become the next internet sensation, though I hope it doesn't.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the games I have been playing/have played recently.
Saints Row 2
While I won't go as far to say that Saint's Row 2 is better than GTA4, I will admit I had a more enjoyable experience (at least terms of gameplay). The realism in GTA4 really detracted from the fun outside of Niko's story. I remember that after completing the last mission, I felt that there was not much else to do. Sure there were collectibles and other things, but I never felt compelled to seek out those distractions. And while the plot of Saint's Row 2 cannot compare to the srsnss of its open-world cousin's, the extra content and absurd gameplay elements make it feels more like GTA: Arcade Edition.
The first few hours of Fable 2 did not win me over, but once I got used to some of the game's "quirks" it became clear how good the game was. The main quest is not the greatest I've ever seen, and the ending is humorous as long as you don't "jump the gun." The thing that really surprised me is how well crafted some of the side quests are. Albion itself does not seem as large or full as I thought, but that may be because the in-game maps are terrible. Above all that, being able to have a gay marriage to a prostitute named Larry assures that this game will stay on my shelf for a long time.
I'll come out and say this immediately: I don't think Fallout 3 is a first-person shooter. When your accuracy is dependent on a virtual dice roll and not your skill, the game is not a real FPS. While VATS is an acceptable alternative, I can't help but feel that it was used as an excuse to keep their stat-based accuracy idea. If Fallout 3 used more structured shooter conventions (i.e. linear segments and gunplay based on the player's accuracy) I would have considered this more than just Oblivion-with-guns. Sorry if I have offended you, but it needed to be said. Other than that, and the poorly timed scripted sequences, the game is pretty good. The world seems a bit empty, but what would you expect after a bomb destroyed everything. Some side quests are fun, and yield some interesting lootz and costumes. The main quest itself is surprisingly good too, but having an open world that can't be explored after the main quest is completed (no matter what ending you receive) seems a bit odd.
Far Cry 2
I have mixed feelings about Far Cry 2. While I really like the immersion and detail put into the environment, but the actual game mechanics are my main complaint. The constant patrols and guard posts can become a definite annoyance over time, and the weapon degradation system is downright ridiculous. Sadly I have not been following the story (if it exists) but what I have read from the loading screens hasn't excited me at all. Even though it sounds like I hate Far Cry 2, I am having a good time. The elements I like thankfully outweigh all of the disappointing parts, but once I'm done with the campaign this might be a trade-in.
From what I've played, this game is a good substitute to those who still refuse to buy an Xbox 360. The campaign seems pretty "meh" but co-op and competitive multiplayer are an great improvement over the original.
Gears of War 2
Better than Gears 1 in every way. It's fantastic, pure and simple. The only thing I've found to be odd, and funny, is the dialogue. Cheesy lines abound, and the moments when I see Marcus and Dom act like anything other than badass soldiers makes me physically laugh out loud.
I cannot express in words my need to play Dead Space. I so badly want to play more, but the holiday rush has put it on the back-burner. Extreme sad-face.
Sorry for the long post, but I needed to make up for the long absence.
I have now accomplished what hundreds before me have already done. I now have accumulated over 1,000 wiki points, and I hope you share the same feelings of indifference and apathy the I feel at this very moment. And to commemorate this seemingly elementary task, I present you a treat. RANDOMNESS ABOUNDS!
It's been a while since my last post, and I don't really have a good excuse for it. Procrastination, outside dilemmas, Castle Crashers. These are just a few of the things that I could say prevented me from writing on this glorious website. Thankfully I now have some time to write to any who cares to read. So without further to do, I present you with my next random thought: Beta Testing.
It seems over the last year or so there has been an increasingly large amount of public beta tests being released, prompting guinea pi...I mean gamers like myself to help the developer make their game just a little better. While I do find that these public "beta tests" are at most times just glorified demos, if a serious fan wants to feel some sense of involvement in the game making process then what better way is there than tell him/her that they can help test the unfinished game. My one criticism of how public betas are held is the application process. More often than not an applicant has to purchase the game in advance or sign up for some kind of promotional content to be accepted. No application citing experience or knowledge of the game's genre is filled out, which leads me to believe that these kinds of "betas" are just hype-building tools. The Halo 3 beta comes to mind, considering you could buy another Microsoft published game to get in, along with the soon to be released COD:World at War beta (in which you had to pre-order or make an account on their website).
I'm more favorable towards filling out an application, but judging from the beta applications I've seen the approval process isn't very strict. The point I'm getting at is if a developer wants to have members of the public test their game, it should be free to the players the developer chooses. That way the developer can receive feedback from players they can trust instead of getting useless negativity from someone who got it with their pre-order. Like I said earlier, if a fan wants in I don't care how he does it, but paying for beta access leads to players who will only play the game and not give the developer any honest criticism.
Now on a side note, here are some beta's that I've signed up for or have been accepted into recently:
Little Big Planet (got code)
Resistance 2 (waiting)
Tom Clancy's EndWar (participated in June, got code for VIP demo)
Just a quick post until I have something interesting to say. I just saw that Left 4 Dead is going to have a playable demo for the 360 and PC. If this is for some reason old to you, sorry, but this is really awesome news. The article I found didn't say if it was a pre-release demo, but I can't see why it wouldn't. Online co-op is supposed to be included (YAY!) along with the same mission in singleplayer. Here's the original article. 2 Comments