So somehow I ended up super into Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Honestly, I'm not sure what caused it to start. I had no interest in it during it's hype period for the initial release and was even less interested after Patrick's review. I saw Dark Arisen on the PSN store and I already had some cash on there, had heard the improvements were decent and I was kinda feeling like playing an RPG where I could build a character. I figured, "Why the hell not?" I could give it a shot. Boom. 70+ hours later I just started NG+ with my level 72 Assassin and man...I fucking love this game.

Sure, as far as world building and lore and story and the rest of that, this ain't no Elder Scrolls. That's fine. Would that stuff have improved the game? Probably, but it was more than enjoyable as is. Above all else the key to this game for me was one thing...combat. Oh man, scaling giant creatures and stabbing them repeatedly in the face was just so satisfying. I couldn't help but think of our late friend Ryan's description of another stabby game: "Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh." Of course this is just one of the many vocations, which all manage to feel so vastly different. I played as a Fighter for my first 10 levels switching to Assassin as soon as possible and the Double Jump and Dodge ability soon became a core part of how I played this game. Hitting NG+ and having to be a Fighter again really drove home how unique each class is and plays through the course of this game. What do you mean I cannot double jump to this cliff face?

That variety is precisely what makes it compelling to play through it again. Although I honestly can't see myself changing my Assassin to a Sorcerer or something, I would like to try out another class maybe using another profile. For one thing though, I do appreciate that enemies haven't scaled in NG+. I like that feeling of power that I've crafted over my time in Gransys. Sure it's rough going for the first 15 levels or so, but by the time you hit your mid 20s you feel a LOT more comfortable in the world. Maybe even enough to not be scared shitless if night falls and you're still outside. Now goblins are like bugs at my feet. Even mighty dragons that I gave a wide berth for fear of them even smelling me will now fall to my swiftly swinging blades in a matter of moments. I'm sure it may get boring after some time, but after the grind so far it's actually quite refreshing.

It's not all roses for sure, there are things that are clunky and annoying. So many people have gone over the problems this game has though, so I'll leave that alone. This is not a review after all. I just wanted to share my joy in a game that I fully expected I would never play or even like. I'm so glad I took a chance and gave it a shot.

30 Comments

The Dilemma of Shrinking Gaming Time

I can't say I didn't see it coming, but it's finally really starting to become a reality. I'm engaged and I plan to get married this November. As wonderful as that has been, it had the all-to-easy-to-see conflict of how much of my free gaming time would remain exactly that, gaming time. At first it wasn't too bad, we lived in separate homes, seeing each other often, but I would still go home most nights and have my own time. Now we just got our own apartment together. She's truly a wonderful woman, kindhearted and understanding for sure, not to mention quite gorgeous. Ultimately though, she doesn't share my love of gaming. At most she may entertain something simple and instantly enjoyable, such as a Mario game. After about 15-20 minutes though, that's it, she's bored. I chalk a lot of this up to the fact that she didn't have a television in her house growing up in Belize. As such, she enjoys spending her time outdoors and being active. I don't mind that stuff, but I do also enjoy my "sit on the couch in front of a television" moments and other than movies and the occasional garbage tv session, that's not her cup of tea.

Having said all of that, she doesn't mind my gaming at all. I've just had to adjust my amount of time spent on it as a hobby. I've got friends who's consoles have done nothing but collect dust since they've been engaged or married. I know she won't force me to do that, but the true dilemma now is that in my limited amount of gaming time what do I play? I'd become accustomed to buying whatever game I wanted when it came out and playing it thoroughly until I was done with it. Sometimes buying 2-3 new releases at a time and just working my way through them all. That's just not feasible anymore. For one, I can't go spending my money willy nilly when I've got all this grown up stuff to consider like paying for the wedding, saving money for a house, saving money for having a baby (having babies is expensive!), saving money for the kids to go to school, etc. Secondly, I just won't have the time available to me to play multiple long, 20+ hour, singleplayer experiences which I'm so fond of in a short amount of time. Ultimately it's pushed me more towards experiences that have a quantifiable time investment, like sports games. Something I can pick up and know, "Ok, one game of basketball is going to take X amount of time."

I hope I don't sound resentful, this is just the reality of having more responsibility in my life and not only catering to my own personal wants and needs. I still get to play the games I love, but at a much, much slower pace that I'm used to. When Mass Effect 2 came out, I bought it day of release and completed it in about a week and a half. I also bought Mass Effect 3 at launch and I finally finished it about two days before the "updated" endings were released. She does travel for work from time to time, so I may get a week here or there where I can kinda go nuts on a game. Overall though, my gaming time is shrinking. I've never been one to shy away from buying a game new, I have a job, I make decent money, I'll buy what I want...right? Well now I find myself comparing and contrasting, telling myself I can only buy one game for the next couple months. Trying to figure out which one I'll enjoy more right away, wondering which will probably drop in price sooner and if I could pick it up for $30 a couple months from now. That's definitely not the worst thing in the world, as I'm saving money and getting the most out of the games I do own. I love keeping up with the latest things in gaming, but here I am and I haven't played Uncharted 3 because for me it was a choice of that or Skyrim. Guess what game I'm still playing?

Well I've rambled on long enough. Again, I hope this doesn't sound too bitter or resentful as I truly am happy, I just am slightly mourning the fact that my biggest hobby is having to take a reduced role in my life as my priorities and responsibilities shift and change. As I type this, I'm thinking in my head...Darksiders II or Sleeping Dogs? Either one I get will probably be the last new game I buy until Assassin's Creed III. I really loved Darksiders and am excited to see what they will do with the sequel. At the same time, I love Hong Kong action cinema and the idea of an open world game in that vein is super appealing. Or do I now go finally get Uncharted 3 since it's much cheaper? Choices, choices.

9 Comments

NBA 2K12 My Player: The Jimmy Hendrix Experience

A new 2K, a new My Player career. Time to dust off those Jordans and get back on the hardwood for a new year of glorious basketball!

So this time around I decided to not use my name and use a preset one so I could actually hear his name called in the draft and during games. Once I found that Hendrix was a name in the list, the rest just seemed obvious and so, Jimmy Hendrix was born. Unfortunately the name list didn't have it as Jimi, so I had to go with a more traditional spelling. One downside so far is the nba2k.com site is not up and running yet, so I am unable to upload my replays and screenshots just yet. As soon as I get this figured out, I'll be doing that in future updates. Now without further ado, lets get on with the story!

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The Jimmy Hendrix Experience: Chapter I

After a successful career at Oklahoma University, Jimmy Hendrix decided it was time to take the next step in his career and declare for the NBA Draft. It was going to be a tough ride as he lacked the athleticism of some of his peers, but ultimately his ability to get the ball in the basket was almost unrivaled. A pure shooter, he had no limit on his range and by that skill he hoped he would be able to make a splash in the upcoming Rookie Showcase game.

As an exhibition of the nation's top talent, the Rookie Showcase did not disappoint. Prospects from all over the country vied for attention from NBA team scouts in hopes to impress someone enough to get them drafted to an NBA team. Hendrix was especially bright. His assists and rebounds were below the average for his height and position, but his pure scoring ability was hard to deny. Knocking down 52% of his shots from behind the arc, he was an absolute scoring machine helping his team to win the game. While he may not be the best all-around player, his talent for scoring should get some teams excited and so he watched his draft stock rise as he put on a show throughout the game.

After his impressive performance he was interviewed by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns. Aside from his scoring talent, scouts were most impressed with his drive and desire to fill any role he was needed to in order to help his team win. Of the three interviewees, Utah seemed the most promising as they were looking to make him a franchise talent and build a team around him. Phoenix wasn't too impressed with the way he viewed himself as having the talent to eventually become one of the NBAs greats, and so noted on his scouting report that he had delusions of grandeur in regards to his abilities and potential. Surely that will only add fuel to his fire.

Finally, the moment of truth was upon him. The Draft pundits pegged him in as the number 14 pick going to the Houston Rockets, but they had misjudged the impressions he had left on a certain Western team. After patiently watching his peers get selected, Jimmy Hendrix was chosen 12th overall by the Utah Jazz. He was thrilled to have been a lottery pick, although he knew ultimately that this gave him even greater expectations he had to live up to and, in all honesty, surpass.

Utah's expectations of him were highlighted in a billboard of him they put up in Salt Lake City to celebrate their new acquisition. It simply stated "The future has arrived." As a new rookie on the team his main responsibility is to provide some energy and scoring off of the bench. A few games in and he's doing that admirably, scoring more points than minutes played throughout the early season. Next on the to-do list is to work his way up to the starting line up and replace Raja Bell as their go-to scorer. Given his drive and determination to constantly improve his game, it's only a matter of time before we see him blossom into a regular starter for his team.

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So that's it for the first chapter of Jimmy's new life in the NBA. I'll post some more in the future as his career develops, hopefully with some images and vids as well.

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What a boring E3

I love a big E3 as much as the next guy, but it couldn't just have been me that found this one of the most lackluster E3's in a few years. Microsoft continued to make us feel like Kinect is actually a new Xbox and more than half their press conference was devoted to such wonderful titles as Disneyland Adventures and Once Upon A Monster. Don't get me wrong, if I had kids I would probably be stoked about those games. As it is, promising me Kinect support in Mass Effect 3 and ALL Tom Clancy games going forward just doesn't get me excited. Modern Warfare 3 had a balls-to-the-wall demo, but I guess that doesn't surprise me anymore. Gunsmith in the new Ghost Recon looks cool, but not enough to convince me that Kinect is crucial to the experience. In fact, that's how all the Kinect demos of core games felt. As though it was something to say "Hey, if you already bought this, you will actually have a few things you can do with it in those blockbuster games we know you'll buy!" I feel like it just hasn't had a killer app. The Fun Labs thing looks interesting, but I guess I'll have to wait and see if there's really anything they can do to convince me of why at this stage in the console's life cycle I should shell out that cash on a peripheral. Halo 4 sounds interesting, but a new trilogy? Really? So we gonna go all Star Wars now and start calling a 4, 5 and 6 a trilogy?

Of course there's one trilogy, that I think we didn't expect to become one, that will finally be ending this year. Ezio had a bit of a longer run as a protagonist in Assassin's Creed than I think anyone expected. However with the quality of the games being so high you can hardly argue. I'll be happy to play through more AC in hopes that this one may actually answer as many questions as I'm sure it will raise. Really this was the shining star in Ubisoft's lineup. Ghost Recon FS looks ok, not amazing, but not bad either. I want to like that game, but I think I need to get my hands on it before I can make a decision one way or the other. FarCry 3 was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't a huge fan of the previous games, but that demo looked pretty damn good. Might have to keep my eye on that one. Oh and "Mr. Caffeine" was just downright horrendous. When the FarCry developer came out and just in 2-3 sentences set up the game and said let's get to it I was practically cheering him for his brevity and refusal to be a party to the complete nonsense going on around him.

EA's conference was ok, I mean...not really any big surprises, but they kept it fairly simple. Battlefield 3 looks amazing, 'nuff said. I'm becoming more and more intrigued with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, although my "bullshit sensor" keeps telling me I'm asking to get let down if I start to expect too much. Mass Effect 3 is probably the game I'm looking forward to the most next year. The stage demo wasn't the greatest, but the one they showed on GameTrailers later was crazy good. Very exciting stuff. Madden 12....*sigh*...you parade 3 top players out there and don't even have a real gameplay trailer? This game is supposed to drop in like 2-3 months? You gotta do better. Your last year show was better than this. Not sure how to feel about The Old Republic...I love Star Wars and I love KOTOR, but I feel like this is just WoW with a new window dressing and it's not going to satisfy what I want from a Star Wars RPG. I'm sure it will be a great game and people will love it, but I guess I'm dealing with my own personal disappointment that they felt an MMO was the best way to go. Overstrike looks interesting, while SSX and NFS: The Run do not, to sum it up.

Sony had a decent show to be sure. The emphasis on Move was much more understated, which I appreciated greatly. Sad that the only NBA 2K12 info was improved Move support, but hey, they had Kobe. That's good right? Right? Uncharted 3 really stole the show out of the gate. The boat level with it's swirling ocean and water effects looked amazing. Resistance 3 looks to continue to be a mediocre franchise. The PS Vita looks like one slick, sexy piece of tech and the price was pretty good too. I'm just not sure I'm ready to invest in a portable device that does what my PS3 does, more or less. I'm sure it will sell well, especially at that price point compared to Nintendo's 3DS, but I may need to see a bit more before I seriously consider a purchase.

The 3DS had a pretty strong showing at Nintendo. Kid Icarus, a new Mario Kart and...Luigi's Mansion? Well, I guess they had to find something else to remake draw inspiration from. Skyward Sword looked like more Zelda, which to be honest, I haven't cared about as much since Twilight Princess. Maybe the Wii U can change that. Although I'll be completely honest, I think the Wii U looks pretty wack. The controller is a marvel of technology, but it looks pretty large and like a weird tablet. All the cool techy things it can do sound nice, but it just seems like you'll be spending money to reinvest in this generation's technology. This isn't leaps and bounds ahead of everything else nor is the approach as novel as the Wii was in 2006. It just feels awkward as it'll be keeping up with games we'll be playing for the next couple of years and then what happens when Microsoft and Sony drop new machines in 2014? Do we end up back in the same situation of those two getting titles and Nintendo's console getting some completely different version due to it's discrepancy in power? Only time will tell, but with the 3DS and Vita going for $250, I'm pretty sure whatever Nintendo is charging will be too much for my tastes.

So all in all I think there was really little to get excited about this year. Most of the best stuff we knew about long before E3 and there were less than a handful of wonderful surprises. Well, the bright side is I won't have to make many adjustments to my purchase calendar for the next year or so.

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My Player: The Continued Story of William Higgs (episode IV)

And what a story it is folks. Higgs has proved the doubters wrong and busted through the last of the regular season earning not only the Rookie of the Year award, but also the league leader in scoring! But you know, that wasn't quite enough for him. Hungry for more victory, he helped the Heat power through the playoffs sweeping the Cavs (who where the 8th seed) in 4 games and going on to face the Magic in the second round. It was a serious battle with the dominant Dwight Howard, taking the first two games at home and dropping two in Orlando. We held in for the final two however and went on to beat them in six. 
  


This led to an amazing series in the Eastern Conference finals with the Heat taking on their northern rivals, the Boston Celtics. This was one for the ages, with Bosh getting injured in the first game in Miami and although he still played, was seriously subdued. We lost game one at home and fought valiantly to at least claim game two on our home court. Then we shifted to Boston where the Celtics showed us how they protect their home court and busted us up in the next two games in TD Garden. Ray Allen was devouring us from downtown and Perkins (I started MP before the big trades) was clogging up the paint something serious. Down 1-3 with our NBA Finals hopes in the wings, we fought hard to get our next win at home. Heading back to Boston, things were looking rough, with us down in the series 2-3 we had to win out to make our way to the Finals. Sure enough, we were able to do just that with LeBron going off for a triple double in Boston in Game 6. Tied up 3-3 we took advantage of our home court and dominated them in the final game shooting an outrageous 54% as a team with Higgs and Wade being key in the clutch and keeping them from a comeback in the fourth quarter with some amazing 3 pointers in the final few minutes of the game. Definitely the most exciting series I've played so far. 
 
Compared to the Eastern Conference Finals, the actual NBA Finals felt like a pushover. We met up with the Jazz of all teams, that D-Will had led there through all of the West. In fact I think they beat the Thunder in the Western Conf Finals to get there. The series was a joke as we dominated the Jazz sweeping them in just four games. Bit of a let down as far as a challenge, but Higgs was more than happy with his stellar performance and hardware to prove it as he won Finals MVP in his rookie year! 
 
It was the culmination of a fantastic rookie year for Higgs that, although fraught with injury, still showed the league he would be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. The only sad part was really for the Heat as even in their celebration of their second ever NBA Championship, Higgs was looking for somewhere his talents could be more appreciated. Drafted to a team that already had a big three, it was only through his unexpected greatness he managed to get the minutes he did. Now it was time to leave this big three to find a team where his need would be much greater. Three teams came calling in the offseason looking for some help on their squad. Perennial greats, the LA Lakers were the first to call. With Kobe aging in the 2 guard position, he was just what they would need to revitalize their franchise for years to come. Secondly Orlando came looking for an up and coming talent to stick next to Dwight Howard in their race for their first championship title.  
 
Ultimately though, it was the team closest to his heart that got him to sign. Chicago with their stampeding Bulls had finished 3rd in the East, but suffered a first round upset and fell out of the playoffs early. With a budding superstar in Derrick Rose, an energetic and charismatic center in Joakim Noah, a strong low post presence in Carlos Boozer and a hard working, blue collar guy in Luol Deng, Chicago's greatest need was just what Higgs aka The Beast™ could provide: scoring at the 2 spot. He was welcomed with open arms and through a hard offseason of intense practices and workouts, he's starting to feel right at home. 
 
We started the new season with a bang, rushing out to a 6-0 lead on the season knocking the Heat from the number one Power Ranking spot and showing the league that we're for real this year. Higgs is averaging 56 points a game shooting 58% and 65% from deep, along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Oh and those Lakers I was talking about? Yeah...this is what I think of that: 
  
  
So things are heated up, I'm trying to get on the All-Star team this year, get the MVP and make the All-NBA First team. Time to bring another three-peat to Chi-town. 
  
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My Player: The Continued Story of William Higgs (episode III)

Been awhile since my last update, but The Beast™ has been tearing it up on the court. Barring a minor twisted ankle that he played through for 3 games, I've been in top shape. I've been working hard and putting time in the gym on my 3pt shot and it's really starting to pay off as I've increased my season 3pt FG% from a measly 23% to 44%. My normal shooting percentage has also gone up to 54% for the season and I'm averaging around 32 pts a game with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Not bad, although once I can work on my passing and awareness I'm sure the assists will go up.
 
The biggest news is probably my All-Star snub. I was around 5th in overall voting in the East and easily doing well enough to land on the team as a reserve, but as the game happened right on the tail end of my playable injury I'm not sure if that had something to do with it. Not only that, but I didn't even get in the Rookie vs Sophomore game. I'm hoping the injury is the cause, but still...it's a bit disappointing given all the work I put in. Fear not though! There are still big things on the horizon for Higgs. I'm second in the running for the MVP award to LeBron James. Unlikely I'll win it, but it's nice to even be in the race as a rookie. Speaking of which, I'm the clear leader for Rookie of the Year and no other rookie is even close to producing at my level. If I can win that I'll be more than satisfied.
 
Enough of the solo accolades however, as the Heat are currently leading the league with a whopping 52-8 record. Keep in mind that's including my 10 game absence due to injury at the beginning of the season. So needless to say, the team has been dominant. Which is part of the reason I'm thinking about moving to a new team come the off-season. Oh, believe me, I'm going to go for a ring while I have the opportunity with the Heat, but my heart is really in Chicago so I'm hoping I can get over to the Windy City after the season is over. High scoring has been a huge help, but the meat and potatoes of our wins are defense. See example A:
 
  

  
 
A nice little steal from the passing lane ended with a convincing finish. I've come a long way from the mere rimgrazer I was in the Draft Combine. I'm getting around 3-4 highlight plays in a game. Not bad for a second round pick right? Oh, and I got my very first alley-oop as well. Well, I had passed one to LeBron before, but my first time on the receiving end from D Wade. Just goes to show even the big guys are starting to respect my game.
 
  
  
 
So now in the wake of the All Star break, it's balls to the wall time as we make our final push to the playoffs. With a pretty much guaranteed #1 seed (as I believe the Magic who are in the 2 spot are about 6 games or so behind us) it's really just a time to sharpen our edge and make sure we're mentally and physically ready for the big stage. As the personal season leader in points in a single game (51), made 3 pointers in a game (9) and offensive rebounds in a game (7) I'm hoping I can set a few franchise records in the playoffs, if not NBA records (although that's tough given Jordan's legacy). I expect by the time I post a new update it'll be playoff time so in the mean time I'll leave you with a little taste of what The Beast™ plans to bring to the table in the post season. See you in the playoffs.
 
  
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My Player: The Continued Story of William Higgs (episode II)

What a few weeks it has been! Higgs has been on the up and up, fighting for more minutes on the court. The coaching staff obviously know they have a potential star on their hands now as they've finally promoted me to a starter! Not only that, but my minutes have risen even after being named starter and now I'm playing 38 mins a game, the same minutes as LeBron and Wade. Our starting line up for the Heat right now is: 
 
PG    Dwyane Wade  
SG    William Higgs 
SF     LeBron James 
PF     Chris Bosh 
C       Zydrunas Ilgauskas
 
So I guess you could say I am a legitimate starter in the NBA now and with expanded minutes comes more opportunity for greatness. 
 
I won my first Player of the Week award as I scored my first, second and third double double all in one week. That was a hell of a milestone, especially considering that every previous week of the season, except one, LeBron had won it in the east. Although it might be the best, it was not my only accomplishment recently. Jordan Brand designed my own billboard (WH7 bitches!) and even got me on the cover of Sports Illustrated as "The Next Big Thing?". All I need now is to get my own signature Jordans and I'll really feel like I've arrived. My career has never been better. I did miss those 10 games early in the season due to injury so I'm not even in the running when you look at the league leaders in stats, but I am leading all rookies in points scored, blocked shots and rebounds per game. If I keep this up, I may end up a candidate for Rookie of the Year.  
 
My next game is gonna be a big one. Miami at the Lakers on Christmas Day. A key game for sure. Now in real life, Miami abused the Lakers at home, here's to hoping Higgs can be the difference maker and help make that true in my career. I'll have to try and hit a couple milestones this game to get as many extra skill points as possible. Right now I'm working on my 3pt shot so that I can be a threat from behind the arc and help spread the floor on offense.  
 
So I'll sign off on this update with a little video of a sweet reverse layup I got on the Cavs. Go Heat! 
 
  

6 Comments

My Player: The Story of William Higgs

After playing tons and tons of NBA 2K11 on Association mode (Go Bulls!) I decided to finally man up and go for the big leagues: My Player mode. Being brand new to the franchise, I initially scared myself away from this since i was terrible at the game and had to start out with such a crappy overall player. After a couple months of getting used to the game though, I feel I'm in a better place to actually give this a shot and William Higgs was created. 
 
So, first things first, I went with an athletic shooting guard (in the mold of say a Dwyane Wade). The name is my middle and last names respectively, no other significance. My starting skills were, to be kind, pretty awful as a 39 overall. However I decided that my best bet would to be the Dribble Course drill so I could try to build up my speed since it's the most expensive stat to buy. 
 
Seven drills in and it was NBA Combine time. My shooting was still pretty poor, but I was a bullet up and down the court with a speed rating of 84. Made it a little easier to get things going on the fast break and to drive the lane. Still, I had to learn the hard way that the only shots I had any business taking were ones that were WIDE OPEN. Have to say, this was still pretty tough on Pro difficulty (I'm nowhere near ready for anything higher). Overall I had an ok Combine, nothing special. It was good enough to get me picked up in the Draft, although I missed the first round. Got picked up by the Miami Heat as the 2nd pick of the 2nd round, so I guess it could have been worse. 
 
The draft was just the beginning though. Getting picked by the Heat, I joined their Summer Circuit roster as a starter. This went much, much better for me than the combine and the extra drills allowed me to get my shooting skills to a more acceptable level throughout the summer. Working through the four game stretch was grueling, but ultimately rewarding as the Heat saw enough potential in me they not only placed me on their roster, but as 7th in the rotation. That's just two places away from the starting lineup. Needless to say, I was pretty happy with that, especially having come as a second round draft pick.
 
My first game in the NBA was a bittersweet affair. I did fairly well with the limited minutes I was given (12 mins), but managed to injure myself somehow towards the end of the game. This unfortunately resulted in my missing the next 7 games. Once I was recovered though it was back to business as usual. Management clearly must see something in me because they pushed me right back into the rotation and every game that goes by my minutes are increasing. At about 5 or 6 games played I'm up to 22 minutes per game. Which is great because being drafted by the Heat, I figured I had little to no chance to become a starter over their premiere SG, Dwyane Wade himself. However, it seems in my current team they have Wade at point and Mike Miller at the 2. This definitely leaves me room to grow and improve and have a stab later on at the starting lineup. Not bad for a second round pick, people are starting to take notice. 
 
One of the more important people to take notice would be one Mr. Michael Jordan who decided that I was the rookie he wanted to become an ambassador for his brand. Nothing else really has come of this yet, but you have to start somewhere right? Here's to hoping for a shoe deal in the near future. There are still lots of games ahead of me in the season and with each game my skills will improve. It's a long road though. Starting out as a 39 overall wasn't easy and even being a 50 overall now is still tough, but it's getting better. By the time I hit the All-Star break I'm hoping to be in the running for Rookie of the Year, but I have to work on my fundamentals a bit more before I make any grandiose claims. We'll see what the next month on the calendar brings and as long as I can stay healthy I'll stay on the rise.

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My first impressions of Fable III

Well, it's been sort of like a bag of jelly beans...the majority of them are delicious, with a few flavors that just twist the tongue a bit. This is very much a Fable game, that's for sure. All of the quintessentially British charm, wit and humour is there in spades. The voice work deserves special mention as it is uniformly fantastic throughout what I've played so far. The graphics, while not the most stellar around, are handled well and the art direction makes up for much of the technical limitations. Thankfully the characters actually have much better faces this time around, as opposed to the hot mess they were before. 
 
My issues really are mostly of the technical/game design variety. Fable II wasn't exactly a bug-free game and the tradition of that engine carries through into Fable III. Some minor slowdown aside it's not all that bad, but the potential for random, game-save ending glitches is still very real. Of the new systems, I feel they may have gone a bit too far in the simplification. The sanctuary is a joy for the most part, although why we couldn't have an options menu on the back button or a way to check specific inventory is a bit mind-boggling. I have to agree with Brad on the sporadic d-pad menu. It would have been nice to just be able to assign it items/spells like previous entries that would stay static.  
 
Combat has received a bit of a spit and polish as well being a bit smoother and quicker than Fable II. The extra emphasis on flourishes is very welcome, although I still take issue with blocking in melee (an issue I had with Fable II as well) being the same button as hit as well as flourish. The only real disappointment is the limitation on magic. Sure it's lovely to be able to weave spells to devastating effect, but only having access to one spell (or one woven spell) at a time without being able to swap on the fly in battle is a bit of a downgrade from Fable II. Sure the system in II wasn't perfect, but I definitely felt like magic had a lot more variety and power than it does now. It's become a glorified range attack in it's current implementation, which isn't game-breaking by any means, but just makes my hero feel a bit more lackluster than before. Maybe I just really miss my Assassin's Rush ability.  
 
The expressions have a similar neutering in my opinion. Sure the expression wheel could get a bit unwieldy, but I liked being able to have control over what expression I wanted to use at any given time. Now if I want to shake someone's hand, but it shows me Dance instead, then I end up waltzing with some old codger. I understand their reasons for the oversimplification, but I just can't help but wish there was an advanced expressions menu for those who wanted it. Speaking of expressions, the touch system is a bit underwhelming. Sure it's nice to hold my girlfriend's hand and walk around the garden with her, but do I really need to hold the sweaty, hairy hand of some trader just to lead him to town safely? Why can't he just follow me?
  
If it seems like I'm harping on about things that aren't impressing me that's because the rest of the game is so good that these things stand out more. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying my return to Albion immensely even in light of the things I've highlighted. There are still a lot of things I haven't yet had the chance to delve into (property management, marriage and children, weapon morphing, collectibles, etc) and I will be sure to post a full review once I've spent some more time with the game and finished the story.

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Fable III anticipation at an all-time high

Most likely due to the fact that the game is released tomorrow, which means I'll get it Weds night due to my having to ship them in from the US. While it has it's flaws, Fable has always been a series I've enjoyed immensely. I'm hoping the tweaks they've done to the Fable II formula along with their new emphasis on story and cinematic quality will make this the most enthralling entry yet.  
 
Can't say I'm 100% happy about losing my Slow Time/Assassin's Rush spell in favor of a Slow TIme potion though. At least this time the online co-op doesn't sound so thoroughly busted, so I'm looking forward to getting online with it. No more sharing of the camera, which was a serious co-op killer last time around.
 
I'm probably most intrigued with the new morphing weapons and extreme morphs (giant wings and such). Mainly because I tend to go for the good guy most of the time and huge angelic wings sound awesome, but also I like to emphasize a "skill over strength" approach with my combat and I'm curious to see how that will affect my weapons. Especially in light of their comments about how the timing of your button presses, the use of blocking and flourishes etc will affect the morphing of your weapon. 
 
Here's to hoping for another wonderfully exciting expedition through the world of Albion.

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