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Too Much To Play!

OK, so I have been somewhat distracted the last couple of weeks with the amount of games I have picked up.  First I decided to trade in Soul Calibur IV and Battlefield: Bad Company towards Dead Space.  This is a great game and I can play it for a few solid hours without wanting to take a break.  Then, I talked my wife into picking up Rock Band 2 since she liked  the first Rock Band so well.  And finally, I managed to pluck LittleBigPlanet from the hands of a Gamestop employee two days prior to the delayed release date.  

Continuously play me or be burnt to a crisp
Continuously play me or be burnt to a crisp

For example, last nite I started out by playing Dead Space for about 30 mins or so (completed the chapter I had almost finished the nite before).  Then, I had an urge to play some LBP.  Went thru some single player levels for about an hour and then decided to stop since the servers were still not working.  Finally, I picked up a plastic guitar and played about 2 hours of Rock Band...before this I had only touched the game for about 30 mins all week.  Considering (before last nite) I had already 3 hours of playtime on Dead Space and 4 hours of play time on LBP for the week, this is fairly unusual for me.  I usually get burned out on a game if I play it too much at one time.  But with each of these games, I simply cannot put them down.  They continue whispering in my ear (I suppose literally with Dead Space at times...) to keep on plugging until I can no longer bear to keep my eyes open.

What has this made me realize?  Well, I guess that no matter how good I thought some of the summer games were that the fall/winter games are even better.  I suppose the usual summer draught has been replaced with passable games that a few years ago would have been considered great games. The true test of our summer pasttimes are seen for what they truly are when the true AAA titles of the year start rolling out.  Again, MGS4 is a AAA game...but it is more like a summer blockbuster to me.  Heavy on action, sometimes a storyline you can go with or forget and a LOT of sit back and watch how cool it can be.  I prefer something that is going to engross me and want me to keep playing long after the game is over.

Great for a replay if you really love cutscenes.
Great for a replay if you really love cutscenes.
In the end, I think I am looking forward to a time when there are great AAA releases every season of the year...not just the near the end and beginning of the calendar.  It would at least make sure my wallet doesn't feel as much pain...

For my next post, I'm going to talk about my problems with LittleBigPlanet....at least after Dead Space is done and over with.

OK...Finally Back...Let's Talk Reality

All right…so the last post I had was nearly a month ago.  First, my computer was on the fritz.  Then, the financial world decided to crumble and guess which line of business I am in?  My job isn’t in jeopardy, but we were just so busy in the last 3 weeks that free time was very, very limited.  

That being said, I really needed gaming as an escape from reality.  However, gaming is starting to let me down in this regard.  First and foremost was the big news of the day in regards to LittleBigPlanet.  I have been looking forward to this game for a very long time.  As a matter of fact, I was probably going to not work on Tuesday so I could sink my teeth into this thing.  When Dead Space came out this past week, I was really tempted to buy it since there have been very few high quality games released as of late, but my urge to play LBP kept me from using my gaming “allowance” on Dead Space.  Now, though, I am forced to wait yet another week and spend my time in the real world instead of creating my own alternate reality in LBP.   

The fact that we live in such a world where every action (whether intentional or not) is highly scrutinized at every angle apparently cannot escape the world of video games.  Of course, we are used to games having controversy, but I can’t think of a game on the scale of LBP being recalled right before release.  And, if you think about it, LBP is the one game that you never expected to create a controversy.  Apparently I can throw molotov cocktails at the dead bodies of hookers whom I killed after having sex with them just to get my money back in any Grand Theft Auto (starting with III that is), but I can’t have some language I will never understand playing in the background of a childish platforming game.  Moreover, it isn’t even possible for a patch to be released to simply override that song from ever playing.  Why?  Because Sony had to consider the individuals that don’t have internet connections.  Instead of recalling, couldn’t a big sign be put up at all retailers to say that there could be offensive material contained within the game unless patched via the internet?  I suppose the reprinting of discs was cheaper than the potential lawsuits Sony thought they would find themselves in…

Seeing that I can’t play LBP soon, where could I go to keep reality from entering my brain?  The answer is not Burnout Paradise.  That would be because Obama ads have now turned up in the world of Paradise City.  What do I think of when I see presidential ads in a video game?  Let me see…sucky economy, war, grumpy McCain, general angerness in America about anything and everything.  Not to mention the fact that it reminds me I am trying to PLAY A VIDEO GAME!!  Most of the time when I see an in-game ad I can pass it off as something I have never heard of before and hope it is just something cooked up by the development team.  Sorry, EA, but as good as you can be you didn’t create Barack Obama (although that would be an interesting theory…)

That being said, I can at least jump into the world of Mercenaries 2 and just blow crap up at any time, right?  Yes, I can.  That is game where I have no semblance of real world attachments.  Except for the fact I am blowing up oil.  Oh well…at least it is virtual oil and I can nuke the world to my heart’s content without having to worry about radiation sickness, political consequences, or the potential innocent lives lost.  Even though Mercenaries 2 may not be as highly polished as LBP or Burnout Paradise, I can at least play it with a numb mind (which I think deserves a rating score boost across the board).

For now, I suppose I’ll complete some games that are still lingering around and I MIGHT bring myself to trading some stuff in towards Dead Space (a game that definitely has no connections to the real world).  I really can’t do much else inSoul Calibur IV and have almost completed Mercs 2 (although I want to see what the patch will bring).  Also have a Resistance 2 beta key hiding somewhere in my Gmail account and might have the wife convinced to get some Rock Band 2 on Sunday.  

As always, thanks for reading.  I promise to get an update up a lot quicker next time.  :)


Long Lost Relatives?

Over the past week or so I have been demoing one game (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) and reading various information on a game which I won't be able to touch for at least another six months (InFamous).  Something I noticed relatively quickly was the similarities between the two main characters:  Cole and Starkiller.  Are they simply long lost brothers or do they just need a tad more inspiration for their character artwork?

The first (and most obvious) physical trait the 2 share is their hairstyles.  Both have a close shaven hair cut.  There are some other physical similarities, but they are not quite as strong a link as the shaven heads.  They also both have gloves around their hands (either with the fingertips cut or not cut), wear long sleeved shirts, pants covering their entire legs, and (of course) shoes.  Outside of a few rips here and there on Starkiller's rags and the fingertips of Cole's gloves, neither of them show any skin besides their heads.  Cole looks to be a little older and more experienced than Starkiller, but certainly still looks as though he could be of relation.  Both have little to no eyebrows and really no 
I can't use the Force....seriously...
I can't use the Force....seriously...
discerning facial features that would make them stand out in a crowd.  I have a strong feeling if you were to interchange either character between their two games that no player would be the wiser.  Just age Starkiller about 10 years or so and you have two very similar looking individuals.

Outside of their physical appearances, the stars of each game also have the same ability to wield electricity/lightning.  While Cole's ability seems to be quite a bit more advanced than Starkller's, there is no doubt you wouldn't want to be around either in a metal scrap heap.  Starkiller kind of just shoots lightning at people from his hands or just infuses it into his lightsaber.  Not a whole lot else 
Give me back my brother!
Give me back my brother!
going on with that.  Cole, however, can not just shoot electricity as a projectile, but can also use it to bind people to the ground, revive people as a walking defibrillator, and other glorious powers which have yet to be revealed (although the rumor which is most exciting is the ability to travel the Cole' home city via the power lines.)  Both characters also seem to be fairly agile as Cole is a parkour type fellow (although developers Sucker Punch say not to confuse his ability to climb buildings as a parkour-like ability) and Starkiller can pretty much run and jump all over the place without ever seeming winded (plus he's a freaking Sith lord.)   Either way, both have the ability to be overall badasses and take out whomever may be in their way.
Finally, both characters (from what I have seen) seem to carry large chips on their shoulders.  Cole is pissed off that his entire hometown thinks he caused a devastating explosion.  Starkiller is probably pissed that Darth Vader is making him his bitch.  So both stories probably center around the character with a chance to redeem himself.  While InFamous will probably be more open ended as to if you want to do so or not, The Force Unleashed seems like a much more linear storyline will be in place.  

So, is Cole a long lost son of a Jedi Knight or is this simply a lot of coincidence?  At the end of the day, it obviously is just a LOT of coincidence, but these observations do prove that it is possible in some alternate reality that Cole and Starkiller are related.  It would be cool to see a game pitting them against each other and see who would win at the end of the day.  Although it might be confusing as to which character was which if we took the lighsaber out of the equation...  I urge you to take a look at the screenshots of the games and let me know what YOU see.  Do you see any similarities or am I all alone in this conspiracy theory?

As always, thanks for reading.

Small Update...Small Game

Not much time to write this week.  Actually focusing on another side project at the moment which is taking away from this.

Only exciting personal gaming news from the last week has been the addition of Bionic Commando: Rearmed to my collection.  Personally, I think this game is amazing.  Old school gameplay with updated graphics.  Just awesome.  Played a brief moment with some co-op as well.  Let me tell ya, the co-op swinging and shooting is chaotic and amazing at the same time.  This is a highly suggested game to get.

I would go into more detail, but just don't have a whole lot of time.  Am hoping to get an early b-day present in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames next week, but won't keep my hopes up.  :)

Don't forget, The Force Unleashed demo hits both XBL and PSN on Thursday.  Downloading this will hopefully tell me a lot about the game and help in determining if this is a rental or must-have.  

Will try to post more later this week or early next week.  Thanks again for reading.


2008 Holiday Season Wish List

As promised, I am going to share which games I plan on getting throughout the remainder of the year...or at least want to get.  If money wasn't an issue, each of these games would be added to my collection as soon as possible.  Keep in mind, some of these games are old too...just haven't been added to my collection as of yet.

  • Assassins Creed - Now that this game is only $30, I think I can take the plunge to delve into the world of Altair.
  • Mercenaries 2:  World in Flames - Never had a chance to play the first outing, but I haven't seen another game yet that allows me to destroy my enemies with a tactical nuke.
  • Star Wars:  The Force Unleashed - Honestly, there are things that I like and don't like from what I have seen.  But what I do like outweighs the negatives.  This will be a great near birthday present.
  • Little Big Planet - Part platformer, part user created content, completely fun.  LBP may not be as big of a system mover as Sony would like it to be, but I know I'll be in line to pick up this game at release.
  • Rock Band 2 - Over FIVE HUNDRED SONGS available by the end of the year?  Plus quieter drums?  How could you NOT want this game.
  • Resistance 2 - I honestly couldn't get into the first game, but Resistance 2 looks to be a lot better and expand the color palette.
  • Prince of Persia - I LOVED The Sands of Time and cannot to play this reinvigorating entry in the series.
  • Fallout 3 - Yet another game that promises me just as much playtime as GTAIV did.  Over 100 hours in a nuclear wasteland sounds like a fun time.
  • Motorstorm:  Pacific Rift - This is another sequel to which I did not play that original.  However, I need a great action racing game to play on the PS3.
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed - The ability to play this game co-op via PSN is more than enough to justify the purchase.
  • Echochrome - Still need to try and get this...simply haven't qualified it yet.  :)
  • Dead Space - Playing as an engineer instead of an action hero?  Sign me up!
And I think that is about it.  There are some other games on my radar, but these are the must-haves.  Of course, at $60 a pop I don't think I'll be getting the total of 10 retail games...unless someone wants to hand me over $600.  That doesn't mean I won't find a way to get them though.  :P

As always, thanks for reading!

Taking a Video Game Tour

A day off means I finally have time to write another post.  Been rather content with Soul Calibur IV as of late, but had to back off a little bit as I don't want the health bars getting burned into my screen (really should NOT have gone with the plasma TV.)  Seeing as how I had a reason for taking a small break from SCIV after a a week of consistent play, it is a good time to test my first science experiment by taking a tour back through my PS3 collection.

The first game to get a return visit inside the PS3 was Uncharted.  This was mainly because of the update to include trophy support (I didn't want to stop playing until at got at least ONE trophy in that damn game.)  So far, the main difference between my first play through and this one is the fact I have surround sound this go around.  Definitely a different experience, but not too much yet.  Getting through certain sections of the game quicker and trying to take a better approach to using cover and not running out of bullets this time through.  Right now, I can't say the game is a lot different than my initial play through back in January.  However, I am still enjoying it and relish in the fact that those new achievements trophies will compel me to re-finish the entire game again.

After that short time with Nick Drake, I decided it was time to step back into the LEGO size shoes of Dr. Henry Jones.  Leaving this game for a while and coming back was a good thing...at least for a little bit.  I was reinvigorated playing through the Raiders of the Lost Ark portion while solving puzzles and battling what I am not supposed to know are Nazis.  However, the charm wore off fairly quickly.  Some areas were too frustrating as to know what needed to be done, the actual 'fighting' is just button mashing, and the only character that is worth playing is Indiana himself.  I consider myself a fairly smart person, but there are just some parts in the game where I can't figure out what needs to be done to solve the puzzles.  Considering this is a game that would probably work best with children, I would hope the puzzle solving wouldn't be headache inducing.  In summary, taking a break from this game and coming back is the best way to experience it.  Personally, I think this game is a good "filler" to play in-between game releases.  In the end, LEGO Indiana Jones would have done best with a "child setting" and an "adult setting."  Two similar experiences, but tailored to the respective crowds.  

That being said, I decided it was time to trade in LEGO Indiana Jones while I could still make something out of it.  Along for the ride to the Blockbuster (they probably give me the best trade-in credit of any other store), was DBZ: Burst Limit.  Once the trading was done, I decided the best use of said credit would be good enough to be applied to Battlefield: Bad Company.  I have not had a chance to play it as of yet, but plan on doing so as soon as this post is done.  

Seeing as how I really want to start playing that, I am going to wrap this up.  Need to also see what kind of things hit the PS Store today.  Next post, I am going to cover the games I need to get through the end of the year.  There are some old games in this list as well - so don't expect to see just the remaining blockbusters of 2008 on my list.

Thanks again for your time.


The Art of Remembering How to Fight

The last few days have been spent rotating between quite a few different games.  I finally finished Grand Theft Auto IV (so I can quit talking about that), completed Dragonball Z: Burst Limit, and revisited some time with Virtua Fighter 5.  All of that was great...until I hit VF5.  For some reason, this game isn't clicking with me as it used to and I am having troubles figuring it out  More than that, I used to be a fighting game junkie.  Considering we are nearing the release of Soul Calibur IV I am having to seriously come to grips with my skills in the fighting genre.  Are they gone for good? Looking back at my long love affair with the genre, I hope not.

When I was about 8, I remember playing Street Fighter II Turbo for my Sega Genesis.  I played this game until blisters formed on my fingers.  And I felt I was fairly good at it too.  Blanka was under the control of a young master when the six-button controller was in my hand.  "Don't mess with me or Blanka will electrocute your ass to hell!"...that's what I felt like yelling everytime someone wanted to play me at that game.  Following, SFII I remember middling through the days of Mortal Kombat (I never was really a fan of that game), Killer Instinct, and some other boring games that popped up every now and then.  

It wasn't until the PlayStation that I really got back into fighting games again.  There was the Tekken series,Soul EdgeBattle Arena ToshindenEhrgeizTobal (I forgot about that game until I looked up Ehrgeiz but I played Tobal ALL THE TIME and was ticked when No. 2 wasn't released in the US), and much, much more.  It was to the point where I couldn't even stand the regular PS controller and had to buy the official Namco arcade fighting stick.  I wanted to feel like I had the arcade in my home.  Whenever I had the time, I would practice with my favorite characters.  Soul Edge had me living through the trials and tribulations of the tortured Siegfried.  Tekken allowed me to play as the odd, but fun Yoshimitsu.  Honestly, I picked whichever Square character I was feeling the best about whenever Ehrgeiz got popped into the PS (which wasn't very often.)  I had the moves down for my favorite characters.  It was as though I was channeling some weird video game Kung Fu as I effortlessly flowed between combos, throw moves, and blocking the enemy attacks.  Yoshimitsu was probably the hardest to master for me since he had such a wide variety of attacks at his disposal.  Flying across the screen doing somersaults while attacking my foes was one of the best joys I had in the Tekken series (outside of beating people up as a huge panda!).  

The practice that I was putting into these games was certainly paying off.  Soul Edge was one of the first games I can remember beating in the arcade on just one quarter.  Really, I just sucked (and still do) at most arcade games and couldn't get through them without spending tons of quarters or just lucking out by playing next to someone better than me.  However, Siegfried and I were unstoppable on the Soul Edge cabinet.  It really is unfortunate a lot of people don't have the chance to do that today as arcades are few and far between, but I guess the online matchmaking of games like VF5 and future games will help to alleviate that somewhat.  Anyway, it just felt like a real accomplishment to take my home victories into a neutral field and show some other people the skills I had gained.  

Fast-forwarding to now, I think those skills are just plain gone.  My PS2 collection never really had a lot of fighting games in the collection.  The Gamecube only had Super Smash Brothers which is just a completely different animal.  And I can't really think of any fighting games that were even released on the XBOX (there probably were...I just can't think of them.)  When SFII was released on Xbox Live Arcade, I thought I would just breeze through that game as I did in the old days of my Genesis playing.  That wasn't the case.  I think the farthest I ever got was the fourth or fifth level.  Is this game harder than I remember?  I mean, I just beat DBZ: Burst Limit, but I knew about 2 minutes into that game it wasn't a typical fighting game.  Every character has the same basic move set, just a different animation or special attack for the same button combo.  VF5, however, is like SFII in that it has separate moves for each character.  Again, I am struggling with that game at times.  

I guess the solution is just to start practicing again.  If I want to show my dominance in the online world of Soul Calibur IV, I am going to have to practice a LOT in order to get my reflexes back in shape.  Although I guess that does pose another question:  Is is possible to have the same reflexes at my age?  I would like to think so.  If only there was a way I could personally measure my reflexes as the years go by.  I need that to be my SECOND scientific experiment after I finish my first one.

Oh well, I guess for now I'll just have to wait until SCIV comes out before I start jumping to any conclusions.  Perhaps my best days are behind me and I am now destined to be defeated by those younger than me as I attempt to play games in the online world.  At least I was still able to have my glory in the arcades.  :)

As always, thanks for reading and I appreciate your time.