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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Googly Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gears of War 2

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

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

Game Room

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

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

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

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