Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review

Do you own a PS3? Yes? Good, now you can play this awesome game. I am sure that is enough of an endorsement for Uncharted 2 but for those of you that need more, read on. Oh and for those of you that do not own a PS3 and are still reading this I can promise that this game is worth owning a PS3 for. Naughty Dog has made a game that people will talk about for years to come... or until Uncharted 3 comes out.

Uncharted 2 picks up roughly a year or so after the events of Drake's Fortune but this time we are plunged directly into the middle of an adventure gone wrong. In the first scene Nate wakes up, looks down, and says, "That's my blood. That's... a lot of my blood." After that you begin flashing back to how you got to this point and so begins another exciting romp in the shoes of Nathan Drake.

We are treated to the same basic gameplay from the former game so veterans of Drake's Fortune or those whom have just played it will feel right at home in this new experience. I was disappointed that the brutal combo from Uncharted 1 did not return but some mini QTE's show the remnants of that system. Overall the hand-to-hand combat will be easier for newcomers because most of the combat consists of tapping the square button and pressing the triangle to counter.

The gun combat is also mostly unchanged. There are no prompts telling you how to do some things that you learned how to do in the first game. A perfect, and the most noticeable, example of this is when you are aiming from cover you are able to click in the left thumbstick so that you can switch the gun to your other shoulder and gain another vantage point. You are not taught this again in Uncharted 2 so it is something that you will have had to take from this review or from the first game. Certain guns also now have a zooming feature and it is very helpful especially when taking out snipers.

One thing that you know about the Uncharted series is how over the top in nature it is. The movie feel of this game is what makes it so fun to play but even in the last quarter of this game when things slow down a bit it still feels as though you are playing an interactive movie. The game also looks fantastic but it is not leaps and bounds above what the first game accomplished.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You are making your way through game "X" and it has an amazing story, amazing gameplay, and even better cut scenes; the whole time you are playing game "X" you are thinking that this is as good as games get. Then you make it to the ending and you either get a 30 second "ties everything up" cut scene that feels rushed and like you deserved something better for playing through this awesome game or you get something awful that again, just feels tacked on. Uncharted 2 will not leave you feeling like this and I even dare you not to laugh (because we know Nate Drake has his funny moments) through it.

It is hard to absolutely suggest playing a sequel knowing that some will not have played the first game and to those I say that it is not absolutely necessary to play Uncharted: Drake's Fortune but it does come highly recommended. Uncharted 2 is the reason you own or will own your PS3. This is the game you recommend for any player. This game will capture the Indiana Jones fan, the Tomb Raider fan, the platforming fan, the pirate fan, and it may capture fans of well... actual fans. What I am trying to say is that there are a handful of people on Earth that will not enjoy this game and I personally do not want to have anything to do with them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: December 21, 2009

Hi, my name is Kara. You might know me from a month or so ago. I write for this blog and have suddenly disappeared! But do not fret! I have returned from a blogging vacation caused by laziness to update you on my video game playing habits! REJOICE!

You missed me, right, RIGHT?!

It appears my last update to the blog was over a month ago..sheesh. I can't even remember what I've been playing in the last month. I'm sure there were good amounts of WoW, probably some Torchlight and definitely some Borderlands. Of course, there's always a constant stream of Farmville to top it all off, but those are all boring and mostly have been discussed before and due to my epically slow progression in games updating the blog on those activities could get boring and repetitive. Instead, I'll update on a new game I got to playing this past week, Left 4 Dead 2.

This past week I was on vacation for the holiday to my home state of Washington. Nate and his wife Cindy also came along and so did Nate's Xbox. We didn't get a whole lot of video game playing in while we were home just due to being extremely busy, but we did get to play some L4D2 a couple nights. I purchased L4D2 a few weeks ago when it was on sale on Amazon, but hadn't really gotten around to playing it. Nate and I sat down one night and started playing the Dark Carnival campaign. Nate really wanted to get the Guardin' Gnome achievement. We had attempted earlier to get the gnome, but failed miserably. This time around using an ample amount of assault rifles and moltovs we got it and were therefore determined to complete the campaign so he could get his oh so sweet pink Depeche Mode t-shirt. I have to say, completing this task was probably single handily the most frustrating, yet the most enjoyable moment I've ever had in video gaming. It wasn't carrying around the gnome that caused the issues, it was the fact that playing on Normal in L4D2 is HARD. I mean, I'm not talking die once, figure out a strategy kind of hard...I'm talking about dying multiple, multiple times and playing through the finale 5 times before completing it kind of hard. At the end of it, I was beyond frustrated, but looking back on it the next day it was so unbelievably fun. L4D2 is most definitely significantly more difficult then L4D. Normal in L4D2 feels like Advanced in L4D. When you suddenly have a spitter, a jockey, a tank and a boomer at one time, it becomes a bit overwhelming. Valve has most definitely achieved the goal of removing any and all strategy from the game that players might develop. While I look back on it now and relive the moment, the excitement and the frustration and feel a sudden rush of how much fun it is, I certainly hope that Valve releases a patch in the future to tone it down just a tad bit. I'm not asking for a cake walk, but trying to get rid of two tanks while a spitter is puking corrosive acid all over you sort of makes your blood boil. I could not even imagine playing that game on Expert.

Would you wear a shirt that had Mario's wardrobe on it? (Awesome Game Shirts)

Mario's Closet @
Mario's Closet design @ ©

I think that it goes without saying that this post is entirely self serving because I would love nothing more than to be able to wear this shirt. I am sure you feel the same way so please do click the link above and vote "I would buy this shirt" for this design. Even if you would not plan on buying it, please take the ten seconds necessary to do this for myself, yourself and your fellow blog readers. Drop it in the comments after you have voted. Thanks. Just in case you did not feel like scrolling up you can vote for it here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

WAIP: December 16, 2009 - On Vacation Edition

This post is not so much to chat about what I have been playing this past week but more to chat about what I have been playing for the past few days. There is always one game that is included in that category: Left 4 Dead 2.

I had previously been skeptical on whether I was going to pick up this game even though the original was my game of the year last year. What sold me on the game was actually playing through some of it with Kara and my wife these past few days and I have since ordered it on Amazon and it will be waiting for me when I get home.

I have only really dabbled but I am really a big fan of all the small additions to the game. These additions make the original appear very lackluster or almost as though Left 4 Dead 1 was just a test bed for the sequel.

I am enjoying working out ways to avoid kill the new special infected and combining that with strategies learned from the original infected. All of the old infected are fairly similar to how they behaved in the original with one exception - the witch. This time she wanders about making it both easier and harder to avoid her depending on the situation. It adds an interesting stealth-like element to the game whereas previously the object was to just reach the end as quickly - and with the least possible damage - as possible.

The addition of the Charger, Spitter and Jockey makes the game tense at all moments but I also felt that at times knowing which of the new special infected that was coming was predictable. An perfect example of this is when I was playing with Kara and I had not seen a Spitter in a while I said to her, "I think a Spitter might be coming up soon," and sure enough the next corner greeted us with a noxious green acid pool.

The Charger is not particularly hard to kill but is there to provide the unexpected annoyance of splitting up your party when you least want/expect it.

Lastly, the Jockey will always come around if you are falling behind your party or are getting ahead of your party. He will also come around regardless but if you have someone watching your back it is easy to make short work of him.

Something that I did not think that would make a difference to me one way or the other was the dismemberment. It is so gratifying and it makes killing zombies any other way just plain boring. The melee weapons really show this off when you are lopping off heads, arms, and legs with machetes, guitars, etc.

My favorite experience with the game so far was trying to get Gnome Chompski through the Dark Carnival level. At the end finale it provided such a level of frustration, excitement, and eleation. What sold me on the game was that I found myself talking to Kara the next morning about the crazy situations that we had gone through trying to get the Gnome out safely. The moments that you talk about sold me on the first game as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Past Weekend's VGA's (Video Game Awards)

As opposed to years past - though I still did not watch the Spike VGA's this year - I actually agree with a lot of the winners from Saturday night's show. Here is the list copied from
  • Best Voice in a Video Game: Jack Black as Eddie Riggs in Brutal Legend
  • Best Cast: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Best Performance by a Human Male: Hugh Jackman in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Best Performance by a Human Female: Megan Fox in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Best Indie Game Fueled by Dew: Flower
  • Best Downloadable Game: Shadow Complex
  • Best Downloadable Content: GTA4: The Ballad of Gay Tony
  • Best Graphics: Uncharted 2
  • Best Soundtrack: DJ Hero
  • Best Original Score: Halo 3: ODST
  • Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show: South Park: Let's Go Tower Defense Play
  • Best Multiplayer Game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Best Action/Adventure: Assassin's Creed 2
  • Best Driving Game: Forza Motorsport 3
  • Best Fighting Game: Street Fighter 4
  • Best Music Game: Beatles Rock Band
  • Best RPG: Dragon Age: Origins
  • Best Shooter: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Best Team Sports Game NHL 10
  • Best Individual Sports Game: UFC 2009 Undisputed
  • Studio of the Year: Rocksteady Studios for Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Best PlayStation 3 Game: Uncharted 2
  • Best Wii Game: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • Best Xbox 360 Game: Left 4 Dead 2
  • Best Handheld Game: GTA: Chinatown Wars
  • Best PC Game: Dragon Age Origins
  • Most Anticipated Game: God of War 3
  • Game of the Year: Uncharted 2 
The most exciting presentations of the night were not game awards but were instead game announcements. These were game announcements from Harmonix, LucasArts, and Rocksteady. Most if not all games can be figured out from the naming of their game studios alone but since you have already heard about them from other sources, I will spare you any clever mention of them and just come right out with it.

The first and the one I am most excited for - based solely on the fact that I have have had some time to develop some anticipation for the game - is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. The first game was not without it's flaws but it was also a game that captured what it would feel like to wield the force. As long as the game improves upon its predecessor in terms of polish it think we will have another amazing Star Wars game on our hands.

Green Day: Rock Band will also be a fun game if for no other reason other than the fact than I have been a Green Day fan since Dookie released in 1994. There is nothing else to say on the matter but it will be hard, if not impossible, to follow up on The Beatles: Rock Band.

Another game that will be hard to develop a follow-up for is Arkham Asylum and yet Rocksteady has been kind enough to, at the very least, bless us with the announcement for the sequel not six months after Arkham Asylum the first was released. I am a little disappointed that the game is using the "same location" but apparently has other plans in store.
In other news Zachary Quinto was announced as a voice for Star Trek Online and that makes for a very happy Nate. I now just need a PC in which to play this on.

Lastly there was a Crackdown 2 video that touted some gameplay but I have to say that despite enthusiasm I have seen for the trailer on Twitter I was not impressed. The game looks to be copying a lot from games that have come out since the first Crackdown dropped (one thing that I noticed in particular was something that looked a lot like a zombie).

If nothing else the VGA's were a good place for announcements in an otherwise barren period of new game announcements.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Flower Review

Unless thatgamecompany (which is in fact the name of their game company) has something equally as charming up their sleeves you are not likely to see a game like Flower ever again. It is so simple yet so innovative in its simplicity.

You start the game with one flower pot in an apartment window and you begin the first level with one flower petal. It is never explicitly stated but your "avatar" is charged with brightening the world from the drab black and white that it has become. You will feel something warm grow deep inside of you as you play through this game. It can easily be played in one sitting and you would be foolish to consider this a caveat. I would recommend this for a first sitting with the game. Then come back after a week (nab yourself that trophy) and do it all again.

There is enough to go through the game at least a second time if not a third; you might find that you just want to be playing the game because of its beauty. The music is absolutely soothing and gratifying and your ability to subtlety control it adds to the experience.

There is not a lot more to say about the game other than it comes with the highest recommendation. It is simple, beautiful, and an experience you will not find anywhere else.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Battlefield Bad Company 2 Beta Impressions

The Place: Arica Harbor

Naturally I was stoked when I punched in that beta code from Bad Company 2's official Twitter and found that I was quick enough to nab myself the beta. Since then I have put MW2 on the back burner and have been Oscar Mike to my favorite military franchise.

The first thing that you will probably notice is the ease of use when it comes to the interface. All of the kits are in a horizontally streamlined menu so that you can change a lot of the options for your kit on the fly. After you gain a few levels your Assault kit will be radically different than the next persons Assault Kit.

The next thing that you are likely to notice - after you jump into a match - is how beautifully crisp the game looks. In my honest opinion it puts Modern Warfare 2's graphics in second place when it comes to military shooters. The character models look incredibly detailed and you will notice if you die as much as I did initially. A new feature to Battlefield games is that the game shows you your killer running about after he or she has killed you. This will become increasingly useful for strategy but I can say with great conviction that it is very satisfying to see that your killer is already dead when this view is shown.

All of the things that you know and love from Bad Company 1 have made it over to 2 and the developers at DICE also added a lot. All of your awards and stats have made it over but the best new additions are perk-like items that you unlock over time. One of my favorites allows your kit to be lighter so that you can sprint greater distances.

A great addition to the Medic kit is the defibrillator paddles that allows you to revive dead players which can really help in clutch situations. It takes a little while to get used to and you will likely find that you are dying more often than you are reviving people. A nice little trick is that you can also use the paddles to kill an unsuspecting player. And yet on another completely unrelated note you are likely to encounter a squad made up entirely of medics and those are frustrating to no end.

The Arica Harbor map is incredibly fun to play with a lot of different types of combat ranging from open to very close quarters combat. The map is reminiscent of Oasis from BFBC1 if not just because it has similar aesthetics.

It is a very fun game so far and I know that I will personally enjoy it more than MW2 because of the element of strategy that is always there.

There are a few flaws that mainly lie in getting stuck when climbing around the edges of the map but I am sure those will be smoothed out by the shipping date in March 2010.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

MAG Beta - Second Impressions

I figured after writing about the MAG beta yesterday that I would give it another go around when I got home from work. I did just that and so begins my second impressions of the MAG beta.

The first thing that happened when I booted up was that there was an update. It only makes me feel like the beta is going to be at least a little longer which will be enough to either sell me or discourage me from buying the retail disc come January 26th. The only problem with that date is that it conflicts with the launch of Mass Effect 2 and you can be sure that nothing is going to detract my attention from the greatest game of all time (in case you were wondering, that game will be Mass Effect 2) but I have digressed enough. I would like to pick up another game with such a permanent multiplayer (similar to that of Modern Warfare 2) around the same time and I see no reason as to why that game could not be MAG. I am sure I could keep MW2 as my staple multiplayer game until Bad Company 2 but... oh there I go again.

The first thing I noticed was that the game seemed to be running much smoother - either that or I became used to the game's "running rate" - and I was still on the attacking side (for both matches that I played). I think that I was playing the game like it should be played but the teams that I was working with just did not have their acts together. The second match I played was the closest one that I had been in but we still did not have what it took. It is definitely one of those games where you need a headset and I am at the unfortunate disadvantage of not having one.

I do wonder what it would be like to be on the defending side of things but I suppose I might have to win a match first (I do not honestly believe that though).

In case you wanted to know, at some point in the middle of this post I was trying hard to punch in a beta code for the Bad Company 2 beta to no avail. I will keep you updated on my exploits.

Monday, November 30, 2009

WAIP: November 30, 2009 - Too Sick To Play Much Edition

I accidentally showed up to work early today thinking that I had to be in much sooner than I had originally anticipated. This will result in the first blog post from work - from the store computer no less - and will most likely, as usual, be derivative in nature.

Early on in the week I was only dedicating myself to playing Modern Warfare 2. I managed to - over the the span of a few days - gain about 10 levels to reach level 35 and I accomplished a significant portion of that in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving (from about 000 to 0400 hours). After the Thanksgiving escapade I managed to get myself sick and therefore did not manage to play any games at all throughout the rest of the week other than a short burst of MW2 yesterday afternoon.

Somewhere in there I managed to get my hands on the MAG beta for the PS3 and I did get one half hour long match in. From the get go - and this is forgivable in a game that allows 256 players to be in one match at one time - you notice that the graphics are not as sharp as you might hope for. I have to say that they do look fairly decent (better than PS2 graphics) for what the game is accomplishing so far. The only qualms I really have with the graphics is that, on the level I played, the gray stone steps, doorways, passages, et cetera all blend together to the point that unless happen to discover these object up close, you will not be able to notice them from afar (like say a sniper position).

I did not immediately notice how grandiose everything is and you probably will not either but trust me it is all there. The levels are large and though I was on the losing team there are a lot of players on both teams filling up the map. The map I played on seemed like a giant symetrical box with various vantage points constructed for both teams.

In terms of actual gameplay the mode, that I do not remember the name of, that I played was objective based and my team was on the attacking end of things. We were not working together at all even though one guy on our team was trying to rally us and I'll admit that I was taking it a little too Call of Duty at first. Even after I wised up and actually tried different tactics (flanking around, trying a different spawn point) I still only managed to touch the objectives two or three times. By the end of the match I understood  better what I was supposed to do but that does not mean I was any better at executing it. I would say that the learning curve is around about two or three full matches before you will grasp the full concept of what you should and should not be doing (learning the controls falls in there somewhere).

Now I am sure the first thing that you were wondering about is if a game with that many people in it lags. I could not honestly tell you the answer to that and be 100 percent certain. The game is playable and when you shoot someone they die the way that would expect. I experienced no deaths that I could attribute to lag but in the end the game is either lagging very minorly or the framerate is not great. You will notice, at least in this beta, that the game runs a little choppy but if this game is your cup of tea then it is nothing that you could not get used to.

I am sure that the final product will be at least a little bit better in all aspects when it ships at the end of this coming January.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WAIP: November 24, 2009 - Modern Warfare 2 Edition

There has not been a lot that I have been playing other than Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer but in all sense of fairness I will mention the one game that caught my attention in the midst of a hail of bullets.

That game is Flower, the polar opposite of MW2. Flower is a beautiful serene little game that offers something much different from any other game I have played.

In Flower you take your "role" as the lead flower petal and, from what I make of the game, make the world, that starts off as black, white and gray, colorful again. From the blossoming visuals to the majestic audio you will find yourself in a peaceful place and maybe even wondering if what you are playing is really a game. This game seems to be happy as long as you are happy with what you are making of it.

But, like I said before, I have primarily devoting my fascination to the brilliant Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer. This week I have been devoting myself to a new load-out and it has been helping me to even out my previously dismal Kill/Death ratio. In terms of my score and level, I am currently behind everyone that matters to me on my friends list. I have also played between 5-10 hours less than all of them and I still cannot figure that one out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Facebook Update for PS3 or Firmware v. 3.10

Other than the first time I hooked up my PS3 to the internet this will be my first official firmware update for my PS3. I know, riveting.

This update will include the ability to have your Facebook news feed update every time you make a purchase or unlock a trophy on your PS3. These features can be turned on or off so those who worry about spam can take a deep breath.

Personally I feel that this accomplishes what Raptr accomplished for the Xbox scene only it is built directly into the UI. I would be up for a seamless integration on Twitter as well while we are at it. And then while we are at that let us have the same experience built into Xbox's new Facebook and Twitter apps. Twitter and Facebook right now are just novelties on the console but it is still welcome in lieu of no updates at all.

This update also improves photo browsing and allows you to change the color of your PSN ID card. Check out the video originally posted on the Playstation Blog for more details:

Lastly this update should be available for your PS3 so go check it out if you have not already.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WAIP: November 17, 2009 - The "Look Ma' I Can Update My Blog" Edition

Once you have not been doing something for so long it becomes easy to not get back on the horse and get back to work (in this case we are talking about this very blog).

You would be surprised at what you can accomplish in fifteen days of game playing.

I started it all off with completing the campaign of Uncharted which was absolutely fantastic. It was easily one of the best games I played in terms of immersion and the fact that you always feel like you are inches away from death. I have not played more since I beat it but I easily can look forward to at least one more playthrough before I pick up Uncharted 2. I had not gone for the hardest difficulty initially because of my inexperience with the Playstation controller and I just wanted to enjoy my first experience with the game. I can easily say to anyone that owns a PS3, "If you have not played this game, you are doing your excitement senses a disservice." I only worry that the sequel will not be as good as the first.

The next big gaming event that I partook in was actually an event. I went to the Midnight Launch Party for Modern Warfare 2 in Union Square. I like to involve myself in these major launches because I want to be part of something interesting and exciting in the gaming space (not that the actual games are not exciting). This was an opportunity to play the multiplayer before picking up the game at midnight. It was also an opportunity to win copies of the game and anything that falls in line with that. I actually got my phone laser engraved with Modern Warfare 2 for free so that had me all jazzed up (that and the free Monster Energy Drinks that they were handing out). I played roughly four multiplayer matches (and I say roughly because one was only about half of a match) and was only on the loosing team once. I kept my K/D ratio above one for all but one match (the first one) and overall I have to say that I played fairly well. Here are a few photos from the the outside of the tent (before I was too involved to take any photos inside): The Modern Warfare Launch Night Party

I also worked up the gusto to introduce myself and take a picture with Major Nelson. We chatted about the 360 and achievements and even the PS3. He is a super nice guy and even though my eye looks busted in the picture (I do not know how the picture came out that way) it was a really nice experience.
Picture w/ Major (Larry Hryb)

And since then I have done nothing but play the Modern Warfares. I finished the campaign in one seven and a half hour play session (on release day) which while absolutely enthralling it leaves you emotionally and physically drained (I would say that this was because of the subject matter rather than sitting I one place for that long (and I did get up after each mission)). Since then I have been dedicated to the multiplayer and I have been dabbling in Spec Ops with Jarvis. I have only become annoyed with a ten year old a few times so I am calling myself lucky thus far.

A lot of people feel like the level "No Russian" (the terrorists in the airport) is in poor taste but I feel that it was well done and I feel that it is up to your individual basis on what you will think of it (if you did not already skip it). It is the set-up for the main conflict of the game and without it I feel that the game is less than itself and that is all I have to say about it.

I have not touched Borderlands let alone Brütal Legend and my PS3 has basically fallen by the wayside in the wake of MW2.

I did manage to play LittleBigPlanet with my wife last night because I just got a nice shiny new red controller. When we started playing I immediately stuck a sticker to her Sackboy's face not even knowing that I was going to receive a trophy for doing so (a enjoyable little delight). We then proceeded to play through some of the earlier levels and some user created levels based on the subjects of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Doctor Who. Most user created levels are not really that great but I also cannot wrap my head around being able to do something that laborious myself.

We also got our first BluRay that I am excited to watch (but have not watched yet): UP. Star Trek is also on its way to us and you can be assured that I will watch the shit out of those special features as well as the movie itself.

I hope this update was extensive enough but the words do not make up for fifteen days without an update and for that I am sorry.

Monday, November 2, 2009

WAIP: November 2, 2009: A Little Bit From Column 'A' Edition

This past week I ran the gamut on what I have been playing. I think that I successfully paid attention to my Xbox and my PS3 equally while the later may have eked out a little more of my attention - what with its newness and all.

I started the week off right with Borderlands. Gearbox made the game that I have been asking for - a Role-playing Shooter. It is like a first person, open world, Diablo but I have to be honest, the story is severely lacking. I am searching for something mythical called the Vault and all I can decipher from that is that it is corny. Everything else about the game is fantastic. From the art style to all of the stats, the upgrades and let us not forget the infinite guns, this game is packed to the brim with new things to explore and great times with friends. I have not had much of a chance to experience a lot of co-op experiences but the ones that I have were fun and challenging.

I managed to jump into a game last night, with a few people from my friends list, and while we were all around the same level, the enemies were all equal or greater to our levels and we spent the whole time reviving each other and acquiring some decent loot.

On the Xbox side of things I also managed to check out Halo Waypoint and the only useful thing it told me is that I am a level 35 (out of 40) Halo player based on Gamerscore. It would be nice if Waypoint actually pulled some of your stats from ODST and H3 but the avatar awards that I have will suffice right now.

I spent a lot of time with the PS3 in the latter half of the week particularly paying a lot of attention to LittleBigPlanet and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. LBP is becoming quite the challenge as I progress through the levels but I still find myself branching off and playing user created levels and the bonus Metal Gear Solid levels that came with the GOTY edition of the game. The Paintinator is a fun little addition to the game and I also managed to pick up the free Pumpkinhead costume that was out for Halloween. I cannot wait to see where this game takes me in the future.

When I started with Uncharted I was not sure how to feel. The game was beautiful but the controls took me longer than usual to get used to (but it probably had something to do with having to invert the Y-axis for both looking and shooting) so I was torn for a moment. That moment quickly past as I spent the next two and half hours tearing through the game's first four and a half chapters. The game is in one word: RIVETING. You do not believe that you should be able to do half the things that you do but in the end you still pull every single thing off. The game makes you feel like Nathan Drake and further than that it makes you feel empowered while still having a lot of control over the game. The best way I can describe it (better) is that it makes you feel as powerful and cool as you did in Assassins Creed but you feel like your button presses are actually controlling Nate Drake not vice versa.

This past week a demo (something that ALL PSN games need) was released for a little game called Fat Princess and I played the shit out of it. It took me a short while to get used to the game but after I had I had a ball. It is just so cute and bloody. I cannot wait to play more.

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: November 2, 2009

First and foremost, let it be known, there will be NO discussion of WoW in this blog update as I have not played WoW for the last week. Those who are tired of reading about WoW each and every week, REJOICE!

What did consume my gaming life this past week was Borderlands. I purchased the game on release day and have been slowly making my way through the game. I've done a bit of co-op play, but have decided my slow and steady pace doesn't necessarily keep me at the same pace as all my friends, so I've fallen a bit behind. But that's okay! I'm actually really enjoying the SP elements of the game. I'm the type of gamer that goes in and out of phases of gaming where I'm totally obsess to no care ever, so SP is nice because it allows me to move at my own pace without worry. I'm up to level 17 with my hunter and still thoroughly loving the game. You've probably heard a lot about Borderlands since it's release, so I'll move onto something else a bit more interesting.

I have found a new addiction and that addiction goes by the name of Torchlight. I first heard about the game on The Instance (A WoW podcast I listen to). I had seen some information on it a while ago in my gaming blogs, but wasn't that intrigued at that point. Once I heard Scott Johnson of The Instance rant and rave about it and inform me that it was created by two of the designers of Diablo and Diablo II and played very much like the games, I knew I had to check it out. On Sunday I downloaded the demo off Steam and got to playing...before I knew it I was done with the demo, but instantly felt the urge for more. I immediately purchased it. After that I played for at least 2 to 3 hours straight. I was in love.

The game itself plays very much like the Diablo franchise. It's your basic hack n slash dungeon based game with loads and loads of loot. I particularly enjoy the art style of the game. It goes for a more "cartoony" art style compared to Diablo's bit more realistic style. I like it and it just adds to the overall delightful feel of the game. One of my favorite features of the game is your pet. Every hero class gets a pet. My initial thoughts were "hmm, pets are cool, I guess" until I learned of the most essential role of the's ability to sell your loot. One of the biggest frustrations for any Diablo fan was that there was so much loot and only so much space in your bag. If you're like me and have issues leaving loot behind simply because free loot = money in your pocket you felt compelled to pick up every single item you ever came across and this lead to many, many trips back to town to sell the loot. In Torchlight, all you do is transfer your unwanted loot from your inventory to your pet's inventory and with the press of one simple button, the pet runs back to town, sells the loot and returns to you. You go a few moments without your helpful companion, but all in all it does not take that long for the pet to turn and just makes the game that much more enjoyable. If a feature like this is not available in Diablo III, well, I really don't know what I'm going to do.

It was quite the easy decision to purchase Torchlight because the game only costs $20 and is EASILY worth that low, low price. If you're a fan of the Diablo franchise, you will easily enjoy this game and for $20, it's almost criminal to pass it up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Netflix Coming to PS3 by Temporary Disc Based Solution

Roughly a year later than the Xbox version Sony and Netflix are bringing Instant Watch to the Playstation 3. This does not mean a whole lot to me seeing as I already have this function on my 360 but it is still a nice addition for those PS3 owners whom do not have that luxury. It will be nice for convenience purposes (ex. not having to switch between consoles to watch a movie).

But there is a caveat, until late 2010 the Netflix experience shall remain a disc based experience. This does not make much sense if any at all. Sony and Netflix both knew that this was an experience that was coming to the PS3 and they had to know how ridiculous this whole prospect sounded. I can see the side where they wanted to get the experience into the consumer hand quicker (for business reasons I'm sure) but they could have:
  1. Worked on it a little harder and faster since they probably knew that Microsoft only had a year of exclusivity, or:
  2. Not released it until it was actually finished (again greedy pockets are most definitely the culprit here)
All I have left to say is that this is really a bonehead move from both parties. But, I have requested my disc and I'll let you know just how annoying not being able to access Netflix through the XMB (XcrossMediaBar) really is in a month or so.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: October 26, 2009

There were two games that dominated my playing time this past week. The first is Borderlands. As I stated in a previous post, I picked this game up last Tuesday on release day. I had the opportunity to get in some SP time as well as some co-op time over the rest of the week. Thus far I am truly loving this game. I've played more SP than co-op, but I find the SP to be just as fun as the co-op. I finally unlocked a 3rd weapons slot and feel as though I have the appropriate weapons I need for the time being. I discovered that my purple sniper rifle (don't remember the gun's specific name) has the ability to completely blow the heads of skaggs in the lower level areas. This made me squee with joy.

My experience with co-op was fun, although I felt I was totally lacking and holding everyone I was playing with back. The ability to power level with friends is actually pretty awesome as you jump levels much quicker then you ever would in SP. It's a nice feature to have, especially since I didn't get the opportunity to play this weekend at all and feel like I've fallen behind others as far as leveling goes. The co-op plays much like if you were to group with someone in WoW. If you have the same quests, they show up and you get the same objectives. I don't have too much to report on the co-op front as the only time I played I was a bit confused and hadn't fully fallen into the ebb and flow of the game, so my personal experience wasn't all that great just due to my lack of knowledge. Definitely looking forward to getting in more hours on this game throughout the week.

Even though I was up visiting the girlfriend at college this week, I still had the opportunity to play some WoW. I finally got to level 70 (HOORAY!) which is quite the accomplishment for me. I've been enjoying the Northrend content, although I'm looking forward to getting out of the Borean Tundra zone and moving onto something new. Being a mere 10 levels away from "the end" is a nice feeling though. I think I might start leveling my old warrior main after I'm done with my current. Maybe I'll try out some different zones I didn't get to on my current to mix it up a bit.

WAIP: October 26, 2009: Playstation 3 Acquired Edition (The First Experiences)

On Friday night I finally took the plunge and picked up a PS3. I picked it up in Jersey (boo hiss) because we were visiting my wife's Aunt and the tax just so happens to be a tad bit cheaper in Jersey. When we got back to Cindy's (wife) Aunt's house I unpacked it slowly, but deliberately, and proceeded to hook it up to a busted standard definition television (let us not forget the fact that I hooked it up incorrectly at first). I purchased a HDMI cable online so my standard definition gaming will be limited.

So I went through all the set-up procedures (pretty standard issue here) but it took me a few minutes to really learn the way the on screen keyboard works. The standard issue QWERTY keyboard works just fine and it is actually a bit quicker than the 360 on screen keyboard (good thing too considering their version of the 360 chat pad is said to be not that great). What I cannot figure out is why some of the time they have this cell phone like keyboard that forces you to type in some T9-like formula that really does not make sense in the realm of the console but in the grand scheme of everything this is a low priority issue.

The real annoying issues came out of having to update the console. Before I could sign into the Playstation Network I had to update the console to 3.02 and folks, people are not kidding when they say that the console takes forever to update. I would measure the time in time it takes to make a sandwich (slowly) and then eat that sandwich (slowly). It was painstaking considering all that I wanted to do was play my new console.

After that I signed into PSN and began to browse their very pretty and well organized store front. The first thing that I noticed, other than the aesthetics, was the lack of content compared to the Xbox Live Marketplace (not really disconcerting but an easy observation to make). So I queued up the demos of inFamous and MLB: The Show 09 and went on my merry way (meaning I left the Playstation Store).

I then popped in LittleBigPlanet (which needed an update that was long enough but not nearly as long as the system update) and proceeded to be melted by that games charm and attention to detail. I managed to accidentally get myself online in one of the levels I was playing and while it was more funny than anything that one experience was a smidgen laggy and I immediately noticed that lack of people talking (which I think that this game benefits from when it is there).

I later installed the demos for inFamous and The Show. Yes you heard correctly, you have to install your demos and I think this might go the same for PSN titles but do not hold me to that seeing as I have not purchased one yet. It does not make sense to me and it is just one thing getting in your way of playing your games sooner.

That is all for my initial thoughts on the Playstation 3 and though it may sound like I do not like the thing, that is not the case. I quite enjoy the Playstation experience I had so far and I am looking forward to playing Uncharted 1 this coming week. I thought I would not like the controller at all but I really do not mind it. I still prefer the 360 controller but I can (and still need too) get used to the Playstation controller (I need to stop pressing the 'SQUARE' button instead of the 'X' button when it says to press the 'X' button. I need to train myself on the PS controller).

But for now I PS3'ed out and I just want to play some Borderlands on my 360 (mental hug).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick Borderlands Preview

Yesterday I picked up the game I've been more excited for then any this year, Borderlands. I first got wind of the game when PC Gamer had it featured on the cover of one of their issues. I hadn't heard anything about this game up until the point, but what I read got me excited. An FPS/RPG hyrbid? That sounds like a match made in heaven, especially for me. Two of my favorite gaming genres in one? I was sold.

As soon as I got home I got an hour or so to play the game and got a little bit more time after a haircut I had later that night. Thus far, I'm in the middle of level 6. I'm not too far into the game, but I'm loving it already. I opening credits alone made me fall in love.

It plays like a movie. I'm typically one to press start, B, X, whatever as many times as possibly to get through any sort of cut scene or cinematic because I just want to play, but this...I just sat and watched, enjoyed and got even more excited to play. Once I got into playing, the art style and music alone makes me love the game. Some of the music and the general atmosphere and setting of the game reminds me a bit of Firefly and I loved the music from Firefly.

The game play thus far is great. I'm still adjusting to playing an FPS on a gamepad and part of me wishes I would have purchased this for PC, but that would have meant I wouldn't be able to play co-op with friends. I decided when I started to play through the SP a bit just to get a hang of it. Six levels in and I've already found a few green and blue items (hello, WoW!). I haven't even tried co-op at this point, so I don't really have anything to report on in that end. I hope to get a decent play through on SP as well as get some co-op experience and then write out a full review.

I'm barely into the game and I can already tell that this just might be my game of the year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: October 20, 2009

The past week or so has been relatively boring in relation to gaming. I was busy taking care of my sick girlfriend and didn't get the chance to play many games. The games I did play, however, were World of Warcraft, Company of Heroes and League of Legends. First and foremost, lets start with some WoW chat.

As I stated last week, I finally got into Wrath of the Lich King content. I'm finally in Northrend and working my way through Borean Tundra. So far the zone has been a bit difficult to navigate, mostly due to the fact that it's brand new, but as of yesterday I got the hang of it a little bit. The thing I enjoy the most about all this new content are exploring the new worlds and fighting new mobs. Most of the old world and even BC content I've done before with my first main. It's fun and enjoyable, but it's the same old, same old. Being in Northrend is fresh and new and definitely enjoyable. Getting into new zones definitely sparks up my desire to play WoW more so then when I was working up to 60 on my current main. I always like seeing what Blizzard comes up with. Quite honestly, the level of creative and intelligence that is put into WoW by Blizzard never ceases to amaze me. World of Warcraft will probably go down in history as my favorite game of all time and Blizzard will easily go down as my favorite gaming company of all time. I'm currently at level 69, about half way through inching closer and closer to 70...a place I've never been before (hell, everything up to this point is somewhere I haven't been yet). I'm excited for 70 and I'm excited to finally have a mere 10 levels to go before I reach the end...hopefully I'll get there before Cataclysm is released.

This weekend I also worked through the tutorial of Company of Heroes. I picked this game up a few weeks ago from Direct2Drive when they had it on sale for $5. It's been a while since I've gotten into an RTS, so getting back into this has been a bit difficult. The tutorial was nice, quite honestly one of the best I've experienced (I typically skip them, but it was a bit necessary for CoH). Once I worked through the tutorial I started up a campaign, but didn't get too far into it as it wasn't quite drawing me in at that moment in time. I hope to get into this a bit more in the future, but for now it might have to wait on the back burner.

I was also lucky enough to receive a League of Legends beta key recently. I honestly have little to no knowledge of League of Legends or what it's about other then what I've heard Ryan Scott on The Geekbox. He seemed to love the game, so I thought I might as well give it a try. I mean, it's in beta and it's free, why not? I played a teeny tiny bit of the game this weekend, but not enough to give any sort of honest review or opinion of it. Once again, hopefully getting more into this in the future.

The last thing I want to touch on in this post is my current urge to play a certain video game...Fallout 3. I started FO3, LOVED it and never finished it. This is my typical routine with most video games. Lately, I've really felt like I wanted to get back into it, but haven't actually started yet. I think the couple things that turned me off from FO3 was all the freakin' walking and some of the attacking mechanics. I always felt like even though my aim was on point at enemies, I always missed and this annoyed me. I suppose this is just something I need to overcome and hopefully in the new couple weeks I'll get back into this game and possibly finally beat it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

WAIP: October 19, 2009 - So Metal Edition

This past week was not exactly full of game playing but the stuff that I got in was quality gaming time. I finally popped the Tour of Duty II achievement in Battlefield 1943 and as a result I had really become quite good at the game. I had all but 8 of the 48 awards that you can get in the game so I really feel quite accomplished. I may play the game again closer to the BF: Bad Company 2 release but for now I feel like I can move on.

I was able to pick up Brütal Legend on Friday so I have been dipping my toes into the warm feeling of metal and rock and it feels great. The story, characters, gameplay, and humor are all amazing and I am having a lot of fun. I am determined to beat it throughout the week but that may or may not happen based on my work schedule.

I want to beat the game so that I can play Borderlands co-op with all of my friends. I am basically on board with this game because everyone around me wants to play it. I still have not really looked into the game and I am looking forward to being taken aback by Gearbox's most recent work.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mass Effect 2 Release Is Dated for January, Preorder Incentives Detailed

Let me just say that I NEEDED to write this post before I popped in my copy of Brutal Legend for the first time.

Mass Effect 2 has been dated for OFFICIAL release on January 26, 2010. This is the most exciting moment of the past month for me, I mean seriously, what else is happening? Oh other games are releasing... PSHHH... whatever.

But seriously folks I need clean underwear.

And that is not all. There will be Preorder incentives to go along with this stellar announcement.

For Gamestop audiences:
  • The Terminus Armor which has increased run speed and can hold an extra clip of ammo
  • The Blackstorm Heavy Weapon that creates a gravity well when you fire it
For "other" retailers:
  • The Inferno Armor which does a number of things that do not sound as cool as the other incentives
I want them all but I cannot buy two copies of the game, can I?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mass Effect Redeption Comic Preview

As the months fly by we are fast approaching the release of Mass Effect 2. We are closer approaching the release of the first issue of the Mass Effect: Redemption comic book series. The series is being co-written by Mac Walters and Jack Johnson Miller and the first issue drops on January 6th of 2010. For now though Dark Horse Comics have released a preview of the first seven pages to Comic Book Resources. You can find the preview here.

It looks to be an interesting series that follows Dr. Liara T'Soni on a deadly mission through the Terminus Systems. It is a promised must read so I MUST READ it. Post thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: October 14, 2009

I've found most of my gaming time lately to be overwhelming. In the past month I have purchased 6 new games for my PC, thank you Direct 2 Drive sale! This influx in games and the ability to purchase them for cheap has been fantastic, but it has largely left me feeling overwhelmed. With my girlfriend up at college, I have a lot more time after work, but more often then not I find myself sitting at my PC or in front of my 360 trying to figure out what I feel like playing. You think this would be an easy decision, with so many choices, right? That's far from the truth. More often then not, I find myself unable to make an actual decisions so I end up watching TV or doing something else instead. It's an odd phenomenon considering I have more time then I've ever had to play, but I probably play less then I ever did. Oh life, why must you be so confusing?!

My most recent Direct2Drive purchases include Company of Heroes and World in Conflict. I've been itching from some RTS action lately and heard so many good things about Company of Heroes, that I had to pick it up. Thus far, I've completed the tutorial in COH and that's as far as I've gotten. The tutorial actual took a decent amount of time and also got me excited to play. I've always enjoyed RTSs, but I've also always never been that great at them. I tend to avoid any online gameplay as I will most likely get my ass handed to me, so I tend to just stick to the SP campaigns to avoid embarrassment. It's been a relatively effective strategy that has still given me hours upon hours of amusement.

I also got some brief playing time in for Battlefield: Bad Company. For no particular reason, I abandoned playing that game a while ago, even though I was so very close to the end. I've decided that I need to make a point to actually beat the game, since I tend to play through games and abandon them before completion. Getting back into playing it was...different. I had forgotten most of the controls and had left myself in a situation where I needed to relearn them rather quickly. I hope to get through this game before Christmas, but we shall see.

Finally, there's always the oldie, but the goodie and my normal staple: World of Warcraft. I FINALLY got myself into Wrath of the Lich King content. I only purchased the expansion, oh, a year ago? It's kind of sad, but I've finally been able to venture to Northrend and check out all the new content. I leveled to 69, so I'm inching my way closer to 80. My goal is to reach 80 before the next expansion comes out, but I don't see that being too difficult considering we're probably a year away from it's release.

My final note for this update, is a question for fellow gamers. Do you ever find gaming to be "work?" I've noticed that lately it's felt that way to me. I have a hard time playing just to play. More often then not, my brain says "OMG YOU HAVE ALL THESE GAMES, YOU NEED TO BEAT ALL OF THEM!" I think that's what has been my major turn off towards playing lately or the feeling that has left me uncertain as to what I should be playing. I've invested so much money in the last 6 months or so into games and I have more games then I could ever imagine that I have yet to beat or have barely played at all. I feel the need to play and beat all of them as to somehow justify my spending money on them. If I'm not playing them, I'm wasting my money, right? I need to abandon this idea and these feelings and get my head back into the game and play because I want to play and play because it's fun, not because I need to beat or play something I paid money for. I'm not quite certain how to rid myself of this feeling, however, considering I full understand why I feel the way I do, yet those feelings remain. It's a strange predicament to be in, to have so many games and so much more time, but to have that desire to play somewhat missing. I need to get it back, I'm just not sure how.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WAIP: Rocktober 13, 2009: I Am Sans Brutal Legend Today

The headline for this post says it all... no Brutal Legend for Nate today. Friday will be the day (it is when I will have the money). I think that this is the first time funds have been in the way of me picking up a game in a long time but this bit of time will allow me to finish with Battlefield 1943 of which I only have one achievement left. I think I am coming close to the 100 matches required for the Tour of Duty II achievement. I would not know exactly because the Battlefield 1943 stats on the 1943 website are borked. Come on guys I know you have all of your efforts concentrated on BF Bad Company 2 but seriously, fix the f'in site.

It is possible that I will dabble in some Halo 3 ODST before Friday but it is hard to get a group for Firefight going.

Here is the television launch trailer for The Brutal Legends; if this does not excite you, you have no soul:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Reason You Do Not Want Matchmakng In Your ODSTs

I was talking about this topic on The 10PM Podcast with Mr. Jarvis Slacks and I thought you might find this little quote from Tycho of Penny Arcade interesting.
There was some fallout regarding Bungie's decision not to open ODST's Firefight mode to matchmaking, but that may be one of the worst Goddamned ideas ever conceived, rivaling even Chocolate Covered Foreskins. The parallels here are instructive. Firefight in the absence of camaraderie would be masturbatory bot-grinding. Playing against your average Halo player is bad enough; playing with them may be the only thing less appealing.

It still upsets me because it is not often that I can get a group together to play Firefight but that is never to say that I do not fully understand the decision.

WAIP: October 8, 2009: Shoot Everything Edition

If you have become accustomed to my attention span in terms of how long I stay on one game then you know that it is odd for me to still be playing Halo 3 ODST and Battlefield 1943.

Yesterday I started the ODST campaign on solo Legendary and I must say that it is quite a challenge. After Heroic this does not feel like too much of a step but I think a lot of the time, especially on the Mombasa Streets (as the Rookie), you can avoid confrontation altogether. I am going to work my way through it slowly whilst continuing to play 1943.

I am working toward all 200 Gamerscore in Battlefield 1943 and I know that I am not far off. I have about forty matches left to go for the Tour of Duty II achievement and in that time span I am sure I will have attained the the Best Squad achievement. I think after that I will continue to chip away at Bad Company achievements until Bad Company 2 comes out.

I also tried out two arcade trials: Lucidity and the new South Park Tower Defense game that I do not feel like looking up the title for. Lucidity is fun, interesting and reminds me of Braid but I do not yet know if it is a purchase and South Park took me a while to get into but playing it with Cindy (my wife) was a blast so I am sure I am going to purchase that one.

Lastly, check out this awesome Bad Company 2 'Moments' trailer:

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Plans for Acquiring a PS3

Ladies and gentleman my days of owning just one console are numbered. While many of you know that I have had plans to purchase a PS3 it has only now become a viable option (price drop and job promotion - it is a gift from my wife). I am excited but I am also a bit taken aback and the reason for that is because I already have enough on my plate to play. Nevertheless this is what I am looking at in terms of games:

  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (If I like the first one, which knowing recommendations and other various factors, I will)
  • Flow and Flower
  • The PixelJunk series
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • InFamous
  • MLB: The Show
...and that is all I can think of right now. I am looking for other recommendations but for now I think that I have a good base. Also, if anyone was wondering, I do not plan to purchase anything other than Playstation exclusives on the PS3; I love getting Gamerscore too much and I do not see there being a lot in Trophies for me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Road To Recon: I Came Up With This Name Before It Was on (pt3)

My goal was to attain the Lightswitch Vidmaster before Halo 3 ODST came out and we all know how that turned out (but in case you did not know I'll talk more about it later in the post). Instead after ODST shipped I popped in the 'Complete Multiplayer Experience' disk and decided to hunt down the last three skulls so that I could have the Brainpan Vidmaster (Collect all of the Mythic Skulls from the maps: Heretic, Longshore, Citadel, Assembly, Sandbox, Orbital) and that is exactly what I did. This is also an easy 100 Gamerscore for those not hunting down the Recon armor. If you cannot find them all YouTube is your best friend and you should also be able to find a map on that will help you easily nab the Sandbox skull.

On Wednesday I finally earned the Lightswitch Vidmaster which is awarded for attaining the rank of Lieutenant (50 EXP) in the new EXP system. It took long enough but my constant poking and prodding of the Rumble Pit playlist finally paid off. In my last run to gain the final three experience points I happened to get lucky enough that it took me twelve matches to gain the final three experience points and out of eight players in each match I only had to be in the top four. Somewhere in my head I knew what I needed and something unconsciously was going on to prevent me from getting there - that is my only excuse.

Lastly we have a for all intents and purposes an easy Vidmaster Achievement: Classic. All I had to do was boot up Uplift Reserve and drive the Warthog through the entire map without firing a shot (no Warthog horn either) or throwing a grenade. It did not matter that someone was in the gunner seat so if you are trying for this do not worry about it.

Today I may go for the Deja Vu Vidmaster but my primary goal today is to finish ODST on Legendary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WAIP: September 30, 2009 - Firefighting Edition

This past week I had the distinct pleasure of playing through the ODST campaign and getting in a few rounds of Firefight.

What I really want to talk about is Firefight because it reminded me of a time when multiplayer gaming was the only thing that mattered to me.

A few afternoons ago I got together with my brother-in-law and a couple of other people on his friends list and we had a session that lasted just over an hour and a half. It was glorious. I was the point man, most of the time, trying to keep everyone on their game so that we could make it through the whole thing but alas my coaching was not good enough and in the end our lives ran down quickly and it was over before anyone knew what hit them.

The mistake made here is that enough of the folks that I was playing with did not care enough to kill the engineers first and because of that the enemies became increasingly impossible to kill. If someone asks you to kill the engineer and you find yourself closest whip out that overcharged plasma pistol and send a few shots right into their electrically charged, round, bodies - please.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PC Gaming: From Physical to Digital

The last 5+ years or so have been difficult on PC gaming. Console gaming has been around for 30+ years, but it's safe to say that it started to reach it's true pinnacle of popularity with the creation and release of the Xbox 360. Since that point console gaming has become a staple in almost every American household whether you own a 360, Wii or PS3. Console gaming has a level of accessibility that PC gaming has never had. In order to be a console gamer all you need is a TV and that is it, the console does the rest. There's no need to make sure you have the most up to date hardware to run the most current games. There's no frustration involved in building your own rig every 5 years to update your system as technology grows. It's even significantly less expensive. Most high end gaming PCs will run anywhere from $1000 to $3000. Now, I'm of the belief you don't need a $3,000 rig to enjoy games, but that's just me. Regardless, a console will cost you less than $500 while a PC will cost much more. It's just not convenient for most Americans, so they go for the easier and quicker option that is the console.

PC gaming has yet to die during this console uprising, however, and I would say that it's still thriving. Yes, a lot of people have jumped the PC gaming boat for consoles, but PC gamers tend to be true to what they love and what they love is PCs. Not only has PC gaming had increased competition with consoles, but PC game creators have to battle an environment that is much more susceptible to piracy. It's not easy to pirate games for your console, but all anyone needs to pirate games for their PC is an internet connection and a half decent torrent website. This has caused problems for the PC gaming world and has encouraged many PC game manufacturers to abandon their PC past and go strictly console due to the fact that they do not want to lose money. So how exactly to you combat this? What do you do as a company to overcome this adversity? Digital distribution...

Digital distribution has been around since the content delivery program Steam was introduced in late 2003 (digital distribution may have been around prior to that, but that is my first early knowledge of such systems). Steam had the idea of distributing gaming content digitally instead of physically, or distribute digital copies along with standard physical copies in retailers. Now, a lot of content has gone digital over the past 5+ years; music, movies, TV, video games, etc. Personally, I have been against digital distribution this entire time. I like physical copies. I like knowing I can hold the thing I paid $50 for. I like knowing if something happens to my computer, I still have my physical copy to hold onto. I enjoy having and seeing box art and I figure if I'm going to pay $50 for a game I want something physical. In the past month or two, however, companies have been slowly winning me over with digital distribution. There's one factor that is causing my views to change and that is simply cost.

I have a very difficult time justifying spending $50 on a digital copy of a game when I can get the physical copy for the same price. If I'm receiving less in my purchase (meaning no physical version of the game itself, no manufacturing of boxes, DVDs, etc) I would expect the price to be lower. I'm not particular sure what the cost of producing physical aspects to a game release are, however, I would expect the price for a digital copy to be at least $10 cheaper then the physical copy. Is that really so much to ask? If you're going to win me over with digital distribution, lower the price because I feel like I'm getting ripped off to a certain extent. This is one issue that has caused me to hesitate in converting to digital only content. One factor in cost, however, that is winning me over are sales. Steam typically runs sales on their games on a weekly basis. Other digital distributors such as Impulse (Stardock) and Direct 2 Drive have had their marketing departments hard at work lately and have been getting more ads out there to showcase their sales. Most recently, I purchased World of Goo from Impulse for a mere $10, 50% off it's normal price of $20. I've also purchased, in the last couple of weeks, Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City from D2D (Direct 2 Drive) for $5 each. Both of those titles are a tid bit old, but honestly, who can pass up the $5 price tag? Even as I type this out I'm contemplating buying another $5 game from D2D, Defense Grid. This is a game that I barely know anything about, but have heard a few PC gaming podcasters talk about from time to time. Once again, $5? Who can't afford that?

I think digital distribution companies have something going here. They have been winning over PC gaming fans for a little while, but I feel like they haven't reached the tipping point yet. By providing content in this manner through various sales it not only wins PC gamers over for digital distribution, it also makes lesser known titles and companies more well known. The chances of me purchasing Assassin's Creed prior to the D2D sale were slim to none, same with Defense Grid. Not only am I buying games on sale, but in doing so I've started to contemplate switching to digital only content for my PC. It's quick, it's easy. It doesn't involve me having to search for a game at a retailer and it also does not force me to figure out what to do with all my empty boxes. These digital distributors as well as PC gaming companies really have something going here and I feel if they keep offering great titles for great prices they will reach their tipping point and we will reach and entirely new era in PC gaming.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: September 29, 2009

For the past month or so the only games that have really dominated my gaming time have been ones I've been playing on my laptop and one game above all has been taking up all my time. That game is Plants vs. Zombies. Now, I'm sure I've discussed this before, but as I grow older my memory starts to fail and I am far too lazy to go back and read my previous posts, so pardon me for any repetitiveness.

The big accomplishment in gaming this weekend is that I finally beat Plants vs. Zombies adventure mode. Now, one would think after being done with such a feat you would be done with the game entirely, but no. Pop Cap has this amazing ability with their games to create so much more content even past the main mode for the game. I feel like after completely adventure mode I've really only scratched the surface of what this game contains. In the process of beating adventure mode, I unlocked three other modes; mini games, puzzle and survival. Each of the other modes as at least 24 more games to play. That estimate might be off a bit as I'm pulling that number from screen shots in my own head. Needless to say I have hours upon hours left of Plants vs. Zombies playtime.

The best part (or maybe the worst) is the fact that I'm finally accumulating enough money in the game to buy sweet stuff. See, Plants vs. Zombies starts out relatively simple with about 6 slots to place your desired plants in. You use these plants to combat incoming zombies of various different forms. As expected with most games, the zombies you fight start out relatively simple and then get progressively harder as you move along. You also accumulate money throughout the course of the game as it is dropped by random dying zombies. I'm not really sure if it was because I suck or what, but it took quite a while for me to accumulate enough cash to really have a positive effect on my game play. In fact, I didn't really start collecting that amount of cash until I had beat adventure mode. I suppose this is one beef I have with the game. They give you all these sweet prizes and extras to purchase, but you never have enough cash to buy them until you've moved onto the other modes. I would have loved to have more slots for plants when I was fighting the end boss in adventure mode, but alas, I did not have the $10,000 needed. Later on in the game you're even given a "Zen Garden" in which you can grow plants that also give you money. To me, it always feels like an adventure mode is the main component in a game such as this, but after beating it, it feels like it's just the beginning. I suppose I view that entire situation in a sort of neutral way. It's nice to have so much more left to play, but at the same time I would have liked a few extras earlier on.

All in all, I absolutely loved the game. As I stated in previous posts I wasn't sold right away and it took a bit of play time to get me hooked, but once I was hooked that was it. Not only did I get hooked, but I even got my girlfriend interested in it, which is a task in itself considering she does not play video games at all. I would highly, highly, highly suggest anyone and everyone to purchase this game. It brings loads and loads of casual gaming fun.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brutal Legend Demo Impressions

Before I booted up the Brutal Legend Demo, I was worried that I might not like the game as much as I liked Psychonauts (or as much as I wanted to). I was worried that it could not be as funny (but let's be honest here Jack Black misses the mark about half of the time) as Psychonauts and that I would be ultimately disappointed.

I am here to let you know that this is not the case. The demo (and likely game) is more witty and clever than I had originally anticipated and having had a taste I officially do not want to wait any longer.

Not only is the dialogue funny but the game's design (classic Tim Schafer) is funny from the get go when the game's design subverts what is going on and asks you if you would like to hear curses or bleeps or if you want to see blood or not (and of course I will not spoil for you how it asks you this (or which ones I chose)).

My only concern is that I noticed that the game throws a lot of weapons and combos at you from the very beginning. It gives you one weapon, and then another, and then a combo - and another. If the same pace continues throughout the games entirety the control system is likely to become convoluted (granted this is only a small sample). I would not even be sure if I was completing the game in the correct fashion. Too much to think about when playing might take away from where the game really shines.

At the end of the day we all knew that I was going to pick up this game regardless so my opinion might not hold much weight for the general skeptic. 

On Rocktober 13th you know where to find me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WAIM: September 24, 2009 - Too Much Gaming, Too Little Blogging (Road to Recon pt2)

It has been a week of one-hundred percent Halo gaming one-hundred percent of the time. Other than attending a wedding over the weekend (congratulations to Matt and Jamie) I have been strictly playing Halo 3 multiplayer (for the Road to Recon "feature") and for the past couple of days ODST has been occupying my 360 drive.

I have been trying, and failing, to get to the rank of Lieutenant in the "new" EXP system. I have been failing mainly because I did not know that you need fifty experience points in any playlist to attain this goal. I currently stand at forty-one EXP in the social rumble pit playlist so I can say with some conviction that this achievement will be mine in the coming hours/days.

I managed to nab the Vidmaster: Brainpan achievement last night after finishing up the campaign of ODST. The ones on Citadel and Longshore were annoying finds but the one on Heretic is a cinch.

I always manage to forget how much I love the Halo series when I am not playing it but I am glad that I have such a deep appreciation for the games. I know that it is the Xbox's most popular game and the truth is - this is not without reason - these games are fantastic. Bungie puts all of their care and love into these games and you can truly feel this oozing out of every well crafted detail of the Halo universe. Halo, as an entity, makes me proud to be a gamer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Adventures in Babeland - Weekly Gaming Girl Diary: September 23, 2009

Yea, yea, yea...I suck at this whole updating on a consistent basis, I'm well aware of that. I apologize for my delay of an update. As per usual, life is hectic and I just haven't had the time. With that, comes the fact that I've had very little time to do any actual gaming as well. I do have any update in regards to my casual gaming experiences since installing a bunch of games on my laptop!

One of the best decisions I could have made when setting my laptop up for casual gaming was purchasing Plants vs. Zombies. Now, I never understood the hype when the game first came out and even after playing a bit of the demo I wasn't 100% sold, but the game was $10 on I figured, why not? I must say, holy crap! That game is ADDICTING! Once I got past the first few levels, I was 100% sold. I've mostly been playing the game when I've been away from home at State College or in those moments right before I go to bed. I'm not really sure how far into the game I am, but I assure you, it gets more and more fun as time goes on. I would seriously urge anyone who owns a computer (PC or Mac) to purchase this game. It's definitely worth it. The game is also slated to come out for the iPhone, as well as XBLA, so there's absolutely ZERO excuse for not purchasing this game.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've also put in a little bit of time playing Diablo II. I'd like to do a full play through of the game prior to Diablo III coming out and with Blizzard busy with finishing Starcraft II as well as WoW: Cataclysm, I would expect that I have a good amount of time to complete this task.

Other then those two, I really haven't played much over the past couple of weeks. I did, however, purchase Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for $5 each from Direct 2 Drive. I was never 100% sold on digital only game distribution, but these distribution companies are easily winning me over with these sales. I think that's the key, however. There's really no sense in charging $50 for a digital copy of a game when I can purchase it at a retailer for the same price AND get the box art and all that fun stuff. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I still love box art and physical copies. If digital distributors could start lowering their prices below what they sell for at retail, then I would most definitely be drawn to that much more. Not only have the digital sales been pulling me towards purchasing online, but they have also pulled me towards playing my PC more in general. I'm pretty sure I haven't touched my Xbox for a couple of weeks now. I realize that PC gaming isn't quite as popular as console gaming these days, but these digital distributors definitely have some good ideas going on to maybe shift those numbers somehow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday MUpdate: Game Over!

And by that title, I really mean congratulations to two of my best friends, Matthew and Jamie Bevins! The two of them just got married this weekend and I took the honors of best man, and it was a real blast and a half. Remember the first time you ever beat Mario and you found the castle that the princess actually was in? I kinda imagine that's what they feel like right now. So congrats to them and many happy returns!

However, because they got married, I didn't get in a whole lot of gaming, so this column being fairly short is completely their fault. If anyone needs their e-mail addresses or Facebook account URLs for complaints, I'd be happy to provide them.

HOWEVER, before all the fun and games and dinners and unrolling of walkways, I did type up a very extensive review of a game that came out last week called Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2! I basically skipped all responsibilities I had and spent the day it came out playing it, and then, through out the next couple nights, I had my review all done. I know what some of you are thinking: "Matt, your review is clearly going to be biased due to your extreme love of Marvel and the first game!" Well, no! You're wrong! In fact, I am just as harsh, if not more so, on this game as I was to Batman: Arkham Asylum, and if you read my review of that I essentially bent it over and tore it a new one. So, with that in mind, if you'd like to read my extensive review of Marvel: Ultiamte Alliance 2, head on over to Multiversity Comics to get the whole skinny on all the hate I (Hulk) smash down.

And on that note,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Road To Recon: The First Night (Halo 3)

Recon armor has become the pinnacle of achievement in a game that has been around for almost two years. Most hardcore Halo fanatics have all the achievements that are currently attainable and are waiting with bated at the prospect of being able to freely acquire this in-game gold (though its "value" is sure to depreciate when most folks have it). I have decided to chronicle my journey to have no life for your entertainment purposes.

Recon armor was previously awarded to only those who were seen fit to wear it in Bungie's eyes and for all intents and purposes, I am of the belief that it should have stayed that way. With the release of ODST though we are going to be able to unlock it on our own by way of unlocking all of the Vidmaster Challenge achievements.

On the seventh of this past March I unlocked the 7 on 7 achievement which you are awarded when you reach 7 EXP in any playlist on the seventh of the month. That was technically the beginning of my journey but since we are ramping up to the release of the game in just one short week I thought that I might as well make a fun week out of it. Lucky for you I like to write it all down.

So last night I was working on the Vidmaster: Lightswitch achievement - attaining the rank of Lieutenant in the new playlist based EXP system (yeah I play Halo that much and it is funny because I really do love it more than most games) - and I was enjoying myself thoroughly as I always do. There was even a group of girls playing and they were not half bad. This achievement should be earned by the end of today and then I get to really have a lot of fun trying to earn the Vidmaster: Annual achievement (but more on that later).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday MUpdate: It's pronounced "fl-ow-er"

I think, as a note, that people should generally understand that my articles from here on out will be mostly about the PS3. While it was not discussed publicly here, our fearless leader Nate recently had a minor spat with another internet entity, and throughout the general "dialogue" (in quotes because in reality it was more of an attack) it was pointed out that we focus mainly on the XBOX even though we are a general video gaming website. Now, those who have been following for a prolonged period of time will remember that the top of the website used to point out that we focus mainly on the XBOX (because the XBOX is awesome) but when Kara was brought on board, she introduced the element of girls playing video games, which is just plain silly the PC gamer into the fold. Therefore, in order to help diversify, I'm taking my new ownership of the PS3 as a subtle sign to myself that I should give it the love it deserves and focus mainly on the PS3. So from here on out, if you don't actually have any interest in the PS3, I won't be offended if you don't read this column anymore.

I had been promising several mini reviews now from some time, haven't I? Originally when I came on board, reviews were all I did. They were wordy, they were precise, but I feel like they were OK. Then, as I stopped being a bum and got a job, I had to start playing games less and less, and now that I have a job and go to night classes, I play games even less than that. This past week I rented some games for my Playstation 3, and I only ever managed to play one of them and I was less than half way through when I returned it. It's kind of sad, really. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 comes out in less than 24 hours and I'm kind of scared to think I won't be able to dedicate myself to it at all hours of the day (which means I'll be up until 2 in the morning playing it, probably). Regardless of this fact, I feel like I got in a good deal of standard PS3 gaming before my night classes happened to allow me the ability to look fondly back at my memory and bring to you, the faithful reader, some high quality mini reviews. Last week, I tackled Fat Princess, a humorous interpretation of capture the flag that caused quite a stir in my home city (mainly because people are idiots). This week, I bring to you a review of the highly serene Flower (which, despite what Nate may tell you, is not pronounced flow-er).

Let me start by saying that Flower is the single most serene and enchanting game I have ever played in my entire life. I feel like bothering to meditate is absolutely pointless now because I have this game. For those who don't know, the Playstation 3 menu system is different from the XBOX 360 dashboard in that (among other things) when you put the XBOX 360 disc in, a tiny little image will now appear on the dashboard under your section to show you what game you have to play, and if you open up that extra special menu, you'll have a themed background. With the PS3, when you highlight a game or a game disc for gaming purposes, the entire screen changes into a huge advertisement for the game. The Flower music shows a gentle breeze and plays some calm piano music for you, and honest to God, I could just leave this image on and sit and relax. In fact, I do this sometimes, and I'm known to leave this menu on if I leave the apartment for short periods of time for my cats. It's just that wonderful.

In Flower, you essentially play the smoke monster from LOST except you're made of flower petals and instead of tormenting people you collect other flower petals to make you even more epic. That's it. That's the entire game. There is no final boss, there is no real point to it. You start out as a single flower petal, you float around collecting other flower petals, and once you've collected enough you win the level. It sounds so simple, yet for some reason when I hand people the controller to play the game they just don't get it. It's easily one of the best purchases I have ever made though. The absolute sheer and quiet brilliance of the game is just so forthcoming that, in the words of James Franco, it smells like God's vagina is just so good. Within the game are, of course, hidden elements of commentary toward the modern day appreciation of nature, and this becomes painfully obvious later in the game as the sky becomes darker and the world grows scarier with the introduction of massive amounts of power lines, but don't worry. You and your petals will fill the world with such beauty that you easily eradicate any and all man made disasters (you know, except for those buildings...).

Along with the 100% stunning soundtrack (which you in part help create as every flower you collect hits a musical note), the game's graphics are beyond amazing. This is the game that really shows the PS3's engine capabilities as you soar straight into the grass and it looks like you're actually outside running your hand through a lush field. You'll see all sorts of environments as you fly through the game, but none of it ever clips or looks half assed. On top of that, for a game that should have an excessive amount of bloom (for those who don't get the term, pop in Fable II and look at the sun), you'd be surprised to find that it never comes in to play as a blinding factor. There is so much going on here and it runs so smoothly it absolutely blows my mind. It's pretty obvious why this game is only available on the PS3, to say the least - the PS3 is the only system (besides a PC) that can handle this game's insane rendering. Add to that the excellent sound effects placed in the game for the wind and movement and, when you play this in high definition on a nice TV, it really looks like a window outside that you have control over. The irony of the game in itself is that it heavily promotes being outside in nature's natural beauty, and some of the Trophy's include putting the controller down and taking a five minute break or not playing for a week, and yet the game looks better than the grass outside my window does!

If I had to give Flower a grade, it would be an A++. Any owner or potential owner of the PS3 should own this game as it is essentially the Playstation 3 game. In my short time as a PS3 owner, no other game has shown me the true and wondrous capabilities of the system in a way that makes me want to denounce my previous religion and swear only to Sony's. I'm still waiting on my digital audio cable in the mail from Amazon (which is a whole other disastrous story which I'll get to another time), I can't wait to fully maximize my experience with surround sound. This game is absolutely beyond amazing and is hands down the best game I've played all year.

WAIM: September 14, 2009 - Everything Old Is New Again Edition

I have been away from the blog without announcement for a while now and I just wanted to clue everyone in on the reason. I have been working toward a promotion at the "in real life" job and I am happy to say that I have attained that promotion. The rest is all bells and whistles and I can once again dedicate myself to regular updates. Though I am sure no one has been dying without everything that I have to say, here is what I have been tinkering with over the past two weeks:

Since I have finished Batman I have not been back to the game. This is not to the game's discredit, I just wanted to return to the games that I felt that I did not have enough time with this past summer.

I started off by attaining 100% of items in Shadow Complex which to those who do not know where everything is (even when they tell you that an item is in a room (Level 20)) it is no small feat. It is quite fun and you can truly feel a sense of achievement when you have done it yourself.

I also picked up Gears of War 2 multiplayer again on Labor Day weekend. I miss playing this game and I managed to nab a few achievements because of the double EXP weekend that was taking place. I also managed to notice a few things about the game that I had not noticed before. One was that when you use the Cyclops Locust you can see the light shining from the eye as though the light were reflecting off the the dust in the air. It was a nice little nuance that made me smile. The second thing is something that I cannot remember for the life of me.

The last game that I have been playing a lot lately, once again, is Battlefield 1943. I cannot get enough and I also managed to nab a few more achievements in the game. It should be easy enough to collect the rest of them with regular playing of the game.

That is about it for now but you can be assured that you can count on more posts from me during the week. Thanks for hanging in there.