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.