Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mass Effect 2 (2010) Bioware, XBOX 360: First Impressions in five hours

Mass Effect 2...I don't even know where to begin this review.  My review of Mass Effect was generally so-so.  I enjoyed the game but wasn't overly impressed.  I only really started getting excited about ME2 while playing the hell out of Dragon Age: Origins.  ME2 is a different animal than DA:O though both games were made by the same company.

Here are some of my first impressions (good and bad in the first five hours)
  1. Jennifer Hale is back as the female voice of Commander Shepard.  Jennifer Hale is one of my all time favorite female voice actors. 
  2. ME2 is shockingly gorgeous.  While there are some problems with human character's mouths looking a little weird everything else is astounding.  The alien races are totally believeable and in some cases, horrendous to look at.  The evironments keep making me stop and look around like some hayseed who just left Tattooine. 
  3. Scanning planets instead of driving around in the MAKO makes me very happy.  Systematic scanning with a grid method?  Planet mining?  I don't like those things, nooooo.  Snickering when I see a planet's status after mining listed as depleted?  Not me...
  4. Combat is pretty intense.  Insanely enough, Bioware managed to perfectly capture the thrill of 3rd person actioners in an RPG.  Two tastes greats that taste great together?  Damn right.
  5. Downside to squad control:  I haven't gotten the mechanics of moving the squad around as easily as with tactical shooters - leap-frogging the squad and getting squaddies into postition.  Personally I'd be content to use them to draw enemy fire. 
  6. Upside to squad combat:  So far I've only had to minimally baby-sit my crew.  What's cool is that they are just using their skills without me having to poke them with a stick.
  7. Here's an insane revelation: ME2 has a cover system that works in combat.  No really.  I need more combat time to really get the mechanics of it but so far I am very pleased.
  8. Story, voice acting (all characters), and the characters themselves (human and non) are top-shelf.  I am really looking forward to expanding the story.
  9. I worry about game lengthMass Effect I tore through in forty hours.  That being said, Mass Effect 2 is two fucking discs.  Two.  Dos.  Aweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesome.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Metro 2033 Story Trailer = AWESOME!

Hooligan Youth: new and improved Rogue/Ranger in Dragon Age: Origins (XBOX 360)

Note: Yes, I did use the Ostagar cheat up to level 20.
Okay here's my newest new new (maximized?) character: Moxie
Rogue/Ranger
  • Strength: 20 (Considering that the Felon's Coat only needs a Str 20 to equip this seems reasonable.  Medium Armor requires up to Str 34 for the good stuff.
  • Dexterity: 36+ (The Rose's Thorn requires Dex 30, the four best longbows require Dex 34.)
  • Cunning:  22
  • Constitution: 20 (any left over points will be dumped here)
  • Willpower: 20
  • Magic: whatever the base score is, not wasting points here.
For skills I am taking:
  • Ranger (because having a Giant Bear as an ally is always a good thing)
  • Traps aka Booty Traps (Leliana has poison, Morrigan has potions so why bother wasting points on those skills?)
  • Nature: It's not just for paving over anymore.
  • Pickpocketing (aka "What has it gots in its pocketeses?").  Apparently you can pickpocket to your heart's content with little/no consequence.
For armaments I am going for the tried and true longbow and instead of going for two hand weapons I am staying truer to class and wielding daggers.  Too bad they aren't throwing daggers.

More news to follow as I progress.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins tips and tricks (mild spoilers) and character creation musings...

So last night I started a brand new character in Dragon Age: Origins.  I also deleted almost all of my other character files.  Additionally, I am going to leave the difficultly level at Nightmare.

I have come to the realization that crafting in Dragon Age: Origins is pretty much pointless, unless you create a character who has no combat skills and can only wear the very lightest of armor.  One of my character files was a craftsman, building traps, poisons, and had the ranger/summon animal ability for back up.  I think that may work for some games, in particular a non-party based RPG, but for DA:O it's not a practical skill set.  Sure, you can stealth up to the enemy area, set up traps, chuck a grenade at the baddies and then haul ass back to the party ambush but it's often just as easy to have "clobberin' time".  Plus I got sick having a total wuss as a character who spends more time running away than anything else.

Maybe I haven't taken full advantage of the tactical skill sets but most of the time I can have a crew that will put a serious dent in whatever they come across by just sending one poor bastard out in front and having the rest hang back and shoot or spell cast.

My new character is yet another rogue.  This time I specialized in the following:
  • Dirty Fighting, Combat Movement
  • Below the Belt, Deadly Strike, Lethality, Evasion
  • Deft Hands I-IV
Combined with two hand weapons, dude can slice and dice with the best of them (especially once I get my hands on some better equipment).

I also shifted Alistair over to the two hand weapons speciality instead of sword and shield.  Snikity-snak.

I will see how this plays out.  I might end up having a rogue based team (Mr.Joshua, Leliana, Zevran, and someone else - maybe Morrigan or Wynne) just to see how it plays.  It might be a bit squishy but I might also have some tactical fun with that set-up.

Either that or I might just start another character.


Darksiders (2010) - Vigil Games

Darksiders is a must play.  Not necessarily a "must buy" or "sell a kidney" but there's something about the game that is very damned enjoyable. 

There's some plot about something, something balance something, something player character is The Horseman War  something, something...whatever.  You're a gnarly ass-kicker who is regaining his powers in order to put the hurt on the big bad guy.

Playing the game is really fun.  Yes, ripping demons and angels apart with swords, scythes, and other goodies is fun.  Sure it will remind you of other games but Darksiders has taken the well done elements of games and crafted an experience worth having.  The puzzles get head scratching combing a newly learned skill with previously learned skills.  The boss fights can be frustrating until you find their weakness.  There are gates to open, gates to close, things to push, climb, etc.  Some how the folks over at Vigil Games have made it seem fresh and fun

Darksiders isn't an easy game per se.  Some of the platforming sections pissed me off but only because I am not great at platforming sections.  Other parts of the game have made up for it though.  In particular, one part involves closing a gate by defeating a large number of foes - basically an arena fight.  However, each gate requires a different goal and each goal is made easier or more difficult depending on which weapons you have at your disposal.  Simple variation, huh, keep gameplay fresh, who'da thunk? 

I'm only about a third of the way through the game.  I had to take a break last night to play Dragon Age: Origins RTO and wolf down some food.  Plus one jumping sequence made me want to punch myself in the groin.

Sherlock Holmes (2009) Dir. Guy Ritchie

Truth be told I wasn't expecting much from Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes.  I have only recently begun to like Robert Downey Jr. .  Ritchie's movies are hit and miss for me - more often miss than hit.  That being said, Sherlock Holmes was a thoroughly enjoyable ripping yarn.  I walked out the theater thinking damn I wish I could buy that just for the special features.

I don't have anything bad or critical to say about Sherlock Holmes.  Hell even Hans Zimmer's score is on my list of albums to pick up ASAP.  I just had a lot of well needed fun watching Sherlock Holmes, genuine action movie going fun.  Hell, I'd watch it again now if I could.

Dragon Age: Origins Return to Ostagar XBOX 360 DLC (Spoilers)

I downloaded Dragon Age: Origins Return to Ostagar last night.  For the price - about four bucks - the content is pretty awesome.  As far as length it's comprable to one of the character origin stories.  As far as loot it's pretty damn cool.  Sure you can recover the late King Cailan's armor but - more importantly - you can recover Duncan's Sword and Dagger.  I started up - yet another - entirely new character who I hope can be my final and all encompassing character.

DA:O - RTO is an awesome download for the price.  Well done Bioware.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Level Caps: Yay or nay? I say Yay.


 
I'm not sure who first introduced "level caps" in RPGs but I have to admit that I like them.  There are two particular reasons I like them:
  1. I love tinkering with a character and attempting to come up with the perfect balance of stats/skills/weapon emphasis for my final goal.
  2. I do not love demi-god characters unless the enemies can match the player in terms of skill/power/dangerousness.
Having a level cap with opportunities (sidequests/loots) to boost skill points is my favorite balance that has shown up in Bethesda games and to certain extent Bioware. Additionally having a fallible character makes for more exciting gameplay/role playing experience. 

As an in-game looter/kleptomaniac I tend to lean toward an archaeologist (thief/rogue) type of character but I never beef up my character's strength enough to carry huge amounts of loot.  Also I rarely end up in heavy armor, etc etc etc.  With a level cap I have to be more careful with what skills I take and how I distribute attribute points.  Without a level cap I can put points wherever I want and end up some kind of uber-mensch able to carry eighteen suits of armor, twenty-two weapons, and enough healing potions to open my own Red Cross.  Where's the fun in that? 

What do you folks like? 

I declare a moratorium on:


Voice-overs in films and intrusive narrators, especially in a Noir gravelly tone.

I used to love it but in all honesty it's swung back to cliche again.  No mas.  Fin.

Franklyn (2008) Dir Gerald McMorrow


Had this on the Netflix queue and watched it last night with the missus. i hadn't heard anything about it but the premise sounded interesting and Eva Green is in it so, why not?

The premise is thus:
In the futuristic Meanwhile City, a masked vigilante (Ryan Phillippe) seeks out his nemesis while in contemporary London, an art student (Eva Green) attempts to kill herself, a heartbroken lover (Sam Riley) looks for someone new and a father (Bernard Hill) searches for his son. Writer-director Gerald McMorrow's sci-fi drama follows these desperate individuals as their lives become intertwined by fate.
Franklyn is a split reality movie that reminded me of Clive Barker's Quiddity mixed with Steampunk mixed with boring British lines of fate movie.  Perhaps it decided to do one thing or another I might have enjoyed it much more than I did.

The Meanwhile City sequences were awesome and if the movie had spent more time in that world I would have enjoyed the movie a great deal more.  Perhaps if the other characters had shifted over to Meanwhile City...

The Meanwhile City sequences are neat, rich with detail, and I honestly want to know more about this world.  Franklyn is worth watching for Meanwhile City alone.  Otherwise it's just meh, British people being gloomy.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Rhyming Chef is one of my favorites.


This is now going to be my knife technique.  Thanks Shaolin Master Rhyming Chef!



Sunday Cooking: A long and involved recipe involving things and stuff and elbow grease.



So while I was snoozing this morning I was thinking about how I was hungry and needed something to eat and about what there was in the fridge. I didn't want biscuits and eggs or ham and eggs or sausage and eggs or anything particularly breakfast-y.

I remembered that we had leftover paste I made earlier in the week after cooking a chicken. While “paste” sounds unappealing, I can assure you that it is anything but. It is more along the lines of curry paste but more Northwestern African than South/Southeastern Asian. Let me give you a run down and then I’ll get back to what I made for break fast.
I won’t go into the process of slow roasting poultry (again) so we are going to start with end of the process. After roasting your poultry, deglaze your pan with about two cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want). You’re going to be doing this on the stovetop just to give you the heads up. Don’t worry about trying to do this with your head in the oven. Personally, I do this at a low medium temperature, stirring constantly, and adding all the stock at once. Don’t worry about all the gunk and chunks on the bottom of the pan, keep stirring – gently – and all that goodness will be incorporated into the reduction. Hey look, we’re making a reduction!
I love making reductions because I reach a zen point of stirring. Once the stuff in the pan starts looking more appealing remove the pan from the heat and go do something else for about 15-30 minutes. Now get back to the kitchen. There should be a kind of congealed slick on the top of the liquid in the pan. That’s fat from the roasted poultry, skim this layer off. Here’s a trick, use a piece of bread. Then you can eat it or give it to the dog. Fat gone, put the pan back on the stovetop and heat it up again (medium-low heat). Keep stirring, the texture should be getting smoother. Again, the sauce should have the look of something you would want to consume.
Here comes the fun part, spicing it up. Now I used some spices most folks aren’t going to have in their kitchen but they are all easily purchased online and are cheaper than buying crap in a bottle in your supermarket. I purchased all of these from World Spice Merchants for less than twenty bucks including shipping and handling.
To the reduction add: (please remember that my measures are guesstimates and suggestions)
Simmer and stir until spices are blended in.  Turn off the heat.  Go do something for 15-30 minutes.  Come back skim off fat, yes again.  Taste, tinker with the flavor, whatever you want to do.  I do not recommend adding more salt, there should have been plenty of salt in the earlier processes.

Here's another fun part.  By now the reduction should be at the end stages (about 3 cups of stuff).  Get out your blender/food processor.  Got it?  Pour everything into the blender/food processor.  Hit blend.  Blend the shit out the mixture so it has a very smooth, uniform texture.  Check?  Good?  Now pour the mixture into a tupperware container and throw it in the fridge.  You can also put it several containers and put some in the fridge and some in the freezer.  Ultimately you should have about 2-4 cups of the final mixture.

Use this mixture on poultry or whatever the hell you want.

Now back to breakfast this morning.  I used a big dollop of the paste (about a half cup?) to saute some onions, adding a little stock to help reconstitute the sauce.  After lightly browing the onions, I added a cup of rice, a little more stock, and some water.  Before I clapped a lid on I added a fistful of diced dates.  Cooked until the rice was done.  Mixed in some crushed walnuts.  Ate.  Added some hot sauce.  It was good and I recommend it to a friend or neighbour.

I will make this again but next time I will add the dates in at the end with the walnuts and will add a bit of my capsicum blend to balance out the sweetness.  Sigh, fine, and maybe some salt.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Borderlands: Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot & the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned XBOX 360 DLC


Borderlands: Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot and the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned are the current DLC for Borderlands - the sci-fi RPG/FPS from Gearbox Software that I happen to enjoy the shit out of.  For DLC I have to say that most of the time I feel like the content is hit or miss or maybe I just have a weird concept of DLC.

That being said, I had these sitting on the back burner until I got home from the holidays and I needed something to play.  I kicked it off with Zombie Island and had a grand time of blasting the living dead.  I liked the level design and the zombies were actually a threat until I worked out the right combo of weapons with which to make them dead...undead...for reals this time.  An assault rifle with an incendiary mod worked really nicely.  I also got a good deal of play time out of Zombie Island - about eight or nine hours in one go.  I got my money's worth, hit the level cap, and added a few more firearms to the collection.  Very nicely done, oh and the humor in the level is awesomely punny.

Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot is on one hand totally wicked hella awesome arena combat.  On the other hand it is a hateful, gruelling Death March of suffering.  Mad Moxxi DLC is a cruel and vengeful bitch, three arenas, each with five rounds of combat...however each round is comprised of five waves of enemies of increasing difficulty.  Add to that, at higer levels a random effect comes into play - sometimes good and sometimes profanity inducing.  Once you are thoroughly castigated by these rounds but manage to complete them a new challenge awaits...twenty rounds.  I've gotten to the twenty round part but haven't made it past round six.  Oh and if you die you get penalized a level.  If you leave to change weapons, tough tittie, you're starting over. 

Some reviewers are whining about MMUR being too hard or there's no reward because of the level cap or the wah wah wah.  To those reviewers I say: time to put on your big girl panties.  Video games have gotten soft in some respects.  Do you rememeber when you only had three lives and if you died at the end you had to go all the way back to the beginning?  Or you had to have futuristic Mentat skills (pre-leet ergo no zed) in order to complete some games?  I've never met anyone who fully 100% completed NES Gauntlet and if someone said they did I probably wouldn't believe them.  One reviewer complained there were no achievements...well, too fucking bad, how about pride in one's own self?

So if you're not a crybaby and enjoy arena battle royale get this now.

Robocop...I still love you.






RPGS: thoughts, comments, pipe dreams (plus a repost from 10/11/07)


RPGs:
A Polemic of Likes and Dislikes
  1. I'm going to keep saying this until someone listens and does something proper about it.  Make a proper quality next-gen Shadowrun/Cyberpunk 2020/Dark Future/Marid Audran game.  How hard is this?  We have the technology.  If FASA can put out a piece of crap shooter and slap the Shadowrun label on it...okay, okay to be fair I read Mitch Gitelman, (former?) FASA Studio Manager's blog about the 2007 release and I understand better where they were coming from and will stop pissing on their parade.  Hell who made a game that sold a shitton of copies and who didn't right?  However, I still agree with the folks who called it "Counter Strike with Elves".  I believe that a great deal of my disappointment is that Cyberpunk as a genre would be so awesome in a current-gen RPG format and the genre has fallen by the wayside.  Maybe I should just do this myself.
  2. Take a cue from Grand Theft Auto 4 and center gameplay on one city, one big ass totally awesome city.  No ice wastes, no jungle (though a zoo/aquarium would be awesome to fight in), endless opportunities for mission branching, DLC, etc, etc, etc,
  3. FUCK JRPGs.  No more Japanese psuedo Miyazaki mumbo jumbo eco-story lines - i.e. A band of misfits must restore the balance and heal the spirit of the life blood of the planet who has been turned into a monster/demon spirit by the evil corporate military-industrial complex that has angered the earth spirit/demon/life force by tapping into the life force/spirit energy and is causing a rift and our band of misfits must heal the wound in the spirit/life force in order to stop the angered demon spirit from destroying everyone and everything and sending all that we hold dear into a spiralling spiral of forgetful sadness. Oh yeah and one or more of the characters are plucky, sassy, and/or are some kind of anthropomorphic girl.
  4. Normal fantasy RPGs are boring. I've been playing them for over twenty years and eventually I get bored with the elves, dwarves, humans schtick. In the last quarter of the game I just get bored to the point that I go read a book or go outside or - god forbid - see what's on TV. 
  5. Grinding for EXP (see also 5). I liked the fact that I could train in "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion". Mindless, repetitive combat is not my idea of a good time.
  6. Idiotic dialogue. You all know what I mean; dialogue written by Ren-Faire castouts or translated by people who learned Japanese through only manga.
  7. Dungeon crawling (see also 3). I've crawled through miles and miles and miles and miles of dungeons, caverns, swamps, forests, ruins, temples, and sewers. Enough. Finis. Unless you are willing to spice it up with intelligent puzzles, challenging traps, and monsters - thank you "Overlord" xoxo - don't bother.
  8. Step and fetch quests. How about this get your own fucking crap?  "I need, I want..."  What about my needs and my wants?  Right now, I just wanna stick a machete in your head and take what I damn well please.
  9. How many of you remember something like this from the ye olde days of gaming? You need a key to enter the Dungeon of Stone. Speak to the gatekeeper in his hut outside the Dungeon of Stone. He is bored and needs something to read, perhaps a book. Where do I get a book? He doesn't know but perhaps the Gatekeeper at the City of Air can tell you. Where is the City of Air? The Gatekeeper of Stone used to know but it has been so long that he has forgotten. Perhaps the Witch in the Forest of Gloom south of the Dungeon of Stone knows how to get to the City of Air. After wandering through the Forest of Gloom you find the Witch's House. Where's the Witch? Why is she not home? WTF! Break and steal everything not nailed down inside and outside the Witch's home. Decide to spend the night in her house. During the night you are awakened by the Witch's pet Ghost. The Ghost says that the Witch was kidnapped by the Shades of the Swamp of Mist. You can follow the Ghost through the Forest of Gloom to the edge of Swamp of Mist but can't show you through the Swamp of Mist because *cue flashback* the Ghost is tied to the Forest of Gloom. The Ghost warns that it is easy to get lost in the Swamp of Mist and mentions that if you had a light you could find you way much easier. Perhaps that Ruby from the Palace of Flame could be useful - it worked in Labyrinth of the Abyss. Equip. Press A to equip. Are you sure? Press A. To use press A. Are you sure? Press A. The Ruby has no energy. Walk back through the Forest of Gloom, past the Witch's house, past the Gatekeeper of Stone, across the Frosted Ice Plain, across the Mountain Peaks of Treachery, into the Halls of Ash, and speak to the Gatekeeper of Flame, enter the Castle of Flame, rest at the Inn, reequip - press A - and get into the Castle of Flame and then speak to His Majesty the Keeper of Flame. He says he'll power up the Ruby just this once. If you need to power it up again he will need a favor done for him. Like you didn't save his Kingdom of Flame from the Iron Beasts and their Digging Machines. Before you leave he mentions that if you him a favor then he will give you a gift. Do you accept? Press A for Yes or Press B for No. Jesus, since I'm here Yes. Are you sure? Press A. Apparently His Majesty the Keeper of the Flame has been having problems with his daughter the Princess of Flame, Ember. She has run off into the Molten Chasm and His Majesty is concerned for her safety. Will you find her and bring her back? Fortunately there is an entrance to the Molten Chasm in the dungeon and here is the key. Dungeon crawl the Molten Chasm. Princess Ember is fighting a Crimson Burrower and is doing well but falls down and you run to her aid. Defeat the Crimson Burrower thanks to Princess Ember's fire magic. Back to the throne room of the Palace of Flame, dysfunctional family dialogue, Ember joins you on your Quest, His Majesty allows you to loot the treasure rooms and gives Princess Ember her mother's weapons and armour. Apparently the Queen kicked ass and died. Reequip, visit the Inn, save. Now what the Hell were you supposed to do?  To tell the truth I miss classic RPGs and am glad some of them have been rereleased for the DS Lite.
  10. Dear creators of RPGs, please take my bitching with a grain of salt.  It's just my favorite genre.


Hooligan Youth Reviews kind of sort of favorite/best of video games of the last decade


Since everyone and their Aunt Louisa is doing a "best of" I figured I'd jump on the band wagon with a series of lists of my favorite games, based on genre and assorted goodness.  Please note that these are not comprehensive lists (and frankly I don't enjoy some genres) so don't get your knickers in a twist if I left off your favorite game or genre.  I also listed the console I played the game on, not the best version of the game.

RPGS:
  1. Suikoden III (2002) Konami - PS2
  2. Dragon Warrior VII (2001) Enix - PSOne
  3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)  Bioware - XBOX
  4. Fallout 3 (2009)  Bethesda Softworks - XBOX360
  5. Final Fantasy VI Advanced (2007)  Square Enix - DS Lite
  6. Beyond Good and Evil (2003) Ubisoft Montpellie
Puzzle/Adventure:
  1. Katamari Damacy (2004) Namco - PS2
  2. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (2007) D3Publisher of America-XBOX Arcade
  3. Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2008)  Level 5 - DS Lite
  4. Carcassonne (2007) Sierra Online Seattle- XBOX Arcade
  5. Scribblenauts (2009) Warner Brothers Interactive - DS Lite
Stealth:
  1. Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins (2000) PS2
  2. Hitman: Contracts (2004) Io Interactive - PS2
  3. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) Rocksteady Studios - XBOX 360
  4. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (2005) Ubisoft Montreal - PS2
  5. Sniper Elite (2005) Rebellion - PS2
FPS:
  1. Deus Ex: the Conspiracy (2002) Ion Storm - PS2
  2. XIII (2002) UbiSoft - PS2
  3. Battlefield: Bad Company (2008) Digital Illusions - XBOX 360
  4. Borderlands (2009)  Gearbox Software - XBOX 360
  5. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare  (2008) Infinity Ward - XBOX 360
3rd Person Actioners:
  1. Freedom Fighters (2003) Io Interactive - PS2
  2. Saint's Row 2 (2008) Volition - XBOX 360
  3. Ratchet & Clank (2002) Insomniac Games - PS2
  4. Silent Hill 2 (2001) Konami - PSOne
  5. Assassin's Creed 2 (2009) Ubisoft Montreal - XBOX360
Rockstar:
  1. GTA VC (2002) PS2
  2. Manhunt (2003)  PS2
  3. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (2003)  PS2
  4. Bully (2006)  PS2
  5. The Warriors (2005)  PS2
Miscellaneous & Honorable mentions:
  1. Star Wars Battlefront (2004) Pandemic - PS2
  2. Burnout 3 Takedown (2004) Criterion Games - PS2
  3. Ico (2001) Sony Computer Entertainment - PS2
  4. Disgaea (2004) Atlus USA - PS2
  5. The Godfather (2006) EA Redwood Shores - PS2
  6. SOCOM II:US Navy Seals (2003) Zipper Interactive  - PS2
  7. War of the Monsters (2003) Incognito - PS2
  8. The Sims 2 (2004) Maxis - PS2
  9. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (2008) Atlus USA - PS2
  10. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (2006) Bethesda - PS2
  11. Okami (2006) Clover Studios - PS2
  12. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (2008) Ubisoft Montreal - PS2
Disappointments:
  1. Indigo Prophecy (2005) Quantic Dream - PS2
  2. Shadowrun (2007) FASA Studio - XBOX 360
  3. Manhunt 2 (2007) Rockstar London - PS2
  4. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (2009) D3 - XBOX 360 & DS Lite
  5. Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta (2009) Bethesda Softworks - XBOX 360
  6. The Halo franchise
Make (or remake) these damned games already!
  1. Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (2005) Oddworld Inhabitants
  2. LA Noire Rockstar Games
  3. Freedom Fighters 2 Io Interactive
  4. Shadowrun - Melbourne House 1993
  5. An Indiana Jones game that doesn't suck.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Okay...looks like Blogger is having technical difficulties with the site...



I have no idea what has happened but my sidebars and assorted links and fun stuff have vanished from the site but are still visible from my end on the layout screen. 

It could be user error or it could be sun spots or the Tamagochi running the server might be taking a dirt nap.  We shall see...

(edit) Looks like the problem is with SpringWidgets...hope I don't lose my archived material...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins "Return to Ostagar" delayed and new material coming.

So the new DLC for Dragon Age: Origins has been delayed. Return to Ostagar has, IMHO, limited gameplay which allows for item pickup/fancy gewgaws. However, earlier today Bioware announced a new addition/expansion called Awakening. According to the Bioware site the expansion builds on the game, after the defeat of the Archdemon/rebuilding the Wardens. I am looking forward to this release - March 16th if the Internet is to be believed. Appartenly you can import your current pc or start a new one. Neat.

Land of the Lost (2009) Dir. Brad Silberling

I never understood Land of the Lost but then again I was too young for it when it was on the air and when I finally saw an episode or two it was lost on me (no pun intended).

I have no idea why we rented this. It wasn't awful yet it wasn't good either. It was...sort of bizarre and vaguely surreal and kind of funny but not really funny because the humor was weird...y'know? I think it has the potential to be a cult movie because it has some good lines, bizarreness abounds, and the movie would probably benefit from being viewed while under the influence of illegal substances.

Anna Friel is kind of hot in a weird British way. Apparently she's in a Czech movie from 2008 about Elizabeth Bathory titled Bathory. Huh.

Avatar (2009) Dir. James Cameron

I liked Avatar. It reminded me of a sci-fi novel from the early/mid 1970s (possibly by someone like Robert Silverberg, Joe Haldeman, or maybe Norman Spinrad). Hell, I could even imagine the old Tor book cover for Avatar with some naked blue hot alien/barbarian chick riding some weird pterodactyl thing in a pseudo - Frank Frazetta style.

And that's the extent of my review for Avatar. I didn't like it as much as I love Aliens but liked it much, much more than I liked Titanic. It was good, solid, classic Sci-Fi done complete justice by James Cameron and crew.

Bayonetta & Dante's Inferno Demo reviews

I'm not sure why Bayonetta received a 92 on metacritic. Perhaps there must be a large contingent of SEGA fans who like games with lots of on screen flash and button poking. I however am not one of these people. I was intrigued by the main character who looks like a cross between the Baroness, Lulu (from Final Fantasy X), and Bloodrayne but with all the onscreen nonsense I couldn't ogle her goodies. Gong.

EA & Visceral Games have come out with a demo for Dante's Inferno. I have no idea what to say about this game. Loosely adapted from Dante's Inferno the player has to go to hell to rescue the soul of Beatrice. There's part of me that wants to play this game and there's part of me that wishes that it didn't have Dante's name attached to it. Check out the website, it's actually a cool site. The demo played like a God of War only instead of chains and blades, Dante is armed with a big ass scythe and a cross that shoots...holy light crosses?

Assassin's Creed II (2009)

When I reviewed Assassin's Creed way back in 2007 I was kind of disappointed (and bored) by repetitive gameplay. I was hesitant to pick up Assassin's Creed II for that reason. I was mildly intrigued by good reviews on metacritic but was wrapped up in playing Dragon Age: Origins. I ended up renting ACII a few days ago simply because there wasn't anything else to rent. I am very glad I did because whatever was wrong with the first game has been tweaked or overhauled for this installment.

Assassin's Creed II is - with little hyperbole - an excellent game. There are one or two flaws in gameplay that are just personal gripes otherwise ACII is visually stunning, thematically strong, and many aspects of gameplay are topnotch.

My two gripes are:
  1. The combat is good but unfortunately the bar was set too high by Batman: Arkham Asylum. Granted the protagonist - Ezio - is no Bruce Wayne but still for an assassin he's pretty weak in the fisticuffs & melee department. That being said, Ezio's "stealth" attacks are hit or miss but then again this isn't a Tenchu game. Minor gripe.
  2. Once you unlock the villa (aka HQ) it's way too easy to get money. Then again Ubisoft probably figured people want to get the good stuff and not have to play Sim-Villa. Again, minor gripe.

On the plus sides:

  1. While melee combat may be a pain in the butt the options for avoiding mobs of guards are pretty cool. Throughout the cities are small bands of hirelings: prostitutes, mercenaries, and thieves. Each band has its own skill set to deal with pesky guards. Need to sneak into a guarded area? Hire a crew of coquettes to distract the guards with their "confidence" and walk right in. Thieves are great to hire to deal with rooftop guards and pursuers. I have to admit it makes dealing with the hordes of guards much easier.
  2. ACII has a lot to do and varies up the gameplay techniques. Assassinations in the story line have changed from the first game. The last hit I played last night involved a footchase across Florence. I have to admit I enjoyed catching up with the bastard and ending the pursuit. I think I might have said, "Why'd you run? I hate having to chase you." There are lots of races, things to explore (a shit ton of things to explore), set pieces, puzzles, platforming sections that take a page from Prince of Persia, and more. Not only that but the missions vary, hell some events aren't even on the map or talked about (i.e. running down enemy couriers). A+ Ubisoft.
  3. The game is set during the Italian Renaissance and it is awesome. I don't know how Ubisoft did it but in the regions I have unlocked (Florence & Tuscany) I find it very easy to imagine that I am in 15th Century Italy. Florence is stunning and throughout the cities are landmarks (information pops up about the landmark, architectural history, etc). One of my favorites is Giotto's Dome (which I knew about but didn't know was in Florence).
  4. Thank you to Ubisoft for teaching gamers about Renaissance art and architecture.
  5. While this may be a minor joy to most of you folks, ACII has the option to change the spoken language in the game and language of the subtitles. For years I have been annoyed by games in English that have subtitles in English. While I understand that the hearing impaired might need the subtitles there are/were many games when languages and subtitles needed improvement (ex. Final Fantasy - why the hell are these games in English without an option to have original Japanese voicework?). I've been listening to ACII in Italian, though my Italian is nil, and I don't know what people on the street are yelling however I am picking up a bit more Italian as I go. Maybe I should switch the game to Spanish.
  6. (edit) Jesper Kyd did the score! Yay!

Assassin's Creed II is a winner. I don't know how long it's going to last. I'm 14 hours in and I think I just unlocked the meat and potatoes of the game, but I was collecting and exploring everything I could. We shall see. For now, great work Ubisoft.

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