Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gears All Nightmare Long

Yes, I just stole the title of a Metallica song. I'll be playing Gears 2 all weekend long to reap maximum XP for playing on Dark Corners maps, and it will be a nightmare. Maybe if I play enough, I can undo a lot of the damage done to me when my flipping level 44 rank reset. Right now, my game plan is to get as close to level 50 as I can, and go back for the horde achievements after double XP ends.

When I hit 50, I'm pretty much done with this game. I may speed run through the campaign on casual so I can get to the end where it's easy to speed kill for Seriously 2.0, and periodically no-life kills on that for a while.

Simeday, maybe, I'll go for level 100, but I'll do it by boosting this game with several other people, years from now, when nobody else is playing it anymore. For now, it's really done at 50.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nintendo Wii Destroys the Environment

You heard me. The Nintendo Wii (and to a lesser extent, the DS) are bad for the enviroment. The simple fact is no other systems have as much crap software for them that ends up in our landfills. Remember the classic story of everyone throwing away copies of the ET game? Well, that was one title... The Wii has DOZENS of games that simply shouldn't exist, no matter how badly you want to lecture to me about expanding the gaming industry's demographics. (Most of the games I'm about to make fun of are clearly targeted at girls and women)

I took a casual walkthough of my Wal-Mart, and wrote down the most aweful games we have in stock. Take a look at what gets put on shelves, and what some poor dumb saps may actually purchase:

Imagine: Party Babyz

The funny thing is, to my great amazement, IGN gave it a 7.5. Ubisoft has crapped out a whole like of "Imagine" games aimed at young girls. This one lets you be a babysitter! Others cast players as a wedding designer, ice skater, doctor, and more. Ubisoft seems to be the only one trying to heavily hit a young girl audience, but is any of this stuff any good, seriously? Perhaps I'm casting myself as against change and expanding gaming so there is something for everyone, but I just cant take this stuff seriously, and I gag that this stuff is on the same shelf as Call of Duty.

Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Now if Richard Simmons would hurry up and make a Wii game that uses the balance board too, my living room Wii fittness regimine would be complete. Since actually going outside to excercise is too hard, this game lets you pretend by excercising inside while the activities onscreen make you forget your not actually rowing a canoe. One reviewer states, "The developers could have used some coaching and beatings by Jillian to get this game into shape. Visually it doesn't look like a Wii game, and it barely makes use of Wii's motion controls." Official Nintendo Magazine UK flat out says its broken. But are the people who buy this the type to look at reviews and make informed decisions? Probably not.

Golds Gym Cadrio Workout:

It's generally agreed upon that most liscensed games suck, so seeing the kind of marketing move that got Golds Gym involved in a game automatically triggered my gag reflex. However, if Metacritic can be trusted, this is actually the fitness "game" to get. One reviewer writes, "For me, someone who tries to exercise as regularly as possible, it was something refreshing and new, and I’ll definitely keep it up; also, the discounted $30 price point is more than a fair deal for the hours of exercise you will get out of it." The user reviews were also pretty high. So, for once, our deeply instilled expectations may be wrong (on this one, at least), who knows?

Guinness World Records: The Video Game

Really? A mini-game collection about "breaking world records?" I expected blasting reviews, and this one to be another shovelware collection, but it pulls a modest 67 metacritic average. It even sports leaderboards (Oh wow! No Way! I guess with Nintendo's Online, that must be a big deal). I'm sorry, but this who game looks incredibly lame, and even as a 8-10 year old I wouldn't want to touch this. At least it isn't a Spongebob game... (love the cartoon, but don't get me started on the games)

Dancing With the Stars: We Dance!

Thank you Activision, oh Thank You!!! For those who just can't get enough of the show, now its possible to dance around and be every bit as beautiful and athletic as those on the show! This must be the best game ever! Well, I tried to find out, and it turns out that, even though the game released on October 21, 2008, NOBODY has reviewed it. No reputable reviews are on metacritic. Its simply not worth wasting the time over. Its sad when the best thing about the game is the front cover of the case...

I think I can make a case from these examples of the pollution the Wii is causing. If game companies want to reach a larger female audience, I don't care, but surely they can do better than liscenced shovelware, and, as always, all customers need to be aware of what they are buying so we don't see an ocean of this stuff.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Insert Disc 3

Once again, stupid technical issues mar the release of the Jurassic Park posts. I can't copy/paste them on my computer (browser crashed every time), and now my parents PCs Microsoft Word wants to download a converter to open a .DOC FILE! WTF? I'm too irritated to bother with it right now. Parts 1&2 (which will upload together) are done, part 3 is pretty far along, and I have not yet started part 4. Someday those posts will grace this blog, I swear it.

@ Keller: I'm in town on Monday if you want to hang out and give me my book back then =P

So, tonight I have to work an overnight (10pm to 7am) as part of my training, which is going to be pretty brutal for me physically. I slept in and did everything I could to prepare, but tonight is going to be a looooong night. Then, on Sunday, I drive home at the end of my shift, crash for 4-5 hours, then go BACK to Hutchinson to look at an apartment complex, since Sunday afternoon they had openings. The good news is the place I'm looking at is the best place in town, according to everyone I ask. I'm looking at $595 a month for the first year ($615/month after) for a 740 square foot apartment (1 bed, 1 bath). The building has a pool, fittness center, and computer lab included. If the place lives up to the word-of-mouth and what I've read on the internet, I'll hopefully be signing on to move in in September.

I've been killing my day by relaxing and trying to conserve energy. In Lost Odyssey, I just made it to the start of Disc 3. Over 18 hours in, and no achievements yet. Such is life when you're trying to go back and replay a JRPG so you can complete it. I also cleared another chapter of the story of Mirrors Edge last night, but that's about it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Oh, poor blog. How I've neglected you this past week. I've forgotten to finish the Jurassic Park posts. I was going to start a write up on terrible games that get crapped out for the DS and Wii, and I forgot the list of all the games I saw in Walmart that really exist (and really shouldn't). I guess that post will come Saturday.

On the gaming front, I've been touch-and-go with Lost Odyssey, since I feel its too time intensive to really sit down and enjoy after a long work day. So, most of my gaming time has been spent in Mirrors Edge, which is a better game to play in limited time. Running from rooftop to rooftop has been fantastic fun, and I'd say the game was worth all the $20 I paid for it. While I'm enjoying the storyline, the time trials are pretty brutal, since there's no room for error when going for high ratings. I'm not ready to give up yet, but I may simply go for all the campaign achievements, whatever time trial stuff I can get, and then call it a day.

Most of my time and energy has been devoted to work lately, where I'm now in the first of two weeks of training at my home store in Hutchinson. I'm a little irritated that what I have to learn is more book oriented than as hands-on as I had hoped, but its nice to start meeting some of the people I'll be working with and get some hands on knowledge. It's great to be a part of a management team that is nice and really knows their stuff. I shouldn't have too much trouble fitting in and learning from them.

Today was payday, so I stopped being such a cheap-ass (sorta) and bought the movie Borat for $5, which I'll probably watch tonight, as well as watch Burn Notice, and then maybe play some Mirrors Edge. Later folks!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Back in Stride

I think I'm finally shrugging off my gaming funk and getting back into the swing of things and enjoying gaming more fully again. The casual pace and devoting more time to reading has certainly helped. Actually scoring some achievement points certainly hasn't hurt either.

The general trend has been to simply bounce between whatever games strike my fancy, which I'm going to continue to do during weekdays, while I devote my weekends to trying to attack a single game a much as possible. Right now, the major weekend project is Lost Odyssey, which I've restarted from the beginning after is sat unplayed for over a year. The game is truly a first-class JRPG. At this point, I'm about 12 hours into my playthrough, and I'm in the early stages of Disc 2.

Silva talked me into playing some Gears 2, and after a few good matches I got to level 15, with about 30,000 XP. And to think once upon a time I was level 44 with 445,000 XP... My goal with Gears is to try to get to level 50, and get the Dark Corners achievements, but that's probably it. Forget level 100. If I played the game 2 nights a week, gaining 10,000 XP a night (ten games of 1,000 XP is probably all I could handle without getting tired of the game), it would take me SIX AND A HALF YEARS to get to level 100. No thank you.

Crackdown took a brief turn out from the backlog, as my brother and I cooped all 21 time trials on the hardest difficulty in a single day. With infinite respawns, it wasn't nearly as challenging as I had expected it to be. After also eliminating all the gangs in my campaign, I was up over 300 achievement points in Crackdown. The game will now probably sit for a while again until I feel like making it a weekend project or trying to hunt down the achievements one at a time, but it really felt good to bag some points, and cross the 105,000 mark.

I'm in the early stages with Mirrors Edge, which was totally worth the $20 (yes Silva, I know you found it cheaper...). Sonic Unleashed has also been much more fun than the reviews led me to expect, though I'm less than 2 hours into it so we'll have to wait and see if my enthusiasm endures.

My casual play game, for when I want to put my feet up and not even think about looking at a guide, has remained Magic: The Gathering. I'm got about 75% of the cards unlocked, and I've been playing online, though it's hard to say how many matches I've won, as most people are jerks and quit when they know they've lost, so its hard to know how many of my wins actually counted toward the achievement. Seriously, why do people quit, when the only think on the leaderboards is a stupid Truskill rating? It's not like people see your W-L record (I wish they did, because I should rightfully be about 7-3 right now, yet I still don't have the 5 wins achievement due to quitters). As soon as I have the ranked achievements, I'm never playing a ranked match again. It'll be player matches or I'm not playing online.

Thus concludes the recount of my recent gaming exploits. I currently have no known reviews on the horizon, except for Mothership Zeta in Fallout 3. Off the top of my head, I don't remember when that comes out, but I'll be on it when it does. I'm hoping to do Wolfenstein or Batman when those release in August. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mirror's Edge, Prince of Persia $20 Each

...I'll never eliminate my back catalogue, but I don't currently mind. I snagged a few nice deals that were too nice to pass up on, and bring some variety to my game collection.

From Wal-Mart, I picked up Mirror's Edge for $20 NEW. If you've been looking to pick up that game, that's the best price I've seen.

From GameStop, I got new copies of Prince of Persia and Sonic Unleashed, also for $20 each. I can't complain about 3 new games (2 of which where last Xmases AAA titles) for the price of 1 new game at full retail price.

Tonight, I think I'll spend a fair amount of time bouncing between these 3 games. It'll be fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Feel the Itch Returning...


A few houskeeping notes for my readership:

First, the Tiger Woods '10 review is now up on x360a. As Xylofreak correctly guessed yesterday, I gave it an 80 (of course, you should read the actual text and all =P)

Second, today was supposed to be the launch of the Jurassic Park post series, but whenever I try to copy text from a word processor and paste it, my browser crashes (did for both IE and Firefox). So, I'm going to have to email it to myself and post it from my parents PC this weekend. Annoying. Anyone know what might be causing this problem?

Third, tension headaches suck hardcore. I had to return to the hotel after 2 hours at Walmart today because I felt like I'd been shot just above my left eye. I couldn't think, I felt dizzy when I closed my eyes, and I thought for a while I'd puke (I didn't, thankfully). After 4 hours of sleep and plenty of Advil, I'm OK, though I still feel a little pressure in my head.

Fourth, I've been at it a while, but I thought I'd formally announce I'm in another long-term achievement race, though this one is more joking that serious. Basically, I need to reach 200k before an XBL friend of mine, The Anchor X, hits 100k. His gamerscore is 5,770. Frankly, I'll hit probably be around 350-400k by the time he hits 100k (for several reasons), but it's fun to joke and laugh about. Now, hitting 200k before he hits 20k might be a race LOL =P

Fifth, I added a few new features at the bottom of this blog (which I wouldn't blame you for not seeing). One is the combined Silent Assassins / Hand of Thrawn Leaderboard, showing our general awesomeness. Clicking it redirects to MGC, where you can see us individually and our scores. Silva reigns supreme, and I'll probably pass Derek and Buck in the not-too-distant future. There's also a release calander of upcoming titles, which is nice, since I always forget what is on the horizon.


Lately I've been feeling a particular itch start acting up. Thankfully its nothing I'll need pills or a creme for. I'm talking, of course, about the gamerscore itch. Since breaking 100k, my progress has slowed up, as I've made an effort to work my back catalogue (haven't done too well on that front) and make progress in more challenging games to complete. While I still want to pursue those goals, I'm jonesing to see that "Achievement Unlocked" pop up on my screen again, as I don't think I've unlocked any points for at least 2 weeks!

In my mind, I'm seeing the GSL calibur list grow longer, with the Terminators and the Ice Ages or Harry Potters of the world begging to get thrown on the card. I want points, and yet at the same time I really want to save everything I possibly can for another GSL, or at least a compelling gamerscore challenge (neither of which I currently have time for anyway until I settle into a regular routine with Wal-Mart, and that'll probably take 1-2 more months). The trash-talking and social interaction of GSLs is even better than the point windfall. Hopefully in the future I can again lead a team as awesome as the Hand of Thrawn. Even if we don't win, you could count on us to be near the top, and a class act the whole way, exactly as we were during GSL 7. First slots are reserved for committed members of my past GSL teams, so let me know if you're interested. (Geez there's no announcement and it sounds like I'm already planning for one... Gotta stop that line of thought there...)

So, I'm at a bit of a loss on how to have the best of both worlds. I plan to continue dedicating weekends to Lost Odyssey, since that's when I have the most time to put my feet up and enjoy it, leaving any achievement exploits for weekdays. Adding new games to my card won't make my backlog any smaller either. Ah, the stupid "torments" I put myself through.

To give an indicator of my condition, I almost purchased Ice Age from the local Best Buy here when I saw they were selling them for $25 new. And yes, I would even play it with witnesses...

NOTE: The first game with Thrawn night will be on Friday from 8 to 10pm CST, with the game being Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (my favorite online shooter, BTW). Shoot me a message if you're interested, so I can guage how many to expect. All are welcome. I will accept any new friend requests a little before the event starts, and remove them once the event has concluded. I'm all for playing with people, but as I've said before, I like to keep my list private, so don't take offense if we play and I remove you after. Don't read anything personal in it at all.

In the future I may have a a Game with Thrawn session on one of my days off at an hour that is more accomidating to readers in Europe, but I'm not going to be able to do that this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tough Critic or a Softie?

I was wondering the other day on how I rate with review scoring. Am I tough, do I lob out a lot of high scores (unnecessarily inflated scored)? In terms of the content of reviews, I feel I really cover the bases, and do a good job of picking out the pros and cons of a game. Nobody has ever called me out on doing a bad job in that department, so I feel good about that. Different people will evaluate the same pros and cons differently, so I wanted to figure out roughly what my review average is.

For this, I'm ignoring my DLC reviews, which are rated on a different system, and have all been for Fallout 3, so that's not a good sample.

Game - Score

Afro Samurai - 75
Crash: Mind over Mutant -65
Dead Space - 92
Disney's Bolt - 50
Fallout 3 -96
Gears 2 - 93
Ghostbusters - 87
Monsters Vs. Aliens - 65
Onechanbara - 40
Resident Evil 5 -92
Rise of the Argonauts - 69
Sacred 2 -71
The Force Unleashed - 75
Stoked - 76
XXX -XX (Unreleased review that is factored into the average)
Velvet Assassin - 70
Warhammer Battle March -59

Highest Score: 96 (Fallout 3) *Named x360a's GOTY, so it's certainly not inflated =P
Lowest: 40 (Onechanbara)

Universal Average: 73.82 (Decent on the x360a scale)

That seems like a pretty fair average to me. Thoughts?

Oh, and 100 detective points if you can figure out what my next review to be posted will be, AND what score it is receiving, from this data. (jackanape can't play LOL)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lost Odyssey Reboot

Note to the few of you who have been on me before about the Jurassic Park post. I've just finished re-reading Jurassic Park and The Lost World, and that post is now going to be posts (plural). I'll have those posts up sometime in the next week. I'm too busy with other things to wrap that up today, but it's on my to-do list when I have some more open writing time.

This week, I'm planning on devoting most of my time to three games, none of which I'm likely to finish due to the time committment required. Those games would be Magic: The Gathering, Sacred 2, and Lost Odyssey.

Magic: The Gathering is one of my favorite games of all time (the card game, not this specific arcade game, though it's a good adaptation). I love the level of strategy involved. I just hate how damn expensive the cards are, compared to the actual amount of use I get from them. It drives me nuts that I can have decks with a vastly superior strategy and lose to kids who have nothing but disposable income to blow on rares. That's why, if you know anything about Magic tournaments, I'll only play in Sealed events any more. In those game types, where monetary investment is equal, I absolutely dominate, since superior strategy will win out almost every time.

In the arcade game, the playing field is even. All players have access to the same decks and cards, making it fun for me to play. I've enjoyed every minute of it, minus some jerks on Live. Of course, it's hardly a quick 200. To unlock cards for decks, players need to win matches in the single player campaign mode, earning one card per win. Each deck has 15-17 cards to win. I can't remember exactly how many decks there are, but basically, players need to win 130+ games to unlock every card for every deck. It's time consuming! Since I truly enjoy the game, I've had no problem playing dozens of games to unlock cards. The game feels intense and yet casual at the same time. If I unlock a dozen or so cards this week, that'll be good enough for me.

In Sacred 2, I'd like to advance my Shadow Warrior play, and maybe finish the evil campaign. If I play my Seraphim, I'll be mostly doing some of the many sidequests, and looking for locations and such for achievements.

Lost Odyssey represents the major undertaking I'm trying to get into. I've decided to simple start the game over. In my old play, I forgot to steal an accessory from a boss, which has to be stolen from that boss to have every accessory. Therefore, I wouldn't be able to get the achievements for giving the Immortals every skill. Rather that sinking in dozens more hours and not being able to 100% the game anyway, I decided to just start over. I was on disc 4, and I really don't remember a whole lot of the story anyway, so it'll be nice to go through the story again and see everything. If I can 1100 this game, it will be the most impressive competion on my card.

Infinite Undiscovery can sit for a while more... Compulsive is a horrible achievement and not at all fun to go after... I just haven't been in the mood to hunt down 300+ remaining items.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Unrolling Game of the Week and Game With Thrawn Nights

My gaming backlog isn't getting any smaller here, and it's been too long since I completed a game. So, I'm going to make an effort to try to complete, or at least make significant progress in at least one game every week. If I don't make it, I'm not going to be too beat up about it, but I'm hoping this extremely loose goal will get me into gaming a little more.

Also, I'm planning on starting up "Game with Thrawn" nights, where I'll play online with readers of this blog and other friends. To make things interesting, I'll be deliberately avoiding the most-played games on Xbox Live, for the most part, and want to focus on trying out games that don't have as much online play (if I can get enough people to have a game going). Of course, Horde nights in Gears 2 would be periodically on the table. I'd like to run this once a week or maybe twice a month, to have fun online and be social. It's an opportunity to chill with people I haven't played with before (but spots would be open for my long-time buddies if we're having trouble filling out a session).

Game with Thrawn nights are NOT boosting sessions. We're going to play the games legit and have fun. If players want to boost before or afterwords, I'm totally OK with that.

I'm thinking next Friday night (July 17th) from 8-10pm CST will likely be the first Game with Thrawn night, and I'm leaning towards Timeshift, Unreal Tournament III, or Vegas 2 (in that order) as options. Interested parties can comment here or send me an XBL message.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gimmie Some Horde and Beer on Friday

It has been another busy week of training, which is now winding down to a close. I'll have about a half day tomorrow, and then I'm driving home. I've got some writing and work to do Friday afternoon, but then I need to settle in and get some gaming on. I don't want any old gaming, I need to shoot the shit with my buddies.

What we play is really a function of how many people are around, but I'm thinking Horde in Gears 2, as that never gets old. Sabre, Silva, Dark, Bishop, Derek, Ducky Dan, I'm calling you out. If you're around, let's horde it up and down some beers. The first round of invites belongs to you wonderful crazy bastards. Xbox Live counts as social drinking =P

I've been busting my ass to get in better shape lately, and to that end I've been running 5-6 miles a day. God bless endorphins. When I'm done, I feel like a tank. Reading and being social has taken priority over gaming lately, though I plan on logging plenty of hours over the weekend. Also look for a more substancial post or two over the weekend.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What an Awesome Weekend

While I didn't get any of that double XP action in Gears 2, it was still a most excellent weekend. I went back to Eau Claire to see many of my college friends for the first time since I graduated, and we had a blast. Lots of floating down the Chippewa River in tubes, eating at Texas Roadhouse, and such. Watched Reno 911! The Movie, and played HOURS of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine from the Genesis collection. My roommate and I have a storied rivalry in that game, where we can literally play the versus mode of that game against each other for hours on end, trash talking the whole time. It's an amazing spectacle.

Saturday we went to my roommate's parent's house to spent the 4th, and participated in a pontoon parade, ate great food, played yard games, and watched fireworks. Sunday was a lot of Wimbledon (too much, TBH) and more fun on the river. It was great to see my friends again, my former roomate Stefan in particular, as he'll be leaving soon for a 1-year nursing program in Nebraska and I won't see him again for quite a while.

Now, I'm at the Elk River Holiday Inn for another week of training. I've been spending a good amount of time socializing with my fellow new managers, and getting some reading done. Gaming really hasn't been high on my radar, but I'm going to try to give it an hour or two a night starting tomorrow... I probably won't play anything tonight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

EPIC reads my blog...

... to look for the weekends where I'll be busy with more important things, and those are the days the pencil in Double XP weekends. Last time it was college graduation, this time I'm going back to Eau Claire to see my friends for the first time SINCE graduation. Gears isn't even on my radar this weekend. I'll play some later today to get as much XP as I can (maybe a late-night Guardian session), but that will be it. I'm going to try once more for level 50, but I'm probably going to call it quits at that.

Going forward, I'm going to be trying to divide my leisure time more equally between reading books and playing games. Like my large backlog of games I want to finish, there's a significant book catalogue I'd like to chew my way through, including a whole lot of Star Wars.

I'm debating what to work on for points right now. I should probably pick up Infinite Undiscovery and Sacred 2 again soon, before those two RPGs collect too much dust. I also have Prince of Persia from gamefly, that I want to play for fun more than points, and Tiger '10. I'm really not getting anything done lately, and it's annoying. I need to feel like I'm making SOME progress, at least.

I'm off to deposit a couple checks at the bank while I still can, and then I'll be back to settle into a huge gaming marathon before I head off to Eau Claire tomorrow.

BTW, is Gears 2 Title Update 4 live yet?