Thursday, October 21, 2010

I thiought I'd Sneak One In



      Hey folks! First, let me apologize for the long overdue post. I haven't stopped gaming, I simply started working a day-job again. Frankly the added time sink has made me extraordinarily lazy when it comes to writing. When coupled with the fact that this job leaves my head full of doubt, I generally go for my "comfort foods" in gaming.

      I have always found myself going back to Splinter Cell games more often than almost any other series. This years release of Conviction has proved almost as addictive as heroin. I will be accosted by fellow Sam Fisher stalwarts due to the games departure from the play style of old, but I really think this game is a step in the right direction for mass appeal. In today's industry with budgets bigger than Hollywood blockbusters, mass appeal is required for a franchise to survive.

      The game mechanics have been stripped down quite a bit, to the point of deleting Sam's ability to move bodies as well as the infamous "split jump". Those have been eschewed in favor of a quicker style of stealth play. Popping in and out of shadows for quick kills is very entertaining. It also controls very intuitively unlike previous games in the series. Don't get me wrong, I love the old style however, the controls would be a bit clunky for the pacing in Conviction.

      P.E.C. Challenges, Infiltration, and the co-op should keep you coming back for a while. P.E.C. challenges, such as kill 10 enemies in a row without being detected, net you points. Points that can then be used to upgrade weapons and gadgets. Infiltration sets you up with some of the set pieces from the single player campaign and reconfigures them a bit. Then it's up to you how to take down everyone. It's a bit of a sandbox mode the way I see it, and it can be very time consuming for the OCD inflicted. The co-op is probably the shining star of the package. I won't spoil the story, but it's short and is a prologue to the main story. But cranking through it and toying with the AI as a team is crazy fun with a friend.

      For a game that had it's original idea scrapped after 2 1/2 years of development, this is one of the most polished titles I have seen in a while. Possibly the most polished in the franchise. I'm not saying it's the second coming of Crysis, but it is one of the better looking games I have played this year. I highly recommend the PC version if you really want to see it shine, though the 360 version is still a sight to behold.

      At any rate, I highly recommend this for any gamer. I mean really, it's October and I still pick it up often. Until next time kiddies, in which I will probably rant about Borderlands or perhaps being the worlds first real geeky-ass geek stripclub bouncer, hasta winnebago!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You Don't Know Jack...




...but now you know why YDKJ is my all time favorite trivia game.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A real Pixel Revolt!



P.S. Yes, I know they're voxels.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Back! It Being Myself.

I really haven't been trying to neglect this thing. I have just been too busy gaming and such to even really think about it. Well, sort of anyway. Really I just wanted to give what I've been playing some quality time before I embarked on a quest to regale you with tales of my obsessions in this little hobby of ours. On with it then.

So I was fortunate enough to receive a few games in recent weeks and figured I'd let you in on my impressions with these titles. They have been out a while and I'm sure most of you have played them, so don't go looking for any awesome Mass Effect 2 spoilers or anything. Oh, and if you spoil ME2 for me, I will find out where you live and feed your intestines to a bewildered raccoon. What does that even mean? How the hell should I know, it's 1am.

First up, Forza 3. Have you ever played Forza 1 or 2? Well it's pretty much exactly like those only prettier and it also boasts a beefier physics model. A must buy for any gearhead gamer. It has all the polish one has come to expect from Turn 10 as a Developer and if you are a sim-racing fan, it's pretty much pure goodness in a cup. I highly recommend the limited collector's edition for the truly hardcore. Not for the USB thumbdrive or keychain, but for all the extra cars and tracks. I mean come on, who could live without a 911 GT3 RS anyway?

Now we come to what has been my primary addiction lately. What started as a "meh" on my scale of interest has skyrocketed to "I'm hooked on crack" status. Borderlands is like Diablo-meets-Fallout 3-meets-insert any ID shooter here. Do you like loot whoring? Yes? Then have I got your new time killer. It just lends itself to the whole "just one more quest" mentality so well, it's neigh impossible to put down. Seriously, I'm a level 50 Siren with 50 SMG skill wielding a crazy Hellfire and Double Anarchy SMG's and can't stop looking for treasure. My bank is full of top tier weapons as well as my inventory with apparently no one to share them with.

Next up, Assassin's Creed II. It really hits on everything I loved about the original. It just does it with a bit more polish and refinement. I adored the first one while many complained about it's repetitiveness so I am a wee bit bias on this one. Though it does bring up one thing that irritates me to no end. People who complain about games that are "repetitive". Really!? All games are. I have never heard anyone say Forza is too repetitive. What about GTA? How about every sports game ever? If your whining because a game is too repetitive, seriously do the world a favor and lodge an icepick in your eye.

That brings me to Dragon Age: Origins. It truly is the successor to Balder's Gate. Even traveling from one location to another it asks "Gather your party before venturing forth?". That made me chuckle. Though I'm finding it long and repetitive. It's just one quest after another. In all seriousness though It's a phenomenal game from top to bottom with a minor gripe graphically but nothing that isn't easily overlooked. The texture work just seems a little low-res. The only thing that is really bugging me about this game is that it just hasn't got it's hooks in me quite yet even though I'm 20+ hours in. That bit doesn't sit well with me as someone who still plays BGII on a yearly basis. I'm still trudging through though, and will finish it to completion, hopefully multiple times.

Finally Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Well this is where I start getting hate mail. I like it about as much as the others in the series, perhaps less. It has the most ridiculous plot of any game in the series, and it's really, really, really , really short too. I'm pretty sure Clancy wrote it. (He didn't, I'm just trying to make a point) I'm not big on multi-player shooters on the 360 so that never came into the equation. If you are however, I would call it a must buy but if not, I'd say skip it. Infinity Ward has gone from historically realistic to bat-shit insane in just a few games.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Space Harrehrrr

Thanks to T'Dar for reminding me about this epic tribute to Shenmue.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Twitter, Last.fm & Facebook on 360












Apparently I made it into the first wave in the update preview program on XBox Live. Thank you Microsoft, it's pretty sweet to have the opportunity to play with these new toys on the 360 a bit earlier than most. I've seen a lot of unneeded hate on various boards when it comes to this update. If you don't want it, don't use it. I have certainly noticed the new apps are quite unobtrusive and will in no way hamper your console experience. Now on to breaking down what I would consider the biggest features in this nifty little package.

Twitter

I dig it even though I don't really see myself using it a whole lot in the future. Not that I don't use Twitter, I just finding typing too much with a controller a bit cumbersome. However I think it will be very useful for the occasional shout out to find a fourth for some firefight. It also makes links useless, but with the 360 not having a web browser at all, that really shouldn't surprise anyone. It won't make me get rid of TweetDeck anytime soon, but still does as advertised and that's all I really expected of this one.

Facebook

It's a bit on the sluggish side, especially when going through a photo album. But overall I think the interface on it is more pleasant than Facebook itself. Not to take anything away from Facebook, it just seems a bit cleaner. I can see myself using this a bit more than I initially expected to. Also the ability to find Live friends on Facebook and vice-versa is quite handy and could help to flush out a fledgling friends list. I would also think it will get a bit smoother as future updates and tweaks are applied. I have no basis for that, but I wouldn't doubt that possibility in the slightest.

Last.fm

Personally I believe this to be the killer app in the update. I have used last.fm for quite some time on the PC, but damn is the interface really streamlined here. I even find myself marking tracks as loved where I rarely bothered to before. I really can't stress enough how good this is.

Zune Marketplace

I really haven't dove into this very deeply at all, though I'm looking forward to some streaming 1080p tomorrow. I'll check it out a bit later and hit you with some impressions afterwords.

Update: So after playing around with Zune Marketplace, I'm impressed. For one, it sure makes finding old content you have downloaded long ago and since deleted a cinch. The streaming quality surpasses Netflix in my opinion, and the ability to purchase as well as rent movies in 1080p is phenomenal. I think that Microsoft has done very well here. Anyone who complains about paying for a Live account now, you are certainly short sighted. If you think they could keep up this level of Dashboard innovation for free, you are sorely mistaken and certainly not a business major.


So far I'm fairly impressed. Having used all of these services on PC for a while, I think Microsoft has made these relevant on 360. They don't feel too gimmicky and fit in quite well. Twitter and Facebook can even serve gaming related purposes. In the cases of last.fm and the new video streaming on Zune marketplace, I think they have hit a sweet spot in the digital content delivery that they have really been striving for from the beginning.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Potential Future of Digital Distribution



Recently at UC Berkeley's PLAY conference, Peter Moore, Kai Huang and Neil Young (not the singer, he's an iPhone game developer) discussed the future of digital distribution and it's place in gaming. They pretty much came to the consensus that retail boxed games will be a thing of the past in the next five to ten years. While I agree that digital distribution is inevitable, I don't agree with their time frame.

I have on several occasions downloaded titles that could just as easily have been purchased at retail. My most recent purchase was Battlefield: Bad Company. I chose the digital distribution route due to the fact it was convenient, and not having a boxed copy wasn't a must for me. That pretty much sums up how I see downloadable games at this point in time, convenience. It's nice to be able to download something on a whim at 2:00 in the morning, but with a game like Forza 3, I want the collector's edition in a retail box. I genuinely believe there are many like me at this point and were not going away anytime soon.

The average age of gamers at this point in time, depending on which outlet's research you believe, is somewhere between 25-30 years old. We have been buying retail copies of software forever, and are the largest demographic in gaming. There will be a small minority that is willing to forgo a case and manual, but an overwhelming majority that will not in my opinion. It will take the younger generation, who will have grown up with downloadable entertainment be it music, movies or games, to become adults spending their own money to fully embrace this as the primary option.

Ten years from now I will be 41 years old. I would predict at that time, I will still be a gamer. It's a platform for entertainment I grew up with as many in my age group did, and just like movies and television for our elders their enjoyment doesn't just go away. I would also like to be able to take a trip to a retailer, to pick up a title in a box, and have the satisfaction of opening it as I would assume many others still will. Digital distribution could potentially alienate a large chunk of the market.

Another thing to keep in mind in the equation is the retailers. They aren't going to want to give up the revenue that the physical media generates anytime soon. Microsoft for example with their Games on Demand service, really only offers older titles. That decision was primarily to combat the large market of used titles, and not to piss off big box retailers by cutting into big software titles sales. As easily as music is and has been available via iTunes and the like, CD's have not gone away. Yes CD sales are lower than they used to be fifteen years ago, but they still remain on retailer shelves as a viable option for consumption. In fact CD's are still preferable for many consumers.

Due to the size of the average major game release, digital distribution is still a relatively new option when compared to music. Also with bandwidth capping by many ISP's, this step to a fully digital solution to software purchasing is not practical. Comcast for instance has instituted a 250GB monthly cap. Between surfing the web, streaming Netflix and Hulu, and even downloading a few albums a month, adding what could potentially amount to 8-15GB per game in the near future, you could hit that cap with ease.

I just don't think between the infrastructure that is available at this point in time, alongside the desire for physical media by consumers like myself, drive trays aren't going the way of the Dodo anytime soon.

I apologize if this is a bit of incoherent babble, but it's almost 4am and I think I'm going to hit the sack now.