Monday, July 15, 2013

Borderlands 2

I was a pretty big fan of Borderlands 1, except for the ending, which I will not spoil for you, in case you're planning to play it and haven't heard the countless masses complaining about what a shitty ending it was... Cause it was. was SO bad, that they actually poke fun at what BS it was, in Borderlands 2.

Despite the ending being ass, I still enjoyed the heck out of the game. Thus, getting number 2 was a forgone conclusion.

I found 2 to be a much better game than 1. However it still kept with the feel of game 1. I'm not entirely certain about this, but I think I spent much more time playing 2, I think it was a longer game.

Claptrap is... different... in 2. He's still as obnoxious, but he's got many more things to say, and he's a little bit funnier.

What are your thoughts on Borderlands 2?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman Xbox 360 Game Review

I was really excited to play this game, as I'd heard that it was supposed to be like Batman Arkham City. I put it in my Game Fly queue at #1, and waited. They sent me like, four other games before I finally got Spiderman.

I finally got Spiderman, and fired it up. I found it not a whole lot like Batman, to be honest. It had some mechanics that were reminiscent  but it seemed that IF their goal was to make a game like Batman, they stopped about 30% of the way there.

Now, let me preface this by saying, it's a fun game. I enjoyed it. However, I felt that there were a lot of things they sorta just "phoned in".

First, and feel free to disagree with me on this, but I found it to be a huge distraction... I know this is a game, and a fantasy setting at that, so this might just be a hang-up for me... There were MANY times when you're web-slinging around, and there's clearly nothing the web could be attached to. I had this complaint as a kid watching the cartoons, and as an adult watching the movies. Some of the time, they didn't let you swing, cause there was nothing above, but MOST of the time it was a non-issue.

Challenge Mechanics
My next biggest complaint is one that I have with most games... Repetition of task. The "boss" fights were very mechanical. Punch six times, dodge twice, then do a "thing." The boss reels, and comes at you... Punch six times, dodge twice, then do that thing again. There was an awful lot of "Rinse, repeat". Even the "puzzle" type things were similar. There's one room that you go into, and in each corner of the room there are... things  Generators? and when you step in, the room electrifies. You retreat to an upper corner, wait, the come own, and break one of the generators. Rinse, repeat 3 times. Then there's another of the same rooms, only this time there are also gun turrets. Same process, you just do it 8 times now, instead of 4.

It was way too easy to hit RT and retreat out of sight, get over someone, and "silent take down". You could probably fight every single enemy who isn't a boss this way. Also if they were standing next to a wall, you could just shoot webs and stick them to the walls, and be done with them. There were also many times when I hit the dodge button when the alert popped up over my head, and he still got hit.

There was a lot of the game that was very "on rails". Once you entered a duct (which is another thing I'm really tired of... crawling around in ductwork. I used to install ductwork. Small buildings don't have huge ducts like that, I'm sorry. If you were to try to crawl around in them, you'd fall through, or at least make so much noise it wouldn't be useful.) you could only go one direction. You couldn't even look around. Why bother putting that part in the game, why not just show me entering the duct, and then cut to me exiting the other end?

Aside from that stuff though, the game was enjoyable. I probably won't bother playing it again, but it was fun.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Mass Effect 2 - In Retrospect

If you've been reading along with me, you'll know that I played Mass Effect 3 first, and I think this was the first time I have ever actually kinda regretted playing a series out of order.

When I first played Mass Effect 3, I had no idea exactly how much history and information was built into the franchise. I learned so much, experienced so many things in Mass Effect 1 and 2, that now, going into Mass Effect 3, I'm a little disappointed that I know mostly what to expect.

My experience with Mass Effect 3 began with me having no idea what happened before it, and having had no impact on the story line. Given how complex the first two are with regard to the decisions you're allowed to make, I'm really excited to start 3 again to see how it begins. I have to wonder what kinds of decisions I would have had to make in 1 and 2 in order for three to start the way it does when you haven't played either, because I cannot see the game starting that way given my current history. It just wouldn't add up.

That said, I decided to give the Collector ship over to the Illusive Man at the end. Probably not the very best thing I could have done, I suppose, but like I say, when I played 3 the first time, I do not think he had the ship. I'm sort of interested in seeing what changes now. I'm hoping it just adds more adversity to my job.

I also re-wrote the heretic Geth with the virus in two, so now I don't know how they'll handle the Geth in 3. Should be interesting. Perhaps Tali won't dive off the cliff in 3 now...

Going into 2, I did not have Ashley Williams as a love interest option, because I purposely sent her to her death in 1, cause I found her annoying and not as attractive as Liara. I also figure, I can always play the series again (and look forward to!) and do things differently. I kind of wonder how Ashley and Miranda would get along... Or Jack for that matter.

I accidentally sort of lead Tali on, in 2. When the subject of sharing a suit environment with her came up, it caught me off guard. I don't like hurting people in real life, so I didn't want to say no thanks... So I took the option that said "Maybe Later" or something like that... He ended up saying "AS much as I'd like to, right now is not the time"... Unfortunately she took that to mean like, "Maybe tomorrow", cause when I went to talk to her later, she was all "I'm not sharing you." and I was hoping to be able to say something like "Yeah, I'm choosing Miranda", but instead all I got for options was "Don't make me choose" and "I want only you."

I didn't plan on getting involved with anyone when I started 2, as I'd killed off Ashley, and had a relationship with Liara in 1. Then I found out you could romance Kelly in 2 and it would have no bearing on 3... So why not, right? Kind of a disappointment, that was. No cut scenes really, just the two of them showing back up on the bridge, and her saying "I haven't stayed up that late since college"... For all we know, they could have played Dungeons and Dragons all night...

Now, I'd played 2 most of the way though before, and didn't have enough paragon or renegade when Jack and Miranda got into it, to tell them to both knock it off... Miranda was out of line in my opinion, so I told her to stfu. She wouldn't talk to me again after that, and that made me angry cause she basically pouted the rest of the game. So I started over. There will be no tantrums on my ship, unless I'm throwing them!

I can't wait to see what all my decisions come back to me as in 3... And then, I think I'll start everything over again as a female, and go renegade.

I don't think I'll ever get sick of this series!
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Batman Review: Arkham Asylum vs. Arkham City

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"]Harley with Warden Sharp in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Harley with Warden Sharp in Batman: Arkham Asylum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

I have quite a bit to say about these two games... I sorta should break it up into 3 posts, one about Asylum and one about City, because I beat City while back, while having only beat Asylum about a half hour ago... Yet another video game franchise I played backwards. Just the kinda guy I am, I guess.

First, I should say... I got Asylum home a few days ago, and played the bajeesus out of it for probably about five hours. The X-box did not save my progress, so when I came back the next night, I was at square one. Normally, I'd have just turned it off and gone to read or something, but these games are ridiculously fun. I almost didn't mind re-playing the beginning content at all. Although, I could have done with a "Skip" function for the introduction sequence...

Anyway here are my thoughts on these two games.

I don't know much about the Batman cannon. I never read the comic books, though I did watch the original TV show when it was on Nick at Night years ago. I probably saw a couple dozen of them. I also watched the cartoon that was on in the early / mid 1990s. I am familiar with most of the characters. However, before playing these games I had never heard of Oracle, Crock, Bane, or the Al Guhls. I don't recall them ever having appeared on the shows I watched.

Not only that, but I never even realized that Liam Neeson's character in the Dark Knight movies was Ra's Al Ghul until yesterday when I was trolling IMDB. I'm not the quickest when it comes to these things, OK?

However, the story line is at least enjoyable in both games. I got into the story, I got into the characters, etc. The dialog in Asylum was kinda weak. Batman had a lot of lines where he sounded very cliché, but other than that, the story worked for me. I'm sure there are die hard comic fans out there who hate it for some kind of "that never happened" reason or what not, but for the typical gamer like myself, it did the job.

Like I said before, I played Arkham City first, which was probably a mistake. The combat system in City was probably the most polished, fluid combat in any game I've ever played... Which isn't saying a whole lot since I can count the games I have played in the last 15 years in less than a minute. But even still, I think a person would be hard pressed to come up with a more enjoyable, rewarding combat system.

That said, the combat in Asylum was pretty close. You can tell that THAT was the breakthrough combat system of its time, and they only just put a polish on it for City. There were a few things I missed, having gotten used to them being there in City, like the bat claw grab, clothesline, and slam move, and how you could throw 3 batarangs in fast succession, and the quick use of gadgets by holding LT and hitting a key... but all in all, it wasn't difficult to shift gears into the Asylum combat.

I will say, I was disappointed by the boss fights in Asylum. Each "big" boss had his/her own "thing". The mini-bosses were basically all the same. The mini-boss is a Titan-filled inmate. He runs at you, you hit him with a batarang, and get out of his way. You hit him, climb on his back and ride him around while he stumbles around beating on things. Rinse, repeat. Then later, you come to another "boss fight" and it's another of the same thing, but this time there are added thugs. Next time, there are thugs, and you're in a smaller room... Then next time, not only are there thugs, and the room is small, but now there are two big guys... Rinse, repeat.

Now, the Harley fights were basically beat up thugs, although in the second one, the floors would electrify, so beat up thugs and move from one platform to another as necessary.

I really enjoyed the first Scarecrow fight, it was complete with a really weird introduction, hallucination, etc... Not really sure what was up with running around the busted building landscape, felt a little like an old-school side-scroller (e.g. Contra), but I thought it was neat. Dunno if there was any significance to the fact that you beat the round by getting to the batlight and shining it on his torso... But OK. So I did the first one, and that was cool... The second one was introduced by Bruce re-living his parents deaths, and then more side-scrolling, avoid the gaze, and then OH! Thugs. Then more side scroll, then the batlight. The last was more of the same. Rinse... Repeat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ruined Xbox Disks

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240"]Lost and Broken CD Lost and Broken CD (Photo credit: Billie Hara)[/caption]

I have an X-box 360 and a GameFly account. For those of you who don't know what GameFly is, it's basically Netflix for video games. Through this service, I have found some really great games.

One such game is Deus Ex Human Revolution. Excellent game, I've spent many hours playing this game, beaten it a few different times, etc. Another such game is Mass Effect 3, which I've blogged about before.

I bought Deus Ex through GameFly for something like, $17. Not a big deal. I also picked up Mass Effect 1 though not through GameFly. My problem is that in addition to an X-Box 360 and a GameFly account, I also have kids. This combo has resulted in my Mass Effect 1 and Deus Ex disks being scratched.

When we got the X-box it was a Christmas deal, came with a Kinect and a couple of games, but a small 4GB internal hard drive. I recently purchased a 360GB hard drive for it, but that was after the disks got scratched. Had I installed this hard drive before they were scratched, I could have "installed" the games onto the hard drive, and thus only needed the disk for the machine to check that I owned a license, and I'd still be able to play these games.


I contacted X-Box support to see if they had a download service, I could just download the game and install it or something (they don't.) I was told to put an old CD into the Xbox and let it run for five or six minutes, just to make sure it wasn't the console that was creating the scratches. Good advise, but I am well aware of what's creating the scratches. They also recommended that I get the disks buffed... I looked into this, and apparently there are places you can go to get CDs and DVDs and such buffed for a couple bucks. The problem is that the only place around me that does it is in the mall. I frigging hate the mall. Every time I go there, all I wanna do is buy appropriate clothes for the pre-teen girls who walk around with their crack sticking out of the back of their pants and slap the crap outta the Joe-Pro bad-ass idiots who follow them around like puppies wearing basketball shirts, jeans around their knees and baseball hats sideways.

Tangent: You youths of today need a good smacking around. Grow the F up, ffs. (...says the guy who blogs about video games.)

Anyway, my other option is to put these games back into my GameFly queue, have them send them to me, install them to my Xbox, and send them back and call it a day. But if something happens to my hard drive, I'd be back where I am now. I tried this already, put ME1 into first place in my queue, and they instead sent me item #3. About a week ago. It's still not here. So going this route, I'm likely looking at waiting about four to six weeks before being able to play those two games again.

So, now I'm faced with having to go to the mall and deal with all that garbage, wade through the stench of "Brute" and underage pheromones, to get these disks buffed for a couple of dollars, or stay home and just re-order both games for a total of around $30.

What would you do?

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Monday, August 13, 2012

From Looking for Action, to Loving the Story

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]A battle with pirates. (NES version shown) A battle with pirates. (NES version shown) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

I've always been one to love a good story, which is what my Dungeons and Dragons background was always about. I always loved the story, and would go to great lengths to tell it or make it more interesting, even if it was at my character's expense. My gaming experiences were always a little bit different though, mostly starting with World of Warcraft.

If you've never played WoW there's a LOT of story behind it. I played the game for 7 years, and there is a WHOLE lot of story behind it that I do not know. Not because there's too much to learn though, but because I just didn't want to learn it. When I read a book, it stays in my head for probably a week or two and I start to forget details... So too goes my memory for gaming... I have to do a quest four or five times before I remember it, and I found it extremely frustrating that now and then they'd change things, and the quests would either change or go away or whatever...

I simply downloaded addons that told me where to go, and figured it out from there. Most of the time when you moused over something you had to kill, it told you as much... so I'd do it, and follow the arrow to the next thing, etc. The story never interested me at all. Ever. It got to the point that when I was forced to stop and listen to story, I'd get irritated. When I had to go back and read a quest to figure things out, it made me not want to play.

So when I started playing X-box games this past January, I took a similar approach. Gogogo! Skip the text, just let me fight! '

I'd mentioned before that I had gotten Mass Effect 3 at the mis-construed advice from some friends, and started the ME franchise from the back end. When I started playing it, I went into the options and found that I could turn off the making of decisions. This took me one step further from the story, so that I could focus on the action. I enjoyed this for a little while, until I realized that you could greatly change the outcome of things. That was then compounded by the realization that decisions made in ME1 and ME2 would impact the action on ME3... I decided to turn the decisions back on, and start again.

Now, suddenly I find myself enjoying story lines in video games, all over again, the way I did in the original NES days with the first Final Fantasy, and Ultima Exodus. I find this a curious transition, to be perfectly honest.

So I mentioned (I think??) that when I found out how important the decisions in ME1 and 2 were, I bought them, and started playing them... Well, a kid of mine scratched ME1, and now it won't play... Color me angry. I figured I'd go into my gamefly queue and get ME1 from them, and install it (now that I have a hard drive... Ididn't before) and then maybe my disk will work well enough for disk recognition, and I could play off the install from GameFly... So I put ME1 at the top of my list, clicked "Keep" for ME3 that I had out...

They didn't send me ME1... They sent me Gears of War... THREE... Because when I was taking the advice from my friends about Mass Effect, I guess I took the same advice about Gears of War... I haven't gotten it yet, but I think what I'll do is play it for a couple hours, and if I like it, I'll get GoW1 and 2 from Amazon... And "Keep" 3 so that they might send me ME1 again... I'd really hate to have to buy ME1 again, even if it was only $17... Oh and by the way, I also played Assassin's Creed 3 recently, having never played the first two. ALSO at the recommendation of those same friends... This was actually not misunderstood though. They told me to go with 3 first. I made sure of it... I may just stop listening to them all together though.

Anyway, like I'd said, I played all these games in reverse order, only to realize while playing Batman Arkham City, while I waited for GoW3, that I've never played Arkham Asylum... Another franchise I played backwards! I didn't mind so much the first time through, but as I'm playing AC now, I'm picking up more mentions of old business that I am assuming had to do with AA... Yet another game I need to get, and play, and beat, before I can enjoy the games I have now! GRR!

Ah well... Too many games is not a bad problem to have, methinks! :D
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Batman Arkham City

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Michael Keaton as Batman in Tim Burton's Batma... Michael Keaton as Batman in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

I came to modern console gaming fairly late in the game, as I've said in my previous posts. I got my X-box this past Christmas (December 2011) and shortly thereafter I purchased Batman Arkham City.

Batman Arkham City is a fantastic game, which you probably already know. The fighting sequences were stupendous, particularly to me since the last game I ever played that came even remotely close to this was probably Soul Caliber... The first one. A LONG time ago. Since 2004, I played World of Warcraft exclusively.

To say I was blown away by how freakin fun this game is, is a total understatement. I beat the game on normal difficulty in around three days... I slept perhaps about nine hours total in those three days AND worked full time.

Unfortunately, since this was my first game for the X-box other than the Kinect adventures that came with the thing, it set the bar pretty high. I have tried several games that have absolutely paled in comparison. The first Spiderman game felt totally arcade-like, annoying, and unenjoyable. I felt the same way about L.A. Noire... I guess I expected every game to be as amazing as Batman... Boy was I let down.

The main story in Batman Arkham city was very enjoyable, and there were lots of other side missions you could do along the way. I finished the main story-line, and was shocked to find myself only at around 50% complete with the whole game. I've done a fair amount of work on the Riddler things, but at the end of the day I found myself getting downright frustrated by it, and I really didn't want to associate that game with frustration, so I stopped.

I also didn't bother with any of the AR training passed the upgraded grapnel hook. I don't think I'm missing a whole lot... If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.

I do kinda feel like I missed out on a little, having never read any of the comics. I had never before heard of Bane, Ra's Al Ghul, or even Dr. Strange. I'm really only familiar with Poison Ivy (and even that was from that god awful movie with Uma Thurman... Blech.) Cat Woman, Joker and Harley of course, Two face, Penguin, Riddler and Freeze. Not familiar with the Croc or any of the other villians... Seems like there's a lot of story / history that this game might add to, but not for me.

An interesting part about this game's mechanics is that he doesn't actually kill anyone. I thought that was cool, and it made sense... You know, being Batman and all.

I was disappointed that I couldn't play as Robin. I'm told you can, or remember reading something about it somewhere, but it was downloadable content, and I wasn't quite THAT interested... So I didn't pursue it. Perhaps I will someday, I dunno.
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