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What a Doosy

January 2, 2007

Finally, I motivated myself to sit down long enough and start typing up a new blog post. Basically, it ended up being the fact that the girlfriend has taken over my Xbox so she can play Viva Piñata. Admittedly, this is not something that I would complain about. Any video gaming she does, especially on the Xbox, is going to make me happy. Speaking of Viva Piñata, the girlfriend isn’t the only one into that game. It was most definitely the sleeper hit of 06 for me.

To bring you up to date on my life outside of video games, it is currently Christmas break, and the Fall Semester is now over. I pulled through with a 2.976, so very close to having another 3.0, but I won’t complain about it. I passed all of my classes, and it feels great to have that math class out of the way. Right now my family is basically in between houses, having the new one finished, but not quite ready to live in, and the old one completely devoid of furniture and other necessities (like a bed for me) but not yet sold. In essence, I am stuck in an empty basement sleeping on an incredibly uncomfortable futon, hanging out with some boxes full of god knows what. After getting home from school, I spent the first week working my ass off for the ungrateful company that is Gamestop. I love (mostly) the guys that I work with, but the ridiculous amount of foot traffic and ignorant customers we receive is only multiplied ten fold during Christmas. I wont rant to long about this, because it’s in the past now, but needless to say, once I am done with my final day at this job (this Friday) and I have left this city for good, I am done shopping at this franchise. Only two possible exceptions will be made for this rule, one is the release of the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade expansion that is coming out on January 16th. Having already paid off my Collectors edition version of the game at the Gamestop back at school, I will go in and take advantage of my employee discount one last time. Additional motivation comes from the fact that you wont be able to find the collectors edition anywhere else, and certainly not for retail price. The last exception would be to reserve the legendary edition of Halo 3, but I am starting to think that even that wont be worth reserving and shopping at Gamestop for. Maybe I will just order I online.

Now that my little tirade is over, I can move on to more enjoyable topics. VIDEO GAMES! I don’t remember what the last game I talked about on the blog was, but I am going to guess it was Gears of War. While I haven’t exactly touched this game for awhile, it is not yet in my past. I am just waiting until I am back at school until I crank out insane mode on Co-Op with my good buddy who is returning this semester. Hopefully I will get the Dom Achievements out of the way too while we are at it. I am currently playing Rainbow 6 Vegas, and I am starting to be under the impression that this is truly the better of the two games, the multiplayer options alone surpass what is offered in Gears of War easily. Having received the Xbox Live Vision camera for Christmas (I have a great girlfriend!) one of the first things I did with it was to map my face onto my Soldier in Vegas. I must say the accuracy of the camera is incredibly creepy. Every one of my friends that I have played with online say it looks exactly like me, and that alone adds to the immersion of the game, and to my connection with my character. Along with the face mapping, they have included an experience gaining concept for the multiplayer potion of the game. Upon successful completion of an online game, whether it be co op story mode, terrorist hunt, or one of the many player VS player match types that are included with the game, you are awarded with experience points that will eventually rank up your character. Once you have received a new rank it unlocks additional upgrades for you to use on your character, such and armor, weapons and clothes. All of this is motivation to not only advance my character but to keep playing because of what I have achieved. It has been great fun to play with my group of friends every night, and to see what they have unlocked and how they have modified their character, and show off my own. Each of those friends that saw my face in game have gone out and bought their own camera, just for that very same reason. I think I’ll end up writing a review for Vegas in the near future, so I won’t go into greater detail on that right now.

Along with Vegas, the camera is getting some use of out Uno, which came packaged in with the camera. Uno has always been one of my favorite card games, and the Xbox Live Arcade iteration of the game does it great justice, specially with the ability to voice and video chat with your friends. This game is wonderful to just sit around and play while drinking, whether you are waiting for more people to show up online to play a different game, or just wasting time. The Camera bundle also came with 12 months of Xbox live gold, 200 marketplace points, and another XBL arcade game, Robotron, which is just another two analog stick controlled game like Smash TV. I probably wont be heading back to it any time soon.

One spectacular surprise I had was upon checking out Tomb Raider: Legend from work. This game has really brought Lara Croft back into her own, and I was incredibly happy with the game, albeit it had a fairly short story mode. So much so, that once it drops down to a more approachable price, or I just find some money burning a hole in my pocket, I plan on buying the game, to complete the tomb raider difficulty and hopefully the time trials. I didn’t really get a chance to muck around in the Mansion at all either, which I truly regret, especially after unlocking some of Lara’s more revealing outfits!

Now that I’ve gotten a spectacular surprise out of the way, I feel I need to talk about one of my greatest disappointments; Need for Speed: Carbon. I rented this game the second day I got home from school, upon hearing that there were in fact police chases in the game. I initially despised Carbon during it’s release after never hearing about what made its predecessor, Most Wanted, such a great game. Most Wanted was my favorite launch title for the 360, and two this day I believe it is the only game I have unlocked all of the achievements for. I stumbled unto a message board post that hinted about the police chases in Carbon and just had to go find out about it for myself. While they ARE indeed in the game, they are a watered down, shallow version compared to the last game. They are no where near and exciting or as pleasurable, and this alone condemned the game from my point of view. They have added in many more game play mechanics to Carbon, but they (IMO) suck more than the things they could have just improved on from Most Wanted. One new addition I enjoyed was the team aspect of the races, having blockers and pathfinders was exciting, and kept some of the races from becoming to monotonous. Unfortunately, this is only one good thing among many flaws. The Drifting is awful, the canyon races are horrendous, and the car classes and tiers are an outright joke. In Most Wanted you could basically stick with one car the whole game and just upgrade it, and stay fairly competitive. In Carbon, even after dumping $100,000 in upgrades on my $30,000 Tier 1 car, the stock $45,000 Tier 2 cars blew me out of the water, no contest. Along with the incredibly limited choice in what is available to buy, I didn’t have any reason to keep playing this travesty. Here’s to hoping EA takes some time off from the Need for Speed franchise and really fine tunes the next game.

On the DS side of things, I had an urge to play a Role Playing Game, and I really needed to get a new DS game seeing as how all I owned for the system were two game boy games (and Animal Crossing, which has been in the girlfriend’s DS for ages). I had been contemplating picking up Final Fantasy 3, but then heard that Five, which was released around the same time for the GBA was a better game, both storyline wise, and job system wise. So this again set me back to square one; in comes Magical Star Sign! I had not really heard of this game, and just looking at the childish front of the box would instantly turn me off. It was a throw down between this and the new Castlevania and I chose MSS. Right now I sort of wish I had picked Castlevania, but to be fair I’ve only give it a little over four hours, and for an RPG that isn’t much. I have to say though, that I dislike each and every one of the main characters, and the plot isn’t exactly enthralling. You move from planet to planet rescuing your school mates in order to rescue your teacher. This is all done using the stylus, including combat and movement. When I say Stylus, I mean ONLY the stylus. You can move in the world with the D Pad, but it is slow and clumsy. Having no D Pad or button control in the turn based combat though is ridiculous. I mostly play my DS at night in bed on my side, but I find it hard and uncomfortable to have to use the stylus at all times. The world themselves, along with the people that inhabit them are fairly comical (and much more enjoyable than the students), and I have enjoyed the quests they have sent me on, but the way every thing is closed in and can be explored in a matter of minutes is disturbing. It has built in wifi connection, but you have to find someone else with the game, and I am fairly certain I will never find another person who is playing it at the same time I am. All in all, I am glad my DS is getting some attention, but I am starting to wish it was with another game. I’ll keep you updated on this one.

Back to the 360, I checked out another game from work, Phantasy Star Universe. The storyline is crap, and it took forever to get into the initial combat, but once I was in it I found myself really enjoying the mind numbing hack and slash. It got to the point where I was actually wondering to myself if I was willing to buy the game, shell out $10 a month to try it out online, and see if the combat is even better when you are partied with other people and able to chat with them. The only two guys that I know personally who have the game keep telling me not to pick it up, that it isn’t worth it, but I can’t help but wonder if they’d start playing again if I did get it. These are some of my nightly Rainbow Six Vegas crew by the way. One thing about the storyline that I like is that it is split up into chapters that start out as if it was a television show, an Anime if you will. It even goes so far as to say “On the Next Episode…” and as small as that is, it was something that I thought was really clever and kind of makes me want to play more. Adding to this, they are able to time warp so to speak, and pass in game time off on the main character, such as a few months of basic training, to progress the storyline. I’m going to play some more today before I have to take it back to work, but I am really tempted to pick this sucker up myself.

Just to round out what games I have been playing, I bought all three of the Burger King Games, and Max Payne 2 for the Xbox (it is backwards compatible). It was only $2.99 at work for a sealed copy, and on top of that I also received my employee discount. Who knows if I ever open it, I could always use it as a gift some time haha.

I think this is about all for now, I’ve got more to talk about, but frankly I am just tired of writing.

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