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11:41 AM on 05.15.2008

My new PS3 and impressions thereof

Well, finally decided to go the way of several other Dtoiders as of late and pick up a PS3. I was planning on waiting until the MGS4 bundle so I could not only get everything I wanted in one package, but also backwards compatibility. There were two reasons I decided not to wait. 1) My tax return and economic stimulus money came in at the same time and left me with a chunk of money larger than my paycheck burning a hole in my pocket. 2) I decided that backwards compatibility wasn't as much of an issue for me, as I have tried playing PS2 games on my roommate's 61" TV through component and found it to be a little too big. My PS2 games just seem to look better when played on my 37" Sony Trinitron that sits in my bedroom, and that's fine with me.

So I dropped some bills and got the 40gig PS3 along with Uncharted and, because I just had to buy it for the fourth fucking time, Ninja Gaiden Sigma. I just managed to plow through Uncharted by last night, and it mostly lived up to the good things I'd heard. After playing GTAIV, the gunplay was definitely a little disappointing, but I think it has to do with the better physics engine of the latest jaunt through Liberty City. There were time's in Drake's adventure that I felt I was skating around in a world greased with butter, and the way the enemies moved was unnatural and frankly, kind of retarded. I was not expecting third world mercenaries to dance around like marionettes, but that is what they appeared to do. Overall the gunplay was just too fast and loose for my tastes, but the cover system worked reasonably well, and despite the cracked out animations and unsettling accuracy, the enemy AI was at least decent in the "flanking the fuck out of you and tossing well-placed grenades" sense.

The story was sparse in the beginning, but did seem to flesh out towards the end, and despite the supernatural "twist" (which didn't bother me that much since it had already been spoiled for me) was about as satisfying as any Indiana Jones movie. In fact, I daresay that playing through this game has made me much more excited about the new Indiana Jones movie coming out this month.

I've been putting off playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma, and decided to be a complete sucker and pick up Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, also know as GLORIFED DEMO THAT WE ARE CHARGING AN UNREASONABLE PRICE FOR. After a download and installation that took too fucking long, I got my chance to see what all the hype was about. I honestly have not played a GT game since the very first on my original Playstation, but I think the experience may have been ruined for me by Forza and Forza 2. I prefer the physics engine and damage modeling in those games, but I'll be damned if I didn't spend every race in GT5 Prologue with a smile on my face because of how pretty the game looked from the steering wheel camera. I'm really excited for the full game because of real time damage modeling, and my hope for GT5 rests on 1) actual damage modeling, and not, LOL your tires wear in real time, and 2) that those of us that boned up and paid the 40 bucks will get some sort of discount code so as to avoid paying 100 god damn dollars for the full version of the game.

Anyway, I realize that probably seemed pretty critical, but overall I have been pretty satisfied with my purchase, and with Metal Gear Solid 4 on the horizon I have a feeling it will be well worth it. If you want to add me as a friend and invite me into your online gaming fold, go ahead. My PSN id is PadreChester (curse you PSN for not allowing spaces!) and I imagine that I will be picking up Unreal Tournament in the near future, if only for the oddity of being able to play with a Master Chief skin on my PS3.   read

4:55 PM on 05.09.2008

If you love it, change it: Xbox Live (Repost with new content + edits)

Master Chief wants you... To stop being an asshole.

So there is a great article on gamasutra right now on how to fix online gaming, and I definitely recommend reading it if you are at all interested in online multiplayer. (And who isn't these days?) Go ahead and read it right now. Seriously, I won't mind.

As an avid gamer whose only online option tends to be Xbox Live, this article got me thinking about things that Microsoft could do to really help improve Xbox Live. Microsoft really hits the nail on the head when it comes to most aspects of the online multiplayer experience. With the exception of the most recently bemoaned outages and hiccups, Xbox Live has a pretty solid network and most games run smoothly with little lag or disruptions in service. But anyone who has played a game over Live has probably had the occasional, if not frequent, bad experience and the community (or lack thereof) is typically to blame. There are many reasons for this, such as the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory from Penny Arcade mentioned in the above article, or an overabundance of idiots now that Microsoft has succeeded in pushing online gaming into a fairly mainstream gaming population.

Here ere are some things I think Microsoft should do to improve the quality of community on Xbox Live.

1) Matchmaking... Make it mandatory for competitive games. Halo has a great system that always seems to match me with players of comparative skill, Call of Duty 4 does not. Now, I've played far more Call of Duty than Halo, but often I find myself leaving sessions after one or two rounds because either the gamers I'm with are too challenging, or conversely, not challenging enough. It seems like matching gamers of similar skill levels is something that should be a no-brainer, so why not do it? Microsoft puts other draconian requirements on pretty much all games published for its system either retail or through Live Arcade, so what's the harm in having one more?

This is the last thing you will see before being head shotted from 100 yards with a P90.

2) Real Community aspects... Add them please. When I first signed up for Xbox Live, I had to choose a "community." Because I have a full time job and don't have countless hours to spend memorizing maps and weapon placements and helpful glitches, I chose "Recreation." In case you're unfamiliar with the other choices, they are "Underground," "Pro," and "Family Friendly." Unfortunately, these choices are apparently cosmetic only. Why does Microsoft have these so-called communities if they aren't for anything? Personally, I think self-segregation based on these communities would be a great idea for public matchmaking, and would be a method of reinforcing or supplanting idea #1. Since it's determined only by the choice of the gamer, these communities could potentially be abused (someone tagging themselves as family friendly only to go into games and swear up a storm) but in general it would most likely be better than the way these "communities" work now.

Right now, someone is playing this game while high, and they are letting everyone know exactly how high they are.

3) Consequences... Where are they? I'm not easily offended, but arrogant pricks tossing around racial slurs really get to me. I've heard no shortage of them while playing, "niggers" and "spics" and "wetbacks," and it gets especially worse when playing with foriegn gamers. Usually I'm terribly embarrassed at the behavior of the actions of (predominately) American gamers. (Although, I've definitely experienced dickish behavior from Brits as well). Supposedly Microsoft takes reports of racism and harrassment seriously, and I've reported my share of assholes, but the amount of truly offensive hate speech being thrown around in the average match leads me to believe that perhaps the enforcement isn't as strict as Microsoft would like us to believe. And I didn't even bother to touch on the homophobic remarks...

So there you have it. Three things that could greatly improve the experience of Xbox Live. And it's going to need it when 2008 looks like it could be the year of the Playstation.

EDIT: dvddesign brought up a point that I want to address; the mute button. I think that in general thatís a great short term solution to a long term problem. Itís nice to mute jerks for the current session, but in the end, developing communities of gamers with similar interests and personalities would seem to be a better ideal (like Dtoid, natch!) It could never be perfect, but it would certainly be a positive step in the right direction.

Sony wants you to bring it, Micro$$$$oft...   read

3:19 PM on 01.07.2008

An apology from the recently much hated Micro$oft? No wai!

Saw this on Gamespy, not sure if I have received this yet because I'm at work!

[i]Dear Xbox LIVE Members:

During this past holiday season you helped us break a number of Xbox LIVE records. This included our largest sign-up of new members to Xbox LIVE in our 5 year history and just yesterday you broke the record for the single biggest day of concurrent members ever on the service.

As a result of this massive increase in usage we know that some of you experienced intermittent Xbox LIVE issues over the holiday break. While the service was not completely offline at any given time, we are disappointed in our performance. I would like to take this moment to thank you each and every one of you for your patience and understanding as our team has worked around the clock to return the service to a stable state.

At the same time we would like to offer a token of our appreciation to all of you in celebration of record success for the service. And as a thank you for your loyalty during this holiday period, we will be offering all of our Xbox LIVE members around the world access to a full Xbox LIVE Arcade game that will be available to download free of charge. In the coming weeks we will be sharing the specific details of this offer with you.

Thank you again for helping make Xbox LIVE everything that it is today!

Marc Whitten
General Manager, Xbox LIVE
Gamertag: Notwen[/i]

So, although there have been some technical issues with XBL as of late (I personally didn't experience any of my own), once again M$ does something fairly expected and apologizes for the poor performance, and they're going to offer a free XBL arcade game. So that's cool. I know the cool thing would be to jump on the hate train and claim that they should have done something sooner, but to be honest, a week from problem to apology is a pretty quick turnaround.

Thoughts, Dtoiders?   read

4:31 PM on 12.07.2007

Take it from Will Smith, parents just don't understand

I had planned on doing a blog defending bad games last week, but never got around to it, so maybe that will happen sometime soon, but for now, Iíve got a few other contrarian viewpoints to get to.

Before that, however, Iíd like to pour a 40 for Nex. Of all the writers Iíve followed here on Dtoid, Nex was hands down my favorite, and I am unashamed of my completely heterosexual man crush on that unparalleled master of the English language (in reference to video games). I will certainly be checking out his offerings on Wired, but it will, sadly, just not be the same.

First up on the gaming front, I would like to address something Iíve noticed a lot of here, which is calling parents who donít understand game ratings ďretarded.Ē Now, Iím not going to be a PC crybaby (mouse/keyboard lol) about this and claim that the term shouldnít be used because it might offend someone, but rather attack the way in which it assumes that parents who donít understand game ratings are stupid and inattentive.

Think about it from the standpoint of a ďhardcoreĒ gamer, as many of us by nature are assumed to be. We know games inside and out, we live them, we love them, we know all we can about them, and that naturally extends to knowing about the rating system (E for FAGS, lolzors). But letís say someone starts talking to us about baseball. Well, I for one cannot understand the wacky numbers and things that go smack and fly into crowds of people, and I donít really care to. By extension, many parents could not care less about anything regarding video games, including the rating system. Especially older parents who never understood what exactly was so goddamn engaging about fling a square ball between two lines for hours on end.

Shouldnít these parents at least take an interest in something their children love doing? Sure, and for all the ďstupid parents OMG,Ē Iím sure there are some who are very good about getting involved. Hell, my grandparents were savvy enough to buy me Castlevania III one Christmas, though to be fair, my grandma was concerned about the game having some violent content. But to expect people to delve into and educate themselves about something they have no interest in at all is, well, itís like expecting me to give a crap about baseball.

And thereís something else to consider as well, and itís about time we gamers start owning up to it. Itís the fact that when weíre kids, weíre sneaky. Back in my day (Iím pausing here to chase some youngsters off my lawn) the big deal was Mortal Kombat. Now, I had a Super NES, so we got the censored version anyway, but I remember games getting a lot more scrutiny from my mother post-MK. But do you think I pointed her in the direction to resources that she could use to educate herself on games and age-appropriate entertainment etc? No, I tried like hell to confuse her and used smokescreen tactics to ensure that she stayed the hell out of my game world, and I imagine that many other kids felt/feel the same way. Besides the fact that they donít want their mommy to know about chainsaw kills in Gears of War or boobies in Conan, video games will undoubtedly become much less cool with additional parental involvement.

Of course, this isnít true for everybody, but I imagine itís true for many, so maybe itís time to be a little more forgiving to those who birthed us.

Well, I guess thatís it for now. I was going to put down the rampant Halo bashers on this site, but long blog is long, and I think itís time for me to get back to work. Until then, keep on pwnzing.   read

12:15 AM on 11.01.2007

Hoy Link! It's Halloween!

In the spirit of the devil's favorite holiday, I've decided to do as everyone else and post my Halloween costume here on good ol' D-toid. My girlfriend and I went to a party as Link and Zelda, so here are the pictures. Everything for our costumes was homemade, so we can be satisfied knowing that the blood, sweat, and tears of hardworking Indonesian children was not put to work making these look good.

Pre-empting those who will call me a n00bzor for having an inaccurate Link costume: my idea was to go back and do an old school Zelda 1 or Link to the Past-esque costume. Hence the lack of too much detail on the shield. And the sword was originally going to be the wooden sword. You know, the "it's dangerous to go alone, take this" sword. Then it got a little fancier. And the same goes for my girlfriend's costume. It may not be 100% game accurate, but she did all those fancy designs freehand, so cut her a little slack.

Without further self-gratification, here they are!

Camera 1

Camera 2

Yeah, the pictures are all pretty much the same. I got a little too drunk at the party to worry about taking any more pictures. Not pictured: Waldo, a minotaur, Rita Skeeter from Harry Potter, Medusa, and the bus driver from Billy Madison.   read

11:19 AM on 10.31.2007

Depression + Gaming = :-(

Well, hello Destructoid. I've managed to be a member of the community for awhile now, but only so I can make snarky comments on others' blogs and the front page posts. Usually along the lines of "ha ha, silly fanboys!" Well, here I am, finally popping my blog cherry and exposing my thoughts to the mercy of the rest of the d-toid community. Without further qualifying statements, here goes...

I'm a long time gamer. I've been playing games since I was too young to even read. I got started on a Commodore computer (VERY different from a C64, if you don't know), and my first "real" game console was an Atari 2600. I've had a love affair with gaming, and it supercedes any affections I might have for other leisure activities, like TV, radio, or Talladega Nights.

At this point, I'm 24 years old, a college graduate, and I'm still gaming. I've also been dealing with depression and anxiety on and off for the last three or four years. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this, most notably my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes at age 20 (that's the kid kind, not the fat kind).

And how, you might ask, does this relate to gaming? Well, when I'm feeling down, I can't seem to get any enjoyment out of games. Maybe not a big deal for some people, but as you may have guessed, they are important to me. They are a de-stressor, they are a hobby, and they are a passion. And when I can't even have fun playing them, there's a problem.

Lately I picked up Deus Ex on Steam. I'd heard wonderful things about this game, and that it was a modern classic and blah blah blah, and it's a game that's right up my alley. But I've been playing it for a week now, and it's just a chore. I'm frustrated by the shitty AI and the difficulty of playing the game while trying to minimize lethal takedowns. Maybe there are some tricks I'm just not getting yet, or maybe I just suck, but it's frustrating all the same.

But it's not just Deus Ex. It's familiar games, it's games I can play with one controller behind my back or while masturbating furiously using only my toes. There's just no pleasure to be found while dealing with depression.

So, fellow gamers, with that in mind, do any of you have any suggestions? I don't want to go back to meds, because they sort of take the fun out of everything too, and that would be pretty pointless. Maybe some advice for getting the most out of Deus Ex? Or games that are so ridiculously fun that it would be impossible for me not to enjoy them? I play games on PC, Xbox, and PS2, but I don't have my PS2 right now, so preferably PC or Xbox recommendations would be appreciated.

I also don't really play games online, but if I knew people who played online, that would probably be pretty fun. My only real options right now are Counterstrike: Source (which I'm pretty good at) and Team Fortress 2(which I am terrible). My steam name is Father Chester, so add me if you're interested.

Anyway, that's all. If you have any interesting things to add to the discussion or NSFW images to post, then do so at will. (Well, I'd prefer no NSFW images, because I'm at work right now, but if you must, just make sure it's linked...)   read

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