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I've been gaming since the NES, and haven't missed much as far as games go between then and now.

Life has cut my gaming time back a bit, but I still find time for my 360 and my Wii. I still have a good many of my old systems (original NES still works like a dream) and about once a year will go on a two week nostalgia binge.

My all time favorite games are Chrono Trigger (sequel please?), FF III/VI(JP), anything Castlevania, Mario 64, Knights of the Old Repulbic, and Metal Gear Solid (PSX, not the GC remake).

Enjoy reading the dribble that I continually spew forth.
Following (10)  

I downloaded the demo for Too Human the day that it came out, but hadn't been able to touch it until last night. This is the result of that play session.

The intro was interesting to me, as I like the Norse mythology meets cybernetics theme quite a bit, and the cut scenes are skippable (a blessing to someone who just wants to play the damn game). The presentation is solid, and I like the menu designs, both on the front end and in-game. I will say that I found the in-game menus a bit frustrating to use due to how slow they transitioned and a bit of lag/slowdown during the movements.

The graphics are good. Gears of War 2 this ain't, but Silicon Knights has put together what I consider a good looking engine. That being said, they've been developing this thing so long that I expected the graphics and art design to blow me away. The art design succeeds more than the graphics, but neither really lived up to my (possibly unfair) expectations. The art and level assets vary from mildly interesting to meh, and I found the level design overall to be bland, but fairly enjoyable (like regular spaghetti with meat sauce... now I'm hungry).

On to the fur of this shedding experience, the controls. I spent about 45 minutes total with the demo, and I would say the first 30 were somewhat frustrating. The control design seems clunky at first, though that is likely due to me being used to controlling a camera with the right thumb stick instead of attacking with it. having to remove my thumb from the right stick to hit a button is nothing new for me (Halo for example) but it felt awkward to hit "a" to jump and then have to flick back to the stick to engage an air attack. For some reason, dodging using "b" and then attacking with the thumb stick felt less awkward, but was still awkward nonetheless. I'm going to chalk this complaint up to my familiarity with the control system, as I'm sure I would get more used to it as time went on.

The camera system is just plain difficult to adjust to. Holding RB and using the right stick to look around is all fine and good, but it only works outside of combat, and God forbid that I accidentally touch the right stick first or need to adjust the camera in battle, because then I'm shit out of luck and probably swinging my sword in the wrong direction. In many ways, this camera feels frustratingly similar to Ninja Gaiden 2's broken system.

I love the loot system. I'm a loot junkie going all the way back to the NES RPGs. Did anyone else play Chrono Trigger enough times through to get your entire party Gold Studs, Prism Caps, Prism Dresses (girls), and Moon Armor (guys)? Because I did, and it was awesome! I wish the equipment/weapon management were a bit more streamlined, but overall it works fine, save for having to deal with the clunky pause menu to get to it. If I buy this game, the loot is going to be what keeps me coming back for more.

Finally, the story looks really interesting. I love Norse mythology and the unique take on the Ragnarok story and its characters and events has my interest.

Overall, I found Too Human to be a solid effort, but disappointing given how long the game has been in production. I have not been able to try the co-op yet, and have been told that is where this game can really shine, so I'll hold my final judgement until I play through a gold copy.

11:15 AM on 05.15.2008

I don't know how I ended up with this shit job, but I'm out.

I'd rather tell people that I cremate babies for a living than admit to having this job.

My bank account got a lovely surprise last Friday, in the form of an ill-conceived economic stimulus deposit (I'll save the rant on why it won't work and just smile for the "government error in my favor... sort of"). I've been wanting to get a PS3 for a while now, mostly because my lovely 60" Sony XBR doesn't have the Blu Rays yet, and also because I have a gigantic hard on for MGS.

I've been following Sony's ups and downs with the system, but really don't know which model is going to fit me best. I know that I can upgrade the hard drive to any size I want, and that certain models (the newer ones, right?) don't have PS2 backwards compatibility. I would prefer to get a bundle with the new dual shock included, and getting a free game with my purchase would also make me happy.

I would like to have PS2 backwards compatibility, but it isn't a deal breaker, as I'm moreso going for the best value. Please, my PS3-minded dtoiders, let me know what's important about the different offerings, and also, if anyone knows of a site where I can order the system without having to pay tax (eg. online only store), that would be helpful too. Please also chime in with game recommendations, as all I'm eyeing so far is Warhawk and Uncharted.

On the random update front, my work has been busy as hell (I'm a banker) and gaming time has been cut significantly. I'm middling through Condemned 2 (loving it more and more as I get further into the game... I'm in the Black Lake Lodge currently) and GTA IV (concurrent opinion with everyone else and their stepmoms: I love it). I miss all of your witty quips and NSFW links, too.

As many of you know, I have a huge man crush on Condemned: Criminal Origins. I finally got my copy of Condemned 2 yesterday from the postman, who has gone up in my esteem for his timely and friendly customer service. After getting a whopping twenty minutes of playtime last night, mostly due to distractions of the green beer persuasion, here are an unabashed Condemned fanboy's impressions.

Let's start with the presentation, shall we? I liked the nasty, dirty world of the first Condemned. So far, this world seems to be more of the dilapidated city whose name I don't know, but I love. I'm hoping for a variety of environments, as the "dark farm where your only light comes from a burning plank" level from the first game was one of my favorites.

Just like Rev Anthony, I am not enthralled with the new, "angsty" Ethan Thomas. I liked the old Ethan just fine. Greg Grunberg's voice was great in the first game, and the character was likeable in a way that few video game protagonists are. The nu-rock/metal playing in the background of the opening bar scene has me terrified as to the level of cliche that this character is going to be taken to. I understand that Monolith is trying to show how Ethan has changed due to the events of the first game, but not everyone should respond by becoming a gruff anti-hero. I'm hoping that this game doesn't become a textbook example of how to ruin an interesting main character.

The new play mechanics are a welcome change. I like the dual fist combat system, and I feel that on the whole, it gives me much more variety than the first game's "swing weapon, back up, move in, swing weapon" battle tactics. I could never seem to get the block to work just right in the first game, but the block mechanic in the sequel feels natural and works like I would expect it to. My only complaint in combat so far is that I dislike the destructible nature of the weapons. Again, I understand what Monolith is trying to do here, forcing the player into a little more variety, but I'm pretty sure that most metal pipes I've come across don't fall to pieces after hitting a guy in the head five times (note: test ludicrous statement). My other issue is with the timed response button presses. If you're going to give me an opportunity to respond to a situation with a button press, it would be nice to have an idea about the action that button press will cause. I didn't really want to flip that hobo off at the beginning of the game, he was just trying to be nice to me. Sorry, hobo. My bad.

I have to admit that I loved the convoluted story in the first game, and delved into all of the supporting documents that the game's achievements unlocked. Many of the reviews that I've read state that the game starts off well, but detours too far into the supernatural towards the end. I'm fine with this, as I liked the supernatural portions of the first game, and want to see where they take it.

So far, so good, but I have a long way to go with this game before I'll be able to render a final verdict.

Two weeks ago, in a scene reminiscent of a prison shower room, I was gang raped by a group of eight grown men, and loved every single second of it. Fortunately for me, the eight men were a crew from Infinity Ward, and said rape occurred in Call of Duty 4, not in any sort of mildewy locale with multiple shower heads.

I have hung out over at Gearheads of War, a site run by Tyler Bleszinski (brother of Cliff), since just before Gears of War came out, and play with those guys on a fairly regular basis. Tyler did and interview with IW Community Manager Robert Bowling (402) a while back, and challenged him to play in the regular Friday Night Frag Fest. Robert graciously accepted, and then (I can only imagine) set out to find the greatest set of ringers ever assembled for this match.

The Friday of reckoning arrived. Because we had so many gearheads who wanted to play, the matches were set up as 3 groups of 8 on 8 domination, with each group getting to play two games against the IW crew before swapping out with the next group. Now before I go on, we had done some practicing, and had (what we thought) were some pretty solid domination strategies that were very effective during matchmaking matches. We were so wrong.

I was in the third and final group, and our two matches were to take place on Crossfire and Overgrown. The entire IW crew was a bunch of great guys. They were very nice and bantered back and forth with us a bit, until the game started. Then they were not very nice.

I had been warned how good they were by some gearheads in the first group who I played with while waiting, but I really didn't believe them. That is, until three grenades landed (one hitting me in the head) and exploded simultaneously right as I was about to capture point "B". Everything went horribly wrong from there. IW ran in teams of at least two, and if you got one of them down, the other one simply cleaned up. Our communication fell apart and they took over the point closest to our spawn ("C") and boxed us in the blown out building near "B", where we spawned and died for the rest of the game. They all had the Frag x3 perk, and I swear that they are all grenade bots. Their grenade placement was flawless, and their teamwork was the best that I've ever seen.

After the first match, we returned to the lobby, where our side was noticeably quieter, and I'm sure I mumbled something about them being part cyborg or something. Then the second match started up on Overgrown. Not much better here honestly. I did have the rather odd luck of running across the same guy about ten to fifteen times, and pretty much every time we went heads up, he won easily (I did kill him a whopping two times!). I found out after the match that he was their head play tester. We lost huge (I want to say 250-50 ish), and I was once again in awe of IW's teamwork and knowledge of their game.

After the second match we bantered around a bit, traded some friend requests, and thanked IW for a great time. They are truly a great group of guys, and it was a very cool experience to play against the developers of one of my favorite games. They don't just make games, they are most certainly gamers. Many thanks to the Infinity Ward crew for taking the time to play with a few regular joes. I think that this may have been the most fun I've had playing CoD4, simply because I was in awe of the other team's playing. I actually started giggling at one point during the first match because of how many times I died.

Infinity Ward has now officially taken my award for "Coolest Developers" from Bungie's hands (Sorry Bungie).

12:22 PM on 02.12.2008

As most of you know by now, I have a huge nerd boner for the Condemned series. The first game is one of my favorite 360 titles, and I have high hopes for its sequel. Today, Monolith released a few detailed character bios that give a little bit more background information on some old favorites and some newcomers to the Condemned world. Beware! Thar be spoilers in this here copy pasta! Copy pasta to save you the trouble of following the link to IGN follows:

Ethan Thomas
Ethan Thomas was at summer camp when his parents where killed. He never received the full story of what happened. He was just told a car accident had taken their lives. Thomas was bounced from foster home to foster home until he entered college. His grades were average until college when studying criminal psychology and law enforcement really sparked his interest. He quickly found himself on a fast track to becoming a criminal profiler within the FBI. Thomas possessed an uncanny ability to visualize a crime scene and decipher important information regarding the perpetrator.

He was transferred to the Serial Crimes Unit (SCU) and began a very successful career under Deputy Director, Ike Farrell. Farrell personally recommended Thomas to the SCU and kept a close eye on his development as an agent. After a series of bizarre and unfortunate events, Thomas found himself drifting further and further from SCU, his former life and to some degree, his sanity. He became a suspect in a double homicide involving two Metro Police Officers. His boss, Ike Farrell, attempted to bring him in from the cold but Thomas refused—he trusted no one. He had questions about himself and about the mysterious dark influence over man that no one could answer. In addition, he commonly experienced horrific hallucinations that were getting worse each passing day. Wanting to numb his internal plight, Ethan hits rock bottom by choosing a life of isolation and self-medication to help silence his inner demons.

Deputy Director Ike Farrell and Special Agent Dorland
Farrell and Dorland are both acting members of a secret organization. Farrell holds a high position in the agency, doing his part to influence and guide mankind according to the grand scheme. Dorland is Farrell's right hand man and loose-cannon who is anxious to reach the top, but tends to make rash decisions and often appears impatient. He respects Farrell, but would step right over him if he had the opportunity. Both Farrell and Dorland are racked with pain due to the artificial tuning hidden under their skin. Farrell, a much older member, and a sufferer of many surgical re-tunings, lives with pain that he can barely endure. In fact, he is addicted to numerous kinds of pain killers that he must take regularly just to give the outward appearance of acting normal.

When Ethan Thomas completed his medical examination while applying for the FBI, the results were intercepted and sent directly to Farrell. A chest x-ray revealed that Thomas had a cross-stringed vocal cord structure, prompting further investigation by Farrell that eventually led to the identity of Thomas' parents. He believed Thomas could be of great value and arranged to have him transferred to the SCU. However, after the strange events that took place during several mysterious investigations, Thomas left the agency and away from Farrell's protection.

Special Agent Rosa Angel and Special Agent LeRue
Rosa and LeRue are humans and their back stories are typical—smart and driven professionals who find themselves in the middle of something they don't understand or ever expected. Rosa was (and still is) a true friend of Thomas and will never purposely do anything that jeopardizes his well-being. LeRue is a new acquaintance of Thomas' and eventually becomes a trusted ally. The path will be rocky, but the struggle will shape their relationship.

Leland Vanhorn
Leland was a sickly child. He suffered from a disease that made his body thin and his bones brittle. Doctors were not able to diagnose the disease and unable to help young Leland. As he grew older, he was never able to fit in and often exhibited cruel and violent tendencies that pushed other kids away. Being a resourceful loner, he managed to live on the street and as he grew older, he naturally drifted towards a life a crime and eventually became fascinated by serial killers. Instead of simply becoming another serial killer, he wanted to one up all of them by becoming a serial killer that killed serial killers.

Not able to hunt down serial killers on his own, he secretly followed the day to day career of Agent Ethan Thomas, one of SCU's top agents. Through Thomas' expertise and exceptional talent at finding the killers, Leland let him do the work for him. Unfortunately, his plan backfired and he ultimately paid the price after being shot in the face by a .45. He survived, but his jaw and throat areas were damaged beyond repair. He couldn't even talk, but he found a backroom surgeon willing to implant the vocal cords into his throat and the procedure went without a hitch. Soon after surgery, Leland immediately began making primitive metal rods and pins and pierced his body according to drawings and sketches found in his library. Without the true knowledge of the art of tuning, the procedures were not overly successful and he mostly managed to further butcher his already ravaged body, making himself even more revolting than before. Frustrated, he began to kidnap street people, addicts and vagrants, and experimented on them, creating a small faction of deranged sociopaths hideously disfigured.

End Copy Pasta

It should be noted that as of this posting, the Leland Vanhorn section has been removed from both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the article. These bios are awesome, as they gives some clue as to what affected the biomechanical looking ninjas and the final boss, as well as a clue to what may have happened to Ethan at the end of the first game.

They also answer what happened to Leland Vanhorn at the end of the first game. Ethan shoots him (which coincidentally is what I did on my first play through), but he lived. I love that they address the redacted x-rays from the first game, and am loving the direction that they are taking this mythology. My only minor complaint is that I would like it if Greg Grunberg were still voicing the main character, as I enjoyed his performance in the original. But who knows, maybe the new guy will do a great job and I'll change my mind.