drizzt 's blog
I'm a late-twenties, indiscriminate gamer who runs a geek website at http://www.geekspodcast.com. I spend most of my time blogging and doing video production on a few different web shows and am usually fueled by some combination of caffeine and Chipotle.
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It's hard to believe Xbox Live has been around for 12 years now but it totally has. I've had a lot of great experiences on the platform and some that were run-of-the-mill online fragfests that served me little beyond acting as filler until the next big release. There've been landmark moments like the first time I played Spies vs. Mercs in Splinter Cell or when I first realized while I was away at school that my Dad and I could stay in touch by playing Crimson Skies on the platform.

Far and away though, Halo 2 was one of my best memories on Xbox Live and only a few games have even come close since that had me so nuts about rushing home every day to jump online and hurl digital bullets at people from all over the world. Other shooters had been enthralling as well; particularly games from the Clancy series like Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six.

Since my infatuation with Halo 2 though, there hasn't been a ton of innovation in shooters. Yes, Modern Warfare certainly changed things up and a lot of the conventions conceived there were echoed in other shooters, but despite my enjoyment of COD I didn't have that itch to dive in on a nightly basis and obsessively rank up the way I did with Halo 2.

Titanfall has restored that obsession for me. However, it's not the stand-out best in any single category. There are prettier shooters out there, more realistic shooters (clearly), and more expansive FPS games with more to do. But it's truly much, much greater than the sum of its parts. If I could choose only one aspect of Titanfall that keeps me coming back it's definitely the mobility. You'd think it would be, well, the Titans, but nope; As much as i love getting jammed into the belly of a mechanical beast and laying waste to pilot and rival Titan alike, I'm more fascinated with not just a world as vertical as it is horizontal, but that rarely have I encountered an invisible wall or restriction when attempting to explore it. 

On Boneyard, for example, there's an insanely high tower that looks as if it's just a set-piece and not an actual structure from which you could pick people off. Upon closer inspection I found with some creative double-jumps I absolutely could reach the peak and then fire off heat-seeking missiles while gleefully remaining at a distance so far that even the most accurate fire from a Titan would have trouble finding its mark.

My fascination with climbing and exploring aside, a ton of old friends have also re-appeared online in Titanfall which has been awesome. A lot of these guys (and girls) got busy with careers, kids, and the like. When you're busy tending to those sort of things, requisite online play gets kind of back-burnered. It's not like you don't enjoy playing with your old pals in COD or anything, and when schedules match up it's great, but unless you schedule the time that can be pretty rare as people use their free gaming time to play through more single-player focused affairs. However, once in a while there's a game so good that everybody gravitates to it.  Titanfall has been that game so far.  

Between the combination of iterative improvements on old ideas and a flood of old friends re-connecting online, and knowing that 12 years later my Dad's still calling me to see if I'm picking up a game at midnight so we can play together, Titanfall is definitely proving to be my favorite next-gen game so far.

What about you? Any particularly fond gaming memories that were brought rushing back by a new gaming experience?

11:19 AM on 03.11.2014

I'm super tired and a bit fearful of how much caffeine I've had this morning to shock myself back to the world of the living. But it was totally worth it to hit the midnight launch for Titanfall last night (And snag one of those ridiculously huge posters they were handing out.)

After spending a bit of time with it, however, I thought it would be good to dissect some of the hype and take a good hard look at what Titanfall is and what it totally is not. 

You can check it out here on GeeksPodcast if you'd like :)

So I put together a new video over on GeeksPodcast and figured I might as well post it here too for anyone who's pumped about Titanfall on Monday. 

I'm not sure if I'll venture out for the midnight launch but I know I'll be kicking myself if I don't so I'll probably break down and go. Since I moved to Louisville it's been nice having Taco Bell and Gamestop a block away from my apartment. This means when I start getting my ass handed to me in Titanfall I can dry my tears with a chicken quesadilla which is a nice consolation.

Anyways, enjoy the video! :)

I've said this before, I realize, but I really do love my girlfriend very much. However, much as I love her, I don't so much love when she sneaks the 360 harddrive out of the house for a girl's night out with her friends and leaves me unable to continue my Mass Effect playthrough. So yes, she stole it again last night but almost gave herself a heart attack in the process.

You see, Nicole's been playing through the original Bioshock on hard to try and complete all her achievements. She's diligently been going through the entire strategy guide with a sharpie, marking off every single audio log, desperately trying to milk the game for all its worth before Bioshock 2's launch next week. Being the sneaky little minx she is, she went to her friend's house and popped in Bioshock and the now curiously absent from my system harddrive to continue her trek through Olympic Heights.

This is where it got comical for me. I didn't have much to do while she was gone so I just messed around with our website. Well, I was in the middle of that right when she called me, panicked, explaining that her save that she'd probably put 20 hours into this week was gone after plugging our harddrive into another 360. I tried my best to calm her down, explaining that we'd pop it in when she got home to assess the damage.

Well, as it turns out she got herself all fussy for nothing. Apparently her friend's 360 had been a refurbed unit, which didn't have the correct system time set. Consequently, instead of appearing at the top of her list of Bioshock saves, it was all the way at the bottom with a 2006 save date. Funny, considering the game didn't come out until 2007, but it makes sense that the system time is how save dates are calculated. So yeah, she was pretty relieved and promised(again) not to sneak off with the harddrive anymore...we'll see how that goes.

The other night I was up until about 2 in the morning with Nicole and our friend, Jon watching Tombstone, one of my favorite movies of all time. Prior to seeing it I'd never been one for westerns and didn't see the appeal. However, after checking it out for the first time I couldn't stop spouting Doc Holiday quotes for weeks and ever since it's held a high spot on my list of top films. Maybe it's the talk of the forthcoming Red Dead Redemption, but while watching it I realized what a fantastic translation it would make into an open-ended, sandbox style game a la Gun (but much better). So below I will list the top 5 reasons Tombstone would likely make an excellent video game.

1. It'd be a great opportunity to further flesh out the excellent characters and expand the Tombstone universe.

I realize there isn't a Tombstone 'universe' per se, but stay with me. From the outset of the film, Wyatt, Virgil, Doc, and Morgan enjoy an immediate chemistry. They're fantastic performances and given the right voice talent (preferably the original actors), it'd be fantastic if you had the choice of which of the four characters to play from the outset, chronicling exactly what happens before arriving in Tombstone. If you chose Wyatt Earp you could have a prologue exploring your adventures as a U.S. Marshall in Kansas City before making your way out west. More of a Doc Holiday type? Then spend the first hour or so riding from town to town with Kate by your side, cleaning up at poker. While it's rare for developers to put this much replayability into a game, it'd still be a fantastic mechanic fans of the film who want even more of the characters that left such an impact back in 1993.

2. It Wouldn't be the first time an older film is given some new twists

I'm not lobbying for key points in the movie to be redone in the game, but if the developers did choose to do this, it's not like they'd be taking a bold, inexcusable risk. We've already seen these types of liberties taken in games like Scarface, Ghostbusters, and The Godfather, so why not through Tombstone into the mix? What if Wyatt changes his mind and decides to stay in Tombstone? What if a gang more treacherous than the Cowboys roll into town? Sure, some purists might be offended at story modifications, but if handled properly and given enough care, it might open up some surprising new possibilities.

3. The Sandbox Potential is Palpable

Open world games have historically been characterized by a variety of side-quests and mini-games scattered throughout their particular world. This is understandable considering that a large, sprawling landscape devoid of anything to well, DO would be quite boring! That's why Niko Bellick can take a night off once in a while to go bowling or Ezio can just go free running to his heart's content to check out the beautiful views high above Venice.

For the Tombstone treatment, why not have side quests hunting down Cowboys? We already know from the film (and history) that Wyatt ruthlessly hunted down many of these vagrants and that they wore red sashes to identify themselves. Why not make optional Cowboy Hunting a side-quest of sorts where red sashes you retrieve can be used to unlock better firearms, faster horses, or maybe just a few shots of bourbon at the saloon?

More than just hunting down Cowboys as a side quest, with the prevalence of casinos in Tombstone, a variety of gambling mini-games (and subsequent showdowns rising from disputes) would be a given.

4. We Already Know Westerns Can Work

No, I'm not talking about Custer's Revenge

But rather, we've already established that there's at least some desire for Western themed shooters as evidenced by the relative success of games like Gun, Red Dead Revolver, and Call of Juarez. I mean, Red Dead Redemption is already on its way (hopefully), and if there were no demand whatsoever for these type of games then publishers wouldn't even bother. Sure some of the Western's we've already seen are good, but I would venture to say that none of them have the kind of riveting narrative as Tombstone.

5. A Mutliplayer Component Isn't Completely Out of the Question

Sure, it seems like every game has a multiplayer component tacked onto it now adays with your standard FPS options and a handful of maps, but Tombstone could take this opportunity to set itself apart. Perhaps in a Gears of War co-op style or a mode whereby 4 players take on the roles of the protagonists and in an open-world map where the goal is to return as many Cowboy sashes as possible to the local Sheriff. Or perhaps in Left 4 Dead style you could pit our heroes against wave after wave of Cowboys either AI controlled or manned by an opposing team online.

Maybe it's just my love of the film or my imagination running away with me, but if done properly I think a Tombstone game would be a blast to play. What do you all think? Could it be successful?
Photo Photo Photo

While initially I prided myself on completing the game on veteran, I see now that my neglecting multiplayer has caught up to me. You see, this goofy kid from work I hang out with from time to time finally got his shit together and got a 360. On my recommendation he picked up MW2 and I finally got my chance to play with him online tonight. As I'm sitting here typing this, he is positively cleaning up with 19 kills and 2 deaths while I'm sitting, well, 2 kills and 9 deaths. Yes, it's degrading, but I assure you all I really am better than my level 13 would indicate.

Anyways, I suppose the real reason I haven't excelled like my colleagues is that I've just been too wrapped up in Bayonetta/Army of Two lately. Both of which are good games, but sadly it has detracted from multiplayer usefulness in this particular shooter.

What vices have you all had that have kept you from being all that you can be to your online teammates?