If you happen to be one of the many Halo fans, and are eligible for Microsoft's Expert Zone training website, you might want to check out the current rewards. At the expert level, they have been selling Halo: Reach for a measly $15, but just in are the limited and legendary editions for $18 and $45 respectively. Even at newbie level they are a deal at $31 and $75. So, if you are part of the program and haven't already bought your copy, you are in luck.
I'm going to throw caution to the wind and hazard the wrath of fanboys.
I recently purchased a PS3 slim. So far I am enjoying it but I am a bit confused. I have been playing games on the 360 for the last 2 years or so and have gotten accustomed to a few things. First off is speed. Downloads seem to be faster on the 360 and I don't have to install an XBLA game after I download it. It just works. It also has software emulation so I can play my old Xbox games. I still have a PS2 but I would really like to simplify my setup and have the least amount of consoles hooked up as possible. I have also enjoyed being able to install my games on the hard drive to speed up load times and lessen the strain on my optical drive. And why do I need a disc to stream Netflix?
I guess my real gripe is about efficiency in programming. By all accounts, the PS3 should be better, faster, stronger but it isn't. Yes, it is beautiful when I'm actually playing a game or Blu-ray movies but the devil is in the details. This in a way accentuates the fact that Microsoft is a software company and Sony is a hardware company. I almost wish that Sony would make the badass hardware it does and let Microsoft program the thing. Make that leap from functional to elegant programming. The one thing that seems to work better is streaming from TVersity. I had a problem with a couple of files that work on my 360 but Hulu works much better on the PS3.
All in all, I'm happy with my purchase. I'm happy that I can watch Blu-ray movies and play all the exclusive games. I'm happy that I can get my girlfriend a little more into gaming with LBP and I can play interesting games like Flower and The Last Guy. I still have my 360 to play their exclusives and stream Netflix. They can sit side by side on my entertainment center in perfect harmony. Now if I could just pack up my PS2.
I'll try to keep this spoiler free. Don't read if you want to finish the game without the taint of someone else's opinions.
So I finally finished Assassin's Creed 2 and the first thing out of my mouth was "at least I don't have to play that again". Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the game for the most part but the more I played it, the less I liked it. I felt that they made some good changes but lost some of the things I liked about the first game. For example, the careful planning of each assassination and collection of intelligence was sorely missed.
The game is still repetitive without the bonus of having a reason for completing each task. You perform assassinations for DeMedici without knowing why you are loyal to him. It is almost a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" type of mentality.
Race events just emphasize how frustrating the free running mechanic is. I would rather see them spend the time to get that right instead of all the wonderful "history lessons" they threw into the game. Yes, the information was interesting but get the core of the game perfected before you add the flavor text. Besides, the race event isn't really interesting and I think should only be used as a tutorial to introduce free running. Just my opinion.
I got no satisfaction from the beat up events. I'm really not sure why they were in the game in the first place. Was it an attempt to show Ezio as a morally good person? He is a man who's main reason to live is revenge. Can he really be bothered to stop a man from cheating on his wife? I mean come on, Italian men are a passionate breed. How can one woman be expected to satisfy such a creature? I guess it's ok for Ezio to spread himself around since he had the decency to not marry any of his lovers.
Part of me has that "gotta catch em all" impulse. I really wanted to collect all the feathers. Not because of some new equipment or achievements to be earned. I truly wanted to make my mother happy. I wanted to help her get through the grieving process. I'd say this is a tribute to how immersive this game is but the fact is I didn't complete that task. It became a tedious task on par with finding the flags in the first game. I just lost interest. And honestly, since we are reliving Ezio's memories, the feathers should show up on the map just like everything else created by the animus. Is consistency too much to ask for?
My biggest gripe came right at the end. In an age where the goal of many games is to immerse the player, why would they do something to completely pull you out of that experience? Credits should roll after the game is done, not during the climactic final scene. I feel cheated to be honest. I wanted to walk away from the game satisfied but my final emotion was anger. I care as much about who made the game as I do about who the dolly grip was in Avatar. It's an egotistical and ignorant move. I appreciate what you do but I will never remember your name and it is unlikely that I will ever meet you. I know one person who works in the industry, that's it. I could have forgiven the rest, at least they were trying to address the problems with the first game. I appreciate the effort, try better next time. This is unforgivable.
Now, it wasn't all bad. I enjoyed most of the puzzles and the conspiracy theory they included. The final puzzle was quite clever. I liked the villa and the idea that you were working toward making your city better and more prosperous. I liked the new weapons, except the gun. And even though I never tried it, I appreciated the introduction of poison. The double hidden blades was quite useful as was the new methods of assassination. And the setting itself was beautiful. Unfortunately, I never ended up liking Ezio. I felt like he was merely a tool and that he was allowing himself to be used by everyone without ever knowing why. I kinda feel the same way about Desmond. I guess we'll learn about that in the next installment. I sincerely hope they get it right, I want to like it.
Being a woodworker(insert gay/penis joke here), I sometimes like to tool around in my workshop. The fact that I am a gamer as well brings me inspiration at times. I decided about a week before Christmas that I was going to make some game related items for my gaming group. I wanted to keep it pretty basic based on my limited amount of time. I came up with these items:
A Mario Mushroom container
Pair of rosewood dice
Set of Tetris fridge magnets
And a Companion Cube
I think someone out there might have some better pictures. They were fun to make and allowed me to combine my favorite hobbies. The companion cube was the most difficult one of the bunch. I actually messed one up before figuring it out. I have some other ideas in mind. When my family leaves town I will probably get back to work. I am always open to suggestions as well so if you have any interesting ideas, I might try them out.
I don't know if you have heard but there is a name for a gamer like me. I am not hardcore by any stretch of the term but I am too into games to only be casual. I am in my 30's and I don't have time to play every game I want to. It is also possible that I won't finish the games I do play. I heard the term "mid-core" to describe gamers like me a while ago but it doesn't sit well with me. In case you haven't heard the term, http://www.joystiq.com/2008/02/06/are-you-a-mid-core-gamer/.
The article also links to a post on 8bitrocket that goes much deeper into the subject and also has a "mid-core gamer manifesto". I agree with the basics but there are quite a few points they make that don't fit my style. But really, is this the best name we could come up with? I may not be clever enough to come up with a name but at least I can recognize one that is bad. It just sounds like someone with no imagination was trying too hard to coin a phrase. It may not catch on but maybe the Dtoid community can come up with something better. Maybe the name really isn't that important but this is not something I want to be labeled as. For now I will simply refer to myself as a gamer. Perhaps simplicity will win out over cleverness.