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5:59 PM on 12.26.2009

Dumbest Demon's Soul Death EVER!

I, like most everyone else who plays it, die a lot in Demon's Soul. Sometimes I die in stupid ways, as do many others. I actually enjoy activating blood stains just to watch some hapless fool hop off a cliff over and over again. That said, of all the stupid deaths I have seen and yes, partaken in, I think I topped them last night.

I was in a bit of a lengthy play session. It was about 3 in the morning and I had been playing since around 11. At about 1:30 my PS3 informed me that my controller's battery was running low. No biggy, I'd get to it in a minute. An hour and a half later I hadn't.

I approached a low level baddie. It was the sort that I usually eat for breakfast. In short, he shouldn't have been a threat at all. I approached him, readying my sword trigger and then at the last second my character stopped. I pushed the analog stick forward, but there was no response. My battery had died.

For a moment I just watched haplessly as said monster approached my armored, recently revived character. I watched as the first blow landed. Then I frantically began searching for my USB cord. I dug through the cord drawer, tearing through the tangle within until finally I find it caught between some old composite cables.

Yanking it out of the mix, I plugged it into my controller. Glancing up, I saw my character's health dip closer to oblivion. I crammed the USB cord into my PS3 and, with my controller reactivated readied myself to fight....just in time to see my character die.

I can only imagine the quizzical looks my bloodstain probably inspired. May this be a lesson, plug in your damn controller.   read


9:14 PM on 12.25.2009

Top 10 Games of my Life, Part 5: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

I love Star Wars. I wouldn't call myself a fanboy but I nonetheless grew up watching and re-watching the films to the point that when given a minor bit of the score I can identify the scene it originated from. I know, that's child's play compared to what some folk can do, but it's always been something I've been proud of.

While there are any myriad of reasons to like the original trilogy over the prequel films, the thing that generally irked me about them was the general lack of good spaceship action. Sure, we had the battle over Naboo in Phantom Menace but that was kind of marred by a baby faced Anakin Skywalker yelling “Whoa!” every six seconds. Attack of the Clones had a bit as well but nowhere near enough and when it comes toRevenge of the Sith, I have two words that describe the epic fail of that sequence “buzz bots.”



What I loved about the ship to ship, fighter to fighter action of the first three films was really the hopelessness that often followed the rebels wherever they went. It was all pure space opera, so of course the good won eventually no matter the odds, but generally watching the trench run and the Battle of Endor I always just loved how those X-Wings, no matter how cool they may have been, were always outnumbered by oodles and oodles of Tie Fighters. You always got the sense that the people who did survive these firefights generally did so by the seats of their pants. It was an experience I always wanted to opportunity to partake in, virtually speaking of course.

While for many, the defining opportunity for this would come in the form of the X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, mine would be Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. While I cannot remember quite how I came into possession of the game -I have a gnawing feeling it involved my brother Nick- I can recall with real clarity just how much I played the game. For a time, I literally lived Rogue Squadron. I played every level more times than I could count. I earned every medal, unlocked every ship and level. Essentially, I made the game my bitch, and then some.



In Rogue Squadron I found all that I had been looking for. The chance to fly the starships of my dreams. The chance to re-enact some of my favorite movie moments and most of all the opportunity to do so without be blown all to hell. Truth be told, I had the opportunity to play X-Wing around the same time as Rogue Squadron and though I enjoyed it, my young self was turned off by the fact that death was far more common than victory. I liked to fancy myself a skilled gamer back then. In reality I was pretty average and still am today. Rogue Squadron was a bit more arcade and therefore suited me a bit better.

Which wasn't to say the damned thing wasn't hard. I can't count the number of times early on that I would choke at the last second. The Imperials always seemed to be one step ahead of me, blasting the evacuation shuttle out of the sky in The Search for the Nonnah or destroying the damned AT-PTs in Escape from Fest. The latter was one of the most frustrating missions I've encountered in any game, especially when I was trying to earn a gold medal in every mission. No, Rogue Squadron was difficult, it just wasn't quite as hard.



What's funny, is that looking back at Rogue Squadron the things I remember the most are the things that annoyed me. Aside from the aforementioned cheapness of some missions (damn you Escape from Fest!), there are a lot of small details that always bothered me. I hated how none of the missions really took place in space. You were always, always skimming some planet or moon. Even the stage dealing with the Death Star completed ignored all the preliminary action and just focused entirely on its own weird take on the trench run. It didn't ruin the game by any means, but my favorite memories of Star Wars was the pure chaos of the space battles. Fighters weaving between mammoth warships pounding away at each other. The intense dogfights between determined Rebel pilots and their evil Imperial foes. Rogue Squadron very much captured the hit and run nature of the Rebellion's actions, but never really encapsulated that feeling of epic engagement. Other games would capture that later on, Battle for Naboo and the later Rogue Squadron sequels, but the original game kind of failed in that respect.

There were other minor qualms. I despised the inclusion of missile launcher turrets. I never recalled seeing them in any of the Star Wars films and saw their inclusion Rogue Squadron as an awful turn from canon. The fact that they killed me more than anything else in the game, of course had no bearing on my feelings toward them.

That said, for the most part Rogue Squadron was everything I had ever dreamt of in a Star Wars games and remains today as one of those remarkable titles that more than a decade later remains infinitely playable. As the Star Wars universe veers more and more toward the prequels in focus, I love to look back on that game as part of a time of innocence, where Star Wars meant Darth Vader and not Anakin Pusswalk...I mean Skywalker. Ah, those were the days.   read


10:23 PM on 12.24.2009

Late Night Grinding

I know, I know. The title for this could very well be sexual innuendo, but despite the possible connotations I'm unfortunately referring to RPGs.

The past few weeks have been kind to my PSP. Resident 2 and 3 have both been favorites, though I'm finding 3 to be a bit less enjoyable than I remembered it. I suppose that in the face of the greatness that is 2, it couldn't help but pale.

Better yet however, I recently picked up Final Fantasy VIII and tonight took my first steps into really delving into it again.

I love Final Fantasy VIII. It's easily one of my all time favorite games. So much so, that if I can ever manage to get that Top 10 Games of My Life list going again you can guarantee it will earn a spot. Despite my love of the game however, I can admit that the first few hours are a bit hard to get into. A part of this is because the game just picks up more as you go on. More than this however is the fact that at the beginning of the game you're at the bottom tear of potential strength, which of course calls for some grinding.

Grinding in FFVIII is some of the dullest out there. I love the game, but I can admit that the Draw system is flawed to the core. Naysayers will of course point out the fact that you needn't draw to get all the spells you need, but honestly in the first few hours it is a bit of a necessity, and it sucks.

Luckily, actually having a woman to play around has given me something to distract myself with while I perform this thankless task. For one, my wife has become completed enamored with Dragon Age. I loved the game, but she loves it more. She just finished her first play through and is working on two more consecutively. Part of the reason I've been playing my PSP so much lately is actually because she's been hogging the PS3.

So I get to watch her do that and chat about the game. The fact that she's naked while we do this only sweetens the deal. You'd be amazed how much a little nudity can elevate even the most menial of tasks.

Any who, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas. By my watch the day will finally be hear in about 26 minutes. Thank God we can get it over with and finally be done with the damned holiday.

Yeah, I'm a scrooge.   read


8:15 PM on 12.03.2009

Nemesis

I just read on N4G that Resident Evil 3: Nemesis will be hitting the PSN this week. While I'm certainly giddy about the prospect of more classic zombie killing a part of me isn't nearly as excited about it as I was for Resident Evil 2.

This shouldn't be too surprising. My love for RE2 has been well documented, on this very blog in fact and though I enjoyed Nemesis when I first played it, it didn't ring classic quite the same way. There were some gameplay issues. Where Resident Evil 2 struck a fine balance between action and puzzles, Nemesis was far more skewed toward shoot em up sensibilities.



Moreover, the game's story wasn't up to the par of the second. While I enjoyed Jill Valentine's second chapter in the franchise and loved being able to revisit Raccoon City in the midst of its zombie apocalypse, it just never resonated with me quite the same way as the second which when it comes to narrative marks was superb.

The part of it that I disliked the most however was the game's representation of Jill was just distracting. Were we really expected to believe she, a trained special forces operative, would venture out into a zombie infested city wearing a mini-skirt and a tube top? Really? I know that Capcom was just trying to sex her up to compete with the other emerging bimbos of the era but this was just a bit too ridiculous.



I'm not saying RE3 was at all a bad game and I'm looking forward to downloading it to my PSP when it becomes available. It did a lot of things right, including giving us one of the most terrifying baddies ever to hit a video game, the titular Nemesis. I just never developed the same sort of endearment toward it that I did with Resident Evil 2.

But I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth! Hooray for more good Resident Evil!   read


4:24 PM on 11.27.2009

Sony Owes Me One

Recently, a friend of mine began considering buying a console. While I have no idealistic preference toward either the Xbox 360 or PS3, I do use a PS3 as my primary gaming system, but if someone were to drop a 360 in my lap I wouldn't toss it away in disgust. With the PS3 as my console though I wanted my friend to buy a PS3. As such I wrote a long list of reasons why he should invest in Sony's black box. Some of the numbers were more along the lines of guesstimations, especially concerning the costs of upgrading a 360, but for the most part I think everything's relatively close to the truth.

Well, Sony owes me one because after reading my list, my friend decided to go PS3! I thought I'd share the list with y'all. Enjoy...or if you're a 360 fanboy hate it. Whatever floats your boat!

****

I said I would do it! Several reasons you should invest in a PS3 if the opportunity arises.

1. Cost Effectiveness: The cheapest PS3 on the market currently runs for 300. That is 100 more than the Xbox 360, but it also includes: free online, built in wi-fi, streaming Netflix and a blu-ray player. None of which is standard and in some cases even available for the Xbox 360. In fact, buying an Xbox 360 will cost an additional 50 dollars a year to play online. As well, things like memory upgrades and even wi-fi adapters are much more expensive for the 360. Find yourself in need of more memory (which you probably won't), the PS3 can use almost any hard drive from you common laptop. The 360 requires expensive HDs made specially for the console. In fact, with necessary accessories, the 360's 200 dollar price point generally runs closer to 350. Buying a PS3 used would save you even more. Currently Amazon lists a used 80 GB version for 224 bucks. Not too shabby!

2. Games: Granted the 360 has a lot of great games. But outside of titles like Halo, the PS3 shares much of the same library and has a growing library of exclusives that have often been found superior by critics at large. This includes: Metal Gear Solid 4, Killzone 2, Valkyria Chronicles, Little Big Planet, inFamous Ratchet and Clank, Demon's Soul, Uncharted and Resistance: Fall of Man In addition to this, the PS3 also has access to a growing library of classic titles from the PS1.

Here's a few samples to wet you appetite:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiby2RBvFeE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnbKOboT5wQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljq6MXgPiSU

3. Durability: The PS3 is a durable piece oft technology. Point in case, I've been using mine for games and movies almost nonstop since the summer of 06 and it's still running strong. I have more evidence then that though! According to Gamespot, (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6216691.html) the 360s failure rate stands at 23.7% more than twice that of the PS3 10%. Microsoft has invested millions in trying to fix the problem but it still persists to a lesser degree today.

4. Friends: This one should be a no brainer :)! By choosing a PS3, you'll be able to play fellows like myself online. Fancy a fragfest, just give Bob a call and we could team up or go against each other. Even better, let's say you feel like a little Rock Band action but it's a hassle for us to cart all the equipment over to your place. Just pop in your own copy and we can play together online!

Not to mention that my extensive library of games would be at your disposal. This includes:
Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance 2
Heavenly Sword
Conan
The Darkness
Metal Gear Solid 4
Mercenaries 2
Dead Space
Rock Band
Rock Band 2
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Killzone 2
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
Overlord: Raising Hell
Demon's Soul
Dragon Age: Origins
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Fallout 3
Valkyria Chronicles
inFamous

I'm pretty sure there are more but I can't remember them all and the light in the basement is burnt out.

In short Gil, if you ever find yourself considering current game consoles, I urge you to invest in a PS3. I could use someone besides , homophobic teenagers to shoot online.

-Bob   read


5:57 PM on 11.24.2009

Personal updates (D.A. Origins, Resi. Evil 2, and Top 10s)

So, life goes well for this Vermonter. Gaming wise they rarely get better. The last few weeks have been incredible. I've been playing Dragon Age almost every night with my wife watching eagerly. She won't fess up to it but she kind of has a virtual crush on Alistair. She enjoys his goofy awkwardness which makes sense as that's one of the reasons she married me.

I swear at this point she probably knows more about the game than I do. She had me start a third game yesterday just because she had read the City Elf opening was really good. It was, for the record. I really do love the dark tone of this game. Very George R.R. Martin in some places, which is good as I love his brand of adult fantasy and lord knows he's never going to finish the Song of Fire and Ice series.

Resident Evil 2 finally hitting the PSN also made me very happy. I sincerely love this game. It wouldn't have made my Top 10 Games of My Life list if I didn't. I'm finding as I play through it that despite some clunky controls, it still holds up remarkably well. The graphics can be a bit dated, but it's harder to notice some of the flaws when you're playing it on your PSP. The smaller screen really helps to make things look a bit less pixelated in my experience. It's just easily the best game in the series. Great story. Great gameplay. Great horror.

I will say that I'm a bit stalled on my Top 10 list. I keep intending to write more, but stuff gets in the way, it seems. Moreover, some of the entries I intend to write are seeming less interesting to me as time goes by. That could just be me being a lazy writer. I am notorious for starting fiction stories and then tapering off as I get bored and I suspect I'm doing the same here. I'll just have to play through the pain and get one done. I'll shoot for this weekend!

Oh and while I did swear off using Destructoid as a platform for pimping out my games writing. I just started writing the game's column at Orson Scott Card's online literary magazine the Intergalactic Medicine Show. Give it a gander if you please!

Alright then! Not much else going on and the misses and I have a date to go watch Die Hard with some friends! Later folks!   read


8:11 PM on 11.19.2009

Damn You Tekken 6!

I am not a fan of fighting games. In fact the only fond memory I can even recall connected to something in the fighting genre is that big jugged chick from Killer Instinct who kills people by flashing her hoonanners.

So the question now is, why in heavens name did I agree to write a guide of Tekken 6? Well, the money of course. I just started receiving student loan bills and I could use a nice check from IGN to help pad this
month's losses. That said, good God do I despise this game!



I'm writing up the scenario campaign, and for the most part it's pretty easy. You walk around, pound stuff to death, fight a boss or two, lather, rinse, repeat.

Well, I recently reached a later level boss and to be succinct, she is owning my ass. I am not a very skilled player to begin with when it comes to this genre. Combos defy me like my like gravity that one time I tried to ride my bike up a tree when I six. If I do execute one it is by mistake, little more than a happenstance piece of luck. Well, it looks like I'm going to have to learn how to play a fighting game.

Let me leave you with just a few quotes my wife recorded while trying to beat this particular boss over the past hour. Please note that I rarely talk this way, generally only video games can drive me to such profanity.

"Will you just leave me the fuck alone while I go kill all your friends?"

"Die, you dumb bitch! Stupid whore!"

"AH SHIT! I just wasted all my chickens!"





(Resident Evil 2 hit the PSN today! Woo hoo!)   read


1:15 PM on 11.15.2009

The Power of the Beard

My wife and I were hanging out together recently. I was up to my usual, playing some video games, while she was surfing the web. All of the sudden she laughed and said, "I'm so glad you grew a beard!"

I glanced up from Demon's Soul, exhaling in frustration as "You Have Died" popped up on the screen again. I'm too impatient at times, it's often my undoing.

"What?" I asked. She motioned toward her laptop screen, where she had been sifting through some old photo albums on Facebook. Blown up on her screen was a picture of the two of us after we had first started dating. I was 18 and more boyish then man, to say the least. I weighed at best 140 lbs, my neck was long and thin and my face shaved clean.



"You look so much better with a beard." She said, reaching over to give it an affectionate itch. "I thought you were cute back then but you looked like you were fifteen."

I smiled, kissed her on the cheek and started the level over again, hoping this time my barbarian could at least make it to my blood stain.

It left me thinking though, a lot of video game characters look better with a beard, or at least some facial hair.

For instance, the coolest character in recent Final Fantasy games? That's easily be Basch. Now don't get me wrong, XII is nowhere near my preferred Final Fantasy, but comparing Basch to the likes of Vaan or basically any of the other androgynous protagonists that have taken the series over, he was undeniably cooler.Can you imagine how much dorkier a hero Gordan Freeman would have been had he not been sporting some facial fur?



The coup de grace of gaming beard wearer's though are obviously Solid Snake and Big Boss. Snake in MGS1 was an awesome character no doubt. But his clean shaven face was no near as bad ass as later renditions of the character. When you meet him as Pliskin in MGS2, he is far stubblier and in turn, cooler. And when does Snake reach the peak of his bad assness When he becomes Old Snake, sporting the mustache that well all wish we could pull off.

By extension, Big Boss is also incredibly cool, thanks in no small part to his beard. Nothing says, "I've been ruggedly surviving in the jungle eating snakes while evading renegade Russians" like an unshaven face. The fact Big Boss has let it grow out in Peacewalker only makes the game even more of a must have.



So what is my point in all this? Well, we could just use more video game heroes with beards. We have plenty of space marines with biceps larger than their heads, but so many heroes are clean shaven and honestly, a beard just makes everything cooler. Well, not some beards. Those long, unwashed beards the hippies at college use to grow were just kind of nasty. That exceptions aside though, facial hair is just cool. Just think, would you really think of Mario the same way without his mustache?


(Much Better)   read


8:51 AM on 11.09.2009

No Willpower and Loving Dragon Age

I confess it. I have absolutely no ability to restrain myself when it comes to video games. You might recall a few posts back how I was sad that my time constraints had left me in a position where I didn't think I was going to be able to play a number of the games coming out this year, namely Dragon Age: Origins.



Well, things didn't work out quite the why I thought they would.

My freelance work recently found me with a nice stack of freely acquired games that I had no use for. Not feeling like putting them up for sale on Amazon, I decided to cart them down to my local GameStop to trade in. I shortly find myself with some 95 dollars worth of credit. I already had a game in mind at the time. My press copy of Demon's Soul was unfortunately a bit gimped as the press servers were closed upon the game's retail release, so I figured I buy a copy of that, which I did.

But what to do with the other 35 dollars?

Credit at GameStop is like an inferno in my pocket. There is always, always something I want, or something that I could justify buying. Well Dragon Age: Origins was just released and my GameStop had copies lining their shelves like a billboard reading "BUY ME!" I did just that and though suffering from unnecessary purchase guilt, I returned home with both games in tow.



Now there is something that a lot of grown up gamers talk about, generally with regret, and its the fact that they just don't have the time to play that they used to. There is work to deal with, and family and friends and if they're lucky a spouse. My wife and I play video games together often, but it isn't our only activity and as you can imagine doing non-gaming things takes away from gaming time. I'm not complaining either, I just haven't had the time for epics as of late.

Well, as it turns out my wife loves watching me play Dragon Age, so rather then going out to eat this weekend, or watching some of our Netflix stuff, she played The Sims 2 on her gaming laptop and I sat there playing Dragon Age, for two days straight basically. Then this morning as I dropped her off at work she said, "When we get home why don't we play more of your game?"

I know why she loves it so. Besides the game being fun to play or wonderfully gritty and dark, it also has strong relationship elements, which she thrives on. The very reason she love The Sims so much is because of the social focus at work in the game. It's great to work as a team to develop relationships between my party members.

So in short, things have turned out better than I expected with this game.

Oh and Mubari warhounds are awesome!   read


8:44 AM on 11.04.2009

Delays

Howdy folk,

It's been a few days since I've posted and unfortunately it might be a few more before I can put up anything on the substatnial side. I do however have another one of my Top 10 Games of My Life in the works. I had been trying to keep them roughly two weeks apart, but I think its been more like a month this time around.

Alas, life has been busy. I still haven't found a full time job but I've been picking up enough part time stuff and freelance work to pick up some of the slack while I work toward some more permanent work (Medical Transcription). The problem lately is that between that work and my wife being incredibly sick my time has been basically consumed with no signs of abating.

It's good though, I like to be busy. It makes me feel like less of a mooch. I just wish I could find more time for things like blog posts, or even practicing my drawing. I started reading a lot of comic books recently and I've been trying to learn how to draw on the side, if only for fun.

Anywho, the next time I write it should be something better then essentially a long status update.   read


7:24 AM on 11.01.2009

Halloween Disappointments...Where is my Resident Evil 2?

Well Halloween has come and gone and now we all have the pleasure of suffering through another two months of the Christmas season. Ugh. I wouldn't mind it so much if Christmas wasn't so played up and quality holidays like Halloween so played down as it is nowadays. Seriously, we barely got any trick or treaters last night and chances are none of them lived more then a street away from us. When did parents become such pansies?

Anywho, that's a different gripe. Overall, my Halloween was fine. My wife has pneumonia so rather than venturing out to the couple of Halloween parties we were supposed to go to, we stayed home watching scary movies in bed, which was nice. I haven't seen the original Dawn of the Dead for awhile and I enjoyed sitting through it again.



That said, it got my wheels a turning and wondering where the hell Resident Evil 2 and 3 (and Dino Crisis for that matter) are. Capcom reported they'd be on the PSN soon and back in August I actually spoke with a Capcom PR guy who said we would see them within the next three months Web link.

That still gives them a little more time but honestly doesn't Halloweens strike people as a particularly appropriate time to re-release some of gaming's most classic horror titles? Perhaps, it's just me. I was just really hoping for some surprise, last minute announcement. I mean, playing Half Minute Hero all day while watching zombie flicks was fun, but it certainly wasn't as appropriate.



Halloween also brought to mind how much more developers could be doing with zombie games but aren't. There are some quality titles out there I know, and a lot of people are beginning to tire of the undead, but I still think there's some life (pun intended) left in zombies.

For instance, I'd love to see an open world game that takes place during a zombie outbreak. The opening could, for instance take place during the opening day of the outbreak with things gradually growing worse until the full blown nature of the situation became apparent. Then the game could focus on, say, trekking across America to a safe zone or something. I can only dream I suppose.

Maybe someone could at least throw me a bone and make a total conversion for Fallout 3 or something. I'd even buy the PC version just for that.   read


8:59 AM on 10.29.2009

Passing Up On Good Games...

I've been interested in Dragon Age: Origins for a while now. I love the fantasy genre and generally speaking any game that looks to pull off a good take on it is on my radar from the get go.

That said, as its PS3 release looms I find myself in a position where realistically I'm probably going to be passing it up. Life and work alone tend to take up a lot of time, not to mention games themselves. Yes, I find myself in the odd quandrary of having too much to play (my backlog list is posted a few entries back). I'm taking it as a sign that I have truly grown up, that l now have responsibilities that don't allow for day long gaming sessions.

It almost makes me miss being a kid, because honestly I love long, deep games and as more time goes by I'm really starting to see that they may be a thing of the past for me. For heaven's sake I've had trouble finding time to play not too long games like Uncharted 2 this month! How could I ever justify buying a game like Dragon Age that will probably take months to beat? Especially with a whole stack of games laying around that I need to finish.

I wouldn't ever wish to be younger again. Being a teenager sucked, but damn do I miss having all the time in the world.   read


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