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6:02 PM on 04.20.2009

Those About to Die: The Left 4 Dead Update

Since a young age, Iíve had an obsession of sorts with zombies. Iím not quite sure what aspect of the undead causes me too enjoy brain-eating and mangled corpses so much: the glassy stare in their eyes as they chase after their victims, the eerie crunch of sod underneath their slow, dragging feet or the way in which hordes of them create the illusion that there is no potential escape. Then again, maybe it just has to do with watching zombie movies, like Return of the Living Dead, where that one punker chick decides to strip down to absolutely nothing but her sweet 80ís-style workout stockings and dance naked on the tombstones. Yeah, that was sweet.
Yet, as the latest video game trends have shown, zombies are where itís at nowadays. From Call of Duty:WaW to the adored Left 4 Dead, zombies are becoming a common staple of the first person-shooter market as well as more simple games, like those featured in flash format or for the iPhone.
But it is this genre that has helped lead me to my first monthly musing; more specifically, L4D. With the release of the much anticipated update only hours away, many gamers across the world are gearing up for (from what Valve mentioned previously) some serious zombie action in the new ďSurvival Mode.Ē With this update, even more infected and survivors alike will fall victim to gruesome maulings, hails of gunfire and scorching explosions.
With recent information hinting at a major turning point in enemy spawning around the 15-minute mark of survival mode, players are definitely in for all the hell they can handle. Described as the final stages to the next level, these survival mode levels will undoubtedly place smiles back onto the faces of everyone who picked this up for the sheer joy of zombies and the havoc they wreak.

Even for FPS fans that could care less about zombies within the genre as opposed to game mechanics, the update will allow for those who are talented at such games to really put their skills to test. While trying to secure headshots to take down the baddies quicker and more efficiently, they will also have to elude and strategize as best they can with other players to avoid being chomped and clawed to death.
Perhaps the biggest point to note with L4Dís update is the pure sense of death it is going to bring to the game. As if the final levels of each campaign (namely on expert) werenít tough or terrifying enough, survival mode has encapsulated the strongest and most epic parts of the game and presented them in a format that not only calls for gamers to try and survive, but to also enjoy blasting even more zombie hordes. If not for the desire to vanquish every last braineater on the map, then perhaps content like this would not exist (note that I acknowledge the fact that Valve will profit from this DLC, but I am simply keeping in mind that the fans of a game drive the type of content that eventually finds it way to said game).
In retrospect, perhaps it is the appeal of killing an enemy that seems so fragile, so weak, but yet remains as vicious as any other mythical monster, that appeals to me when I talk about the update. With wave after wave of zombies pressing in on me, I have no choice but to fulfill the goal of surviving by exterminating the undead in any way possible. While zombies may not be as elusive, intelligent or cunning as, letís say vampires, they actually provide a sense of real horror when one realizes that zombiesí existence is based on the number of dead bodies there are buried on this planet; and rest assured, thatís a large number, larger than any army currently formed by any country.
Not to mention, the update will also bring two new campaigns to the ďVersus Mode,Ē allowing those who wish to hunt the living to skulk and hide in the shadows until they can execute their opportunity to take out the team at one time. With a new level, virtually new for at least a couple of playthroughs, both survivors and infected will have a suspenseful time running around the map, looking for the perfect moment to strike or fend off their enemies.

Needless to say, there are going to be a lot of us on tomorrow night with this update, and it is clear that many will dieÖ.and die againÖ.and again. Yet, isnít this what cries out to the avid zombie fan? Despite the displeasure at dying when trying to beat a level, it is more fun when the only goal is to survive for the sake of living, and, if that goal isnít achieved the first time, it can be attempted again and again. The only thing stopping you is about 50,000 zombies. Good luck.   read

6:40 PM on 04.20.2008

XBOX Live won't help me out...big surprise

About a year and a half ago, my first Xbox 360 premium system suffered from the infamous red-ring-of-death. Instead of getting any sort of repair done through Microsoft, I took the system back to the retailer (which I had a purchased service plan with) and exchanged it for another one. I was allowed to keep my hard drive and soon learned that all DLC from the previous system wouldn't work offline with the new one because the data is tied into the tag, the hard drive and the system itself. This normally wouldn't be a big deal, but I don't have access to any sort of hi-speed internet where I live.

Microsoft's initial solution to this problem? We will give you a new gamertag and refund all of your points. At the time this seemed to be quite a bit of hassle considering they wanted a million different bits of information and faxed copies of my purchase receipts, and given that I could live without being able to play the (at that time) small amount of arcade games I had downloaded off of XBLA. So, I graciously declined and moved on with my life.

Now red-ring failure has struck once again and I decided to use my service plan contract to upgrade to an Elite. Upon receiving the Elite, I figured that as long as I had a new system with a new hard drive, and simply recovered my gamertag, that all of my DLC would once again work. However, I was most definitely wrong.

So today, I resort to calling Microsoft tech support because a close friend explained that Microsoft now had a process to change over the information to new systems in order to eliminate the offline access problem. While I eventually was told by an XBOX Live supervisor named Kristine that this process did exist, I was denied any sort of refund because the SKU transfer process from 360 premium to 360 Elite "doesn't exist." When I asked whether or not this fact was ever released to the public or given any sort of PR, I received silence.

Upon hearing this ridiculous information, accompanied with stupified silence, I attempted to reason with myself that this may, in fact, be a technological disadvantage that Microsoft has with their products. However, I realized that along with all of my arcade games, my Rock Band DLC would no longer work. When I asked the supervisor whether or not I could simply cancel my other gamertag, start a new one, re-subscribe to XBOX Live and get a refund for all of my MS points, she simply told me that that was no longer their policy.

Now what this means to me is that Microsoft eliminated the one out they used to offer when they were to lazy to fix this problem in the first place. Then they decided that transferring data from a premium to an Elite was far too challenging. However, instead of offering me any sort of solution, I now have all but the latest Rock band DLC that doesn't work offline, 20 aracade games that don't work offline, and a bunch of GH3 and GH2 DLC that doesn't work.

Naturally, I was rather upset with my options (lose a ton of money on DLC and don't play anything offline) and all I could get out of Kristine was a recycled apology about 55 times because the call was clearly monitored. The best part? When I explained that as a consumer, I should have some sort of voice in retrieving my DLC that cost REAL money from my REAL checking account, and she flat-out told me "No."

What do you mean "No?" Last time I checked, when you legally purchase something that you have proof for, said product is now your sole property. Also, instead of offering solutions or listening to what I have to say for future reference (or others who may experience the same problem), how about Microsoft just repeat themselves over and over or be completely silent because they know they are fucking me out of the money I willingly gave them to provide a service and gaming experience?

Needless to say, I am extremely frustrated and left wondering what to do. I suppose that Rock Band is now about 66% useless to me, and it's a real shame, because it was one of the best party games I ever purchased and had a ton of fun with it every time I picked it up. So now I have to decide whether to live with no arcade games and no DLC, or just sell it all and say fuck it.

I have never heard of anyone else having such a hard time with Microsoft (except for that kid who had the special art work wiped off his 360), and was wondering if anyone in the Destructoid community had any advice that i may have overlooked. I understand everyone has their problems, but this really pisses me off and I didn't know if there may be a solution anyone can offer.

I suppose for now I can email Harmonix and explain that I love their game, but I can't play it anymore because Microsoft feels that they have absolutely no resolution to my troubles...   read

10:35 PM on 01.07.2008

The New Year

First off, I just want to express my New Years wishes to everyone. I hope that everyone had a safe and fun one, and that a lot of Rock Band was played.

Well, that's what me and my friends did...for about 8 hours. Needless to say it got real fucking hot in the house and I decided to lose my shirt. Then a few more came off. Then the girls thought it would be a good idea to strip down to their bras. Then we decided it would be a good idea to create a new drink out of Hogan energy drink (powered by SOCKO, whatever that is) and Jager. We called it a "Legdrop." Quite delicious!

Now, the night was moving along just fine and we are so drunk that the girls decide we need to play "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and "Maps" about sixty times each. This is hilarious for about the first five times and then it is just irritating. Certain songs can only be "epic" for so long before you want to knock yourself out against a brick wall.

So, when I finally decide to go to bed, I am rather proud that none of my guests have broken anything in my house or gotten so drunk that they start a fight. However, the next morning left me feeling not so accomplished.

Why not wake up and play The Simpsons game and skate. for fun on New Years Day? Oh yeah, because Dreadedmoose threw up on/in my couch. Worst part, it took us a while to figure out just where that smell was coming from. In the end, it was sort of funny, but now my couch smells like regurgitated pizza, "legdrops," and Guinness. No amount of cleaning seems to help. I think it is safe to say that my couch has fully been pwned...or owned...or dominated...or torque-bowed...whatever, the thing is fucked.

Oh well, a new year and time to make things alright again. I hope I can get to know more of you this year and play some games along the way. I don't care how "L33t" you are at COD4 or TF2 or Gears of War or whatever. I just want to play for the sake of being able to play. It's our past-time, and why not spend it together in an enjoyable environment?

Anyways, hope you all have a prosperous 2008 and get the most of what life throws at you.

Looking forward to gaming with you soon,
Joe   read

12:24 PM on 11.19.2007

XBOX 360 OMEN???

Alright, here we are. A little less than 24 hours away from the release of Rock Band (depending on where you live) and my 360 decides to show some signs of illness. As I am removing one DVD to put in another, the system goes one red light (hardware failure), but then immediately goes back to working after I restart it. Now I fear that the next time I fire it up...KA-BLOOEY! I suppose I could towel trick it if worst comes to worst, but I know that won't help forever.

I can also simply take it back to Best Buy and get another one no questions asked with my warranty, but I just know, with my luck, that the system will work fine until the Rock Band party gets underway. Damn you XBOX 360! I love you so much, yet you constantly keep me living in fear.

I suppose this is simply more of a rant than a real blog posting, but I can't help but worry that a damper will befall my festivities...

ALSO COCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   read

1:14 PM on 11.12.2007

Rock Band Parties

Well, as I am sure that most of us are anticipating the release of Rock band next Tuesday, I for one am super excited not only for the game but the parties that will ensue shortly after. Beer, music, babes, more beer and incriminating photos are a definite and I fucking love it. School is pressing in and this is one of the last hoo-rahs before the holiday break so I plan on making it count. I plan on posting many of the photos from my party right here in a new blog sometime next week (day after Thanksgiving?) So, I was wondering if anyone else was planning on having a Rock band shindig next week ,also?

If so, please feel free to throw in any comments...possibly about re-arranging your living room to look like the local dive where Sick Of It All sets it off. My place is most likely gonna get destroyed, but I can't wait.

Let's hear it folks, where's the party at?   read

11:43 AM on 09.24.2007

My very first blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11 Also, my boss is retarded

So I finally get the time to sit down and rant about something video game related. I personally enjoy talking about games and the issues surrounding games, namely the effect they have on society and how they progress/push the boundaries over time. I feel that video games are becoming a vital part of not only American culture, but in several societies around the world. The internets are bringing us closer together and the PSN and XBOX LIVE are keeping friends in touch on a daily basis.

However, some people still don't understand the importance or social meaning that video games hold for most of us. One of these people happen to be my boss. I work at a video game store that could best be compared to a Slackers (for those of you in the Midwest, you know what I am talking about). I will not mention the name of my establishment because I feel it is only fair to rant about my bosses' horrible business decisions if I grant him the honor of keeping his businesses' name anonymous. Anyways, now that the stage is set, I need to explain something about my boss.

This guy is stuck on the profitable markets that 2004 presented. All he ever talks about is how good the holiday season was that year and how much the video game industry has let him down since. This is where I begin to see the problem, personally. Let me cite a little game called Bioshock, arguably the best thing since sliced bread. Granted, people have their opinions on first-person shooters and the way they play, but I find it hard for anyone to outright deny the fact that this game has gorgeous graphics and operates quite differently than most FPS. And as far as I know, Bioshock is selling rather fairly. Now, re-enter my boss. Direct quote when I inquired about the shipment of Bioshock we'd be receiving: "No one has asked about that game. And frankly, it looks pretty stupid."

And that folks, is the mindset and mentality of where I work. Now you'd think when they finally decided to sample ONE copy on our shelves and it then sold immediately upon opening that he'd get the picture. However, since Bioshock's release on August 21st, we have only received and sold that sole copy. Now I could go on and on with this and cite many examples, but what I really wanted to know is if anyone had a boss sort of like this; whether it be in the video game biz or any sort of retail.

To clarify a little more, here is a list of games that my boss feels are "dumb" and/or not worth our time:

Sports games in general (we didn't order Madden 08 this year for god's sake)
Guitar Hero 2 Bundles
Odin Sphere
Resident Evil 4 (Wii Edition)
Any decent DS game (he sticks with cheap puzzlers and Brain Age)
and the list could go on forever...

So please leave some comments and let me know if there are more crazy people like this out there or if it is just my horrible situation.   read

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