Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Added a twitter feed on the side...I imagine I will generally be complaining about Quake Live...or Quake 'not so' Live. I registered, got in a queue of 26000, downloaded the client, restarted the browser and was added into another queue of 20000 or so. It dropped to 2000, then up to 39000 and now the site is offline again. Sigh.

If I don't get in tonight it is OK...I have some Blu0ray watching to do. South Park season 12 for a review and the Changeling for an at home date with the wife.

On another note, even though I need to dress very professionally for my job I do like to let my inner geek out at times...if subtly. Look at the below image and let me know if you recognize what is on my lapel.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I have often complained about advertisements about gaming that obviously were created by non gamers who have no clue. You know what I am taking about, cool stylish people holding the controller wrong, slack jawed idiots screaming while they play or older people trying to look hip.

I have often wondered why these companies don't hire a consultant (say...me for example) that could recommend the best angles holding styles and expressions for gaming pictures and scenes. Movies and TV shows suffer greatly from this as well, even Big Bang Theory which talks about geek culture all the time completely mishandled a World of Warcraft scenario where the gang raided for 'the Sword of Azeroth'. The way they were playing (and the opponents) were completely false as any Wow (or MMoRPG player could tell you).



The Minus World has come up with a great list of the 30 most obnoxious and expensive gaming stock photos out there. It is hilarious and worth a read...some highlights of the pictures:

In between parties with Paris Hilton and marathon rounds of doing Cocaine we enjoy a quick round of the PacMen on our gaming unit. It is encrusted with diamonds...of course.

Dudes...you look l33t and all, and I am sure you play a mean Street Fighter, but, Umm THE TV IS OFF!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now this is one heck of a trailer. I actually got shivers when watching it...I think it was the voiceover more then anything. Gameplay and graphics look amazing!



inFamous is looking to be a great game...early previews show it as a very fun ride, this could be another amazing exclusive for the PS3. Wow, if this and Killzone 2 do what they look like they will the PS3 will have a killer month.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's take a U-turn right now, I am a monstrous coffee fan. I have a really great full auto espresso machine that my brother (he IS the coffee Geek) gave me for my wedding and I have at least 2 great Americano's every day.

Never thought I would ever be a tea drinker as my only experience was with my mother's Orange Pekoe and that was tasteless and bland compared to a great coffee. A few years back I was at a sales event at a resort and they had tea's from a company called Mighty Leaf (neat play on words if you say it out). I didn't really care until I smelled the most amazing scent. They have this one tea called Green Tea Tropical, it smells amazing and tastes almost as good. I drank about 5 of them a day and stole about 20 bags when I left.

Once I returned home a colleague and I bought a 100 pack of the tea. I finished mine last year but she recently moved to Australia and found about 20 packs she thought she had finished. She has given them to me and I am now reliving the greatness of this tea.

If you are a tea fan I would really encourage you to check out Mighty Leaf Tea and try some of their flavors (especially the Tropical Green). It is an expanding tea that is in a silk tea bag. It is as decadent as it sounds. I would like to mention the cup in the pictures as well. A good friend of mine lived in Korea for some time teaching and for Christmas (or was it birthday?) one year she sent me this amazing tea cup set (there are two of them). They also came with diffusers for loose tea. Look at the craftmanship of the cup! I swear tea tastes better in this then in a regular cup.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to the 'What I am playing' edition of blogger! It has been a long weekend and I got a chance to play a bunch of games, none to completion, but enjoyed my time.

The World Ends With You - Wow is all I can say, I play this game off and on and am constantly astounded by the art style, sound, music and story. Essentially a real-time RPG that has unique features like a rest system (gain experience for the time the game was off) and the ability to gain XP if you connect to any other DS regardless of whether they have the game or not. The combat and exploration is really fresh and enjoyable.


Prince of Persia - I really, really, REALLY like the art style and environments in this game. The animation and controls are so responsive that at times I am convinced I don't have to press anything and in fact the scene is pre-set...till I fall. But I have to say the game has severe issues when it comes to gathering the light spheres. I simply do not enjoy it and find myself getting bored when I have to collect them. When playing the core experience it is great, the dialogue, story and boss encounters are really enjoyable. I have no issue with the no-die style of gameplay (in fact I wish gears had this...see next game) but the artificial lengthening of the experience focused around collecting items is really lame.


Gears of War (the original) - I have a severe Love/Hate vibe with this game. I really like the gameplay, controls, setting and over the top violence but the pacing, character models and checkpoint system need serious work. I like a challenge so I am playing on hardcore and generally do just fine. But there have been about 4 really tough battles that I have had to re-try a number of times. Unfortunately the checkpoints (no save anywhere function) generally click in before the battle segments and before non-skippable dialogue. The current fight (right near the end) has me cresting a hill and having three (badly written) conversations before I faze 20 or so baddies. This type of badly placed checkpoint system is very 90's and should not have happened.


Tales of Vesperia - Frankly I can't think of anything bad to say about this game. Amazing graphics, great character designs, tight story and dialogue. I guess some of the battles are a little too hard while others are shockingly easy. Some bosses really need you to grind in advance due to the fact that your party is AI controlled and not very careful. Other then that...great game and one of the best JRPG's in years.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I have mentioned that my decision to buy Rock Band 2 was directly impacted by the announcement the Pearl Jam's classic album Ten is coming to the game in March. This was cause for excitement enough, I mean singing/playing Black, Jeremy, Alive or Hells Bells any song from that album is something I am giddy about.

It was recently announced that Best Buy will be having a re-release of the album in March as well and the deluxe edition will have three Rock band tracks included. The re-release will be a re-mixed version that also has demos and live tracks. The Rock Band songs will be live versions of Alive and State of Love and Trust (from the AWESOME Singles soundtrack...one of the best grunge albums EVER) as well as Brother (an outtake from the ten album).

Man, I would have bought the Rock Band album regardless, I would have bought a re-mixed and enhanced disc copy as well, but adding the free Rock Band tracks (that are not duplicates of the albums contents on Rock Band) is just awesome. I will be relieving high school come march when this is released. Now I just need to find some flannel and ripped jeans!

Monday, February 09, 2009

So Dead Rising 2 has been confirmed, really no shock there since the original was one of the big highlights of the Xbox 360 launch. Hopefully they fix what went wrong with the game (somewhat repetitive, time limits, some REALLY annoying missions) and really improve it.

It will be launching on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, hopefully lead developed on the PS3 so it benefits rather then hurts from being on that platform. I have to ask regarding the first screens...are they bullshots? They look almost too good to be true.


Oh Last Remnant, why must you be so inconsistent? I finally finished a battle that had me tearing my hair out. Following this I was treated to an amazing in-game cut scene. It was a battle between one of my favorite characters, Emma, and the Conqueror character. What happened was completely predictable, but the animation was amazing. No texture problems, no frame rate issues, just greatness.

This got me excited about playing it some more and I did. Until the battles started again and the frame stuttered (with 5 creatures on screen) and the textures never finished loading. Sigh!

Now I am stuck AGAIN at a boss battle following a boss battle that didn't allow me to save in between...the second Boss is fiendishly hard and revives your slain teammates and has them fight you before you even get a chance to revive them. That is plain cheap gameplay and the fact that there is no chance to save between the bosses makes it infuriating.

I will keep plugging along, but if I face the same challenge (trying 20+ times) as I did before, this game and I will be breaking up!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Received a note from a friend that TellTale Games is giving a free episode of Sam and Max or Strong Bad if you sign up for their newsletter. What a refreshing change from the normal mantra of buy our game and get a bonus or pay for this media and get a bonus.

Imagine...wanting to actually let people try your games? What a concept, recently Sony in North America irked a lot of people by offering the Killzone 2 demo as a Gamestop exclusive pre-order bonus. It then became public knowledge that the demo would be available on Feb. 5th on the European store with no pre-order. This is completely ridiculous, the demo is excellent and having experienced the Multiplayer Beta I can safely say the entire game will be very, very good. If that is the case why the HELL would you not want everyone to try the game?? Well as a PSA (Public Service Announcement) here is how to create a European account:

1. First create a new user for your PS3.

2. Sign Up for the Playstation Network.

3. Select Europe as your Country/Region. (You can select ANY region as long as you can provide a real address.)

4. Make sure your language is set to English.

5. Select Master Account.

6. Create an e-mail account for your new PSN ID. If you have another e-mail address you can use just use it.. a friends, a parents, or a girlfriends etc. Otherwise visit any of the free e-mail websites below:

* Gmail - http://www.google.com/mail/help/promo1.html
* lycos - http://mail.lycos.com/lycos/Index.lycos
* mail.com - http://www.mail.com
* hotmail - http://www.hotmail.msn.com
* AOL - http://free.aol.com/thenewaol/email.adp

Once you've created an account simply use the e-mail address in your registration.

7. Create an online ID.

8. Enter a name, it's up to you how to play this one.

9. Next you'll need to provide a valid address for the region. I like to use addresses that pertain to royalty, like Buckingham Palace!

That's it, congratulations you've now successfully created a European account to get the Killzone 2 demo (and LocoRoco 2 when released).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Oh Prince, I know you are forward thinking, I know you are a genius, but seriously what is with the album covers lately?? Remember the good old days?

Around the World in a Day - cool art style, depth of meaning could be taken from the image and you can try to figure out the vibe.


Sign O the Times - Amazing cover, the image really brings you into the vibe that the album contains. It is crowded but simple and the eye is drawn to the guitar.


The Love Symbol Album - Very symbolic (obviously), great colors and centering of the image. The Symbol was an overlay on top of the image and works well.



Then we have recent years...yeesh....Prince seems to have gone all over the map trying to come up with a cover that fits the music and has failed in all cases. 3121 was OK, but still quite basic.

Musicology - Was a big mainstream 'comeback' album and it had the most generic cover I have seen in some time. Horrible hair, bad background, no inspiration.


Planet Earth - Not a great disc, an OK disc, and wow...what the hell were you thinking with this image? I found it as embarrassing to buy this CD as Lovesexy was. A corset? Really?


LotusFlow3r - releasing soon...wow..I think this is the worst ever...even worse then his second album's cover (For You). This looks like a cross between a Scientology cover image and an artists rendition of aliens building the pyramids. What the heck is this...thing? Thankfully the preview tracks from the album have been tight, so at least the music will be there...but really, let's get back to the old days of great art.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

One of my favorite games of 2008 is making a return to the PS3 this year. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune was perhaps the best time I have had in gaming for a long, long time. The gameplay, story, action, score and presentation were so good there were many times I forgot I was really playing a game. It was so good in fact that I used it's patched in trophies to replay the game a total of three times.

Many, many, MANY games these days have such great ideas that often bog down in frustrating 'throw your controller' moments. Gears of war is the perfect example of this, when you amp up the difficulty it is no longer challenging, it is simply cheating on the AI's part. I can't count the amount of times I swore after dying in a way that should not have happened.

In Uncharted if I died it was because I was impatient, not careful or tried something in a way that I knew I may die or lose the path. So of course I am extremely excited at the thought of continuing Drakes adventures. I recently read an amazing interview with Evan Wells on Joystiq (Naughty Dog head). Which revealed some great new features/details, I am excited about all of the reveals, but one had me more excited then others.

-No Install (of course)
-Longer experience
-Unlockables again (yay!)
-Diverse environments, cities, jungles, Himalayan mountains and more
-Moving objects (trains, convoys, cars) that you can also freely move on...think some of the best Indiana Jones chase sequences...
-And best of all the sidekick character, Chloe, is voiced (and inspired by) Claudia Black!! She is one of my biggest fantasy crushes and if anyone has watched Farscape you would know why...

Seriously, Nolan North as Drake and Claudia Black as Chloe, this will be a helluva ride (Claudia will be doing the motion cap as well, so I am really keen on the making of features like the ones in the first game).

This will be my second most anticipated game of 2009 (Dragon Age Origins being #1) and I will gobble up all info as it comes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's funny how prevalent Music is in my life. Every car ride (and they are long ones), when I am working, when I exercise, when I am writing. Pretty much the only time I am not listening to music is when I am playing with my kids or watching movies/TV (not often).

Normally I exclusively listen to Prince. At work I access a server I built that streams all 600+ Prince Mp3's I own to my laptop. In the car I have 3 Prince MP3 discs with 130+ songs on each of them, when exercising I play them on my MP3 player. Decided to take a break and dig out old CD's and other music and it made me realize I have really varied tastes.

The first CD I plopped in was a Chemical Brothers MP3 disc that has the 5 CD's I own from them on it. Techno has a time and place so I have also dug into my more traditional fare.

Next up I went back into my Sting catalog and listened to Ten Summoners Tales and Mercury Falling. have to say Ten Summoners is still one of my favorite CD's from him. He drops the heavy tones from his earlier solo albums and has some really enjoyable songs like Love is Stronger then Justice, Seven Days and Nothin' about me. It is a really great album and one worth listening to.

But the best so far and the one that has been played 6 times in a row is one I found by accident while looking for my Nirvana Unplugged in New York disc (amazing BTW). Peter Gabriel's 'Us'. This is an outstanding album with songs that somehow pull at me from an elemental level. I have to confess I am a car singer, but most times only Prince generates any volume from me (and believe me I belt those tunes out yo!). But during Us I have to say I am singing loud and proud, especially during Digging in the Dirt, Washing the Rain and Come Talk to Me. Any of these albums are worth owning, but 'Us' is something special that anyone can appreciate.