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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.


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Cool Concept Art

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Well the game is launching soon and it is described as a highly stylized 3rd person action game. Shoot anywhere, anytime gunplay (think Stranglehold) combined with sword fighting and amazing acrobatics. The story is supposed to be zany, serious and gory, plus the main character is ridonculously hot. I like any game that can turn the concept image above into a near perfect in-game model below. There is a demo live on the UK PSN store, gonna try it tonight!

Whiskey of the Year?

Late in 2015 a relatively inexpensive, frankly cheap, whisky from Canada called Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye won a very prestigious award - Worldwide Whiskey of the Year beating out out champions from Scotland, Japan and the US.  In the words of the reviewer Jim Murray:

“Crown Royal Northern Harvest pops up out of nowhere and changes the game,” said Murray of the whisky, which he awarded a record-tying 97.5 out of 100 points. “It certainly puts the rye into Canadian Rye. To say this is a masterpiece is barely doing it justice.”

Naturally as a developing Whiskey connoisseur I wanted to try this $40 bottle of Rye Whiskey myself, but an announcement like that broke the walls of the drinking world and the Northern Harvest Rye has been selling out for nearly 6 months with further accolades coming in the meantime:

In addition to being named 2016 World Whisky of the Year, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye received a double gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition.…

PAX East 2016 Coverage Part 2

Sorry for the long delay, life gets real busy around here!  So on to more PAX East coverage, one of the things I love best about the show is how diverse it is.  I attended panels on games, but also on diversity, tabletop, game design and more.  I also get a chance to check out hardware such as the HTC Vibe and Occulus Rift as well as unconventional playtests like board games.  PAX East is an incredible experience in how involved the attendees are, everyone is happy, cosplayers are everywhere and the vibe is always incredibly positive.  On to the coverage from the show:

PAX East 2016 Preview: Betrayal at House on the Hill – Widow’s Walk Expansion

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