Monday, December 10, 2007

I Can't Sleep (Call the Wahhhhmbulance)

I'm tired and crabby. For the past couple of weeks, I've been unable to sleep before three in the morning. This wouldn't be so bad if it were after the semester, but as I type this, I still have one major exam left and a paper to finish writing. Good times, great memories. I should try reading the Bible as a sleep aid again. I'm sure it would work better than my current method; around one or two in the morning, I've been popping in my House MD DVDs and getting under the covers, thereby disengaging myself from the computer, which can keep my brain enganged, and thus awake, for hours. I'll end up getting through two episodes by the time I feel the least bit sleepy.

Speaking of House, what a great find! I had never actually seen an episode of the show, but I was intrigued by the one to two minute clips on Norms excellent site, Onegoodmove. On Black Friday, the House DVDs were put on sale on various websites for around 12 bucks. They normally retail for around 40 bucks, so in a total impulse buy, I ordered seasons one and two. I have to say, I am very pleased with my purchase. Sure, the episodes are extremely formulaic (mysterious illness, House and his team mess with the whiteboard, House has an epiphany, phat healz), but the House character is so entertaining. A genius doctor who doesn't like patients. Reminds me of letting people die in Warcraft raids for being idiots. Despite being one who normally shuns television programming, I still have to wholly recommend House to anyone slightly interested. Then again, you probably already are numb from your CSI, ER, and whatever the kids are watching these days (can I get through a post without being pretentious?).

I guess I should be hunting down my Bible. Hopefully it hasn't burst into flames since I left the flock of sheep.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Short Note: It can be vacation time now pls?

Alright, school sort of kicked into overdrive all of a sudden, so I feel like I have a lot on my plate at the moment. I'd like to think that I'm doing relatively well, compared to my previous study habits. At the moment I am taking a break from writing one of the papers that I have due in the next two weeks (this one is actually due this Saturday, but hey, its technically not last minute), leaving tomorrow to finish the online assignments for the same class. After that I have to write my reflection of the classroom observation hours, due the 11th of December, along with having to compile my notes for the same class into some sort of journal that the instructor can make some sense of, also due on the 11th. Also for that class I have to make a Powerpoint presentation about some court case involving the Mexican chilluns. Luckily I'm not alone on that assigment, its a group project. I volunteered to do the Powerpoint, so I'm hoping they produce the content. I'm not going to think about the education assigments until I knock out the stuff for this Saturday class.

I guess it's a good thing that I am not beholden to any games at the moment. Its nice to have my distractions be limited to movies that I could watch, which are much easier to avoid than life sucking MMORPGs.

Oh, I also registered for next semester, and have deduced that after this semester, I'll need about fifteen credit hours to go after this Spring. That's full time semester. I have my doubts that I will finish in time; class availabilty will probably force me to take a part time semester or two, but that is some home stretch right there. I can't wait.

N E WAYZ, wish me luck, two more weeks to go till I'm granted a temporary respite.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short Note: Thanksgiving Weekend

I think I'll start doing a 'feature' I will call "Short Note" as a sort of filler when I don't have time to do a full-on article as I have been recently. My intent is to populate this thing enough to give what few returning readers I have something to read more often. That said, here is the first.

This string of Thanksgiving days off was pleasant, despite the lack of a lazy day amongst them. During these days I spent some much needed time with Little Bitty. We've been having some issues that seem to be exacerbated by time spent apart, so we got through this weekend in good spirits.

Mike got the ROCK BANDS, which indeed does rock. I had a good time during its inaugural run with him and Carlette. It has a vocal component, akin to karaoke that, suprisingly, I've enjoyed quite a bit. Getting to pretend to be M1K0P4TN was very fun, especially when you add some Monopoly Vodka into the mix. Drumming is hard, makes my leg hurt, and its pretty fun. Rock Band is supposed to hit the Wii at some point, and I hope to pick it up to get my drum on in private. Perhaps I can get enough practice in to be able to coordinate my legs and arms to the point of doing some real drumming. You may laugh at the notion of a video game's ability to do such thing, but I challenge you to try drumming on Rock Band without using some inherent drumming skills. You would fail, I assure you.

I picked up a Wii Zapper and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles this week with my Toys R Us gift card, with the hopes of getting Little Bitty to play through it with me. We didn't get a chance this weekend to get into it, but I did manage to pop a few caps in some zombie asses, to my delight. I so do love the facilitation of zombie perforation. In the face. Facially.

Looking at the week's game release schedule, it looks like the game industry has 'blown it's load' in terms of releases, so to speak. Which is a good thing, because the wallets of gamers accross the country were wrecked for a good while there while the gaming industry worked at padding their fiscal year reports by releasing their cream of the crop in the span of a month or so this fall. I have one more release that is a must have (Call of Duty 4) and then I'm calling it quits for the year. My bank account will thank me.

N E WAYZ, that was my Thanksgiving. Lots of Little Bitty and some Rock Band. I cant think of a better way to spend a holiday weekend (except having Little Bitty heal a 40-man raid group (kidding).

Until next time, bbl ttyl kthxbi.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rant: Games for Windows: Live

I am going to indulge myself and rant about some more nerd things. You will read it and begin a revolution on my behalf. Thanks.

I recently purchased Kane & Lynch: Dead Men for the PC on account of its very intriguing plot and characters. The game was panned for being rather generic as far as how it plays, but I am very pleased to say that it has delivered in spades on mood, story, and the characters are indeed very cool and well written. Kotaku summed it up by describing it as "like a buddy movie with killing." I wouldn't call them buddies exactly, as they trust each other about as far as they can throw them, but therein is part of the appeal of the story. It's one of those games that I can see myself watching someone play.

Back to the actual subject of the post, the game was released under the Games for Windows brand, which is all well and good. Bioshock was released under the same brand, and aside from some lame copy-protection DRM BS, it delivered the goods as any triple A PC title would. Where the shit hits the fan is when you add multiplayer into the mix.

Console players have been recently availed the goodness of online gaming in the recent years, for Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live service. It's a pay service essentially, they have to fork over more cash for full functionality in addition to what they are paying for their internet connection. Yes you can play for free using a Silver membership, but it's hardly worth it.

In PC land, we've been burning up bandwith for years now, killing each other over the internets at no cost beyond the price of the game and your internet connection. Full online functionality comes out of the box, requiring no third party beyond voice programs, and even that is becoming increasingly unnecessary due to developers adding voice function in-game. So everything is happy land, until Microsoft comes along and gets greedy.

As soon as you start the game, K&L requires you to sign into or create an account with the Games for Windows: Live service. Since its all tied to the MSN network, I went ahead and set one up fairly easily. I have to wonder, what would happen if I tried playing the game without an internet connection? Would the game not work at all? Worrisome. If you thought having to sign up for some unwarranted third party service just to get to the game menu was bad, it gets worse. Much worse. Worser, worsest even.

Kane & Lynch comes with a pretty interesting online component. It's a hybrid of a co-op and a deathmatch game, where you work together with your "buddies" to pull off heists and split the earnings, with the option of betraying them to keep the loot that you've picked up in a given round. An fairly original and interesting dynamic, and one that I WAS looking forward to trying out.

Alas, with my lowly, free Silver Live membership, I do not have access to the K&L ranking system. I am limited to "List Play", which are stripped down unranked, player hosted games. PC multiplayer games usually run on dedicated servers, which are servers that anyone can run or rent, whose job is specifically to run games that people can jump in and out of. From what I can tell, the Live service does not allow for that. So not only do you not have dedicated servers, you have limited game availability. And it's not just K&L that suffers from such ailments. The much awaited PC port of Gears of War doesn't even let you ping servers unless you have a Gold Membership, meaning you have to join a game and hope that you get a good connection. Unfun. Dissapointing. Worrisome.

I hope this mess doesn't take off. It seems to me that Games for Windows is a step towards the need to obtain a certification to make a PC game, which is something that goes against the grain of the PC's open format. I can't imagine what would happen to the indie games scene (yes there is such a thing) if they were required to check with Microsoft for permission to make their game. And making me pay for my killing simulators? No way. Here's hoping for the failure of this mess. I don't care if it offers PC gamers the ability to headshot console gamers all day. I'm not buying Gears of War for that reason, and it is unfortunate that I they packed into Kane and Lynch, a game that I was very much looking forward to. (Thankfully, the single player game is rocking my ass and is very much worth the price of admission to me.)

Let this be a warning then. If you see Games for Windows Live anywhere on the box, do yourself a favor and do your research. If you are planning to buy it for the multiplayer, you might just be better off getting your kicks elsewhere.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Why I Don't Like Halo

Anyone who has ever talked video games with me at any length has probably picked up my PC vs. Console snobbery fairly easily. As petty and unhelpful as it is to gamingkind as a whole, I still can be a real dick about my gaming preference. I will elaborate more on that subject on a later date, but for now I'm going to touch on a facet of video game land that is affected by my views about your nubass, dumbed down POS console (I am a very nice person).

Alrighty, the topic of the day is Halo. Word is that the kids think its "all the way live, B". The game isn't popular with just the kids though. Seems every beer swillin frat guy with an Xbox thinks it is a game of epic proportions, a triumph in story telling and in game design. Apparently Halo has become the percieved standard in what it does, a new Doom if you will. The term "Halo clone" makes me just shake my head, as if its some new epic standard to strive for.

Well, if Halo and it's fans have a couch, I'm sure you can guess what malady I wish for to befall it. Here are my beefs, which I may have spent all of two minutes of consideration on.

OMG THE STORY IS EPIC: Halo has a story? Alright, so the amount of hype the game has gotten would hint at some truly epic Lord of the Rings proportioned plot, but, having attempted to play through some of the games, I found myself reaching for the skip button to get through the cutscenes. For lack of a better term, the story is generic sci-fi. That isn't to say that generic sci-fi is necessarily a bad thing. Proper execution can compensate in almost any medium. This is another spot where I fall out of step with the masses.

OMG HALO IS THE BEST: Is it now? That's great. I should preface this by pointing out that this particular point is heavily influenced by my PC gaming preferences. Allow me to elaborate. Halo is a first-person shooter (FPS). The FPS genre was one that was born and for the most part perfected on the PC (with the exception of Goldeneye on N64). Most of the praises that were sung about the first Halo had already been in place by the time the first of the series came along and PA called it like they saw it. OMG VEHICULAR COMBAT you say? Tribes had been doing it for a few years already, and while Halo might have improved on it, Battlefield 1942 followed it and blew it out of the water.

MULTPLAYER RULZ!: This is the one area where I will make a concession. Multiplayer Co-op is like the woah-money-bling-bling-word-pimps-up-hoes-down type of gaming on the planet, so any game that brings it deserves some praise. Regarding the other multiplayer modes, I can be a crusty old bastard again. Been there, done it better. Sure, Halo benefits from a conviniently packaged Xbox Live service, but a PC gamer has all those tools available FOR FREE and can be easily set up provided you aren't a complete idiot, which I would hope a gamer wouldn't be. Judging from what I've heard of the Halo community, however, I think my hope is in vain.

Srsly now, I'm sure Halo is fun, if anything a shooter you can turn off your brain for a while to play. There certainly is a value in those types of titles, and I'm willing to bet that I've played and enjoyed worse games. My last beef is truly the reason that I can't stand the game, and it is possibly twofold. I've already aluded to the'Halo Community' and sung their praises. The same praises that extends to the console community, totally rub my PC gaming sensibilities the wrong way. I've read and heard about the idiots who roam the Xbox Live landscapes, and they are precisely the type of people who give gamers this image of being immature dickheads. And perish the thought, if Halo's sales are any indication, what if gamers actually ARE immature dickheads. It's sales have garnered the attention of mass media, and it disturbs me that the Halo community is what has ended up representing gaming kind as of late. Rest assured non-gamers, on an intellectual level, there is a world of games out there that are beyond trite sci-fi space alien shooting, and it's a shame that they do not get that same level of attention.

As a side note, speaking of mass media attention, the aformentioned beer swilling frat guys also tend to be happy with their cash, resulting in the ridiculous Halo 3 mania that produced many a rolled eyes amongst the cleverer gamer nerds. Read this article to see the sort of garbage journalism that the game series has invoked, as well as product tie-ins that made as much sense as the Hello Kitty Massager.

So there you have it. I am a shallow jerk who puts a value to what kind of box you play your video games on. That and I'm smarter than you. Feel free to call me out in the comments.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I r derilict.

Snap, looks like I fell into that old habit of neglecting my online journals. Well, for those of you who still pop in here periodically, I do have a couple of articles in mind that I have every intention of writing. They do require a bit of planning, which is probably the reason I've yet to put it down on paper. Not to mention there has been an eff ton of games that I ravenously consumed. It was rather quick however, and I believe I am again hungry for more entertainment.

In other news, those fuckers at Viore finally came through and fulfilled their warranty for my boned TV almost four months later. It was a great relief to finally rid myself of that thousand dollar paperweight.
Couple of days later I went and picked up my new, glorious piece of equipment, to Little Bitty's delight (I secretly know that she only loves me for my giant and powerful television). I was a bit leary of going LCD, despite them being in the middle of the pretty, yet nub, plasmas and the gigantic expensive DLPs, but that all melted away to some love at first sight action. Seriously, if my TV was a wallet, it would say "Bad Motherfucker".

By the way, for us Blu-ray and HD-DVD challenged folks, if you want a nice litmus test of how badass your TV is, pop in this Bowie DVD. I'm not much of a technophile when it comes to film, but something about the way they filmed that DVD makes it look amazing even on your cheapass supermarket DVD players or TVs. Not only that, it rocks balls. Like switcheroo. Switcheroo rocks balls.

I am fighting the urge to buy an effin Wii. Toys'R'Us had a buy 2 get 1 free sale on all games in the store, and my nub ass went and bought some. I picked up Warioware: Smooth Moves, the new Zelda, and Mario Party 8. I gave the Zelda game to my bro for his birthday, but that Smooth Moves calls me from the closet to bring it home a nice Wii to penetrate. It calls me Tyrone.

NEwAYz! A brutals blog guitar tv specials pay per view should be around the corner, hopefully. Stay tuned in any case, because u luvs me ITB.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Why I Don't Like Hillary

If you have taken the time to talk politics with me recently, you will find out that I have some weird ire against poor Hillary. I really haven't sat down and thought about why, but since some people have asked, I'll try to put it down in writing.

Let's talk issues. But let me put out a disclaimer of sorts. I am an optimist, and idealist, and I'm pretty sure that I am naive to a large degree. That said, let's continue.

First thing that comes to my mind is health care. Okay, we've all seen the Michael Moore movie, but all that did was add some potent fuel to the fire of the debate. As Lonk will tellya, I'm a commie pinko lefty, and what Sicko pointed out to me was that you can entrust certain spheres of society to a socialist type system. Moore used the example of our education system as evidence of this notion. Granted, we aren't doing too hot on that front as a country, but I attribute that to bad policy based on little or no research. WTG high stakes testing. I could go on about education, but the subject would become a post in itself. I am in favour of some state run healthcare, so naturally I would get behind a candidate that is looking to toss our current 3rd party healthcare system. Sadly, out of my favourite candidates, only Kucinich seems to be all about removing them from the equation. By the way, I do like how the fear mongers are equating the word "universal" with "socialist". They are not necessarily one in the same. All that "universal" implies is that everyone gets healthcare, no matter what the system. Anyway, Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. From her site:
Unlike the current health system where insurance premiums send people into bankruptcy, the plan provides tax credits for working families to help them cover their costs. The tax credits will ensure that working families never have to pay more than a limited percentage of their income for health care.

WTF. Nothing is said about fixing our current problems with insurance companies. Such a plan would pretty much let a 3rd party, a profit driven enterprise, continue to have a say in YOUR healthcare. And this is from the former champion of healthcare reform. Ugh.

The Iraq such as and. I really can't say much about it. As far as this issue goes, what's done is done, and while I'd like nothing more than to get our boys out of there, I realize that this is a case of "we've made our bed, now lay in it". By the way, and this may be misinformed naivety talking again, but it seems to me that the place is heading towards a partition. Anyway, I agree that talk about immediate pull out is not only a bad idea, it is unjust. I've heard of Iraqis prefering a US presence over a pull out on account of them holding back sectarian violence against them. At least she is not making unrealistic promises. Note, she voted for the Iraq War Resolution. Of the top 3 candidates, only Obama voted against it. Minus 10 points for putting politics before common sense, because, c'mon, she's a smart lady, she had to have seen the forest for the trees.

I could carry on about the issues, but really, it comes down to one thing. While talking to ALX, I saw the source of my negativity. What it comes down to, is that I am so utterly DISAPPOINTED at Hillary's "selling out". Sometime between her days as First Lady, where she caved to the insurance companies, and now, she became a corporate Democrat. And as a commie pinko, you can imagine how much I LOVE corporations. She sat in the Senate Armed Services Committee, lot of good she did there. In ALX's words, she thinks inside the box.

Little Bitty was disappointed about my ire for Hillary, and you know what, I'm disappointed too. She could have been such an awesome progressive candidate, and it makes me angry that such potential has been squandered. Does that make sense?

Sort of off topic.
WHY IS EDWARDS 3RD!? Fix it thx.

Metal + Wii = Fun

We had a pretty good weekend, the lady and I. Thanks to Mike for having us and ALX over for some Wii and Metalocalypse.

Our visit is pushing me further towards a decision to buy a Wii. Lack of room be damned, playing even a stale game like Wii Sports has been fun everytime. That Wii remote is just too cool. Again, anything that gets Little Bitty (as I have taken to calling her recently) playing video games is bomb diggety, son.

After playing a good round of Wii sports, Mike hooked up yeh old PS2 for some THUNDA....HORSE, as it has been stuck in my head for days. We blew ass before a few warmups, but we got through it taking turns on lead, ending up on the green both times. Metal.

I have a little rant about the PS3. If not a rant, at least a comment. Now, no matter what Lonk says about how evil and shitty the PS3 is, I still maintain that the at-the-moment paperweight has some awesome potential. I hesitate to lobby any criticism, so as to cause Mike some undue buyer's remorse, but those motherfuckers at Sony have done PS3 owners wrong by not sending out the system with some games that are worth playing (I don't entirely disagree with Lonk). I'm SURE it is something that they could have helped. In the whole night, we only touched the box to play Metalocalypse. Pretty jacked if you ask me.
Granted, one could argue similarly against the Wii, but no, that's not gonna stick. The games are fun, at worst a little kitschy, and they appeal to a wider audience, negating the vitriol from the hardcore gamer. Cooking Mama is fun, dammet. GEWD JUBB!

So yeah, as you might have been able to tell from my little jukebox button up there, Dethklok has been ruling my brainwaves for a good week now (I like the contrast of my Pink page and its metal soundtrack). I was initially turned on to Thunderhorse by playing it on Guitar Hero 2. In my book, it's one of the top 5, maybe 3, tracks in the game, for the fact that it's one of those shredder tracks that just make you feel badass for pulling off. Turns out Dethklok is a fictional band from a show on Adult Swim, Metalocalypse, as I have previously mentioned. Mike picked up the DVD of the first season, and after we had burned some serius Wii calories, we sat down and watched some episodes. Granted, by this time I was on Corona # 6 or 7, but the show was pretty good. The songs are enjoyable in the context of the show, and it's bizzare to the point of being funny. I went home with the theme song in my head, which I will upload to the Stuck in My Head box shortly.
It also spawned a new "Your Face" joke: Your face looks like Murderface.

The only damper on the evening was Little Bitty being a jerk. I didn't hold it against her too much though, as everyone is entitled to some jerk time. ASS. In any case, she made up for it today. We had some good ass WANGS and watched a bad movie (Truth About Charlie), which in our relationship, is heavenly. Good times.

I have some skinny exam lootz this week, but I have some posts brewing in my head (why I hate Halo, why I don't like Hillary), so stay tuned on the off chance that I am not a lazy, Bioshock-playing bastard.

EDIT: Regarding my PS3 comments, I wake up the morning after and find this article on Kotaku.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

WTB New Game PST

In the recent months, me and lady have discovered something about me that was previously hidden while in the grips of the various lifesucking video games that I have tended to drift towards. It seems that when I am bored, my mood shifts from my usual cheery, perma-grin demeanor, to one more anxious and surly. You might call it "a case of the blahs". I become a sheer joy to converse with, as I'm sure she will attest to. Previously, there was usually some game that had me in its grips, be it Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, or whatever flavor of the month FPS that was out at the time, ultimately leading to a situation where I would absolutely never be bored.

These days I am in a sort of gaming limbo. Most recently, my crack was World of Warcraft, but a stale game coupled with conflicts between friends turned me off entirely from the game, and since then I have been game hopping, looking for a place for either me or my group of friends to land comfortably.

A recent big title (no, not Halo), was Bioshock, which I ended up picking up based on a very positive critical reception and recommendation from friends. Fortunately, the praise was merited. While it is not a particularly spectacular shooter in terms of how the game plays, the story is brilliant. The story is a sort of "what if" where the game takes place in a dystopian city where individualism is wholly embraced and free market capitalism in pure form is the rule. Heavy stuff that I hope raises the bar for future games and makes me feel good about video games as a medium.  HOWEVER, I still haven't beaten it weeks later, as I cannot bring myself to play it for more than a few hours in a week, and thus, it is not the answer to my boredome problem. By all means though, pick up the game if you havent (on PC and the 360). It is a must have.

I also tried out City of Heroes/Villains, and managed to bring my friends over with me. As I'm sure you guys have read before, the game was such a breath of casual fresh air after WoW, and those first couple of weeks with everyone there were great. Unfortunately, interest has waned, and at best we'll have 2 people from the group on at a time, often making it a single player experience. From MMORPG genre I have developed a taste for companionship and comradery in my games, especially in games that fall into said genre, and thus, I think CoV is on it's way out.

So where does that leave me? Well, there are games in the horizon. Crysis, Left4Dead, the Orange Box (Portal!). Tabula Rasa was a dud after trying it, but Age of Conan is still a possibility. I have noticed one thing. I've recently become very jaded about upcoming releases. Where I would usually don rose coloured glasses and have high hopes for games, these days I have a cynical attitude about them. I suppose it might be a good thing, as setting a low bar means you'll be dissapointed less often. I think Lonk is rubbing off on me.

Until those games are out already, what to do?

Tentative to-do list: Clean my dirty old Mostin-Nagant already. Go out. Not be a nerd. Read a book. Do homework. Join a gang and deal drugs (I am from the streets after all). If I had a working TV and some disposable cash, I'd consider getting a Wii.
Or I could just click my time away reading new sites and video game news sites. Good times.