Archive for category Gaming

Pixels Destroying New York

I am in my 40′s, and have been here for over a year now. I grew up with the earliest types of gaming and was hooked from the very beginning. Some of those games set the stage for me in the types of games I play and seek out to this day, whether from an unconscious nostalgia aspect… or they somehow peek into my personality.  Whatever it is, I may explore that aspect in a future post.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have owned one of the first generation home game consoles (ok, my Parents officially bought it).  It was in 1976 and called the Wonder Wizard.  It was a Pong game.  Can’t count how many hours I played that with someone else or alone against the computer.  BUT, it was Pong… eventually it became rather redundant.  The second-generation home gaming consoles introduced 8-bit circuit boards.  These were fast enough and advanced enough to bring color to the world of gaming, and it thus changed gaming, for everyone. Arcades were born in this era as well.

So I’ve played a bunch in the 8-bit generation of games, and many are the ones that are considered classics and icons in the history of gaming.  They became a part of society and of history.

The point of this post? Simply the fact that I came across a very well produced video on YouTube today that mixes modern computer animation with the 8-bit world of graphics. Any gamer worth his salt will recognize all of the references in it.  I sat here and smiled as I watched it, and wanted to share it with the other long-time gamers out there.

It is called “Pixels.” Enjoy!

This video was Directed by Patrick Jean and Produced by Benjamin Darras and Johnny Alves at onemoreprod.

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Bryan’s One Word Game Review: Bioshock 2

Meh.

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Mass Effect 2: Even More Awesomer Than the First

Yes, I know “awesomer” isn’t a word.

I finished this one last weekend after being utterly addicted to it for a just over a week.

It’s from BioWare, so it’s all about the story.

I think the best part of the game is that you get engrossed in the story and your character. I know that sounds cheesy but aside from the combat, you get to be a Jack Bauer-James Bond-type character where you have to do some pretty bad ass things to get the job done.

There is a Paragon/Renegade system, like BioWare had in the first one, where Paragon actions are “good” actions, like letting someone go rather than killing them, or helping an alien in need, or Renegade actions, whereupon you kick someone out of a window for being a douche bag, or things of that nature. The more of each you do raises your Paragon or Renegade score and then that opens up more dialogue (story) options as you progress. But Bioware really seemed to take it the next level in this game where you will need to take renegade actions, which I think is more realistic than in the first Mass Effect.

Remember you are often dealing with the scum of the galaxy, so you deal with scum using . . . . let’s call it a . . . . “no nonsense” approach, as a Renegade (hint, hint). You have two members of your crew who have a nefarious past, and you are trying to gain their loyalty. As a matter of fact, most of the game is building the loyalty of your new crew. How else do you build the trust of a fellow renegade? By being one, you silly goof!

Jack (one of the characters with a nefarious past) is one of my favorite characters and there were several places in the game where she (yes, she) makes comments about your Renegade actions that make you really feel like a badass.

The plot centers around you recruiting a crew and building their loyalty, while working toward the end goal of fighting an enemy called “The Collectors.” Your crew all have a story and quests for exploration, but BioWare, as usual, has done a fantastic job of interweaving these crew-quests with the main quest-line, and I found myself riveted. Along the way you upgrade your armor, weapons, biotech, and ship. You do not need to upgrade your crew’s armor this time, which I found to be a pain in the ass in the first one.

You can choose one of six classes. I chose the Infiltrator class.

The combat is third-person squad-based, but don’t let the squad-based part of it scare you. There are three basic commands you can bind to shortcuts that make it easy and fun. You can also pause combat and queue actions. Getting used to it is a breeze, and my only advice is to use the usual suppress-and-flank tactics in third-person shooters. As an Infiltrator, it was so much fun to use your team as a distraction to suppress the enemy, sneak up on their flank and unload a rocket on them.

The progression system is “resource and looting”-based this time, where you have to attain a basic piece of equipment, and then go mining (which is a mini-game by itself) to increase four different types of minerals to upgrade your items. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you master it, you can really upgrade your items quickly.

I found the end-game quest to be fantastic. I found myself cheering. I don’t want to spoil anything, but take Jack with you on your team. She is quite the badass.

However, I did buy the Collectors edition and I was quite disappointed in the Normandy Crash Site quest. Big waste of time.

Overall, I really have no complaints about this game other than the Normandy Crash Site quest and the initial adjustments to the mining mini-game.

Superultrafantastic game.

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What Bryan’s Playing

In September I was playing one game. Borderlands. With a buddy.

Now I can’t keep up with all the games I bought over the months. Especially since my job is keeping me very busy, which is a good problem to have these days.

Here are the icons on my desktop:

  1. Borderlands – Fantastic, but the co-op requires some serious firewall configuration to work. Although, that’s because I have two of them and one of them is a Cisco ASA 5505, which is basically the equivalent of buying a missile silo to protect your front lawn. But I digress.
  2. Dragon Age: Origins – Second playthrough. Phenomenal game. I still need to finish the new DLC that was (FINALLY) released recently. My advice to you is do not kill Wynne. Recruit her. I made that mistake in my first playthough, but I went through many unnecessary health pots. Three words: AI peer pressure. And there’s an expansion pack coming out in March, which I have also purchased.
  3. Dead . . . “Holy Shit that Scared the Piss Out of Me” . . . Space – Bought this on sale for $10 on Steam. I don’t regret it. The only criticism I have is that there’s really only one reliable weapon. The first one you get. The rest of them are situational I suppose, but the Plasma Cutter, especially if you upgrade it, can be used for everything. The Contact Beam’s alternative fire is effective too (and downright awesome), but I’ve only needed it a handful of times. I just finished this one so I will move on to:
  4. Mass Effect 2 – Installed but haven’t started it. I’m a one-game-at-a-time kind of gamer. So now that I’ve finished Dead Space I’ll be able to comment on this one. Really loved ME1, so it shouldn’t disappoint.
  5. Bioshock 2, Special Edition – Haven’t even installed it yet. Once again, one at a time.
  6. Assassin’s Creed 2 – Pre-bought this one and it should be on it’s way soon.

As you can see, I am waaaay behind in my gaming. But hey, being too busy to play them is a good place to be with this unemployment rate, am I right?

And one more thing . . . I’m always looking out for a different MMO. And I mean an MMO that isn’t the same recycled copycat shit that keeps coming out of that genre. So if anyone has any ideas, let me know.

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Microsoft XBox 360 at E3

xbox360-logoYesterday was Microsoft’s big day at E3 in Los Angeles.  E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a yearly convention and trade show primarily for the gaming industry.  I say “primarily” because the lines continue to blur in the gaming, entertainment and media world.  The conference itself has had it’s ups and downs the last several years in terms of popularity and attendance, as the organizers made drastic changes to the “rules” of the convention.  Despite the changes, and rampant rumors that E3 was doomed, many gaming publishers and developers hold off on releasing news of upcoming products for the fanfare of this expo.

Microsoft entered the console gaming industry as an enormous underdog with their XBox console back in 2001.  At the time, Sony’s PlayStation 2 was fully entrenched, the Nintendo GameCube and the waning Sega DreamCast consoles were still selling as well.  Definitely not an easy road of entry.  Some good games, and their new XBox Live service helped boost sales for the mostly PC-software-based company.

In 2005 Microsoft released the XBox 360 console.  It was completely redesigned from the ground up, which essentially what every console release, from every manufacturer, has been.  Only this time, Microsoft changed the paradigm of consoles.  This console came out of the box with all the standard fare: better graphics, faster processor, the ability to play new games (duh), some compatibility with previous-generation games, and Internet connectivity.  What was new, in the console realm, was a hard drive built in to save games, plus consumers had the ability to upgrade the hard drive to a larger one.  Never before had consoles been upgradeable on the storage end (most of them just had cartridge slots only).  Microsoft now had the ability to expand on their base console in ways we, as consumers, were only able to if you owned a PC.  They have been able to completely redesign the XBox 360 operating system, integrated the console into your home network (allowing for music and picture sharing), and they recognized the shift in how consumers can use the 360… as a home entertainment medium, and not just for gaming.  Last year they partnered with the online DVD renting company, Netflix, to provide streaming movies right through the 360.  Previously, people could watch DVDs, but now they can conveniently stream movies as well.

Changing gears a bit, to the Internet-only world…  it’s no news that social media has become extremely popular not only with the tech-savvy, young or geek crowd.  Social media sites and services like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, and hundreds of others, have become the most popular “hangouts” on the net.  News agencies, superstar celebrities, corporations and even the middle-aged non-geek, are all over these sites.  I’m not going to get into these specifically, but gamers use these services to organize planned meetups, the games they’ll play, and when.  Microsoft has seen this trend and worked to integrate this social aspect not only into the game (which the game developers have done already, and what Microsoft did in a previous operating system update), but into the before-game aspect.  How?  Well Microsoft announced yesterday that they will be integrating the two most popular social media entities, Facebook and Twitter, into their system.

facebook_logoMost gamers would dismiss this as crap and rebel against it if they can, but I see it a bit differently.  I’ve tried, a number of times, to organize just a few of us to play on the 360 on a Friday night.  All of us have full-time jobs, are either married or living with our better half, and some of us have kids… it’s not easy.  I’ve used email, phone calls and text messages all to organize a couple of hours of game time.  Normally, my console gaming is completely separate from my PC.  The way I have my home setup is pretty sweet, as my computer is right behind the TV that I play my 360 on, so I just have to swing my chair twitter_logoaround.  For most, the console is in the living room, and the computer is not.  Even if you have a laptop, it still doesn’t matter, they are on two separate devices.  I’m either on the PC, or I’m on my 360.  I’m usually not going to take the time to stop playing, log into whatever on my PC to see who’s online and who might be interested in playing, I just want to play.

With this social media integration, gamers will be able to not only easily communicate with those that you wish to play with, but also let others know that you are gaming, and playing a specific game.  If your buddy Johnny Bravo was checking the latest drama or taking a test on what Golden Girl he’s most like on Facebook, he can also see that you’re playing Left 4 Dead, and feel the urge to squash some zombies with extreme force.  Where good ol’ Johnny may not have been wanting to play earlier, now he’s all over it, thanks to your update on Facebook via the 360.  I see more of the advantage of that “alert system” than anything else.  Just like not stopping to go on my PC, I’m also not going to stop playing to go on the 360 version of Twitter or Facebook and have a conversation.  Typing things out without an actual keyboard interface is painful, and a waste of time.  So if the implementation is done right, it could make it much easier for us gamers to get the word out, to organize it, and get your friends into it.

Microsoft also announced a number of games yesterday, but I won’t go too far into them, although Left 4 Dead 2 makes me want to speed up time until it comes out.  I do have to say it must have been quite a, umm, moment, when both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came out and talked about The Beatles: Rock Band.  As my seven year old daughter loves the Beatles, it’s a must buy.  Oh yeah, there were also a couple of flagship Halo games coming out as well, as well as Metal Gear Solid Rising.

One of the most innovative announcements was the direct result of how the Nintendo Wii changed game controlling.  It’s called Project Natal, and it is a full body motion controller, facial recognition, voice recognition, and you can control games and other areas of the 360 with motions… that means NO controller.  Sounds like an amazing technology, but I question whether it’s mature enough to really work.  I guess we’ll see, as it is compatible with all existing 360′s, and Microsoft will be selling it with all new ones.
Another minor announcement, well minor to me because I probably won’t use it, is the partnership with the music site, Last.fm.  Microsoft Live Gold members will have the ability to play music from Last.fm at no additional charge.  That Netflix deal from last year also gets a full 1080p resolution upgrade, with the ability to add movies to your queue within the 360.  Did I say earlier that the lines continue to blur in the gaming, entertainment and media world?  Microsoft, at least their XBox division, is the one with the giant pink eraser, no longer in the corner of the room.

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