28nov2007 2113: Cornucopia
When a young digital dude like myself takes a long weekend in a place with dialup Interwebs and no cable, the ADD kicks in rather strongly. So I played shittons of XBox 360! Rock Band is far too unwieldy to cart around on a whim, but Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect more than filled the hours around football and gluttony.
I don't know that I feel qualified to render an absolute verdict on Mass Effect yet, as it is simply too huge. I played for about eight hours on Sunday after getting home from Thanksgiving, and I have only just now become an intergalactic extralegal agent of the ruling council races. High points are:
- Inexhaustible laser ammo on all guns! Everything is ruled by a heat meter that forces you to ration your infinite shots or risk damaging your gun.
- A slow-paced FPS battle style that rewards stat points as well as simply "Aim for the center, pull the trigger" reflexes.
- The first major alignment choice is between "He deserves a decent burial" and "It's his own fault for running out in front of the evil robots."
A more immediate recommendation is Assassin's Creed, and what's more it could probably satisfy you completely as a rental. Penny Arcade is currently having what could be a famous feud with game review sites over this game. The game reviewers' position is that doing eavesdropping, pickpocketing, interrogation, flag hunts, and intermediate assassinations in preparation for a big assassination nine times gets horribly stale. PA's position is that the game is wicked fun and all the stuff above is optional half the time. Don't like eavesdropping? You can beat the entire game without doing any. Don't like walking up behind a guy and stabbing him? You're playing the wrong game.
I spent a good three hours in Jerusalem not even doing missions, just running around hunting down flags and the bonus Templar knights. This game is not Grand Theft Auto; there's nobody standing on a corner to hand you a mission to Kill All Haitians. You have to take the initiative and say to yourself -- your self in this case being "Free-running Muslim assassin from the future with a vendetta against the Knights Templar and an instant-kill stiletto up one sleeve" -- "Self, I am going to search this city and kill every person carrying a clay pot." It's very much a game for self-starters.
Hey everybody, Christmas is coming. But it's not quite here yet; it's not even the right month. Somebody should tell Apple, because the iTunes tracks this week are [The Bird and The Bee - Carol of the Bells], [Mannheim Steamroller - It Came Upon the Midnight Clear], and [DJ Bitman - El Diablo]. One of those things is not like the other. All of those things are junk and should never darken your hard drive. El Diablo is some sort of electronic Spanish guitar funk thing that I absolutely could not get into.
One more time for good measure: THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME.
22Nov2007 0915: Turkey
Please forgive the lateness of my reply. I'm at the parents' place for the traditional Thanksgiving gorging. I would like to take a moment to honor the brave primitive societies that tried putting everything in their mouth until they found the stuff that was good to eat. We, the descendents of the survivors, raise this celebration of gluttony in their unknown names.
Are you playing Super Mario Galaxy? WHY THE HELL NOT?!? This is the best pure videogame of the past decade. It doesn't do cute things with the interface, with the plot, with the graphics...it is Another Mario Game, and every time I play a Mario Game (excepting Sunshine) I am once again six years old and sitting in my basement running through 1-1. Galaxy is constructed of shiny and joy and all that is right with the concept of fun. The game reads me bedtime stories and lets me clean a bee's ass and I am totally buying into what it's selling.
Rock Band provides the multiplayer counterpoint to Galaxy's single-player. We spent five hours rocking out on Tuesday and -- while Penny Arcade is spot on about the interface -- our greatest barrier to rock stardom was the drum set. Initally we figured the HDTV was lagging a little bit, but our efforts to calibrate mostly met with failure. By the end of the night we were able to survive songs, so it may just be that we are all very bad at the drums. This game is a must-buy if you like playing with other people. I've done a few songs in single-player mode and it is nowhere near as fun.
iTunes! [Sin Animo De Lucro - El Parrandero] is a peppy little number that puts me more in mind of the Nawlins stuff I hear at the Cajun Cafe than the weekly Spanish music we get. It's probably just the instrumentation. It's not offensive but I don't think I'll hold on to it.
[Holy Ghost! - Hold On] is dance music. I'd like to knock it for being repetitive, but it's dance music. It's a little overlong, but it's dance music. From what little I know of the genre this would make solid filler while the DJ takes a smoke break or something.
14Nov2007 2132: Crowded
There is far too much everything going on in November. My company's largest software release perhaps ever can only happen on the 24th due to everybody's schedules. I'm pushing to get my thesis printed and bound in time for end of semester. White belts just tested up to orange belt at Taekwondo tonight. And we're smack in the middle of perhaps the best two weeks in gaming this year. Mario Galaxy, Assassin's Creed, and Contra 4 this week. Mass Effect and motherfucking Rock Band next week! Christ.
iTunes time. [Bomshel - The Power of One] doesn't actually believe in the power of one, as there are at least two members in the band. Don't believe their interminable country twanging! [Notch - Ella Se Fue] and [Wale - Nike Boots] can both be lumped into the "what the hell is wrong with hip-hop?" genre. Notch is one...uh...increment higher because it is not as painful to listen to. This week has a rather depressing selection, eh? The "Free on iTunes" button has been temporarily replaced with "We HATE you, Monty."
07Nov2007 1750: Fully Equipped
With Monday's purchase of an XBox 360 and the long-overdue migration of my main PC tower to the living room, my TV has now become the media hub of my entire empire. Guild Wars looks fantastic in 720p. Next week sees Assassin's Creed and Super Mario Fuck Yeah, the week after that is Rock Band and Mass Effect, and it is times like these that GameFly starts to look really good.
[Bengala - Miente] is average radio rock that reminds me of some other band I can't quite recall. I've heard stuff like this before. I guess my point is that everybody's heard stuff like this before, and it's nothing to get excited about.
[Sterling Harrison - Don't You Mess With My Money] is an upbeat blues song that contains no secrets beyond the title. It's uncomplicated and has an okay guitar solo, but it didn't really impress me either.
[Cheri Dennis - Remind You] didn't mess around; within five seconds I knew this song would be deleted. Diva pop, backed by piano and embellished by the requisite black tough guy. Picture Destiny's Child...I'm sure there's a more recent reference I could make, but y'know, hell with radio.
Two snoozers and a lamer this week. Joy.
04Nov2007 1853: Meat the New Boss
I am totally hating on Guitar Hero 3 in this thread, and then later directly on Made in Mexico, but every time I do so I feel just a little bad that I don't mention all the good in the game. Uh...I don't feel bad about the Made in Mexico part. They suck goat balls. But Guitar Hero 3 just barely contains more annoyances than good, and I encounter those annoyances every time I play whereas the fun songs only happen occasionally.
Man. Shit. Still a good game, but man.
Why yes, that is a pair of breaded chicken patties on a bed of deli-sliced corned beef topped with homemade meat marinara and parmesan cheese. Why yes, they were fantastic. No no, vegetables. Fuck you.