r6ZueZjnmZ7B2W9HGZxNVvrBtMg BDVR: 2013

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Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the year

So 2013 is coming to a close, and I figured I'd actually post something this week. I haven't been doing much for a few months because by the time Sunday rolls around I'm usually too tired to care and by the time Wednesday comes by I'm too busy to do anything, and then the cycle repeats.
So, people are choosing their games of the year. I figured I'd list out my top five before I did anything else.
#1: Fire Emblem Awakening.
I haven't been able to play much of this game, but I have to say that it's probably one of the games I've had the most fun with. Tactical strategy is one of my favorite kinds of RPGs, another being action RPGs. Speaking of which, #2 is Pandora's Tower: Until I Return to Your Side.







So yes, technically the game is two years old, but it was only released in the US this year. Combine some of the best looking graphics on any console with a story that's as riveting as it is heart-breaking and gameplay that's some strange combination of Devil May Cry, The Legend of Zelda, and God of War, and you've got a game that's as entertaining as it is fun to play. When I say "strange" I don't mean "bad." Although some (I don't know who, I just figured somebody probably thought that at some point_ might decry the relationship part of the game as boring and unnecessary, it helps you actually learn that the woman you're fighting your way through hordes of monsters to save is actually a person you should care about. A sweet, loving girl who you feel bad about letting down. The game is fun, the story is equal parts sweet and heart-wrenching. Granted, I didn't actually finish the game yet, but I'll get there soon.
And now on the #3, Grand Theft Auto V.
Okay, so I haven't played a whole lot of GTAV, I don't even own the game, I just played some at a Halloween party someone brought a PS3 and a copy of the game to, but I enjoyed what I did play of it. Granted, I didn't play enough to be able to give it any kind of rating, but I did enjoy myself. My one complaint is that running around on foot feels really awkward, and that running shouldn't be mapped to a button when we've had analog control for consoles since 1996!
Moving on to #4, Dead Rising 3.
So yes, I don't own the game or the console it's on, but in the end, it's fun to kill hordes of zombies with a bulldozer. Or alternatively, a chainsaw strapped to a shotgun.
And now to #5: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD.

Okay, at this point I'm just grasping at straws, but to be fair, I only bought two new games this year and it's just pure luck that I was able to have more than two games on my list this year. I'm sorry, what? Okay, my editor has just informed me that I have to put games I've actually played on this list. So Wind Waker HD is going to have to go. By the way, my editors name just so happens to be Alex Shannon.
So here's the actual Number Five of my Games of the Year list: Sonic Lost World.
So I've played less of Lost World than I have of Dead Rising 3, GTAV or FEA, but I've at least PLAYED it. And I enjoyed it. 'Nuff said.














So 2013 has seen the whole two years late entry of Microsoft and Sony into the latest generation of consoles, several revisions of the last gen consoles and a couple of the current-gen ones as well. It has seen the entrance of new IPs and sequels to old hands alike. All in all, another tumultuous year in gaming, as is to be expected every time a new generation of consoles comes about. Personally, I've been working on redesigning the website, but unfortunately Blogger doesn't seem to like the logo that I designed for the header. I also considered at several points in time shortening the URL down to four letters, but then I figured that I'd have a helluva time changing that over, from having to put up a redirect on the old URL to the new one, to changing all of my bookmarks over, to changing what is automatically posted with all of my YouTube videos, to changing my Outlook signature, to etc, etc. Looking back on what could roughly be called my "career" as a journalist, I should have just given up on the whole "Blogdude" thing and just put my name on the damn content. Anyways, a little too introspective there. My name is Alex Shannon, and I'll see you guys in the new year. Hopefully it will bring as many good movies, books and games as the old one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Xbox One

So, I was able to log a few hours on the Xbox one today and I have to say, despite what I expected, it's actually a decent console. I'm not going to get one any time soon though, I'm gonna wait for the prices on used ones to go down past fifty. The controller surpasses the Xbox 360's with it's excellence, and it's just barely behind my PC controller in comfort. It feels like what it's been billed at, a controller that has been tested for perfection. The triggers are great and all the buttons as well. The sticks feel like they'd last longer than the 360's and the D-pad could easily be called one of the best. Out of the launch titles, I've only played two. Madden 25 and Dead Rising 3.
Out of the two, I'd have to say that DR3 was the one that I enjoyed the most. By which I mean I actually ENJOYED it.

A quick review of Madden 25 would have you know that there's too many functions for every interface command and that they change from second to second. The cut-scenes are glitchy in that sometimes players clip right through others while running and the player models look like they were ripped from a PS2 game.
That's not to say the game doesn't look good. When not zoomed in on the players it actually looks quite nice. The field looks the best looking ground texturing I've seen (Although I suspect if you were to hug the camera to the ground and point it straight down it'd look as blurry as the ground textures in CoD4 and MW2 do when you do the above) and the GUI looks quite nice. My problem is that unlike a lot of games you can't just pick it up and go if you've never played it before. The complexity of the commands makes it impenetrable for a beginner and it's killed my interest in sports games. I wouldn't recommend it. 3.4* Moving on.
Unlike with Madden 25, I have played sandbox games before. As well as survival-horror games, third-person brawlers, and third-person shooters. I didn't even start off at the beginning, I was using the save file a friend had already beaten the game on because the XONE didn't want to let me sign in with my XBL account. I love it, I'm gonna have to play the first two Dead Rising games one of these days, and if I ever get an Xbox One this is gonna have to be on my list. Despite me randomly getting bored with sandbox games occasionally, when I want to play them, I usually have a lot of fun. The ability to fashion makeshift weapons is awesome, if a bit illogical (Like '90s adventure-game illogical) at times. I like everything about DR3 except that the games GUI sometimes make it hard to tell where to go.
Also, according to the Wikipedia page the game doesn't have load-times. HA! What they should say is that it has one BIG loading time every time you load up a save. Other than that it's a great game. 9.3*
All in all, I'd say that the Xbox ONE really needs some time to get more games and for the price to go down. Also for them to work out all the kinks in it. It's a good console. It's better than the way I thought it would be, but it's not perfect. Then again, no console is. Well, maybe the DS.
Who am I kidding? No console is perfect, everything's got its own special brand of problems, and it's still early in the eighth generation of gaming, so those problems are yet to present themselves long term. There are the obvious hardware and software kinks in the Xbox One and PS4, but they're probably going to be worked out over the next year (At least I hope so.)
I'd like to apologize for my lack of content over the past month, I've been busy cleaning the house, prepping for the Christmas special, working on next October's Halloween special, prepping the new campaign storyline for the DnD group I'm DMing for, working on a project with my dev group, and although I've had the content, I just haven't had the energy to put that content into writing. Took me two days to write all this up, and I wasn't able to devote a whole lot of time to it. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and happy holidays for all. See you on Youtube at noon for the next 24 days!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas

Well, I wasn't able to make good on a Halloween special, but check out my Youtube channel at or after 12PM Central time tomorrow for the start of my month long Christmas event. Sorry about the massive delay and inactivity.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8J4Jv0ZiuzI7iB-SdrBVjg

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Generations Gaming.

Okay, because I fell down on the job on Sunday, here's a filler article with a podcast I did for YouTube called Generations Gaming.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tokyo Crash Mobs and Fluidity: Spin Cycle First Impressions

What do you get when you take Zuma, and load it up with FMV, a strange and pretty much nonexistent plot, and put it on the 3DS eShop? You get Tokyo Crash Mobs, probably the strangest game I've played in my life. It's functional to say the least, and it's actually pretty fun to play. You switch between two different play styles from stage to stage, rolling and throwing. And guess what you're rolling/throwing? The image to the left says it all. There are not words to describe how strange this game is. It's a good game, but it's damn bizarre. Every seventh stage you switch from the overhead style of play to a 3D behind the back perspective. You can either roll ninjas at other ninjas or toss them. This is achieved not by the touchscreen, but by the face buttons. The unfortunate thing is that it uses the imprecise motion-sensing to aim instead of, say, the joystick. That means that I haven't gotten used to it yet and thus haven't made it past the seventh stage yet. I have to say that it's a good game, and it certainly intrigues. The thing is, I wouldn't say it's worth its seven dollar pricetag. If it went down to a dollar or less I'd easily be able to recommend it, but all in all I prefer Mutant Mudds or Fluidity: Spin Cycle. Like I said, it's a strange game and it's certainly fun, but I wouldn't want to have paid seven dollars for it. At the moment I'd rate it 4.2*. It's not a great game like Metal Gear Solid 2 or Sonic Colors, and it's not a bad game like Pac Man 2 or Iron Man. It's slightly under average, run of the mill and at the end of the day, halfway decent, but only halfway.
Speaking of Fluidity:
A while ago I played the demo for the original Fluidity on the Wii, and I liked it. I didn't like it enough to shell out twelve dollars for the full version, but I liked it. Fluidity: Spin Cycle uses the 3DS's gyroscope better than Tokyo Crash Mobs did. By which I mean it works to be used more, and a good thing too, since the movement controls are entirely motion-controlled. As a quirky physics puzzler it's a decent game. It's good enough that I'll probably keep playing it. The plot doesn't really matter, it's about evil ink getting spilled into a book or something. Whatever, it's at least more coherent than Tokyo Crash Mobs. Sometimes the controls can get a bit frustrating, especially when the game goes from letting you use the gyo controls in full three-hundred and sixty degrees to limiting you to a single one-hundred and eighty degree semicircle, but that sort of adds to the challenge of it all. I'm not really sure what I'll rate this, it's fairly repetitive and sometimes gets on my bad side with the controls, but on the other hand it's functional, interesting, and fun. I guess I'll have to keep playing it. See you guys next week, I've got a whole lot of stuff planned for the next few weeks. It was a tossup between these two games, Sonic Adventure DX, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for this weeks review, and I figure I'll get around to the other two in the next week and the one after that.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

There are hardly words to describe it. Call of Duty gets a bad rep, but it doesn't really deserve it. As with Modern Warfare 2, I couldn't help but enjoy myself whilst playing this game. Although I finished the campaign in just under eight hours, I really enjoyed it. Nothing was wasted, although I did get a tad bit tired of replaying certain stages of the campaign over and over. You play as Sergeant John "Soap" MacTavish of the SAS throughout most of the game, although in some areas you play as Sergeant Paul Jackson of the US Marines. As with MW2, I preferred playing as the SAS, because of the same inexplicable reasons. The first mission is starkly reminiscent of the Tanker stage of Metal Gear Solid 2, right down to the ship. I think this is going to be a fairly short review, but I said most of what needs to be said in my MW2 review. The stealth is tense, the action is intense, and there are even a few parts where you play as characters who serve no real purpose, but it's perfect. The damage effects on the GUI are more primitive than the ones in MW2, but I like them all the same, if not more. I pretty much like every bit of the game, because even if I tried out a tactic that didn't really work I didn't have very far to go back to respawn at. Some might say that's a bad thing, but it's not always. Not if it's used right, and this used it right. Despite the regenerating health, non-reflective mirrors/metal/water, and occasional thing that was out of place (Such as if you look down you don't see legs, you just see ground), it really does seem realistic, in more ways that just graphics. The main antagonist sounds like he'd be the leader of an extremist group. The way stuff happens in the game, it just sits well with me. I like the game, I like how it gives you stuff to do and ways to do it, I like how it ends solidly, but leaves you open for more if you want it. I like most stuff about this game. I would heartily recommend playing this BEFORE MW2, unlike what I did. I figure I can give this game a 9.9* rating, it's great, and no matter what system you get it for I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I personally played it on the Xbox 360 and I have to say that everything from the control-scheme to the GUI is great. Nowadays I find myself having to configure the controls to be as similar to this game as they can be in order to be comfortable with them. Despite its bad rep and DLC practices, Activision did a good job on this game, and it's a good enough job to earn my praise. I was thinking of something else to say, what was it...... I can't bring it to memory.... OH! There it is! I used to not like the control-scheme used in the CoD series. First game I played on the Xbox 360 was Black Ops II Zombies, and I couldn't break muscle-memory from other FPS's, but I eventually got around to liking it. The thing is, even though I don't approve of their corporate practices, the fact still remains that Call of Duty 4 is a good game, and no amount of personal bias can subvert me liking a game. I'll see you guys next week, for  now here's my CoD4 playthrough: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZdzKOkebb3RAfW1GiiVgYlzbzQRdBBwY

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dillon's Rolling Western: First impressions

Well, back to a regular schedule.
Dillon's Rolling Western is a 3DS eShop game that combines elements of action/adventure with real-time tower defense. As the armadillo ranger Dillon, your job is to roll around smashing into rock monsters. Also, what happens in the artwork to the left never happens in the actual game. Now, any and all A/A games require a comparison to the series that defines that genre, The Legend of Zelda. It definitely reminds me of Zelda in the world mode in more ways that one. Considering how much I liked Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone on the PS2, that's a pretty good sign thus far. I've only played the first town right now, so I'm not sure if it does more stuff than just fight rock monsters, called Grocks. Anyways, back to comparing it to Zelda. The one I'm most reminded of is Majora's Mask, partially because of the level design, and partially because Dillon curls up in a ball and rolls around the town. Yeah, the very same mechanic that Goron Link uses to move around faster and take down enemies. You even use it to kill Grocks. It's pretty good. The game gives you time to run around collecting minerals and fruit. Then you can cash in those minerals to get money to build up the towers for tower-defense. It's minorly repetitive, in a very Majora's Mask-y kind of way. You see, even if you beat one of the towns, you still need to go back and get more stars so you can move on. I have a feeling this will become problematic in the future.
Anyways, so far I like this game. It's certainly a decent game, but I haven't even gotten into the controls yet. You use the joystick to aim in the overworld, and pull down on the touchscreen to roll. That's fine in theory, but since that mechanic was copied from Majora's Mask, which was on the N64, they could have easily use button presses for it. Now, remember how I said "In the overworld you use the joystick to aim?" Well when you go into a mine or a battle encounter you use the touchscreen to aim. This is a completely pointless control change which serves absolutely no purpose, especially when the overworld control-scheme is what the player gets used to at first. It doesn't stop there, the touchscreen is used to select dialogue choices as well. That's just fine, but they did it so strangely. You touch the screen to activate a selection, and the joystick to actually select them. You read that right, instead of putting the choices on the touchscreen, they're on the top screen and you use the touchscreen like a button...... That just makes the touchscreen control ever more pointless! I like the touchscreen as a concept, but if it functions as little more than an awkwardly placed button, just map its functions to the buttons, okay? There ARE six of them, eight if you use the circle-pad pro. I'd say I like this game, but not enough to recommend it at a price of more than, say, a dollar. Apparently a sequel is scheduled for April of next year. Cool, let's hope they've fixed the problems with this one by then.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wii Fit U is free on Nov. 1

 Nintendo is offering Wii U owners a chance to download a full version of Wii Fit U for free. Starting Nov. 1, Wii U owners can download a complete version of the game and get a head start on their New Year’s fitness goals by trying out all the activities found in the game for a full month – at no cost. All users need is a Wii Balance Board and a Wii U system with a broadband Internet connection. Consumers can keep their trial copies of Wii Fit U at no additional cost by simply purchasing and syncing a Fit Meter to the game. Nintendo announced the special offer along with a number of items related to active gaming during aNintendo Direct video. To view the Nintendo Direct in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
“Wii Fit U is all about ‘fun fitness’ for everyone in the family,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president and COO. “With this special offer, Nintendo is making it easier than ever for families to get active and stay active, making now the perfect time to upgrade to Wii U. This is another example of the kind of value and variety that only Nintendo can offer.”
The full Wii Fit U software will be downloadable from the Nintendo eShop between Nov. 1, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2014, and will work for a month from the day it is first played. During the trial period, users can stay active with 77 different activities, including 19 new training activities, many of which take advantage of the Wii U GamePad controller. Users who want to continue using Wii Fit U beyond the trial period can purchase a Fit Meter accessory and sync it to their Wii Fit U software at any time. This will allow them to continue playingWii Fit U forever. The Fit Meter will be available Nov. 1 in black/silver at a suggested retail price of $19.99.
The Fit Meter accessory is much more than a pedometer – it’s an activity meter that tracks a wide range of everyday activity. It records not only the number of steps a user has taken, but it also takes into account the intensity of those steps – for example, was the user running or walking? The Fit Meter also measures altitude, so wearers get credit for climbing stairs or walking uphill. All of these data points combined provide users with an accurate overview of their day’s activity, including a detailed calculation of the number of calories they burned. This data can then be transferred wirelessly to Wii Fit U via the Wii U GamePad with just a touch of a button. The Fit Meter transforms users’ everyday lives into workouts, encouraging them to get active and stay active.
Wii Fit U features all of the strength training, yoga and fun fitness games that have made the Wii Fit series so popular. Plus, there are new games that combine the Wii Balance Board and Wii U GamePad, including new dance routines such as hip-hop and salsa that work out various parts of the body through simple dance moves. The game also gives players more ways to create their own custom workout routines. Users can also create or join a Miiverse Gym Community to share tips and support with other Wii Fit U users who have similar goals. Or people can create closed communities made up exclusively of their friends. The communities will help people stay motivated by giving them a venue to discuss their fitness progress with others.
For those who choose not to participate in this special offer, Wii Fit U launches both as a packaged game on Dec. 13, 2013, and as a full game download in the Nintendo eShop on Feb. 1, 2014.
 Why anyone would NOT want to participate in this offer if they have a Wii U is beyond me. Besides, they could just leave it as a free download if they wanted to.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Update

I've not been updating recently, that's because I've been doing a web series with a friend of mine, called Generations Gaming, and I've been LPing lots of games recently, so my time's been eaten up by that and the hour or so webshow. I hope you understand, I'll have some reviews out eventually.

OOPS. I forgot to link you to the series playlist:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZdzKOkebb3TkEHeeKaEcOjK3l_yB3VVC

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nintendo 2DS

According to IGN, Nintendo is releasing a new version of the 3DS without a hinge and the 3D feature removed



I love this thing! It looks more ergonomic than the 3DS and I never use the 3D anyways because it strains my eyes and gives me headaches.
I have to wonder if they'll have a circle-pad pro for it, because if that's the finished model, then it'll need it for Snake Eater 3D and Resident Evil: Revelations. Another thing, why didn't they take this opportunity to put better analog sticks on it? To me, the joystick on the 3DS is fragile and feels like it'll break (So a Devil May Cry Trilogy collection is out of the question) According to IGN the 2DS is fully compatible with all DS and 3DS software, but unfortunately lacks the extra set of shoulder-buttons and analog stick added by the circle-pad pro. That's too bad, because this has the opportunity to be a great handheld. I hope that it's at least got a CPP coming someday. You can still take 3D video and photos, but it's not viewable in 3D on the 2DS. It only has one speaker, which is a step down, but you can still have stereo sound with a headset, which is what I used on the 3DS anyways. Thing is, everyone but me seems to think that this is a bad thing, but nobody liked the 3D when the 3DS came out. I like the form factor, and I like the design. Sleep mode is still a feature, but it's more like the PSPgo's sleep mode, in that it's a slider instead of a hinge switch. Unfortunately it doesn't have an extendable stylus, but hopefully they improved it from its DS lite and 3DS counterparts.
*EDIT*
Oops, I forgot, the 2DS is launching on October 12th alngside Poke'Mon X and Y, the overhauls of the Poke'Mon series, AND the 3DS on the same day!
Here's the IGN video if you want to see it:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Battlefield 3 first impressions.

I was actually looking forward to Battlefield 4, but this pretty much dashed my hopes. I played Battlefield 2 on the Xbox and I really liked it, and I figured BF3 would iron out the issues I had with BF2.
Sadly, although it improves the movement and aiming controls, everything else suffers. First thing, the game comes on two discs for the Xbox 360. Disc 1 is co-op and multiplayer, and disc 2 is the single-player campaign, as if story mode was an afterthought. Second, online passes. You shouldn't have to pay EA to play online, and then have to pay Microsoft to play online too!
I didn't play online though, because I don't have Xbox LIVE Gold. Third; its multiplayer REQUIRES online, you cannot play splitscreen multiplayer, and THAT is one strike against it, because FPS's going back to Goldeneye on the N64 have had that option, so there's no reason for a modern game to not have it!
Fourth; the controls have been improved since BF2, but not as much as they could have been. L2 aims, and R2 shoots, L3 is sprint and A jumps. Unfortunately, instead of assigning it to one of the face-buttons, crouch was given R3, something I haven't seen in.... Well any FPS I've played other than BF3. That'd be perfectly fine if there was a melee attack  (IE, hitting someone with your gun), but to my knowledge there isn't one, and that actually cost me the fight once.
I didn't get too far in the story, I got aggravated with it too quickly. You see, it doesn't follow any linearity, it jumps from one point in the future to the past and that's when the dialogue kicks in.
You know how in Call of Duty (To my knowledge, ALL of them) they tell you who's speaking with green text and their speech in white text? Well this is straight up closed-captions, and it doesn't serve to help you tell who's talking that easily.
There are a lot of comparisons you can make to Call of Duty, one of which being the opening (Or rather, what comes after the flash-forward). It seems partially taken from Call of Duty 4 and partially taken from Modern Warfare 2 (Former being the transportation method, latter being where you end up)
Now, given more time with the game and a chance to LP it, I might soften up on it and warm up to the game, like I did with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, or Metal Gear Solid 2. That being said, some time to customize the controls to something I'm use to would be a good thing as well.
Something that's minorly confusing is I'm not sure if you can hold more than one weapon, during the flash-forward I had a hard time telling if I was able to hold two weapons or just one... Like I said, more time with the game would help, but considering my Xbox 360 is RRoD'd there's not much chance of that in the near future.
Now we get to the PETA controversy. I know it's trollbaiting them to mention it, but I have to say it:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals got in an uproar about how you can kill a virtual rat with your knife and toss it away by its tail, saying that it was cruel and sadistic, not even MENTIONING the hundreds of virtual people you'll have already killed by the time you get to that point. My question is this: When do we get the knife in the game? I genuinely want to know. PETA pretty much missed the point, like they did with Super Mario 3D Land and, well, anything else they get in an uproar about *Cough* Poke'Mon *cough*
Then there's the fact that in COD4 and MW2 you sometimes have to kill attack-dogs to save your own life, and they didn't say a WORD about that.
Now, I can't speak for the nature of this scene as I didn't get very far in the game, but suffice to say that they had their opportunity to say something back when CoD4 came out, and they missed it. Dogs are more mainstream than rats, and there will always be millions more rats for every one that dies, why nit-pick on that when there's games that have dogs dying? Granted, they're going to rip your throat out if you DON'T kill them....
Anyways, back on the game itself. I actually think that given a training level, like in CoD4, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark or MW2 and some more time to play with it, I might actually grow to enjoy it. The aforementioned exhibition problems with the story might fan out and become pretty cool, who knows? But what I CAN say is that I'm not buying it new, because I'm not supporting EA.
Unfortunately, I won't be uploading an LP, because I played this at the local games shop, and as such did not have my camera with me.
Hoo boy, I almost forgot to write this weeks review. As of 23:50 Sunday August 25th 2013 I have though! Yay! Anyways, in case you were wondering how long it takes to write something like this, here's a time-frame. I started at 23:06 and ended at 23:50. I forget how long these take to write sometimes, because I have to find a suitable cover, download it, upload it, then do research to confirm stuff, and then write it all down as I go along. It seems easy, but it's harder in practice than it is in theory. Anyways, I'll see you all next week!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nintendo Files Lawsuit against HackYourConsole.com

Nintendo Files Lawsuit against HackYourConsole.com
Online Business Targeted in Global Piracy Fight
REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- In the ongoing global fight against video game piracy, Nintendo of America Inc., has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida against the owner of HackYourConsole.com. The site blatantly promotes and sells unauthorized Nintendo games along with devices and services that circumvent the security in the Nintendo DS system and the Wii console.
The operator of HackYourConsole.com has developed a global business focused on selling unauthorized copies of Nintendo games and game-copying devices (such as the R4 device) used to circumvent the technological protection measures contained in the Nintendo DS family of hand-held systems. The website operator, for a fee, also provides services to hack and modify the Wii console and allow the play of illegal software.
HackYourConsole.com also claims to be an authorized distributor for the yet-to–be-released 3DS Gateway cards. The Gateway device is promoted as operating similar to the R4 game copier for the Nintendo DS, which facilitates the play of illegally downloaded games. Game copying devices, such as the R4, severely undermine the sales of video games created by thousands of developers.
“Piracy on the Nintendo DS system has a huge impact on games sales,” said Jools Watsham, co-founder and director of Renegade Kid. “It can affect everyone involved, including the many honest players out there. If independent studios, like ours, are unable to recoup the money they invest into game development, through the sales of their games, we will unfortunately see fewer independent games developed in the future.”
Illegal copying of video game software is an international problem that continues to stifle the growth of the creative development community. Companies such as Nintendo, various law enforcement authorities and trade organizations such as the Entertainment Software Association, continue to take aggressive steps to prevent the proliferation of these devices on a global scale.

Now, I can't say how true any of this actually is, as I've never heard of HackYourConsole.com. I actually read a similar statement by someone from Renegade Kid, saying that they would leave the 3DS if piracy got bad, blaming it on the poor sales of Dementium 2. Now, I've played Dementium 2: The Ward, and I can safely say that I know why it didn't sell. Renegade Kid did a good job on Mutant Mudds, but the controls for Dementium 2 are god-awful. There's a reason why FPS's use two analog sticks. Personally, I didn't like Dementium 2, and I see that as a reason why it didn't sell well (Or rather, it sold half as much), rather than rampant piracy, but that's just my take on things. Maybe people just bought it used off someone who played it before, because it wasn't worth full retail, or maybe there were other reasons. Bottom line, I'm pretty sure that Dementium 2 sold half as good as its prequel because it wasn't as good, not because people pirated it (Which probably would have happened anyways)
Now, I'm not entirely certain, but doesn't the R4 have more uses than just piracy? Doesn't Nintendo use similar things to develop games for their consoles? I don't know, but I do know that the R4 can also be used as a media player (Which is something Nintendo should have thought of when making the DS). If you don't want the hackers to hack your console, just cram it full of user-friendly features that everyone wants. Sure, they'll still go after it, they always do, but there'll be less motivation for people to hack it if it's already got everything you can ask for in it. The bottom line is that no matter how secure and strong your locks are, there's always someone with a bigger hammer, or better picks. Nothing is going to stop people from tearing a device open, both physically and metaphorically. Someone will always find a way around a wall in their path. What you need to do is make people not even notice a wall is there, by creating something so good that the wall doesn't even exist.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Les Misérables

Les Misérables is a movie that I never want to see again, and that's not the insult that it sounds like.
I was originally going to review Battlefield 3 this week, but this movie demands attention.
I'll be honest, I only got this movie because of the cast. Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway were really the only reasons I watched it. And I have to say, it's the best movie of 2012. That's a major feat, considering the kind of stuff that came out that year. With The Grey, The Avengers, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, MIB3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Total Recall, Alex Cross, Skyfall, Wreck-It Ralph, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey out that same year, that is one hell of an accomplishment. The music is powerful, the movie is compelling, and the entire thing wound up making me cry. That too, is saying something. I didn't cry for Forrest Gump, I didn't cry when The Tenth Doctor died, I almost teared up at the Doctor Who second series finale, the last thing that actually made me cry was the Doctor Who 2011 Christmas special, The Doctor, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This movie had so much of an impact on me that I never want to see it again, for fear of tainting the memory of it, and fear of getting extremely depressed. Everyone in the movie could sing extremely well, and even though I don't usually like musicals, I like this. It's worth a 10.2* rating. Go out to your local library, check this movie out, and get yourself a couple boxes of tissues, because you'll need them. I'm sorry that the review is so short, but words fail me this week, the movie has to be experienced, not summarized. I'll see you next week with Battlefield 3.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Worlds of Power: Metal Gear, a book based on the best selling NES game by Ultragames

Ultragames was a subsidiary of Konami designed to get around Nintendo's NES era policy of only allowing developers to release five games a year on their console, Ultragames was Konami's way of localizing games more efficiently than, say, Squaresoft.
The very first thing I noticed about this book is the synopsis on the back, they refer to Solid Snake as Justin Halley.
The Halley I don't have a problem with, since they never revealed his last name in any of the games to my knowledge, but in Metal Gear Solid, his name is David. I don't know if this was a translation error, and his name was always David in Japan, or if they just made up a name for the American version of the game, or if Scholastic made the name up to be able to address him as something other than Solid Snake, but it doesn't match up with series canon no matter how you look at it. Immediately after opening the book I found that the inconsistencies with established canon don't end there. They namedrop FOXHOUND at the beginning of the book as the unit of which "The Snake Men" are a part of. I haven't played the NES game, but according to Wikipedia, this was one of Scholastic's many changes to game plots in their Worlds of Power series.
Another thing I need to address might seem minor, but they edited Snake's gun out of the picture on the cover of the novel. Another small thing, the book never calls him "Justin" or "Snake" it's always "Justin Halley" or "Solid Snake". It just sounds awkward. The plot is this: FOXHOUND has sent fifteen Snake Men in to take out a weapon called "Metal Gear" in a place called Outer Heaven. Sounds like the first game, right? Well, it's not. It's based on the NES game, not the MSX game, as the cover (And title of this article) should display. Metal Gear is a computer, and not a nuclear equipped walking battle-tank, Outer Heaven is a fortress inside a country, rather than the country itself, and the guy Snake is going up against is named Vermon Cataffy. Yes, you read that right, and no, I'm not making this up. Outer Heaven is a base somewhere inside Libya, and Metal Gear is some version of Skynet in this book. Anyways, because sending the fifteen in to take it out wasn't enough, Colonel South (Not Campbell, South) sends Solid Snake in, the best of the best, a one man army. Sure, seems reasonable considering the typical plot of Metal Gear games, but there exist thirty Snake Men in the novel, and a flimsy excuse for not sending the other fifteen in is given. On that note, they coulda sent all thirty in and the problem would have practically taken care of itself!
Okay, on a less cynical note, the plot of any book based on an NES game would pretty much have to be made up from scratch, because there weren't a whole lot of story-based games in a library of about, I guess 800 to a thousand depending on how many you count (Although, considering this IS Metal Gear, the series which pioneered cinematic games on top of action-stealth, you'd think they'd have more to go on)
There's one scene in the book where Snake, having rubbed his Sneaking Suit (They don't refer to it as such in the book, but I'm gonna call it that) in panther musk, then he happens upon a pack of guard-dogs. What does he do? Climb up a tree? Kill them with his equipment? Act like he's not there and stay out of their line of sight, like in the games? No, he acts like a panther to scare them off. Now, I'm no Zoologist, but I'm not sure that would work in real life, and given that situation in real life, I'd climb up a tree. Now, this IS Metal Gear, and realism is not what we're here for, we're here for the gigantic robots and over-the -top fight-scenes. Unfortunately, the fight-scenes aren't described with a whole lot of detail, and, like I said, Metal gear is a computer, and there's no fight-scene between Snake and Metal Gear. A lot of the dialogue happens at the beginning of the book, and at the end. During the rest of the book it's mostly describing what Snake is doing, and when Snake finds a radio the dialogue sounds like it was copy/pasted directly from the NES game, and the translation from game to book (In addition to translation issues from Japanese to English) are very apparent. I've only ever played the MSX version on the MGS HD Collection, and never the NES version. As a result, I can't tell whether or not if they actually did just copy the codec sequences verbatim, but it still feels out of place in the book. Snake even notices that the codec sequences are strange. In addition to that, when you rescue some of the Snake Men, I'd say that those dialogue sequences were ripped from the game as well. In the beginning of the game, Snake is warned against taking the advice of some of the Snake Men, because some of them mighta turned traitor. This never comes to a head for some reason, but had it, it would have made for a good plot-twist or two. Now, with a unit called "The Snake Men" you'd think that everyone in it would have names like "Solid Snake" "Liquid Snake" "Acid Snake" "Portable Snake" "Liberty Snake" "Snake Eater" "Twin Snake" "Metal Snake" "Solidus Snake" "Silent Snake" and stuff like that, right? Well they also copied all the names from the game too. One of the Snake Men is called "Grey Fox. And he's not named "Frank Jaeger", his name is Frank... Something else that I can't remember, but it's not Jaeger, like it's established as in Metal Gear Solid. Not changing his codename to something else was also a bad idea, because it's out of step with a unit name like "Snake Men".
At one point in time Snake comes across matches and cigarettes. That's perfectly fine, considering that he's always had them in the games, but he passes them up, thinking that they might be poisoned. Why would they be poisoned? I guess they were just sending a message about the dangers of smoking, but there's almost no reason for them to be poisoned (Okay, they captured all the Snake men, but there's no reason for CaTaffy to give your men poisoned cigarettes in preparation for an incursion by ONE GUY.) If he was preparing for an entire ARMY to attack (which would be logical), he wouldn't be expecting ONE GUY to take a random guards coffin nails.
Now, after listing all of this, I actually still like the book. There's a bunch of stuff that's out of place, but being the Metal Gear fan I am, I can sorta forgive an early novelization of an NES game for stuff that didn't get confirmed until 1998 (Unless it WAS confirmed before the novel, in which case there's no excuse).
I give it an 8.9* rating, because despite its flaws, I actually liked reading it. From start to finish I actually liked it. I'll see you guys next week with my Battlefield 3 first impressions.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My camera

It was a tossup between Call of Duty 4, Prince of Persia, and reviewing the World's of Power Metal Gear novel, but I figured I'd try something different this week, a technology review.
I use a Sanyo camera to record all of my videos, pick any of my Youtube videos and you've got an example of the quality. It only records in 4x8 480p, but it fills up a 2GB SD card in about 40 minutes, which is why my earlier videos were recorded in 20/40 minute increments. You can hook up a TV out cable, but the one that came with it only supports mono audio, and you can't connect USB drives to it for larger capacities. You also can't connect it to a PC and use said PC's hard-drive as storage, because it automatically shuts it's interface off and acts like a USB drive. It has an auto-off function that cannot be turned off, just shortened or lengthened (5 minutes or 2 minutes) sure, it saves energy, but if I need to go do something for five minutes and thirty-seconds, the camera shuts off. This wouldn't be a big issue if it didn't have a delay between pressing record and it actually recording after you turn it on with SDHC cards, like the 16GB one I use on a regular basis, and the delay gets longer the more footage is on the card. I've gotten in the habit of offloading all the data I've shot at the end of the day, rather than offloading it when I've filled the card up. Also, at seemingly random times it will stop recording to save the clip and then I have to restart it and it works perfectly fine. So far I've only had issues with the 16GB SDHC card I mentioned before, and not the standard 2GB and 1GBs I was using prior to that. It's not a camera I would recommend to anyone, but it gets the job done. The AVI files it records in get messed up when uploaded directly to YouTube, for some reason the color is split between R, G and B, which is why I have to convert them to WMVs with Windows Movie Maker. I don't know if it's YouTube's problem or the camera's, but it's an annoyance. It also won't record more than one hour, twenty minutes, 28 seconds in one go, which isn't usually a bad thing, but when I'm trying to record a long video, it's a bit of a pain to have to edit the pieces together.
Anyways, it doesn't just record video, it also does stills. The stills come out to a few kilobytes, and the zoom is pretty good. It's an old camera that does the job I need it to, but the age makes it a little hard to work with sometimes. The LCD on the back is dying on and off, with pixels randomly stuck on different colors at different times. The batteries that came with it got sucked down fast, even when it was new, which is why I keep it plugged in at all times. The downside to that is the batteries are never charged when I need them for outside work (although my 3DS is fine for that). I could always do with a better camera, but the new ones are so expensive that I'm sticking with this one until it dies, or my TV dies and I have to get a widescreen.
All in all, it's a fine camera, the stuff that annoys me might have been fixed with software updates or whatever, but I don't know. I'll get back to games and other stuff I can look up on Wikipedia next week.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Well, I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a while ago, might as well review it.
I didn't play CoD4 before I played this, and after having done so, I really don't think it would have made much difference if I had. It starts off with a series of flashbacks to Modern Warfare, essentially recapping what happened in CoD4, but still telling you nothing about the actual plot of the game. There's a lot of military-style music in this game that sounds like it was copied out of Metal Gear Solid 2 (I know saying that one military game copies music from the other is like saying that Chrome copies Internet Explorer by nature of having the feature of browsing the web, but there's a LOT that reminds me of MGS2 in this game)
The controls are nice, and pretty much everything a shooters controls should be. Not at all spaced out, very intuitive, and easy to learn and use. There was a fair bit of repetition, and the game was a bit short, clocking in at around eight hours of play time. That being said, I enjoyed every minute of it. Call of Duty gets a whole lot of flack from one side, and the other side over-rates it. I'm somewhere in the middle. I really like it, I like its controls, the characters, the gameplay and the story, but it has a few issues. For being touted as a "realistic shooter" some of the textures are low-res (Especially ground ones), while others can take a while to load in. The loading-screens are hybrid load-times and cutscenes, so unless you're in a hurry you'll probably not be bothered by loading times (Although they'll sometimes start playing even if you're just reloading a save from the checkpoint). The swapping from character to character can be a bit confusing at times (Mainly due to the fact that you swap between about four or five. It'd really help to play Modern Warfare before you start controlling Soap, just so you know who he is), but I tended to ignore it because I was having a whole lot of fun. I preferred the stealth sections to the outright action-based ones, mainly because I like Metal Gear Solid a whole lot and partially because it was more fun (And a bit more intense) sneaking around an enemy area, moving right past armed guards and letting them live than it is to kill everything, because I could imagine their superiors chewing them out when they found out that I'd crawled right past them and they didn't notice!
Now, the similarities to Metal Gear Solid: first thing is that you at one point see Soap Mactavish from CoD4. You serve alongside him, and at one point in time another character from CoD4 shows up and helps you out for the rest of the game. Also, the opening music is, like I said above, very similar to the opening of Metal Gear Solid 2. The menu-theme sounds like the title-screen to MGS3, and like I said, the stealth elements exist. Remember when I said that you find a character from CoD4 somewhere in the game? Well even after playing CoD4 I still didn't understand how he got to where I found him, and after that he joins your group.
And now we must address the infamous "No Russian" mission.
At one point in time you infiltrate a terrorists group and accompany himself on a rampage through an airport. You can easily get through it without killing any of the civilians, but about the time that Russian SWAT shows up, you can't proceed without killing them, which is probably the most... Okay, "shocking" isn't the right word, nor is "controversial"...... I think that "jarring" fits better. At the point where you realize that you can't proceed in the game without killing the cops in that level... It's definitely the most jarring moment in the entire game. Infinity Ward touted "dynamic AI" as a feature for this game. According to Wikipedia, one of the functions of this is that "The player cannot depend on enemies to be found in the same locations as a previous play-through because enemies will behave differently each time a level is played."
I'm not sure how true this is, considering that every time I re-spawned at one checkpoint during the mission in Brazil these same two enemies would run out of a building, jump down and run across a patch of grass. This was every time I respawned.
And here we come right into something else: I'd say the game is a little on the short side. Although that might be a good thing, because it doesn't over-stay, or really does it pad the gameplay out too much (although I did have to replay a few missions over and over). I'd say that you could probably finish it in a shorter time-period than I did if you were a bit more skilled with the game than I was. All in all, I'd say it's a good game. You're definitely meant to play Modern Warfare first, and MW3 soon after. It's definitely meant as a package deal, but I'd suggest playing other games in between them in order to break it up, otherwise they might start to grind a bit. Like I said, I actually liked it, despite ragging on Black Ops II in the past. I'd give it a 9.0* rating. It was by no means my first FPS (Or CoD game for that matter) and it will be by no means my last. One thing I have to criticize is the lack of bots in multiplayer, when Perfect Dark had bots in multiplayer nearly a decade before (IDK, but Goldeneye might have had them too).
Someday I might get around to Call of Duty: Ghosts. After playing this I'm actually fairly interested in the series. Enough to get the last game in the Modern Warfare trilogy anyways.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

From Russia With Love, a retrospective on my first impressions

From Russia With Love is a third-person shooter based on the James Bond movie of the same name. I picked it up a while ago because people said it was good, and I would have to agree with them. I played the PS2 version, but stopped about the time I got Metal Gear Solid 2 in the mail (That's the ACTUAL Metal Gear Solid 2, not MGS3 with an MGS2 catalog sticker on it)
This game was released in 2005 for most consoles and most regions, being released on the PSP in 2006 and in Japan (Inexplicably exclusive to the PS2) in that year as well, a few months after the release of Casino Royale. A game known as Phoenix Rising (A title that was originally going to be used for Everything or Nothing) was intended to be released, starring the likeness and voice-talent of Pierce Brosnan, but it was canceled in favor of this one. It stars Sean Connery as James Bond, and while the character-model looks like him from that film, the voice is Connery's modern one, rather than clips from the movie. That's just nit-picking though. First, I'm going to have to compare it to the other James Bond TPS I've played: 007: Quantum of Solace.
For some reason the PS2 version of QoS was received better than the rest of the games were. I haven't played the other versions of it, but I have to say that I really didn't enjoy myself a whole lot when playing it. For one, the cover-system is annoying in certain places, and some of the stuff you have to do didn't appear in the movie, and the rest of it is mildly confusing and grindy. Plus it cuts out the chase-scene and just makes it into a cutscene.
Now, in FRWL, you're doing a whole lot of stuff that has little to do with the movie, but the game is at least fun. Looking back, the game reminds me of MGS3 (To an almost suspect degree), with its camera-control and stealth, as well as the aiming system being a little off. Like most TPS's, FRWL takes its aiming-system from Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, and like most games that followed Splinter Cell, does most everything that TCSC did a whole lot better. There's a lot of stuff that happened in the game that didn't happen in the movie, but like the Harry Potter games that EA made, they make the game a whole lot more fun than if it was just a straight adaption of the film. Like I said before, the aiming is a bit off at times, to the degree that ammo is sometimes wasted, and not having enough ammo will sometimes kill you. If I remember correctly, I stopped playing the game out of a combination of frustration and the arrival of Metal Gear Solid 2, and I haven't gotten back to the game since. This was the last Bond game made by EA before the lost the license to Activision, who went on to make Quantum of Solace, Goldeneye Reloaded, 007 Bloodstone and 007 Legends. The EA branding might make gamers wary nowadays, but this game was made during their heyday, with games like Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, and the Harry Potter series under their belt, back before the DLC policies of Mass Effect, the publishing policies of the EA Sports games, and the DRM policies of Sim City. All in all, I'd say it's a fun game. I'll have more to say once I've finished it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The World Ends With You: A Retrospective

Lest I forget to review games again, here we go with something I've been wanting to write for a while now.
I didn't really discuss the plot, but that's because it's so integral to the game that I didn't want to spoil it.. I didn't describe the gameplay in-depth, so I'll go into it here. Neku controls by using the stylus and touchscreen to move him around. A lot of the controls (Even outside battle) require you to use the touchscreen instead of the buttons, since the game was designed to be used equally by lefties and righties by default, which tends to annoy my muscle-memory of always pressing A to select something (OFC I might be confusing this with GTA Chinetown Wars, which also did that). On to the combat. In order to fight, you must equip pins. Pins level-up the way you do, except they have a cap as to how much XP they can have. Also, if you don't play the game for a while you get XP for how long you didn't play it, which can be easily abused by setting the DS's clock ahead a few years. However, even after XP farming my strongest pins that way the final boss was hard to beat. In fact, even the regular bosses were hard to beat that way! The combat consists of you moving through combo-chains as your partner via the D-pad or the face-buttons. As I mentioned before, the constant tapping of the sharp d-pad on my DS lite led to me developing a rough-patch on my left thumb, as well as some cramps (Partially due to the size of the DS lite and its stylus compared to my hands, and partially because of the gameplay) afterwards. Now, the partner combat actually requires you to pay attention to what you're doing on both screens rather that just paying attention to one screen at a time, which at first proved challenging, but after a while became second nature. Neku's combat consists of you touching the screen with the stylus in a way that activates the pins he's wearing. Depending on what brand your pins are they may get a bonus or a negative depending on how popular the particular brand is in each area of the Shibuya shopping district (an actual place in Japan, and as far as I can tell, is fairly accurate). Your health-bar is shared between Neku and his partner, and when both ends of the green bar meet, you're in trouble. Same goes for the enemies, they share an HP bar between screens too. It all works together seamlessly as soon as you get used to it.  The story is very compact, and by the time I was done with it I felt some combination of worn out and satisfied with it all. A sequel would be fine, but it doesn't really need one. I'd rather it end on a high-note than have a cash-in sequel for the 3DS just because it was the second top-selling DS game in Japan and the top-selling one here.
All in all The World Ends With You is a must-own title for the DS (And by the way, the title DOES get explained eventually). I have to say that it's probably my favorite DS game, the characters feel human (Despite strange proportions), the plot is interesting, and the game is altogether fun from start to finish. There was one part where you had to wear a certain pin around certain areas in order to increase its popularity (By the way, fighting with different brands of pins can increase their popularity there, although I never noticed any pluses or minuses for having more popular pins or less popular ones, despite the game telling me so) and that's the only part of the game that seems out of place. (The pin just slows Neku down and replaces one of your regular pins)
Now, I forgot to mention the food mechanics and clothing ones. Clothes require a certain bravery score to wear them, and you increase it by leveling up, which allows you more benefits that the clothes impart. Unfortunately, without spoiling anything, when your partners leave, so do the clothes they're wearing. On the flip-side, money pretty much comes easy, so there IS that. Food gives your permanent bonuses to your HP, Bravery, or certain other scores (If I remember correctly), so it's not a worthless mechanic. I enjoyed every bit of the game, even the Tin-pin slammer minigame once I got the hang of it.
See you next week with more reviews!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

This movie is, hands down, the weirdest thing I've seen in my life.
The plot is this: Somehow, for some reason, Doctor Parnassus said that he would give the devil his daughter if he didn't succeed in taking five souls (Or so) to heaven via his imaginarium by a certain point in time. They explain why, and what led up to this via flashbacks later in the movie, but it's put together so strangely that I could barely understand it while I was watching it! In addition: Some of the plot ISN'T explained. For instance: Who is Heath Ledger's/Johnny Depp's/Colin Farrel's/Jude Law's character and why was he hanging from a rope on the edge of a bridge in London? We know his name, but even after re-reading the Wikipedia page TWICE after seeing the movie I can't begin to fathom what the point of his character was, or why he was there. It also stars a pre-The Amazing Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, and from the few of his pre-Spider-Man roles I know of I liked his performance in Doctor Who best (Less a dig on him and more a dig on this particular movie) After a while, more of the story is told by flashbacks to the beginning of Dr Parnassus's life. It only gets stranger from there on. The inside of The Imaginarium is bigger on the inside, and not in the harmless way of The TARDIS, it creates a world that (From what I hear) wouldn't seem that out of place in Silent Hill (Minus a few totally screwed-up things and plus a few incomprehensibly crazy ones). Whoever was designing the set-pieces in there must have been on some kind of hallucinogenic drugs, because everything about it seems like something someone would experience if they were using acid. (Which probably explains the opening sequence of Beetles Rockband and most of their songs) In order to compensate for Heath Ledger dying during production of the movie they used Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel, and Jude Law in the different dimensions of the Imaginarium. This is probably supposed to reflect that the character is a con-man, but until the end it just caused me to wonder why they kept changing actors. (This was before I knew Heath Ledger was in it, I really didn't pay much attention to the cast) I actually debated whether or not I was going to keep watching this movie, but I figured I could just pile more stuff onto it. The ending makes no sense, after the  Everything about the movie seems like someone would enjoy it more if they were extremely high, and aside from the art and set-pieces, there's nothing really of interest in the movie unless you like weird stuff. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a freaky and un-nerving ride from start to finish, and I only recommend watching it if you need to waste 123 minutes, although there are better ways to spend two hours. Maybe you could check out my YouTube channel instead?
All in all, I didn't really like this movie. I wouldn't say it's terrible, but it's not that great. I give it a 2.4* rating.
By the way, I thought I had scheduled this for yesterday, but I apparently didn't hit publish....

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (Continued)

Now, continuing with Harry Potter.
I have to say, either Joan Rowling is an extremely good plot-weaver, or the mistress of creating complex plots by accident. The mystery of the world Harry lives in leaves you wanting more, and the characters wind up being a combination of unknowns and sympathetic (To an extent). Professor Snape appears to be a jerk for no reason for the longest of times and about the time I get to Prisoner of Azkaban I'm going to analyze this. Harry's aunt and uncle are the kind of muggles that you see in X-Men and the like. For some reason they think that being "normal" is somehow superior to having super-powers. Also, for some reason, instead of just sending the owls with Harry's school letter into his room, Hogwarts keeps sending it in places that the Dursley's can intercept it. This is obviously to set up part of the rest of the book, but it doesn't make much sense in context, considering the fact that McGonagle knew from day one who they were dealing with.
From there, we go to the ludicrous plot-twist of the identity of the person out to kill Harry. Granted, there are a few hints here and there, but it's not well executed, at least it doesn't com across as well as it does in the movie. Also, very little touches on the schoolwork and relationships between people other than Harry and Ron in this book. A few more character-traits for Hermione other than just "Smart girl and thinker" would have been good, and more time for characterization would have been good for this book, as well as MAYBE a few more hints as to what's going on, rather than just finding out near the end who has been causing trouble all year long. Considering that when this book was originally published, they considered it too long for a kids book (And ain't they feeling a little bit stupid now) and the fact that it's the shortest in the series, there MAY have been something cut out of it to make it smaller, just like someone decided that calling it "Philosopher's Stone" was a bad idea, even though that pretty much ruined the American versions of the series. Also, certain editions remove the Briticism's, which is just stupid, as stupid as MGS3 having everyone speak English, even though they're supposed to be in Russia for most of the game...... So I totally agree with J.K Rowling, she SHOULD have fought the publisher's to use the actual title of the book in the US other than the one it got. Considering that I read the British version first it's always weird whenever I hear someone call it "Sorcerer's Stone" instead of "Philosopher's Stone". All in all, the book was ruined by executive meddling and the American adaption didn't help that any. It's made Joan Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe a ton of money though, but I wouldn't be surprised if J.K wanted to re-write the series so that it all works better together. Fortunately Philosopher's Stone paved the way for better books that were less hindered by preconceptions and misconceptions about what people wanted from novels.
I'm not sure what kind of ranking to give it, it's kind of hard to pin down, from the rushed-out feeling of the book to the kind of humor and funny characters and "Makes me want more" drama it has makes me consider a middling rating, but that doesn't really do it justice.... I say it's somewhere around 6.7* or 7.8*. I want to give it a low rating, but it's a good book..... I really don't know what to do here. Anyways, see you next week with Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets! Or something else if I forget....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Protest the disabling of account linking!

Today I received an eMail from Microsoft saying that I will no longer be able to access my business eMail account from my personal account and vice-versa. For "Security" reasons, apparently. I don't know about you, but I can't stand this. Hotmail is one of the best eMail clients out there, and if they disable this then I'm going to be extremely peeved at Microsoft, for a reason OTHER that the Xbox One costing $499. Here is the eMail in full below:
Microsoft account
Account linking will soon be discontinued
To help increase account security, the option to link multiple accounts will be discontinued.
Your accounts will remain unchanged, but to switch between them, you'll need to sign out of one and sign into the other. Also, the account menu in the upper right of Outlook.com will no longer list your multiple accounts.
Would you like to send and receive all your mail from all your accounts in one place?
If so, see Send and receive email from other accounts in Outlook.com.
Thanks,
The Microsoft account team
Blah blah blah, I don't care Microsoft. I used to like Hotmail, it's the reason my business account was created USING Hotmail! I use Firefox to upload videos, unfortunately I've already set up a Live account to be remembered there, for my Xbox LIVE membership. I'm going to have to set up another browser so I can log into my business Outlook account from there. Fortunately they're not discontinuing having multiple alias eMail's otherwise I'd be even MORE pissed at them. We might be able to stop them from doing this if enough people complain, they did that with the Xbox ONE and DRM didn't they?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, the package as a whole.

I once swore that I would never buy any HD ports, but the local junk store had this cheap, so there's no way I would pass it up. Even though I already started on Snake Eater and finished Sons of Liberty, there's still Peace Walker and Metal Gear 1 and 2 to consider (Plus I can replay MGS2). I'm not reviewing any of the games specifically, just the Xbox 360 version of the MGS HD Collection.
Now my first complaint is that Metal Gear Solid isn't included. Sure the models look a little blocky compared to modern standards, but with 1080p textures, some anti-aliasing and other graphical enhancements it'd look pretty good. My second is that rather than having Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on the games selection menu you have to go into MGS3 and select them. I honestly don't know why that is. Another criticism is that in MGS2 the textures look pretty much the same, aside from a few bits and pieces here and there it looks pretty much the same as the PS2 version, except the GUI has sharper lines and the colors sometimes look clearer. Other than that it's pretty much a straight port for MGS2, right down to collision problems with Snake's body and his bandanna. I've started playing (Don't worry, I'm also recording it) Metal Gear Solid 2, and the lip-sync issues from Substance bleed over into this to a more prominent extent. Also for some reason the right analog-stick controls how much liquid-nitrogen you spray, instead of you just pressing the X button like with all other things in the "weapons" category. I know this is to compensate for the lack of analog-buttons, but I played through Metal Gear Solid 2 with a DualShock 1 controller, same controller I used for MGS and I never felt like there was anything wrong. Plus, why would you want to control how much nitrogen you spray? You've got an unlimited amount! Another thing is they removed the "Snake Skateboarding" and The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 wasn't, to my knowledge included on the first disc, nor would it seem a lot of extras that came with Metal Gear Solid 3 (Considering it DID come on three discs). All in all this is a good collection, and it's well worth the fifteen bucks I paid for it. By the way, I'm sorry for the lack of posts as scheduled, I've been busy lately.
OOOOOOPS, I forgot that Portable Ops wasn't included. Considering that it came on two DVD-DLs why couldn't they have fit Portable Ops onto Disc 2 with Peace Walker or else just give it its own disc? Why wasn't it included? Because of that I'm going to have to get a PSP just to play it, and although there is a lot of good stuff on the PSP I want to play I really don't wanna deal with another console, I've already got too many wires around my room, plus I'd have to get a TV-out cable for it so I could record gameplay decently and I don't really want to deal with that. Hopefully Konami'll take a hint and port Portable Ops someday to something other than a portable console.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Xbox One revision, before it's even released!

Well apparently, according to Kotaku, the Xbox One is no longer anti-used, you can now use it exactly like the Xbox 360 with a Blu-Ray drive and a whole lot of features we don't care about integrated. I'm still gonna be getting a Wii U though, since Nintendo is the only one with a decently priced console currently (Glares at Sony). Fortunately Sony made a big announcement about the PS4 supporting used games, but the Wii U already did that, along with the Vita and 3DS (As long as you ignore Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, which was a completely pointless game since Resident Evil 4 has been ported for every console). In all honesty, I was expecting this, the PSPgo got discontinued quickly and now they've got a system update BEFORE the Xbox One even LAUNCHES (Take that, people who said that the day-1 system update on the Wii U was poor design). It would have been suicide to release a console like that, and still might be, since if a company even PROPOSES anti-used tech then you know they're not above it, the only reason Microsoft did this was because Sony and Nintendo were (And still are) threatening to shove them out of the console-market, especially since the Xbox One (I'm just gonna call it the Xone from now on) is $499 USD, when the Wii U and PS4 are both cheaper. Hell, MSFT is still competing with the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360! That's a fine thing, having to compete with YOURSELF for sales! With the PS3 actually coming down in price and the Wii being a nice, affordable, reliable machine even six years after launch, Microsoft is going to have a hard time competing against the PS4, PS3, PSP, PSVita, Wii, Wii U, DS and 3DS with just the Xbox 360 and XOne, considering that they don't have a handheld system of their own (Just Windows Phone's made by other companies, and ironically iDevices) and with Madcatz, VALVe, NVidia, and a load of other companies entering the console fray I don't think that Microsoft can stand up to this without a handheld of their own.
By the way, the fact that it functions exactly like my Wii, Xbox 360, PS2, and all my other consoles isn't exactly selling it, all the games I want to play are either on Wii U or Xbox 360 (Call of Duty: Ghosts being really the only Xbox One game I'm interested in) and the rest (Thief 4 being a prime example) I just don't care about (Nothing personal, I just haven't played the Thief games). All in all it's no competition for my current consoles and I really don't feel like it's bringing much to the table, the new Kinect with 1080p is nice, but I didn't really like the original Kinect for anything but pretending I was Captain Picard giving underlings orders. By the way, I'm going to mention that I don't actually OWN a Kinect, I've just used one in the past, the same way I can play Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Need For Speed Undercover on the PS3.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Apologies

I would like to apologize for the lack of postings this week, I've been having a lot of internet troubles lately and that has caused me to not be able to connect to Blogger, or be able to post even if I DO connect. So that's the cause of my scheduling slip. I hope to have regular reviews re-started by this Sunday, if not sooner. That might be a bit too optimistic, seeing as it's AT&T I have to deal with to get the internet working again. I hope that there are no more issues, I would like to be a whole lot less busy too, that certainly didn't help me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone Part 1

In order to once again prove that I am not merely writing a blog about video-games, this week I review a book. By the way, if you don't want spoilers I'll have to make another review someday because I can't really do the amount of critiquing I want to if I try to stay out of spoilerville.
The first thing that perplexes me is why they even changed the name in the US, when "Philosopher's Stone" refers to the object that turns normal metals into gold and normal liquids into The Elixir of Life, and the only place that The Sorcerers Stone is ever referenced is in the American localisations of Harry Potter and the X of Y. Anyways, since the edition I first read always called it "Philosopher's Stone", and that's the name of the mythological artifact used in literature by Nicholas Flamel.
So I'm currently on my latest yearly re-reading of the series and after rambling about the title for the last paragraph or so let's get on to the actual review.
Harry Potter is about a boy wizard with a mysterious past (at least to first-time readers) and an even more mysterious future even after you read book Seven. The plot is all well and good, but there are a ton of twists that catch you off guard, and if these twists were intentional and not just thrown in to mess with our heads at the last second I applaud Joan Rowling for her mad skills. If not, then I say that you pretty much hit the nail on the head for plot-twists. Something else is that the series as a whole made a habit of throwing curve-balls straight out of left field that make increasingly less sense as it goes on, but I'll get to those later. Every line is perfection to the point of the movies and games quoting it directly, and when I get around to reviewing the Philosopher's Stone movie I will also give whoever Percy Jackson And The Olympians into a movie what for.
By the way, sorry for the late release and sorry for multiple parts, I've been a little busy lately, had to deal with bugs in my room and then I couldn't come up with anything to say until it was late at night, and then I've been volunteering at the library today and that took up a lot of my time, so I'll apologize in advance for any delays in posting. I'll have the rest of these parts out soon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, final thoughts

Well, I've finished GTA: Chinatown Wars, and I have to say that despite being fun, it still hasn't sold me on open-world gameplay. After the main story is over I don't feel much need to explore the city seeking 100% completion. Spider-Man 3 had this same problem, the only good thing about it was the web-swinging and acrobatics, and in this the only memorable thing is the driving and the hi-jacking of cars. The combat is annoying, and I'm still convinced that the busted mechanics are broken, police should not be able to yank you out of your car, or bust you when you're on foot, shooting at them. One time I was busted after jumping out of the car and killing the cops around me, while I was on my feet! One of the missions requires you to raise $5000 and give it to your uncle, and I did that, but since your safe is just decoration, I was left running around the city with it. Unfortunately I got busted for some reason along the way a few too many times and had to raise the money all over again. You see, I got pretty bored waiting for the next mission to appear so I decided to run around the city doing stuff, but I wound up getting busted just as I was about to triple my money selling drugs and got $6000 of narcotics seized. If I'm bribing the cops to get out of jail why don't they let me keep my guns and drugs when I leave? Anyways, this is probably the last GTA game I'm going to play, since they're all pretty much the same as far as I know. Aside from that since the DS doesn't have analog anything accelerate and reverse are assigned to the face buttons and brake to R. That's fine for the brake (Except when you're trying to target a specific thing when driving and you wind up stopping instead), but for the gas it means that if you're going across the city trying not to attract attention you might accidentally ram into a police-car and gain a wanted-level, which is especially annoying if you are on a mission that requires you to not have a wanted-level to finish it. Also, the default settings only have bottom-screen displays for body-armor and radar, so I had to go into the settings and change it so I could compare where I actually was to where the radar said I needed to be. I can't help but feel that the game would have benefited from not using the touchscreen as much as it did, you can't just press A to select something, you need to touch it. Same goes for hijacking cars, most of the time I just got into a car, got out of it, and got back in, wanted-lever be damned because I didn't want to have to deal with the touchscreen. I'm typically the first to promote motion-control and portable gaming but the DS works best when using either the touchscreen or the buttons, not both, and not both at the same time, like this game does. weapons like molotovs, grenades, and flash-grenades require you to touch the screen and aim them. It takes a lot of getting used to and this would work on the iPhone, but not on the DS where the touchscreen isn't displaying the game and functioning as the controller as well. On top of that the aiming is pretty bad, but that's made up for by enemy AI being pretty badly programmed and sometimes practically walking into your line of fire. This doesn't mean that the AI is totally dumb, a lot of missions where you fight mobs of enemies wind up being tough as nails since they use flanking tactics. After beating the game I restarted and made it up to a weapons-training mission where you are given a pistol with unlimited ammo. After leaving the site and jacking a car I went around the city with attack and accelerate held down. Unfortunately I wasn't able to gain a wanted-level because despite there being a load of crime in Liberty City there are very few cops around it at the beginning of the game. Speaking of hard to find stuff, I never even went to the Liberty City Gun Club, despite them telling me that they had new weapons all the time. All in all GTA:CW is fine, it's not too replayable and doesn't interest me after I finish it. I give it a 6.2* rating.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bad news and regular news

Apparently the Xbox ONE requires additional payment to play used games. If this is true, then Microsoft might as well not even BOTHER releasing the Xbox ONE. Also, the new Thief game is being developed for Windows, PS4, and Xbox ONE. Square Enix, why no Mac, PS3, Xbox 360 or Wii U version? Call of Duty Ghosts is being released for all of those platforms (Minus MAC).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Xbox One

I just checked out the GameStop Facebook page and guess what? The new Xbox is called "Xbox One!"
Is it just me, or does thing thing look BIGGER than the original Xbox? Speaking of which, some people call the Xbox "Xbox 1", instead of Xbox, or "Original Xbox" for the same reason that the PlayStation is called psOne or PS1 or PSX. You may remember from my Xbox 720 article a few pictures, the one on the upper-right of the below picture evokes a prototype of this particular Xbox.... Thing.
So the controller is a needless re-design of the Xbox 360 controller, it looks like it could fit about ten HDDs inside it, and I'm guessing the iPod dock-looking thing is the improved Kinect, the only question remaining is whether it will play used games, and is there always-on DRM? Questions should be answered sometime between now and Christmas. Here's a quote from the Xbox One website:

With Xbox One, games are so lifelike, you’ll swear
they’re real. Immerse yourself in cinematic worlds
with characters that are more human than ever.
And reach into television, sports, music, and even
the web in ways you never imagined possible.
So? Games are already lifelike enough! You can't improve too much over the PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360 before all that hardware just comes back to the bitwars, a whole bunch of wasted power in one place, a focus on making the games LOOK good as opposed to BEING good. Pandora's Tower is in 480p and it's a good game, it also looks pretty nice. We can't push graphics technology any further without starting to lose miles SOMEWHERE along the line! The hardware of the last gen was perfectly adequate, full 1080p is perfectly fine, the PS3 and Xbox 360 both proved that you can have human-looking 3D rendered characters on their hardware, the reality of this is that there's too much hype over graphics technology, just as during the bitwars there was too much hype over the bits in the CPU. All in all I'm gonna stick with the current gen for now and let the prices drop a few hundred dollars before I consider buying one of the eighth generation consoles, or even SEVENTH generation consoles (I'm looking directly at YOU Sony). It doesn't even look like they fixed the controller ergonomics. The Xbox 360 controller is pretty good, but it could have been designed a LITTLE bit better
Image credits gamestop facebook page and Xbox720 news

Monday, May 20, 2013

Resident Evil Revelations HD release tomorrow

SAN MATEO, Calif. —May 20, 2013 — Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today confirmed that Resident Evil®Revelations releases tomorrow, May 21 across North America and May 24 for European territories.  Available at retail for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft®, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Windows® PC and Nintendo’s Wii U™ console, the title will also be available to download digitally starting tomorrow via the PlayStation®Network Store, Nintendo eShop and Steam, with a Games On Demand version for the Xbox 360 to follow.
The critically acclaimed survival horror title takes players back to events that took place between  Resident Evil®4  and  Resident Evil®5, revealing the truth about the T-Abyss virus.  Featuring series favorites Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, the action begins on board a supposedly abandoned cruise ship, the ‘Queen Zenobia,’ then moves to the mainland and the devastated city of Terragrigia. With limited ammo and weapons available, the race is on to survive the terrors that unfold.
Complete with high quality HD visuals, enhanced lighting effects and an immersive sound experience, the fear that was originally brought to players inResident Evil Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS™ system returns redefined for home consoles.  Furthermore, the home console version delivers added content that includes a terrifying new enemy - the Wall Blister, extra Infernal Mode difficulty level and improvements to Raid Mode such as new weapons, skill sets, and the added opportunity to play as Hunk and mysterious blonde Rachael.  First introduced in the original version of the game, Raid Mode is an online co-op or offline solo mode where players level up their characters and earn weapon upgrades as they face hordes of enemies across a variety of missions.
Gamers will be able to further their Resident Evil Revelations experience with the release of game add-on content. Weapon upgrades for each of the playable characters will be available to purchase in two separate packs – ‘Resistance Set’ and ‘Enhancement Set.’ Each pack will contain six upgrades that can be purchased for 160 Microsoft Points or $1.99 / €1.99 beginning on June 4. Beginning June 11 two additional characters will be available for players’ use in Raid Mode- ‘Rachael Ooze,’ the infected mutation of the mysterious blonde; and a female version of series favorite Hunk, known only as ‘Lady Hunk.’  Each character can be purchased for 240 Microsoft Points or $2.99 / €2.99 and will complement a full roster of existing Raid Modecharacters. Finally, weapon upgrades for Jill Valentine, Parker Luciani and Jessica Sherawat will be available from June 18 and priced individually at 80 Microsoft Points or $0.99/€0.99.
Unfortunately I'm only able to afford the 3DS version. Hopefully I can get ahold of it soon