Friday, October 26, 2007

An Editorial Minute

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm starting a new series of video blogs entitled, The_Game21x's Editorial Minute. This is a pretty rough cut but it demonstrates the point nicely. In each video, I give myself one minute (give or take) to rant openlyabout a previously chosen topic. Basically written reviews I was too lazy to write out. :P

Questions, comments and suggestions for future episodes are always welcomed. Who knows? Maybe I'll make this a weekly thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I’m Now the Proud Owner of a Playstation 3

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As of yesterday, I am now the proud owner of a 60 GB Playstation 3 computer entertainment system. I've been debating this purchase for quite some time now and I finally decided to take the plunge. GameStop was offering a free game with the purchase of a 60 GB PS3 and since I wanted one of those as opposed to the similarly priced 80 GB version due to its full backwards compatibility I figured now was the best time to get one.

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Here's a picture of the free game I received. I had the choice of either this, Resistance, F1 Championship, Folklore and... another game or two I believe and Heavenly Sword was the obvious choice for me. I'm certainly very interested in Resistance, and that was easily a great second choice, but I can easily find Resistance cheaper than Heavenly Sword so i figured I might as well get the more expensive game free. besides, I've been interested in Heavenly Sword for some time now after playing a few minutes of the final game at one of the demo kiosks at work and once I get my HDTV I'm going to need a game such as this to really put it to good use.

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Now, if you'll notice, I've only posted pictures of the unopened box so far and I haven't spammed those of you with PS3's friend requestsover the PSN. Well, that's because I haven't opened it yet and I don't plan to do so until this weekend. I have a lot of schoolwork and other projects to handle this week so I figure I don't need another distraction at the current time.

I'm sure someone out there is thinking, "Well, if you didn't want the distraction, why did you buy it in the first place?" That's easy enough to answer. The 60 GB PS3, which I genuinely believe is the best version of the PS3 out there due to its full backwards compatibility and price had been phased out a few months ago so I had to act fast if I wanted to get my hands on one. Now, when the 80 GB PS3's price was slashed to $500, I was skeptical about picking up the 60 GB version because of the obvious differences in hard drive size and especially the free game in the box. But that all changed when I heard there was a free game deal for the 60 GB version as well, so naturally, I figured now was the best time to buy it. I'm also hearing rumors that the 60 GB's price may receive a cut as well to clear them out of stores to make way for the upcoming 40 GB version so, if it happens within the next week or so, I can take it back, get the difference in price and buy it back once more.

I look forward to playing my PS3 this weekend or whenever I finally crack it open. I'll be posting all my PSN info whenever I get around to making my account and I'll probably post impressions of Heavenly Sword after I've played it for a couple of hours. In other news, I'm also working on a new kind of video blog, entitled "The_Game21x's Editorial Minute" where I'll be ranting about a previously chosen topic for about one minute so stay tuned for that.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


This is, without a doubt, one of the best games I've played so far this year. The puzzles themselves were extremely funny and the writing and humor were both top notch. I can't even complain about its length. the 2 hours or so it lasted was enough. If it had been significantly longer, it might have dulled the experience a bit. Now, I may sound like I'm echoing the recent Zero Punctuation Review of the Orange Box and you'd be exactly right because I completely agree. I didn't expect it to be as occasionally hilarious as it is and I was quite pleasantly suprised. I say occasionally hilarious not as an insult, but as a compliment. Portal's brand of humor doesn't bludgeon you over the head repeatedly. It gives you just enough comedy at just the right places. All the fantastically challenging puzzles and razor sharp wit all culminate into a fantastic ending sequence and one of the best end credits songs you'll even hear in a game. Guaranteed to leave you in stitches.

Portal is almost worth picking up the Orange Box for all by itself. If you have an Xbox 360 or gaming PC right now, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The Orange Box. It definitely takes the cake.

The_Game21x's Fourth Video Blog

I've got a brand new video blog, which I filmed just yesterday. Inside I talk more about the Orange Box, Halo 3, my position over at Talk Xbox and some other new things going on in my life. Well, that'll do it for the explanations, I'll leave the rest for you guys to find out as you watch.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Story in a Blog: Chapter One

Well, I've toyed with the idea of writing a story in my blog posts, each chapter being pure improvisation, with no set story development, characters, character development, etc. Well, I've finally gotten around to writing the first chapter in the series. Additional chapters will be published whenever I get around to writing them. For now, enjoy!

* * *
My eyes snapped open as the incessant sounds of a man banging on the door to my small apartment echoed throughout the place, rousing me from a state of meditation. It was 2 AM and since sleep eluded me yet again, I figured I’d just sit there on my bed with my eyes closed for a moment.

The noise continued. I sat there for a moment, eyes half-open, thinking to myself about the deep shit I’d gotten myself into.

I knew why the man was here. In a fit of desperation and quite possibly insanity, I borrowed a substantial amount of money from a loan shark a while ago and this guy, he was an enforcer. As what is likely the result of a few drinks too many, the exact reason why I borrowed this money was unclear.
“Open up in there!” the man said in a thick New York accent while continuing to hammer on the door.

My three strikes were up. This guy was here to collect on the debt. I hastily grabbed my 9mm handgun, a Beretta, threw on my leather jacket, grabbed my cell phone, and quickly made a dash for the window. I figured I could probably take the guy, but I’d rather not waste perfectly good bullets I’d probably need later. The noise at my door intensified, He’s ramming the door now. Wow, this guy means business.

The window quickly opens and I’m outside, trying my luck with the fire escape. As I make my way down, I begin to question the decision to buy the apartment on the twelfth floor instead of the fourth. My real estate agent said it was worth the extra 50 bucks a month just for the “spectacular view”. Yeah, well right now, I’d rather have that extra cash in my pocket and not have to worry about some guy putting his foot up my ass if I can’t make it down this Fire escape in time.
I’m only a floor down when I hear my door being broken down and my would-be assailant searching for me. I’m a few floors down before the enforcer begins to give chase. As I near the bottom, I suddenly remember that the ladder to the street was broken. Piece of crap fire escape. There are about 10 feet between me and the ground below. I take a chance and jump over the side on the lowest level. I tuck and roll as I hit the rain slicked ground and on my feet within a second or two. Not a moment too soon either as I hear a bullet hit the ground directly behind me.

“You ain’t gettin’ away kid!” The enforcer yells as he fires off two more shots.

Lucky for me, this guy can’t aim worth a damn. I ran around a corner, heading towards a parking garage. My car was parked there, I just had to make it there and I’d be fine.
I was so close too…

As I entered, a large black sedan pulled up in front of me, blocking my path.

“Dammit!” I thought, drawing my Beretta.

I tried to run back, but was met by a red SUV. I turned around to see that two thugs had already exited the black sedan, brandishing pistols of their own and pointing them directly at my chest and two more stepped out of the SUV behind me. I looked around, searching for a way out of this mess.

“End of the line, Alex.” The large guy on the left said.

I continued to survey the situation, Beretta gripped tightly in my right hand. I was good with a gun but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. Baring some sort of miracle, I realize that I probably won’t be walking away from here alive.
* * *

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Does Halo 3 Live Up To The Hype?

This past Saturday, I finally “finished the fight” on Heroic difficulty. What a ride. Now that I’ve completed the game, there is one prevailing question to answer. Does it or does it not live up to the hype? Well, since I’ve been a longtime Halo fan since playing the original on the Xbox several years ago I’m naturally biased towards the “yes” side of the debate but in the following paragraphs, I will attempt to present arguments from both sides of the debate before coming to a conclusion.

Now it’s no secret that this one game has received an astronomical amount of hype preceding its release and for some time afterwards from the immense Halo fanbase, as well as Microsoft itself. For Halo fans, this is the conclusion of the Halo trilogy, one they have been eagerly anticipating for nearly three years. For Microsoft, this is their biggest game. The marketing blitz rolled out nonstop for months prior to release, throwing Halo 3 onto everything from toys, to weapon replicas, to soda.

It can be argued that Microsoft went too far with their Halo 3 marketing blitz and on that point, I agree. But of course, Microsoft has plenty of reasons for marketing Halo 3 such as they have. Microsoft wants this game to sell consoles; they want everyone to buy this game. So far, as evidenced to the 170 million dollars garnered in the first day on the market, it’s working for them. We will soon see how much Halo 3 has influenced Xbox 360 sales as a whole.

Halo 2’s cliffhanger of an ending and confusing storyline left many fans cold, including me. Throughout the single player campaign, many sections turned me off. Halo 2’s campaign was still better than the average shooter’s due to its tight gameplay and impressive enemy AI but I can’t say it was superior to the campaign found in Halo: Combat Evolved in any way. After “finishing the fight”, I can honestly say that Halo 3’s campaign is the best in the series. The story progression and pacing was just shy of perfection and the cutscenes were wonderfully presented which compelled you onward, just to unearth the next juicy plot point. The story begins and ends just as it should, on a very high note. No spoilers will be found here, but the ending, which wraps up the storyline quite nicely, is incredibly satisfying. Trust me, once you see it, you’ll understand.

Halo 2’s multiplayer was satisfying for many, but a bit lacking in terms of balance. Despite being quite entertaining overall, there were plenty of glitches, exploits and problems that disrupted gameplay and annoyed many, especially in the early days. Halo 3 on the other hand seems to be more balanced, entertaining and fun. Based on my personal experience, I honestly can’t say I would prefer the multiplayer modes of Halo 2, or even Halo: CE, which I hold in a very high regard, over Halo 3. It’s not a drastic departure from what you’ve seen in the past, but, much like many other aspects of the game, it’s highly refined.

In many ways, Halo 3 was more of an upgrade from Halo 2 than Halo 2 was to Halo: CE. Halo 2’s additions were more natural progression than anything. Dual wielding was a common theme in many FPSes so it’s fitting that Halo 2 add that feature, and since online play was so commonplace and Halo: CE was the only game Bungie produced that didn’t include online play in years, Halo 2 receiving a slew of online options (except, sadly, online co-op) was a given. Halo 3’s primary additions in the form of the Forge mode and saved films are far from a natural progression of the series.

One of the main problems with Halo 3, as with Halo 2 and to a lesser extent, Halo: CE before it is its lack of change. As stated before, Halo 3 isn’t groundbreaking in any one aspect, more like a refinement of things you’ve already seen in previous titles. The FPS genre is a crowded one, and it takes a great deal of innovation and quality to stand out. Halo 3 may be lacking in terms of innovation (although the Forge mode and saved films are a step in the right direction) it makes up for it by being one of the most polished and enjoyable FPSes you’ll find on any system.

Hype is a very funny thing. If a game meets or exceeds expectations, it’s praised for its quality and talked about for months because it was as good as people thought it would be. On the other hand, if the game falls short, even for the tiniest of reasons, it will then be torn apart by disappointed and disenfranchised gamers since their high hopes have been dashed. That’s the thing about hype, oftentimes; people set themselves up to be disappointed. Halo 3 got a lot of attention and a great deal of well-deserved praise but undoubtedly, there will be those who will be disappointed with it, simply because it did not meet the impossible to attain expectations they had of the game.

No game is perfect and Halo 3 is certainly no exception. Was Halo 3 worthy of the hype? Well, yes and no. It met all of the expectations I had for it and in many ways, exceeded them and I don’t think there’s anything Bungie could’ve done to make me any happier with it. Of course, I imagine there are some people who were disappointed, which brings me back to an earlier point, if you hype yourself through the roof, you’re bound to be disappointed. Generally, everyone who has played it has had their expectations met and in many ways exceeded. As I said before, it’s not drastically different from any other game in the Halo series, but it does so much right that you likely won’t care. Therefore, my answer to the question I posed earlier is a resounding “yes”. In my opinion, there is no better game on the Xbox 360 and is, possibly, the best game to come out this year and in that respect alone, it was worthy of the hype.