Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Blog Incoming!

Yep, I've got myself a new blog over at

For all my readers out there, here's the link. Time to update your bookmarks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm Back From My "Business" Trip

For those of you that don't know, since Wednesday, I've unofficially signed off of teh internets in preparation for this trip.

Without doing a full write up here (It's late, I'm still slightly jet-lagged and drained) I'll give you a few of the biggest points. Once I've had a chance to relax (read: recover) from the trip, I'll begin my official travelogue and transcripts of the two interviews I had, which will most likely be posted at Talk Xbox.

The day started with some of the best pancakes I've ever had, and the 13 or so other attendees and I BS-ing with the EA reps. After breakfast we made the short walk to EA, and were given our visitor passes. Shortly, the EA rep came out and said he had a surprise for us. Long story short, minutes later, I was playing a near final build of Army of Two. Shortly after, I found myself in an impromptu interview (digital voice recorder in hand) with one of the game's designers. I was nervous as hell, but I think I did a good job.

Following our preview of Army of Two (I won't post full details here, but I will link you to them once I've finalized everything) we were given the grand tour of what has to be the most awesome office buildings I've ever seen. Again, can't divulge much, but I took lots of pictures.

Finally, we were taken to a room on the second floor, marked "vacant". Inside awaited no less than 15 Xbox 360's and HD monitors running Burnout Paradise. We were all treated to a seat, and invited to play by Craig Sullivan, Lead Designer of the game of the hour. I began playing, linking up with 5 others online and freeburning around the city, which was a load of fun. During this time, we were each given one on one interview time with Mr. Sullivan. Again, nervousness mounted, but thankfully, I prepared a few questions in advance just in case such an opportunity would arise. So, digital voice recorder in hand once again, I walked into the meeting room with the man, nervous as hell and the interview commenced. Again, I won't reveal much, but I have to say, I'm very happy with the results.

During the day, there was a single player contest in which we were all given a half hour to score over a million points on a single stunt run, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by many. Well, yours truly pulled it off, receiving one of only twenty T-Shirts given out thus far signifying the achievement and will possibly be immortalized on the Burnout page, being part of EA's official Millionaire's club.

When the day was over, we retired to the hotel for a brief moment of solace and rest before hitting the restaurant, where I acquired a slightly tipsy condition and many stories were told and toasts were made.

It was one hell of a day and one hell of a trip. Who knew a business trip could be this awesome?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane...

I’m finally ready to reveal just what the mysterious “Career changing event” I announced a few days ago is going to be. My travel itinerary is set and tomorrow, I’ll be heading out to California until Saturday to attend a Burnout Paradise Community Event, sponsored by EA, at their Redwood Shores studio on behalf of Talk Xbox. As you would likely expect, I’m extremely excited about this opportunity, as it is not only some random business trip. It’s the opportunity I’ve been dreaming about, one of the more glamorous perks of working in the gaming industry. I’m actually being flown out to California to play video games.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been running around, getting everything ready for my big trip. It’s amazing. Everything seemed to come together just as I needed it to. A few weeks ago, I finally got around to replacing the busted AC adapter for my laptop, which has been out of commission for months now. Unfortunately, I was delivered the incorrect model and took my time setting up the return. Once I found out about this trip, I sped things up a bit, but it was so close to the date of the trip that I was sure it wouldn’t arrive in time. Thankfully, HP unexpectedly opted for overnight shipping, meaning I had my cable within two days of sending it out. Wow. Now that’s what I call good (and convenient) customer service.

Another obstacle presented itself about a week or so ago when I misplaced my Driver’s License. One can only imagine how terrified I was, knowing I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane without it. As I pulled the car out of the garage, ready to set out to Best Buy to pick up the digital voice recorder I figured I’d need for the trip, I decided to look under the front seats for my missing license. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found it there. “Yes!” I exclaimed in joy as I pulled it from under the seat and placed it snugly in my wallet where it belonged. With everything coming together so perfectly, the Cosmos must be on my side and someone or something up there wants me to go on this trip.

This is the first event I’ll be attending as both a member of the gaming press and as a gamer (unless you count the Nintendo Fusion Tour in 2006) and I’m making the most of it. This isn’t just an opportunity to play games in a new location…this is an opportunity to network with my peers and make connections. I may be relatively introverted in my daily life, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be shaking hands with practically everyone I see at the event.

As far as the specifics of the trip go…I’ll be departing from Metro Airport around 7:15 pm, and I’m expected to arrive around 9:30 PST. That leaves me just enough time to get to the hotel, check in, unpack and go to sleep in anticipation of the next day. Friday, I’ll be up bright and early to meet everyone in the hotel lobby where we’ll be taken to breakfast, introduced and then make the short walk to EA Redwood Shores. There, we’ll have a Q&A session with lead designer Craig Sullivan, followed by a couple hours of multiplayer gaming sessions, lunch, and an additional Q&A session followed closely by more gaming in the form of single player contests and a multiplayer tournament. Finally, we head out for dinner and drinks (man I wish I was 21) and finally retire to the hotel. Saturday, I head on back home around one, arriving home once again around eight or so.

It’s a bit of a shame I won’t be able to do a bit of sightseeing while I’m there and enjoy the hotel (which is quite nice if I do say so myself) but I’m certainly not about to complain. The trip alone, with the opportunities for networking and gaming that lies therein is more than enough for me. As I’ve already said, I’m enormously excited for this trip. I plan on recording a travelogue in addition to my detailed written account of the event so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Wish me luck guys, I’m excited, but I’m also a bit nervous. I’ve never had an opportunity like this before and of course, I want to do my best to make the most of it. Who knows? If everything goes well here, I might find myself on a plane to California again later this year, en route to E3 2008.

As a side note, I’m finishing up my review of Devil May Cry 4, which I’ll be submitting to my editors later tonight.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

Huh...I didn't see that one coming. I figured this was going to be the Patriots' year and they would go all the way to grab that coveted perfect season. Believe it or not, I was actually rooting for them to win. As much as they're hated for their many victories, they work hard for those wins, and apparently, the New York Giants were the only ones who could take them down. Nevertheless, I am proud of the Giants and now, Eli Manning joins his big brother Peyton in the Super Bowl hall of fame.

As for the game itself, I have to say, up until the fourth quarter, I was damn near falling asleep on it. Hell, the commercials weren't even that great. Unfortunately, I was forced to work on Sunday until seven o clock and didn't get out of there until somewhere around seven thirty so I missed the entire first quarter and much of the second and to make matters worse, I came home with a splitting headache to boot. Last year's Super Bowl, which began with an amazing kick return is my bar, and certainly among the most exciting games I've watched of the sport, so naturally, anything less is a big letdown. Things heated up appropriately in the fourth quarter as the Giants edged out the Patriots with a series of spectacular plays, coming back late in the fourth to score the final touchdown, which made the score 17 -14, which would remain that way until the end of the game.

I have more respect for the Giants now than I ever did before. I always pegged them as a great team, but I didn't know if they had what it took to win the Big Game. Well, it seems I was wrong. Congratulations on your victory Giants, you've certainly earned it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don't You Hate Writer's Block?

On occasion when you sit down to write something, have you ever sat there for a few minutes waiting for words to pour out of your pen onto the page...words that never seem to come? Have you ever sat there racking your brain trying to think of something of something to write on your pre-selected topic...or just the topic itself and then decide to do something else because nothing seems to be coming to you? If you've answered yes to any of these questions then Congratulations! You've just been hit with Writer's Block!

Well maybe Congratulations aren't in order here...

As of late, I've been finding it tough to get my thoughts out there on paper (or on the computer screen, whatever the case may be) in any form. Writer's Block seems to have fallen out of the sky and landed on me like (to use an old cliché) a ton of bricks. Dear God, now I'm digging up cliché’s to further my point. Man I need some help here, and fast.

So, I've decided to sit here and force myself to write this blog post, even though I've been feeling guilty about delaying my 2007 Retrospective so much. I've been putting it off and putting it off, hoping the inspiration I need to finish it would suddenly hit me and I'd be able to put something out there I can be proud of. Unfortunately, no such inspiration has come along. What's worse is, I'm not just blocked from doing this, oh no. The Gods of Writing must be very unhappy with me, because I can't do much of anything as it pertains to writing. Twice this past week I really had to phone it in with two of my assignments for school, one being a review of Ben-Hur, which I just recently saw (yes, I know I'm uncultured) in the film class I'm taking this semester. Well, to put it mildly, Ben-Hur is one of the best films I've ever had the pleasure of viewing and I don't think the review I submitted was anywhere near as good as it could've been. While this is partially due to the fact that I procrastinate like crazy (why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?) but a large part of it is undoubtedly this damn Writer's Block.

Alright, gotta keep the ball rolling, since I've heard that forcing yourself to write is one of the best ways to rid yourself of the shackles that bind your hand. So...umm...what to talk about now...Oh yeah, I picked up a few new games recently.

Ninja Gaiden Black

Ninja Gaiden Black

Great game so far. I now see why people call this one of the most hardcore games ever made. The difficulty is like a wall for players like me who tend to mash buttons and hope for the best. While that may work in a game like Heavenly Sword, it'll earn you an early death in this game. It forces you to change your play style in a good way and once you adjust, the game becomes really fun.

Final Fantasy Chronicles

Final Fantasy Chronicles

My main motivation for picking this title up was (obviously) Chrono Trigger. Now, I've never played this game prior to picking this compilation up but I've definitely heard all of the hype surrounding it ranging from folks saying it's a must play to the best Japanese RPG ever. After putting some time into it, I can see why it was hyped as much as it was. While I typically shy away from RPG's of the Japanese persuasion because I dislike random encounters and turn-based battle systems, the battle system in Chrono Trigger is far better than the average battle system and I definitely enjoy not running into a flock of enemies every two steps.

Dead or Alive Ultimate


Now I haven't played this one yet. I've been too busy with Ninja Gaiden and Chrono Trigger but I'm sure I'll give it some time this weekend.

I guess that's enough free writing for now. I don't think I've completely shaken this Writer's Block just yet, but I feel a great deal more comfortable with writing now. And since I've got a review of Burnout Paradise and possibly Rez HD coming up for Talk Xbox, I'm going to need to be as loose as possible to deliver the quality I expect of myself. Alright I’m done for now. If necessary, I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.

Time for some much deserved sleep…