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  • Microsoft: The New EA?

    Posted on December 29th, 2008 Finster 1 comment

    knowsyousuckWith EA being a bit less of a stinker in recent months, despite a few DRM black eyes, there has to be a new (old?) evil empire, and lately Microsoft has really been cheesing me off.

    New Xbox Experience Sucks

    I went quite a while without having an avatar. Eventually, I got tricked into selecting one as I tried (and failed) to get an online game of Castle Crashers going. Bottom line is, that according to OXM, they’re closing the “loophole” that was allowing me to back out of the Avatar process. I honestly don’t see what the point of having an avatar is. It’s a rip off of the Mii. The idea of selling clothes makes me want to eat Microsoft points cards until I retch. Better that than spend them on idiotic clothing.

    The themes are also quite stupid. Take away the one part of the Xbox Live interface that wasn’t completely retarded (the friends’ list) and replace it with this godawful swooshy merry-go-round effect where it’s not even apparent what the hell people are doing because there’s so much extra noise from the avatar and themes. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even bother with the default Xbox interface anymore. All I do is hit the middle button and pop up the Guide. You know, where you can find all the actually useful menus (including the old-style friends’ list).

    I know this is reactionary, but I honestly am considering NOT renewing my Xbox Live subscription. I’m not saying OMG BOYCOTT, but I am just so… sick… of these stupid avatars.

    Microsoft, not Developers, Determines Prices

    There has been a never ending tale of tears and misery when it comes to Xbox Live DLC pricing. Horse Armor, Godfather codes, Lumines, just to name a few of the controversies. Many times, throughout these debacles, Microsoft has stated that it’s the developer that makes these choices. Blame them!

    Enter Doug Lombardi, VP of Marketing over at Valve Software. Shacknews reported him saying that while the updates for Left 4 Dead would be free for PC, Microsoft was forcing them to charge for the same DLC on the Xbox 360. Naturally, this begs the question: What about the free Gears of War maps and the free Halo 3 content? I guess if it’s a Microsoft published game, you don’t HAVE to charge for DLC, after all.

    Left 4 Dead is one title that is sorely in need of free content. Sixty dollars is far too much for far too little. The $50 Left 4 Dead package on Steam looks downright delicious, comparatively. $50 + lots of free updates vs. $60 + $10 for a DLC pack. Fail.

    Microsoft trying to beat EA to see who can kill off more game developers

    Halo Wars, created by the late Ensemble Studios will apparently include this achievement:

    Ready for the Sequel – 100% completing – 75G

    Fascinating. You include an achievement promising a sequel, but then destroy the people that would be best equipped to create it.

    Everytime Microsoft kills a studio that I used to love, I’m going to butcher a kitten and feed it to my Corgi. With the destruction of FASA Interactive and Ensemble, she now has a voracious appetite for kitty.

    Only Microsoft can end the suffering.

  • A whole bunch of mini-reviews

    Posted on November 22nd, 2008 Finster No comments

    Between bouts of trying to level my WoW characters, I’ve actually played through a number of titles. Here are some of my random thoughts.

    Fallout 3

    I think this might be my top game of 2008. Before I had even realized what happened, I had finished the game after about 50 hours play time. There have been some complaints online that the main storyline was too short. I did a pretty good job of staying focused on the main quests… only did a few side quests here and there… and I finished the game in FIFTY HOURS. That’s a lot of gameplay in my opinion. And I still need to go back and play the evil and neutral paths.

    Fable II

    As far as RPG’s go, this seems like a very deep, very involved RPG. I need to spend more time with it. It’s a lot of fun. However, there are so many other titles to play right now… this will probably be a major title for me after the initial holiday glut of titles is past and I start getting tired of WoW again. (More on that in a minute.)

    Force Unleashed

    I wanted to like this game. It started out really well, but it punishes you SO MUCH when you make a wrong move. And sometimes, there is no obvious indication that you are making a wrong move. OH YAY I KILLED THAT BOSS! Okay, now I all I have to do is jump across this area… oh crap I died. WHAT THE HELL WHY IS THE CHECKPOINT BEFORE THE BOSS AND NOT AFTER I HAVE TO FIGHT HIM AGAIN BLARGGRLRGRLGRLLRRG!!!! Another notch in my “I Hate Lucasarts” belt.

    Dead Space

    I played this for a few hours. It definitely seems like it could be fun if I play through the whole thing. Feels like a 1-play-through kind of game, though. I don’t see myself playing through it multiple times, but who knows.

    Mega Man 9

    OH MAN! Not only has this game managed to completely, flawlessly capture every iota of nostalgia I had for the old NES titles, but it is a great platformer in its own right. It’s definitely challenging, but instead of driving me away, it just pulled me in deeper. Plus, it gives me an excuse to turn on my Wii! (That’s what she said.)

    Gears of War 2

    I played the single player campaign and it was pretty awesome. It added metric tons of story and plot. Can’t wait for the 3rd game. Multiplayer has been kind of fun, but hasn’t really been able to pull me away from…

    World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

    The Death Knight is the single greatest class I have played in any MMO, ever. It just feels really powerful. It’s kind of everything that I used to love about my warrior. High survivability AND high DPS. LOVE IT! The starting area has got to be one of the best sets of MMO content, anywhere. Blizzard’s new “phasing” concept is fantastic!

    Left 4 Dead

    I just recently picked this up and it’s been the only 360 game lately that has pulled me away from WoW in a significant way. I’ve been playing a couple different modes. I hope that the multiplayer for this game stays active for a long time, because this is easily the best multiplayer gameplay of 2008.


  • Call of Duty: World at War beta impressions

    Posted on October 14th, 2008 Finster No comments

    Attack Dogs are the new Martyrdom.

    That is all.

  • Sony Home: A true Metaverse?

    Posted on October 8th, 2008 Finster No comments

    As Hiro approaches the street, he sees two couples probably using their parent’s computer for a double date in the Metaverse. He’s not seeing real people, of course. It’s all part of a moving illustration created by his computer from specifications coming down the fiber optic cable. These people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse.

    From Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

    For those that don’t know. The Metaverse was the fictional social virtual-reality MMO experience that featured prominently in Snow Crash, a cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. Back in ’92 (when Snow Crash was published) virtual reality and the possibilities it brought to gaming were still extremely interesting, especially for the media. Cyber-this and Cyber-that. I figured that a global virtual network like the Metaverse was just a year or two away from fruition. (In fact, Snow Crash helped popularize the Sanskrit term “avatar” to denote online identities.)

    Forward 16 years to 2008 and we’re all a little wiser and a little more cynical, perhaps. The awe I had at “virtual reality” and “holodecks” has been replaced by a kind of “Where’s my flying car?” attitude.

    Then, there’s Sony’s Playstation Home concept. Much maligned as it has hobbled along through Beta, it certainly isn’t the first free-form virtual reality experience. Second Life is probably the most widespread at this point, being so popular that it’s even been featured in an episode of CSI: New York. But reading an article by Stephen Totilo at MTV’s multiplayer blog has shed some much needed light of optimism on Home.

    [Jack] Buser [director of Home] didn’t say the things you might think of when you see “Home.” He didn’t mention virtual world “Second Life” or the current most ambitious interface for a console community, Xbox Live, as he walked me through the version of “Home’ that is currently available to select PS3 owners as part of an “expanded beta.” He described this PS3 service, this 3D virtual world as “something that hasn’t been done before.”

    I had expected to hear about features. I hadn’t, however, expected his pitch for the service to be so psychological. Buser seemed excited about what “Home” could do, but even more motivated to explain to me why gamers would want in. He talked to me about “the life of a gamer,” and how “Home” is designed to improve it.

    How do gamers meet each other these days? Buser asked me this question a number of ways, arguing that there isn’t really a place where this is easily done. There hasn’t been a good place for gamers to meet since the arcades, he said. “Home” can fix that.

    Interesting. I remember the arcades. I also remember the other places gamers would meet. The basement of the South Dakota State administration building, affectionately known as “The Dungeon”, where I could log onto the internet and download new “stuff” onto 3.5″ floppies. I got to know a couple of the regulars down there. Those were the days… but those days are gone. With ubiquitous internet and powerful gaming consoles available in every home, there’s no longer any need to travel someplace else to “get connected.” Thus, no need to meet anyone face to face, either.

    In Snow Crash, the main character, Hiro Protaganist, goes online to head to virtual bars and clubs (built by him and his hacker buddies, of course) where they can meet up, socialize, sword fight, and naturally, something interesting happens and away we go. However, there is this idea that we don’t go to bars and arcades to socialize as gamers. We go online. We have a Gamerscore. We have a Friend Code. We build our own online identity.

    My impression has been changed. What I hadn’t seen or had explained to me when I entered “Home” on my own those few months ago, was the function and helpfulness of the community. “Home” will be pointless if no one’s in it, if its central plazas are empty. Buser said they won’t even launch “Home” — an event scheduled for this fall — until they meet their goal to “have a kind of community to show people around.” The idea is it’s all social. You go to an area of “Uncharted” to find out what people there think of the game or to ask for a hint. Yes, some of us would go to NeoGAF or Metacritic or GameFAQs for that kind of stuff. But perhaps the average PS3 owner wouldn’t. For them, perhaps “Home” is the answer to questions they barely knew they had: Where do they go to meet people just like them?

    This is truly fascinating if it can catch on. If not, it’ll probably be because it was too early. Just like the virtual reality goggles. A little too much, too soon, perhaps? We’ll see. It’s still not enough to get me to buy a PS3… but maybe… just maybe it can recapture the magic of those olden days. Maybe the days of “The Dungeon” are on their way back. Maybe we’ll have a true Metaverse.

    That would be really cool.

  • Blizzard is really cheesing me off, now

    Posted on September 26th, 2008 Finster No comments

    So, as a WAR player, I now read Syp’s WAAAGH blog and came across this.

    As someone who plays WAR but still kinda hangs out on WoW because all my friends are still playing it, I was rather dismayed to learn that Blizzard is nuking everyone’s honor points when the expansion ships. This has got to be the WORST thing Blizzard could do. For a lot of fence-sitters like me, this gives me one less reason to bother with WoW, anymore. 

    Although it’s not as far-reaching, it reminds me of the SWG New Game Enhancements. “Hey, here’s a great idea! Let’s erase everyone’s hard work! No one will be angry at all! While we’re at it, let everyone transfer from easy mode servers to PvP servers.”

    This is a recipe for fail. Meanwhile, Warhammer Online is fun!

  • Oh man, I Love Sameness

    Posted on June 28th, 2008 Finster No comments

    So, I’m watching the Diablo 3 gameplay video, right now. I can honestly say I wasn’t super excited about Diablo 3. I haven’t been eagerly anticipating it since I pretty much had played out Diablo 2 for a couple years after it was released. Good times…

    Very much like Starcraft 2, it looks like Blizzard is staying fairly true to the previous chapters of Diablo in terms of gameplay, at least. This was definitely a criticism of mine in regards to Starcraft 2. However, with Diablo 3, I think this is actually going to be a good thing.

    One of the main reasons I liked Hellgate: London (despite the game’s flaws and a poorly executed business model) was that I really felt like HGL captured the essence of playing Diablo 2. And I liked the gameplay in Diablo 2. In fact, after watching this (ZOMG WALL OF ZOMBIES! AWESOME!) I’m going to have to go dig out my Diablo 2 copies (if I can find them) and roll a couple new characters. (HOLY CRAP THAT BRUMAK LOOKING THING JUST RIPPED A GUY IN HALF!)

    I am seriously annoyed right now that I have to wait for Blizzard to release a WoW expansion and Starcraft 2 before I’ll even be CLOSE to playing this. It also bothers me when they release these gameplay videos, because just like Starcraft 2, it makes me think that the game is playable to the point of releasing soon.


  • WoW Insider Caption This!

    Posted on June 17th, 2008 Finster No comments

    “Could you please leave us alone? We’re trying to have a LARP rehearsal, here!”

  • Some World of Warcraft Statistics

    Posted on June 11th, 2008 Finster No comments

    WoW stats

    I’ve been playing a lot of WoW lately, and I noticed some interesting statistics, courtesy of Xfire.

    First off, World of Warcraft has been the #1 game played by Xfire users for 1002 days. (I’m sure today will make 1003.)

    It appears that an average of 88,926 users have been playing an average of 19,188,204 minutes per day. That comes out to an average of 3.596 hours per day for each user, or about 25 hours per week.

    My own gaming habits currently consist of almost all WoW. Whenever I get spare time for gaming, I’m playing WoW. I haven’t played any Halo 3 for a while now, and I’ve even got a backlog of 360 titles I need to get to including Ninja Gaiden II, Lego Indiana Jones, and the Penny Arcade game.

    But why is WoW taking up so much time all of a sudden? It has mainly to do with the content. Immediately after the WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade, was released, there was a lot of end-game content, but subscribers started dropping off. A lot of servers ended up with very low populations. However, since then, Blizzard has been very carefully adjusting the end-game content and balancing to help improve classes like warrior become less stressful and boring, while also beefing up some of the mid-game content. That means more quests and more content for leveling up as well as a higher quality gameplay experience when you reach the level cap.

    No doubt, there is much work that needs to be done by Blizzard, but I am once again in the unenviable position of being excited for the upcoming WoW expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.

  • Patch Whiners: An Epidemic

    Posted on January 9th, 2007 Finster 1 comment

    whiner.jpgIt’s nothing new. It’s been happening as long as I can remember. If you’ve used the internet at all you’ve noticed. Perhaps, you’ve even been part of the problem.

    Patch whining. Read the rest of this entry »

  • My New Year’s Gaming Resolutions

    Posted on December 28th, 2006 Finster No comments

    It’s been a crazy holiday season for me, between visiting parents and having to unexpectedly pick up and move. I’ve finally had a few moments to mull over some things I’d like to accomplish gaming-wise in 2007. I know, pretty ambitious, eh?

    First, I’d like to finally finish the main storyline for Oblivion. I’ve put a TON of hours into the side quests and guild quests, but still have not finished the main storyline. I really need to do that.

    Second, I’m going to give my Dreamcast more love. My favorite console didn’t see much action in 2006. Most of the time will be dedicated to Grandia II and hopefully Skies of Arcadia (if I can ever find a copy). Ikaruga is always fun to go back to now and again. And if I feel like getting my butt kicked I’ll invite my friend over for some Marvel vs. Capcom, which I will attempt to pay back via Soul Calibur.

    Third, I’ll have Halo 3 at midnight on release day. This is just a reminder that for me, the video game year will revolve primarily around Halo 3. If it gets pushed back to 2008, I WILL shed tears. Tears of pain…

    Fourth, I resolve to play through the entire game ofBioshock without crapping my pants, having a heart attack, or pissing myself. If the creators of System Shock 2 do as well at making Bioshock fearsome as they did on System Shock 2, this one’s going to be a tough resolution to keep.

    Fifth, I’m going to finish Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate (w/ expansion), or Baldur’s Gate II (w/ expansion). I’ve had these games sitting around for YEARS. I’ve played through significant portions of all of them, but never finished them. That’s going to change in 2007!

    Sixth, I need to play more Half-Life 2/Source mods. There’s a lot of good ones out there, now, but I just haven’t sat down and dedicated any time to them.

    Well, that pretty much sums it up. A lot of RPG’s up in 2007, hopefully. I find these are the easiest games to let sit, because they require such a huge investment of time and energy as opposed to a few quick pick-up games of my favorite shooter of the moment.