Distractions Abound

January 27, 2009

After a couple of weeks of searching the local GameStops for NHL 09, I finally decided to just go ahead and pick up a copy at Best Buy a couple days ago (Sunday, 1/25).  I’m figuring there’ll always be something else to pick up at GameStop so I’ll probably finish up the couple bucks I have left on my gift card sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, the hockey game itch just became too great and I had to do something about it.  Turns out the game’s just as cool as everyone makes it out to be.  Skimming over some forums it sounds like the online play is riddled with cheaters, but that’s the case with damn near every online multiplayer game since the dawn of time.  This doesn’t bother me, though, as the only game I play online (Team Fortress 2) has been cheater-free in my experience (I’m sure there are cheaters, I just haven’t run into ’em in probably something around if not over 100 hours of playtime, nor have I really even heard much about them).  Anyway, I digress.  One of the coolest things about NHL 09 is the “Be A Pro” mode, in which you create a character and start him out in the AHL and have to work your way into a stint in the NHL.  It’s a pretty interesting mode, as you’re literally playing that character only.  When your shift is up you skate back to the bench and watch the action from there.  When you take a penalty you’re staring through the sin bin glass back at your team’s defensive zone hoping that you didn’t just cost a goal.  There’s no switching control to another character, and trying to be a hero will only end up keeping you in the minors as your coach is not going to be pleased by your lack of teamwork.  Honestly, I haven’t played anything but “Be A Pro” since I got it and so I can’t really comment on much else.  There is an interesting feature in which you can save and upload videos and screenshots from your instant replays to be viewed on EA Sports’ site.  You can see my character Turd Ferguson‘s first goal here.  Not very impressive, I know, and it goes too quickly to even properly see me one-time it in, but I wasn’t interested in actually providing a quality video… I was interested in getting the 50-point Achievement for simply uploading any video.

Now, none of this directly helps or hinders my progress, since as I mentioned before, sports games don’t go on the list in the first place, but it’s probably dangerous to have such an awesome game around to suck up time that could be spent on pieces of crap like Hotel Dusk that I really need to get cleared off my list.  I decided the other day to give that game another shot and immediately regretted it.  I bought into all the hype around Hotel Dusk when it was coming out.  Everyone said “oh, it’s great!” or “the story’s so good!” or some other crap like that.  I like a good story in a game, so I figured I’d pick it up and see what everyone was talking about.  I played it for literally half an hour back then and couldn’t take any more, closing it up for about two years before attempting it again now.  The problem here is that with all the hype, everyone forgot to mention that it’s boring as hell and all the characters are unlikable.  I’m gonna have to just slog through, but man is it gonna be tough to put up with this for however many hours it’s going to take.

Back to news unrelated to the project proper, a writer on Tor.com is running a bloggy re-read (Warning!  Thar be spoilers!) of the entire Wheel of Time series in anticipation of A Memory of Light‘s presumed Fall release.  I read the first three installments of this re-read (well, I didn’t quite get through the third part at work today, but close enough) bringing the recap up to about the mid-point of The Eye of the World.  The thing is, as I was reading through this I started to get nostalgic for the time when the series wasn’t terrible (which I suppose isn’t really fair… the most recent book, Knife of Dreams, was actually really good).  So I started discussing the series with a friend at work who brought up the game and immediately set about trashing it.  I had very fond memories of that game and put up a spirited defense.  Regardless of how the conversation went from there, the final result was that I ended up with a serious jonesin’ to play it again.  Once I got home from work, then, I did some digging for the CDs, installed it, and started playing.  Being based on the original Unreal engine, the graphics obviously don’t exactly hold up, but I was impressed to find that it was more than willing to display at my monitor’s full 1680 x 1050 resolution, as a lot of older games tend to balk at widescreen settings.  I didn’t get far into the game with the little bit of playing I did tonight, but it’s a nice thought that I can fire it back up any time.  Just like with NHL 09, it’s not going to do my List any favors, but hey, this blog’s about games, which are about having fun.  There are enough games on the list that are going to be a chore to trudge through (I’m glaring at you, Hotel Dusk), it’s only fair to my sanity that I throw in some extra fun bits like this.


Less Castlevania!

January 18, 2009

Finished up Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia last night.  Truly finished it up this time, with the proper ending and 100% exploration, which is a nice feeling.  This was kind of an odd entry into the series, story-wise.  No Belmonts, no Morrises, no whips, even, but it was pretty damn good regardless.  As I mentioned in my last post, it was quite a bit harder than I recall the others being, but that’s alright… that’s what GameFAQs is for.

This brings my recently-battered percentage back up to 33.3%, I’m again a third of the way through my plan.  Next up, I believe, will be Valkyria Chronicles, as it continues to dominate my console time.  It truly is a wonderful game… highly recommended to anyone out there with a PS3.  On the other hand, I’m also considering picking up some new games, too.  Moon for the DS is on my mind, as I enjoyed Metroid Prime: Hunters and would love to see more FPSs on the system.

I’m also eyeing NHL 09 as I’ve been really getting into this NHL season, what with the local team not stinking up the joint anymore and deciding that it’s a good idea to actually broadcast their home games.  I’ve always been a hockey fan, especially via video games.  I learned an awful lot of what I know about hockey in general from NHL 96 on the SNES; I broke the crap out of NHL 98 on my PC (apparently there were issues with scoring over 100 goals in a game… tended to make it crash… a lot), and NHL 2001 was among the first games I bought with my PS2.  I haven’t bought another one since then, however.  I did play NHL 2K4, but that was my wife’s game.  I’m thinking it’s finally time to see what the current gen systems can do for the game.  I’ve checked out the demos on XBox Live and have been generally pleased, but never decided to go through with it.  So perhaps I’ll go with that for my next purchase.  It won’t hurt the ol’ percentage, as sports games are not really there to be finished (I guess you could say winning the Stanley Cup would work, but I’m going for plot here), so it’ll be a perfect addition to my library.


More Castlevania!

January 8, 2009

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia came out at an inopportune time.  Released the same day as Fable II and a mere week before Fallout 3, it totally fell off my radar.  Perhaps “totally” is the wrong word there.  I had been anticipating it for a while, but somehow managed to miss the release date.  It wasn’t until I was trying to find something to finish off a GameStapo gift card earlier this week that I noticed it had actually been out for a few months.  As both of you who’ve read this blog for a while can attest, I find it difficult to pass up a Castlevania game, even having played (and enjoyed!) the 3D iterations on the PS2 (although Castlevania: Judgment for the Wii looks bad beyond what even I could stomach).  So as soon as I spotted this lapse in my Castlevanity, I immediately rectified it, picking the game up just a couple of days ago.

So far it’s just as awesome as all the rest of the Metroidvanias have been, but they did happen to change one thing.  The game is hard as frak!  Well, okay, maybe that’s going a bit far — it’s no Ninja Gaiden — but I definitely got my rear end handed to me WAY more often than I’m used to in these games.  Now notice how I just used the past tense there… I just “finished” the game, having apparently defeated the main bad guy, but as seems to be the case rather often in this series, I suspect I’m not REALLY done yet.  For starters, I didn’t actually fight Dracula himself (no more details to avoid spoilers)… plus, the “ending” consisted of a single shot of one of the NPCs, a couple lines of dialog from another one, and then the exact same “Game Over” screen that you get when you die.  Not satisfying.  As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m off to GameFaqs to figure out WTF I need to do to get a proper ending here.  Until I achieve that, this game is NOT getting crossed off the list (unless it turns out that what I saw WAS the actual ending… in which case, shame on you, Mr. Igarashi… just… shame.).  Either way, I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.


I Feel Shame

January 4, 2009

Okay, so it’s coming up on half a year since my last post… did you REALLY expect any different?  I did, but apparently I’m delusional about my own ability to keep up on this blog.  But enough about that.  How about I try to catch up?

When I posted last I had just started playing around with the backwards compatibility of my PS3, having finished up Champions of Norrath.  I moved along from there to Dark Cloud 2, which had no discernable issues on the PS3, although I ended up stalling out on it again rather quickly.  I also gave the PS1 compatibility a shot (not that I had any concern about that part of it… hell, even the current PS2-less PS3s have PS1 backwards compatibility) by firing up Xenogears.  Now, Xenogears is one of those games that I picked up way back in The Day as soon as I got my PS2 but never actually got around to through no fault of its own.  I did get farther into it this time than I did originally, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve made any sort of Progress whatsoever.  I did, however, discover that the wife of one of the characters is maybe just a wee bit too forthcoming with guests as to her husband’s activities:

xenojunk1

Then again, apparently everybody knows about this dude’s “hobby”:

xenojunk2

Around that point I just sort of wandered on to other games as I have a habit of doing, leaving the PS3 to moulder for a while as I headed off towards other pursuits.  I believe it was around this time that I finally picked up Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, which I’m going to use to replace the original Final Fantasy Tactics on The List.  Again, I got further on this one than I had when I first attempted it with the original game, but I still stalled out pretty early on in the game.  And as long as I’m on the topic of handheld Fantasies Final, I should also mention that I added Final Fantasy IV for the DS onto the list.  While I have played a majority of the game in the past, I’ve never actually finished it up (never owned it when it was released here as Final Fantasy II, although my brothers and I rented it a few times, and then it always just seemed to slip through the cracks emulation-wise while I was busy with fan-translations of III and V).

So let’s see… it was probably around that point that I overhauled my PC, Enoch, in anticipation of Spore (letdown) and Fallout 3 (not a letdown).  The problem here is that having a newly-capable gaming PC led me down that path, much to the chagrin of my consoles — the focal point of this project.  I was able to sneak Fable II in when it hit, and even managed to complete it!  but for the last 3-4 months of the year, I was busy with Spore (didn’t finish), Fallout 3 (did finish and considered adding to the list since it’s “Games for Windows – LIVE”, but I figured cherry-picking’s a bit uncouth), The Witcher Enhanced Edition (didn’t finish), Left 4 Dead (finished what single-player bits there are at least once), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (just barely started), and probably more I’m forgetting about right now.

I did end up heading back to Consoletowne after Christmas, as I doubled my PS3 library, receiving both Resistance 2 and Valkyria Chronicles as gifts.  I’m a couple of chapters into Resistance 2 and so far it’s surpassing its predecessor just as expected.  I imagine I’ll expound upon it in more detail when I’ve got more of it under my belt.  Valkyria Chronicles, however, has totally dominated my playing time between the two games.  The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is amazing, the voice acting doesn’t make me want to gouge my ears out as is so often the case with Japanese games… it’s a VERY impressive package.  Nice to see the PS3 get an awesome exclusive (although to be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting the game to go over as well in the market as it should, so it’s not like the exclusive on it is going to catapult Sony back up to the number 1 spot).

Now try not to laugh too hard, but I’m going to tentatively set myself a goal of an update at least every week in 2009.  We all know it’s not going to happen, but I really do feel shame about going almost six full months without touching this blog and would like to get back on track with it.  I do intend to eventually get through all these games, so I can’t in good conscience just give up, which means I can’t give up the posting here, either.  I believe what’s held me back from posting in the past has been a desire to always knock one out of the park with each post.  If I didn’t have something witty to say or something new to report I just left it alone.  I figure I can work on that and start posting general discussion bits if nothing else… perhaps the blog’ll become that much less entertaining than it already is (although that’s tough to fathom), but at least it won’t be totally barren.  And so with another lonely update in the books I head to bed… perhaps I’ll see you in a week?