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.

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:


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


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?


January 4, 2008

So as many of you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating this blog on what you would call a regular basis. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this: I’m kind of a turd. Now, in my defense, it started out that the entire month of October was taken up by finding and subsequently moving into a new apartment. Following that, I suppose I could try to say that November was taken up by getting settled into said new domicile, but at that point the argument starts to weaken. December… umm… Holiday? Okay, so in reality after losing October to the moving a little lump of Lazy started to snowball and I kept finding excuses not to write. That’s over with, so now you will be graced with my textual wit once more! Huzzah!

I was not completely inactive during my little hiatus, as close scrutiny of yon list will attest. Oh no, in fact I have added quite a few more obstacles to my path, including Halo 3, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mass Effect, God of War II, Odin Sphere, and Super Mario Galaxy. Some of these (read: two) I not only added, but also finished. Halo 3 I actually finished in less than a week. Mass Effect took a bit longer, but ultimately fell like so many before it. Both games were awesome, but you already knew that. Phantom Hourglass, on the other hand… not so much. Well, the game is pretty good. The Wind Waker-style graphics are nice (I was a big fan of Celda), the control scheme is interesting and well-executed, but the gameplay itself is just terrible. The sailing parts are pretty annoying, but really are forgivable. What really brings the game down is the wretched Temple of the Ocean King (or whatever the hell it’s called) that you have to traverse approximately 37 billion times throughout the course of the game. It would be one thing if you could skip all the parts you had already been through each time you have to go back, but you can’t. Sure, you get to warp halfway down after you’ve been through a few times, but halfway doesn’t cut it here… you still end up having to re-do puzzles you’ve already done numerous times before. There’s no excuse for gameplay like this in this day and age. It’s a cheap, dirty, nasty way to extend gameplay and if it weren’t for this accursed blog, I would write the game off completely. In fact, it’s almost enough to make me want to write off Zelda games in general (I’m sorry, Zelda baby! I didn’t mean that! Here’s some flowers! Please take me back, Zelda baby!). Anyway, that thing’s been steamin’ up my DS for weeks now because I just can’t bring myself to play more of it right now… especially not when I have other, better games waiting for me.

A goodly amount of my gaming time during this extended break was devoted toward the PC, which of course I’m not counting for this project. This is unfortunate, since The Orange Box came out towards the beginning of October. What makes that an unfortunate occurrence is that its release prompted me to go back and actually finish Half-Life 2 itself. When HL2 was originally released, I played through it up to the “Nova Prospekt” chapter, which anyone who has played the game will most vividly recall for one particular sequence in which you must weather a siege within the walls of a former penitentiary with nothing but three of the most rickety-ass turrets ever manufactured. You would think that with all sorts of fancy alien technology the Combine would be able to build a better turret than we lowly humans. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. Observe.

HL2 TurretTF2 Turret

Which of those would YOU want to have watching your back? The one that could topple over at the first mention of a stiff breeze or the one with four sturdy legs and frickin’ rocket launchers strapped to the top of it? Yeah… me too.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I ended up stuck on HL2 (just after the turret siege… I had to switch to Easy for the battle, but I did make it past that part) when I first played it. The advent of The Orange Box, however, incited me to play through the game once again, and this time I made it all the way through without getting stuck. I then followed by starting (and finishing) Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, naturally, since I could finally actually play them at that point (Episode One had been out for a while, of course, but I hadn’t finished the HL2 storyline and I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna jump ahead in a series like this). Then came Portal, which only took about two days’ worth of playing to complete (two short days at that), but was so totally worth it. So you see, even though they don’t count, I actually finished another four games during my little “break.” (Note to self: do NOT mention that you’ve also spent, quite frankly, ridiculous amounts of time playing Team Fortress 2 instead of the various console games on your list). Dammit! I didn’t mean to type that out loud…

I’m going to make every effort to stay on updating now that I’ve started again. I really don’t have any worthwhile excuse, as I discussed above, but at least the time away wasn’t a total loss. In addition to finishing Halo 3 and Mass Effect, both of which I mentioned before, I also completed Killzone: Liberation during the hiatus. Hopefully progress will continue without any further 3-month-long snags.

Danger at every turn

June 10, 2007

A little more than a month has passed, and I’ve been making some decent progress. I’ve knocked down 8 of the original 77 thus far, resulting in a 10.4% completion percentage. My eyes are starting to wander, however. It seems that there are new (and not-so-new, for that matter) games that I want all over the place.

On the PS2, for example, God of War II has been calling my name since it was released. I’ve managed to hold off on it so far, and expect I’ll be able to for a while longer, too. As popular as the original God of War was, I imagine GoW II is bound for the Greatest Hits collection, and will be a piece of cake to find a copy of later on down the line. Odin Sphere won’t have that luxury, I believe. It seems like a quirky, niche-y title that’ll get dropped from stores as soon as the first run is sold out. This troubles me, as I don’t particularly want to add to the list, but I don’t want to have to trek through eBay and deal with sellers’ obscene “shipping” charges.

The PS2 isn’t the only system that’s tempting me with its wily wares either, oh no! All else being equal between games, I tend to lean towards the Xbox 360 version these days (in theory… no game has really yet forced my hand) due to Achievements. With some few exceptions, Achievments are worthless in the strictest sense of the word. You don’t get anything out of ’em except for a bigger digital wing wong to swing about. You can’t spend them. All they show is that you either spent more time on a game than your friends did, or you’re slightly better at a game than your friends are. But honestly… who cares that they’re worthless? They’re FUN to get! They give you a sense of accomplishment when you obtain them. Anyway, this whole rambling paragraph is just to explain that while I already own the original Guitar Hero for the PS2, I’m jonesin’ for the sequel on the 360. Plus, with BioShock, Mass Effect, and Halo 3 on the way, my prospects of keeping the 360 list slim are going out the window.

The PSP is gunning for me, too, as I’ve recently become intrigued by the premise of the Killzone games, and the PSP iteration, Killzone: Liberation, is supposedly the best of the (admittedly small) series thus far. I tried the demo of it, and was quite pleasantly surprised. I’ve actually determined that it will end up being mine… it’s just a matter of when. The DS, on the other hand, is at least giving me something of a reprieve (at least until Phantom Hourglass gets here).

Even the PC is getting in on the act. While I’m not currently counting PC games in the list, I still play some on occasion (*cough*Mount&Blade*cough*). So even though picking up new ones won’t count against my list, it’s still bad form. It’s just that the demo for Space Rangers 2 was so much fun, I can’t help but consider purchasing it!

And then, to top it all off, I’m itching for games that don’t even exist yet. I’m not talking about games that are under development but just haven’t been released — I’ve mentioned some of those already — but games that have virtually zero chance of ever being made. Specifically, I’m thinking of Mouse Guard, the incredible graphic novel by David Petersen. I just picked up the hardcover collection of it a couple weeks back, and after reading it through, I couldn’t help but imagine a game in the style of God of War (for anyone who’s read MG, just think of the battle with the snake handled with GoW‘s presentational flair). Mix in a bit of TMNT for the multiple anthropomorphic animal characters with differing weapons to choose from while playing the game, and Pikmin for the sense of scale, and you’d have a serious winner on your hands.