Friday, December 26, 2008

There is an explosion in a closet in Building 12


Alternate title for this post #1: Movie that time forgot and/or didn't permit me to watch.

#2: I'm allowed to post a picture of Claire Forlani aren't I?

#3: What am I doing watching bad movies again and drinking too much Sangiovese

Around 2001 a little movie called Antitrust starring Ryan Phillippe (must have) splashed across the silver screen. Yeah, I just watched it. In my burnt out working internet retail managing 100 people and surviving shark infested water world I am allowed too much wine and my little amount of free time friday night. So there! i won't even caps my sentences from now on... provoke me and i won't even use spell check even with dotted red lines mark my misspellings.

this is the same angst and milaze that courses thru the veins of ANTITRUST. open source, man. yeah, i watched the pile that is a movie. it has a special charm that only few can see... and i'm in that few. what? you see that pic of claire right?

i've done my time with this movie. i watched it. somebody owes me something. i'll even tag this awesome movie in my lables section. hell, i'll even put ryan phillipe down there.

i'm convinced that HD is allowing me to watch bad movies now. mgm now has a station on time warner allong with a couple other movie studios all in HD and they are filling them with crapola movies for some reason. am i suppose to go out and buy antitrust now? does ryan phillippe have a new movie coming out? are they promoting something? what is the agenda here???? certainly mgm has something better to broadcast!!!!!@!!!!!@!!@@!!@. argggggg!

anyway, There is an explosion in a closet in Building 12... it's a diversion, SPOILER! tim robbins is in this movie. plays a guy named gary winston or winstone or something... william gates... GW... WG. get it? think about that and let it blow your mind.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Life Bars

What better way to get in the holiday mood then taking advantage of people clearing out there closets of video games for that extra bit of holiday money. I know the word 'advantage' may not be the best word to use because in actuality, most people with old Genesis games don't sell them on ebay, they take them to thrift stores. Haha! That may say something about the quality and value of those games, but never the less... it is actually cheaper to buy Genesis games on ebay. Most recently, for 20 bucks, I've picked up:

- Street Fighter II
- James Buster Douglas Boxing
- Pat Riley Basketball
- Altered Beast
- Chakan
- The Incredible Hulk
- Shining in the Darkness
- Columns

For a few dollars more during a Saturday afternoon of thrift store shopping i picked up:

- FIFA International Soccer
- Olympic Gold (Barcelona)
- NHLPA Hockey

This brings my Genesis Collection up to an impressive 39 titles... out over over 800 titles. Getting there. I just said over 800, but I know it to be 823. If someone out there wants to correct me then more power to ya.

I've got one of my Genesis systems hooked up in my bedroom for play. That's right I said one of them. Right now I'm working through ESWAT and Cliffhanger (as in the Stallone movie). I have to say that ESWAT is a pretty good game. You work your way up through the ranks and gain more perks and armor. It's similar to a game like Shinobi and Rolling Thunder (one of the original of it's kind). I just bid on a cart of Rolling Thunder 3 for $6 dollars. Cliffhanger sucks. Sux with and 'x'. Graphically it is okay. Stallone does his 'Stallone' (see exploding pipes in Daylight) marching around with a t-shirt on top of snowy mountains, but man, is is frustrating and, well, lame. The most frustratingly notable thing about this game is that when you hit continue after you have failed... it takes you back to the beginning no matter how far you've gone. That's called 'starting over'.

Anybody still reading? Didn't think so. But if you are... please stop.

I've always considered, in my own world, that Cliffhanger was the last of its kind. Bad guys steal something... initially uninvolved hero gets involved... explosions... humor... action hero saves day. I do have a hankering to watch Cliffhanger though. Or Commando. Go figure.

Monday, December 8, 2008

100% Safe Tons



Everyday, I'm inspired by my drive to work. More recently, with the possible impending collapse of General Motors, things have started getting to me more. Columbus is in the heart of the Industrial Center of the United States. Maybe GM will come out a more competitive auto company, maybe it will completely fail. I don't know. What I do know is that the industrial midwest is in for a world of hurt over the next couple of years. It's heart has already been ripped out once by the collapse of the US steel industry, it will be hard for this area's soul if the auto industry does the same. So whatever my personal feelings are towards the UAW or the Teamsters my thoughts and prayers are with the families that are impacted the most in the coming year. I heard The Black Keys' song "I Got Mine" one morning recently and things just kind of got to me all at once so I wanted to put this together. It's quick. But it will remind me of frozen commutes to work in which i drive past the once mighty Buckeye Steel Castings on my way to play my own part in Ohio MFG. The Black Keys are from Akron, Ohio. Sometimes you can't even tell if a song is good or not if it hits you right.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fallout 3


Fallout 3 stands in stark contrast to Fable 2. With all the similarities they have you can't overlook the differences. It's no doubt that Peter Molyneux and his studio created an wonderful game (dare i say, underrated?). But 'tis the season for games to get short shrift in terms of playing time. A couple times a week I pop on over to Gamers With Jobs to see what they are writing (moaning) about. I find that they write a lot about what I'm into and write a lot more effectively then I do. They've written both about Fable and Fallout at length so I'm not breaking new ground here when I say that they are both great games. However... Fallout 3... Fallout 3. A remarkable game. It helps feed the lack of a PC beast in my life. I have a long lost affection for games like Fallout. My first gaming experiences might have been on the Atari 2600, but my most memorable are on the Amiga and C64. I'm an Ultima guy at heart. An adventurer. I picked up Fallout instead of Call of Duty 5 because Best Buy had a special edition of it. I got home, plopped it into my Xbox and went to work. After about an hour in 'the vault' and deciding how i wanted to play the game it opened up it's world to me and I got hooked. Stepping out of Vault 101 is an experience to be remembered. Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Football and Nike

As the NFL season settles in continues to keep me entertained I felt the urge to post up the newish Nike commercial that has been on pretty heavy rotation this year. Why post it? I've got very little interest in advertising these days, in fact I wouldn't wish a career of trickery for dollars on anyone (smiley face:). I'm posting because it isn't getting old. Anybody who has seen and love "The Good, Bad and Ugly" will recognize the base tune. While Nike's soccer adds have been hitting the mark for a decade, their (or should I say Weiden Kennedy) football ads have fallen short. Which is a shame because of the uniqueness of the sport of football in our culture. Part of it may have to do with the way American sports operates with out ads on uniforms or plastered all around the rim of the stadium. Whatever the case, ads for football have fallen short. That is until now...



It is in the same vein as last years Steven Jackson, Sean Merriman ad but better. But, just for pure entertainment value and because Nike owns sports advertising; a soccer one that I could watch a hundred times. If I imagine Smitty in that first person view i could watch it 100 times more.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ranged Weapons and Matt T.


Been a while since I've written. Moving gets in the way of that. It's a funny thing moving for a 2nd time in an unfamiliar place. But I digress. Alas! I am move-en. And much Fable II is been play-en. And much North Carolina has been thought-en. Fable brings back many good memories. It is what I call a Matt game. I play deep into the night hours, early in the sacred Sunday morning holiness. Matt, I miss you brother. While my time in Ohio may still be ticking on, I often wonder now how much I miss. North Carolina is a like a myth to many people in Ohio. OBX coffee mugs on co-workers desks. Stories from friends here that recount a ten year old trip to the mountains. It was all there in my hands, a missed opportunity to expound on. But here I am, making more then enough to be where I would rather be. Ohio, my friend, you have learned me much. Most importantly, what is important.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hell's Highway Review


It's worth mentioning that just the fact that I am getting around to writing about a game like this means I enjoyed it. I'm awful proud of myself for finally 'finishing' a triple A title this year. Let's get started:

STORY: 7
I'm going to throw out the dreaded 'mix bag' cliche here. After all it is WWII so it is tough to look at is strictly as a game. Gearbox is still going strong with a coherent story with the same set of characters as in previous games. Admittedly though, I haven't played one since the first, but it was refreshing to see Matt Baker and team back. I'm giving the game a 4 almost solely based on the attempt Gearbox made a creating a story. An 'A' for effort kind of thing. Maybe I want it to be better then it is? Regardless, see Matt Baker's decent into madness is fresh and different. However, the 'cut scenes' are edited choppy and the writers choose to bounce back and forth in time more then they should have. Combine that with Baker's 'visions' and it gets confusing. No doubt a 2nd playthrough would help that though. Anyway, a story is there and it is good.

OBJECTIVE: 10
BiA has wonderful gameplay devices that I enjoy. The cover system used is good and the level set pieces are very well done. There are plenty of different ways to complete an objective. I've read other reviews that liken it to 'whack a mole' gameplay. I see it, but don't agree in simplifying it down to that. I like the use of the map screen and really enjoy commanding a couple squads around the battlefield. Controls are simple and the team responds to your orders.

IN GAME ART & DESIGN: 7
Excellent full usage of HD. Menus are fast and clean, the opening menu screen is very well done. In game design is really well done, simple and uncluttered. I think it looks great. Cut scenes go from 'jaw dropping' to 'wow, they mailed this in'. Personally, I enjoyed the daytime battles but lots of reviews prefer the game better when it goes to night which just proves that most of them are entertained by flickering lights. The game is very impressive during the night portion of the game, but I wouldn't say it is much better. Interiors of buildings could have been done better. Other then a few odd moments the game looks fabulous.

AUDIO, SOUND: 7
Voice work is some of the best I have heard in a while. Environmental sounds like gunfire and explosions are as well. Towards the end of the game, I was hunkered down right outside a building when I realized that my teams voices echoed while shouting inside the building. Well done. Music is good. The game may be too ambitious for what the soundtrack accomplishes though.

GAMEPLAY: 10
I already covered this a bit up in objectives, but I say it again. I'm a sucker for the way the this game works. Command squads around a map to complete the mission. Good stuff. That said, there are a handful of 'Tank' missions. Meaning they plop you in the belly of a 'steel beast' to wreak havoc. It is fun, but it's like a different game. I'm also laughing as I write this because there is a strange tangent in the story where you try and save a kid while atop a building sniping off Germans. So, yes... there is a 'sniper level' hahaha.

EMOTIONAL IMPACT: 7
I got fairly involved in Baker's story. I wanted to know what was driving him insane and in the end it pays off pretty well. I was also impacted by what was going on with Hartstock. But you'll have to play the game for those moments because they are the best in the game. Part of the game touches on something rarely done well in video games... the opposite sex. Not with any of the main characters but you will find your heart aflutter when you see one of your team chase after a pretty girl into a burning city. One of the best parts in the game, actually one of the best things I've seen in a game ever. I found myself motivated a great deal and I gave more purpose to what I was doing. I wanted to save them.

LONGEVITY: 5
It is what it is. A WWII game and only one part of a much bigger story.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: 5
The game is a part of a series, I think the best is yet to come.

X FACTOR: 10
I enjoyed the game. I'm writing about it. Again, a triple A title delivers for me! yay!

PACKAGE DESIGN: 5
I purchased the 'Limited Edition' version. Very Band of Brothers. Giant, thick box that is deserving of the game inside. Now, the action figure and comic inside? Maybe not. But it works well. You're always going to get extra points for special packaging with me. Artwork is great. I like the simple duotone red sky with the soldier silhouettes.

FINAL SCORE: 78

Excellent game well worth anyones time. I've touched on some of the better moments of the game already, but I'll say again that approaching a burning city from the outskirts and marching straight into it is fantastic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mark Goes For a Swim


That's Mark... the rules: 1. Be careful which raft you get back on. 2. Hold on to your paddle.

Not just a day on The River.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hells Bells


Don't trust the lukewarm reviews of Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. It is a great game. Its the kind of game you think about at work and want to get home to play it kind of thing. Is it as silky smooth as Call of Duty IV? no. Does it have the same war game mystic of Ghost Recon? nah. Does it have enough of both and and engaging story to boot? Yes. The guys down at Gearbox are proving that the 'Band of Brothers' theme is more then just something to piggy back on. They are sticking with it and have created a fantastic game that is balanced. What is balanced you say? Well... it means problems and challenges are achievable and solvable first go round. Not the 20th trial and error go round and after 5 Dundee Wheat Beers and 2 god awful Bacardi Mojitos that have been sitting in the fridge for a month. Maybe the game has just hit my sweet spot, but regardless... I like it. In fact so much that I don't need to dig into my Mojitos.

That's sayin' something.

Monday, September 22, 2008

'splainin 2

Welp, here I am again in sort of a quasi build up to my next Whale Watcher video explaining myself on another video I'd done in the past. This time it comes in the form of something I put together not long before I'd finally moved up to completely to Ohio. First off though, I'd like to mention that I'd already had a long history with editing down Logan's Run to Whale Watchers music. My epic plan was to almost re-edit the entire move and put it to Roctannica songs. I even tried. I carried it out to about three songs. before I started running out of space on my mac.

The first song I completed was 'I see a Devil' (i think that was the name of the song). I fleshed it out completely on Smitty's mac I think. A couple years later I revisited it on my own mac with, again, full intention of making an epic. I re-re-edited the same thing even and carried further with 'Animals at the Levers' to a chase scene after the famous gladiator type scene in the movie. Later, after a show the WW put on I'd revisited Logan's Run for "Rock n Roll".

I think, as far as my Logan's Run edits go, this was my most coherent. Take that for what it is worth I guess and nothing more.



In this the WW blow up walls, ignite pyrotechnics on an extras ass, and rock a glowing anka. In the end 'Box' lets us all know what it is all about... Rock and Roll.

Enough is enough though. Can I say that I'll never revisit Logan's Run? Honestly... no.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

'splainin 1

Much moons ago in a place near a place called VA Beach a band played. and played. and played. Three quarters of the way through they seemed to get loose, and by loose, I mean let it go, and by let it go, I mean get to the moment where you try and force it then go past that to the point where it let go of them. I remember driving up in pretty heavy snow and calling a girl named Sherri Fain's parents to try and get hold of her. I think she got engaged that weekend. I'd have to check with sources on that though. Too much information there, but it part of what 'splainin' is. It is what it was.

I drove up from Raleigh that night and drove back that night. Rocktannica's number one fan. Looking for magic then creating a mess just to see what happened.



I wanted deep shades of simple colors. Stevens was in a red shirt, Matt in white and Geoff in blue. Never found the yellow I wanted, but it worked for me. I layered about three different shots on top of each other and blew out the contrast. I want it there but not there. Animation with bold lines. I wanted it to be the visual representation of the sound I was given that night as well as capture the feeling I got by taking the trip up there.

At the time I remember being frustrated by the quality of that I got out of compressing files down so they didn't take up too much space. I knew that the band name would be a mess but it looked crappy large. So at the end I blew it out so it looked even worse. A big middle finger to compression. Yeah! Take that technical constraints. Rock n Roll!!!

To this day one of my favorite shots is Wood and Wood breaking apart before I fade them out at the end. This is probably why I picked this video got explain first... That one second I like and am watching a hundred times over just like I did when editing it.

A mess. But I remember it and it still conjures up the same feelings I had then. So something worked.

What I would give to hear Stevens poundin', Matt givin' it his all and Re searchin' for magic just one more time live.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pick It Week 1


One of the things I found fun last year with Madden was keep track of the games it picked as I progressed through the season and compare them to those from major sports people. In the end, the video game finished in the middle of the pack. Which was surprising because i figured it to derail halfway through the season because of injuries, trades and whatnots. But this is a new year. How will Madden do this year? Let's put it up against the experts at ESPN. Part of me wants Madden to fail and another part wants ESPN to epic fail. So it's all fair here, lets take a look...

Week 1 accuracy:

1. Allen 68.8%
1. Accuscore 68.8%
2. Jaworski 66.7%
3. Wickersham 62.5%
3. Sclereth 62.5%
3. Mortensen 62.5%
4. Fleming 56.3%
4. Hoge 56.3%
4. Pick 'em 56.3%
5. Golic 53.3%
6. MADDEN 37.5%

Not surprisingly Mike Golic is near the bottom... but Madden only picking 6 games right in week 1?! Maybe I should ad a control picker like my cat or how about picking the first team mentioned in the box score... okay I just did. 37.5%. Same as Madden. Woops.

Lotta ground to make up here EA.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

OSU Gets Ripped by Ohio*


Ohio State University. An interesting place.

It is impossible to not get wrapped up in the largest University on the face of the planet. Don't ask why I'm taking the time to write about it, because I don't know for sure. It's Sunday though so in opening the Columbus Dispatch today I wasn't shocked to find the headline "RUDE AWAKENING" in large type face on the front page of Sports section. OSU did beat Ohio University yesterday but apparently not to the liking of the entire state.

To me it is no surprise that OU played well against OSU. Many of the players on both teams are born, bred and coached in this state. They probably played with or against each other in-between cornfields, factories and suburbs all over the state whilst growing up. Football, it is said, is single most direct representation of America and Ohio is essentially the cradle of sport. Over the past few years I've learnt that Ohio is truly the countries heart, good and bad. Woody Hayes, one of the most iconic figures in the history of the game and long time former coach for the Buckeyes, embodied not only OSU football but the entire state of Ohio. "Three yards and a cloud of dust." he once said about his run first mentality. Physically beat the other team to submission. He also said "I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." I couldn't come up with a better way to describe the state and people of Ohio then those two quotes.

OSU's stadium can seat almost 110,000 people. It sells out every home game. Think about that. Getting that may people together on Saturdays during the fall is not just a sporting event, it's a historical phenomenon.













Hahahahaha. That clip gets me every time.



Woody Hayes was fired the day after that punch happened.

In other news UVA officials ban signs from games.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Madden Back Again This Year

What a treat... EA sports has once again pushed out yet another year of Madden. Okay so, not so much a treat. Either way it is here and in my collection. Last year, after taking about a 10 year break from the popular franchise, I got it. All in all, I think I enjoyed it save for a few frustrating things (fumbles.). So why did I go back out and get it this year like a crazy person? For a couple of reasons. 1. You could get the Head Coach game in the special edition bundle. 2. It looked fancy enough. Okay, so those reasons suck. I got it because it is football season and I bought into the hype.

Where am I with the game?
Through the Pre-Season with the Redskins.

How is it?
Still fun. Contrary to what I've read, the game seems fairly balanced using the new Madden IQ thingy. A lot of reviewers underestimate the potential of this feature. I also think it is impressive from a coding stand point. It is difficult to say how it will play out during my regular season, but we will see. I'm curious to find out what happens if I am playing a far superior team and get crushed. Will my IQ be reduced to nothing thus diminishing the CPU skills for the next team I play? I'm still wondering if the IQ thing is to replace traditional sliders. I don't think there are CPU sliders in the game, which is different, but could be because of the IQ. What has me scratching my head then is that I can adjust User sliders though. A few people out there are reeeeaaaally upset about the lack of CPU sliders, but between the IQ and User sliders you can get a challenging, accurate game going on. Besides wouldn't adjusting User sliders one way or another, in effect, be adjusting the CPUs? Well, not entirely, but like I've already said, I'm having fun with the game.

How are the stats then, realistic?
This is a very important thing for me. I'll toss a sports game out the window if I'm leading the league in every category, or finishing dead last in them all. I've played Madden games enough to know not to go with 15 min quarters. Right now I'm going with 12 min. I'm only through the pre-season, but so far stats seem solid. I'm a bit stuck in the mud with the running game, but in my last game against the Bills I put up about 150 yds rushing and 200 something in the air (with zero interceptions!!!)

How does it look?
Great. And some moments... unbelievable. Viewing a replay is really a treat. But I will say that still images of the game make it look better then it is. Stadiums look perfect, and finally the crowds are not distractingly bad in a sports game.

How does it play?
Good. But it damn well better. It still bothers me that players can get pushed as if on ice if contact with another player isn't just so. It is especially irritating after a play stops. Nit-picky, I know. But, ya know, football, my friends, is a contact sport, MAKE THE CONTACT WORK AND YOU HAVE A GREAT DAMN GAME. Jeeze.

Bells and Whistles?
Lots. Pretty interface again. I'm a franchise player. In it for the long hall.

How did the 'Skins do in the preseason?
Not bad. Move Cooley to FB Mr. Zorn and you will win.

Madden is still piling on little features like IQ every year, when, if they fixed a couple tiny things in the gameplay I, and the rest of the sports playing world, would be very happy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Soon Ohio, Soon

video
too good a song by too good a band to resist. longer video to come

Lockbourne



Braid; 4.7(?)

The simplicity of the game design is what makes this game stand apart from most others. Braid is a complete thought. As I play the game I can't help but think about what if the game had come out during the height of 2-D platforming. What if somewhere in-between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Strider a game like Braid came out? Would the course of popular video game history have been changed?

While it is futile to compare video games to movies one thing is for sure; you can't help but do it with most current generation games. Alone in the Dark has chapters you can skip to like a DVD, Dead Rising is a send up to zombie movies, BioShock comes dangerously close to film noir at points. and I'm sure that there is some review out there that states CoD IV is an 'action packed, thrill ride'. So then why does such a simple game like Braid more closely garnish feelings so close to what a movie gives you? I guess I could battle back and forth with myself for hours on that, but in the end I would tell you the same thing.

Given the right circumstances, Braid is a game that can hit you like any good art form; literary, visual, or otherwise. I would liken the game to a movie like F. W. Murnau's 'Sunrise'. In that, if I were to talk about it, you might be turned off. It is something that has to experienced under the right conditions to get the full impact.

I can't review this game under the exact same structure I use for others. It has no package and I am going to stick to reviewing games that I can collect on my shelf (for now). I sometimes wonder what is going to happen to Xbox Live Games 10-20 years from now. Will we have all them stored somewhere, like our music, to pull up later when we want to enjoy them? Kind of makes things disposable to think about it that way. Time shall tell. As for now and for the topic of this particular blog, the game gets a 4.70 out of 5. Sans Package Design and Art of course.

Anyway... that is an average.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Braid


Sort of by happenstance I came across the XBL game "Braid". After clicking around and reading a couple reviews on it I started scratching my head. The scores are through the roof? For a Xbox Live game that looks like a painted Mario?

Here is part of Dan Whitehead's excellent review from Eurogamer:

"You see, Braid's creator, Jonathan Blow, has more in mind than just shaking up tired old gameplay conventions. He wants to create games that make you think and feel. Braid doesn't have a story, at least not in the traditional linear narrative sense, but there's a lead character, Tim, and his mission is to find a princess. She's not a literal princess though, but a metaphor - the romantic cliché of that perfect soul mate as filtered through popular videogame motifs. The classic Mario line "our princess is in another castle", knowingly reused here, is more than just an ironic wink to gaming history. In the context of Braid's melancholy mood, it becomes a bona fide commentary on the human condition. Our princess is always in another castle."

After reading that I got the game. Like Mr. Whitehead's review, I too, am at a loss for the best way to explain the impact this game could have on you. I'll end up writing more about this game soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

O I Wish

I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of Imagination - What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not - for I have the same idea of all our passions as of love: they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential beauty...

The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream, - he awoke and found it truth. I am more zealous in this affair because I have never yet been able to perceive how anything can be known for truth by consecutive reasoning - and yet it must be.

Can it be that even the greatest philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections?

However it may be, O for a life of sensation rather than of thoughts!

It is a 'Vision in the form of Youth,' a shadow of reality to come.

- John Keats
(pulled from a letter to Benjamin Bailey)

I like it when his words have meaning to me again. To temper the enthusiasm, an excerpt from his odes...

"Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BRITANNIA

My mother is flying back from England today. She was visiting because of a death in the family. Please keep her (and the rest of my family) in you prayers as she flies back. She dislikes heights. This picture is of her when she sailed over (not so:) long ago...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Civil War 360

Writing about a game that came out well over a year ago might be a kin to writing about my day at work. But alas, here I am and there's no place I'd rather be right now.

Word on the street is that there was a game put out with Civil and War in the title for the Xbox 360. After purchasing many game guides, back issues of EGM and asking around (what we did way back in the '06) I found the Activision Value game "The History Channel Civil War A Nation Divided". Once found this old Virginian's pulse started uh racin'. So many questions to be answered, so much familiar terrain to be discovered in potential HD graphical glory. Would I find a game wrapped in an underdog's developer Stars and Bars or would it be smothered in Union hired gun bunting of industrialization? Well. Sort of more the first then the second. I donno.

Cauldron out of the Czech Republic developed this game and Activision Value Publishing, well, published it. I'm kind of strangely satisfied with both parts of that previous statement. Cauldron isn't exactly one of the big dogs and while Activision is, in it's own right, maybe THE big dog having a smaller division of it pushing this game makes me happy because I can relate to that a bit with what I do at work. Wow. I tied something to that there first sentence.

About the game: Let's jump in.

STORY: 3
It is the Civil War and the History Channel name and between battle summaries are economically well done. This alone warrants a average score from me. Just don't look past that. No story in game except what my imagination brings to it. I blame that pesky habit on the Muppet Babies because, I, to a fault, bring that to everything in my life.

IN GAME DESIGN: 4
Less is more in my book. Effectively done with health, objective radar and ammo shown at all times. I can still tolerate the straight up first person view with hands and weapon clearly shown. Call of Duty type stuff, which must have been what Activision brought to the table. The classic stars as life meter is in full effect here. It gives a hardened video game vet warm fuzzies.

IN GAME ARTWORK: 3
Seeing east coast environments is going to win points with me everytime... to the point where it's like being blinded by love. That said... Strange lighting in the little log huts. Meaning no light source -soldiers look properly malnurished, not a whole lot of variance between all characters but this is war so I get the reason. Seems to only be a few poses for them as well... soldier sitting, standing, guarding (funny), walking. I like the blood on the wrist and still enjoy the re-loading animations. My Southern soldier appears to be properly wearing rags but rest of army isn't. Northern soldiers in nice uniforms. The blinding flash and smoke from a rifle is extremely satisfying, especially at close range with the enemy. I've said a lot of nice things here and I can't overstate the thrill of seeing an area where I grew up in a game and it was well done, but overall, the structures in the game hold this back. Carts, fences, character repetitiveness, tents, odd log 'huts' hold it back.

AUDIO: 4
Plenty of good environmental sounds, but kind or like older medal of honor games if you turn your head it's like the sound disappears. Sometimes the sound of 1,000 soldiers can be heard and if your wearing headphones sounds chilling... but so far i have yet to see those screaming soldiers it is like I'm fighting a guerrilla war a handful of yanks at a time not part of a huge army. Your soldier makes a Simpsons sound when he gets shot. Cannon sounds and rifle effects are very well done. Time was spent with this aspect and that gets a good mark from me. Sounds and voices are repetitive, but the audio levels are done right. Far is far away and close is loud.

GAMEPLAY: 2
Regardless of what could be perceived as slow loading weapons and the lack of any effective cover (you'll get hit regardless of what you are behind) the game play is too fluid and I've got a bad case of super soldier syndrome. Nothing slows you down except injury. You can take quite a bit of damage before you go down. It's irritating when you see a place you want to go, not obstructed, but run into an invisible wall. I get linear, single player game play, but make it rational, or give me a map to follow. In the first Call of Duty or Metal of Honor games, intentional or not, I felt that it added to the confusion, or fog of war, now i just think it's laziness on the developers part, especially now after GTA IV. A.I. really acts rediculous when there is no guns a'blazin', to the point where Berserk on the Atari 2600 comes to mind, graphics good, just limited animations. if the guns are going off then things are a bit different. Finishing a battle sort of feels like a cross country run, there were several moments in the game where i really got excited about sneaking around the enemies camp so it felt real enough for that. The environment aided in this along with the historical context but it seemed like most of the game was like this and, within the context of the Civil War, game play could have been sooooo much more.

LONGEVITY: 1
Not much other then me pulling it out to show my brother when he comes to visit.

X FACTOR: 3
I liked it, I enjoyed it.

PACKAGE DESIGN: 2
Standard stuff here. I don't see why 'A Nation Divided' was added. Standard stuff gets below average.

PACKAGE ARTWORK: 3
Nice little painting. Having the Stars and Bars on there alone gets points, but the rebel getting blow away at point blank range with a cannon? wow. um. That'll haunt your dreams.

I'd like to add, in summary, that I am still having a good time with this game. I'm probably the only person that played through the six Southern battles before I started the Northern ones. I would recommend not doing that because it is clear the developers wanted the gamer to play the North first, meaning he first couple are well done, more soldiers and direct contact. However, that all came crashing down when you start the Gettysburg battle as a Northern sniper(!?)... come on. Find the game and play it for the environment alone. Some landmarks from famous photos are there and a couple times I really got into the historical context. Find it used and let your imagination relax and settle in.

OVERALL: 2.67

That is an average.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baseline: Low. Machine Head (Saturn)


Machine Head is a game that came out for the Sega Saturn on May 26, 1997. I am going to low end baseline my review scale with this game.

"See through the eyes of Dr Kimberly Stride as you ride the Vorpal Blade through an insane combination of shoot-em-up action, strategic objectives and B-movie melodrama."

If you look Machine Head up on the web that's pretty much all your find (I think there are about 3 copies available on ebay as well). While it is impossible to know exactly how large the web is (85 trillion megabytes, says Wired), Google searches 1 petabyte of info every 72 minutes. 1 petabyte is 1024 terabytes... which itself is 1024 gigs. Come to find out... there isn't a good scan of the cover art out there. The largest scan of the US version is about a 3k file, the UK version: BLAM! Machinehead was more popular. There are a handful of things on that version. One reason for this could be that Core Designs, Ltd. is a UK based company. Toby Gard and Paul Douglas of Core created Tomb Raider but it's clear that on Machine Head they misfired or didn't fully complete the game just like many others for the Saturn.

There might even be a message from the Core Design team addressing the rushed feel of the game in the Mission Structure description of the game. And I quote: AREA FOUR. The calm before the storm. Not dissimilar to being shown your favorite present ever and then being punched in the face before you can get to it. Repeatedly. Little or no information available.

I feel like I'm picking on the game now... but to it's credit it does have a couple things going for it... (see quote above).

Story: 1
The Story in the Manual is classic Science Fiction stuff... From the Manual; "After much consideration and stealing of food, Callam realized he had accidentally become a God. With a chin full of cake instead of the time honored white beard." Unfortunately it doesn't get translated very well in-game. There are a few moments where I asked myself, "wait... what did I just hear from a Kids to Adults rated title?"

Objectives: 0
The action is fierce, but difficult to know to what gain.

In-Game Design: 0
It wasn't.

In-Game Artwork: 0
Nothing to be found here but an attempt at 3-D on the Saturn and like a few other saturn games, it turns out looking soupy. All the textures are the same. Is that a giant bug? A wall? A key? Wait, that's the door and I need the key? A hill? The main character?!

Audio: 2
It has audio.

Gameplay: 0

Emotional Impact: 2
I'm a sucker for what the story set me up for. Plus, I own it.

Longevity: 0

Historical Significance: 0
None, unless me writing about it gives it one... None.

X Factor: 1
It just seems incomplete. Gameplay is extremely repetitive. Things are hurting me. Targeting is extremely loose.

Package Design: 1
It's hard to look past the gigantic saturn case. The "Machine Head" title looks like it was accidentally moved to far down, the title is in magenta on the side of the box. It is unreadable. I think the press forgot to make the other three passes.

Package Artwork: 3
Gets points for being hand painted and looking almost good enough for me to use it in my blog title... almost.

Summarizing this game comes down to just me just popping this title into the Saturn a couple times and then commenting more on the manual and artwork then the game. I didn't complete it and I don't intend to. Maybe I should apologize for that but my game playing time precious and I intended to keep this blog a de-pressurizing from work creative release and not a job in it's own right. So I am not going to punish myself by playing a game that just isn't that fun and exists in my collection as a game that was bundled with a lot of games I purchased with Nights into Dreams.

Why write about it then? There's always a certain amount of discovery involved. About the game, about the Saturn, about the creative group behind it. I spend a fair amount of time reading about my hobby and it is frustrating to read reviews that are just mailed in. If you didn't play the game, then you didn't play the game. Talk about that... Sorry Gameshark... here's a link to an atrocious review about The History Channel Civil War. (more about this later).

Machine Head is far from being the worst game of all time. It's just the worst game I own... How's that.

I'll redeem myself by posting up a good scan of the cover. Core Design deserves at least that from me.
FINAL SCORE: 0.75 out of 5.0

That is an average.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Beginning of BudEuro


This is a blog with "Beer" in the title, so I feel fully in the right to say something about the InBev purchase of Anheuser Busch. The first question I have is: Will Americans care?

Let's look at at a couple of interesting factoids first. Anheuser cut 1,800 jobs in the past couple months to look like a nicely dressed higher profit whore for InBev. That's right, I said "Whore." It was reported in todays USA Today (don't tell anyone I read it) that some of the higher ups where nervous about the possibility of Barrack Obama becoming president and imposing a larger capital gains tax so the largest holders of shares pushed the sale. InBev says they will keep American breweries open, even entertaining the possibility of putting corporate offices in the US. Ugh. Maybe this stuff is true. Maybe not. Whatever the case our country has lost a little bit of her cheap beer loving soul. I don't particularly like Bud, Bud light or God forbid Natty Light. But damn it all to that hell spawn... next time I order a cheap beer with friends after work it's going to be Miller Lite.

So with that I have a message for InBev... you think the North American Budweiser market is something you can count on. In fact saying "hey, we've got America locked dooowwwn, we can expand on the Asian market, we've cut costs in China just by absorbing competitive breweries into one." Don't overlook this... I know already that in the Heartland of the United States of America (there is even a Anheuser Brewery less then 10 miles from me. A fucking American created the equipment that made this company what it is over at Jeffrey Manufacturing, not a European, not a German, and not a flippin' Belgian) have taken notice of what has just happened... folks that can't even read... it is just as easy for the lowest of the low to the creme de la creme to say Miller Lite instead of Bud Light.

How's that deal looking for August Busch IV a few years down the road? Thank you for selling your soul, you've made everyone's choice easier at every one of the thousands of corner dives that much simpler.

I don't think I'm alone on this... but next time I see a Bud commercial during the Super Bowl (sometimes embarrassingly) touting American culture I think I'm going to puke, nothing like a Belgian/Brazilian corporation shoving that crap down my throat. Good luck in the rest of the world, you just lost America.

Man! I'm worked up.

***writers note: the pic above is a slat conveyor, made by the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company of Columbus, Ohio, is moving beer bottles and cases at a brewery, 1908. The conveyor foot shaft and the screw shaft slack take up mechanism are visible.***

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Civilization Fairey


Where do you even begin with a Sid Meier game? The guy is a legend in my book.

Civ Rev is a neat and tidy package to bigger brother PC Civ game(s). After playing my first "board" I was a bit down on it. It was jarringly quick, I ended up warring with just about everyone and I was stuck not really expanding my empire or creating many wonders. I couldn't even fall back on just taking a rival city and burning it to the ground and I couldn't destroy roads to weaken the enemy. I was stuck just pounding away at their city using brute force. Maps are tiny (and you can't choose the size of them or terrain) and about an hour in I was whoring myself out giving away technology and gold just to keep the other nations off my back. Eventually, in the modern age my nation started kicking in to high gear all the sudden (which, to a PC Civ play nothing is "all the sudden") and I started a royal beat down on my enemies. War, war, war... Me verses the rest of the world because no one else warred unless it was against me. That's all it seemed to be and that's all I've read in the reviews as well.

However.

A few boards later I discovered that this isn't the case. You can't avoid bumping into two or three other nations with in the first fifteen minutes and while you will eventually, you don't have to war. You just have to play THIS version of the game not try and make it the PC version. Every round you have to press the flesh and stay on top of the peacemaking. Avoid extending too far but find sweet spots. It'll seem like cities are right on top of each other, but Civ Rev is a different game. Playing the game this way may make it sound like it is tedious but it's not. Menus are lighting fast and the decisions are simple which leaves the game series hallmark of "just one more turn" firmly in place. It's just that that one more turn won't be when the sun is coming up the next morning. Even playing the game this way clocks it in at under three or four hours. And, btw, you can destroy cities late in the game if you so choose.

Soooo... now I'm going to attempt and follow my Review Structure I put together a couple weeks ago. Here goes:

- STORY: 5:
Like Civ games in the past, it is what you make it. I happen to enjoy this take and the spirit is there.

- OBJECTIVES: 5:
Plenty to do of course, again... Civ game

- IN GAME DESIGN: 4:
Good work done here. Nicely done considering it's PC heritage. Menus and pop ins are where they should be (albeit in your face). I've grown to like it. Looks sleek and clean in HD.

- ARTWORK: 3:
I'm torn here. Animations are cute and fluid. But battles are herky jerky. Cities look ok. Nothing is that impressive nor is does anything look awful. Graphics are not the sort of thing I really get hung up on unless they just suck.

- AUDIO: 4:
Well done. Classy. "Sims" chatter can get old, but you can turn it off. The music choices in the game are top notch and sound great when piped though my stereo. Sometimes, with the sound effects, you get an obscenely loud river flow or an army pounding its shield but it is forgivable. For the most part the audio is subtle but effective.

- GAMEPLAY: 5:
Again, this is a console version of Civilization. Play it as such and it will be enjoyed.

- EMOTIONAL IMPACT: 3:
No looking at the clock and discovering it is 4 AM here. Nor do I get really, really irritated when I loose a city or my first warrior army (sob).

- LONGEVITY: 4:
Many challenges to be found. I will be playing this one right up till Fable 2 comes out and I can see myself picking it up here and there down the road. Also, multiplayer is to be found here.

- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: 4:
This is an optimistic 4! Because the game works and I think it will send a message to the industry that there is a market for this type of game; hopefully pushing more complex and deeper games to consoles. I could be wrong though.

- X FACTOR: 4:
Damn it. It's fun and I'm extremely happy it exists. Would you rather it not (I'm looking at you IGN and Gamespot; put this game in your first person shooter loving pipe and smoke it for all I care).

- PACKAGE DESIGN: 2:
Meh. They mailed this in and in the title the word "Revolution" looks like it was done by someone who just discovered text elements in photoshop. Why for the love of the Hanging Gardens did they overlay a texture on Sid's name? ugh. The only saving grace is the Shepard Fairey poster printed on the back of the cover sleeve. Why not put that on the cover?

- PACKAGE ART: 3:
The artist must have played the game only twice. He drew the world at war, complete with two nukes going off and a giant explosion in the southern part of Greenland(?). Way to go. Anyhow, it falls in line with the game art and design. Cartoonish. Fairey's Poster balances out the mess on the front enough to give it a 3.

OVERALL: 3.83

That is an average.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Civil

The time is nigh! The Civilization release on Xbox 360 is now. Oh, I'll get it... but will this hardened vet of the PC version like it? Or will it force me to buy a new Mac to play Civ IV. Will this game make me adjust my top ten video games? Doubt it. Will it be fun? We shall see.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beautiful Blood There Will Be

Finally got around to scratching an itch I've had for a while. There Will Be Blood was finally consumed. Had this movie been directed by someone else it would have been held in better regard (now that the DVD is out) because the word that the same director did Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love did this one must be out. All those movies where popular but could be polarizing. For me those movies are fine. But to be frankly honest Blood is my favorite out of this bunch. What he shows on film is more then the story of Daniel Plainview; it's a visual slice of what was in this country. It is a beautiful film to look at. I like it on that merit alone. There are lots of people out there who would love to see a time, a place, a story on film... I'm not alone on this. But more often then not, when you finally see it on film it's a big let down because the director didn't do their homework. Case and point here are movies that revolve around the Civil War. The scenery in Virginia and Maryland alone would keep me riveted for hours. Anyway... steering away from that topic and to shorten this... PT Anderson and company got it right and that is an extremely refreshing thing to witness.

Take note all you future Civil War movie making people.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lost BioShock Planet ESB


I'm retiring BioShock from my play list. There, I said it. I've come to terms with this now and can now move on to some other 360 game. I had to do the same thing with Lost Planet. Both these games slowly became a time and energy suck. Both had promising starts then just fizzled and with both the same strange thing happened... my 360 started to collect dust. Almost as if I had to motivate myself in to playing it, always knowing that since it was in the console tray I had to play that game.

With Lost Planet I didn't feel so guilty, but with BioShock I kinda do. It got great reviews, it looks fabulous, decent story, a good single player experience, Todd Brakke over at The Nut and Feisty Weasel finished it (excellent wrap up)... all that. But why, oh why am I avoiding it? Maybe it is longer hours at Art.com? Maybe just not in a current gen mode? Whatever. If I'm squeezing in a game like Wolf of the Battlefield on XBL then it means I just couldn't get into it, period.

I feel like this game was given more credit then it was do based solely on it being an alternative to Halo 3 or even Call of Duty 4 or both. It's comparable to the media giving good reviews to a undeserving band just because it wasn't the band du jour at the time. Not so much that they are bad, just that more often then not they turn out to be a muddled mess.

Maybe this is Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Moondog ESB talking but... No mas BioShock, No mas. I've piped the Moondog correctly and hacked into my game vault in under 60 seconds to reserve a special place for you next to Lost Planet and Table Tennis on my 360 shelf.

Moondog people, Moondog.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Review Structure

The Sega Genesis is making a comeback here in my life. I was able to pick up a handful of decent games yesterday as I travelled around town to local thrift stores. I'm looking forward to playing Cliffhanger (the movie adaptation), ESWAT, IMG Tennis, Winter Challenge (Olympic party game), and Streets of Rage (an Arcade classic).

This puts my total genesis game collection at a measly 26. Sad, yes... but growing. Last night I started a cataloging system that may grow into something more then an excel sheet in the future. Right now it will serve as a database for all the games in the Genesis collection. It's got Title, Genre, Developer, Distributor, Avg Ebay Price (item must have Box, Manual, Cart), my assigned value, rarity and general demand; all the regular stuff but then I took it a bit farther by hashing out my own way to review games by breaking them down to 1-5 scores in several key areas i find thought and discussion provoking on top of accurately assigning a score I am satisfied with.

The categories are as follows:

- Story
- Objective
- In-Game Design (meters, game menus, maps, etc...)
- In-Game Artwork (graphics)
- Audio/Sound
- Gameplay (controls, too difficult or easy)
- Emotional Impact
- Longevity
- Historical Significance
- X Factor (is it fun?)
- Package Design
- Package Artwork

For me, something like this works because it levels the playing field a bit. It also forces me to consider the game instead of just saying it is fun and put's structure behind what I'm saying. It's more interesting with more to think about. I've taken what others might see as one category like story (writing) and broken out objective because a game can have a great story but be ruined by the games objectives execution (go there, get that, unlock this, etc).

Design and Artwork go hand in hand but are distinctly different. Some games have great design (Madden games), but completely drop the ball on graphics (Madden). Current generation games may have a leg up in this category, but have you ever gone back and looked ate a game like Comix Zone or even Jungle Book on the Genesis? The look great. That said though, some games don't look so hot but still work and innovate with the overall design of the game screens (both menu and in-game). Right below, you'll see screen shots from a couple Ghost Recon Games. I'm not going to comment here about which I prefer, but you get the idea of what I'm getting at. Graphics and Design in games are different.



Longevity and Historical Significance help the older games. Again separate things. Longevity can be aided by time based achievements, easter eggs, online play, updates, co-operative play, hi scores, just plain fun, etc... On the other hand Historical Significance is a game that made an impact on the industry or sometimes other industries. A good example of a game that has longevity would be something like World of Warcraft or Golden Eye and Historical Significance would be something like Spacewar! or Pong.


Design and Artwork are split out again for Package Design and Package Artwork. Warlords is and excellent example of greatness being achieved in both categories:

After seeing this image you have to wonder why games then began to use images like the below to sell games:


Structuring out a review based on certain cornerstones is nothing new. Nor is it necessarly the best way to approach anything. Had a professor in school told me to do this I would have gotten angry, stating that art is emotion. Perhaps the old me is right in a way. But using numbers as a way to gauge a video game ads backbone and heck, it is fun.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Combine Everything Together

how, what, who... where now?

I, uh. when i found, this evening. Dancing, Star Wars... Is it just me or is this more entertaining then Episode I. I got it, no CGI. I'm going to bed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

wooden gates or to noble strength

i walk with pounding, around and around moving towards what only i can see in front of me, approach what only makes sense for a short while or so out. i continue, and continue. going one way, and then towards another. pounding, pounding. once now i reach one spot, i love, throwing my arms around it while continuing to move to the next. i'll hold to it till i have something else to grab. now two then three, then one has to go ((=sum(1+one+1parentheses-onedouble)es. all the while moving and holding more then i can handle. my feet are fractured now then, and fall to my knees but continue to pound as though nothing has been lost, nothing is in pain. so continuing but only on my knees my legs crumble, and can hardly move. afterwards only reaching as far as my arms can go and owning only what i can account for. finally pointing to open wooden gates or to noble strengths in name where shear interest, beauty, voice tone, gorgeous lines stop* once i would have gone but now see only reasons not to, and retreat to a lost time, to a youth that cannot change, more... that i fear deeply and do not wish to change. to shadows that others have become to shadows i no longer have the power to rectify, to ones i can no longer reach and are not with in my arms length. now i can only speak. talking of things that have might have been to shared memories that go forgotten and words and actions i can no longer take. in time i'll look behind for my shadows, then to my left, back round back to the right then finally in front where i knew all along i'd find it. walking slowly it'll be fully formed and begging me to move towards it again without consequence and fear till i inexorably will grab, hold and destroy again. video

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Commando 3


The Xbox Live game Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is worth a mention if only for nostalgic reasons. It's pedigree is old school, top down shooter action. Unlimited bullets? check.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunken Village


Last week ye ol' German Village nearly got washed away! It flooded very quickly and drained almost as fast.

Lots of water... maybe why I purchased BioShock over the weekend for the 360. I missed the boat (erm) hype on this game, but I am willing to give it a shot. A couple hours into it now and still waiting to get sucked in. I keep wondering if I am missing something here. The game is rated as one of the best on the 360 so I must be. I'll admit the scenery is impressive. Mid 20th century architecture completely underwater. It reminds me of an episode of Futurama where they rediscover Atlanta under water and everyone was mutated by the Coke spilling out of the factory. There are some genuinely creepy moments, which maybe why I'm writing about it and not playing it right now. I'm going to keep plodding along and report back if anything changes.

While I'm at it, I'll post a video on a game that I didn't find time to write about. I really enjoyed this one. The video below was made by the folks that made the game. I think it accurately portrays the games mood, it also lets me know the team creating it had something good in mind when creating it. I was, am, floored by the environment. So good it is a show piece.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Destinations

It's a warm, peaceful, Saturday morning in Columbus and I feeling the need to share. There are only a handful of good places on the web for reasonable reviews and features about video games so I thought I put a few here today...

GAME CRONICLES
I have a soft spot for this site right now even though it is not the most comprehensive place for reviews... the ones they do are written by folks who... gasp, enjoy games.

THE NUT AND THE FEISTY WEASEL
I found this after reading a feature piece written by Bill Abner that blew me away. I actually contacted him as he is an Ohio guy. If you want to read that piece (from the escapist magazine)... THE STAGNANT STATE Mr. Abner also has a book: The 2006 Gamer's Tome of Ultimate Wisdom: An Almanac of Pimps, Orcs and Lightsabers. You need not go any farther to find a intelligent, honest voice on gaming topics (board games included).

GAMESUTRA
More of an industry site, but is very good.

RACKETBOY
It tries too hard, but it does have more then a few good feature articles to read. Honest good stuff.

Monday, June 2, 2008

youtube

saloin4: "Excellent,super.THANK YOU"
trevalot: "yeah YU, get your act together, we're waiting..."
molotovtube: "God Suzuki bring us SHENMUE 3!!!!please!!
azechirai: "Nozomi dont forget to say goodbye, see you" T3T
sharkonesega: "one of the best video on youtube, gratz. I'll remember these situations forever.Shenmue nel cuore."
sarpijk:"nice effort"

Sometimes it's worthwhile to take a look at comments on my youtube videos. My Shenmue video has gotten the best response by far. I'd have to say there is a bit of pride when someone says it is one of the best on the site, sort of embarrassing as well. The Teela video has gotten a lot of comments (had to delete a few actually... gross man, gross). The beer ad is off the charts, I've even had a few emails about that one... people sharing their experiences, usually they are related to baseball so I eat those up. One guy really got in to sharing his time at Polo Grounds. The Jamestown videos have attracted a few folks from my father's church. One watches them often for morning meditation.

Perhaps the most re-friggin' diculous was a video I posted about my travels back and forth to Columbus, OH from Raleigh. They were mean... hateful even, telling me that Columbus was a great town and that I was just an out of towner. One message was very long about how I was a looser, just filming myself. It was very interesting since I didn't really think the video portrayed Columbus in any real light at all except the intro text said "Welcome to Columbus". I guess it is possible that I got across my loneliness and disconnect from all the travel I was doing... but I doubt it. I pulled the video very quickly.

Now, after watching it again, it brings back many memories. Some very difficult, so in a way I'm happy that I have it. To me, it speaks volumes, which was the purpose of it. Maybe, in a way, I knew I would want to look back at it a few years later and remember the feelings. It's cliche, but like it happened to a different person on another planet. I filmed myself waking up, the complimentary continental breakfast (hardboiled eggs!), misty morning, 6am alarm clock actually going off (look for the red dot), my wedding ring, my old phone, the 6am TV shows, downtown Columbus, the cold... After watching it... melancholy. I miss my friends in NC. I'll say this... I'll be back, maybe not tomorrow, but I'll be back.

I'll put a link to it back up here now but... wow... Touchy people out here in O-H-I-O man, touchy. You want to jump in these shoes?! huh? youtube gangsters? What! Right. I didn't think so (wait, I'm the one touchy).

(you may have to reconnect the link once you get to the page)

WELCOME TO COLUMBUS

Below is a revisited version. Maybe I'll post this one up on youtube and see what happens... as for now though, it will only live here.

video

Monday, May 26, 2008

GTA IV.II

As the credits rolled on GTA IV I started to wonder how much the game cost to make, so after some searching... $100 million. After some additional searching you figure out that GTA IV is the first game to eclipse Shenmue in this category. All roads take you back to Shenmue. Shenmue cost a reported 70 million.

In a handful of ways, the comparisons are there. Come to think about it there may not be a GTA IV without Shenmue. Besides the gameplay; the story is similar. Our main protagonists are hell bent on revenge. Ryo is hunting down the person who murdered his father, Niko is looking for a person who betrayed him and both characters have doomed relationships and find only emptiness in revenge.

Shenmue can't really be considered a 'sandbox' game like GTA titles can. Shenmue has a clock that haunts your dreams and keeps things moving forward. Ryo needs his sleep, man! GTA IV uses that gameplay element a bit more now then previous installments. I felt more rushed in GTA IV but a big motivator there was story whereas in Shenmue the story sometimes left you looking for sailors, dropping yen into a Hang-On cabinet and working a regular job moving boxes around, which only made it seem like a sandbox.

The thing Shenmue had going for it was intimacy. I really felt like I was part of the world. GTA IV has that as well, but it just can't compare. Even if I could have, I would never even have thought of jumping to my death from 50 stories while firing off rounds from my carbine all the while hoping to land on a vehicle just to see what happens to Ryo. The story in GTA got to me, but not enough to prevent me from trying those types of things. Money comes easily to Nikko, not so easily for Ryo, playing Lucky Hit could only earn him so much.

Now that I've finished up the GTA IV story I can't help but think of how refreshing it would be to have a game with the same elements, but without the witty advertising, cursing, vulgar talk radio stations, ethnic stereotypes, etc... not that I don't like it, it's just that sometimes it took me out of the game. That said, there is definitely a self awareness about it at Rockstar throughout the game though. At one point even, Niko switches off the radio station, stating that he couldn't stand it anymore. I was impressed. It also made me wonder if there is another game that Rockstar wants to make but cannot because it wouldn't sell. Maybe a game closer akin to Shenmue.

Think about the buzz around a Shenmue game made by Take-Two's Rockstar.

Think about it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

GTA 4



Wow. It's rare that something comes along with a lot of anticipation then surpasses your expectations. Rockstar has outdone themselves. The game is incredible. When reading the reviews about the game you might feel bad for the folks that review for a living. They play games as a job, not for the fun of it or for (gasp) the experience of it. GTA 4 is a rare treat for someone like me. First impressions after firing it up are jarring. I expected it to look and feel much like San Andreas. Nothing could be farther from that statement. Meaning, it is clear that it is by the same folks, but the boyish story in the previous installment is gone. The story, which is what I figured would fall flat, it much more gripping.

Like and dislike, feelings.

One of the biggest changes perhaps is, well, me. Maybe I'm wiser, gone though a bit, been around long enough to have made bad decisions... but this game makes you, forces you, to take deep breathes. Dare I say; it has a bit of Shenmue to it. For example: you work on many relationships at once. The game allows you to invest time in certain characters, work for their friendship or love. Because I am the way I am, I tried to take one as far as the game would allow, when all the sudden it turned on me. I honestly felt sort of betrayed. I felt like taking a walk and watching the time go by, literally. So I did. Almost like adding my own cut to the story.

Marching On.

Rockstar didn't mess around. This game is worth every penny. The city looks and feels ridiculously good. I've never lived in NYC but I have visited on occasion, probably more then I should have. I vividly remember the colors of the city the day after New Years, the emptiness. I also remember taking a train from Islip on a Spring day in the middle of the week. Both contrasting images and feelings are in the game. My experiences are limited, so I can only imagine what someone who spent a lot of time there thinks. Regardless, the game sucks you in. Forces you to take in the character that is the city along with the human characters to run into along the way.

Some say this is the greatest video game experience of all time... They may be right, perhaps wrong. Either way, I'll be playing this game all the way through. Why not.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

8 bit



My Xbox 360 returned to me last week and seems to be working again just fine. I resumed my futile attempts at higher ranks at Call of Duty 4 and revived my addiction to Galaga. However, with the release of Grand Theft Auto 4 I think that all other games will be cast asunder for a few weeks. From what I've read, this is the best Rockstar has given us, and that is saying something.

'In der Beschrankung zeigt sich erst der Meister'... limitation reveals the real mastery. Or so www.8bitpeoples.com says, by quoting Goethe, about the music of Stu. The site is incredible. I can't get enough of the music found there. It's what we have the internet for. The music is in part the realization of some of the early 20th century German Bauhaus (got a Klee hanging at my desk) that art should meet the needs of society and that no distinction should be made between fine arts and practical crafts. While we are going German it is worth mentioning that this music is of the Karlheinz Stockhausen school. Some of the tracks I found are so closely related to the thought process behind Stockhausen's it's erie. I think he'd be proud of my video.

Most of this madness was inspired by the documentary "King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters". Watch it. Besides being good; You'll find an extra that features art from the "I am 8 Bit" gallery that is part of the 80's revival junk everywhere. Remember wondering how the 80's would impact our culture now like the 70's did in the 90's? Well. Look around I guess. I figure it is from us folks from that time are getting to be in charge and the rest of the world is just going to have to deal with it for a while.

Lots of German here today. Ii has to do with where I live I'm guessing. Ohio is filled with peoples of German decent. Off the top of my head, here are some last names of people I know here: Zerhusen, Keck, Bernthold, Eicher... Anyway, I hungry. Got me some braunschweiger chillin' and Weissburgunder to wash it down.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Collecting to Play


Another weekend here and this tired, stressed out manufacturing supervisor kicks up his feet once again to calm himself by writing about his video game addiction. Last weekend was a big weekend for collecting. I was able to find the original NES and N64 at a thrift store. Continuing with the Nintendo theme... I purchased a Nintendo GameCube for 30 bucks. Now, being that I'm not much of a Nintendo person, I've got a lot of work to do to catch up. But my initial thoughts are that the GameCube is a great system for collecting and playing games. My guest game reviewer (Amy) has been enjoying Paper Mario a lot. The console itself is impressive looking. In the future I'm planning to get into Zelda: Ocarina of Time and perhaps some other choice Zelda games as Nintendo ported a bunch of them to the system.

On the other side of things (games), I expanded my Genesis library a bit. Picked up Sonic, Sonic 2, Taz: Escape to Mars, Taz-Mania, Mickey Mouse: Castle of Illusion, Quackshot, and EA's first Hockey game simply called NHL Hockey. Won those on ebay for a bid of $6.50.

There is something undeniably sastisfying about gathering games right now because it is so wide open to me right now. Meaning, I'm not nearly close to having to narrow down my searching. I'm able to pick up loads of stuff for next to nothing is get quite a bit out of it. However, as with anything, there is a frustrating side as well. Guardian Heroes for the Saturn being one. I loved that game when I had my Saturn back in the day, now it is being sold for over 100 dollars... where is mine now? I don't know... lost to time.