Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fill in the blanks

There's a lot Cary and I know about in terms of gaming. Surely. But there are definitely a lot of things we don't know. In fact, I'll show you one thing I'm relatively clueless about:

Yep. The Nintendo Wii is a console that, admittedly, I have a hard time calling a console. Seriously. When I was just typing that, it felt strange. It's not meant to sound egotistical, but it completely does. Sort of like when my mom asks me how to do something on her PC and I complain about Windows Vista and not knowing what I'm doing, then she gets all up-in-arms and mutters something along the lines of "whatever, Apple dude."

Yes, I have an Apple MacBook. Yes, I'm quite infatuated with it. And, yes, I have a lower tolerance for non-Apple computers. But I wouldn't begin to say that PCs don't offer something to certain people that Apple's don't. I wouldn't begin to say PCs are not computers, because they are. What I will say is: I certainly have a preference. And I certainly have my reasons.

But what this post is really supposed to be is a question. Say someone you know is away on holiday and the only console they have at their disposal is a Nintendo Wii. This person would love to spend some downtime with a good video game on the Wii but has no idea where to begin. She's played all the basics on the system, but what's new? What's absurd? What would impress or interest this person who otherwise spends her time on a 360 or a PS3?

I just, ya know, have a hard time thinking I can devote my attention to an entire blog post reviewing "Calvin Tucker's Redneck Jamboree." I'd love to be able to pay attention to that Wii world of gaming Cary and I miss altogether. At least until my holiday is over.

The Golden Retrevo Awards

Today, Lynsey and I found out that we've been nominated in the "gaming" category for the first annual Golden Retrevo Awards. According to its website, The Golden Retrevo Award, "nominees are independent bloggers expressing fascination and enthusiasm for gadgets and gear. They should also exhibit expertise in their area of interest. These are the best and brightest of the gadget blogosphere writing about the coolest new electronics products and how they benefit the lives of people who use them"

Needless to say, we are pretty excited. Not to mention, incredibly humbled. We're not sure if we were nominated by someone at Retrevo or by a reader but either way we are thrilled. You can vote once a day, every day until January 25th and if you're a fan of our blog we would encourage you to please do so.

Not that it isn't amazing that we were nominated but it would be even more incredible if we won our category: vote for us by clicking HERE!

Thank you so very much everyone! Happy Holidays!

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here . . .

There are many types of geeks in the world. There's video game geeks, D&D geeks, warcraft geeks, Baldwin geeks *cough*, Star Wars geeks, Trekkies and, least we forget, literary geeks. Lynsey and I actually met when we were both undergraduates majoring in English at a small college in Florida. Whilst taking our "great works of western literature" class we were required to read the entire "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri. I don't want to speak for her, but I'm pretty sure we were in near total agreement: Purgatorio and Paradiso were . . . slow but the Inferno was incredibly riveting. And vivid. Holy God (see what I did there?), was it vivid.

Naturally, when we found out that a video game was being made based on this epic poem were were intrigued but skeptical. Was such an amazing piece of literature really appropriate for a hack n’ slash video game? Well, having played the demo now I can honestly say . . . I’m not totally sure yet.

At its core, “Dante’s Inferno” handles just like a typical adventure/action game. Nothing about it makes it unique, at least, nothing from the demo. Waves of demons come at you. You kill them. You move on. What is interesting and distinctive about it is the story and the backdrop. While it no doubt resembles the “God of War” series, it’s still pretty cool bitch-slapping demons with a giant cross. Was that a part of the “Inferno”, no, but artistic and entertainment license was going to be taken if this game was going to be a success. I mean, who wants to play a game where you follow Virgil around the nine circles of Hell inhaling rivers of excrement and watching people gnaw on other people’s heads. Well, who other than Lynsey and I?

No, we’d rather play a butch Dante who runs around and shows the demons of Hell what’s what. And you know, that works. I was honestly so happy to hear the opening line of the “Inferno” and that the game was actually sticking to Alighieri’s visuals that the inaccuracies didn’t really both me.

If anything, this game will suffer being a standard action/adventure game. At best, it will be a remarkably visual one with a unique story and an amazing score. Only February will tell.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lock Up Your Virtual Daughters!

This little gem of a downloadable title has been available on XBox Live for a little while now, but I've only just now mustered up the courage to give it a go: Don't Be Nervous Talking 2 Girls.

Yup, a sim guaranteed to help to talk to scary, intimidating womenfolk. Ahh, I love the smell of gamer-stereotype in the evening! I shot a small video of myself playing through two levels of the demo for your enjoyment. I shot it freehand with my iPhone so you may wanna have some Dramamine on hand but you'll still get the point.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Well, balls.

The other night I officially wrapped up my final semester in graduate school. Not only had my final paper been turned in but I completed the rest of the work required of me as a graduate teaching assistant. Smiling like an idiot, I practically skipped to the fridge, grabbed a beer, switched on my Xbox 360, bent down to get “Left 4 Dead 2”, looked back up and jumped back like a snake had bitten me:

Yup, after a year of no issues my system finally suffered the dreaded Red Ring of Death. I was not pleased.

Thankfully though, my sister has a friend who has a spare console (perhaps for just this reason?) and she was kind enough to let me borrow it until my console comes back from Microsoft. While this was the first time my system had malfunctioned, it certainly wasn’t my first personal experience with it: nearly every 360 owner I know has had their console shit itself without provocation at least once, with one friend having his system get the RROD three separate times. Lynsey herself has had it happen twice: once with one ring for a hard drive failure and once with two rings for overheating. She’ll probably murder me for saying it but it’s probably only a matter of time before she gets the dreaded RROD as well.

My question to you fine people is, why the hell do we put up with it?

Now, Lynsey and I have never been big fans of Microsoft but a recent survey by GameInformer found that our feelings are pretty justified: 52% of all Xbox 360s fail. While you can argue the logistics of the survey (e.g. disgruntled gamers are more likely to respond) considering at least my own personal experiences I do not find that number irrational. Not only are the harddrive malfunctions numerous, but the 2-3 week time frame it takes for Microsoft to fix the problem is double to triple that of how long it takes for Nintendo to repair the Wii.

So what’s the deal? Do we all just keep putting up with it because we truly think it’s the best console out there? How many of you have had a 360 fail? Have any of you been so badly burned that you’ll never buy another Xbox? Let us know!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I could not make this up.

I'm having one of those existential crisis moments, I think. Where I question everything that I've ever known about gaming, and everything I've ever known about Cary. These two things are intertwined, in this case, and also just as important as the other.

Last night, while playing 1 v. 100 Extended Play, Cary randomly said, "Ya know, when they do Left 4 Dead 3, they should have the new survivors meet up with the old survivors. I wanna see Nick and Francis meet." First of all, I was thinking "Left 4 Dead THREE, woman?! Impatient, much?" and then I think I answered, "In your dreams, Cary." Well...

Valve has released information on the first DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 and, guess what, the new survivors are going to be meeting up with the previous survivors. Nick, Coach, Rochelle, Ellis... meet Bill, Francis, Zoey, and Louis. No, no. There's no need to explain the situation to them. The phrase 'been there, done that' comes to mind.

This new DLC is called "The Passing" and Valve is calling it “the most important campaign in the Left 4 Dead story.” It's taking place down south in Georgia, there's going to be some new weapons, and also some new uncommon infected. You can read more about it here at GameInformer.

In the meantime, prepare thyselves. I'm headin' South this Spring. And I'm bringing Cary with me: her clairvoyance could keep us out of a lot of trouble when we're knee-deep in Georgian zombie blood.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There was a hole here - it's gone now.

Today is a somber one for me. The time has come, I believe, to officially lay to rest my favorite game series of all time: Silent Hill.

My first indicator came with the news that Akira Yamaoka was leaving Konami. From the release of the first Silent Hill in 1993 to the latest installment “Shattered Memories”, Yamaoka has been the man behind the music. More than anything else, even the foggy streets, his music always set the tone and atmosphere for me, taking seemingly simple melodies and turning them into something hauntingly beautiful such as “The Promise” from Silent Hill 2. The series simply will not be the same without him. The second reason for my mourning comes from the reviews for the abovementioned “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories”.

A scathing 6.5 from GameInformer magazine just about broke my heart. While I wasn’t particularly hopeful about the game, I had hoped it would be better received than Silent Hill: Homecoming but instead it seems to suffer from the same problems. Basically, it’s become mundane – always the same, dull story, controls, and objectives over and over again. Over the years, Silent Hill has lost its physiological edge and become a run-of-the-mill horror franchise. Now, all that being said, I will probably still check out “Shattered Memories” when the PS2 port is released in January . . . but I also may not.

Either way, here’s looking at you Henry, James, and Heather – you’ll be missed.

On a brief side note, Lynsey and I have our gamertags listed on our blog for a reason: we would love for you all add and play with us but please either send us an e-mail or a message on Xbox Live letting us know you’re from the blog and not spam. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Isaac, what have you been up to?

Oh, GameInformer - how you do tease.

A few days ago, the popular gaming magazine GameInformer announced on their website that their January issue would elaborate on the few details presently offered on the subject of this sequel to one of the best survival horror games I have ever played. I certainly wasn't the only person who enjoyed this white-knuckle misadventure through the doomed USG Ishimura so let's be frank, a sequel was bound to happen and let's be even more frank, this game could very well be a disaster. Still, at this point there certainly is no need to be anything but excited. Dead Space was such a credit to the genre that it would be lucky to have an installment half as good but hopefully EA and Visceral will be able to recapture the horror, grace, and beauty of the first.

Hmm . . . thinking about it is making me want to play it again. If only I didn’t sweat just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I was going to give this post a title but I just can't stop twirling my hair.

If there's anything Lynsey loves more than "30 Rock" it's an angry, late-night call from me. Well, she'd probably like a late-night call from Alec Baldwin more but damn it, my rage is almost as good!

So I'm working on a research proposal for my urban society class in which I've decided to look at households with and without next-generation consoles to see if they consistently use more energy than homes which do not have such consoles. That's right, kids. You can totally write papers about video games in graduate school. Anyway, so I'm looking up commercials for Sony's "Playstation 3: It Only Does Everything" to talk about how using the Blu-Ray player on the PS3 uses 5 times the amount of energy of a stand-alone Blu-Ray player when I came across this little gem:

That poor, poor confused girlfriend. She's been watching her "good
boyfriend" play "Uncharted 2" for two days and, silly little thing,
she thinks it's a movie. I mean, she'd had to, right? She couldn't
possibly be interested in watching him play or, heaven forbid, play
herself. What I especially like about this commercial is how once the
rep guy sees what she looks like he shrugs it all off. If she's hot, who
cares if she's stupid, right?

Seriously, Sony? Could it not have been the guy's little brother or
even, dare I suggest it, a man who doesn't play video games. I know,
I know - it's crazy to suggest such a thing but maybe you should lay off
the whole "stupid-women-are-okay-as-long-as-they're-hot-and-will-allow-me-to-play-my-video-games" thing in the future, mmmk?

I mean, no, this is not the most horrible commercial in the world but it
is an enforcement of some very strong and very persistent stereotypes.
All I'm saying is, life's good outside of the mold.