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Chipslice10 Blog

I now have Saturday off

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...due to my abrupt "departure" from Fortune's #1 company to work for. First off, had anyone asked me what I thought of the company prior to their voting, Wegmans wouldn't have placed more than 150th. During my six year tenure, I can count the number of days I actually enjoyed working there on one hand. I understand many (probably most) jobs are like this or, god forbid, even worse.

I also understand that hating your job is the American way and there isn't a really good alternative. The search for one up until now has proven itself fruitless and vain and may explain my inability to make career/educational choices. Perhaps you could say that being stuck in one job or career path is a fear of mine, but I think it's more of an extreme disgust at the state of things.

Is it so wrong to want to enjoy my job? Is it so much to ask that I enjoy what I will be doing for the next 45 years of my life? I sympathize with you, Postal Worker. That being said, it is really nice out and I now have a whole lot of time to play wiffleball.

Edit: You probably came here to read about video games, so I should write a little about that as well. God of War was excellent, but short: worth a rental.

Unions?

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I'm slightly interested in starting one of these, but I don't know why. Anywho, it says I need 4 "officers" to agree. I've secretly chosen a handful of friends (you) that I'd like to join me, but what manner of union would you like to see or participate in? I thumbed through the existing ones and they all seem pretty limited in scope. Thoughts?

Spore

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For those who haven't read anything about this, I recommend you do so now. I don't know what else to say about this game other than "Will Wright is incomprehensibly awesome". As a general pessimist and disbeliever in everything, I'm not one to get excited.

I now have an idol.

http://www.jesperjuul.dk/ludologist/index.php?p=171

Boy, do I hate the word "amped"

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...but if I was ever to use it, it might be when waiting to get my hands on Gran Turismo 4 and a Logitech Pro wheel. I saw a deal for the game and wheel for $130 + shipping, and after regaining control of my excretory system, I opted not to buy. I'd love nothing more than to play this with a steering wheel and pedals (maybe learn how to drive stick) and an HDTV in 5.1, but the $180 my mp3 player cost, the $289 heating bill, and that horrible red font in my bank account all point to no.

To give you an idea how much I want this, I know for a fact that every major electronics retailer within a 20 mile radius of my home will not let you take the equipment out of the box to play with it (even if you ask nicely and promise not to break or steal it). Anyone that can relate personal experiences similar to the one I'm hoping for, please post them. Yes, they will be used for my personal gratification, but it will help me in refraining from rash decisions and hasty purchases.

The Mediocrity of Middle Earth

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When I tried this game, I expected EA to do the usual: find a satisfactory or even successful game franchise, skin it with whatever pop-culture deems necessary and resell it in conjunction with the movie release. Had this game simply been a Warcraft 3 in LotR's clothing, I would have been much more impressed.

You'd think that since the entire storyline, character design, script, FMV's and terrain were already predesigned they could have spent the resources normally devoted to that on other areas of the game. The character models look just plain gross when zoomed in. Due to the amount of characters on screen, I can understand why this would be. What I don't understand is why there was seemingly no quality assurance done to weed out the numerous bugs and design flaws.

Controlling ~12 heroes at once, managing each of their skills in battle and ordering various battalions simultaneously might have achieved the effect of frantic, constant battle that EA was most likely aiming for, but it turns out to be a nuisance more than anything. The pacing of the whole game is just off; the only truly fun battles were (predictably) the defenses of Minas Tirith and Gondor. The majority of the remaining maps turn into a painful game of cat and mouse.

This may or may not have been the fault of my computer, but when loading videos and when changing regions and loading any particular level, I experienced stuttering and horrible wait times. What WASN'T the fault of my computer is the terrible target acquisition by more or less every unit. Hobbits (while it may be true to the source) blow in battle. Not because of their weak attacks or limited vitality, but because they don't attack unless they are specifically told to. I don't know about you, but I'd consider that as something that should be weeded out before shipment. The addition of an "Attack to..." command a la Warcraft would have been a welcome addition, but I guess that wasn't important enough.

I could keep going on this, but if you've read that much, you should know not to even bother with this game. The only redeeming quality I found was the LotR license and the things that accompany that. I should also note that I don't blame the programmers at EA; I'm sure they did the best they could given their resources and work conditions.

Of Immersion

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Metal Gear Solid 3 does something special. Yes, it has jaw-dropping graphics/physics and the sound is second to none, but it does something even more than that. Something that I have never experienced (at least to this degree) in any video game before it, and I don't anticipate the feeling returning any time soon.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater not only includes you in its world, totally immersing you in its gameplay, but it involves you and truly makes you part of what's going on and in such a largely cinematic game, this is even more impressive. You are not a guy (or girl) controlling some character's likeness through the course of the game. it may sound corny or cliche, but you must become one with the Snake; you have to think like he would in a given situation. Instead of "How do I get past this part of the game?" you think "Ok, I have these tools and this is my goal". They may sound like the same thing and this may not make a lick of sense, but when my roommate informed me I'd been playing for over 7 consecutive hours, I knew this game was something different.

One of the only other games that made this distinction for me was X-Men on the Sega Genesis. At one point, after beating Mojo I believe, you had to physically reset the machine. Since I was about 12, this blew my mind as well as the Danger Room. Unfortunately, the remainder of the game was unable to match this involvement, due in part to technological inadequacies.

Snake Eater, on the other hand, excels in every department there is. Often Snake's consciousness and our own are the same, becoming aware of events and organizations at the same time. On occasion, you might even ask the same questions, cry out when he does or give him advice that he suddenly takes. There are numerous examples, but I don't want to spoil them (particularly the battle with The Sorrow; it's on par with Mojo).

Some games feature this Immersion, but its more of an escape. I understand that most games are meant to be short flights from reality, but some do it better than others, sending you into a sort of trance. The first one that comes to mind is Rez. At a certain point, you get into a zone and actions are not calculated any more, they are reflexes. Zen and the Art of Gaming is a dying breed, unfortunately, so get these limited titles when you can.

Denouement

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Drove home today and put away, installed or filed my gifts. The aftermath of Christmas brings a whole new set of problems: what game do I play with this new graphics card? Can't afford World of Warcraft or City of Heroes (which I loved), and I'm not a big fan of the FPS genre, so what's left in PC gaming? I'm a huge fan of Pirates, but there's gotta be something out there that can both entertain me and test the limits of this card. So I ask you, fellow Gamespotters, what do you recommend?