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Foolio1 Blog

I'm Ready to Finish the Fight

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Well, I finally finished Halo 2. Yes I know I'm late to the party, but better late than never, right? Especially considering I've got my copy of Halo 3 on reserve. Since I never had my own Xbox and my brother took his with him when he moved out so I never really got to try much of Halo. When I got my 360 I picked them both up, mainly because I could get them for dirt cheap from Microsoft's Retail Expertzone. Plus with all the raving and hype around the series I thought there had to be something to it.

I hear a lot of people say that the first Halo was better than the second, but personally I would disagree. I actually enjoyed the second far more than the first game. One thing I enjoyed especially were the improved vehicle controls. If anyone reading this saw my rant about that in my blog previously you'll know how much it annoyed me. But I digress. The story is one thing I enjoyed far more this time around as well, however, I can see how that famous cliff-hanger ending was the real kicker for many players. Fortunately, having finished Halo 2 seven days before release, at least I won't have to wait that long to find out the ending. My condolences to those who have waited three years.

In the end I still feel that Halo doesn't quite live up to all the hype it gets. It's a solid first person shooter and a good deal of fun, but I still don't really get what makes it feel so special. I think my main issue is that I waited so long to play them both. They really set standards at the time frame that they were released, but now that they are standards the games just feel too much like the rest. It's a great series though, and I look forward to "finishing the fight" in the coming week.

Metroid Prime 3 Impressions

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That's right, you heard me. I played Metroid Prime 3 today. At the store they sent us a disc to put in the Wii kiosk, but it wasn't a demo, it was the full game. Naturally I had to take the first whack at it so I played it for a little over a half-hour while I was still on the clock, hahaha. Anyways, just from that little taste I have to say that Metroid Prime is going to kick major ass.

First off, the game looks great, right down to the menus. When you boot it up you're greeted by a very slick menu, which I have always enjoyed what Retro has done with the Prime menus. Getting into the actual game, this looks better than both Prime 1 and 2 with great character models, excellent textures, and some awesome looking environments. At the first part of the game you are on a Galactic Federation ship receiving a mission. This also serves as the tutorial naturally.

Control wise the game feels very tight. I'm very impressed by what Retro has done. While a few studios have attempted the first-person controls for the Wii, it's been mostly a failure overall. However, I think Retro has really nailed it. Nothing feels loose, the bounding box is a decent size, and the turning is smooth. Also the ability to lock-on and still free aim while battling opponents is a great feature, but with enough practice I'm sure you could pretty much ditch the lock-on completely. Not to mention using the Wiimote to push levers and buttons and even rotate special locks is very cool. I love the interaction in the game. Plus there is voice acting! Glorious voice acting! And the character models and mouth animations on the human characters are very nice. This game will be awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy.

I've got a Stranglehold on Bioshock

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Well, I just got done playing two demos I downloaded from the Xbox Live Marketplace. I'm sure you can tell by the title of my blog exactly what those two games were. Needless to say, I cam away impressed and now I'm seriously considering these two games, which I actually wasn't really before.

Bioshock
Okay, I'm sure you're saying: "How can you not be anticipating Bioshock?!" Honestly, I hadn't had all that interest in it leading up to playing the new demo. I had only read a few things online and not really looked much into it. I had seen some gameplay footage, but it looked strange and I didn't have a clue what was going on. I think what I gained most from the demo was a better understanding of the premise, setting, and gameplay.

The premise for it is very impressive. It's been a long time since I've seen something this original. I love the whole futuristic yet retro setting especially, with my respective nods to Fallout and Stubbs the Zombie. Not to mention those genetic powers you get are bizarre yet utterly awesome. Even the video afterwards just got me more excited for it, seeing all the things you would be able to do. Not to mention it looks very cinematic with lots of scripted events and a truly impressive story from what I've heard from reviews so far. I also like the RPG elements which should help make this a very deep game.

Stranglehold
Another game I hadn't given much of my attention to, but downloaded the demo from what I had heard was pure "awesomeness." From the demo I can't say it may redefine the entire action game genre, but it does seem like it will a lot of fun. The ability to slide over tables automatically, running up hand rails, and destroying just about everything in sight is an awesome prospect and certainly worked really well in the demo. This game has s.tyle and the liberal use of bullet time, or "Tequila Time" as it was cleverly named, is just a lot of fun. I don't know if I'll be buying this game at launch, but from what I played I think I may have to pick it up somewhere down the line.

P.S.
I also played the demo for Virtua Tennis 3 and it was quite fun. I'm also very impressed with the character models and animation. I may pick this game up in the future too.

RE5 Racist?

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So I log on today and find this news story in my tracking updates. I can't say I'm surprised this has happened. Really, I thought it only to be a matter of time. Looks like finally someone did it; RE5 has been accused of racism. Seriously, people these days are way too concerned about political-correctness and ultimately way too sensitive. The comments I found most ridiculous are the ones about how Chris Redfield is the white man that must "save humanity" from the black people. It's utter nonsense, in my opinion.

This game is not about attacking people of race, it's about fighting zombies! While these people may not be the reanimated rotting corpses of the past games, the idea is the same and the use of the work zombie can be used in different ways. Anyone who has experience with the games can tell you that at least a good 90% of the zombies from past games were white, and of course, no one cared. Now, with this game looking like it takes place in Africa, we're obviously going to be encountering black people. It's not like there is nice mix of white, black, hispanic, asians, et cetera in Africa. That would just take further away from the realism.

Talking about this is like video game violence. Sure, there may be some people out there who might take the game that way, but I can bet they would probably be far between. When I'm playing a game like this, I'm not focusing on what race they are. I'm treating them all as enemies. I don't care if the person is white, black, or purple. It's just a game. People seriously need to get that through their heads. It is just a game. I dont really see any subliminal messages here. Some of the parallels they are trying to draw to things like the AIDS/HIV problems in Africa are just silly.

Everyone just needs to stop taking things like this so seriously.

Got My First Achievement Completion!

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Just wanted to share with everyone that I have fully completed my first Xbox 360 game for Achievements. Just a little while ago I finally got the last one on DiRT. I'm quite proud of myself. I didn't think I would ever get all the achievements in one game. The closest I came was PGR3 with 780. But with DiRT I got all 49 achievements and the 1000 points from it. Awesome game too, by the way :P

My Thoughts on the Big Three of E3

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Okay, now that Sony's E3 press conference has ended, and watching all three live it's time for my obligatory blog post on what I watched. Even though this year was the first with their new format, it still felt very similar to shows in the past, but that may be because I was just watching the three major conferences. What was interesting about this year is that it seemed to work its way up. Leading off with Microsoft, which I felt was the weakest showing this year, then Nintendo, and Sony. Overally it was a good E3. This time of year is always crazy when we're being bombarded with all of this new game news. I'm also looking forward to things calming down. Anyways, off to the reactions!

Microsoft
I think Microsoft has the poorest showing of all three this year. I'm not really the only one who thinks so since a lot of the reactions I was reading here on the forums tended to agree with mine. Sure, the 360 has a ton of great games on the way, but we didn't really get to see anything new and there were no real surprises, which is normally what E3 is all about. Surprises are what make it exciting and why people go on the internet to watch it live! Just a bunch of game trailers and Microsoft trying to spin the sales numbers in their favor. It wasn't terribly exciting.


Could this really be the biggest surprise of Microsoft's conference?

The only real new things they had to show was the Viva Pinata party game, which is an obvious shot at Mario Party, and the Scene It? game with those silly controllers (seen above) that look like they were designed by Fisher-Price. Other than that it was a collection of a lot of footage and trailers we've all seen before. Granted, there were a few new things that were very cool to see though, including that new Assassin's Creed gameplay, the new Resident Evi 5 trailer, and the new Halo 3 trailer.

It's just that there wasn't really anything to make anyone wow and nothing really surprising. Honestly, I don't find Disney movies on Xbox Live Marketplace to be real earthshattering news. Don't foget Sonic and Golden Axe too! Oh wait, you can already get those on the Wii's Virtual Console! Okay, I'm being a bit harsh, but I just wasn't terribly impressed at all. Make no mistake, there are a lot of great games on the way and I'm excited for much of what the 360 has in store for gamers this year. Though when compared to the other two showings, Microsoft just couldn't really hold their own this time.

Nintendo
Nintendo's conference was much more entertaining than Microsoft's and had a number of new things to show us that easily topped what they had to show. One thing was that it was nice to finally get some release dates for these new games we've all been clamoring for for months. Knowing that Nintendo is going to deliver on their promises by bringing us Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy this year. Two titles that Wii owners will be looking forward to easily.

However, I enjoyed Nintendo's overall styl.e in how they presented their content and information. They way they showed news broadcasts, written stories, YouTube videos, and even that brief clip from the Colbert Report shows how Nintendo is starting to take over once again. This emphasis on their growing mass-market appeal was almost like a: "We told you so!" to the other two companies. Not to mention their sales figures on growth in new demographics, including the over 50 market that before now was basically unheard of in video gaming. What Nintendo has managed to do is really impressive.


Finally, the Wii Zapper is official!

One thing Nintendo decided to make abundantly clear is that they love their peripherals. It was really no secret as they seemed to just roll out one after the other. Can we honestly say this was a surprise? The fact that they are releasing new peripherals isn't, but what they had to show was. It started off cool, and then just got stranger as they went along. The Wii Zapper is a really cool design and now I'm waiting for a Time Crisis Wii to be announced. This will also be fun to have for Umbrella Chronicles too. I wonder what mystery game they'll be bundling with this though. I'm putting my money on an updated version of Duck Hunt. Next came the steering wheel. A far sight better than the plastic one offered by Ubisoft and their terrible Wii racing games. And lastly was Wii Fit. Okay, this idea just seemed a bit off the wall. I don't know if I'll be using my Wii to do yoga, but I guess we'll have to see if it all pans out. I'm just not sure if people will buy into it. While these new peripherals feel like Nintendo is trying to get our money from us again (GBA-GCN cords, e-Reader--I could go on), as long as they are released with games for a reasonable price I can live with it.

This year will be great for the Wii. Many of the games I bought the system for will be hitting making it a good time to own a Wii. Not to metion Mario Kart Wii with full online is going to rule. Then there's Metroid Prime, Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros...I can't wait!

Sony
Lastly comes Sony. I'm happy to say they had quite a turnaround from the silliness that sparked many a forum-fad from last year. From making fools of themselves, I think they had the strongest showing this year. First off was the PSP. While not a full redesign like everyone thought, it's nice to see they are making improvements with a lighter system, more RAM, and more efficient battery, new colors, and still having a reasonable price point. Also that the new functionality, like TV output, will still be available to existing owners so as no to alienate them. More of a replacement than a redesign, I may finally have to buy into a PSP because there are a mess of titles I would still like to get my hands on.

The updated functionality of the PlayStation Network and Home looks very promising. Home in itself is looking great and it should prove to be a fun and entertaining way to interact with your friends as well as a fun time-waster. It was also great to see better integration between Home and games. If Sony can nail it right, they will be able to give Xbox Live a run for it's money. Competition is one of the best parts of the industry because it forces companies to better themselves by trying to one-up the competition. From the conference it seems like Sony is learning. The PSN games also looked awesome like WarHawn and LittleBigPlanet, though we've seen those before. EchoChrome though, was the craziest out of the bunch. It seemed like a game that M.C. Escher would make.


Big PS3 titles make their most recent showing.

What really spoke volumes though, were the games. Not to metion some surprising announcements like Sony's partnership with NCsoft and Unreal Tournament 3 exclusivity. However, the various trailers they showed really got my attention. This is what Sony was promising when the PS3 was first unveiled. I knew it would take some time, but the true PS3 games seem to be finally here. Some of the trailers were old news already, like Assassin's Creed, Burnout Paradise, and Resident Evil 5. However, some of their ther showings really stole the show amongst all three companies.

It was nice to get a few new details on Heavenly Sword. The fact that it will be very story-driven is very interesting to me and is getting me more curious about the game than I was before. Infamous, from one of my favorite studios: Sucker Punch!, looks awesome and was definitely not expected. It was also great to learn more about Ratchet & Clank Future, one of my all-time favorite franchises, but I would have liked to see more of that game shown. Then there was a bit more on Uncharted, which is shaping up nicely. I'm very impressed with the amount of work and emphasis put on character animation. Gran Turismo 5 looked phenominal. The detail was amazing, and soon I think I'll be saying 'Forza who?' Gran Turismo had been the king of racing sims for a long time and it's good to see them finally taking the crown back.


Meet your match, Halo.

Then there were the heavy hitters: Metal Gear Solid 4 and Killzone 2. MGS4 now finally have confirmed exclusivity, which isn't too much of a surprise. The new trailer looked amazing and it was great to finally hear it in English. Also the series is finally wrapping up. Though sad, it will be great to finally get the scoop on this crazy MGS universe. Even though it's been delayed, the simultaneous release is a pleasant surprise. Then there's Killzone. Forget pre-rendered. It's amazing how close they've actually come to recreating that video that no one thought could be reproduced with in-game graphics. The only real noticeable graphical flaw I saw were that the characters' mouths looked odd. But overall the game looks simply amazing and better than any Halo 3 stuff I've seen. Not to mention it was all in-game footage. Destructable environments, great animations, the blood splatter. Killzone 2 looks to be the force to finally reckon with Halo like it was originally intended to.

I'd also like to throw Sony some kudos for being a little more humble this time around. They mentioned how their past success is not guarantee of their future. They may have had to learn this the hard way, but it's good for them to acknowledge this and get themselves on the right track.

Final Thoughts
This year's E3 had it's ups and downs from all three companies. Mircosoft has a great lineup, but just didn't show enough new content. Nintendo fed us some great new info on their upcoming games, but went a little too crazy with new hardware. Finally, Sony showed a lot of great new content and updates to their products, but just had too much to show that they moved a bit too quickly for it all. In the end though, it's safe to say that all three of these companies will be finishing out 2007 strong while we all burn holes in our pockets over these awesome games you're giving us.

Thank you Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony!

Worst driving ever award goes to....Halo.

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So last night I finally made the effort to finish up Halo. When I got my 360 back in February I got Halo 1 and 2 because I am a stickler for getting the whole story. I don't like starting games in the middle of a series if there is an over-arching plot or recurring characters and I wanted to be ready for Halo 3. The game was decent, but didn't quite seem as the epic trend-setter it was made out to be, but then again I may have been spoiled by the newer or next-gen games before actually getting my hand on Halo. It was definitely a solid game except for one part that absolutely drove me up the wall (I guess that could be pun-intended).

Just a warning to those who may not have completed Halo (however few that may be) that this blog might contain a few spoilers. Anyways, many may know that I have a penchant for racing games, but many other genres like to cross bountries and add vehicles into their own game. What I just want to vent though, is how absolutely terrible and unintuitive the vehicle controls are in Halo. Most specifically: the Warthog. Seriously, who at Bungie thought these controls worked well? I wonder how much testing they even did with users and out of them really thought it would be a good idea.

The fact that the left-stick is essentially the throttle while the right is used for steering bascially flip-flops any logical set up created by past racing games or other game with driving aspects for that matter. It basically just isn't what is expected when you first try to drive the thing. Not to mention the vehicle isn't really steered with the right-thumbstick but just follows the camera. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but this just comes across as clumsy and unintuitive. Lastly, the Warthog feels like you're driving on ice, no matter what the surface. I honestly don't think that thing would slide around as much as it does on concrete in indoor levels in the game. Really, at the very last portion of the game where you have to drive your way out to the last fighter before the final explosion was terrible. That thing slid so much making it very difficult to navigate. Even in the wide-open it can be a bit difficult to get it behave how you would want.

Yes, I'm sure there is also as handful of racing games out there that can't even compare to Halo is terms of quality, but that's what really gets me. I know this is a first-person-shooter and not a racing game, but honestly, with a franchise that is touted by many as the best thing since sliced bread you really think they could have come up with some better driving controls.

Forza 2 Community Game Night (I got the special emblem!)

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So Wednesday night I decided to jump in on the action for GameSpot's Community Game Night. This last time it was Forza 2. I was excited because I hadn't participated in one before, and not to boast, but I was confident enough in my abilities that I thought I could be quite competitive. So I ended up hopping in the room with Kevin, Jeff, and I think the third was Alex. Anyways, it was a lot of fun. And also, I was able to show off my racing skills. Even though we restarted the room to switch to career mode, I ended the night with 97 points, the next closest being Conanfan, with 60-something. With it I got the special Game Night emblem that I had been hoping to achieve!

Emblems aside, it was a lot of fun getting to play with the GS staffers. Racing was a ton of fun, though sometimes it got pretty crazy, especially when everyone was crashing into each other, haha. Everyone was a great sport even with all the bumpercars we were playing. Doing U class on Laguna Seca was interesting to say the least, haha. Overall, I had an awesome time, and I hope to compete in more Game Nights in the future!

GameStop Hate

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Every time there is anything posted about GameStop it's a bit annoying for me to see the kinds of negative things posted about the company.  Honestly, I won't defend everything that they do, but people need to understand they are just like any other business and they're out there to make money.  I wouldn't really consider them more or less evil than any other large corporation.  It's always about the bottom line when you shop at a large chain.

Anyways, working for EBgames (GameStop) has been a great experience for me.  Too often I hear so many negative complaints about employees who work there.  It's true, not everyone hired there is a game expert, or even friendly.  My experience before I was an employee was positive anyway so I've never really had an issue.  Sure, some stores do hire jerks, but the same can be said about an store you may go to.  The point I'm trying to make is that I hate being generalized as being unknowledgable and/or abrasive, which is irritating to say the least.  I take pride in my job and always do my best to inform and help customers whenever possible.  I work with a lot of great people as well so it's like when people leave those comments they are trashing my friends as well.

Just a little venting on my part.  But seriously, if you don't like the company, take your business elsewhere.  I'm in a job I enjoy and am working to make money for myself.  Being generalized is not something I enjoy.