Hahleq / Member

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Hahleq Blog

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So not really a big deal since work has been eating up all my time and not exactly been haunting the halls, as it were.

Anyway, with the firing of Jeff Gerstman, I'm outta here. Just cancelled my subscription.

Mostly been following gaming via the 1up sites, various podcasts along with the Hotspot, but now with Gerstman gone, so goes most of what I valued of this org's "personality".

I'll likely check out wherever Jeff ends up, not so much cuz I agree with him or think he's God's gift to gaming journalism, but you knew what you were getting with Jeff. Even when I disagreed with his reviews, I knew where he was coming from and knew how to decode his opinions into what fit my likes / dislikes. That and I really enjoyed his communication style and attitude about both the seriousness and rediculousneess (that a word?) of gaming.

Hang in there Jeff, I'll "see" ya whereever you land and if I had a gaming mad / site, I'd be calling you to hire you.

Others, keep on gaming and hopefully I'll see ya out there on XBL or other online gaming venues.

CNet / Gamespot management: bite me!

Turns out, yes, there are other games.

So I did manage to sneak in a few hours in Azeroth and primarily gave up on my new characters in favor of getting reacquainted to my Orc Warlock, Naiimtaqr.  I knew I had fond memories of this character and after an hour or getting acclimated to his skill sets, I'm back to hooked on this character. 

Not to say that's all I played.  Friday night after getting in from the airport, I hooked up with that buddy of mine that relaunched my WoW addiction, Ralshorri.  He's playing a Warlock and seems to be getting the hang of both WoW and his character.  I play my Blood Elf Hunter, Pathtaqr, with him and we did several interesting Silverpine quests and got about a level and a half of XP.  Good stuff.

Then yesterday while out looking innocently at some cables for various tech toys, iPod, DS, PSP, I picked up a copy of Supreme Commander.  I was (and remain) so psyched about this game as Total Annihilation still remains my favorite RTS heads and shoulders over all others.  More on this later.

So while at Fry's doing this shopping, I walked past a demo setup of PS3's Resistance on a 50" plasma.  This was my first look at it "live and in person".  Gotta say that it is beautiful and looks to be a very nice game.  My wife definitely was impressed with the clarity of the graphics as was I.  We turned and there was a stack of both 20GB and 60GB PS3s.  Rough calculation showed there to be roughly 20-24 PS3s just sitting there.  Now, understand, my wife and I are both gaming, tech heads and unfortunately, impulse buyers.  Not bragging, but we have been blessed with well paying jobs and a $600 purchase does fall into the impulse category.  Yet, we both commented that neither of us had the slightest impulse to purchase a PS3.

I can't speak for my wife as she doesn't follow the space enough to have a big opinion and may have just been feeding off my vibe, which was decidedly cool.  Why?  Can't be the money as I have 2 x 360s, both all tricked out with cameras.  What then?  Here's my 3 reasons why PS3 as yet, holds no interest to me:

  1. No 'gotta have' games.  Resistance looks great, but in the world of shooters, 360 just has a gazillion of these.  Motorstorm just doesn't grab me, again, with Burnout and PGR and Forza...
  2. A very close #2 and as I write this am internally arguing with myself that this should be #1, but enough, gotta go with something.  No unified identity!  Sony continues to get online wrong.  So what if it's free, if it's disjointed and I never know from one game to another who I'm playing with?  For that, it should be free.  The same company that can't make the fabulous PSP hardware an also-ran both for gaming and media content, continues to stumble.
  3. No Achievement Points-like system.  Yep, this is a natural problem that arrises from #2 above.  With the lack of very many true exclusive games, even if I was given a PS3, I'd buy the game for the 360 because the game gets me more overall utility.

So there you have it.  Does this mean I won't own a PS3 ever?  Unlikely unless they really never come out with a serious gotta have exclusive.  Their problem is that things like japanese RPGs and MGS are not what I like and won't cause me to buy.  Warhawk and Lair also don't as yet, really grab me and give me the spending itch.  Even if Sony had gotten GTA4 as an exclusive, that itself would not have done the trick.  This series has really not done much for me lately.  I rented San Andreas and it was the same crappy graphics and lousy aiming control schemes.  I played it for a couple days and returned it without even a backward glance.  Saints Row is where this kind of game needs to go.  That game was superior to both of the last two GTA games.

So, Sony, get your online act together.  It's NOT just about the games alone anymore.  XBox 360 has changed the rules of what "the game" means.  It's broader and deeper in a full context than just the game.  Not to say the game experience isn't important, since to say such a thing would be insane.  However, how many 360 owners have gone out and rented or purchased a budget used game they otherwise wouldn't have touched just to get some points out of it?  I know I have.

Are there other games?

So since my last post, I've not played more than an hour of anything that wasn't WoW.  Xbox 360 gathering dust except for a couple quick hits of arcade games when I knew there wasn't enough time to legitimately fire up WoW.  Even my DS is getting no love as even on planes, I've been either working or devouring WoW books trying to get myself rapidly immersed back into the world and play processes.  Messing around with mods a bit, though only ones that have really added serious utility thus far are Cartographer and Auctioneer.

Good news is that one of my co-workers actually wants to co-op Gears of War tonight, so am really looking forward to that as haven't done co-op and hear it is awesome.  I'd also love to co-op Rainbow Six Las Vegas if anyone's up for that.

Well this is just a quick post so that I can keep some kind of at least semi-regular record of what's happening with me gaming-wise.  Got a work related blog now, so most of my serious writing and reading time is being sucked up by that.

Fateful E-Mail

So Tuesday I fire off an e-mail to an old friend I haven't seen or heard from in about 6 months to see how he's doing and to see if we can schedule lunch.  First he responds that in the last 6 months he has had some tragic personal travails I won't bother with here.  Then he happens to mention that he has picked up a copy of WoW and looking to check it out and hoping it will be more fun and accessible to someone with a busy schedule than EQ2 proved to be.

See, he and I started playing EQ way back in year 1 of EQ and before we were through had our wives, many of our friends and some of their family members involved.  We played a LOT.  I specifically remember playing with my wife and about 6 others in a dungeon crawl for 12 hours straight one Saturday afternoon.  I can remember that day as if we had actually been in a real, not virtual place.  Combine the immersion of the game with the fact we were all on voice-chat and, well, it was just great.  We all talk about it whenever any of us gets together.

Then jobs and families intervened for many and the buddy I reference above and I and our wives ended up having to leave EQ.  I of course, as mentioned below, did get back into the MMORPG scene with WoW and my wife and I got, "all 'et up with it" as they say here in the South.  Concurrent with that, my bud contacted me at the launch of EQ2 saying he wanted to get back into a MMORPG, but wanted the new advanced version and wasn't interested in WoW as too cartoony.  Try as I might to try and convince him of his mistake, I went ahead and got EQ2 and we did have a few outtings, but for whatever reason, EQ2 was just not fun.  Beautiful?  Oh yeah!  Just not fun.  So we both ended up fading off that and a few months later, in the summer of '05, work got the best of me and I cancelled my WoW account.

With the noise around Burning Crusade, I have been successfully turning a deaf ear and ignoring the call of the Orc.  Then this e-mail came in this week and as of this moment my account is live, WoW and Burning Crusade are fully installed, patched and ready to go.  We'll see how long it takes my bud to get himself in gear.  In the meantime, I need to create a new character, relearn the UI, hotkeys, etc. so I don't make a mess of my two level 34 characters.  See I figure I'm back in and till my bud shows up, I'm just going to move forward with my two old avatars.

Now to just find the time to play... 

Gaming industry here I come?

Not much gaming this past week though did jam in a few hours of Castelvania DS on the way out west to CA a week ago this past Monday.  I've been in CA for over a week attending a sales team kickoff event and then an event we hosted for our customers in Napa Valley.  Feeling sorry for me yet?  Yeah, don't, was a great week on many levels.

My wife and other's spouses joined us in Napa for the weekend for wine tasting and lots of good food.  My wife picked up her own DS just a couple weeks ago and is now cursing me for introducing her to Elite Beat Agents which she can't put down.  I'm a little sore on the topic as she wanted to compare scores at which point I found out she went right to the harder level because the easier one was too boring... ouch!  I'm on the last segment of the easier level and it is kicking my butt.  So much for me being the top gamer in the house I guess.

So the tie-in to the topic line is that today I had my first face to face meeting with a game developer in their offices to discuss their needs and my company's possible solutions.  On the face of it, no big deal.  Just another meeting in a pretty run down office space compared to many of the financial services organization I usually am dealing with, but that's part of what made it cool.  It was so exactly what you expect out of a game developer's office. 

From a meeting standpoint, it was unremarkable, but they have a need, we have a solution and they are willing to hear more.  Sweet.  I know there's a fit for our solution in the online game industry and look forward to the day I have a reason to attend game conferences for legitimate business reasons and not just because I want to. 

Headed back east on the redeye tonight so will get in a bit more DSing on the way home and spend most of tomorrow in a post-redeye haze.  Hope to be online Thursday night for some GoW.

Week Ending January 13, 2007

So not my most original posting heading, but am sitting here watching football and finishing up a decent bottle of wine and not at my sharpest.  Get set for some stream of conciousness and probably no cogent points anywhere. 

I was on the road Sunday night through Friday so most of my gaming this week revolved around my DS playing both of my newest games, Elite Beat Agents and Castlevania.  This is my first time playing either of these series of games.  I know that is pretty incredible sounding, even to me when it comes to Castlevania.  Fact is that back "in the day" I was a Sega guy, not a Nintendo guy, so really haven't played much of the Nintendo classics.

That being said, I have to say that catching up with these supposed classics has generally proven quite dissappointing to me.  Super Mario Bros is one of the rare exceptions.  It is great and got a TON of gametime out of me in the last couple months of 2006.  Try as I might though, many Nintendo games, including the religious icon Zelda, leave me scratching my head.  I've purchased and put in many hours on several Zelda's on my GameCube and DS.  Never finished one and really just lost interest, though reportedly, my nieces who inherited my GC and Zelda games, love Zelda.  Not saying everyone that likes them is wrong, just not my thing. 

Like Japanese RPGs aren't my thing.  For all the Final Fantasy games I've attempted over the years, just not my thing.  They bore the ever-lovin' heck out of me.  Give me Oblivion, Baldur's Gate style RPGs any time.  Love 'em, can't get enough.

And don't even get me started on Metal Gear.  I bought my PS2 on eBay at a premium within a couple weeks of launch just so I could get caught up on the PS1 games I had missed out on, of which MGS was #1 on my list.  I didn't buy a PS1 as I found the loading times completely unacceptable and went with the N64, but that's another sordid tale.  Anyway, I loaded up MGS and from the control scheme to the ludicrous, obviously preachy anti-nuke storyline was completely put off.  I so completely don't get MGS that I hold it in complete disdain.  This game is so riddled with huh?, what?, no way!, these controls #$&@! suck!, goofy boss battles, etc. that those who espouse it as fantastic immediately lower their credibility with me, certainly on gaming and even on real world matters.  I took the MGS CD and gleefully bent it till it shattered into many bits with my bare hands... yes, I hate it that much.  Unreasonably so.

So back to Elite Beat Agents and Castlevania.  Like them both, but like EBA better.  Tons of fun and probably raises lots of curious eyebrows of fellow passengers in the first class cabin of planes crisscrossing the country.

When home and on the couch, Rainbow Six Las Vegas has been consuming my time.  I finished the singleplayer campaign and am now working through the Terrorist Hunts.  Those are way more fun than I expected and hope to hook up with some folks to coop that as well as Gears of War.

Lastly, farewell to Greg Kasavin.  I'm going to miss the most mature, adult, reasoned player in all of game review-dom.  I wish him all the best and hope his experience pays off for a hugely fabulous game we all enjoy.

Yup, still around and gamin'!

So as you probably noticed (or more likely not), I haven't posted since March 2006.  This comes down to two reasons:

1)  I resolved in early 2006 that I would make actual gaming a higher time priority than keeping up with gaming.  Consequently, I cut down on my reading and certainly my posting and took what little time I had to actually game.

2)  I had very little time for gaming as the small company I work for really took off in 2007 and I spent a ton of time, probably 70% on the road.  This caused me to drop my WoW addiction in the summer of 2005 and brought my PC gaming to nearly 0%.

So what was I playing last year?  Mostly portable stuff on both PSP and DS Lite.  I didn't pick up my DS till September as I wanted a black one and was able to pick one up in Europe one whole week before they were available in the U.S.  I'm definitely not a fanboy for any system and depending on the day, like my PSP and DS equally well.  Just depends on what I'm in the mood for.  Both platforms deliver surprisingly different experiences.

When I wasn't on the road, 2006 was all about my Xbox 360.  I absolutely love that thing.  Turns out my wife does as well so we now have two.  One in the great room hooked up to my 65" plasma and one in the bedroom hooked up to my 60" rear projection LCD. 

I'll spend more time expounding on what I played, am playing and am looking forward to playing and on what platforms in the next few posts.  For 2007 I resolve to actually spend just a bit more time posting about gaming related stuff here if for no other reason than I need to get and keep my writing skills up as I'm going to be doing a job related blog this year as well.

Look for me on XBL as I need some cooperative help on the last boss in Gears of War in Hardcore.  Got there by myself, but would help with my other resolution to swear less, if I could get an assist on Raam or whatever his name is.  I'm happy to return the favor and want to play entirely through both Gears of War and Rainbow Six: Las Vegas cooperatively.

I yearn for Oblivion...

Nope not suicidal.... just that Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion Collector's Edition for my 360 just hit the doorstep and now I have to spend the next 4+ hours finishing my "gotta be done today" project.  I'm even resisting tearing through the shrinkwrap cuz that would just lead to a peak in the box at the booklet and that would lead to a peak at "just how good are the graphics" and that would lead to me... really letting my colleagues down.  So back to work with Oblivion tempting me from below (just downstairs). 

Couple of thoughts

OK, so I spent some time on Perfect Dark Zero and while it is fun, I can't say it holds much of a candle to Halo 2.  Heck, I prefer Call of Duty 2 multiplayer.  It does have some nice touches, but the various gaming modes just didn't grab much as everything played out too reminiscently (word?) of Quake and every other tired deathmatch-centric multiplayer.  Just didn't rock with me.  As hot as I am to crank out XBL points, I can't bring myself to spend any more time trying to milk any more points out of this game... seems too much like drudge work. 

All this is not to say that I didn't enjoy the game or that it isn't worth playing, but generally I felt a bit of disappointment given the 9.0 rating here at GS.  I'd give it an 8.4.  I'll be trading this in towards the Collector's Edition of Oblivion.

I've been working through some of PGR3 at the Gold difficulty level and am still enjoying it enough to do a couple races every week, but this game will be traded in on Burnout Revenge as soon as it is available.

Now as for Call of Duty, I'm still completely "ate up" with this game and am having a ball working through it again on Hard.  I have no trade-in plans for this game at all and it is THE game I show off for visitors wondering what all the 360 fuss is about.

Finally completed the Morrowing main story line arc in the Game of the Year edition and am now working through finishing joining House Hlaalu as well as embarking on the Tribunal story arc.  Just wish I was getting XBL points for it <grin>.

Needless to say, I'm completely cranked up for Oblivion and suspect it will tie up 90% of my 360 time as soon as I can get my itchin' fingers on it!

That's all for now.  Heading out of town all this week for business in NYC and then off to Florida for a week long fishing trip with my dad and other old friends and some family, so no gaming till March 20th.

Cheers.

Finally finished Perfect Dark Zero

While I definitely did find some parts of this game fun, in general, this game was a chore.  Oddly enough I finished this game primarily to get some achievement points and because I kept thinking that something would happen that would show me why this games reviews generally score so highly.  So now onto multiplayer to both get more achievement points and to see if multiplayer is good enough to warrant the high review scores.  Based on the singleplayer game alone, I couldn't give this much more than an 8.0 - 8.2.

Will be trading this in along with PGR3 on Burnout Revenge or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, both of which I'll buy as soon as they are released.

Quick update on PGR3... actually finished this game through on medium difficulty.  Was fun enough to get me to wrap it up, but not enough to prod me onto redoing it on next level of difficulty.