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David's Gaming Escapades: Last Week Edition

As you probably know, E3 was last week, and as you would expect, most of my blogging that week was E3 related. I finished two games that week, but I never got around to talking about them because my E3 blogs were already pushing 15-20 paragraphs, and I didn't want to make them any longer. So I'll talk about those two games here instead.

The first game I finished was Sly 2: Band of Thieves. I had originally started this game back around 2006, stopped playing it for whatever reason, and somehow bought and completed the other two Sly games in the meantime. I promised myself this summer that I'd finally get rid of some of the games on my monstrous backlog (actually, I originally said I'd get most of them, but I quickly realized that is not going to happen), and Sly 2 was one of them, so I had been playing it for the past week or so.Anyway, I finally beat it. I'm not really sure what caused me to stop playing it back then, because it really is a great game. The game is very nice to look at, even by today's standards, due to its colorful and original cel-shaded look. The gameplay is tons of fun as well, and the objectives are extremely varied, so it's almost impossible to get bored of. There are some mission types that repeat themselves a few times, such as Sly's recon missions at the beginning of each episode and Bentley's hacking minigame, but it does a wonderful job of keeping things fresh, unlike some games that involve running around on rooftops (I'm looking at you, Assassin's Creed!).

Sly 2's plot is really well constructed. There are some pretty big twists in the game that help keep you interested in the story, including a pretty big one at the end (but of course I was stupid and played Sly 3 before finishing this game, so I already knew about it). When it's revealed exactly how each Klaww Gang member fits into the grand scheme of things during the final episode, the story really comes together, and that's when it claimed the title of my favorite Sly Cooper game, just barely edging out Sly 3 for the crown.

I also beat The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I already gave my impressions on the game a while back, and my opinion on the game hasn't really changed since then. The game was pretty damn great. The only thing I really didn't like about it was the repeated trips to the Temple of the Ocean King. It was really annoying having to go through the same exact floors and solve the same exact puzzles over and over again. To be fair, the items you gain throughout the game do open up new shortcuts, and about halfway through the game, you even get a warp point to the sixth floor of the temple, so it's not as bad as it could have been, but still. Never make me visit the same exact dungeon six times in a row again, Nintendo!

In other news, I bought The Who Track Pack on Rock Band last Wednesday, and while playing through one of the songs on drums my pedal snapped in half. I was a little pissed because I had just spent $20 on those tracks and now my only option was to sing to them (I'm garbage with the guitar). I was also a little worried that support would say I "abused" the pedal and refuse to replace it, but when I called them up yesterday I had no problems ordering a replacement. I went with the express replacement option, which means that they will send me another pedal immediately, and ship the old pedal back in the same box I got the new pedal in. However, choosing this option means they place a $125 hold on your credit card, which is am absurdly high amount for a pedal. You can buy an entire Rock Band drum set for less than 2/3 of that price. The hold amount should be no more than the part that is being replaced costs. I really hope that pedal doesn't get lost during shipping.

Fast forwarding to the present, I'm currently playing Pokémon Ruby, and even a little bit of Pokémon Diamond. Why? I have no idea. In the six hours of Diamond that I've played in the past few days, I have done absolutely nothing worthwhile. I'm trying to get a Milotic in Diamond, so I rode my bike up and down the same stretch of road for 2 hours hatching a ton of Feebas eggs until I got one of a certain nature. The reason I need one of a certain nature is because its nature determines what kinds of berries it likes, and different kinds of berries increase different stats, and Feebas evolves by maxing out a certain stat, and now I feel like a nerd for knowing all this so I'm going to stop talking about that now. After I got the Feebas I needed I spent a half an hour mixing the necessary berries and feeding them to Feebas. But of course my berries weren't strong enough, so the stat didn't get maxed out and I had to turn my game off. Since then, I've been trying to find and grow more berries, hoping to find a combination of berries that will max out the stat I need and finally cause Feebas to evolve. But I've been at it for six hours, and I still don't have a Milotic. Pokémon is the only series that can make me run around the game world and do absolutely nothing for six hours. At least I'm actually playing through the story in Ruby, though.

I've also gone back to playing Crackdown. There are only a few key criminals left to defeat, so I should probably finish that up soon. After I finish either Ruby or Crackdown, I think it's time to finaly finish Okami. I say this every month, but I really (maybe) mean it this time! I don't think I've ever procrastinated on a game that I love this much before.

The Bomb Has Been Detonated

I've been waiting for Giant Bomb to launch for months now, and it has finally arrived! My account name is Hexogen over there. If any of you guys join, make sure to add me!

I'm definitely not leaving GameSpot, but I do have to make a decision on where I'm going to post my blogs from now on. I really want to participate as much as I can in Giant Bomb's community, so I definitely want to post blogs there, but I definitely don't want to stop doing them here either. Yet, at the same time I don't really want to post the exact same blogs on both sites. Writing two different blogs on the same subject and alternating posting on each website doesn't make much sense either.

I guess whether I decide to blog exclusively on Giant Bomb or not hinges on how many people I know from here join Giant Bomb. I'm so conflicted right now. :P

Semi-Final E3 Blog

So E3 has pretty much come to a close, and I've seen many great demos of games over the past few days. I've only touched on the ones shown at the press conferences so far, so I figured I'll touch on every game I'm looking forward to this time.

Rock Band 2 - They played Everlong by Foo Fighters and a very small part of Anyway You Want It by Journey in this demo. It totally looks like Rock Band. It has some nice interface changes and I'm looking forward to seeing exactly how the new and revamped modes work.

inFamous - This was my most anticipated game of E3. Sucker Punch won me over with the Sly Cooper trilogy, so when they announced inFamous at E3 2007, they had my full attention. We haven't really known much about it until recently. The demo I saw was the first gameplay footage ever shown, besides quick montages of gameplay shown in the trailers. Sucker Punch must really like games that involve climbing stuff and traversing rooftops because Cole, inFamous's main character, can climb up things like buildings and telephone poles, just like a certain character in some of Sucker Punch's previous games. The climbing system is completely dynamic and adds a vertical element to the game a-la Assassin's Creed or Crackdown. You can even use the climbing system for cover. The demo showed Cole hanging off the side of a rooftop, raising his body up just enough to be able to throw a few bolts of lightning at his foes, and dropping back down out of harm's way. It's a really neat idea to be able to take cover like that, and the climbing definitely looks smooth.

What makes Cole a superhero is that he can harness electricity from the city's power grid and manipulate it to be used for various purposes. He can shoot bolts of electricity out of his hands, create an electromagnetic field that can push objects (think "the force"), bring down lightning from the sky, throw an electric orb of energy that explodes like a grenade, and act as a defibrillator and revive dead citizens with an electric shock. And those are only a fraction of the powers he will have. What's cool is that electricity actually arcs between metal objects, which means that you could shock a car with electricity and it would also shock the nearby payphone. You can use this to your advantage and take out enemies who are hiding behind cover.

The last part of the demo showed a blackout happening in a part of the city Cole was currently in. The city has a problem with blackouts, and if Cole is in a blacked-out section of the city, he is weaker than normal because he draws his power from the city's electrical grid. While in the blacked-out sector, he encountered another person with superpowers. This person moved extremely fast, leaving a blurry trail behind him as he moved. He was firing what appeared to be a gun at various citizens as well as Cole. He also threw huge waves of energy that tore up the concrete. Cole tried shooting bolts of electricity at him, but the enemy was too fast to get a good hit on, so he brought down a huge lightning storm that defeated the enemy, but also blew up a bunch of cars and killed a few citizens. Awesome. I had high expectations for inFamous, and I was not let down by the demonstration at all.

Gears of War 2 - Gears 2 is one of the biggest 360 titles coming out this year, and its single player is looking pretty good. The demo they showed had Marcus and Dom going through a city that the Locust Horde had just sunk. The game looks better than the first, especially the lighting. The color palette is more saturated this time around, which isn't to say the game still doesn't look dark and desolate, but it's a very noticeable difference compared to the first Gears, which was a little too colorless.

The gameplay is mostly the same. There have been many small tweaks to the cover system to make it work better, there appears to be more enemy variety, you can now use downed enemies as shields, there are new weapons, and other standard things you'd expect in a sequel. The game's scale is definitely larger than the first. The demo has a huge, burning city in the background, and there is a time in the demo where you have 20-30 Locusts running off in the distance. It makes the game feel much more like a full scale war. Overal though, it's mostly what you'd expect a sequel to Gears of War to be, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty - The demo looks good. The game is relativey similar to Tools of Destruction, but that's not surprising considering this isn't really a full fledged sequel. The game supposedly focuses more on platforming and puzzle-solving than Tools ofd Destruction did. The wrench's environmental manipulation is pretty cool. Some examples of things you can do with it is pull platforms towards you and pick up lava rocks and throw them at gates to break the. They've also talked a little about light and dark gameplay, but haven't shown any. The environments are also supposed to be a little more open, as opposed to the linear environments of the other Ratchet & Clank games. It looks to be shaping up well, and I'm glad it's coming out soon, because Tools of Destruction's ending just totally left us hanging, and I want to know what's going on.

Resistance 2 - I already talked about the Leviathan demo last blog, so I'll skip to the second location they showed. It was another portion of Chicago, wheich featured a large number of fast Chimerans charging at you in an attempt to overwhelm you. They showcased a cool new weapon which fired plain old bullets, but those bullets could then be detonated via secondary fire, whether they were in walls, in the ground, or in bodies. Insomniac is really good at making creative weapons, and this is no exception.

The third level they showed was Oakland/San Francisco. They didn't really show much shooting in this portion. It was really just to show off all the eye candy in the game. But what eye candy it is. The level puts you on one side of the Bay Bridge during sunset. There are tons of huge Chimeran ships hovering over the San Francisco Bay, as well as plenty of little ones flying around. The huge Chimeran ships were firing upon San Francisco in the distance and absolutely demolishing it. The game is definitely pretty, and a huge step up from the first.

Fallout 3 - This is another game I already covered earlier, but the demo show on GameSpot was longer than the one shown at the Microsoft Press Conference. All I really have to say about this one that I didn't cover earlier is that they claim to have the biggest selection of beards ever in a video game, and that you can kill people with teddy bear projectiles. What's not to like about this game?

Far Cry 2 - This game is looking really good, especially for the console version. When they announced Far Cry 2 (originally built with only the PC in mind) was coming to 360 and PS3, I thought it was just going to be a crappy port that ran at 15FPS and had half the features and eye candy removed, but I was wrong. The console version has all the features intact, and the graphics haven't been significantly downgraded at all. I wasn't that big of a fan of the first Far Cry. I just didn't find it all that fun. But it seems like they totally nailed what I would want out of an open-world shooter.

Prince of Persia - The artistic direction in this game is great. Considering how devoid most games are of color these days, Prince of Persia is a breath of fresh air. The gameplay looks more open than past Prince of Persia games (though I wouldn't know; I never played a PoP game before--perhaps I should). I like that they're focusing on dramatic 1-on-1 fights rather than throwing 100 generic enemies at you at once. I'm also digging the simple approach to calling on Elika for help. One button and depending on what you're doing she'll respond accordingly. I hope it works as well as it looks like it does. It'd be nice to have a support character you don't have to babysit.

That's all for today. I don't want to make this blog too long. I've only talked about half the games I want to cover, so I'll most likely be doing this kind of blog again tomorrow. I've really got tons of catching up to do with watching trailers and whatnot. E3 totally overwhelmed me.

E3 Sony Press Conference Impressions

I got home from my doctor's appointment just a few minutes after the Sony press conference started, so I turned on the TV, sat back, and looked at what Sony had to offer.

I started watching at the beginning of a very short demonstration of Resistance 2 where they showed off the Leviathan, a huge 300 foot tall monster that they had teased about in pre-E3 demonstrations. The demo starts off with the Leviathan slowly approaching Nathan Hale and crew, swatting an approaching airplane out of the sky on the way over. The monster then proceeds to pick Hale up, only to be greeted by a rocket to the mouth. The monster recoils a bit, then throws him onto the balcony of a nearby building. Hale runs up a few flights of stairs to the roof of the building, and starts running across a very unstable looking makeshift bridge. The Leviathan hits the bridge, but of course it doesn't break. When Hale reaches the other end of the bridge the monster hits it again and destroys it.

Hale then runs down multiple flights of stairs while the monster hits the building repeatedly. He then jumps out a window and runs around the side of the building, only to be picked up by the monster again. Another rocket to the face, and he gets tossed at least a few hundred feet. He hits the ground and immediately gets up. And by immediately I mean he is standing up again literally two seconds later. After all, being thrown 500 feet is no big deal, right? Hale is told through radio that there have been explosive charges planted on a bridge, and it's his job to lure it under a bridge so the demolitions team can detonate it. The demonstration then comes to an end.

All in all, it looks pretty cool, though for a demonstration of a shooter there really wasn't much shooting involved. It was just a lot of running. Still, the Leviathan is a damn scary creature, and it really showed off how good this game looks. The Leviathan is highly detailed despite its huge size, and everything just pretty much looks great, except that it looks a little... fake when Nathan Hale moves. I think it may be that there's not enough camera bob. Compared with how phenomenal the rest of the game looks, it just seems a little off.

After the demo Ted Price talked about the game for a little bit and then Jack Tretton came back on stage and moved onto LittleBigPlanet. This part was pretty clever. Sony had Media Molecule create a level in the game to act as a slideshow while Jack Tretton talked business and numbers. For example, SackBoy pulled on a lever that brought down a sign showing how many units the PlayStation 3 had sold this year to date. The sign then bumped into a ball, the ball rolled and fell into a cup, and acted as a weight and pulled the cup downwards, which pulled up a sign showing how many units of PSPs they sold. The business parts of the E3 press conferences is always the most boring part for consumers, but Sony managed to make it relatively entertaining by cleverly incorporating LittleBigPlanet into their presentation. It really demonstrates what you can do with the game, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting it whenever I get my PS3.

Jack then talked about how great support for the PS2 still was and played a reel showing many of the games coming out for PS2 this year. Of course, most of them will be available on next-gen consoles or just aren't all that good looking, but I guess the point is that people are still making games for this thing. And that's a pretty big feat.

After they were done talking about the PS2, they moved to PSN. They announced that very soon PSN would have a single sign-in ID for every platform. You'll also be able to login to your account on the web and see your friends list and messages and the like. Good news for when I get my PS3.

They then announced a new title coming to PSN this summer. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty. It's a bite-sized Ratchet & Clank game for a cheaper price ($15). I'm a huge fan of the series, so this would have been an amazing surprise for me--if I didn't already know about it. Back in April, a list of PSN titles being released in the following few months was leaked. Quest for Booty was on that list. Over the coming months, the list proved to be pretty accurate, so Quest for Booty seemed pretty likely to exist. Then when various rating boards started giving the title ratings, it was pretty much confirmed to exist. Anyway, gameplay-wise, it's similar to Tools of Destruction but with a heavier focus on platforming and puzzle-solving. One of the new additions to gameplay is that Ratchet's wrench can now manipulate certain objects in the environment. Definitely going to mooch off my friend's PS3 to play it, and probably buy it when I get my own PS3.

Next they showed off a bit more of Home. Tretton promises that when it's finally made publicly available, our patience will be rewarded. Home never really interested me that much, and it still doesn't. It's a cool concept, but I just prefer a 2D interface without all the avatars and whatnot.

Then they announced full-length movies and television shows available for rental and purchase on the PlayStation store. It's probably not a feature I would use much. I think I rented a movie once on Xbox Live to get rid of some spare points, but otherwise I don't usually touch this stuff. What I think is pretty neat though is that you can transfer those movies and TV shows to your PSP and watch them on there.

Speaking of the PSP, they announced Resistance: Retribution, an exclusive title for the portable system. It looks alright. They then played another reel showing a bunch of previously announced games for PSP.

Back to the PS3. They announced Life With PlayStation, a news and weather service for the PS3. Okay, sure. Next they showed a trailer and talked a little about DC Universe Online. You create your own character and build your repuutation while fighting alongside famous characters from various DC comics. It looks like an alright game, but I'm not really a big comic buff so I can't imaginemyself picking it up.

Sony then announced an 80GB PS3 Core Package for $399. It has the same functionality as the current 40GB PS3, but the storage has been doubled. I wonder if this means they're dropping the $499 model. An extra $100 doesn't seem worth it for two more USB ports, card readers, and software backward compatibility. Of course the $499 model comes with Metal Gear Solid 4, so I guess that means it's technically only $40 more for the extra stuff. I wish they would just drop the price already, instead of introducing new SKUs with bigger hard drives. The PS3 has been around for almost 2 years, and its cheapest model is still $100 above the initial price of all three consoles last gen. I know consoles go way beyond games nowadays, which is most likely why they're so expensive, but it really takes a toll on my wallet.

After another reel of PS3 games, the conference was about to come to a close. I was pretty disappointed that there were no really big announcements. But wait... they still had a few things up their sleeve. They then announced a new title: God of War III! Awesome! They then showed a trailer, but it was just a pre-rendered teaser trailer, which was a bit of a letdown, but at least we know it exists.

Immediately after God of War III, they showed a trailer for inFamous. Believe it or not, this is the game I was anticipating most at E3. The trailer talked about some of the story and showed many quick flashes of gameplay. I was not disappointed by what I saw.

Afterwards, they had one last game to show off. That game turned out to be Massive Action Game. Yes, it is actually called Massive Action Game. It's a multiplayer shooter, but with a twist. There can be up to 256 players playing at once playing a match. I thought Resistance 2 was impressive with its 60 player multiplayer, but MAG ups the ante with over four times that amount. MAG is squad-based, with 32 squads of eight fighting on a massive map. Your character's skills will grow as you play. They then showed another pre-rendered trailer for the game.

I'm kind of worried that this game won't work. 60 players is a lot, but a 256 player match just seems like it'd be total carnage, as well as extremely laggy. Also, from what I understand, they're also employing a leadership system in the game--that is, some players will be leaders of their squads and get to give their squad orders. Now judging by the experience I've had with most online first-person shooters, nobody really listens to anything a squad leader says. Everyone just does their own thing, and I don't really see this being any different. I just don't think it'll come to be as amazing as it sounds. If they can pull this off, however, this could really be one of the most amazing multiplayer shooters ever. For now, though, I'm doubtful.

After MAG was done, the conference ended. Overall, it was pretty good. They really should have showed more demos though. Microsoft was really good with showing us actual gameplay of their games. They had five live demos, opposed to Sony's measly two. Still, it was better than what Nintendo had to offer. I actually haven't watched Nintendo's, but I read multiple blogs recapping all the announcements and whatnot, and man, what a disappointment. A new Animal Crossing and a Grand Theft Auto game for the DS (which I can't imagine being very good) is all you have to show? Lame, Nintendo, lame. I've been debating between getting either a PS3 or a Wii for the past few months (I've been slightly leaning toward the PS3 side) and Nintendo's conference cemented my decision to definitely get a PS3 over a Wii. Sorry, Nintendo, but if you want my money you really gotta get the ball rolling. Animal Crossing just isn't enough to satisfy me.

Tomorrow I think I'll be doing an impressions blog on all the individual games I've seen demoed here at GameSpot and elsewhere. I have to go back and watch some of them, since I missed a whole bunch. I've been watching GameSpot's live coverage on and off throughout the past few days.

E3 Thoughts, Day 1

So here it is, my first E3-related blog. Last night I was planning on doing a pre-E3 blog listing all the games I'm anticipating, but I also wanted to finish Sly 2. I didn't want to stay up all night to do both, so I had to choose just one. And when it comes to writing about video games versus playing video games, I'm sure you can guess what I chose. I still need to write a blog about Sly 2, but I suppose I'll do that after E3. For now I'll just say: it was awesome.

Right, so let's get to E3. Around 1:30 PM EST, I got on my computer and tried to get on GameSpot. For a minute or two, it just sat there loading... loading... loading... until it finally timed out. I tried again two or three times and after realizing five minutes had passed, I decided to turn on G4. To my surprise, the conference was being broadcast commercial-free, unlike last year. I then proceeded to invite one of my friends over to hang out and watch the conference with me, and then I started watching.

I tuned in during a demo of Fallout 3. It looks pretty great. It's supposedly a game that lets you play it anyway you want, and I believe it. It has both a real-time combat system and a system that lets you freeze the action and target certain body parts and plan out what you want to do, similar to a turn-based system sans the turns, if that makes any sense at all. The world looks much more interesting than Oblivion's samey environments as well. I was interested in Fallout 3 before, but this demo definitely ups the ante.

Next they showed off a demo of Resident Evil 5. All the trailers for this game so far look amazing. The actual gameplay? Still great, but slightly underwhelming. It basically looks like Resident Evil 4 with better graphics, but I suppose that's probably what most RE fans would want out of a sequel. Don't fix what isn't broken, I guess.

Fable 2 was showed off afterwards. I don't really have much to say about it, as the demo was very shortand didn't really show us anything new. Regardless, all the other demos of the game I've seen look great, so I'm looking forward to this one.

After Fable was a trailer and demo for Gears of War 2. Just like RE5, this basically seems like the original Gears with better graphics, but that's pretty much what I expected. There appers to be more enemy variety, and the scale seems much larger, with tons of locusts running around at once and whatnot. All in all, the single player seems like more of the same, but that's not a bad thing at all.

Later in the conference they showed off the new Dashboard. It looks pretty good (kind of like a mix between the Windows Media Center interface and the PS3's XMB), except for the heavy focus on the new avatars. I do not like the idea of Xbox Miis at all. I find them intrusive and I really hope there's an option to turn them off. I don't think there will be though, since they're going to be integrated into future games. Honestly, the last thing I want my Xbox to try to be is a Wii. Some of the new features that were announced sound pretty good, though.

The option to install games completely on the hard drive to speed up loading times could really come in handy for games that I play often, such as Call of Duty 4. Actually, come to think of it, I guess it wouldn't really help with CoD4 because I'd have to wait for everybody else's games to load in multiplayer anyway. Still, it's nice to have the option. Party chat is definitely a feature I've been waiting for as well. The addition of NBC Universal content to the video marketplace and Netflix streaming are probably not features I will use (unless I ever subscribe to Netflix), but they're cool nonetheless. The current blades interface will be shrunken down and will pop up in the center of the screen when you hit the Xbox Guide button, replacing the grey sidebar they currently have. You'll be able to access the marketplace, your settings, your games library, etc. even if you're in the middle of a game. It's supposedly much faster than the sidebar, which is a relief, because the sidebar can really plod along at times.

Other things announced include live game shows where you can actually win real prizes, and an XBL Marketplace on the web that allows you to purchase things and then have them automatically download to your Xbox 360 console. I wonder if you have to turn the console on first or if it will download even if it's off.

Next they announced some XBLA titles. Geometry Wars 2 was the first. I liked the first Geometry Wars even though I suck at it, so I may get it. The other title that interested me was Portal: Still Alive. More Portal? Yes, please!

After that, Rare showed off trailers for Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise. Banjo Kazooie looks completely awesome, and Viva Piñata intrigues me, even though I'm not super excited about it. After that they announced the original Banjo Kazooie was coming to Xbox Live Arcade. I've never played any of the Banjo Kazooie games, so I'll definitely check the first one out when it comes to XBLA.

Afterwards they announced a few casual titles, including a sequel to Scene It!, which doesn't really interest me, and You're in the Movies!, which looks totally stupid, but in a good way. I still probably won't get it, but it looks like it could be entertaining.

Then they got into music games. First, some guy from RedOctane out and talked about Guitar Hero: World Tour for a minute or two, but I honestly do not remember what he said at all. Sorry, RedOctane guy! Next, the creator of Elite Beat Agents/Gitaroo Man came out and talked about their new game, Lips! It's basically SingStar for the 360 but with motion-sensitive microphones with LIGHTS ON THE SHAFT. Also, you can apparently plug in your iPod or Zune, stream music off your computer, or play music on the Xbox's hard drive and those songs will work with the game. I don't know if they have a huge lyrics database or exactly how it will work, but it sounds cool. Still, I only need one game to fulfill my need to sing badly into a microphone, and that game is...

Rock Band 2! They revealed the full setlist for the game and I must say it has to be the best compilation of music I have ever seen in a video game. There are maybe one or two songs on the list that I don't like, but the rest are great. There are 75 songs in the main setlist, which is a huge step up from the 45 in Rock Band 1, and on top of that they are all master tracks. In addition to that, all DLC will be cross-compatible, meaning all current and future DLC will work with both Rock Band 1 and 2.Rock Band 1 owners will also be able to import most of the songs from Rock Band 1 to Rock Band 2 for a small fee (under $5), so there will be no need to swap discs to play the songs you loved in the original game.

The conference started to wind down with Square Enix showing off three RPGs: The Last Remnant, Infinite Undiscovery, and Star Ocean 4. I'm cautiously anticipating these games. They look like they could be good, but JRPGs are totally hit and miss for me, so I don't want to get too excited about them.

After that, the conference appeared to be coming to an end until the Square Enix guy popped back on stage and mentioned they had one last announcement. The announcement was that Final Fantasy XIII was coming to the Xbox 360. Now like I said, I'm not a very big JRPG guy, so I didn't exactly jump out of my seat in excitement, but hey, Final Fantasy for the 360. Why not? I may give it a try when it's released.

And then the Microsoft press conference ended. It was pretty great. Much better than I was expecting. It's definitely a hard act for Nintendo and Sony to follow, but who knows? Maybe those two will announce even greater things. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to see these two conferences live, as I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I'll definitely miss the Nintendo conference, but I might be back in time for the Sony one.

Either way, E3 is off to a great start. I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the week.

My Arms Are Numb

A little while back I started the hard drum tour in Rock Band and over the past few weeks I've been plodding through it. I almost have it beaten, but two songs still stand in my way to victory. And honestly, I think I may have met my match. The two songs in question are Next to You and Run to the Hills.

Next to You has a part that I just cannot get down, and it appears in the intro and a few other places of the song as well. I've yet to actually get past the intro on this one. Run to the Hills is basically one giant drum roll. I have my snare taped down for more sensitivity, but I didn't do anything to the rest of the pads yet, which means it's near impossible to do drum rolls on them. That, combined with the fact that I suck at doing really fast drum rolls, means I usually wind up failing by the first chorus. I honestly don't think I'll ever be good enough to beat those two songs, but hey, there was a time when I couldn't beat any songs on hard at all, so I guess it could happen.

In other news, I haven't actually played much Gears of War since getting it. I played through about half of the first act, but have yet to try out multiplayer. The game is pretty good so far, though I've had a few problems getting used to the controls. Every aspect of cover, as well as sprinting, is controlled by the A button. There are far too many actions confined to this one button, and it causes problems like sticking to cover when I want to perform a roll. In addition, I must be stupid or something, because I can't seem to kill anyone with the chainsaw bayonet. If I hold down B while not being threatened by death, the chainsaw will rev up just fine, but if I try to rev it up while Marcus is near an enemy, he just sits there and drools. A few seconds after that I usually get smacked in the head and die. The game can be quite frustrating, but so far I'm having fun for the most part.

Still working on Zelda and Okami. If I really concentrated on just those two games for one day I could probably beat them both, but that probably won't happen because of my ADHD approach to gaming (play about 5 different games every day for an hour or less each, start new games before I finish the ones I'm working on, etc.). My friend also beat Sly 2: Band of Thieves, so I'll be getting that back from him, and since that is the one game in the Sly Cooper series I never beat I'll probably pick up from where I left off starting tomorrow. My Metal Gear Solid series playthrough has been put on hold because that same friend is borrowing the first one, which I have yet to finish, so I'm waiting to get that back as well so I can beat it and start on the second game.

That's really all that's been going on for me, gaming-wise. I have a huge headache now, so I think I'm going to call it a night.

Patience Pays Off

Ever since I got my Xbox 360 back in September, I had wanted to pick up a certain game for it. This game, however, was almost a year old and was still being sold at full price, so I decided to hold out on picking it up. I figured the price had to drop soon. Months went by, and the game still had a $60 price tag. When the sequel was announced and the price still didn't drop, I just about gave in. But I decided to wait a few more months. And in mid-June my patience paid off. They announced they were re-issuing the game I wanted with bonus content and slashing the price to $40. Today I bought the re-issued version of the game, and now it's time to see why so many people consider this the 360's magnum opus.

Yes. I finally bought Gears of War. Now that I think about it, waiting ten months for a $20 price drop probably wasn't worth it, but you know what? Screw it. I'm happy anyway. Now it's time to pop this sucker in and see what it's all about.

Happy Fourth of July!

Just as the title says, Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

I didn't do much for the holiday. Just stayed home and chilled out with the family. Not much of a way to spend a holiday, I know, but I don't really mind.

Gaming-wise, I played my first game of Call of Duty 4 online in almost 2 months. In fact, it's the first time I've played a game online period in almost 2 months, besides the occasional Rock Band session with my friends.

We started out with Team Deathmatch. I figured I was about to get my ass kicked, but I went 7-1, which is pretty alright for me. But I went 7-15 in the second game, so I guess I need to get used to it after all. The third game we played was Search & Destroy. This was my first time ever playing S&D, so I went 0-3. Ouch. Anyone have any tips and/or setups to help me get better at it?

Beyond Good and Evil Finished

Last month I picked up a little game called Beyond Good & Evil. When its sequel was announced back in late May, the internet exploded. People on gaming websites everywhere joyfully exclaimed how psyched they were for this sequel, and also showered the first game with tons of praise. It left me wondering why everybody was suddenly making such a fuss over this game. Where were all these BG&E fans a few years ago, and why had I never heard almost anyone mention this game before? I mean, I had heard of it, but I never knew anything about it and had no idea it was so loved.

I did a little research on the game to see what made it so great and whether it was the type of game I'd like or not. I read and watched various reviews for the game, and its stealth-focused action-adventure gameplay sounded like it could be pretty cool, so a week or two later I bought it. Fast forward to yesterday, when I finally beat it after weeks of hopping from game to game. I completely understand why the few people that have played the game hold it in such high regard, because now that I've played through it, I do too.

BG&E's unique presentation, engaging story, memorable characters, and relatively simple but varied gameplay all come together to form an amazing experience. I'm going to avoid going into detail about what makes it so great for now because I'm planning on writing a review for this one, which I probably won't finish, but whatever. What I will say is that it's now one of my favorite action adventure games of last-gen, and if you haven't played it yet, well, you should probably get on that.

Phantom Hourglass and Okami are the next two games I'm planning on beating. I'm near the end of both, so I'll probably be able to finish them in the next few days.

Reacquainting Myself With an Old Friend

Gaming-wise, my last two weeks have been consumed by Metal Gear Solid, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Beyond Good & Evil, and a bit of Okami. This means that I haven't touched Xbox 360 at all in the past two weeks. Well, that's not completely true. I did play a few songs of Rock Band, but other than that I haven't been showing my 360 any love lately. Today, however, I decided to change that by putting in a game that I haven't played in a while.

Yep, I'm back to playing Call of Duty 4. I haven't dove back into multiplayer just yet, though. I've been playing through the first few levels of the campaign in order to reacquaint myself with the controls, so I don't get my ass handed to me in multiplayer (even though it will happen anyway). In addition, two of my friends got the game a few weeks ago and play it almost every night, so it'll be nice to play with them. Most of the people I know from GameSpot seemed to have moved on to other games, though. And of course I couldn't have chosen a worse time to start playing this again, because I'll be gone all weekend. Oh well.