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Kravyn81 Blog

How the West was Won (Again)

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So for some reason I decided to pop Red Dead Redemption back in and the more I play it the more I discover how much I really like it. I might not "love" the game but it is definitely high up on my list of "fave games." And one of the reasons is just how gorgeous the game world is.

I had a moment the other night whilst playing. (This all takes place in-game) I was sauntering along on my horse. It was in the wee hours of the morning and it had just stopped raining. The sky was clear and the moon was bright; the light of which was reflecting in the many pools of water on the ground. I was overlooking a large river with a looming mountain range in the distance. And just for a moment I got lost in the game world. I noticed how serene and picturesque this scene was. And I came to a stunning revelation: No other game has had such a beautiful landscape to the point where it actually made me stop playing and just sit...looking at the image on my TV screen.

And this is not just a one time thing, but there are multiple times in the game where I just sit and stare at how beautiful the game world is. Watching the sun rise never gets old. Watching the sun set is equally satisfying. And then there are the quiet times in the middle of the night when it seems as if the entire game world is asleep and you're the only soul wandering forever across this landscape with nothing but the moon to light your way.

I have to honestly say I'm having more fun playing through RDR this time than I did when I first got the game. I appreciate all the work that R* put in to this game to make it so detailed and a joy to just ride around on horseback doing nothing in particular but traveling and seeing all the different environments. I never had the inclination to waste so much time just farting around doing absolutely nothing in any of the GTA games, that's for sure. But RDR is different. I think because it hearkens back to a time that can never again be experienced in real life.

Has anyone else had a similar feeling in any of the games you have played?

Here We Go Again

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3DS vs. PSP2

If anything it's going to be interesting as hell to sit on the sidelines and watch these two handheld titans battle it out. Nintendo is once again hedging their bets on a gimmick (3D) to sell its handheld (ironic since it was Sony that started the whole "games in 3D" push) and Sony is once again beefing up their new handheld with as much muscle power and bells and whistles as they can fit in the device.

What does this Mean for You?

And by you I mean us as gamers. Well it definitely means expect to pay more exorbitant prices for a handheld device. Does anyone else get the feeling that these two companies are trying too hard? At least when talking about Sony. They're touting the PSP2 to be "as powerful as the PS3" which begs the question: Why not just buy a damn PS3, dear consumer? While the price has yet TBD for the PSP2 I'm sure it's not going to be anything less than $300. You can buy a PS3 for that much. Where's the value? Same thing with the 3DS: $250 really? Is 3D worth that much to you? You know PS3 has the ability to play 3D games right now and on a much BIGGER screen. Again, where is the value in these handhelds again? Sure they've got the novelty factor going for them but after the hype dies down at the end of the day it's still a handheld.

Innovation for the Sake of Innovation

Do we really need 3D games? Do we really need five different control schemes? Innovation for the sake of innovation is useless. I simply don't understand why these companies are trying to reinvent the wheel with each new device they release. Do motion controls truly make playing a game better than simply hitting a button? The argument could be made either way, I suppose, but I would argue it doesn't. Flailing around in your living room as opposed to hitting buttons does not make a game more fun to play. Different, yes, but more fun not so much. The same is true with the 3DS's ability to play games in 3D and the PSP2 to have multiple control schemes: It doesn't necessarily make those games more fun to play but just offers a different way with which toplay a game; a novelty that indisputably diminishes over time because these new ways to play aren't making these games more fun and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. A fun game is a fun game regardless of how you input the controls. Period. Also, in reality having multiple control schemes makes me nervous because how is that going to affect game play? I don't want to have to be constantly switching back and forth with different control schemes just because the developer wants to exploit them. I see that as more of a hassle and turn off than I do a solid selling point.

The Bottom Line

It's still way too early to pass judgment on either system right now as time will be the only judge. But if history is anything to go by then expect this new handheld war to play out much the same as the previous one albeit with some minor differences but overall completely the same. I for one am not jumping into the fray any time soon concerning either handheld until one of them (or both) prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are worth buying.

2011 Most Anticipated Games List

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With the new year quickly approaching, it's time to take on the difficult task of deciding which games you think will be worth the money and which games can wait until they hit the bargain bin. Right now a lot of the focus is on game of the year lists or "Best of 2010" lists, so I'm going to buck the trend a bit and jump ahead to my "Most Anticipated of Q1 2011" games list.

Week of January 16th:
Mass Effect 2 releases on the 18th. This game will be among the very few next year that will make my esteemed Day One purchase list; not many games make this list because, let's face it, games aren't cheap. Technically I shouldn't even be buying any games since I'm unemployed at the moment making purchases all the more precious. ME2 also has the privilege of being the first game I will buy for the beginning of the new year.

Week of January 23rd:
One week later the hotly anticipated Dead Space 2 releases on the 25th, but I'll probably be too absorbed in Mass Effect 2 to give it the attention it deserves. Another game that is on the periphery of my radar for the 25th is Two Worlds II. I don't know much about this one and I'll more than likely wait for the reviews to come in first.

Week of February 20th:
There are a pair of releases on the 22nd with Killzone 3 and Bulletstorm. The former of which is much anticipated by a lot of Sony fans, but for me personally the Killzone series doesn't really do it for me. I own the first on PS2 but I never played it. I bought the sequel when it came out, played it, beat it and then ended up trading it back in. So I have to say I'm not that stoked for KZ3. Bulletstorm is a totally new IP and I'm up in the air with whether or not to get it.

Week of March 6th:
Dragon Age II releases on March 8th. I'll be honest I wasn't impressed with the first game and was surprised to find out it couldn't hold my attention, which is odd considering it's a BioWare game and I love BioWare. But for DA:O I wasn't feeling it. So then why am I interested in the sequel? Good question; I don't know. More than likely I'll pick up the GotY edition of the first Dragon Age and give it another shot. Homefront is another game I just found out about and which seems interesting dealing with the U.S. being invaded by a united Korea and bringing the fight here to America. Deus Ex: Human Revolution seems epic as well as it's being developed by Square-Enix.

Week of March 13th:
Yakuza 4 arrives on the 15th! Even though I still have yet to beat the first, second or third game I'm definitely getting this one. Maybe not a Day One purchase (depends if they have a collector's edition or not), but this game is definitely on my "to-buy" list for the year.

Week of March 20th:
Another pair of highly anticipated releases are Crysis 2 and F.3.A.R. although I'm still on the fence about both of these games. I've only ever played the first F.E.A.R. on PC and it was a great game. I never bothered with the sequel or the weird add-on packs they released so my expectations haven't been soured by any of those previous games which is probably why I'm looking forward to this one. I just hope it lives up to the greatness of the first. Crysis 2 is another previous PC-only series transitioning to consoles. I never played the first mainly because you needed a small supercomputer just to run the thing on the recommended settings (or some crazy crap like that). So I missed out completely.

Week of March 27th and TBD:
Bodycount and Child of Eden are two games that have my interest but not enough for me to definitely say I will get them. So we'll have to see when the reviews come in where these two stand.

And that's it for the first quarter. These are just my most anticipated. In actuality out of all these games listed I only plan on buying three, and out of those three just one as a Day One purchase. Until I can get a job where disposable income is not an issue things are going to be tight for the new year. Feel free to share some of your most anticipated games as well.

New Game Suggestions

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I have a $50 gift card I received as a present so I'm looking to get a game with it. I'd like your input as to which game you think is worth getting. Here's what I've narrowed down so far:

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Interest: Moderately high ~ Loved the first game.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - Interest: Moderately high ~ This is probably the game I have the most interest in right now. I've watched/read the GS review and, aside from some minor flaws, the game seems pretty interesting. I'm just not sure if it's worth $60 brand new.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - Interest: Moderately low ~ Not really interested in this game for the multiplayer but then these types of games become pretty stale after you beat the single-player campaign.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Interest: Moderately high ~ I can't believe it's already been a year since ACII released and I still haven't played it. This game has been getting a decent amount of positive feedback and it seems to contain the most "bang for your buck" content-wise as it is a big game with lots to do.
  • James Bond 007: Bloodstone - Interest: Moderate ~ This one surprised me. After watching the review it seems like a pretty decent action game if a little short. Again, not really interested in multiplayer.
  • Gran Turismo 5 - Interest: Moderate ~ It's odd but the GT series is my favorite racing sim. Then why am I asking for suggestions instead of already playing it? Good question. For a game that has been in development for so long you think this would be a sure thing, but the latest in the series just hits me as off for some reason. That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy the game if I got it, but neither would I be completely happy either.

That's all for my list. If there are any games that you care to suggest that weren't on here please feel free to do so as well.

Gaming Update v.1.something....Crap, I Lost Count

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And shameless plugs abound in this version and not just all for me!

First up, a gem of a game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (which I also wrote a review last year which you can read here if you have not already). After owning this game for over a year now, last night I finally earned the platinum! Bringing up my total up to an astounding *drumroll* SEVEN! *cue in Napolean Dynamite soundbyte* "Yesssss!"

Next up: Call of Duty C*lassic (included as a freebie download in last year's CoD: MW 2 collector's editions). Eff that game. Seriously. I tried playing it again last night by picking up where I left off the last time because I got so damn frustrated and stuck on one level, only to get frustrated and stuck on a completely different level this time.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine review. Hold up...did I read that right? Holy !@#$% a review! Yep, it's that time of year again. The time when I actually write a review. I have to mention that this review was motivated by another member here at G-Spot who you guys might be following (and if not you should 'cause he's a cool guy): BessenStock. He actually just wrote a review for this same game which is what inspired me to write my own because I had also just recently played this game again and had some things to say about it. So check out his review here.

And that's it! So read his review, read mine, and as always thumbs up are appreciated if you like/agree with what you read.

[EDIT]: Jesus Christ, GameSpot. It's been how many years and you still can't get around to fixing the bug that prevents us from spelling the word C-L-A-S-S-I-C without censoring it? Get off your asses already.

Out with the Old....

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I've actually known for quite a while but it didn't really hit home until the other night. You stick in a Blu-ray movie to your PS3, it loads up fine, the sound works fine on the main menu, you hit "Play" and the movie starts aaaaaaand...silence. Wait...shouldn't there be sound here? It is the 20th Century FOX movie logo and that's normally accompanied by their little orchestral jingle.

WTF?

Obsolete. Out-dated. No longer relevant. Technologically impaired. All of these descriptions apply to my Panasonic home theater system thanks to the Blu-ray version of Hitman.

Truth be told I knew this ugly day would eventually come concerning my home theater system, but it's just taken so long to get here that I took its tardiness for granted. Actually my system still works just dandy if we're only talking about 5.1 DD or "regular" DTS. But apparently newer Blu-ray movies are shipping with this so-called "DTS-HD Master Audio" track which my aging system can't decode because it was built in the years that regular DTS was good enough. Well excuuuuuuuse me!

It's not entirely my system's fault because the mad geniuses that developed the Hitman Blu-ray, in their infinite wisdom, decided to only include TWO audio tracks for the movie. Did you get that? Just two. The first is encoded in the aforementioned DTS-HD Master Audio. And the second one which, ironically, works JUST FINE, is a 5.1 DD channel...in SPANISH. Yes, that's right. So the new movie I just bought from Amazon I can't even enjoy unless I want to listen to the Spanish audio track.

EFFING BRILLIANT.

So now what to do? Well, I'm going to Best Buy tomorrow to check out their home theater systems. The "good" part of all this is I have two giftcards each in the amount of $100 that I need to spend because I've had these two gift cards since 2008! Yes, that's right. I have held on to these GCs for almost two years (because I got them as a 2008 X-mas gift that'swhy I remember).

Why in the hell have I been holding on to them for so long, you may ask? Well, for an occasion such as this. Because being the frugal minded consumer I usually am I realized I had $200 to spend and I wanted to spend it on something I NEEDED and not just piss it away on bullsh!t items like movies or games.

So nothing really special about this blog other than to rant about what amounts to an inconsequential, meaningless event in my life. I'm not going to lose sleep over this or anything because I've seen the movie before so it's nothing like that but it's just the point, you know? What morons thought it was a good move to only include TWO audio tracks for a movie with one of them being in a completely foreign language? Christ, the least they could've done was include a Dolby ProLogic II track instead of the alternative being in a completely FOREIGN EFFING LANGUAGE. I'm sorry, I live in America where we speak English. But I guess that's too much to expect from the North American Region 1 version of the movie to, you know, include the NATIVE language of the country you're selling it in. I swear to God people are so effing stupid.

Thanks for reading.

[EDIT]: So I ended up buying this LG systemlast night and I have to say I'm happy with it. I was looking at various systems from Sony, Samsung and Panasonic but decided on this one for a number of reasons one being that it has two optical-ins for audio; none of the other systems had that, and when you're hooking up more than one console that supports optical audio it's kind of nice to not have to constantly switch back and forth like I was doing with my old system.

Happy, Happy Monday

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(Note about the title: Yes, I realize it is now Tuesday, but I originally wrote this last night [Monday] and the title fit better considering it was the beginning of another week which is why I wrote it to begin with.)

Yeah, so, how's it going? I haven't been around much due to school and a massive amount of procrastination concerning school work. With about five or six weeks left in the semester my little choo-choo is quickly running out of steam and I haven't even made it up the mountain yet. It's just hard to stay motivated when you realize it's all just an enourmous waste of time and you're not learning jacksh*t and you're basically going through the motions to pass all your useless classes so you can start the joyful process all over again next semester. Color me NOT enthused.

In other self-esteem shattering news: Dammit! Who knew Japanese would be so F-ING hard? Seriously? At the risk of sounding like a cocky bastard the beginning of this semester was cake! Learning and memorizing Hiragana/Katakana? No sweat! Learn basic, simplistic phrases? Bring it on, b!tch! Construct detailed sentences with proper grammar and particles? Whoa there, pardner! Let's back this puppy up, oh, seven or eight weeks.

Really, I mean, not that I've been purposely slacking but Jesus H. Christ all of a sudden it's just like BAM! Welcome to f-in' Japanese, Gai-jin, roundeye mothaf**ka! Oh, that sh*t you learned in the beginning? Yeah, we made it easy on purpose so we could drop the real nitty-gritty of the language on you like a basket full of blue whales 3/4 through the semester so you'll inevitably freak out and realize the prospects of you ever speaking this language fluently is zilch to nil.

Yeah, so, that's about the jist of it. Japanese is kicking my ass; I'm officially lost in translation (shameless plug for a mediocre movie but it's got Bill Murray so it's worth seeing).

Speaking of Bill Murray....I recently watched Zombieland the other day and wow, I mean, I wasn't blown away or anything but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as horrible as I had envisioned it to be. It's also got the B-man in it which I found to be the highlight of the movie and how the little girl (Abigail Bresslan's character sp?) had absolutely NO CLUE who Bill Murray was, and how the dorky kid attemtps to "educate" her by watching Ghostbusters about half-way through the movie. Anyway, I'm rambling.

That's about it. I'm steadily freaking out because I have SO MUCH due for school and I'm in different groups in EVERY FRIGGIN' CLASS that I really don't know where to begin. See ya on the flipside...maybe....

P.S. To the developers of the last boss fight in X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition: FAK YOU!!!

That is all.

Calling All Borderlands Players

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If you have this game my best-friend and I are looking to partner up for some co-op action. So if you're interested please comment here and I'll send you an invite over PS3.

That is all.

BioShock 2 Beaten - Impressions

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So I beat the game again a couple of nights ago (this time on "Hard"), and I wanted to give some more fleshed out impressions now that I got a second helping of everything the game had to offer that I may have overlooked with my initial impessions blog I wrote earlier. It should go without saying that these are strictly my OPINIONS and shouldn't be confused with FACT. But I know my readership level is pretty low with the same cool people responding so I'm not too worried about some idiot fanboy getting his panties in a wad because he disagrees with what I have to say. Let's start at the beginning:

Story - For the most part the story was coherent and made sense and I was able to follow what was going on through the various audio diaries. Upon closer inspection it wasn't that far out there from being practical in terms of sequels go. When I first heard about them making a sequel I rolled my eyes because how could they top what they did with the first game? Well, they did all right, honestly. And while the story still isn't as "compelling" as the first may have been it's not altogether out in left field either and sufficiently details the need to return to Rapture.

Gameplay - If it ain't broke don't fix it! That certainly rings true for BS2. The nice thing you can usually count on with sequels is you'll already be familiar with how sh*t works eliminating the need to relearn a whole new control scheme or memorize off the wall mechanics. The game does a pretty good copy and paste job from the original and doesn't deviate too much from that formula which is nice because that means you are confident going in with the controls and you don't have to worry about what button to push to do what. As a result the game feels very natural when playing and, just like riding a bike, you don't forget how things worked in the original.

One aspect that changed for the better was the hacking mini-game which was much more preferable than the tubes of the first game. It kept the momentum of the game flowing instead of grinding to a halt like it did in the first. Another new aspect following in the theme of being a Big Daddy, was the protection of Little Sisters as they stopped and gathered Adam from dead splicers. Honestly I found this a novel idea the first few times I did it, but after a while it just became a chore. Now I realize you could bypass this aspect altogether and take a LS directly back to a vent to rescue/harvest her. But having gamer OCD I just had to acquire as much Adam as I could for fear of not having enough to buy all the plasmids and tonics I wanted in the end. So I suffered through it but it was a bit time consuming as a whole and a severe drain on your resources (eve and ammo).

Characters - BS had some of the most memorable cast of characters around: Atlas/Frank Fontaine, Peach Wilkins, Sander Cohen, Dr. Tenenbaum, and of course, Andrew Ryan. So it's a shame that the new cast in BS2 didn't quite live up to the same standards as their predecessors in this regard. None of them came across as interesting, and they never felt like true characters but rather a simple means to an end since the three you find you are required to complete a task. I realize the hypocrisy in this accusation since you basically had to do the same thing in the first game for the characters you met, but it was just different this time. To me they never felt like true inhabitants of Rapture but mere set pieces against the larger backdrop of Rapture. I don't know, maybe it's just me but I just wasn't impressed with them. They came across as bland and generic. About the only two that deserve honorable mention are Sinclair and Eleanor who is the Little Sister you are linked to and are attempting to save throughout the whole game.

Tenenbaum reprises her role, as does Sophia Lamb who didn't get much screen time in the first game but was alluded to often. Tenenbaum once again helps you as you navigate your way through Rapture. Sophia Lamb is the new bad guy this time around, but all the while I couldn't help but feel she was just a poor substitute for Ryan; an Andrew Ryan wannabe that simply came to power because Ryan was killed. If you listen to the audio diaries the game attempts to rectify this as Lamb being a public dissident towards Ryan, but again, it doesn't feel believable or something that would follow the natural order of things. Again, just my impressions.

Enemies - Everyone's favorite f'ed up, crack-like addicted splicers are back on the roster with several new additions to the ranks. First up is the "Brute" splicer who, as his name implies, is a brute. Strategy wise they're very predictable as they have two main attacks and you can anticipate each one coming from a mile away. Next up are the Alpha series of Bid Daddies of which you are the original Alpha Alpha. These guys are surprisingly nimble and they can be up your ass in a heartbeat if you're not paying attention, but once you get the damage bonus from research they turn in to pushovers. And the new enemy taking place of the BD fights in the first game are the Big Sisters. Now these b*tches are a pain. Jumping all around making it hard to draw a bead on them for too long, they'll definitely annoy the crap outta you through the whole game especially on "Hard" because they can absorb a lot of damage before going down. The trick with them is to stay cool and keep them immobilized as much as possible so you can light them up from afar. I found the plasmids of electricity and swarm to be highly effective at diverting their attention so I could properly kill them.

Other than that there's not much to really touch upon since it's basically the same game, same structure, same setting, etc. as the first. So that's about it. Let me know what you think especially if you've played the game. Thanks.

BioShock 2 Quickie Impressions

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  • Well after spending around a good 7+ hours collectively last night playing this game, I returned to Rapture and suckled at the teet of Andrew Ryan's idealist utopia gone wrong.
  • So far it's pretty cool. A heavy feeling of "been there, done that" pervades every step in the game but that is to be expected so I can't hold that against the game too much.
  • You play as a Big Daddy yet how come splicers with metal pipes can bludgeon you to death in three or four blows (I'm playing on "Medium")? Seriously? That kinda negates the ability to play as the game's titular badass.
  • Big Sisters aren't that bad. Sure they appear to be suffering from a case of extreme penis envy and they obviously have some daddy issues they need to work out, but I think they just need to get laid. I've found the power drill to be the best weapon against them; just make sure to stock up on health beforehand.
  • Not really diggin' the whole "you have to research your enemies to better defeat them" BS angle again. Who at 2K thought this part of the game was fun? Because they deserve to be taken behind a chemical shed and have their nuts smashed with a ballpeen hammer.
  • However, I must admit since you're forced to do thiscrap the video camera is a much better medium than having to stop and take still shots every friggin' two seconds like you did in the first. But still it's BS and I hate it because it's so friggin' retarded. It's like you're in the middle of fighting but oh, wait! Let me take out my handy video camera first, Mr. Splicer, if you please, so I can record you coming right at me beating thecrap out of me instead of just killing your ass.
  • I'm kinda paying attention to the story but if you asked me straight up what the hell is going on I couldn't tell you. Something about you're attached to some chickand you're trying to find her and Lamb has become the "new" Andrew Ryan villain in this game. Tenenbaum is still helping you, and still no explanation on who or what the Big Sisters are exceptevery time youclear a level entirely of Little Sis' thisb*tch shows up on PMS rage and tries to kill you.
  • Just waiting for the inevitable "twist" to come. Some dude Sinclair is helping me right now and I can't but help feel just a little bit of deja vu from the first game with Fontaine/Atlas. So I'm just waiting for something similar to happen.
  • Personal favorite new weapon: The spear gun. Pinning mofos to the wall is just frickin' sweet.
  • Runner-up for fav new weapon: Power drill.
  • Best practical weapon: Machine gun + AP rounds.
  • The remote hack system is prettysmart as well, as is the new hacking mini-game
  • Haven't tried MP yet and don't really care to.
  • Not really looking forward to BioShock Infinite either.