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Ranger_x8b Blog

"Look! I'm Touching Your Wii!"

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Hey everyone, I hope you all had a great holiday season and a safe New Year's. Today, I got an unexpected, exciting start to the new year.

At 6pm this evening, I got a call from one of my buddies. Usually he calls me for some sort of advice, but this time he called to brag. "I got a Wii!" he yelled when I picked up the phone. Immediately I asked, "Can I come over?" After asking his parents he said yes and I hopped into my truck, speeding towards his apartment. When I arrived, he was booting up the system. I took that time to make a smart ass comment. I put my finger on the system and said, "Look! I'm touching your Wii!" My friend replied, "Oh yea, that feels good. Now let go before I kill you."

My friend only had the pack-in game available: Wii Sports. First we started to play tennis. He only had one Wii-mote, so we took turns after each game. All you had to do is swing the Wii-mote like a racket; the game moves for you. I decided to play realistically with all games, so I swung the controller forehand and backhand when you would in real life. It works well both ways. It really felt like I was at the courts, minus the running around. I was surprisingly pleased with game so far.

We continued to play the other pack-in games. Baseball was okay. Just swing away and hit the ball when it comes to you. Golf was a little more difficult then I expected. The power control is tedious as it's difficult to repeat swings. The course is pretty easy, so all was forgotten about the power. Boxing was too easy for me. I just swung the Wii-mote randomly and eventually knocked my opponent out.

Finally, we played the game I been wanting to get my hands on: Wii Bowling. Let me remind you that I have lots of experience bowling. I can throw a small hook in real life, so I know what I'm doing. Surprisingly, a lot of the skills I use to bowl can be used on the Wii. I was able to throw a solid hook on my first throw. I ended up gutterballing because I hooked it too much from right to left. After adjusting the guest Mii on screen, I was able to hook the ball into the pocket, just like a professional bowler would. Just by using the same swing and wrist turn I would use in real life, I kept on striking or leaving makable spares. I had a hard time using the hook to spare, so my high score in 4 games was 158. By the time I was done with my last game, it was time for me to go.

Overall, my first impressions of the Wii are high. Wii Sports was a perfect game to pack-in with consoles as it got me comfortable and excited to play it again. The Wii-mote itself is very easy to hold on. I was playing pretty hard and I never felt it slip out of my hands. It makes me wonder how the spazoids turn them into Wii-missiles. If I do buy another console for this generation, I will choose the Wii over the PS3 any day. I can't wait to play with the console again!

Microsoft Owes Me $50

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According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Although this statement relates to physics, this is also true in the world of video games. Today, Microsoft announced that the warranty on Xbox 360 consoles has been extended. The now 1-year standard warranty has pleased many gamers as they are getting their repair costs refunded from Microsoft. As for me, I won’t see one penny of that money for my broken down Xbox 360.

As I explained in my previous blog, my first Xbox 360 died a couple weeks ago, outside the previous 90-day standard warranty. Thankfully, my mother had an extended warranty from Best Buy, which cost her $50. Since I filed the claim on her behalf, that warranty is dead once I got store credit back from Best Buy which covered the cost of a 360 premium package. Along with a new console, I spent $50 out of my pocket for another 2-year extended warranty from Best Buy.

On that Wednesday it seemed like a great deal. In reality, I got a replacement for $50. That’s about $100 less than the repair costs from Microsoft for a repair past the warranty period. Now on Christmas Eve, Microsoft puts on the Santa suit and rewards gamers with refunds from repairs. In my eyes, they put on the Grinch suit. The extended warranty was purchased so I could pay less for their potential mistakes. Today, since I didn’t go through Microsoft for my replacement, I am left out in the cold with my wallet $50 lighter.

Bravo Microsoft! I tried to outsmart you by paying less to fix your mistake. Now you outsmart me by rewarding people who were careless enough to buy a potential brick without insurance. Way to go.

My New 360 is a practical joker

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Two weekends ago, my Xbox 360 took the stairway to heaven as it showed me the red lights of doom. That 360 was my graduation present from my mother, so I had to tell her about it. About 30 minutes after I wrote the short blog, I said to my mother, "My 360 is dead." She had a strange reaction. She quickly walked into her room and started rummaging through a file cabinet. Shortly, she came back to me and handed me a brochure. It was an extended warranty from Best Buy. I filled out a claim online and I was instructed to send the 360 away. I did so on that Monday and started the waiting game.

During the 1-1/2 week wait period, I started to play a lot of Counter-Strike. I spent most of my time at a server ran by the up-and-coming Indy Community. I got to know them pretty well and I noticed they were recruiting. So I decided to try it out. Soon enough, I was told from the leader that I was in. I was pleased that I got in as the members are filled with talented and entertaining people. Along side from playing CS, I did other activities like playing board games with the family and hanging out with my friends that I lost track of after high school. The change-of-pace was really nice.

This morning, A plain piece of mail came in my mother's name. Usually something important is placed in plain white envelopes so people looking through mail wouldn't think there was anything inside it. I asked my mother for permission to open it. After I was cleared over the phone, I open it and a Best Buy gift card falls out. The letter indicates that the gift card has store credit that covers the price of a new Xbox 360 and its tax. Before you could think, I was already off to Best Buy. They had at least 50 consoles to pick out and I quickly bought it with another extended warranty.

I sped home in my truck to set it up. While I was opening all the little bags that had cables in them, I displayed a wide smile. I was glad that this replacement deal is over with. Once I got everything set back up and was ready, I hit the power button. One second later, it displays the red lights of doom!! I preceded to drop so many F-bombs that I could have ended the war in Iraq. After double checking all the cables and using the controller to turn it on, I get the lights for a second time. I was disheartened. I came to realize that I'll have to get another 360. In one desperate act, I hit the eject button for the disk tray. I heard an angelic sound afterwards: The sounds of the start-up movie for the 360. IT WORKED! After regaining my composure, I recovered my gamertag and started playing Geometry Wars, which I was able to download again without paying for another copy. After being Xbox 360-less for nearly 2 weeks, it's nice to have the old console back just in time for Christmas.

Ring Around The Rosey

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I know short blogs are not my thing, but this event deserves it. I can sum it up with one picture:



That + On my 360 = Unhappy blogger. (insert words and phrases that violate the Terms of Service here).

My Holiday Wish List

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That time is almost here. It's getting colder outside (it even snowed a little here in Dallas) and houses are being decorated with lights. Christmas time is upon us! I hope Santa declares me nice so I get all the gifts I want... but I'd probably break his budget. Here's everything that I can think of for this year that I want.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas (X360):

I must admit. Gears of War let me down a lot. It has left me searching for another shooter. From what I hear, this game is very tactical and difficult. That is my style of FPS. This is definitely on the top of my gaming list.




Tony Hawk's Project 8 (X360):

I've been a Tony Hawk player since the very beginning. Although I don't skateboard in real life, I started following extreme sports because of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Lately, I've been less then excited about the series, ultimately skipping American Wasteland. Now with it being on a new console and the "Nail The Trick" mode, I want in on it!


GTA: Vice City Stories (PSP):

My PSP has been a paperweight for a while. I haven't been playing games on it lately... hell, Lumines is still my favorite game on the system. Anyways, how can you screw up Grand Theft Auto on the PSP? And don't say the top-down view!







Logitech G25 Racing Wheel:

Okay, I'm pretty much dreaming for this one. No way someone is gonna buy me a 300 dollar steering wheel for my PC. Nonetheless, it still is sexy. With a clutch pedal and 6-speed shifter, this is the most realistic wheel on the market. I can't wait to play this with games like GTR2.




Pinky and the Brain, Vols 1 & 2:

I like to collect animated box sets that I used to watch on TV. I have all the Simpsons DVDs and have some Family Guy and Futurama DVDs. Now I want to add Pinky and the Brain. Yes Pinky and the Brain. One is a genius; the other's insane.





Bowling Ball:
I've been bowling more than usual ever since one of my friend's gave me one of his family's old bowling ball. It's pretty nice, but it's not perfectly fitted for me. I can do well with it, but I can do a lot better with a new one fitted to my hand. Plus I can get a high-performance ball that hooks like crazy!


Brakes for my car:
Just today when I was doing some driving around the city, the warning lights for my brakes lit up on my truck's dashboard. That means it's time to replace them... just great.


A shelf:
With every new game or movie I buy, I run out of places to hold the box. I usually end up either stuffing them in a storage space on my TV stand or stack them to the side. Sure, I could just go out and buy one, but Christmas is a good reason for someone else to buy it for me.

That's pretty much what I would like this year. Odds are I won't get all of this stuff, but it's kinda cool to look at what you won't get. What's on your wish list this year?

I need GoW motivation

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A little over a week ago, I finished the single-player campaign of Gears of War for the Xbox 360. I played it on Hardcore (didn't even think about Casual) and found it very enjoyable. For the most part, the cover system is flawless. Just hit A, pop-up, and shoot some bad guys. Those bad guys aren't smart enough to duck back down when they are shot, but they will setup flanks if you're not paying attention. The story isn't well developed, but the action is good enough to hold the weight of the game. It took me about 13 hours to complete the game. That being said, I've hardly played it again since I did finish the campaign.

For me, the problem with its replay-ability. I have played Co-op with a friend, and that's about the only reason why I've returned. I don't feel the need to play the game over on Insane by myself because I've already done it once on a lower difficulty. The multiplayer, while extremely popular, is flawed. The rifle and shotgun (at long distances) aren't effective enough to get a routine kill since health can regenerate. Now the weapons on the map are good: sniper rifles, torque bows, rocket launchers. All of those are effective 1-shot kills in the hands of an good player. Only problem is that not everyone can have them. If you can't get those weapons, your pretty much screwed. That makes the multiplayer frustratingly unbalanced. Therefore, I don't want to play online.

What do you guys think of Gears Of War? Am I just not getting it or do I have a point. I'm seriously considering trading in this game for another Xbox 360 game. I know many people love this game to death, so hopefully some of you readers can help me love it. If you do comment, thanks for your help.



Shameless Union Plug: One of my racing fan buddies, Alex8 made a new union focused around sports. If you like sports, come check out The Sports Nation Union. I'm a charter member of that union and we're looking for some people who enjoy talking about sports. This is a substitute from PM union invites since I know most of my trackers HATE that kind of spam in their inboxes.

Amount Spent on Black Friday = $25

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Let's face it: We all love discounted swag. The day after thanksgiving is known for outragous sales in every store. Somehow, people lose their minds on this day and spend thousands just so they can save a penny. Is it just me, or are most of the items on sale not that attractive enough to get your butt off the recliner? A television that is on sale for 200 dollars less is still way out of my pricing range.

During the Cowboys game, I rummaged through all of the electronics store ads in the Dallas Morning News. Only two items caught my eye: A 160GB hard drive for 20 bucks and the PC game Battlefield 2142 that was half off. I realized that the hard drive had a mail-in rebate, so paying $140 off the bat isn't my kind of thing. Now paying 25 bucks for a game that usually costs 50... Deal! I went to Best Buy and to my surprise, the parking lot was about 60% full of cars. There was an abundance of the game, so I grabbed it and headed for the checkout.

Strangely, I kinda stuck out while checking out. I was surrounded by baskets filled to the top of goodies, and here I was with a small plastic box. One guy in line said to me, "You know there's a huge sale going on." I laughed and said, "Try buying items on a teenager's budget." We chit-chatted friendly for about 7 minutes waiting in line. Most people took 3-5 minutes to check out; I took 45 seconds. "Finally, someone who's quick," said the cashier. I was in and out of that Best Buy in 20 minutes (including playing a demo on the PS3). See? Someone still has a tight wad even on the best of shopping days!

McDonalds Gaming Championship Finals

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For the past 9 weeks, McDonalds and the Video Gamers League joined together to run multiple video game tournaments in the McDonalds Gaming Championship. I participated in 2 of the regional events that took place within the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area in the NCAA Football 07 division. Somehow, I qualified for their finals that took place last night. Although my run for the grand championship lasted only one game, I played in the one of the most talked games of the tournament.




I arrived at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, home of my Texas Rangers, at 6:30 PM. The Diamond Club inside the stadium didn't open until 7pm, but there was a Xbox 360 with Ridge Racer 6 being displayed. Promptly at 7, the elevator to the club was open and everyone was allowed in. At the top the elevator, cheerleaders from The University of Dallas cheered everyone in. Not often your nerdiness is greeted by cute ladies. My tournament didn't start until 8, so I had time to practice my game with someone else. I won that practice game 45-42 with a last second field goal.



My opening round opponent was against a guy named Snake (he kinda looked like the character from "The Simpsons"). He used West Virgina while I used the Ohio State. The entire first half was marred with mistakes. We both threw two interceptions, but he took advantage of the situation and led the 1st 2 quarters with a score of 14-7. After another quick TD by Snake, I was on the hot seat. Although I made one 75-yard TD pass, I made more mistakes that led to a third interception. Luckily, I held him to a field goal. I'm down 24-14 with 2:30 left in the game. I snatch another long touchdown with 2 minutes remaining (Score: 24-21). I decide to kickoff long instead doing an onside kick. Turned out it was a great move. I force a pick with 1:15 left. After 3 quick incomplete passes, it was 4th down with 45 seconds on the clock. Of course, I go for it and complete a 50-yard bomb that puts me in field goal range. I force overtime at the end of regulation with a 36 yard field goal.



Many spectators start to crowd around our station as they notice our game in overtime. The struggle in OT was epic. Overtime is much more exciting in college football as a winner will be made in style. 1st OT: I start on offense and pass in a touchdown; He QB scrambles 15 yards for a touchdown (31-31). 2nd OT: He starts on offense and throws a touchdown, I match his TD with a 3 yard run (38-38 ). Now here comes the fun part. We have to go for the 2-point conversion after touchdowns starting with the 3rd OT. I exploit his Cover 2 defense with a pass up the middle on the first play in 3OT. I QB scramble for the successful 2-point try. He does the exact same thing on his turn. It's 46-46 after triple OT. In the 4th OT, he starts by running the same play and throws a TD to a different receiver, but I prevent the 2-point conversion. On my offensive possession, I get sacked hard on the first play for a 10 yard loss. Incompletion on 2nd down. On 3rd down, nobody was open on the passing play, so I scramble. I run for the sidelines, but got stuffed by a linebacker. Then I hear everyone yell, "FUMBLE!" I gasped and saw nobody in Scarlett in sight. Snake recovers the fumble and ends the epic game. The score was 52-46 after quadruple overtime.



Although I lost, I had a smile on my face. I exchanged handshakes and man hugs with Snake and the rest of the staff. Unlike the Madden Challenge, everyone treated everyone like family as there was an exciting buzz in the area. I told one staff member, "If I'm going out, I'm going out in style." Word spread quickly about the game and people were asking my losing effort in the game. I told them this, "I fought hard and I lost. What could I do?" I watched a few more games and decided to leave. After thanking everyone I played and every staff member, I exited the Diamond Club with the best video game experience I've had in a long time.

Just When I Thought It Was Over...

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During the past 4 weeks, my gaming life has been hectic. One of the main reasons of this were tournaments. I attended 4 tourneys during that span, which is a lot when you have to prepare for all of them. After the Madden Challenge last week, I was relieved that the tournaments were over and that I could get back to relaxing while I play.

This morning, I opened my e-mail inbox and expected the same male enhancement spam. Strangely, there was an e-mail from the McDonalds Gaming Championship. I participated in 2 of their late night events (both are covered in previous blog posts) and I assumed they were advertising their big finals this Saturday. To my surprise, It wasn't spam:

Congratulations! You have qualified for the Midnight Gaming Championship Finals. The finals will be held Sat Nov 18 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, TX.

Are you kidding me?! At first, I thought it was a joke. I checked their website, and sure enough, my name is listed on the website under "NCAA [Football] 07". That means I have to once again borrow a friend's copy of NCAA 07 for the PS2 and have over 3 days to prepare myself for, literally, the biggest tournament of my gaming career. The prizes for the winner are amazing:

# a Championship Trophy
# a $1,000 Best Buy Gift Card courtesy of Best Buy
# an Xbox 360 courtesy of GameZnFlix
# a Sony PSP courtesy of Best Buy
# a $100 Arch card courtesy of McDonald's
# $500 cash courtesy of McDonald's

Do the math. That's over $2000 in prizes. I don't expect to win this, since they've invited all the big hitters, but I'm not gonna pass this tourney up. Once again, I'll cover this event in my blog with pics. Stay Tuned, this is gonna be exciting!

Random Friday Evening Blog

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Hi everyone. I don't have much to say this time around because one game has just blown me away.


On Wednesday, I got Gears of War, and I must tell you... this game kicks ass! The game plays like a combination of Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament. You have to use your brain if you want to survive. You have to examine your enemies, setup a sound plan, then execute under heavy fire. Your weapons are bad ass. You can wield anything from a huge shotgun to a gun with a chainsaw. I can't tell you how much fun this game to play, single-player or on Xbox Live. If you got the money, buy it now!


My previous blog entry has been featured on Gamespot's Soapbox. Honestly, I didn't intend to write that blog to be an editorial. My experience during the Madden Challenge was so lame that I just decided to let it flow. It ended up sounding like a detailed rant, so I basically said, "Let's give it a shot." To my surprise, I click on the Soapbox page and my blog was at the top. Thanks to whoever greenlighted it. It's nice to see someone higher up enjoying my work. Now, when do I get my emblem?!


I'll end this blog with a non-gaming related blurb. What the heck is up with my Dallas Mavericks? They won their first game in the wee hours of this morning after losing four straight. You guys are champions... no way should you be the 2nd to last team to win one game! All right, I'm out of here. Thanks for reading!