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The_Game21x Blog

Does Anyone Still Read These Things?

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First off, Happy New Year!

And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all that (fully aware of how late I am) as well.

Moving on, just because I've been neglecting my GameSpot blog, I have been writing over at The Mind of Game and GUFUyourself as you should already know and, of course, this is a collection of my most recent works, so check them out why don't you!

Journey Pseudo Review

I dont tend to enjoy games that are artsy for the sake of being artsy. Ive played a few of those. You know the type. Games that go out of their way to be art. As much as I support the games as art argument, I dont feel games should try to be art, just being art is enough.

Ill admit, as I sat down in front of my television, DualShock 3 in hand, I was prepared to hate Journey. Id heard conflicting reports on forums from people who had played the game. Some called it one of the best gaming experiences theyd ever had while others derided it for being only about two hours (which it is) and the equivalent of push forward to win the game. I thought I would fall into the second camp. But once I loaded the game, I kept repeating to myself, Have an open mind.

As if it was that simple.

So I plunged into my first playthrough of Journey, having budgeted the necessary two hours, leaned back slightly in my chair and telling myself to have an open mind, unsure if I actually would.

But I did.

Killzone 2 Review

Parental Discretion is Advised

Killzone. The Halo killer. The game that was supposed to be Sonys big exclusive franchise that would make us all forget about Halo. Well, that didnt happen, since the first game in the series turned out to be quite the mediocre game, at best. One has to question what Sonys motive was for even making a sequel to it. Maybe they thought the developers could fix their mistakes from the first time around and deliver the game the original Killzone shouldve been.

Well, that didnt happen. What we got was a textbook example of style over substance, a game that looks good in videos but is absolutely terrible in practice. Killzone 2 hardly does anything right, and if youll bear with me, Ill explain why.

Halo 4 Review

Following the end of one trilogy, we have the beginning of another. For four long years, the Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana, have been stranded in space, separated from humanity and everything they know. But not for much longer, as theres a new threat looming on the horizon and the Master Chief is pulled from his impromptu retirement back into the fray once again. But this time, instead of Bungie, the creators of the Halo franchise at the helm, theres a new kid behind the wheel. 343 Industries, the new studio dedicated to all things Halo since Bungie partnered up with Activision, has the chance to prove they have what it takes to handle one of the most recognizable and critically acclaimed franchises in gaming.

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city Review

In the modern hip-hop industry, pretty much any rapper who wants to make it has to start at the bottom with a few mixtapes and move up to independently released pseudo albums. Kendrick Lamar has done both. The problem with this is the inherent risk of building hype the artist cant live up to with their first full studio album. J. Cole had this problem and I would argue Curren$y did as well. While their first major label studio albums were certainly good, thats all they were, neither great nor exceptional like their mixtapes/independent albums were.

Kendrick Lamar was in a similar position for me. I loved his mixtapes and his independently released Section.80 and Overly Dedicated albums as well as the Kendrick Lamar EP and they all come highly recommended for anyone looking to add a bit of new West Coast flavor to their rotation. But the problem was, at least for me, they were too good. I was left to wonder whether or not his first studio effort, good kid, m.A.A.d city could measure up. Fortunately, Kendrick has proven that he can not only measure up to the bar set by his previous efforts but propel the bar into orbit.

Forza Horizon Review

The annual Horizon festival has returned to Colorado, its siren song luring lovers and racers of cars the world over. For three days, racers take to the streets of Colorado to show off their talents and compete for a coveted spot in the Horizon finals. While some games like Need for Speed have eschewed the Underground racing culture seen (or parodied) in the Fast and Furious films and Project Gotham Racing has taken to going for balls out style and flash merged with civilized circuit races, Forza Horizon is a little of everything, plopping you in an open world and letting you explore, serenaded by Avicii and his contemporaries.

Okay, maybe serenaded was a poor choice of words

And I've kept up with a couple editorials, which you can view below

So, Lions...We Need to Talk

Listen, I just dont think this is working out. I wanted to believe things could work between us, that we could make something out of a bad situation. But I was wrong. Maybe I was naïve to think things would turn around in just two years. Maybe I was just too optimistic for my own good. Maybe. Whatever the case, I now know that I was sadly mistaken.

Lions, Im sorry, but I think we need to see other people.

Ultraviolet Can Go To Hell

One of the reasons I buy Blu-Ray discs is for the combo packs that include the Blu-Ray copy, the throwaway special features Blu-Ray which I never end up watching, the DVD for my mother and father who dont yet own Blu-Ray players (or HDTVs for that matter) and a digital copy I can watch on my PC, iPhone, laptop, whichever suits my fancy on a given day.

But lately, some movies, particularly those produced by Sony Pictures, and Warner Brothers have been shipping with Ultraviolet Digital Copies, which I considered rather benign at first but now hate with a fiery passion. Why? Not because Ultraviolet is inherently bad and the promise of being able to stream my movies from the cloud any time I like (and near a suitably quick wi-fi hotspot) certainly has merit but it comes with a cost that Im not too fond of paying. The cost of freedom.

And that's all I'll link for now. If you want more frequent updates, you know where to go!

Also check out Musical Musings. I post there too!

Oh yeah, GUFUyourself has forums too. You should totally join!

And I'm Back! With Videos!

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Yeah I know, been a while, all that jazz.

Moving on, I have a couple of videos I'd like to share with you. The first is from my recent trip to Toronto in which I met up with some friends I'd previously known only on the internet. See? Not all internet meet ups result in kidnapping and other not so fun things!

My Trip to Toronto

Next, I have a couple of rants, the first on mandatory tutorials in videogames...

Mandatory Tutorial Rant

And the second is on the ridiculous price of room service in hotels.

Why is Room Service So Expensive?

And finally, I have another video from my trip to Toronto in which my friends and I came back to the hotel for a second and the...interesting conversation we had. Parental discretion is advised...all over this video.

The Stuff We Talk About in Toronto

So check them out and let me know what you think. Be sure to comment, like and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you like what you see!

In the mean time, I'll try to be more regular with both the videos and the blog posts but as usual, no guarantees. I just have to be in the mood for it.

Xbox Live Woes Continue

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No Xbox Live

It's been nearly two months since my Xbox Live account, The Game21xx, was hacked and suspended. This is not okay. Nearly two months' worth of the subscription I paid for has gone completely unutilized because Microsoft is taking its sweet time with the investigation of the hacking that took place on my account.

Oh, and I'm still out the $75 that was used to buy 6000 Microsoft Points. Also great.

But what should I expect from this kind of thing? Microsoft has my money. Of course they're going to take as long as they possibly can in order to avoid giving me my money back. Perhaps they're stalling until the end of the quarter to make their investors happy. I don't know, because no one will tell me a thing.

I've called them numerous times in order to attempt to expedite this investigation but, of course, the Customer Service department is curiously far removed from whatever division of Microsoft that handles the investigation of supposed hacks and once an account is sent over to that department, there is nothing CS can do. Of course, I can't contact the investigations department either.

So, my account is currently in a state of limbo and, as CS representatives told me numerous times, there's nothing I can do but wait until the investigation is over.

Fantastic.

I've been an Xbox Live subscriber since 2006, shortly after getting my Xbox 360. Prior to now, I've never had a problem with the service. I've had intermittent problems with the console due to its absurdly high failure rates early in its life but other than that, I've been very happy with the Xbox 360.

This experience is doing quite the excellent job of making me forget all of the great times I've had with the console.

Two of the biggest games the 360 has this fall gaming season (and all year, to be quite honest), Forza Motorsport 4 and Gears of War 3 have been mostly inaccessible to me. I finished Gears of War 3 in single player instead of having the opportunity to finish it alongside my buddies online and I've largely missed out on the majority of the multiplayer action my friends have been engaged in since the game released. In Forza Motorsport 4, I can't access many of the game's best features such as its deep competitive multiplayer and Rivals mode so I pretty much just stopped playing it.

I asked CS reps about this. After all, if I'm paying for an online service, I should be able to access it within a reasonable time frame after being locked out of it.

A month and a half? Sorry. That's not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

But I digress. So, what's the solution CS gave me to tide me over until my account is reinstated? Create a new Xbox Live account and buy a couple months of service. Oh, and after I've paid again for the service I should've had access to in the first place, I can call them back and have them turn off auto-renew. What a deal!

I spend a lot of time talking up the Xbox 360 on forums and how much I enjoy it, in large part due to Xbox Live and this incident has really soured my opinion on the service, the console and Microsoft. I'm considering just being done with the console altogether. I don't play videogames now nearly as much as I have years prior and most of the gaming I do partake in is on the PC. Given how Microsoft has pretty much given up on producing or procuring exclusives for the 360 that aren't either Halo or made for Kinect and casual gamers, there's not much coming for the system that's interesting to me at this point.

After this fiasco, I probably won't bother to "re-up" on Xbox Live when it lapses next year. Multiplatform titles are better (and often cheaper) on the PC and the paltry list of 360 exclusives is only mildly interesting to me (at best) so why should I even bother? What if this happens again? I will, once again, be locked out of a service I've paid for, for an extended period of time and what's sad is that, at this point, I wouldn't put it past them.

When Developers Fight, Gamers Lose

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It has been rumored for months now but yesterday, in a statement from Turn 10 community manager Brian Ekberg, the rumors were finally confirmed. Forza Motorsport 4 will not feature any vehicles from one of the most prominent and revered automakers, Porsche. Why? Because the Porsche license is wholly owned by EA and they have decided not to sublicense it out to Turn 10 this time around. So, a manufacturer that has been a staple of the Forza franchise from the very beginning will no longer be a part of it, and that kills me.

This kills me. While Forza Motorsport 4 will feature RUF, it will not include Porsche cars. As many of you know, since the beginning of the Forza franchise, the Porsche license has been available only through a sub-licensing deal with EA. In Forza 3, we were able to feature more than 35 different Porsche models by offering to collaborate with EA. For Forza 4, we were looking forward to adding even more Porsche cars, and we were especially looking forward to featuring multiple Porsche experiences in our new Autovista mode. In the end, however, EA couldn't see their way towards collaborating again. - Brian Ekberg

I have been an avid fan of the Forza Motorsport series ever since I decided to take a chance on a new and unfamiliar racing game called Forza Motorsport, which I discovered in the pages of a copy of the Official Xbox Magazine and found a review of the game in Electronic Gaming Monthly. Having been a fan of Project Gotham Racing, Need for Speed and other racing games, I figured this "Forza" was worth a shot. I instantly fell in love with the game and the sim racing genre altogether. Each subsequent release in the Forza series has reignited that adoration and helped to foster a love of cars that still dwells within me to this day.

I love cars. I love all makes and models of cars. So, when I heard that Porsche, manufacturer of such amazing vehicles such as the 911 and the truly lust worthy Carrera GT, was not going to be part of Forza 4, I was highly disappointed. Then, when I found out that the reason why Porsche isn't going to be featured in Forza 4 is little more than a petty licensing squabble, my disappointment quickly turned to annoyance.

I understand EA's motivations behind their refusal to allow Microsoft and Turn 10 access to the Porsche license; after all, Porsche is very close to EA, appearing in one of the most famous racing games of the early 2000s, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. That being said, I can't help but see EA's actions in this case as anything other than petty and childish. Perhaps EA has seen how popular the Forza series has become and wants to hold Porsches back from the latest entry in the Forza series (which looks to be the best yet) to promote their own racing games. But, without an official statement from EA, I can only speculate.

What really irritates me is that the big loser in this situation is going to be us, the consumers who want the best racing game developers can deliver. EA isn't hurt, except, perhaps, from the negative press generated by a small but vocal minority of gamers who are speaking out against this deal. I don't think Turn 10 will be too hurt over this; Forza 4 will undoubtedly feature a number of awesome cars that will make the absence of Porsche easier to bear. Car lovers and gamers alike are the ones hurt by EA's refusal to allow Turn 10 and Microsoft access to the Porsche license and that's a problem.

I'm not naïve enough to think that these faceless corporations care about their individual customers beyond how much they're willing to shell out for their products but people interested in racing games are not only Microsoft's customer base but also yours. Sure, Need for Speed may not be all of EA's business but it makes you think, is this move really going to help EA's business here?

I hate these kinds of practices. I'm glad Microsoft has decided not to play hardball with EA and deny them access to their exclusive Ferrari license even though I may think, at least in the short term, that's the only possible response to this kind of behavior, as childish as it may be. I can only hope that EA will change their minds about this licensing nonsense and allow gamers to buy the Forza 4 they were meant to have, rather than the game EA wants us to have.

Reposted From My Site - The Mind of Game

(http://www.themindofgame.com/2011/08/25/developers-fight-gamers-lose/)

Are Dedicated Gaming Handhelds on The Way Out?

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The mobile gaming industry has changed…perhaps forever. Just a few short years ago, this was an industry that belonged almost entirely to Nintendo and Sony. Playing games on a phone was nothing more than a cheap novelty, nothing to be taken seriously. Who would've thought that the two of them would cede significant marketshare to Apple? Who would've thought that the iPhone of all things would become one of the most popular gaming platforms on the planet? This isn't me boasting about Apple's success on their behalf (their marketing department has that taken care of); I'm just pointing out a few facts. As much as I don't particularly care for Apple, even I have to admit that they have done a great job marketing iOS as an attractive platform for development and getting the games in the hands of end users with the App Store. In fact, they've done such a great job in doing this that iOS surpassed the DS and PSP in terms of developer interest quite some time ago. Granted, these two consoles were in their respective lean years by the time this happened but the fact that this even happened at all is pretty significant all the same. With this in mind, I can't help but wonder…does the dedicated gaming handheld still have a place in this changing mobile industry?

The 3DS and PS Vita are an amazing pieces of hardware (the Vita more so, in my opinion) but in an age of iPhones and Android phones becoming legitimate mobile gaming platforms, I can't see it taking off. The 3DS is already a herald of the change that has befallen the handheld industry. Sure, its struggles in the marketplace can be attributed to the lack of "killer apps" but I think it has more to do with consumer disinterest in dedicated gaming handhelds. Smartphone ubiquity has all but pushed the handheld out of people's minds. After all, who's going to want to buy another gadget to play games on when the smartphone they already own can play Angry Birds and Real Racing 2 just fine?

PS Vita

And that's the big issue here. In an age where smartphones do so much more than simply making phone calls, people have started lightening their loads in terms of how many gadgets they carry with them. When your phone can play some pretty good games for low prices, you have to consider that the purchase of another handheld means another gadget to try to stuff into your already crowded pockets or purse/handbag and carry around with you. Personally, I like only carrying around five things with me when I leave the house (wallet, keys, cell phone, iPod touch and earphones) but that's just me.

Don't get me wrong, I know full well that iPhone games are nowhere near as expansive as their counterparts on the DS, 3DS and PSP but I don't think casual gamers (the vast majority of the market) are going to care about that. Hell, recent studies show that iPhone gamers are happy with the games they have available to them.

The 360 and PS3 had arguably superior libraries in comparison to the Wii and unquestionably superior third party support but those two consoles are nowhere near as successful as the Wii has been because Nintendo went after the casual market and succeeded where Sony and Microsoft have failed so far this generation. I think smartphone developers have done the same thing with the iPhone.

But here's the kicker. Though iPhone and Android games may not be as substantial as portable games for the DS and PSP, they're also nowhere near as costly. Games for Sony and Nintendo's handhelds typically retail for $30 to $40. iPhone games? They average around $1.05. Of course, there are a number of games that cost much more than a dollar such as Gameloft titles, which typically sell for $6.99 and there's the occasional outlier such as the Square-Enix games Chaos Rings Omega which is priced at $12 and Final Fantasy III which goes for $16 (!). Sure, Final Fantasy III seems stupidly expensive in comparison to other iPhone games but when you consider that the DS version of the same game currently sells for about $20 and was initially priced at $40, it almost seems like a bargain. Combine that with frequent sales on the more expensive iPhone games (I've picked up a number of Gameloft and EA games for $1 each during these sales) and you've got a recipe for success in the casual gaming market.

Part of the problem for me is that I don't see myself getting much use out of a 3DS and/or a Vita. Take the Vita for example. Right now, the biggest game that has been announced for Sony's yet to be released handheld is a new title in the highly popular Uncharted series. From what I've seen, it looks great and makes great use of the Vita's hardware (dual capacitive touchscreens, gyroscope, dual analog sticks) but I can't see myself buying it on a handheld I'm not likely to carry with me on a daily basis on account of it not being pocket friendly and if I'm not carrying the Vita with me, what's the point? I'm probably not going to play the Vita's version of Uncharted when I have a PS3 at home that I can play Uncharted 3 on, which will most likely be superior to the portable version in practically every way.

I like the idea of the Playstation Vita and Nintendo's 3DS and the gamer in me would love to play around with them but I can't see myself dropping $250 on another gadget (much less two of them) to carry around with me when my iPod Touch is a good enough gaming platform for me when I'm away from my home consoles and PC. I guess this is the major problem with the Vita and 3DS, at least for me. The two of them will offer better games. I'm certain of that. But are they so much better that I'll be fine with the cost of admission? It's not like I can't work these two systems into my budget when the big name titles start coming out but I don't think I want to. Will I be missing out? Sure but I don't mind that too much. For now, and my opinion may very well change, my iPod is a competent, even good mobile gaming system and, for me and likely millions others like me, "good" is good enough.

Re-Published From My Site: The Mind of Game

Writing is Hard

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Yep, it's this again. Another blog based on my long running struggle with writing, something that used to come to me so easily. In recent weeks, it's just gotten worse though, as you may have noticed based on the total lack of updates on The Mind of Game as well as this blog here. Well...writing is hard. It takes so much motivation these days just to get up the urge to start typing anything or pick up a pen and write something...anything. Hell, even writing this felt much more like a chore than it should have.

I'm not fishing for sympathy here. This is something i'm writing just for the sake of writing. Something that I can focus on and write in stream of consciousness instead of sitting around and waiting for the inspiration to write something that may not come. So...here it is. A product of no planning and a heap of frustration. Heh...frustration...something I've been dealing with a lot lately. So that's it. Maybe I'll feel like writing more later. I hate writing these kinds of posts but I figure it's better to write something I don't care much for than nothing at all.

Geek is the New Cool

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I never thought I'd say this but it seems that geek culture is becoming mainstream. Elements of geek culture are popping up in many areas of pop culture with such frequency that it appears that nerds and geeks the world over are coming out of the shadows and being embraced by the populace at large. From movies such as Scott Pilgrim vs The World to Kick Ass and the Wii bringing gaming to the masses, the world seems to be going geek.

In an age of Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and Wii Sports, videogames have become not only socially acceptable but even "cool". When the hell did this happen? Not too long ago, talking about how you finally found that rare item you've been searching for in an old-school dungeon crawler or how your Wartortle finally evolved into a Blastoise meant you were shunned, shoved into a corner of the lunchroom with the other pimply-faced nerds, an area the "popular kids" wouldn't dare be caught dead. Now, it's socially acceptable. People talk about their exploits in videogames in all parts of the lunchroom. Talk of the latest videogaming accomplishments isn't just reserved for the nerds. Now, it seems, everyone plays videogames.

Just look at vampires. Once considered little more than conversational taboo, they are now the subjects of wildly popular, trashy tweener novels and slightly less trashy films based around said novels. Sure, there were shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer that were accepted by the mainstream but by and large, no one talked about vampires aside from the fantasy nerds. Times have certainly changed.

I imagine this is a side effect of the coming of age of Generation "who cares". This is a generation of apathy and thus, people seem not to care about other people's geekier pastimes, be it videogames, fantasy novels or sci-fi television shows and movies. Perhaps this means that this generation is more mature than generations past and more accepting. Perhaps things have just come full circle and the time will come again when typical aspects of geek culture will once again be frowned upon and geeks will once again be subjugated back into the margins of popular culture.

Maybe, though, we've finally matured beyond the typical jock and geek mentality and realized to that to "geek" is to love. Maybe people are finally realizing that geekdom is merely an outlet for the things people are passionate about and have begun to appreciate the geeky hobbies people have purely because we realize that this is a labor of love.

I'm a geek and I'm proud of it. Sure, I don't cosplay or walk around in graphic tees adorned with the logos of the games I play or the movies and TV shows I enjoy but I don't hide my geekdom from the world in the same way as I did in High School. Quite frankly, I'm an adult now with a love of videogames and geeky sci-fi TV shows and movies and I don't really care if someone looks down their nose at my hobbies. But, then again, odds are these days that you'll share similar interests and would rather talk about your own geek love than turn your nose up at mine. This is a brave new world, folks, and one I'm certainly glad to be a part of.

Flowers in Winter

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If you've been following today's weather reports (or live in Michigan), you probably already know that Michigan as well as much of the Midwest was blanketed in a few inches of snow.

Yeah. I was surprised too...and then I remembered where I live.Michigan likes to make you think it's winter again in the middle of spring.

Anyhow, seeing that some of the spring flowers have popped up, I decided to grab my camera and take a few pictures, thinking the bright, vibrant colors of the flowers would strike an interesting contrast against the cold, white snow. I've uploaded the best pictures here as well as on my Flickr account, which you can view by clicking here. Now, I only had a short amount of time to take the pics because my camera's battery tends to die rather quickly these days (I should really get around to replacing it already) so I only managed to get about 10 pictures, a couple of which aren't focused as well as I'd like as I didn't have time to snap a bunch of pics and hope one turned out alright. Overall though, I'm pleased with the results. Perhaps I'll wait until Michigan's next snowfall and get some additional pictures then.

I mean, this is Michigan after all. We're bound to have another snowfall or three before summer.

See the pictures in gallery form on The Mind of Game

Story in a Blog - Chapter 6

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Re-Posted from The Mind of Game

As always, you can catch up on previous entries here. Enjoy!

* * *

Upon agreeing to accompany Cynthia wherever it was she needed to go, she immediately picked up her gun and quickly ascended the stairs to her room. I followed soon after. One of the great joys of being with her was showing up at her house long before I was supposed to when we were going out on a date together. Predictably, she wouldn't be ready and I'd follow her up to her room and watch as she got dressed. Not only did I get to see her naked for brief periods of time, the two of us typically had very good conversations, conversations that usually led to me getting laid either before or after our date. I began to think she expected me to show up early most times and was merely waiting in her bathrobe for me to show up, eager to talk.

I'd missed those little half-naked chats we used to have and I think she did too.

The two of us reached her room and she quickly dropped her bathrobe to the floor, standing there in nothing but a black bra and a matching pair of lace panties. I sat down on her bed, admiring her curves. I think she knew I was staring as she sauntered over to her closet, fluffing her hair as she walked, and flung the double doors open. She removed from the closet a pair of black pants and a black, low-cut top and threw them at me. I snatched them out of the air and placed them on her bed.

She started to turn to me for a second, almost as if she was sorry for throwing the clothes at me or she felt like doing that was out of place, hesitated and then went back to rifling through the closet. It was common for her to throw her clothes at me, expecting me to catch them and neatly put them on the bed for her. I enjoyed her playfulness but, seeing as we weren't together anymore, I'm guessing she was considering our relationship more businesslike than I'd thought or perhaps she felt she had to keep it businesslike for some reason…

Cynthia was now removing a large black suitcase from the closet, one that looked like it was already packed, in case of emergencies and wheeled it over to me. "Hold this for me." She said, thrusting the handle toward me.

"What for?" I asked, taking the handle from her and watching as she sat down on the bed and began pulling on her pants.

"Just hold it." She replied tersely.

"Umm…right."

Cynthia pulled her top over her head and walked over to her mirror and checked her appearance. She wasn't wearing any makeup but she seemed satisfied. She was a natural beauty. Makeup only enhanced what she already had; it wasn't a mask that she put on to cover up flaws in her appearance. Cynthia walked away from the mirror and picked up a laptop that was lying on the desk near the window, her cellphone and the silenced Beretta, which she tucked into the back of her pants and pulled her top down over. She walked over to me and unzipped the suitcase, shoving her laptop inside and zipping it back up. She looked up at me.

"Come on, we don't have much time." Cynthia said, walking out into the hallway.

I quickly followed her, her black suitcase in tow, as she swiftly descended the stairs, still wondering why she couldn't tell me where she was taking me or why I couldn't just leave. I hated being left in the dark, especially by people I cared about.

Cynthia pulled on a pair of simple black flats sitting on a doormat by the front door and grabbed her keys from the nearby hook situated on the wall. "Let's go." She said quickly. I nodded in reply and we headed for the back door.

However, it seems someone was eager to see us before we left. Cynthia and I heard the sounds of a car pulling up outside and two sets of doors opening quickly after. We knew what was going on. The loan shark had figured out what happened and had sent more of his goons to take care of us before we left.

"****. I knew this was coming." Cynthia hissed, crouching low and pulling out her pistol. "Get down."

I acquiesced, drawing my gun as well. "Alright, how do you want to pla—"

I was cut off as bullets from several guns, most likely submachine guns and assault rifles began to cut through the house. Cynthia and I dropped to the floor in almost perfect unison. So these guys weren't here to take us alive. Well, that certainly made things a lot more straightforward than I'd originally anticipated. The two of us moved quickly into the kitchen, split left and right to different sides of a doorway and took cover behind the thick concrete wall. Bullets continued to rip through the house, flying in through the windows and the front door.

"As I was saying, how do you want to play this?" I said over the noise of the bullets being fired in our direction.

"This is a distraction. They're trying to circle around and get us from behind while we're concentrated on the front." Cynthia said, unusually calmly. "Cover me; I'm going to make sure no one's trying to get in the back door."

In that instant, the lights went out and the house fell into darkness. They must have cut the power, I thought. Of course they did. Why wouldn't they try to make this as difficult as they possibly could for us? Cynthia made her move, darting towards the back door. I looked out into the hallway toward the front door, which was in the process of being broken down. I pointed my gun toward the door, glancing furtively at Cynthia as she moved toward the back door. She held her gun at the ready as she noticed that someone was trying to pick the lock and discreetly make his way inside. Cynthia peeked out of a nearby window, checking the back porch to see how many people were waiting to get inside. She motioned to me, holding up two fingers. I nodded in reply.

The front door was finally broken down and a large, heavy set man stumbled inside. I let loose with my Beretta, hitting him three times, twice in his chest and once in his head. He never even saw it coming. As he dropped to the ground, his partner came inside and let loose with the Mac-11 he was carrying. I took cover behind the wall, bits of plaster, concrete and dust erupting from it as it was struck by numerous bullets. Even more bullets whizzed past my place of cover as I looked back to Cynthia seeing that she was waiting by the door for the men to enter. I wanted to help her. I didn't know how adept she was at handling herself in a firefight but I had to trust that she could handle this alone. As much as I wanted to help her, I'd probably end up getting in the way. Besides, I thought as more bullets whizzed past me, I had my own problems to deal with.

There was a brief gap in the stream of bullets and I peeked out. The guy who had been firing at me had retreated behind a wall and was noisily reloading his gun. I could barely see him in the darkness of the house, through the dust that still hung in the air but I caught sight of his exposed ankle. This guy apparently didn't take cover as well as he thought he did. I took aim and fired, hitting him squarely in his Achilles tendon. The guy cried out in pain and fell to the ground and I shot him three times more.

Sure that the guy was dead and that there were no others coming through the front door, I looked over at Cynthia. The guys picking the lock had just finished and were trying the door, slowly and deliberately. I pointed my pistol in their direction but Cynthia motioned at me to lower my gun, evidently insistent that she was going to take care of this herself.

The door opened and Cynthia returned her attention to that, as well as the people opening it. The door slowly opened, toward me so I couldn't really see what was going on but as far as I could tell, the two were coming in, one behind the other. That was until Cynthia stepped out from her cover directly to the side of the door and, in a move even I didn't see coming, elbowed the guy in front in his face and delivered a heel kick to the guy's sternum as hard as she could as he stumbled backward into his partner and unloaded her clip into them. Their screams cut through the air in the dead of night as they fell to the ground.

Cynthia dropped her empty magazine to the ground and looked over at me, as I stared at her, open mouthed. "Alex," she began. "go get my suitcase and let's go."

I frowned. "The ****, is my name Jeeves or something?" I said as I went off down the hallway to retrieve the bag. I could practically feel Cynthia rolling her eyes behind me as I walked. I stepped over the dead guy at the end of the hallway and grabbed the suitcase and headed back to her, suitcase in hand.

"Let's go." She said as I returned. "The police should be here soon and I'd rather not be here to greet them."

Getting Over

by on

Well, I've had a revelation of sorts about various aspects of my personality and the way I live my life. I wrote a bit about it as a way to vent some frustrations in a blog post, which you can find here and I won't be posting on this blog because it contains some...language...that is above this site's "PG" allowance. Because I don't really want this to be exposed to the general public (at least people who don't read my GS Blog), I've locked it down with a password, which can be found in the comments section.

Enjoy! (I guess) :)

PS: I also wrote a review of the recently released Mass Effect 2: The Arrival DLC which you can check out here on GameSpot and here on The Mind of Game. Be warned, however, as I don't make any attempts to cover up any spoilers. You have been warned.