Still kinda here, still internet blogging.

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Yeah. I know. Been about a year since I last posted. Honestly, if anyone who's been following me on GameSpot is still around and is reading this, I'll be surprised.

I still post blogs on the Secret Area, which has expanded to the ol' YouTube. For those who poke around my original YouTube channel, it's still around, it's that I haven't posted a video on it in over a year. I might convert that to a general blog channel anyway.

I've always had trouble really engaging with the communities of GS, Giant Bomb and its ilk. How does one solve that problem? Is it even a problem worth solving? I'm not sure.

That Giant Bomb/GameSpot thing.

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Oh yeah. That's great. Can't wait.

I still can't really... keep up with multiple places on where to blog. I'm kinda hoping that we can link GS and Giant Bomb accounts in the future so I can have everybody in one big happy family.

But for now, here's a shameless plug for a blog I've been doing for a few months called "You Found a Secret Area!," which you can find happily over here:http://youfoundasecret.wordpress.com/Give it a few hits, and tell your friends. Not much else I can say about that, really.

I'm getting used to this GB/GS merger and it's pretty cool. It also made me realize how there's actually some semi-decent stuff in GameSpot. I really wish there was a stronger emphasis on the personalities, as that's what made pre-Gerstmann GS and GB shine well. The only GS people I know with some amount of familiarity is Carolyn and Kevin. Maybe get to work on that, John Davison. :P

Internet bloggings.

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My problem with blogging is that there's like five hundred bazillion sites where I can post my internet stuff in. If only there was a catch-all blogging program that could mass post to multiple sites, format it all to that site proper, and do all the work without me doing crappy copy/paste jobs.

Or I could just post most of my stuff at one placelike I've been doing for the past few months or so. My apologies that I don't give the GSpot some love, but this place feels really foreign to me now. Giant Bomb has spoiled me. :(

Granted, I've also been moonlighting at Destructoid, but much like GS, I only post blogs there sporadically.

Hi Gamespotters!

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I'm sorry, GS users who read my stuff. I noticed that I haven't really written much here. Again, I'm sorry. Would you take these flowers? How about these cookies?

Anyway, I've been playing games as usual. I beat Far Cry 2, which had a somewhat disappointing ending. Hell, the whole ending portion was drastically different than the two parts prior, where it's all linear-based except how you get there is up to you (a dedication to the first game, perhaps?). Really the problem I had with it was that while it had some really good atmosphere in its environment and locale, the gameplay wrapped around that location is repetitive and boring. Go here and kill this guy/destroy this object/steal this item. There are a few twist missions where you must threaten somebody to do something, but it only happens 2-3 times in the course of the game.

Oh, and I finally welcome my new guitar hero overlords:

Guitar Hero Aerosmith with X-plorer guitar controller for Xbox 360

I got this at $10. The Guitar Controller was free with purchase (GH:A was one of the few games that was under that offer). I just beat the game on Easy. I almost got 100% in Dream Police on Medium. But then I got fumbled in a middle segment.

I'm kinda disappointed at the Aerosmith track selection. Where's Dude Looks Like a Lady? Where's Jaded? Where's Janie's Got a Gun? Where's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, arguably one of their most popular songs? Ah well, it's got Dream On and Rag Doll, so it's not a total loss.

Now I should invest in GH2 or RB or one of those other games so I can be fully assimilated into the music rhythm genre.

Completion and contemplation: Crackdown

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So recently I completed Crackdown. I felt a little underwhelmed when I finished. It was the same as the first two parts when I killed the last remaining gang members. I got a "You saved this portion of the city" message, then the big spoiler comes up (The Agency pretty much created the gangs in question to give Pacific City some degree of chaos, and it's all the equivalent of some training exercise). Not even a cut to the credits, or something real special. Just... ends like that. At least in other free-roaming action games like GTA it gives a satisfying conclusion and a credit roll. Crackdown just ends with a pop and a whimper.

The biggest problem I have is that it's very, very repetitious. Basically you had to knock down every leader of a gang, then head straight to the head honcho, and repeat for the next two areas. There are no variant missions outside of the rooftop and road races that permeate the world, and the hidden/agility orb hunt, which is like GTA's hidden packages but amplified a pinch. But it's the same way from when you start, to when you finish. There's not even a chance to friend certain factions and do missions for them, a la Mercenaries.

The upgrade mechanic is a nice touch, even though you'll upgrade your agility faster than everything else, making driving something you only do to keep your stats consistent. I like how as I progressed, my character was slow, very inaccurate with weapons, and had to make a few roundhouse kicks before they could kill someone. By the end, my only problem was swarms of gangs and the gang member with larger HP than the others. Oh, and having to climb my ass all the way up through Wang's tower, only to die and have to re-climb the area three times. Thankfully that was only a Time Trial. But either way.

I know people will hound me for saying this, but this needed a more broader story than "There's gangs polluting the city, go kill them." It needed reason, explanation for my actions, further consequences outside of just sending me uberpowerful grunts if I killed enough of a certain faction.

I will say that doing crazy flips and acrobatic stunts were the greatest thing about Crackdown. Had those not been in there, the game would've been excessively dull and I never would've finished it. I'm done with the game, but I could always go back and try to do a few things like catch all 500 Agility Orbs (about 420 and counting), or finish all rooftop and road races I didn't go through the first time round. Or maybe get into some co-op action. I don't want to put the game down just yet. I feel that there's unfinished things to take care of.

Also, lower the damn "Gettin Busy content pack" price already. Two years later, it's still $10. You want me to pay about 80% of what I paid for the game for this content, of which half I can't use because you need to be in co-op to do it? No, Microsoft, I will not accept your offer.

The new 1up.com

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After hearing the semi-painful news that Ziff Davis sold off 1UP.com to UGO and fired 30 people as a result, I felt kinda bummed. Not really saddened, I had grown accustomed to staff departures from game sites I loved. It was a way for me to think, "Hey, I could now get into this business." Sadly, after hearing this news and all the issues gaming editorial sites have (GameSpot recently fired a few of its staff members due to the economy, one of which had been with the site for a good 8 or so years), I decided not to pursue that career fully. Seems too flash-in-the-pan and already is a crowded market.

But anyway. People are grieving more towards Electronic Gaming Monthly's unexpected demise, but I cannot share those same feelings. The only issues of EGM I owned were from 2006-07, back when they thought it was cool to insult their audience. My friend Ryan (BlazeHedgehog) summed this up a few years back, and it applied to the T back when Dan "Shoe" Hsu was Editor-in-Chief. I heard that was toned down considerably when James "Milkman" Mielke became EIC, but I got sick of EGM after the February 2007 issue that I didn't even bother coming back. I know that I'm gonna stop by a nearby store and snag the unofficial "final issue" and see what I missed out on.

I associated more with the podcasts that 1UP.com had. I remember two years ago when I was a frequent listener to 1UP Yours. Back when it had the simple crew of Garnett Lee, Shane Bettenhausen, John Davison, and Luke Smith. Then Luke left to work at Bungie, and Mark MacDonald replaced him. Then HE left, and then the fourth chair was pretty much a revolving door of various 1UP editors like Shawn Elliott and Nick Suttner.

I also used to listen to GFW Radio, the podcast for the since-defunct magazine. As opposed to the somewhat bitter, near immature nature of 1UP Yours (which I liked, mind you), GFW Radio was more matured and yet, at the same time could be just as immature as its sister show. I didn't listen as often since I wasn't a PC games guy much anymore, but I still enjoyed it. It was interesting hearing Jeff Green and Darren Gladstone have interesting conversations with Sean Molloy and Shawn Elliott interjecting now and then, with an occasional peep (or 10 minute monologue) from Ryan Scott. Shawn ended up becoming my favorite games writer outside of the former GameSpot crew. On one podcast, he could be waxing philosophical about review scores, game design decisions, and other things. While later in that same podcast he could pretend to be "Whiskey Nerd" and talk about silly forum posts about marrying Sonic characters at some Sonic fan message board. It's a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation, except you loved the Hyde side as much as the Jekyll side. Now that he works at 2K Boston, I say if Shawn doesn't become prominent in the industry within five years, I'll be floored.

Sadly I never got into 1UP FM (or its predecessor EGM Live) or Retronauts. Retronauts put me off after their almost Japan-centric nature on some of their video episodes. As well as their unjust hatred for Donkey Kong Country. I don't care what you say, the second DKC was the best frigging game on the SNES, and one of the best 2D platformers I've played.

After hearing that one of the few staffers that successfully made the transition, Garnett Lee, wishes to continue "1UP Yours" despite Bettenhausen's departure and Andrew "Skip" Pfister's layoff, I feel a little hollow inside. If you wish to resume the podcast thing, sure, but don't call it "1UP Yours." You'll get too many unfavorable comparisons to the Yours of old. It's like listening to GameSpot's podcast "The HotSpot." Listen to a recent podcast, then go back and listen to one from 2006 or so when you still had Rich Gallup, Jeff Gerstmann, Alex Navarro and others on. It's so drastically different it's not funny. And you fired virtually everybody from GameVideos, pretty much canceling The 1UP Show. Again, making a new "1UP Show" will not at all have the same impact. Everybody that made that show great was given pink slips. You can't just hire a bunch of guys and try to remake the same magic, it's like replacing virtually all the cast of a TV show after you changed networks or something.

And I put the blame originally on UGO, thinking this was their doing, but after reading the NeoGAF thread about the transition (NOTE: 60+ page thread, either skip to the last ten pages or whip up a bowl of popcorn and endure the whole thing) that Ziff-Davis pretty much orchestrated the firings, the cancellation of EGM, among other things. That shows that ZD are real a****les for doing that.

I hope all the people who got laid off find new jobs soon. Even if it has to be them pulling a Giant Bomb and making a small site staffed by former 1UP and EGM staffers, I'd visit it.

To put a spin on something Garnett used to say: Weekend destroyed. And they are ghost.

Bunch of new stuff here.

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Back on 12/29, I finished a video review of Left 4 Dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCIWmocDYAA

I originally released it on Christmas Day, but had to pull it when people couldn't hear my narration. Then I had to re-record footage I lost due to stupidly putting the videos in the recycle bin.

I also bought some more 360 games, two of which I wanted since I saw them announced: Dead Rising and Crackdown. As well as Call of Duty 3 (wanted to see why everybody calls this the "Black sheep of the franchise") and a $20 Microsoft Points card.

Oh, and I bought these things, but they're not game-related.

Christmas (and post-Christmas) game hauls

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I'll make this quick:

  • Quantum of Solace (PS3)
  • Dead Space (PS3)
  • An Xbox 360 Pro Holiday pack with:
  1. The Kung Fu Panda/Lego Indiana Jones combo disc
  2. Pac-Man Championship Edition
  3. Catan
  4. Poker Smash
  • A 360 Play and Charge kit
  • An extra 360 controller (this, the charge kit and system came together, yay Costco?)

And some post-holiday snags off Steam:

  • Ultimate Doom, Doom II and Master Levels for $1 each (Doom II and Master Levels were only available in a bundle). I never played the original Doom in the platform it originated on, only the ports on the SNES, Genesis 32X and GBA. So this is a great snag.
  • Bejeweled Deluxe for $1 (Eh, it was $1, why the hell not?)
  • Peggle Deluxe for $5 (Loved Extreme, wanted more of it. It's freaking Peggle, and it's addictive as hell.)

Happy belated holidays. Now to finish off the twenty-some games off my backlog! Whee! :D

Dancing in a Home space to play an arcade game.

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Hi! How's everybody doing? Man, for how long it takes me to write a blog, it takes longer for me to think of subjects to write about. Although, there are people who are even worse at this than I am, so I should be grateful.


I'm gonna start enforcing a self-policy where I start taking every first impression I make with a grain of salt. Remember when I was a dick and bashed Home? Well, after making myself look like a tool, I decided to recant and drop the argument, as well as periodically pop back into Home.

Especially when Open Beta launched today. Y'know, I kinda miss the old Central Plaza. Maybe there should've been two separate plazas for players to traverse, each with their own little quirks. Thank goodness I bought some of the Home clothes, furniture and spaces before Open Beta went live, because the prices are a pinch ludicrous. $.49 for the Chuck Taylor-like Hi-tops? $5 for the Summer House? Eh, it's chump change really, and with a lot of PSN items ending in 9, maybe those spare pennies can go towards a Home store item. :P

I got to go see the other spaces, and they're pretty good. Plus it was nice to bump into some GAP members while there (Hi Julia!). Although I do have issues with some of the games, as well as a few things I'd like to suggest to makes things more smoothly. Where the heck do you post that, the Home forums? Because I could probably conjure up a half-decent list of improvements I'd like to suggest.

But yeah, Home may not be the greatest thing out there, but at least it's working and useable. Now the big thing I gotta ask is this: "Will it be a hit with the PS3 owners and third parties?" Time will tell. Let's hope it works, the last thing Sony wants is Home to be on those "Top 100 gaming blunders of all time" lists.



I gotta stop buying games. Well, gotta stop GETTING games, anyway. I gotta finish Stranglehold, I gotta continue Pixeljunk Eden (which is one of the few games where I'm going "Oh damn it! Nononononono NOT THERE! ARGH! Back at the bottom!" while playing.), I gotta play SWAT 4...

And I pick up a free game since a neighbor was selling a PS2: The Thing. It was some 2001-02 video game based on the John Carpenter movie of the same name. I had only heard of it thanks to Noah Antwiler and The Spoony Experiment, where he ripped the game a new one. Check out the review here, it's one of his best. I mean, the review's YAHTZEE-approved, for god's sake!

But anyway. I had got The Thing because I wanted to see if Spoony was right, and it seems almost down to the T. In fact, since I'm a big fan of The Spoony Experiment, lines from his review kept replaying in my head while I was playing it. It's not that unusual, Yahtzee was repeating the Heavenly Sword demo review while I was playing it, so...

But yeah, so far it's just an average shooter/survival horror hybrid. With a wonky save system and no sense of aiming whatsoever.


I'll probably have a review for Left 4 Dead up by Friday or Saturday. Everything's in place. Now to edit the 27 minute rough cut into an acceptable 5-10 minute review with commentary, and we're set.


I am done for now. I'll leave you with this thought in my head for a while:

Is it weird for a guy like me to desire a pair of sheepskin boots? And how come Home doesn't have any?!

Also, GameSpot bonus closing: Best of luck in your future endeavors, Don Francis, Aaron Thomas and Bethany Massamilla. You'll get jobs elsewhere, trust me. Just don't forget about the gamers who loved your work.