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XBox 360 GamerScore: 11111!!!!!

OMGz! First I hit the rank of "Ikari Warrior" here on GameSpot and now this... Yesterday, I beat Bioshock 2 and reached a GamerScore of 11111. I almost don't want to get another achievement ever again cause that is so spiffy-looking! I have to say, I was not completely sold by the game so I am going to have to rant a bit...

Bioshock 2 is definitely a game worth having and, like most will tell you, it plays a lot like the first. This is a good thing and a bad thing. I've already mentioned this but, man, I kept hoping that, at some point, you'd really get to unlock your full potential and then face odds that would otherwise be impossible. By the time you really "max out" your stats, the game is over.. You wait for another plot twist or some sort of epic boss battle like in the first game.. No dice.

Don't get me wrong: Bioshock 2 is masterfully done. The music and environments, as always, are gripping. The voice acting is superb and the writing is top-notch. Sadly, Bioshock set the bar really high so I kept waiting for a jaw-dropping moment. You have a couple of moments were you say "SWEET" or "that sucks" but nothing really gripping. In my opinion, character development was lacking. Bioshock 2 filled in the gaps from the first game and made you hope for a surprise cameo appearance.. That never happens either.

Truly, the game is fun but, as a sequel, it failed. Fortunately, I find the multiplayer fun and, once the lag is fixed, it'll be a good staple in my all-nighter line-up. I'm being a bit brutal here and perhaps not very objective but, now that I think about it, I am a tad bit disappointed. A writer from Game Informer said that the game finally gets interesting in the last three hours but, if you ask me, it was more like the last hour of the game that really makes you hope that the end is not near and then.. BOOM - GAME OVER.

Just out of a sheer morbid sense of curiousity, I feel like replaying the game, perhaps at a harder difficulty, just so that I can be a little evil and take a different approach to everything. I agree that remote hacking took some of the fun out of the game but the bigger issue is the fact that you don't really feel like you are a Big Daddy. Alpha Series or not, you expect to have a little more uNF when you fight as the big boys. I can see a mob of Splicers being a little trouble but one-on-one battles should not be much of a threat. Those should be your pick-up matches, the battles that rub your ego a bit, ya know?

Overall, I look at Bioshock 2 as a microcosm of what is wrong with the video game industry today. You hear all these talks about developers shutting down studios or selling out. Why is that? Is it because the demand for quality games has gone down? Is it because pirates are costing the studios THAT much money? If you ask EA, they'll take the latter as a scapegoat but, let's face it: pirates are not the issue. These days, game studios boast budgets that would make some Hollywood film makers jealous. Sadly, most of these dollars go to the fluff of the games.

Call me crazy but there is a lack of quality writing, replay value, and character development as a whole throughout the industry. I play older games and get sucked in.. Newer games lose my interest quickly. Video games have turned into gimmicks. You get drawn in by flash and fancy tricks, shell out some cash, then wait eagerly for your next fix because, the more money you spend, the less of a high you're getting from your digital crack. It's a shame, really...

I'm not knocking 2K, Irrational Games, or whomever else was involved in the development of Bioshock 2. I realize they lost some key players on their team and, thus, played it safe when putting the sequel together. At least they're not pulling total tard moves like EA is lately. I just feel they had a lot more polishing left with the game. I would have been fine with another delay. This release feels like it's missing something. Even so, I still rate the game highly but, when compared with the original, there's just no comparison. Meh...

On a brighter note, anyone have any retro-style or old-school games that hold a special place in your heart? Please share. I mentioned that Ikari Warriors was one of them for me but there are quite a few games that always get me nostalgic. I think the original Mega Man and Final Fantasy games definitely are up there. Zelda too... And Super Mario Bros 3. Good times right there. Heck, I even liked Super Mario Bros 2, even if it was a weird one-off production.....

Ikari Warrior FTW!

I think I may not ever post here on Gamespot again simply because I love the game Ikari Warriors and I think that's the title I'd like to keep. If you never had the pleasure of playing the game and consider yourself an old-school gamer, play the durn game on the NES. If you can't get your hands on a copy, I'm sure you can find a ROM for just about any emulator out there. It's worth playing, IMHO.. Though I don't think I ever actually beat the game. The sequel to Ikari Warriors was weird but it had some break-through ideas. It's definitely a series worth looking at. Let's not forget it's one of the first games I can think of that allowed you to go on foot or jump into a tank. Two-player coop and plenty of targets to shoot at.. 8-bit SWEETNESS, y0!!

Jumping On The Bioshock & Final Fantasy Bandwagon

It's not often that I pre-order a game, pay the full retail price, and go to a midnight release for a console game but Bioshock 2 is one of those rare exceptions for me. I am certainly not disappointed with the purchase. My one worry was that they'd ruin the fun of hacking or throw the balance of the game mechanics by introducing multiplayer. I'm glad to know that I was wrong in my worries.

Bioshock 2 maintains the same rich, story-driven gameplay that we got to enjoy in the first installment. So far, the single-player campaign does a much better job of making you curious to find out what exactly is going on. As Bioshockers may have experiencd in the original game, there is a feeling of paranoia and helplessness. Though you get to play the part of a behemoth Big Daddy, you're made to feel like a mere pawn once again in the grand scheme of things.

I believe Andrew Ryan was the one that said something to the effect of "a real man can make choices [for himself]". Choices can be a bit limited at times but that only makes things more interesting... While you still have the freedom of a pseudo open world (the game is still pretty linear, though that is certainly not to discredit the fantastic encore here), you also still have to contend with the fact that you're pretty much brainwashed and outnumbered. Good, I like those odds!

Many of the old characters return in the sequel and you really get the feeling that this storyline actually meshes with the first. I get the distinct feeling that I am a part of legacy and that's what a good story should do, in my humble opinion. Bioshock 2 is a breath of fresh air in a landscape that, I believe, has succumb to cheesy clones and spin-offs. We're not merely looking at a "more is better" production. They've retooled the game, added extra bells and whistles, and still maintained all that we know and loved in the first.

I have to thank my friend Erika because, if it were not for her, I'd never know the pleasure of Bioshock. When I first played the demo, I was impressed by the environment. The musical score, deep sounds, and amazing environments alone made me curious to move forward. Alas, I've always had a thing about games with a lack of replay and multiplayer so they lose my interest quite quickly. It was only when Erika shared certain plot elements and ambiguities that I decided "I have to play this thing through!"

Thanks to a buddy of mine (you rock Kenny!), I was able to borrow the game and really get a feel for it. There's plenty of replay value in spite of the lack of multiplayer options. The fact that your decisions and approach to the constant obstacles actually effect your end-game makes it all worthwhile. Essentially, you can breeze through the game or indulge in every little moment that is offered. I dig that.

I'm thinking I'm going to milk the crap out of this game until the new Final Fantasy comes out and I can return to my roots. I was a huge Final Fantasy fan in the NES/Famicom Era but the series kind of lost me once we entred the age of visual snobbery. I'm actually excited about new releases these days which is great because, for a while, I felt everything that was coming out was the same old junk. It's good to have my faith in console gaming restored but I'll always be a PC gamer at heart.

So let's see... I have Bioshock 2, which might as well be called "Environmental Crack". I'm tempted to buy the limited edition of the game just because the soundtrack is THAT amazing. I'm also playing Fallout 3: GOTYE in between to switch things up. Modern Warfare 2 maintains the same addictive multiplayer formula of COD4. Borderlands will always be a good go-to game. God, I'm actually at a point in which it's hard to figure out what to play next but, surely, the gripping story in Bioshock 2 will bring me back plenty of times.

I've also had the pleasure of downloading some solid XBLA games. Shadow Complex, Magic: The Gathering, Splosion Man, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and TMNT: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled all are great for a good break from the norm. I just can't get enough of throwback games. Something about older games just rekindles that passion for gaming, both developing and playing them. I have a secret addiction to TCGs and fighting games too. All I can say is "good times, good times".

On a more random note, I'm happy to see Sony losing it's exclusive games and actually competing. For a while, the suits over at Sony were being so stubborn and stupid, if you ask me. Now they realize they got to actually bring something to the table to compete and having a free online multiplayer platform is not enough. Final Fantasy coming to the XBox in full effect is something everyone should be excited about. The rules have changed... w3rd.

Anywho, I'm definitely on the Bioshock and Final Fantasy bandwagon now. I can't wait for what's to come!!


(BTW, I'm around L8 right now in Bioshock 2 multiplayer. I kinda suck but I had a ten-kill streak finally as a Big Daddy. It helps when your team supports you. Add me and let's jam sometime, folks!)

Borderlands, Modern Warfare 2, and Bargain Bin Purchases for the XBox 360

Buckling under the peer pressure brought on by clanmates, I picked up Borderlands soon to be followed by Modern Warfare 2. I plan to eventually make formal reviews but I will say this: both were well worth the inflated new release prices (though I did not pay that - YAY) but Borderlands, IMHO, offers a fresher experience and more replay value. Don't get me wrong: Modern Warfare 2 took the great things in CoD4 and added more great things but, all and all, it's still the same game. The single-player campaign is what one would expect: riveting, cinematic plot development, tons of action, and some upsetting twists. It's also just as short as the CoD4 campaign. Multiplayer has changed quite a bit but not enough to jump on the bandwagon; alas, this is one of those games that everyone jumped on so, if your XBox LIVE friends have ditched you, here's where you'll find them.

Modern Warfare 2 has added deathstreaks as a way of keeping everyone on their toes. Deathstreaks are a great way for people to get back in the mix. This mechanic evens up things quite a bit. There are oodles and oodles of things to be unlocked, including custom graphics and titles for your little "mini profile". Grenade physics have been retooled dramatically as have the CoD4 perks. Last but not least, killstreaks offer several items based on your level and what you have elected to unlock. The highest-level killstreak (the camper's favorite) is a tactical nuke that automatically ends the game. Interesting.

All that being said, the multiplayer is still worthwhile and, if for some strange reason you never got CoD4, you'll really enjoy how unique MW2 is. It's nothing short of awesome but CoD4 kinda set the bar high so I have to be a *little* critical. You can bet that they'll be milking this title just like they did with WAW. Expect new maps soon. Budget a good $100 to get the full effect of this game. =oX

I do have to reiterate this: MW2's campaign is AWESOME. It truly beats most movies made today. Some of the CoD4 characters return and some new faces show up. All I say is this: don't get too attached. This storyline is a lot more controversial but it really makes you think. The cliffhanger ending was so abrupt that I almost felt like throwing the game away. I think you can count on MW3 coming in 2011. The fans have been sucked in and we're hooked.

Now let's talk about Borderlands. This is the unsung hero! The game was sold out in many markets in the first week or two, much like Modern Warfare 2. Of course, now it's hard to find since it's been overshadowed by Infinity Ward's baby. There's a lot to like about Borderlands. I definitely have more gripes with MW2 than Borderlands. You see, one big pisser in MW2 is that the maps and overall gameplay seem to encourage camping more than ever. People really want to milk those killstreaks, it seems. In Borderlands, it's just good, clean co-op fun but, for those that need a little DM now and then, you can go to arenas or smack a teammate in the fact for some instant gratification.

What makes Borderlands special is that it takes best-of-breed features from today's most popular games and fuses them into a successful hybrid offering. FPS meets RPG - it's a beautiful thing! This game rewards sharpshooters just as much as those that know how to carefully distribute skill points and employ their special abilities. Borderlands focuses more on action but there is plenty of grinding and exploration, for those that like that sort of things. Each character class has one abilility (or action). This seems like crap at first but there are plenty of passive abilities to make up for it. That just means there is a whole lot less button mashing.

I believe Borderlands is very special as a console offering. As a PC game, it faces some tough competition but, then again, the combination of FPS and RPG is still very unique. I love the fact that finding weakpoints on enemies is what opens up critical damage. It's no mere dice roll here, folks!

Borderlands offers myriads of strong and unique/"boss" mob spawns. The more people you team up with, the stronger the spawns and, by extension, the better the loot. If you played Borderlands single player and didn't care much for it you're truly missing out on what makes the game fun: the intense co-op action! This game HAS to be played in multiplayer favor. Going solo just isn't the same when each character class offers tactical team buffs.

You've heard about the billions of weapons in Borderlands, I'm sure. Well, that number is pretty darn accurate! Each weapon has so many possible attributes and bonuses that the combinations are almost infinite. There is no secure trade option in Borderlands but, if you can find some honest teammates, looting can be very fruitful. Anywho, this is the game that will have long-term replay value. Modern Warfare 2 is great fun, as was CoD4, but I prefer it in smaller doses.

Crap... This ended up being a big review on Borderlands and Modern Warfare 2. Hey, if you can't afford these new releases (or already chose on one side and refuse to drop another $65 based on principle), I recommend looking at the bargain bin at Sears or checking out used games at Play-n-Trade or GameStop. Heck, you can even check your local rental store - they often have better deals (Hollywood Video, for example, had several games well under $20). Army of Two, Battlefield: Bad Company, and Burnout Paradise are amongst some of the fun games you'll find there for dirt cheap. It goes to show you: wait a little while and yesteryear's games will be dirt cheap.. Unless it's Call of Duty 4. =oP

For some more old-school XBox 360 titles, consider Shadowrun, Viva Piñata, and Crackdown. There's plenty of variety out there. Now, has anyone tried Dragon Age? I am hankering for a more pure RPG. It's either Fallout 3 or Dragon Age for me.. Any thoughts? 8)

XBox Live Year Subscription For Under $40 - At Sears!

Just a heads-up about some more deals. I told you all about what you can get at Circuit City dirt cheap. TV stands and accessories are still abundant in some parts. For a place where you can wheel-and-deal, HH Gregg is the place to go. They'll match prices on hardware and services alike! Last but not least, Sears has XBL subscription cards for $29.99 instead of the usual $49.99. This is a great deal so jump on it if you can cause they're going fast!

Hope I helped some of you get some good deals. Making my way to Augusta Mall now. w00t w00t!

P.S. If you happen to be in the market for a 32" TV that could double as a computer monitor, I've seen some great deals from local and online stores alike. March is when 2009 models start coming out so last year's stuff is going to drop A LOT. Prices have been between $200-350 for models that often include 4-8ms response time, high native resolution for PC gaming, 60-90hz refresh rate, and every video input you could possibly need!

Affordable technology FTW - GO RECESSION GO!

Tweeting Bandwagon, Pirate Travels, Sexbox 360 Woes, and Circuit City Deals

With all the traveling and bouncing around projects I have been doing, I figured it was worth using Twitter as a way of letting curious people know some of the things I am doing. I'm still pretty tight-lipped about my project work, mainly cause I don't want more ideas being stolen, but you can see I am still very much alive and keeping busy! After much nagging and hype from JulioFromNY and gang, I finally jumped on the tweet bandwagon. You hear a lot of hype about social media but I can see where Twitter can be useful for business use but, still, I think it's best used as a way for people to make friends and keep up with old friends.

Bowchicasbro (a.k.a. Yogizilla) on YPP

ALIAS: Bowchicasbro (otherwise known as the least skilled of the three Bows, Yogizilla, and Pirate Lord chef)

OCEAN: Midnight (previously, I believe I was in Cobalt and some other ocean which didn't last too long)

CREW: Pirate Lords (previously Hounds of Hell, but still reppin' NoF all the way)

FLAG: The Brethren Court (previously Hade's Haven)

NOTE: My stats suck compared to what they were when I first joined the game a few years back. That was back when TheGreatSkate tried to get all of us in NoF to play with him. The game has come a long way since then! New puzzles are in public testing as we speak as well!

Anywho, for now, my Yogizilla-branded Twitter page is mostly to keep in touch with my friends on Puzzle Pirates, fellow creative engineers and writers, and those in "RL". Feel free to add me since some of you keep in touch and may find my tweets rather entertaining or at least refreshingly pointless! I don't use it like a buzz marketing tool like most people do so it's rather spam-free. I do sometimes plug a project or event, however, so you'll have to forgive me on that! ;o)

My "Sexbox 360" is currently collecting dust, not because I am bored with it but mostly because I've been 1) rather busy focusing on priority items and 2) waiting for it to be shipped from my old address. It's a good thing that it is NOT physically here and the only XBox in the house is now broken til someone gets off their lazy arse. I think the temptation would be far too great and I'd only procrastinate more! For now, Warcraft III (especially DotA Allstars) and YPP are more than enough to keep me distracted

In any case, I read some interesting articles (more like pictorials/galleries, really) on GameDaily recently which I may or may not blog about here.. I just wanted to say hi and catch up with one of my favorite communities. You guys and gals have certainly helped me procrastinate and game away many, many hours of my life! =o]

BTW, as many of you know, Circuit City is closing down after 60 years or so of business. They're slashing prices but don't be fooled: televisions and other things are still not that competitive. For video games and various accessories, they're awesome right now. It'll be a bit before they put out some real liquidation prices on everything. If you need a TV stand, that's a good place to go. Chances are the video games have been cleaned out since they're around $5-20 on average for all games on any platform. w00t!!

I'll be embarking on some pirate travels later and definitely enjoying some Warcraft III, after 8:00pm EST, roughly.. Cya then! =oD

My Whereabouts, N+ Shocker, and The Decline of Gaming Clans

First and foremost, I wanted to let all my friends know that I am still alive! I am now a resident of California (San Diego, to be exact). As always, moving out is a long process. I'm getting settled in, becoming more of a family man, etc. etc. There have been lots of changes in the past few months and, boy, it's been a wild ride!!

Anywho, I've toned down my gaming affinities quite a bit but I'm still itching for some good fixes here and there. Currently, I'm into the quick fixes like those you'll find on XBox LIVE Arcade. I've also been into some heavy karaoke, for poops and chuckles. Yeah, I got sucked into the crappy American Idol version of Karaoke Revolution. They really need to port the old version to the X360 - much more songs to select.

Speaking of song selection, I'm stoked for Rock Band 2. I just hope they'll be smart and make the peripherals compatible across-the-board. The addition of cymbal ports is definitely a smart move. Now, Rock Banders will have the pleasure of boasting 200+ songs right out of the box; that is, if you own both Rock Band and Rock Band 2!

Back to XBLA, I've really gotten into Fable II Pub Games. Still not sold on Fable II but I am a lot more interested. Apparently, Pub Games is a freebie for those that pre-order Fable II. I'll pass for now.

My one gripe with F2PG is that Fortune's Tower is the only game with a real strategy to it. Keystone and Spinnerbox are much more about luck and being smart enough to change your bets often (and knowing when to quit). Spinnerbox could have been so much more.. It seems a bit lazy as finished product but I must admit I love watching those coins spin.

The neat thing about F2PG is that you get all sorts of perks for Fable II. Unique items and game enhancements can be unlocked by winning various tournaments and such. It's a good time for everyone! Alas, no online multiplayer.. Shockingly, I bought the game anyway!

Onto the next XBLA treat, I've been really surprised with how good N+ really is. It's gotten some crappy reviews, mostly because people judge the graphics rather than the gameplay and abundant features. The multiplayer options in N+ are amazing. The level editor is a huge treat.

Watching your ninja die never gets old but this game has much more than just cheap gimmicks. The racing and coop modes in N+ add tons of replay value to the game. I find myself loving even the basic singleplayer modes are surprisingly addicting. I'll have you know that pure platformers annoy me.

While I think 2D games still have a place, I rather be without some of the heavy platforming elements. N+ somehow finds a way to make the physics and headaches of it all really draw you in. I'd go as far as to say that N+ succeeds where even games like Prince of Persia (the newer versions) fail. The controls are easy to get and very much responsive so your focus is on just figuring out solutions to the puzzles at-hand.

Basically, N+ is a puzzle game in an action-packed wrapping. It's a good mix and it does it without being too pretentious. Don't get me wrong, I love PoP but I think a lot of the spirit of old-school games has been lost in an effort to bolster eye candy. N+ may not be the sexiest-looking game (if you are a polygon counter) but it is very much stylistic and well thought out.

N+ uses some very simple T&L, pixel shading, and anti-liasing to make for a game that may not be up to today's standards but it certainly not ugly. I can't focus enough on how much of a pleasant surprise the game is. At first, I told my buddy, KiNgDeeM, that I couldn't get into the game cause it was too simplistic and I'd get bored easily. The fast-paced nature of the game makes it addictive and highly replayable.

I don't know how good the DS and PSP versions of N+ are but there's a good reason this game has quickly become a cult classic. Just check YouTube and other viral video sites and you'll see lots of fan fare. N+ is definitely worth looking into.. Darn it, we need more people hosting online sessions too.. Ranked and not!

BTW, my belief on XBLA pricing is that no game should be priced above 400 unless it has replay value and multiplayer options. N+ has both and is well worth it. There are, however, many XBLA games that I feel should be more at the 400-600 range but that's for Microsoft to wise up about.

In other news, I am in a writing mood once again and I have a little free time (sorta) for once. I have a piece I'm writing and syndicating on MySpace, N-o-F.com, and Facebook. It's about the decline of gaming clans, in a nutshell. Should be a good read for those that are open-minded. Yes, I'm getting back on the soap box. ;o)

Why using the Rock Band guitar will make you very sad.

I just wanted to get the word out to all of you. I am officially convinced that the Rock Band guitar is a huge POS. It looks nice and it feels more like a real guitar until you start to use it and the aesthetics no longer matter. Immediately, you'll notice that the Rock Band guitar is hard to strum on. I had hoped they fixed this issue with the wireless guitar, which a friend so graciously bought me for my birthday. Nope. The strumming on the wireless guitar is still GARBAGE.

How can I describe the strum bar on the Rock Band guitar? It's like a loose vagina lip (or a limp penis if you prefer). I'm sorry for the visual but that's just how it is. It just flops about and doesn't seem to do much of anything for you. Strumming on the Rock Band guitar is much different than using the uber-responsive Guitar Hero Les Paul or Xplorer. As others have mentioned, the Rock Band guitar just feels cheaply made, as if you can easily break it (that's cause you CAN easily break it).

The duty cycle for the Rock Band guitar can best be described as "casual use". I have a friend that uses his every day for at least an hour and his strum bar is so loose that it feels like it is going to fall off. As the retention and resistance of the strum bar fades away, so does the responsiveness. This means you have to strum harder and it can totally throw your rhythm off. When you use the RB guitar, you're pretty much forced to down and up-strum constantly or just strum REALLY hard.

I gave the RB wireless guitar a chance due to a few friends that swear by it, even after using the Guitar Hero controllers repeatedly. I can now summize that they are crackheads. There's no way an uninfluenced mind can arrive at the conclusion that the RB guitar is better. Let's look at the things beyond responsiveness that make the guitar BLOW.

The Rock Band guitar, unlike any of the Guitar Hero controllers, does NOT break down easily. There's no quick release and, if you're not careful, you can break the guitar. Even putting batteries in, which should be a snap, is a painstaking process. If you don't happen to have a decent Phillips screwdriver, good luck. Those machined screws are a pain to take out. Four of us tried to no avail. I had to try some MacGuyver stuff to get it to work.

The absolute worst part about it all is that you can't play Guitar Hero (any of them) with the Rock Band guitar. WTF? I knew this ahead of time but, still, it just seems like such a waste. If only they sold wireless guitar controllers for the 360 separetly - I would have totally gotten that! But the only way you get this is via online sale. Good luck finding it in the stores. The extra guitar was an impulse buy some friends encouraged me on and I feel bad they spent their money on junk. I'm about to break down and sell this POS for half the price to my delusional friend. With the money I make, I'll just get a wired Guitar Hero controller. Bump it. I can't deal with the RB controller anymore! =oX

Overall, the extra features and sweet style of the Fender Stratocaster-inspired RB guitar controller is not enough to make up for the ultimate suckiness. The lack of software support and production value makes me sad. It'll make you sad too. Avoid the Rock Band guitar at all costs and sell it onward if you have it!

GTA IV: On The Hype Pipe Or The Real Deal?

Call me crazy but, to me, the best Grand Theft Auto was GTA2 for the PC. Why? It had a really fun online multiplayer mode. I didn't mind the overhead view; heck, that made lots of games (Fallout, X-Com, and Syndicate included) perfect. Sadly, post-Windows 98, the game stopped working (without some sort of hacks, that is). Grand Theft Auto IV seems to be going back to the roots of the game while throwing in the things that made GTA3 so great.

Now, as many of you know, single-player games rarely hold my attention so, for me, a brunt of my time in GTA4 will likely be spent in the multiplayer mode; that is, if I still pick up the Limited Edition game. There are hardcore GTA fans forming the line as we speak. I will take my chances and try to pick up the game tomorrow. If they don't have the LE version, I'll take it as a sign and either not get the game at all or forego the cool swag.

In any case, GTA4 is all the buzz now and the cynical gamer in me says there is no way it will live up to the hype. I feel the game will be a good temporary excursion and diversion at best. If you're like me and single-player campaigns do not do it for you, you may feel the same way. But wait.. There is some hope!

Since the game is already in the hands of a few lucky people, a lot has been leaked. The multiplaye modes do seem quite promising. It's not merely free-roaming and co-op modes. There will be free-for-alls, team deathmatch, and objective game modes as well. One of the modes that really appeals to me is Mafiya Mode (it's actually called something else but let's just stick with this for now - it's short and sweet. I like the concept of multiple teams working together to complete objectives. According to many sources, you get to use your in-game cell phones in this mode to communicate with team members or trick gullible enemies into going off-track from their goals. I really dig team objective gameplay (which is why I do a lot of Search And Destroy in CoD4) so this alone makes me have a little more faith in GTA4 online play.

The other multiplayer game modes do not seem to make much use of the cell phone but that can be a good thing. The interesting thing is that GTA4 creates a fluid open world (or at least the illusion of it) by foregoing a traditional opening menu and starting you off where you last saved. From there, your cell phone becomes a device for contacting friends and launching the various game modes. I am glad that Rock Star really went with a robust multiplayer system and not a very grass-roots thing.

For the old-school GTAers, there will be plentyo f races, car thefts, and destruction. The ADD/ADHD gamers will be happy to know that Free Mode is indeed a reality so you can run around and do whatever you want, or you can get creative and create your own objective-driven game modes. Some of the suggestions for Free Mode include touring Liberty City, checking out the local hookers, going bar-hopping, searching for easter eggs, and trying to out-run the law at six stars. This game will be a dream come true for those that like to keep themselves busy with lots of options.

While I am keeping my enthusiasm in check, I am curious about the multiplayer. It's been so long that I've been hearing the rumors of the various features. Hearing that they are the real-deal is great. I'm also happy to hear about the exclusive XBox 360 content cause, quite frankly, my Sony fanboy friends are getting way too annoying with their silly brand loyalty. It's almost cult-like how crazy they get about their games. Let me tell ya': Metgal Gear Online is cool but nothing to write home about. It's basically Vegas 2 sprinkled with features from other popular FPS games, if you ask me.

Getting back on-topic, Grand Theft Auto IV promises a lot. I have to wonder how much it will actually deliver. I know that, even if I enjoy it, CoD4 and Vegas 2 will still be my main bread-and-butter but, seeing how I have a lot of fanboy friends in my clan, NoF, I'll be sucked into the friggin' game one way or another. Haha... Well, see you guys on GTA4 at some point - back to work for me so I can be ready for some gaming fun later! =oD

Call of Duty 4: Still Kickin' (And So Am I)

I know, I know... I was having so much activity going for a while and now I am like a ghost (on here at least). What can I say? Too many good games, so many cool projects, so little time. You guys and gals need to join me on XBox LIVE and the NoF forums - for realz!

Starting this weekend, there will be lots of things keeping me from blogging and being very visible but I will still be around. There are some cool gaming-related projects in the works and, as I mentioned before, there are projects like VayaSpanish.com keeping me busy and pleasantly challenged. Good times all around! I only wish I could duplicate myself to optimize the experience...

Tomorrow, the early birds get a sneak-peek at the new Call of Duty 4 maps. The Variety Map Pack will be available on XBox LIVE as DLC (Downloadable Content) early April. Imagine getting a jump on those maps. Sadly, only San Jose and New York City have major launch events for the GOTY (Game of the Year) Edition of Call of Duty 4 and the new multiplayer maps. If you're not anywhere near there, sorry.

This weekend is also the Rainbow Six Vegas 2 LIVE Weekend. Register here by following this link. There will be 72 prizes in total and seeing how RSV2 is nowhere as popular as CoD4 right now, your odds look good. I feel good about this weekend so expect me to disappear for the week, playing Rainbow Six Vegas 2, the Batttlefield: Bad Company beta, Call of Duty 4, and working away. Work and play, work and play, work and play.. That's how I roll!

Want to know more about the Call of Duty 4 updates? Check out these snippets, borrowed directly from XBox.com...

Call of Duty 4 Variety Map Pack - Map Details

The Variety Map Pack includes four new multiplayer maps. "Creek" is a wide-open village ravaged by combat where concealment is the difference between life and death. In "Broadcast," fight throughout an enemy communications building with confined corridors and wide-open parking lots. "Chinatown" is a foggy downtown district, lit only by a full moon and the neon glow of the city. "Killhouse" features a desolate training warehouse filled with a variety of building mock-ups and soft and hard cover points.

Variety Map Pack Challenge

As an early sneak peek on March 28, GameStop will host the Variety Map Pack Challenge at two exclusive preview events in New York City and San Jose. Lucky gamers will be among the first in the world to play the new maps on Xbox 360 and meet members of the Infinity Ward team.

Chinatown

One of the maps is set in Chinatown.

The first 100 guests at each location will receive a free token to download the Variety Map Pack upon release, and the first 250 contestants will compete for prizes, including GameStop gift certificates.

Both the Modern Warfare Game of the Year Edition and the new Variety Map Pack download will be available on Thursday, April 3 in the U.S.

The worldwide best-selling game in units of 2007, according to The NPD Group, Chart Track, and The GFK Group, and winner of more than 50 editors' choice and game of the year honors, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is rated "M" (Mature) by the ESRB for Intense Violence, Strong Language, Blood and Gore.

My Thoughts

The first three maps they mention in the map details catch my eye. Creek seems like it'll be a new Overgrown, which is a map people lover or hate. There's no doubt about it: this is THE map for snipers and ninjas alike! The focus on limited cover and using concealment should make things quite fun.

Broadcast seems like it may be another Vacant. This is yet another map people love or hate madly. If Broadcast is truly a map about corridor fights, deep impact, claymores, and strategic movement will be key. In Vacant, locking down long hallways and entryways is a great way to keep the enemy at bay. I can see Broadcast being a phenomenal Search-And-Destroy map.

Chinatown is the map that excites me the most. My gripe has always been that there are not enough night maps and it'd be nice to have a reason to use night vision. Chinatown seems like it can be that map and the city setting should make things fun. Tight quarters, many buildings to hide in, danger around every corner.. I'm excited and I hope you are too!

BTW, I don't care what anyone says but Rainbow Six Vegas 2 rocks. I also enjoy the two recent (and random) additions to my Nintendo DS collection: Megaman Starforce and Contact. Contact is very weird but fun. Just wish they thought some aspects out a bit more. So much wasted potential. You'd expect more from the producer of Killer 7 and No More Heroes...

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