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Vacation and the World Cup

Back again? Here to stay? Did I ever leave in the first place?

Perhaps that's just my GameSpot blog nostalgia talking.

My vacation's "started", as of late. I finally got around to traveling - after a long and tedius yet very bearable journey here to the US from Kuwait, I'm currently situated in Baltimore with a family friend. The rest of my vacation will meritoriously consist of my attendence of the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) for a period of 11 days, followed by a stay in Texas (where "home" is, I guess), along with a trip to California inbetween that. Should all be great fun, I hopefully presume. By way of circumstantial reason and waning lust for the hobby, I'll be away from videogames for a while... but I can't say that saddens me since I don't particularly miss them. Maybe when my anticipation of Mafia II and Halo: Reach elapses upon the games' releases, that will change a little.

And then there's that little event that comes around say, oh, every four years... the World Cup.

I wasn't really into 2006's trial, since I wasn't really into football at the time, but the fact that I was in Africa during the tournament (a continent comprised of football-euphoric inhabitants) kind of bolstered my interest in things. But since then, especially recently, I've developed a surprisingly keen fondness for the sport. Having avid football fans for a father and brother did factor into that, but this World Cup really helped solidify things. So due to my lack of desire to get into the nitty gritty, I'll just lay down my current picks for the tournament:

Argentina for the whole thing. I've had a great respect for them ever since their performance at the '08 Olympics, and they have a great team that is being well-orchestrated on and off the pitch, both as per the efforts of Diego Maradona and Messi/Tevez/Higuain, respectively. A good friend of mine's from Argentina as well, and I draw inspiration from that fact as well. Germany will be a tough obstacle for them to leap over, but I'm sure Argentina has it in them... I can only hope that they'll be able to unleash that "it" when the time presents itself.

Ghana to make it to the semifinals. Respect to Uruguay for having won the cup twice in team history and having a fairly strong team, but given my intrinsic support for the country of Africa, I really do hope to see Ghana go farther than the quarterfinals. It would be a great test (and affirmation) of their strength and relevancy in this tournament, which they seemed to spontaneously intensify during their match against the USA.

I'd also like to see Holland trump Brazil. Their inspiring performance against Slovakia has convinced me that they are indeed a team of valor and poise... and, of course, a team good enough to beat Brazil. Whether they actually will, though, is very questionable, and probably currently weighs towards the favor of Brazil, vice versa. I don't adamantly support either team, but I'd much rather see Holland go through - and, furthermore, to see them play Argentina instead of Brazil.

Well, I guess that's it for now - I'd love to hear you fellow GameSpotter's vacation testimonies/World Cup hopefuls (if you have any).

It's been quite some time.

Ah, finally, some truly free time on my hands.

I hardly visited the forums at all in the last month or so, but it feels like so much longer ago. School, Halo 3: ODST, and, most recently, Borderlands, are to blame for that. I may remain relatively inactive for even more time to come, but I felt as though I should do something on the site, since as of late, I've felt somewhat detached and empty as a result of being away for so long.

So what is up with me? Hmm. Borderlands. Got it two days before it came out, and I've been playing it to death since (while, of course, juggling my load of schoolwork and other obligations... I've somehow managed to survive on a mere 3-5 hours of sleep for the past 8 days). But oh, the horrendous sleeping schedule is well worth it. Borderlands is a spectacular game, and ended up being a lot better than I thought it'd be. So, if any of you reading like first-person shooters, RPGs, or a mixture of both, then you should definitely get this game. I know it sounds obvious, but I'm using that transparency to make my point clear. THE GAME IS AMAZING. 'nough said.

And... yeah. Just sort of getting by with school the best I can, and waiting for Modern Warfare 2. I'm really not hyping it that much, as I never did like the first one as much as most people do, but I am looking very forward to it, and am keen on discovering how good it is. And of course, Assassin's Creed II, a week later.

Well, that's all for now, I suppose. I will see you all in the forums, possibly. I may return for another blog post in the near future to upload some new, updated pictures of my drumset. But until then, goodbye.

Recom Armor :)

Well I just stayed up an entire night, so I decided I would blog about my unlocking the Recon Armor in Halo 3.

As indicated by my previous blog post, I was able to get my hands on Halo 3: ODST early, and afterwards, my friends and I worked very intentively on trying to unlock all of the Vidmaster achievements before Halo 3: ODST officially launched. And, well, we sort of did that... but were 58 minutes short. My friends and I received the rights to unlock the Recon Armor at around 12:58 AM ET - 58 minutes after the game officially launched in the U.S. That rendered us among the first to acquire the armor via ODST, and I guess that's something I'm pretty proud of. What I'm not proud of, however, is the fact that I fell asleep while my friends and I were doing our last Vidmaster Challenge, 'Endure". Now, I'm not in denial or anything... I did not intend to fall asleep, nor would my full presence during the game hinder anything (i.e. I could have done it and have been help if possible), but I am a bit disappointed that I made things harder for my friends, not to mention missing the thrill and feeling that my friends got right when they unlocked the armor (I woke up about 2 hours after they had finished, and boy did I feel crappy). But oh well; these things happen.

Being a pretty avid fan of Halo and having followed the series since getting an Xbox in 2004, the working for and obtaining of the Recon Armor was a great accomplishment for me. Though I wasn't able to capture and experience the moment in its full splendor, I did (and still do) have much enjoyment using and showing off my armor. I'm damn proud of it.

I will leave you all with a link to my Service Record. To all those who have ODST: I hope you're enjoying it. And to all those trying to get Recon Armor: good luck!

My Service Record

Got ODST early. Yay.

So at about 12 PM this morning, 9/19 (about 4 AM Central Time for some of you U.S. residers), I got my copy of ODST. And, of course, earlier than most people :) I was going to post my blog about it this morning, but I was too enthralled and excited to do it before beginning to play the game. Plus, my friends also got the game and I was itching to play with them, so that also factored into the postponing of this blog post until now.

Now, I am not only excited about this because I was highly anticipating the game, but in recollectionable memory, this is the first time I'm getting a game early (unless you count the Resident Evil 5 demo :P, and the only launch-day purchases I've made were for THUG 2, Spider-Man 2, and a few others which I can't remember right now). Hence, being able to get this game early was a pretty big deal for me.
How did I get the game early, you might ask? I won't go into details, but essentially, knowing where to look and being fairly well-connected was what netted me the game early. In addition, you'll notice that the version I have of the game is a region-free PAL version, and not the NTSC version (which I was hoping to get, but it doesn't really matter to me anymore). Anyway, now for pictures :)

Sorry for the mediocre pictures... actually, I'm not :P I intentionally took them this way because I'm not intending to show anything, just that I have the game. From my pictures, you can see the PAL version of the game, along with the inside of the game, where in the picture above, you can see the Halo 3 multiplayer-only disc (the ODST disc, of course, was in my console at the time of taking these pictures).

Anyway, that's pretty much it. I will additionally, however, post miniature verdict-only reviews for people of various situations, so as to help them decide whether they want to buy the game:

Fans of the game who played Halo 3: The game is pretty much all you expected. The campaign has some nice surprises (I can't say much about it though because I haven't completed the game); in comparison to Halo 3, it is much more refreshing but not that much different. For those of you who follow the story closely: so far, it does seem like a worthy addition and expansion to the Halo trilogy. Overall, I do feel it is a bit better. Firefight will be better than you expect; as an avid Halo fan and player, I had mixed feelings about the mode, only to find out how spectacular it is through extensive play in it. It really is that great. The new Halo 3 disc is convenient and appealing, with a new layout, menu, and **** You'd be surprised how much different it makes the game feel. So Halo fans who've played Halo 3: the game is worth getting, but don't expect anything too different from Halo 3. It is different, and it is very good, but I suppose that depends on how much you liked Halo 3.

Fans of the game who didn't play Halo 3: These are the people who will probably appreciate Halo 3: ODST the most. Halo 3, as you all know, did not have such an appealing campaign mode, but ODST will change your mind about the Halo franchise, for sure. And, of course, the Halo 3 multiplayer and ODST single player/firefight mode are definitely spectacular gaming experiences that you will definitely enjoy, no matter what Halo games you have played. If you like Halo, but never got around to playing Halo 3, you should definitely buy this game.

Newcomers: Just get the game. It's good; 'nuff said. The experience is well worth it, and is a great way to experience the "full" Halo 3 experience (minus the actual Halo 3 campaign, of course).

Fans of all types who really only want the game for the Halo: Reach Beta: That's a pretty ambitious notion, but hey, if that's what your motives are, then cool. Just know that you will be getting a pretty darn good game and standalone multiplayer experience along with the beta access.

Fans of all types who really only want the game for the rest of the Mythic Maps: Coming from someone who knows the maps from all four major Halo games very well, trust me when I tell you that they are not that great. Longshore is fun and different, Heretic good, but much better if you played its Halo 2 iteration, and Midship is essentially a glorified, more open-spaced Orbital with a different design. So if you're getting the game with the new maps at the top of your mind, then I would suggest waiting to see if you can get them from the Marketplace soon. Or, if you actually do want to experience the other features of the game, then by all means, go for it. HOWEVER: If you want to get the game because all of the Halo 3 maps, both downloadable and retail, are on the multiplayer disc, then in that case, buy the game. It is well worth it.


And that's all, really. I'm glad to have been forunate enough to get this game early. If anyone has any questions they'd like to ask me, comment on this blog or send me a message.

Take care, fellow GameSpotters.

Going back to Kuwait...

Well, after 7 long weeks of vacation in the U.S., in a few hours, my parents and I will be hauling our baggage over to our country of residence: Kuwait.

This vacation has been the longest I've had in a while, and unfortunately, was not as eventful as I would have liked. The first couple of weeks were great; I got to spend lots of time with my sister down here in Austin, Texas, in addition to doing lots of things that I couldn't do in Kuwait. I also went on a college visit to the University of Texas at Austin, which was great. Going to Boston and seeing my brother was also very nice; the three college visits I made there (Boston University, Boston College, and Berklee) were spectacular, as was seeing the city from a new, in-depth perspective (as opposed to the limited experience I had with it the previous and first time I came, which was to celebrate my brother's graduation).

After coming back to Texas, all I really did was shopping and some community volunteer work, and that was it. I would have liked to see some local bands and gone to a few certain places (including Dallas to see old friends), but none of that really happened, nor did most of the other stuff I had planned to do. Some of it was partly due to laziness/lack of desire to really do anything, and some of it was due to the fact that everyone around me was very busy, and that, coupled with the fact that we frugally relied on public transport for the entire trip, kind of made it hard for me to do a lot of things. Still, I did enjoy this holiday very much, and I have learned a great deal, experienced a lot, and changed significantly (for the better) as a person as a result of it. so I can't really complain.

It's a bit saddening to have to return to Kuwait, but it's not too bad, since I'm returning home to where my life is. The things I'll especially miss in the U.S. include the fast, significantly cheaper Internet, the food, and the environment. Public transport was also a nice thing to get used to, and, believe it or not, I will miss that as well. Fast Internet is a big one for me, because the speed my sister has is significantly faster than what I have in Kuwait (5 mbps, as opposed to 512kbps in Kuwait). Because of that, I took advantage of that this year by bringing my Xbox 360 and external hard drive, and boy, did it pay off. The reason I can't get such speeds in Kuwait is the fact that it's so expensive over there... but I won't go into details regarding that.

Anyway, in a nutshell... I'll miss the States. Not too much, but enough to keep me thinking of its pleasures for a few days, at least. I'll have plenty of time to do that though, during my journey that starts in a few hours... it's going to last an entire day!
Yeah; my itinerary is very inconvenient... I take a 6:30 AM flight out of Austin to Dallas, then wait 5 hours in Dallas for a flight to New York. After arriving in New York, I have to wait another 5 hours for a direct flight to Kuwait, which will take 13 hours. That's 23 hours!!! I don't think I've ever been on a return trip that tedious (not that I remotely remember, anyway)... but it shouldn't be too bad. I don't complain much.

Well, that's it I guess... I'll blog some more when I return to Kuwait. To whoever reads this before or during my journey: please wish me safe travels :)

ODST: Not DLC, and not a full game... yet still worth $60. Here's why.

So during the course of the past two weeks, I've seen many threads that bash Halo 3: ODST's price point, so I thought I'd blog about my opinion of the "game". I won't say much, since I don't feel like elaborating on my thoughts, and most of what I would say would be pretty arguable. But, I will copy a post I made in one of these such threads today:

"*sigh*... I've rebutted against this ongoing argument many times, but I will do it again:
The problem with most people, fanboys and non-fanboys alike, is that they're either viewing ODST as a full game or an 'expansion' (and talk about it like its DLC on a disc). Both opinions are very flawed; Halo 3: ODST is a standalone
expansion, meaning that it's sort of a cross between a full game and DLC.

In addition, how come standalone expansions such as Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath and F.E.A.R. Files weren't viewed the same way Halo 3: ODST is being viewed? They were the same around the same price ODST will be when they were first launched, yet in relative quantitative and qualitative terms, they do not feature as much as Halo 3: ODST does. So the way I see it, everyone is just getting their panties in a bunch because Bungie initially said ODST wasn't going to be fully priced, and they happened to change their minds due to them (Microsoft, actually) realizing the shift in scope of the game ('standalone expansion').

For $60, you're getting a 'standalone expansion' that features an all-new, cooperative, open-world, eight-hour campaign, Firefight mode, $40 worth of map packs, and most of the features the expansion's predecessor contained. Whether you have Halo 3 prior to purchasing ODST, or not, it is nothing short of a mostly-acceptable bargain, so stop complaining, people.

Anyway, I predict Halo 3: ODST will get inbetween an 8 and a 9, depending on how good reviewers find the new gameplay features and how they correspond with the new campaign and Firefight mode. Anything lower or higher would have me very surprised."

2k Posts

Just reached 2000 posts. Yay for me. Quite a significant milestone on my part, seeing as how my posting coun grows at a very slow, gradual pace.

I look forward to further increasing my count by interacting with the magnificent community that is all of you fellow GameSpotters. :)

My Q4 gaming aspirations aren't as undecided as I had initially visualized.

Anyone who read my blog post from two entries back would have seen my brief wishlist for the next 5 months' upcoming game releases. I've thought about it more vividly in my head, and now that I'm seeing things a bit more clearly, I'm going to use this blog post to give myself a better understanding of how things will or won't play out for me during those months. From what I'm visualizing, I should not have any issues with money, so I hope my on-the-fly plan-out of my potential budget will pan out.

I currently have about $250 to potentially spend on games. At maximum, that number should almost double by the end of the summer, if I manage to be frugal enough following my return home vacation (and even while I'm still in the U.S.!). If that is so, I should have around $400-$450 dollars at thatt time, which will give me enough money for about 5 or 6 games. And, since my budget will (hopefully) increase gradually throughout the course of these upcoming months, I should fare pretty well.

August (pre-Q4): Batman: Arkham Asylum is the only game I might purchase during this month. And, seeing as how the gameplay videos I've seen of the game don't impress me all that much, it isn't likely that I will purchase it at all. Hopefully, it won't end up being as good as I hope it will be, because I will be left with more money to spend on games I feel will be of more importance to me.

September (pre-Q4): Halo 3: ODST is a definite day-one buy for me, as will be The Beatles: Rock Band, with the exception of two things: the game mustn't be too overpriced in my country of residence, and its critical reception mustn't be lower than I expect it to be. If either of the two happen, I will have to wait until Christmas time to get it (during which I could get it from the U.S.) and/or find a way to play the game without actually buying it (or just not buy it at all), respectively. I'm highly considering getting Dark Void, but I'm still unsure about it, so it's undecided. I've given Guitar Hero 5 thought, and I've decided I just don't want it. Other than that, I don't believe there are any other releases during this month that I'm interested in.

October (Rocktober): In very great contrast to last year's month of October :lol: , there aren't as many games coming out that I'm interested in. What is probably my most anticipated game of this year (since BioShock 2 got delayed), Splinter Cell: Conviction, will mostl likely come out during this month, but nothing is set in stone yet, which is why I'm hesitant to assure myself it will actually come out this month. If it does, though, it will be a definite purchase. Also, as implied by my optional spelling of the word "October", I do have quite a bit of interst in the game Brutal Legend. The only reason this game isn't a definite buy for me is the fact that I'm not sure if its quality will warrant a purchase for me. I will have to wait and see more of the game; it's also very unlikely that I will buy the game at release. And, for the third year in a row, sports games (namely basketball ones, as those come out during October) are a no-go for me. So, October looks pretty empty from here.

November: Easily the biggest month for me, I think. Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin's Creed II are both coming out during this month - both of which are day-one buys. I don't recall anything else of interest coming out during this month, so I think my ambitions for November are set in stone.

December: Whether I buy a game or not during this month will depend on two things: whether or not I'll be able to get The Beatles: Rock Band at a good price in September (if I still want it by this time), and how good The Saboteur ends up being. From the looks of things, I probably won't buy it at all, but from what I've seen, it looks very promising, so I'll have to wait and see. There is also a slim chance that I'll decide to get Guitar Hero 5 - but that chance is very slim.

I would like to plan for Q! 2010, but I want to get Q4 2009 out of the way first. So with that, let me do a quick outline of what my wishlist looks like now:
--- = maybe
--- = day-one buy
--- = undecided

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Halo 3: ODST
  • The Beatles: Rock Band
  • Guitar Hero 5
  • Dark Void
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction
  • Brutal Legend
  • Modern Warfare 2
  • Assassin's Creed II
  • The Saboteur

And that's about it, really. Considering it's highly possible that I won't want to buy the majority of those games, I should be fine.

As for XBL(A) content and DLC, I am more than set for anything I plan on getting, since I have 14000 Microsoft Points 8) . All of that saving up from the past is definitely going to pay off. I'll make a listed budget here, so I can see how much I may potentially end up spending:
--- = maybe
--- = certain

  • Halo 3: Bungie Pro Subscription (750 points)
  • Gears of War 2: All Fronts or Dark Corners (1200-1600 points)
  • Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta (800 points)
  • Shadow Complex (probably 1600 points)
  • GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (1600 points)
  • Modern Warfare 2: "Map Pack 1" (probably 800 points)
    --I'll get this if I don't get the Hardened Edition of the game.
  • Battlefield 1943 (1200 points)
    --I'll get this depending on how long its community lasts, how quickly I manage to finish all of my current games, and if I'll be able to do so before a reasonable amount of time prior to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 coming out.
  • Fable II: See the Future (350 points)
  • Burnout Paradise: Cops & Robbers and/or Big Surf Island (800-1800 points)

And so far, that's all I see myself getting this year. If I take the highest amount of points I could spend into account, I'd be spending 10500 Micrisoft Points, which would leave me with more than enough points to buy any other content I might desire to, be it Rock Band tracks, themes, or an XBLA game. I'm glad I'm at least covered for DLC/XBL/XBLA content.

And with that, my budgeting ends. I'll cross myeslf and knock on wood for good fortune. In addition, I hope everyone else is good on their gaming aspirations as well. 'Til next time.

My Top 10 Games of the Previous Generation: An In-Depth List

Well, I've gained a little inspiration from a few fellow GameSpot friends, so I've decided to make a list of my 10 favorite games of the previous generation. I initally wanted to make a top 10 all-time favorite list, but I just couldn't; it was way too hard. Maybe after making a few of these lists, it would be easier... I will see, I suppose.

Now, this list was extremely difficult to compile, since I've played so many games in my time, and have been into gaming over a decade (that's long for a 16 year old!). There are quite a few games that I would have liked to make this list (so I may make other lists, I suppose...) but for now, I guess this will have to settle. Here goes...

Honorable Mention: Kessen (PS2)

Kessen_Coverart.png

I decided to bump this up to an honorable mention; it was initially in the 10th spot, but I had to add in a game last minute that just couldn't be left out.
Kessen was the first RTS I ever played, and was what really got me into the genre. It was also one of the first games I ever played on PS2, so to have been privileged enough to experience it at such an early time was truly a pleasure. In addition to introducing me to the world of RTS games, the game captured my attention and interest on many different levels, which is why I respect and remember it so much. Not an amazing game, but a great game nonetheless, that also happened to introduce me to the RTS genre.

10. NBA Street Vol. 2 (PS2 and Xbox)

NBA_Street_Vol._2_Coverart.jpg

Sports games of the previous generation were mostly great. They lived up to the standards they should have (much unlike the current generation), and actually improved each year they were reitereated. I had a tremendous amount of fun with last gen's basketball and soccer games (minus FIFA Street), but NBA Street Vol. 2 takes the mighty, ultimate cake. Why not the first one, or Vol. 3? Because Vol. 2 contained the best pluses the franchise had to offer, and it did it well. The game amounted to nothing but endless amount of fun for me and the many people I played it with, and it truly showed me that button-mashing could have structure, and even better yet, that it could be seamlessly incorporated into a sports game. Well done, EA Sports BIG.

9. MX Superfly (Xbox)

256px-MX_Superfly_Cover_Art.jpg

Ever since playing Grand Turismo 3 (my very first PS2 game; it came with the console as a bundle), my perception of racing games completely changed. The depth and breadth of GT3 was something I had never experienced before, and actually made racing games one of my favorite genres - and it still is. MX Superfly was something very different for me, however. It wasn't the first motocross racing game I had played, but it was the first to actually be fun and addictive. It's grea modes, controls, and game environments make this game one of my cherished ****cs.

8. Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

Sonic_Adventure.PNG

This is by far my favorite 3D Sonic game, and granted me a great deal of fun and playing time during my time with the Dreamcast console. The game's story, gameplay, and features were all top notch, and this game was the first great adventure game I had played since games such as Crash Bandicoot.

7. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (PS2)

252px-Mercenaries_-_Playground_of_Destru

When I think of "last-gen" and the genre of action adventure, this game is among the first, and most memorable, to come to mind. This game blew my mind on so many levels, it's hard to discuss. Those who have played the game need no introduction to its fantastic assets, and those who haven't truly missed out on a tremendously fun, intriguing, and different action game. I wanted to put this game higher on my list, but despite the indisuputably nostalgic memories it has given me, it was not as good as some of the other games I had played last generation.

6. Burount 3: Takedown (PS2)

256px-Burnout_3_-_Takedown_Coverart.jpg

While Grand Turismo 3 got me into racing games, Burnout 3 made me fall in love with them. Having not played the previous Burnout games, 3 was something very new to me, and showed me the more extreme, intense sides of racing games that I hadn't ever experiened prior. At first, the game was one kind to me, and seemed very weird. But once I came to grow very fond of all the unique features it had to offer, I got hooked. I spent 200+ hours with the game, and I remember I had achieved full completion in the game, which is something I hadn't done with many games last gen. Burnout 3: Takedown fills lthe owest slot of the better half of my top 10 games of last gen for this main reason: it showed me something that games such as Grand Turismo 3 could not - that racing games could be both unrealistic and fun.

5. Rayman 2: Revolution (PS2)

446433_front.jpg

I'm actually very disappointed that I couldn't have positioned this game higher, because I absolutely love it. The reason the games below took priority over this one is because I am a huge admirer of the games' franchises as a whole, while in contrast, I don't have much fondness for this game's franchise in terms of this gen (then gen before this one would be an entirely different story!) Anyway, about the game.
Rayman 2: Revolution was my third ever PS2 game, and was my first adventure game on the console. Because a long period of time existed between the time I got another game and the time I had gotten this one, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with the game - and oh boy, did I love every second of it. The game had me hooked from the start; the captivating, fun platforming gameplay was something I had not experienced since the Crash Bandicoot days - and, at the time, it felt even better than the CB days, because I spent so much time with it. This game is easily one of my favorite adventure games of all time, and it certainly took my interest in gaming up a notch from when I was younger.

OK; I need to take a breather... things are getting very tough for me here. Picking my top 4 is so difficult... but oh well; it's got to be done. Here we go...

4. Tony Hawk games (various consoles)

ProSkater_profilelarge.jpg

I'm sorry, but I couldn't pick a single favorite Tony Hawk game from last gen. Most of them were all just so good and unique in their own way that I couldn't muster up the audacity to pick a single one. So what I will do instead is list them in order of my most favorite to least favorite:

  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x (Xbox) and Underground (Xbox) [tie]
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PS2)
  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (PS2, Xbox, and again this gen on Xbox 360)
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PS2)
  • Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2, and Remix on PSP)

I never played Proving Ground, even though it was actually released during this generation, and I played Project 8 very briefly on PS2, but never went back due to lack of interest in it.
The Tony Hawk games have been with me since the very first one on PSOne, and I've grown to be an avid fan of the game's addictive gameplay. There are so many good things I could say about some of the older Tony Hawk games, but I cannot bring myself to discuss them all. What I will say, though, is that all of these Tony Hawk games brought me some of the most memorable experiences I've had in gaming (final parts of Underground 1 and 2, anyone?), are also what have kindled and shaped my long love and respect for the sport of skateboarding, which was initiated by the first Tony Hawk game.

Sorry guys, but a tie is coming up...

3. MDK2 (Dreamcast) [tie]

256px-MDK2_Packshot.jpeg

This game was by far the most intriguing, fun action game I had ever played. In addition for developing a massive appreciation for the games genius attitude and flow, I actually learned quite a bit from the game as well. In addition to being very fun and captivating, the game is outrageously funny, and that did a lot to help make the game's experience that much more adherable. The game was among many other action games that I had played in the past, but because of its unique sci-fi aspects and gameplay, it was the one that really stood out for me.
It's good to know that Mass Effect won't be the first BioWare game I've played, if you catch my drift. 8)

3. Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (PS2 and Xbox) [tie]

256px-Pandora_Tomorrow_box_art.jpg

I don't even know where to begin with this epic game (and franchise!).
Splinter Cell (the first one) was the very first game I played on Xbox, and it was what made me truly appreciate the console, and its advantages over the PS2. It was one of the games that made me eventually start playing my Xbox more than my PS2, even though I had obtained my PS2 console about five years before I did my Xbox. I never had the opportunity to solely experience a Metal Gear game during previous generations, so besides playing SC: PT on a friend's Gameboy Advance one summer, Splinter Cell 1 was my first true stealth game experience. Ubisoft nailed the gameplay so well, and it definitely showed when I feel into a deep fondness for pretty much every aspect of the game. I still love it to death today, and have played all the games in the franchise to death. Chaos Theory and Double Agent were both great, but I've found the gameplay and story of Pandora tomorrow was by far the most memorable. I really do hope Conviction will not disappoint one of my most intense game desires...

2. Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando

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If my life were threatened with the task of describing the Ratchet and Clank series in one word, I would definitely have to say "stupendous". And even that would be putting things very, very mildly. I will not even attempt to explain why this game gets my number two pick , but I will explicitly say that in terms of a great combination of depth, humor, and innovation, this series cannot be matched in any way. Why did I pick Going Commando over the other three (or four; did they port Size Matters to the PS2?) possible choices? Because Going Commando, in my opinion, had the best weapons, story, environments, and characters out of all the other games.

I will request a drum roll from my favorite drummer for my top game of last generation...

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1. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)

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Grand Theft Auto is one of my favorite franchsies, and Rockstar... oh, I just love Rockstar. My favorite game of last generation was destined to be a GTA game from the start, and, quite honestly, it was always likely going to be III, and not the other two. But why?
It's indisputable that Vice City and San Andreas made massive improvements to the GTA franchise, and both were incredible games that are unique and special in many different ways. But what really, really sets Grand Theft Auto III apart from VC and SA is its overall grandeur.
And no, I'm not just talking about the fact that it and Halo: CE walked over the gaming year of 2001. I'm talking about the game's unique features. And the most important and obvious one, of course, would be that it revolutionalized the genre of sanbox-****action-adventure games. This genre, along with platformer games, was one that really had my attention at the time, since I wasn't much of an RPG buff (hadn't played much else besides the previous gen's Zelda: OOT). So when I was first exposed to Grand Theft Auto, it instilled feelings of satisfaction that cannot be expressed with words. And, since I was quite young at the time of first playing the game, many of its aspects were very blown up and fantastic for me, which really helped make the experiences I had with the game that much more impacting on my gaming life. In addition, I personally prefer Liberty City, III's soundtrack, characters, and story, and best of all... the fact that the protagonist of the game, Claude, doesn't speak in the game. I had, and still do, find that to be very, very cool. :P So all those reasons are why GTA III gets my top pick.

Well, that's my list fellas... I hope you enjoyed my insight, and the mini look into what I was mostly up to during the last generation of game consoles. My best of thoughts aren't in this blog post, since it is late where I am and my mind is not in the best state of functionality, so I apologize. I may make a Top 10 90's Gen games list, or even one for this generation, but I don't know; I'll have to see how that goes.

Too many games, and not enough time.

During pretty much every summer vacation I've had since moving from the U.S., I've always gone on massive shopping sprees when I go back, since there are many things here that I cannot get (easily) in my new country of residence. The first year, it was CDs and books, the next it was drumming equipment, after that it was a mixture of drumming equipment and games, and this year, it's mainly been games. This is mostly due to the fact that the games I will mention below are games I've always wanted, and the high price of games in my country of residence ($65-$85 for most games, and they only go down to about $55... this goes for all games, old and new). Not the best move on my part, considering I'll have to worry about my junior year of high school in a few months, and many great games will be coming out during the upcoming months. My not returning home for another two and a half weeks is also somewhat an issue, because although I can still play while on vacation here in the U.S., my playing time is limited, as I am always doing other things during the day, and when I'm not, my parents are hogging the only TV in the house we're staying at... so most of the time, the only times I'll get to play are during after midnight/early morning hours.
The gaming related products I've bought for my 360 during this holiday include a new guitar peripheral, a gaming headset, portable Rock Band drums, a new memory unit, and the games listed below:

  • BioShock (played it before, but never owned it)
  • Mass Effect
  • Condemned Criminal Origins
  • F.E.A.R. Files (might give to a friend)
  • Dark Sector
  • The Orange Box
  • Guitar Hero: Metallica
  • Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • Assassin's Creed

Another worry of mine is how much of these games I'll actually be able to play. I am a person of very thorough nature, so I like to get the most out of the games I play (if I deem them worthy). So, given the circumstances mentioned above, doing so won't be too easy. I will just have to see how things turn out, I guess. On a side note, I will mention the games in my possession that I have yet to finish, which I will name off the top of my head:

  • Guitar Hero III (career modes and some Achievements)
  • Rock Band 1 and 2
  • Gears of War 2 (some Horde Achievements and Insane difficulty in singleplayer)
  • Far Cry 2
  • Spider-Man 3 (not too concerned though)
  • Oblivion
  • Fallout 3 (Point Lookout and upcoming Mothership Zeta)

Those are a few of quite many others. I didn't even mention games that I could play more of, but likely won't due to lack of interest (which could be rekindled at any given time. That's a lot of potential gaming!)

Anyway, all of those recently-purchased games set me back quite a bit. Luckily, I'm still a teenager, so the luxuries of making large purchases like these come with much less stress and worry :P. The money I have has been worked for and saved up since the beginning of the year, so considering I've blown a little more than half of it during this past month, I am a bit regretful, but not that much, since I still have the opportunity to return some of the games and products I've purchased, and still have about $250 left in savings/balance, so I'm not set back too far from my initial $550. Though I should probably start worrying a bit now, since there are quite a few games I would like to purchase within the next 3-4 months. I will list them below (ones in red text are of high priority/likely to definite buys; blue = low priority; green = undecided/maybe's):

  • Halo 3: ODST
  • The Beatles: Rock Band
  • Modern Warfare 2
  • Assassin's Creed II
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction
  • Brutal Legend
  • Dark Void
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • The Saboteur
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum

There are probably a few more I haven't mentioned, but I don't want to get a bit out of hand with my wishlist. Obviously, my current budget cannot accommodate for nearly as much as it needs to in order to adhere to this little wishlist of mine. But that's where the increase in budget, Christmas, and report cards come in :). Hopefully my gaming aspirations will be fulfilled, as they were last year. And thank God most of the other games I aspired to get happened to be pushed back 'til next year.

Wish me luck, fellas.

P.S.: I feel like I want to say something else, but my mind is not functioning to its full potential, seeing as how it's 7 A.M. and I haven't slept yet. Yep; I decided to pull an all-nighter. So if I do remember anything, I'll just edit the blog post, I guess.

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