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My review for Age of Conan...

I posted this a little while ago to the player reviews for AoC. I'm kinda depressed about it actually - I had high hopes for AoC. I LOVE the idea of a Mature MMO! I'm hoping they get the bugs ironed out sooner or later, because this game does have a LOT of potential, if they'd get a few things fixed...

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I was VERY excited that an M-rated MMO would be on the market, especially one set in the world of Conan. I tried not to get sucked into the hype too much, but the screenshots and the dedication of the devs to the Conan universe was pretty impressive...and I found myself hopeful.

Then I finally got my hands on it. It started off a little slow, but I got my toon created and I started exploring. The character customization is staggering, and the game is simply beautiful to look at. I liked the idea of having more control over what your player does in combat. However...the honeymoon was soon over. I realize that as a brand new MMO, things will be a little rocky to start - thats normal. But between HUGE graphical glitches and in some places lag that made the game unplayable...I started to wonder if I'd made a mistake by pre-ordering and being among the first in.

For whatever reason, AoC would NEVER properly shut down for me. It didnt matter if I got DCed, or exited the game - every single freaking time it would create an error to send to MS and the AoC team. And, every single time I'd try to start the game again, I'd get an irritating message about how it didnt shut down properly last time, so now it needs to 'revalidate'...which took around 10 min each time ( I think once it was closer to 20 min though).

Aside from graphical/gameplay issues, I found another serious problem: other players. Granted theres always jerks online, but with this being an M rated game, I was hoping all the horny 15 year olds would get left out this time. I was sadly mistaken. It seemed like every time I popped into the daytime side of the game (to sum up, "day" is when you kill monsters and level up and get XP. "night" is when you work on single player goals, like quests for your type of character) chat was full of comments about 'boobs" "chesticles" "bewbies" etc etc etc. Yes, if you have a female toon, taking her top off does leave you...well....topless. I was having one of my graphical glitches when I found that out and all my toons armor disappeared, but listening to a bunch of kids go on about boobs just was a huge turn off from the gameplay itself.

Oh, the final straw on this game for me was this last patch. After installing the patch, suddenly World of Warcraft, Oblivion and The Witcher would freeze up on me and I'd have to reboot my pc. After uninstalling AoC....suddenly no more lockups! Hmmmmmm. While it is possible it was something else, the timeframe really makes me think it was something in the last patch.

So, to sum up:
THE GOOD: Very deep character customization, more complex combat than usual for an MMO, M rated content, beautiful graphics, great music and sound effects, excellent overall ambience, all in the world of Conan!

THE BAD: People who shouldnt be allowed within 100 yeards of M rated content are on it, graphical bugs, serious lag spikes that make it impossible to move let alone fight, possible PC complications between programs/software issues.

I've cancelled my subscription for now, but I plan on keeping my software for a later date if some of those kinks get ironed out. I can live with some glitches, and lag is always a beast - but they need to look into software compatibility issues and get some way to check peoples age!

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Edit: while I admit that its *possible* theres an issue with my PC, I find it unlikely. I have more than enough memory, a decent graphics card...I dont download things or run anything in the background I don't have to. If my "average" gaming PC can't handle this (and I did try lowering the settings, though according to the box I should have been able to run it almost to its max setttings) without conflict, then theres still something wrong. Again, I have had no issues with other software since uninstalling this game. I really do hope they get those issues ironed out, because this game does have a lot of potential and I would LOVE to be able to play a mature MMO! But until then, I'd say a '5' for a game thats nearly unplayable is actually more generous than most people would have given it...

So the question remains...individually or bulk?

Well, despite our 'booming economy' I still cant find a job.

I've tried applying for everything I can find, not just paralegal jobs now. Not only does it look like my attempt to change careers was an utter failure, but I may have to go back to the profession I was so glad to leave. If they'll even take me back...

Even if I do get rehired back at what I was doing, background checks and the like can take months..and I'm out of time.

So the question remains: Do I list everything as one bulk lot? Divide it up by systems? List rarer titles by themselves? Can I even sell anything that would make enough of a difference to be worthwhile? From reading and looking around, I get the feeling I may not be alone in my financial quagmire, and doing a few spot checks on ebay prices for some of the higher-priced games has me even more depressed than the housing market. Gamespot has my collection valued at over $70,000....I think I'd commit murder for half that these days...it wouldnt pay off my student loans, but it would finish off the house and the one credit card I use and buy me a little more time...

edit: my sweetie just told me I'd get a kick in the pants if I tried to sell my stuff now (and have you seen what some games are going for on ebay right now? About a third of what some used to go for, can we say 'recession' anyone?), and theres a *possibility* I may get hired by a company thats interested in me in the next two weeks....so cross your fingers for me!!! However...just in case that doesnt happen....anyone know of any good collection software? I found one that lets you scan in your games by barcode - and thats NOT what I'm looking for. I'm looking for one that would let me upload my own picture and description, so if I ever do have to ebay it I could just link my own page to the ebay site - I dont think I could list nearly 1500 games pics descriptions and swag all on ebay without it costing a fortune just to list....

Pelican Adapter...

Well, Gamespot doesn't seem to have any way for us to review and rate hardware, so I guess this has to go in the blog...

Pelican has created an accessory for the Playstation 3 that is supposed to allow the use of PS2 controllers. Since I really wanted to put up my PS2 and clear some space, I thought that this would be a great lil investment that would let me play Guitar Hero on my PS3...

Guitar Hero 1 - works fine. I'm not convinced its perfect, but for us average GH players, I'd give it a solid 95% for use on this game.

Ah, but then theres GH2 and GH- rocks the 80s...

This test did not work nearly so well. Yes, I realize there is a switch for GH2 mode on the adapter. Yes, I tried it with and without the switch toggled to GH2. The results? Crash and burn. Even once you get past the goofy changes made to the menu interface (anytime it says use the green button to continue, you have to press the orange button and strum bar) the controls are so chaotic, so unpredictable its almost unplayable. You cant use star power at all from what I've tried, and I can't tell if the timing is just off enough to make you miss notes, or if it just randomly picks notes to press and release while you are trying to play.

There seems to be an issue with using just buttons for anything - normally pressing a note (without strumming) causes that key to light up on screen. Using the adapter here thats not the case - you cant see what you are pressing on screen till you hit the strum bar. DONT EVEN ATTEMPT HAMMER-ONS or PULL OFFS! Trust me on this one...

I have yet to test this with any of the PS2 steering wheels or dance mats or other controllers, but as far as the GH games go - DONT BUY unless you plan on just playing the first one.

nerf, and nerfed again - you wusses...

Ok, so, everyone's complaining about Lair. "It sucks" "the controls suck" etc etc.

I had waited for this game, for so long, I figured 'why not' and picked it up. For the first hour - I was frustrated. I couldnt do a 180, and I had NO idea what was up with the dragon-sidecrashing battle thing. I was about to take it back, when I realized more training had opened up. So, I fooled around more in the training screens. I fooled around with flying around the training rings (and found out there are critters to kill in the training menu screen, heh). Next thing I know, 2 more hours have gone by and I'm actually not having trouble with the controls anymore. People will respond with '3 hours to learn the controls??? yeah whatever thats too much'....maybe so, but then again how many PC gamers went nuts when MS released their last flight sim? Theres a book you can buy with that thing thats bigger than some phone books. Maybe its 'too real' for a fantasy game as far as most gamers are concerned...but getting a grip on the controls makes the game a LOT more enjoyable. I think Factor 5 actually did an excellent job using the sixaxis controller (and if rumors are true, putting it in at nearly the last minute).

Now, my one beef with that game: oh Factor 5, why oh why did you nerf it?

Once you get into the game, there are places where there should be violence, blood and gore....and there isnt. Theres a nifty move that *should* allow you to rip the head off of this armored Rhino. Instead...you rip the helmet off? Because, as we all know, losing a helmet is fatal to umm...Rhinos.. Theres another move that ought to be 'how to disembowel a great land beast with a harpoon and chain"...and instead is 'lets treat it like a walker from Star Wars', so you chain it, it trips falls and.....blows up? What the hell??? Its obvious those scenes were changed at the last minute - and thats what I really didnt enjoy. This game was supposed to have been M rated from the beginning - why the last minute change of heart?

Heavenly Sword: same issue. Its not quite so obvious that the blood and gore was removed...but again, this game was originally seen as 'goddess of war'....now suddenly its a much tamer game? "Princess of war" perhaps? Or maybe just "Lady-in -waiting of war"? I have to admit the controls are solid, but the game just feels nerfed..in addition to being short. Why?? In this case, thank god for rentals....I may pick it up eventually....after the price drop...

Do I think all games should include blood and gore, sex and violence, alcohol and drug references? Of course not, Tetris doesnt need an M rating, nor Monkey Island, nor Guitar Hero (maybe Accordian hero would..). But games like Heavenly Sword, where you are SLASHING and STABBING...yes. Games like Lair, where you are on a big honkin dragon, clawing and fireballing everything that moves (and able to eat human ground troops)...hell yes!!

I don't know if this was a knee-jerk reaction to the ratings board giving Manhunt 2 an AO rating (something previously meant for porn titles) for "excessive violence", or what exactly - but its depressing. Make the games as they were meant to be - dont wuss out at the last second because of 'political correctness'!

violence in videogames - under fire again?

 

*sigh*

We just can't win.  Anytime anything happens, it gets blamed on the violent videogames even if no connection whatsoever has been shown!

Take, for example, Virginia Tech.  I feel absolutely terrible for those kids.  But instead of looking for the source of the problem (like, oh say, mental illness and/or extreme bullying, and better handgun laws for the mentally ill), people are already pointing fingers at 'violent videogames'.

I'm still looking for the link, but the day after the shootings an article popped up, listing some of the contents of his room - no videogames or consoles were listed there at least, let alone any violent ones.

I did however, stumble across this article:

http://tech.monstersandcritics.com/ (I cant post the link in full because of some gamespot glitch, but this is the main site, and the rest of the link is features/article_1293778.php/Survey_rebuts_videogame_influence_in_real_violence so put the 2 together and you'll have the addy for the whole story).  you should also be able to do a search for the article on the main site.

Its a bit long, so I won't reproduce it all here, but there are some interesting bits to be found in there and I highly recommend it.

"In light of the recent horrific Virginia Tech massacre and the resulting knee-jerk condemnation of videogames as bearing responsibility for 23-year-old Cho Seung Hui's hatred-fuelled rampage, the British Board of Film ****fication (BBFC) has revealed that videogame fans believe that violent games are little more than "exhilarating" escapism.

While some of the survey's respondents admitted there was a likelihood of people "unhinged in some way" being pushed to breaking point by obsessive videogame play, in the main they maintained that videogame violence did not cause desensitisation when viewed in relationship to violent real-world events.

The BBFC survey of one of the entertainment industry's quickest growing - and massively profitable - sectors included interviews of gamers, parents, and industry figures concerning the possible effects of videogaming.

In terms of dangerously emergent gameplay consequences, one survey respondent commented: "I no more feel that I have scored a goal than I do that I have actually killed someone," regarding the possibility that gamers brought back violent tendencies from fantastical game worlds. "I know it's not real," the gamer added...................

Today's news on the Virginia Tech shootings reveals that Cho Seung Hui mailed a package to NBC News before embarking on the second deadly phase of his killing spree, which led to the killing of 30 people. According to NBC, the package contained disturbing photographs, video clips, and written statements by the crazed gunman, with the video footage seemingly carrying his apparent hatred toward the more monetarily comfortable of his Virginia Tech peers:

"You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfil your hedonistic needs. You had everything."
 
Cho went on to say: "You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenceless people."

Cho made absolutely no mention of videogames inspiring his actions."

 

 

news flash: hell just froze over. I'm defending Grand Theft Auto??

 

I've never been a huge fan of the GTA games.  I have them, and I usually manage to play them for about 30 min before I go 'meh' and pop in something else.  I figure I'll beat them eventually, if I ever get bored enough.  I like the concept behind the games - the 'sandbox' idea of go and do what you want - however the gameplay and story don't do a lot for me.

Despite not really caring for the games, I got rather miffed at a news article I stumbled across on Yahoo news:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070330/ap_on_bi_ge/take_two_shareholder_revolt_10

Stockholder and business news is one thing.  If (former) CEO's and such are fixing stock prices and padding their own pockets - thats bad business.  However, in this article (especially near the end) the line between the end product (the games) and business ethics just disappears.

 Financial analysts criticize Take-Two - as well as rivals such as Activision Inc., THQ Inc. and top-selling Electronic Arts Inc. - for relying too heavily on relatively uncreative sequels, sports games and bloodthirsty "first-person shooters." While so-called hardcore games remain popular with teens and young men, new online genres - trivia quizzes, word games and multiplayer role-playing games - are catching on with women, older players and millions of mobile phone users.

Uncreative sequels and sports games?  Well, if people shell out the money for it, what can ya do?  I'm more of an Okami/Ico/Fear Effect sort of gal, so I really don't get that bit - but I do know people who swear by their latest football game as if it were the 2nd coming.  Is it wrong?  I figure not, since people like what they like, and everyone's entitled to their opinion.  However, my opinion is that Madden shouldnt outsell Psychonauts by like 30-to-1 or whatever that crazy number was.  But it does.  So, if its selling, why are financial analysts pitching a fit?  "Bloodthirsty FPS"?  Sure, some of them are.  But not all. And anyone remember games like 'Rise of the Triad'?  chunky bits and eyeballs if you got a good explosion off?  What about BLOOD?  You could kick heads around like soccer balls, and the dark humor in that game...well...you'll never look at a mime the same way again.  Blood in videogames isnt anything new, and just because someone plays something with blood and gore in it doesnt immediately make someone a 'hardcore' gamer.  And as for women playing videogames - get out from under the rock people.  Women have been playing games from the beginning.  I know...I was there.  I grew up with videogames starting in the early 70s, and so have many of my (female) friends and coworkers.  I know more women who game than women who don't.  Why the industry continues to portray us as non-gamers or a gamer who only plays games like 'The Sims' or 'Barbie adventure' I don't know.  Maybe because the media doesnt want guys to consider that the player who just headshotted and corpse-humped them in Halo was actually a woman, who knows.

Child advocacy groups and legislators are Take-Two's biggest foes, complaining that the company produces the industry's most violent, mean-spirited games. In "Grand Theft Auto," players shoot pedestrians and police with reckless abandon. Another hit is "Bully," about a slingshot-wielding 15-year-old at Bullworth Academy boarding school, whose motto is "Canis Canem Edit," Latin for "dog eat dog."

Lets think about this for a moment.  "child advocacy".  Well, first of all, how many 'children' do I know who just have enough cash lying around to buy a $50 game?  Well, I cant think of any offhand, but maybe thats because I dont know any 10-year olds with a job to make that kind of money.  Or a car to go buy the game for that matter.  Hmmm...I WONDER where they could possibly be getting these games from?  I dont recall ever seeing any free copies come out of a cereal box.  Oh well, children aside for the moment, I wonder if the author of this article ever actually PLAYED GTA or Bully.  I'm betting he didnt.  In GTA, which does have an M rating, you can CHOOSE to kill police and bystanders....but you dont have to.  Bully actually only has a Teen rating. No guns, you dont kill people.  It actually ISNT the 'Columbine Simulator' that the (conservative) media claimed.

"New York-based Take-Two is best known for a version of "Grand Theft Auto" that included a hidden, lewd scene that sparked a 2005 congressional uproar. Programmers at many game publishers hide bonus material or tricks that players may unlock with special codes. "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" had a modification distributed online known as "Hot Coffee," which allowed players to download modifications to reveal oral sex scenes. The House voted 355-21 to pass a resolution asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Take-Two and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Best Buy Co. and Circuit City Stores Inc. pulled the game, which was the top seller of 2004. Take Two initially said the scenes were not part of the retail version of the game but were created by third parties. Later, the company acknowledged the scenes were contained in its version. James Steyer, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based multimedia ratings group Common Sense Media Inc., said the unceremonious ouster is long overdue. "If you look at the content of what these guys have distributed, it's so offensive and inappropriate. It's not surprising to learn they had committed massive acts of fraud at the board and CEO level," said Steyer, whose nonprofit rates video games and other content for violence and other factors. "The chickens have come home to roost for this company - and I say good riddance to these guys." Video game industry analyst Tom Gardner, CEO of Alexandria, Va.-based investment company The Motley Fool, praised the revolt. "Sometimes institutions play football with small public companies, and they can inflict a lot of damage if companies don't have a large enough ownership stake to protect against institutions that squeeze out profits in the near term," Gardner said. "But in this case, the institutions look quite good: You have backdated options, hidden porn, accounting issues and mismanagement. You have management that was at best incompetent and at worst dishonest.""

This bit pulls it all together.  What the game designers do or don't do has very little to do with the CEOs of the company.  i'd bet that the game designers and level designers and graphic artists never even saw the CEOs, let alone plotted and schemed with them to get parents to buy these games for their kids.  Yes, 'hot coffee' was going to be part of the game, and it got cut at some point during the games production.  The code to activate the little sex minigames was removed so that it could not be accessed.  So....someone with hacking knowledge found it and helped design 'codes' that would let those sections be playable.  Never mind that the minigames are from a point early on and are so poorly constructed that if you do use a gameshark or similar to access the 'secret content' theres a VERY good chance you'll crash your game (it crashed every time I tried it anyway).  On every cheat code site I've come across, they warn people to save their games before they attempt the minigame cheat, because their game will probably crash.  Does THAT sound like a deliberate 'easter egg' that was meant to be found?  And yes, I've watched the minigame scenes - and you know what?  It was about on par with the sex scenes from an R rated movie.  It was NOWHERE close to the hardcore porn people were claiming it was. 

I'm not against booting the CEOs and people who were hurting the company - what I am against is the way this article tries to blur the line between corrupt business and 'corrupt' games.  I do not believe the two are linked in any way, shape or form (at least not in this case).  I am all in favor of Take Two/Rockstar putting in as much freedom (even freedom to go on a shooting spree or pick up hookers) into a game as they can.  I believe it is a freedom of expression, and even if I dont particularly care for the game itself, I still think they have the right to create what they please.

So, those of you who are buying your kids just whatever without bothering to read the back of the frickin box:  stop complaining and start paying attention.  If you arent paying attention to what your kids are watching/reading/playing, and you havent ever bothered to explain the difference between real and fantasy to them then YOU are more part of the problem than anything else could ever be.  I don't want to have to be restricted to games like pac-man and solitaire because morons are having children and arent paying attention to the games and movies that are being used to babysit them.  I love my Resident Evil, Dead Rising, DOOM, Duke Nukem, BLOOD, Silent Hill, God of War, Elder Scrolls, Metal Gear Solid....and I sure as hell don't want to give them up for a bunch of future Darwin Award winners. :p

To sell, or not to sell?

I had someone ask me an odd question the other day:  Would I ever consider selling my 1000+ game collection?

Normally, my answer would have been a flat-out "Hell, no!"..I wouldnt even have to think about it!  But for some strange reason, I actually considered the question first, and then answered with a flat-out "maybe..."  I tried to picture myself without them, playing ROMs on my PC instead (something I have previously always ruled out) and again caught myself saying 'well, maybe'...

Afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder if I were losing my mind (more so than usual), and decided to put off any serious thoughts concerning that until after my life settled down a bit.  I'm actually quitting my job and returning to school, so maybe its just having pre-major-life-change, pre-no-steady-income, pre-school jitters...so don't PM me with offers for games just yet ok? :)

Choices, choices...

So, I am officially starting school at the end of May. 

What does this mean?  Well, no job for starters -at least not until I get into the school groove again.  And that means....NO GAMES *gasp*.

So, I'm thinking about picking up something like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars or FFXI or something to tide me through my gaming famine...but I don't know which one.

Guild Wars and WoW look the most appealing...but honestly I'm having a tough time trying to figure out what the gameplay on each is like, and how they differ from each other.  I've popped over to their websites, looked at screenshots, read the reviews and FAQs - but I still cant honestly say that I've got a clue as to which one I'd like best.  I'm hoping that one of them is more action-rpgish than the others, but it sounds like they play like KOTOR at best (not that KOTOR was bad, I think I'd just like a little more control, or what feels like more control). 

Silent Hill on the Silver Screen...

I was hyped.  I was stoked. The trailer for the Silent Hill movie looked soooooo good...but would it be:

1) true to the games?

2) A good horror movie?

Well, after 15 minutes into the movie, I decided that the answers to those questions was a solid YES! :)

Let's face it, the horror movies of the past year or so have sucked.  The Ring, The Grudge, The Ring Two, The Village...if theres been a good horror movie in the past year that wasn't a remake, I can't think of it. :(  And the ones that had the budget to be good - were all PG-13! Blasphemy I say! 

Silent Hill just made me feel a lot better about the future of horror movies.  Not only was it actually rated R *gasps* - the gore, the scares, the violence were all perfectly balanced.  And what's better, it all fit in perfectly with the story as told by the SH games.  The movie pulls mostly from the first and second SH games (setting and creature-wise that is, you won't find James or his dead wife here), although I'm pretty sure there were a few cameos from the third and fourth installations as well.  Some changes were made to the story though:  "Harry" the father is now "Rose" the mother, the little girl is now named "Sharon" instead of "Cheryl". 

The settings, the visual effects, the creatures were unbelievably good - probably the best effects I've seen in a horror movie. The trasnsition from 'light' to 'dark' SH was almost beautiful, if anything in a horror movie can be called that. The music - for the most part I can't even recall it, but what I do remember fit pretty well.  Sound effects also were spot-on, ranging from Sirens to blood pattering on the floor - incredibly well done.  Some critics complained about the acting, but personally I thought it was fine.  Directing...ah, I swear whoever directed this film MUST have played the games.  The camera angles shown when our heroine first discovers the dark side of SH are almost identical to those from the original SH game when Harry makes the same discovery...and those of you who played the first SH will know EXACTLY what I'm talking about when you see it. :twisted: 

I felt that the movies only real weak point was the ending.  It was a little off from the rest of the movie, though I think they did what they did to set it up for a sequel.  It wasn't a BAD ending exactly, I just wish they hadn't left it where they did.

For those who havent played the games - I say go see it anyway because its still a good horror flick. We all enjoyed the movie - 4 of us went to see it last night, and 2 of us had played the games and 2 hadnt.  Hell, if other friends of mine want to go see it, I'll go see it again.  Even so, I know I'll be getting the DVD when it becomes available. :)

For those who have played the game, I've got 2 additional words for you:  Pyramid Head. :)  Just a cameo really, but what a cameo! :twisted:

I will add a PS on to this:  This movie is a lot like the games, gore and disturbing moments are why its rated R.  So why some douchebag would bring his kids (who couldnt have been more than 6 years old) to see this is beyond me.  Yes friends and neighbors, there were at least 3 kids under the age of 10 at the showing I went to.  Now, people can scream about censoring videogames because its 'bad for the children' until they are blue in the face, but they won't get any respect from me til they tackle ****ers like this first.  Kids that young should NOT be in movies that are rated R - I dont care if its Silent Hill or the Passion - some kids are too young for that sort of thing, I don't care how mature for their age they are!  Had they been 14, 13, even 12 I wouldn't be complaining like this, but age 6?!?!? Thats got to be like child abuse or something. :(

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