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infect999 Blog

Closure

It's been quite awhile since I've made a blog post. I more or less have stopped blogging, but recently I've had a nagging feeling that I should have a final word and bring this blog to an official close.

It's been nearly two years since I joined GameSpot and started this blog. I've made lots of friends over the course of these two years, and was getting more and more involved with the GameSpot community. But somewhere after the beginning of GiantBomb, the blog started falling apart, and I became less and less involved. Not that I ever got into Giant Bomb (I haven't logged in there in quite awhile). I think it was more about the familiar faces I knew from shows like On the Spot, Tournament TV, and even simple video reviews slowly fading away, leaving a staff nearly completely comprised of unfamiliar faces, people that, despite their efforts, could not save the GameSpot I knew and loved, and just couldn't stack up to the standard set by their predecessors. Some of the guys from the past remain, specifically Justin Calvert and KVO, but they alone simply serve as a reminder of what GameSpot used to be.

In other words, I've lost interest in being deeply involved in the GameSpot community. And with that, this blog has met it's end. It's not that I'm leaving the site entirely, though. I have been consistently checking news and reviews, and you'll probably find me posting my personal opinions in the comments. I'll still be checking out the forums once in awhile, and maybe I'll comment on a blog or two sometime. I'll be around, just not always actively participating.

Thanks to all of my friends and all those who've commented, read my blog, or even simply glanced at my profile, and thanks to all those who have helped improve the quality of my GameSpot experience. Maybe someday I'll return to blogging, but until then, goodbye and God bless.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Demon Hunter - The Tide Began To Rise

New Music Reviewed: Innerpartysystem's "Innerpartysystem"

Artwork:

Genre(s):
Industrial
Electronica
Dance

Track Listing:
1. "Die Tonight Live Forever" - 4:41
2. "Last Night In Brooklyn" - 4:21
3. "Don't Stop" - 4:19
4. "Structure" - 3:58
5. "Everyone Is The Same" - 3:51
6. "Obsession" - 4:20
7. "This Empty Love" - 4:49
8. "New Poetry" - 4:02
9. "This Town, Your Grave" - 4:55
10. "Heart Of Fire" - 4:20
11. "What We Will Never Know" - 4:15
12. "Home" (hidden track) - 2:54

Length:
51:11

Released:
September 29, 2008 (UK)
Setpember 30, 2008 (US)

The Review:
My knowledge of this band was based on a stroke of luck. One day a few months ago, I received a rock newsletter email from Island/Def Jam. I rarely bother to read these, since Island's lineup can be summed up as a mountain of crap, save a few decent bands. But something caught my eye: they stated something about a new music video for a song by some band called Innerpartysystem, and that your ears will bleed. Naturally, I had to see this. I watched the video and listened to the song, and I was...amazed. I became an instant fan. This album surprisingly became one of my most anticipated of the year; a debut for a no-name band. But this band is something incredible.

It's hard to confine Innerpartysystem to a specific subgenre, since they gather inspiration from everywhere. You can hear the grinding heaviness and intricacy of an industrial act like Nine Inch Nails, the sampling and synth of electronica or techno, and rhythms like that of dance that make you want to move. The vocals, similarily, gather inspiration from multiple genres, at times clean like pop, dance, and sometimes emo, masked electronically like techno or industrial, or even rough and gritty like hard rock or metal.

What's more amazing is that the band manages to pull all of this together while retaining an organic sound, a sound that most anyone could enjoy, fans of pop or rock. Everything just blends seamlessly. It's difficult to describe the sound; it's something that needs to be heard to understand.

So, we've established that the band has pulled off a sound that is fantastic and unique, but how well do they execute it? Quite well, given that they are a young band, but the album still suffers from a few flaws.

Many of the tracks, such as "Structure" and "Everyone Is The Same" lean more towards the dance side of things. This isn't the problem; the tracks still retain the other properties that make the sound so great. The problem with these tracks is they, and they alone, just sound too much alike. Sure, there's noticeably differences, but you can't help but feel that these tracks are all-too similar, and that hurts them. It's also in these tracks that the band's writing is the weakest. In the end these tracks end up feeling close to filler, and average to slightly-better-than-average.

The band almost makes up for it with incredible design in its other tracks. The opening track, "Die Tonight Live Forever", is a prime example of the mix for everone. It's clean and bouncy enough for the dance and pop listeners, while gritty and pounding enough for the rock listeners. "This Empty Love" is a quieter piece that features intricate sampling and sound design that make it feel like it almost came straight out of a Nine Inch Nails album, which is quite an achievement. If you've played Madden '09, you've probably heard the band's lead single (and song that got me hooked) "Don't Stop", one of the faster-paced, rockier songs on the album, and definitely one of the best. It's catchy, fun, and an incredibly well-crafted too.

Sadly, all these amazing songs create the second major flaw: the band neglects their strengths in many of the songs. The band is at it's best when they're fast and full of energy, but they just seem to want to slow down, and that's when they write their weaker songs mentioned before. It's really depressing to see them regress at points within the album. One minor flaw is that the bands lyricism isn't as amazing as their songwriting, but it's still passable. Most songs are about love and love lost, but break the mold enough to escape being standard-issue. What's nice is when they change focus to other, more cryptic messages.

Despite it's flaws, this is an album you should definitely give a listen if you're a fan of pop, dance, rock, or industrial. Innerpartysystem has created a unique sound for themselves, and shown that it has great potential. It's an incredible achievement for a debut album. I have a feeling Innerpartysystem is going to be massive.

Score:
8.5/10

Top Tracks:
"Die Tonight Live Forever", "Don't Stop", "This Empty Love", "This Town, Your Grave", "Heart Of Fire"

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Innerpartysystem - Don't Stop

Two Months Later

Long time no see guys.

I haven't bothered to update this in a long time. Quite a bit has been going on in my life lately, and its been difficult to find time for this site. God has been good to me, and he's been working in my life a lot in the last two months. I took a huge step forward in my relationship with Him at camp last August, and a lot has happened since. At the current time, I have left my school's football program and I find myself learning how to play bass so I can play on my youth group's worship team. God has also blessed me with the opprotunity to get a great deal for a good bass plus a practice amp and tuner.

I've recovered from my surgery and everything is in working order, but I went and got myself a concussion during football practice about three-and-a-half weeks ago. I missed a couple days of school thanks to nasty headaches, but I'm doing a lot better now, and I'll be able to get cleared as long as I make it through today without getting any headaches (I have to go 72 hours without meds without getting a headache). Then I can stop being bored in gym class.

Also in the recent weeks, I've found myself gaming a lot less, almost completely bored with the activity. Part of it is the wait for the big new titles on their way, but I've just been bored ever since I quit WoW. Not that WoW was exciting, part of the reason I quit was because I was bored, but I just haven't been playing much since. I don't have a reason to be as hardcore as I used to be.

Despite this, I have had some gaming activity. My friend and I completed Halo 3 on Legendary, and I know hate the game's single player with all my heart and soul. It's one of the worst gaming experiences I've ever had. Thanks to downtime with my concussion, I decided to plow through GRAW2 in a single day, since I hadn't touched it since basically the day after I got my 360. It was a solid game, with a few minor issues, but I was kind of depressed that the whole game ended up being the same thing as the first act of Call of Duty 4. It makes me worried that we'll end up replacing WWII shooters with games set in modern times involving third-world nations in desert locations in the process of civil war with a nuclear threat tossed in for good measure. I also purchased Geometry Wars 2, which is fun, and Halo 2, which has better multiplayer than Halo 3 imo. I also intend to purchase Dead Space for my 360 this month, assuming i have the $$.

Also, I had promised quite a few music reviews, and I haven't gotten to listening to most of the albums I intended to review, nor do I have the time to write full reviews for all of them. So here's some brief reviews for a few new albums you might care about:

"All Hope Is Gone" by Slipknot
It's a solid effort from the band, though it doesn't really try anything new. It boasts the band's cl@ssic intensity, plus some of the creativity found in Volume 3, and some much better guitar parts, and manages to not sound the same as it's predecessor. "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses" is still the band's best, though, while "All Hope Is Gone" somehow manages to sound like neither progression nor regression.

SCORE: 8.5/10
TOP TRACKS: "Gematria (The Killing Name)", "Sulfur", "All Hope Is Gone"

"Death Magnetic" by Metallica
Post black album, Metallica gave into greed and popularity, and stopped making music that didn't suck. It's as simple as that. While "St. Anger" was definitely an improvement, it still had major flaws that held it back from being a revitalization of the band. Metallica promised with "Death Magnetic" (lame title, by the way, but the cover art isn't half bad) that they'd return to their old ways of thrash. And they delivered. "Death Magnetic" is a satisfying album that sounds like it could've fit in their catalog back in the '80s. Worth a look.

SCORE: 9.0/10
TOP TRACKS: "That Was Just Your Life", "The Day That Never Comes", "All Nightmare Long", "My Apocalypse"

"Scars On Broadway" by Scars On Broadway
System of a Down guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan started this band as a side project for System's off-time. It features the quirky lyrics and songwriting you'd expect from Daron, but the band also takes a shift from a metal focus to more hard rock. What we end up with is an interesting album that SOAD fans would do well to check out, but may not appeal to most others.

SCORE: 7.0/10
TOP TRACKS: "Stoner-Hate", "Kill Each Other/Live Forever", "They Say"

That's all for today. Hopefully I'll be posting more often again. Thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Metallica - The Day That Never Comes

New Music Reviewed: Opeth's "Watershed"

Artwork:

Genre(s):
Scandinavian Metal
Progressive Metal
Black Metal

Track Listing:
1. "Coil" - 3:10
2. "Heir Apparent" - 8:50
3. "The Lotus Eater" - 8:50
4. "Burden" - 7:41
5. "Porcelain Heart" - 8:00
6. "Hessian Peel" - 11:25
7. "Hex Omega" - 7:00

Length:
55:00

Released:
May 30, 2008 (EU)
June 2, 2008 (UK)
June 3, 2008 (US)

The Review:
I had intended to review this album several weeks ago, but never got to it in wake of other events, and eventually I just kept putting it off to do other things. I really wish I hadn't. Opeth's ninth album, Watershed, is about as good as music gets. To be honest, I never really listened to Opeth prior to learning of this album, since it can be hard to find good bands in the genre without people telling you about them beforehand. Going into this, I had little to no knowledge of the band, but I did expect a black metal epic.

Instead, I was met with a constant shift between shredding guitars and soft acoustic movements, sometimes harmonized by an orchestra or piano, and surprisingly delicate vocals. In fact, the band rarely turns to growls, with only three songs featuring them, one of which consists of only them ("Heir Apparent"). But these two entirely opposite sounds create for some incredible songwriting from Mikael Akerfeldt. The songs twist within themselves as the mood constantly changes. Beautiful instrumental parts drive the songs, and come together to give the album an atmospherical effect unlike any other. "Porcelain Heart" is an outstanding example, featuring instrumental sections with grinding guitars and vocal sections backed by mere piano and soft singing, shifting between the two concepts continually throughout the song.

Akerfeldt's singing vocals are hard to describe outside of saying they're "simply amazing". Definitely one of the more talented vocalists in the genre, the emotion from his vocals empowers the unique atmosphere, and takes it to new levels. Especially effective are his constant shifts from ear-piercing high notes to the deep, low, demonic growls in "The Lotus Eater". And he isn't just singing a bunch of jumbled up words either; this album sports outstanding lyrics (which tends to be a norm for the genre). Meanings may not be found without some digging thanks to metaphors and symbolism, but it shows the writer's outstanding work with poetry.

I'm at a loss for words for this album, so I'll sum it up here: This is a powerful display of outstanding songwriting, talent, and skill, and just and incredible display of how to make a fantastic album. This album goes places few have dared to go and shows us that it's a journey worth taken. So far, this is the best album of 2008. I don't care who you are, you need to listen to Watershed.

SCORE: 10/10

TOP TRACKS: "The Lotus Eater", "Porcelain Heart", "Hessian Peel"

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: For being the most calming metal album I have ever heard

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Opeth - Porcelain Heart

Boom.

The bomb blew up. My username is infect999. Add me.

I will continue to post this blog on this site as well as giantbomb for the time being.

-infect999

Music, Galaga, and the Virtual Army Experience

E3 was everything from exciting to enlightening to depressing this year. It did it's job for though, which is to get my extremely hyped for games coming out soon. My hype for Dead Space has especially grown, to the point where I've decided to purchase it when it hits store shelves and hope for Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead for Christmas. While I enjoyed my time with E3, it seems that everyone who was actually there didn't, to the point where they're saying E3 has to either shape up next year or just stop. I don't really blame them, either. It's not the super-exciting giant extravaganza it used to be. Hopefully this isn't the end of E3.

I missed Tuesday's coverage of E3 for my church's annual youth trip to Six Flags Great America. We were especially excited to go on the new coaster that replaced the ill-fated Deja Vu (the only coaster in the park I never got to ride, thanks to it being constantly closed for fixing), The Dark Knight. Obviously, it's based on the movie. We got lucky and only had to wait 30 minutes for the ride (the normal wait is 2 hours), but the ride was hardly worth that short of a wait. Instead of the midwest's version of Space Mountain, we got a minicoaster who's only differentiating points were that it was indoors, in the dark, had some over-the-top scenery, and a video you watch beforehand that ends up being little more than a complete waste of time, and the reason the line went so slowly. It wasn't a bad ride, just underwhelming.

There were some other interesting occurances while we were there as well. There was an eventful wait in line for Superman: Ultimate Flight, in which one of our group members fainted due to heat after waiting for at least an hour. Then the ride broke down and another 30 minutes were wasted while they fixed the problem. Also, the America's Army Virtual Army Experience just happened to be there for the week, so me, a friend, and my youth pastor decided to give it a shot.

There's a long registration process, but once you get in, it's pretty cool. You're assigned to a squad, then you are briefed about your mission and the rules of engagement (ROE). Then you head into a big tent where they have different humvees and blackhawks, each with a squad name labeled on them. You hop into your vehicle, pick a weapon, then shoot enemies/explosive barrels/propane tanks/animal carcasses. The only problem with our experience was that we got stuck with the humvee that wasn't working properly. When you're in a working vehicle, the guns have tons of kick and apparently spray gas in your face, and if an IED goes off, the whole thing shakes. Our squad got ripped off of an outstanding experience, but it was still pretty fun. Plus we get free ID cards and dog tags, and don't have to go through registration again if we find another VAE. (Our squad also did the worst job of all, probably mostly because my youth pastor couldn't tell if his gun was working or not. And I shot a friendly tank. A lot.)

Anyway, I've been pretty hyped for The Dark Knight, but I was forced to put off seeing it until tomorrow night, thanks to a camping trip. So I made the most of the weekend, and spent most of my time in the camp's arcade. I beat their Speed Racer game (it's pretty fun), but my proudest moment was getting the high score on Galaga. It took $2.25 worth of continues, but it was a blast (I got to stage 40+).

There's a ton of new albums coming out, and several that I have yet to listen to that have been out for quite some time, so my next few posts will most likely be music reviews. Here's what I've got in store so far for reviewing:

-Theory of a Deadman's "Theory of a Deadman"
-Saving Abel's "Saving Abel"
-Whatever Metallica is calling their new album
-Guns N Roses' "Chinese Democracy"
-Staind's "Illusion of Progress" (I'm a bit worried about that one)
-Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone" (Have it preordered on iTunes)
-Opeth's "Watershed"

And plenty more. So unless something big happens, I'll probably be writing music reviews for a few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Slipknot - All Hope Is Gone

Nintendo and Sony E3 Press Conference Impressions

I was going to do a seperate blog, but there was about 10 minutes left before the Sony conference was to begin by the time GameSpot had revitalized the blogs, so I fused the two conference impressions into one. Also, where are my friggin' emblems for the Microsoft and Nintendo conferences guys???

NINTENDO:

I had big expectations for Nintendo this year. Last year's stage show was more a "Ha ha! We outsold everyone!" celebration, with little in the way of games and features. In fact, the only thing of interest they showed us was Wii Fit, which was decidedly unremarkable anyway. I figured Nintendo couldn't do worse that last year, but I underestimated Nintendo's inability to pull their head out of their you-know-what and give us something worth getting excited over.

Throughout the show we were constantly reminded of Nintendo's appeal to a broad audience, and how close they are to having the Wii as the bestselling console ever, but we weren't shown any games that demonstrated why they appeal to so many people. What's more frustrating is when they announced the first title that got me excited (Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars), it was a brief mention, and no details whatsoever were provided.

About 15 minutes in, Nintendo finally decided it was time to tell us about a game they believe is groundbreaking, the latest in the Animal Crossing series for the Wii. What I saw was a child-oriented pseudo-MMO. Nintendo obviously hasn't kept up to date with what has happened in the online gaming world for the past 10 years, as they believe their new title is fresh and revolutionary. Perhaps for a Nintendo console, it's a step forward, but everything this title seems to do has been done before on every other platform, and presumably better. With the game, you get a new microphone peripheral that you place on your TV. Then everyone in the same room as you can communicate online. It's a good idea, but it has too many flaws, the most noticable one of which is the fact that it picks up everyone in the room, and you may not always want that to happen.

Instead of complaining about Nintendo's inability to shut up and let the games do the talking for the rest of this blog, I'll just jump to the rest of the games.

Nintendo unveiled several new titles for the DS, almost all of which were also underwhelming. A sequel to Guitar Hero: On Tour will be arriving eventually (success is doubted). A new Pokemon Ranger game is on it's way. A stripped down version of the PC's Spore will hit the DS. It just wasn't exciting, until they announced the new GTA title, then ran away from as quickly as possible, as if they were afraid people would no longer think of them as family friendly fun and stop buying their platforms.

While the DS was decidedly lacking, the Wii did have a couple new interesting ideas unveiled amongst it's ocean of crap. The most intriguing of which is an add-on to the wiimote that makes the motion sensory a lot more sensitive, to the point where it notices subtle wrist motion and knows where your hand is in front of your body. Leave it to Nintendo to not put such a technical marvel to good use and instead giving us WiiSports Resort, a collection of beach minigames that include tossing a frisbee to a virtual Mii dog or stripped-down jet skiing. A sword-fighting minigame included in the collection did look quite entertaining though.

Nintendo also unveiled a new game called WiiMusic. This was the most exciting thing for me at their conference. It's a surprisingly realistic take on playing music in a game, with no button matching or guiding. You just place the wiimote and nunchuck where they need to be, and play the instrument. It features all sorts of instruments, ranging from trumpets to violins to guitars to various percussion. I found the use of the balance board as pedals for the virtual drumset quite interesting as well.

That was about all that Nintendo had to offer, sadly. Showings like this just don't cut it for me. I want to see more from you guys, Nintendo! Give me a reason to buy a Wii.

SONY:

Sony, on the other hand, brought a remarkable showcase to E308. They did go over some sales statistics, but they at least made it feel more relevant than the other two. Their business agenda was even more interesting, thanks to the use of a LittleBigPlanet level.

Most importantly, Sony delivered in bringing us news of tons of new features and games coming to the PS2, PSP, and PS3. The opening demo of Resistance 2 was outstanding and exciting, though it looked graphically incomplete (Insomniac has time to fix that issue). Sony also proclaimed their continued support for the PS2, announcing that over 130 new games would come to the platform this year.

The PSP is also receiving a few bonuses, such as a new entertainment pack, more connectivity with the PS3 (more on that later), and of course, plenty of new games, the most notable of which is a Resistance spinoff, presumably taking place between the first and second PS3 titles. The graphics were impressive, and hopefully it uses a control scheme that works for a PSP shooter.

Each platform had it's own montage of upcoming releases, but the PS3 had plenty of in-depth looks at upcoming titles. Notable title's include Sucker Punch's Infamous, in which a man who survives a massive explosion gains supernatural powers. It takes place in an open environment as well, so that should be interesting. There was a look at an upcoming MMO entitled DC Universe Online, in which you fight alongside heroes like Batman and Superman with your own hero, or create a villain and fight against them. I want to be excited for this one, but I can't help but think of it as a City of Heroes/Villains ripoff with licensed characters.

Of course, one of the things I was looking for is how Sony would respond to the loss of Final Fantasy XIII as an exclusive, and it came in multiple forms. More in response to the 360's impending price cut/60GB model, Sony has cut the price of the 80GB model to $400, cutting down Microsoft's argument. A new feature for the PlayStation Network (available tonight, too) was introduced that provides a movie rental and download store. What makes it more interesting is it's functionality with the PSP, in which you can upload the movies onto the PSP, and use the TV-out feature to play them on a TV, or just watch them on the go.

Sony's biggest response was the announcements of God of War III, which was followed by a brief trailer, and Zipper's new IP MAG (Massive Action Game). MAG is especially interesting due to its unprecedented 256-player online multiplayer. Even the PC hasn't seen battles that size outside of the MMOFPS genre (i.e. PlanetSide). Massive Action Game indeed.

In short, Sony's presentation was intriguing and exciting, and offered us a lot of new info to chew on. Sony says 2008 will be the year of the Playstation 3. If it is, let's hope they don't get full of themselves like Nintendo and stop giving us showcases like this. A solid showing from Sony, and a nice response to Microsoft.

-infect999

Microsoft E3 Press Conference Impressions

I intended to post this right after the conference had ended, but unexpected delays surfaced thanks to GameSpot's outstanding tech department. Also, I was a bit late getting the stream for the show set up (once again, two thumbs up for GameSpot), so I don't have any details from the very beginning. I was able to catch some of the Fallout 3 footage from G4TV.com's live stream (though it was very choppy), and GameSpot's picked up in the middle of the RE5 footage.

The first half hour or so of the press conference was enjoyable and solid, and was one of the things I wanted to see from Microsoft. Gameplay demos from several big games were featured, including Fallout 3 and RE5 as mentioned above, as well as some single player footage from Gears of War 2 and a brief glimpse at Fable II. The footage has deepened my interest in each game. I liked RE5's use of "teamwork", for lack of a better word, and it could fuel some fun online co-op moments. Fallout 3 was especially exciting from what I saw of it, especially because you can shoot mini nuclear bombs from your shoulder. Fable II was quite interesting, since I was asleep or something when they announced the co-op elements in the game, which have me very excited, to say the least. And, of course, there's Gears 2. I wasn't impressed with the first one (see my review further down the page), but the footage I saw seemed to be a massive improvement over some of the original's single-player flaws. It looks less like moving from one big encounter to the next, and more like moving along the course and fighting small groups of enemies (2 or 3) constantly, keeping a solid pace and preventing dull moments. It also seems like you will be able to ride Brumaks in this game, which I hope is more fun than killing one.

At about 1pm (central), Microsoft made a big hiccup and left a sour taste in my mouth that would remain there for the rest of the conference. The MC walked on stage and began talking about the Xbox's success and diversity of gamers, and began showing not only sales comparison charts, but also images of "people playing the 360". These actions are something I like to call "Pulling a Nintendo", in reference to Nintendo's appalling press conference at last year's E3. It didn't help for the MC to also single out Sony, and proclaim to the masses that it will, indeed, outsell the PS3 again this year.

This attitude faded somewhat as the show continued, but was not entirely disposed of. The spotlight was passed to another man, who began to talk about new Xbox Live features (not to mention brag about it's success in not only the gaming market, but also the mass entertainment and media market). My attention was reclaimed as soon as they showed their first new feature: a completely reimagined, reinvented 360 dashboard. It was slick and polished, though it was all too similar to the PS3/PSP's. With the new dashboard came new Xbox Live features. A new Community section allows you to create a personal avatar, and it resembled a cross of Miis and Sony's Home avatars. A new friends list also implements these avatars, and instead of looking at names, you'll see your friends' characters as well. This feature gave me mixed reactions, as while it's an exciting addition to the Xbox Live interface, it's also a ripoff of what Sony and Nintendo have been doing. Microsoft does seem to be putting them to good use in forms other than just in-game presence.

Xbox Live's second new feature is XBL Primetime. In it, you basically play along in game shows. It sounded really lame at first, but it turned into something more when they showed off the first game show to be implemented, 1 vs 100. Represented by your community avatar, you can enter the game as either the contestant, one of the 100, or an audience member just playing along. This changed the feature for me from a gimmick to something truly exciting. Also, they're giving out real prizes to the winners, which creates more interest, but also invokes problems for minors such as me, since we may not be able to compete.

A few new XBLA games were announced as well. Geometry Wars junkies will be excited for its first true sequel, but I am more interested in the last three titles announced, Portal: Still Alive, Galaga's first true sequel, and an unnamed South Park game. The Galaga title looks particulary interesting thanks to the hordes of enemies, and the fact that it's being developed by the team behind Pac-Man: Championship Edition.

From this point, they started showing off companies with multiple titles in works for the platform. Rare's crop was lacking, though Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is definitely a huge deal. The Guitar Hero update had some interesting news, but was underwhelming thanks to my hatred for Activision, and it's corruption of the franchise. I was particularily interested in their promise of the inclusion of Metallica's new album in its entirety to Guitar Hero III as well as Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Karaoke game "Lips" was uninteresting, until they said you could use your own songs. This is a huge jump for Karaoke games, because now you can sing along to your favorite grindcore and death metal bands, as well as opera, or any other music genre considered an absurd choice for a karaoke title. Thanks, also, to GameSpot for sparing us the displeasure of hearing Duffy sing. Master Chief's dance was also very entertaining. Rock Band 2 was also packing heat, thanks to the promises of full compatibility with previous Rock Band tracks, as well as the inclusion of AC/DC tracks and the debut of Guns n Roses' new song from the long-awaited new album Chinese Democracy.

The biggest news came from SquareEnix. They went over their big releases for the 360, including Infinite Undiscover, the new Star Ocean title, and The Last Remnant. All look like solid RPGs heading Microsoft's way. I'm guessing you've heard about the next part already if you didn't watch, but as the MC was giving his closing (and bragging, of course), our friend from SquareEnix came out and gave us a trailer for Final Fantasy XIII. This is a massive hit for Sony, as they were already in short supply of AAA exclusives to help sell their platform, and an exciting opprotunity for 360 owners who don't have a PS3 but wanted to experience FFXIII as well.

In short, it was a solid showcase from Microsoft, including plenty of big games and great new features for their console. I just really wish they had refrained from spilling out their self-centered, prideful BS in the middle of the conference. When I watch one of these conferences, I want to see games, content, peripherals, and features, not an in-depth look at how much they're pounding the competition. I'm excited for tomorrow, so I can see how Sony retaliates, and to see if Nintendo can do better than last year.

A solid start to an important E3.

-infect999

NOTE: Though they weren't featured in the press conference, Bungie is definitely up to something. Head on over to www.bungie.net to see what I mean.

I Miss the Morphine

Wednesday was a lot of firsts for me. My first IV. My first surgery. My first time getting high.

It was all an interesting experience. One of the anesthesiologists was a gamer, so we had a brief conversation about games like World of Warcraft and Age of Conan before I crashed. He of course lied to me and said we'd talk more after the surgery. When I woke up, a nurse asked me about how much pain I felt and such, and then they gave me some morphine. This is where the fun began.

As bad as I feel about saying this, being on morphine was one of the greatest experiences I ever had, and it helps you understand a little more about why people destroy their lives to get high. I'm not going to ruin my life to get my hands on more morphine, but it felt great while I was on it. I was happy, the pain didn't bother me, everything was great. Now that the drugs have worn off, I'm not in such a great mood. I have to take two different painkillers and an antibiotic several times a day, and they don't really help much. I have to ice the cut every so often. I had to remove the bandage on the cut yesterday, which was a painful experience in its own right. It's almost enough to make me envy my friend who was prescribed morphine after his surgery.

So while I'm missing my high, I've been playing more on my freshly repaired Xbox 360. The 360 is finally quiet like it's supposed to be, and it seems to be running games better too. For example, some matches on Halo 3 had blood and some didn't before the repairs. Now, they all do. Yay!

Yesterday, I went to Family Video to pick up a couple games and movies. If you've looked at my gamertag being displayed on the page here, you may have realized that the games I rented were Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm and Battlefield: Bad Company. Deadliest Catch is surprisingly deep, but has bland graphics and some minor bugs. It's more of a boat management sim than anything, so a lot of people might get turned off by it's slow pacing. Bad Company, on the other hand, its surprisingly good. It's fast, fun, and you can blow up almost anything. The destructible environments carry over to the multiplayer quite well, allowing you to blow enemies out of cover inside a building rather than going in after them. Wall in your way? Instead of going around it, blow a hole through it! I also rented Pan's Labyrinth and American Gangster, but I haven't watched either yet.

That's about all I've got to go over for now. Thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Green Day - Welcome to Paradise

What I Learned In Massachusetts

I apologize in advance to anyone who happens to live in or around the state of Massachusetts. You may find this blog to be offensive. Most of the things I will be covering are generalizations and may not apply to every last living person in the location. Thank you for understanding, and enjoy.

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A year ago after my fishing trip to Canada, I wrote a little entry about what I had learned during my journey. I decided that since I learned quite a few things (and confirmed several things I already knew), I'd write this successor of sorts. So, without further delay, here is what I learned in Massachusetts.

1. Massachusetts is, indeed, the Gate to Hell
At first, I thought it was just Salem. But as I journeyed, I learned that the entire state is almost literally a doorway for the demons of Hell. Salem is the home of many a pagan and practicing witch, with stores full of "witch balls", pentagrams, and copies of the Book of Shadows. After taking a "ghost" tour of Plymouth, I was shown the town's quite large activity of demons, which includes one who manifests himself as a famous Native American (and even killed a police officer by pushing him down the stairs, no lie.) And Boston...I'll get to that later.

2. Plymouth Rock is a lie
After taking a historical tour of the town of Plymouth as well, I learned that Plymouth Rock is a load of crap. Apparently, a 90+ year old man told some people to not construct by the harbor at a spot because that's where the pilgrims landed. He claimed to know the spot because his father (or grandfather) was on the Mayflower. Skeptical, they carried the old man out to the shore and asked him to point out the first rock they touched. He pointed to Plymouth Rock, and everyone believed him. By the way, his ancestors were not on the Mayflower.

3. Boston really sucks
I'll be straightforward: I did not like Boston or it's surrounding area. Not being a fan of big cities in the first place, Boston further convinced me that heavily populated areas are the most awful places in civilization. The people are rude (most noticably when behind the wheel), and apparently on the east coast, generally downright stupid. They can't even speak English correctly! (I heard a man say "where do you go?" instead of "where are you going?", and the only reason I understood what he meant is because his wife responded with "I'm going this way".) While walking the "freedom trail" sequence of historical attractions in the city, my family was caught up in a large crowd of people standing on either side of a closed off street. After seeing a...diverse, if you will...group of people, many in rainbow-colored attire, I figured out what was going on, but I wasn't sure if my parents had. After leaving the group, my mother asked about what was going on. My instincts were right: we had passed through just a few minutes ahead of a gay pride parade. No offense to anyone of that sexual orientation who may be reading, but I don't agree with homosexuality...and gay pride parades can be downright scary. Not a place I wanted to be. Boston had a bad first impression, and never got any better. It's still the trouble-making locale it was famed for being during the American Revolution.

4. People in Massachusetts fail at building roads
Heavily used roads in very poor condition. Exit ramps that require you to slow to 20mph while still on the freeway (unless you're some sort of masochist who loves totaling your car and inflicting yourself with hefty medical and auto repair bills). Incoming ramps that have stop signs at the end. Seriously, it's hard enough with the bad drivers in the state. They're asking for some massive wrecks and slow traffic.

5. People around there must really love Dunkin' Donuts
Because there's about three per square mile in the small area I was in. And that's hardly an exaggeration. Until this little trip, I had completely forgotten about the existence of Dunkin' Donuts, due to the significant lack of any being within 300 square miles of my home. Of course, I ate there three times, the last time while in the airport, forced to eat there with lack of other options. Don't get me wrong, the donuts were fine, but it really wasn't that amazing of a restaraunt. Which makes me wonder why there's such a dense population of them in eastern Mass. and Rhode Island. TV commercials (and the little paper bags) claim that "America runs on Dunkin'". Something tells me they haven't realized that America has grown a bit in the past 300 years.

6. Hotels in Massachusetts are ripoffs
$110 a night for two adults and an average size room with a small TV and 20 channels, half of which are local channels, and a continental breakfast if you're lucky. Seriously, around here $110 for a hotel room gets you into a nice hotel with a big room, super comfy beds, good TVs with tons of channels, an awesome pool, and guaranteed breakfast. We could've gotten several of the rooms we stayed in for $50 a night if it weren't around there.

7. Whale watching = awesomeness
Whale watching is pure awesomeness, and anyone who thinks otherwise can go on a whale watching tour and jump off the boat after you're 10 miles away from the coast.

Don't get the wrong idea, this trip wasn't horrible. In fact, there were many enjoyable moments. Learning about the witch trials in Salem was cool, hearing the ghost stories of Plymouth was chilling, and seeing Stephen Colbert chew out the Cookie Monster for eating fruit last night was fantastic. It's just that Massachusetts has so many issues, it was sometimes hard to enjoy myself. All said and done, I won't be returning to Massachusetts any time soon.

IN OTHER NEWS:

I came home expecting to find a box containing my freshly repaired Xbox 360. Instead, I found emptiness and a note from UPS. Apparently, you have to sign for the package. After efforts to try to get the package tonight were met with failure, I'm forced to wait until Monday. I guess you can't have a red ring of death without at least a week's worth of suffering, eh?

I guess there isn't much else to say tonight, so thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Daughtry - Home