jason4774 / Member

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Yep, I'm playing FF6 on my phone!

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So, in a battle to fight off boredom at work one day, I decided to check out the google marketplace. And, there, I found god!

Yep, god! In his new form, snesoid!

Snesoid is an app that is, in short, a Super Nintendo emulator.

Finally, my dreams of playing FF6 on my phone are now complete!!!

My new addiction...

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many (well, actually, very few of you) might have noticed my all together absence from the site lately. Mostly, because I've transferred my old need for late sleepless nights gaming. WoW used to fill this need quite well, but after two years of playing, I decided to find a game I could turn off when I wanted to go out, read, or just watch a movie.

And, I've finally found the game that fills the bill!

Team Fortress 2!!!

It has all the old fun of WoW's long hours and class based fun, in short bite size doses. And, I can turn off my computer without feeling like I'm letting down 24 other people who were all depending on me to down Kael'Thas that given evening.

So, in honor of my new addiction, I've posted my review of the PC version of The Orange Box, which can be found here.

Anyone who reads this who wishes to find me, can find me on Steam under the alias Underpants!!!

See ya all when I finish Crisis Core...

Great game revisited

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Started going through some old games, and started playing one of my favorites, Escape From Butcher Bay, and decided to give it the love here. For anyone who hasn't played it yet, you're really depriving yourselves of a great gaming experience.

On another gaming note, decided to graduate from medium to hard on drums in Rock Band, and am really starting to hate Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and Jimmy Chamberlain atm. Damn talented drummers with awesome rhythm drive are going to be the death of me, I tell ya!

Lost Odyssey review!

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Yep, I finished it, took a day to digest it, and wrote a review, which you all can check out here. Hopefully, it does a pretty good job covering the good and the bad of a game I enjoyed so much, that I did my best to review it with the respect I feel it earned.

Now that I'm done, and the review's written, it's time to reacquaint myself with my girlfriend and family, and start hosting some more social Rock Band parties :)

Lost Odyssey update: My foot's firmly in my mouth

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I swear to god, no sooner than I wrote my previous blog trashing the game's pace, that I pick it up again, and BAM! Things start to pick up!

It could be that I just got used to the exploring and the load times, but it really feels like the last 8 hours I've played the game have a completely different feel than the first six. Some new characters were introduced, and alot more zones (those first 3 hours trudging through any RPG's city are always kinda painful), and some huge bomshells were dropped, that give the characters, the plot, and the entire game the emotional impact I was hoping for.

While there are some childish elements introduced, and as Jensen continues to be the hysterical ass that he is, overall, the story is far more introspective and 'grown up' than any JRPG I have played before. There are no moments in this game where any subject it addresses are wrapped up in a moralistic little bow. Life, love, death, the past, and the present are handled with a reverent complexity that is sometimes heartbreaking, never easy, and doesn't answer any questions, but instead asks new ones, leaving it up to the characters, and you the player, to decide what it means to you.

Halfway through disc 2 now, and this game has almost completely made me forget my first few hours with it, although the load times do a good job to remind me, but the pace and revelations have more than redeemed the slow and shaky start this game had.

Well, got more playing to do, and a full review to come soon after. Till then...

Lost Odyssey: So Far, so so...

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I'm only about 6 hours into the game so far, so it's too early to write a review, but I do have some early impressions. Some good, some bad...

First, the good...

The characters are top notch! The prose written to detail parts of Kaim's past are some of the most beautiful pieces I have written. The use of creative text, music, and ambiance help reveal some truly lovely vignettes that are both poetic and beautiful. Jensen is absolutely hysterical, and Seth seems great as well. The game does give you a great sense of a story presented from the perspective of beings who have lived for a long time.

Now, the not soo good...

the load times! Horrid! I mean, god awful, "makes the load times in Mass Effect seem short by comparison" bad! Turned based games are slow by nature, but to have them slowed even more by what are inexcusable load times in this day and age seems almost unforgivable. It hasn't ruined the game experience for me, but it is hurting my involvement in what is otherwise a great story. But, as critical as I just was, I can bear it.

Here's what I can't bear...

I said previously that I was only six hours in. But, I have actually played for ten hours. Why? Here's why.

My first go around, I missed a critical accesory in a chest along my journey of a mountain range that made doing the first boss all but impossible. I finally had to cave, and buy a damn game guide, only to realize my error, and restarted the game, so I could just start fresh and get the accesory I needed. Turns out, shortly after, I almost missed a critical spell hidden in a chest in a mineshaft that would have cost my chances against a second boss. Hey, I'm all for exploring, but I'm also all for skipping exploring on my first playthrough, so I can see the story progress. This becomes especially urgent, when I'm trying to make up lost time that unbearable load screens are causing. And, in other games, this hurried pace would simply cost me a 'heroic weapon fragment' or something awesome, but completely optional. In Lost Odyssey, my brevity cost me my only means of defeating the very first boss I faced.

That, is horsecrap!

That off my chest, the story is moving unusually slow. Between reading prose vignettes, enduring load screens galore, and backtracking to make sure I found all the items necessary to proceed, I find more of my time engaged in things beyond my control, that with the exception of the stories, don't enhance the play experience at all for the time they cost me.

I've been looking forward to this game for over six months, and while I didn't expect it to be the best JRPG I'd ever play, I did expect it to be a polished attempt. Unfortunately, early on, the seams are showing, badly, and it's tearing away at the fabric of what is, as a story, a potentially interesting one.

I will admit, that the last game I felt so frustrated with so early on was Assassin's Creed, but unlike that game, I have hope that the story will begin to flesh out, and redeem the faults of the game. Lost Odyssey is definitely building toward something bigger, and refreshingly more introspective that most JRPG's that exist...it's just a shame this intropection has become a slower and more tedious process that I feel it should be so far.

But, I have a feeling it'll turn around.

My most anticipated titles of 2008

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I don't know if 2008 can really match the same quality of games 2007 threw at us, but here are five titles that look like they'll give the best of 2007 a run for their money...

5. Star Wars:The Force Unleashed

This gameplay looks amazing, with some interesting AI yet to be seen in this franchise. And, getting to release our inner dark side is looking better by the day. So, why isn't this my number one? Well, one big reason. The Star Wars franchise. KOTOR was smart enough to take their story well outside the current Star Wars lore. Making a story in between episode 3 and 4 means one thing...GUIDELINES, from you know who. You know him...he's the guy who keeps revamping and sabotaging our favorite childhood movies. And, while Lucasarts has maintained a stance of independance on this project, it is Lucasarts, which means that as cool as this game could very well be, it also might be weighed down by the big guy at the top, which has the potential to restrict just how amazing the story might be, and instead might use this game to justify loose ends or sloppily bridge events in an attempt to justify the franchise. I really hope this is not the case, but after seeing Hayden Christiansen needlessly inserted into the end scene of 'Return of the Jedi' on the latest DVD release, I wouldn't put it passed them. Hopefully, this game won't suffer from the weight of Lucas' involvement. Sadly, I've seen it happen so many times lately, that I almost expect it, which might make what could be the coolest concept this franchise has had in years, and turn it into yet another stale installment. But, concerns aside, the project looks great so far, and is coming soon, so I'll damn well buy it the second it comes out.

4. Killzone 2

I sold my PS3 recently to a coworker, cause I never used it. Killzone 2 might be my reason to by another one. I don't know what the story is definitely, and in shooters, it rarely seems to matter as much as engaging gameplay. And Killzone 2 has some of the coolest looking demos I've seen. Stunning graphics, a gritty environment, and some amazing physics make this game look like Sony's answer to "Gears of War." The only questionmark I have about this game, is the actual combat gameplay. I've read a little about the combat system, and while it seems solid, it also hints that there is a potential that it could become either too complicated for it's own good, or one note and dull if it becomes either too overpowered or too unnecessary. Time will tell on that one, but the trailers now say this game has the potential to kick some serious butt.

3. Grand Theft Auto 4

This is my 'well duh!' entry. I think the whole world is waiting for this game to come out, and early trailers, with a look and feel thet's doing a good job reminding us all of GTA3, and loads of improvements made along the way, make this look to be as good as all us GTA3 fans are hoping for. The big question hanging over this games head? Will it be enough? Let's face it...GTA3 was a long time ago, and Vice City and San Andreas were ok, but did little to live up to the same sense of truly gritty freedom we remember from GTA3. Also, in that time, ALOT of games have flown through our systems, and last year alone, offered some truly exceptional ones. So, for me, the question isn't whether or not this will be better than GTA3. It's very obviously looking to be. The real question is this...will that be enough game to truly be a great game with other games setting the bar higher on a daily basis?

We'll find out in April.

2. Lost Odyssey

Ok, flat out admittance...I LOVE turned based RPG's! And, it seems like developers feel like most people don't, cause I can't remember any highly anticipated turned based RPG's coming in the last 3 years. Most all are jumping ship to the action combat system, which is fine for market appeal, but honestly, I have shooters for action. And, with the strongest franchise in the turned based RPG world, Final Fantasy, revamping their combat in their last installment, it looked like turned based RPG's were going by the wayside.

And then came Lost Odyssey.

From the moment I heard about this game in '06, I've tried to ignore the hype. Then I saw the screens! And then I heard who was heading the project! And then I heard who was composing the musical score! And then I saw the trailer! And then I saw the gameplay footage! And, then I purchased my preorder!

Lost Odyssey is looking to be the true successor to Final Fantasy 10. When Square merged with Enix, producer Hironobu Sakaguchi jumped ship. And, that franchise has not been the same since. In the meantime, Sakaguchi courted Microsoft, and developed Mistwalker with the sole intent of making a next gen successor in the spirit of the last great japanese RPG he headed. He picked up his long time composer Nobuo Uematsu for the score. With more screens and footage realeased every day, it's becoming obvious that Lost Odyssey is looking to be the game japanese RPG fans have been waiting for since Final Fantasy 10.

The question for this game? Will fans be responsive to the old school turned based mechanics? If the story is as good as the game looks, you bet we will!

1. Far Cry 2

HOLY GOD! 50 square kilometers of Savannah to explore! A truly open environment! No waterfalls or mountains acting as subtle 'corridors' to cage you in! No silly premises, no Trigens, no mutants...just a rough environment, that you're free to shoot up, stealth through, or explore at whatever speed or approach you wish.

I've said it before...when Crytek sold this off to Ubisoft to work on Crysis, no one knew what that meant for a sequel. Thankfully, Ubisoft had enough respect for the project to hand it over to their Montreal Studio to have free reign to deveolp whatever they needed for this sequel to succeed and honor the wide open path it's predecessor created. So, they made a new game engine that, in some ways, looks even more stunning than CryEngine2. And, not only did they abandon silly sci fi premises, they abandoned the walls completely. They gave us just over 31 square miles to play in, conspire in, gather missions within, and shoot up, torch up, and tear up.

Early gameplay footage looks just as promising, with some very realistic AI that evolves from the best of Far Cry. Take a shot at someone and miss, and they'll run after you, hop in a jeep after you, and will not stop till either you, or they, are dead. This game is taking the best from the realistic approach to open ended combat and freedom of movement Far Cry had, while abandoning the goofy sci fi premise that drew attention away from it's strengths.

While I was a big fan of Crysis, and feel it did well to live up to the hype, I also wanted more out of it, and feel they abandoned the open ended approach slightly to keep the pacing and story moving. That, and things like Koreans saying 'frush him out!' did a little to break the illusion of the world for me a bit. Far Cry 2 looks like they took everything I loved about Far Cry when I played it, abandoned everything I didn't care for, and expanded the world farther outward, making it more engrossing, more interactive, and in the process, potentially more engaging and immersive in the process.

And, arguably, it's even better looking than if Crytek HAD headed the project.

The big quesiton? Can they really fill 31 square miles of landscape with enough meaningful content to make it worth my time to explore? Damn, I can't wait to find out!

Again, I'm sure I missed some big ones, but these are the games I've been waiting for since I heard about them. Though, of there is anything I missed that looks equally cool, post a comment and a link, and bring it to my attention. I can never have a shortage of games to look forward to :)

The 2007 awards: The Good, The Bad, and the Dubious

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Yes, I realize a blog citing the best and worst is pretty self-indulgant. But, what the hell, if everyone jumped off this bridge, so will I :)

so, I'll start with the five best games I played in 2007...

5. Crysis

Yep, this one sits at alot of other people's #1 spot, which is cool. It certainly does alot to deserve a high rating. Top notch gameplay, bar raiding graphics, and some freedom to combat approach makes this awfully fun. Any other year, it might have ranked higher for me, but it had some stiff competition, and honestly, compared to it's predecessor, Far Cry, it did little to push the envelope, beyond raising the bar for graphics yet again. Yet, even as a newer sandbox game, Crysis didn't quite inspire the same sense of ultimate freedom of approach that Far Cry did so long ago. Complaining aside, the game rocks, and deserves #5.

4. Portal

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of puzzle games, but I had more laughs and head scratching moments playing this game than any other this year. It truly is an inspired game, down to the final, hysterical song. And, there's cake!

3. Rock Band

Easily the best group play game ever made. Nice touches like getting the crowd to sing along when you play well does a great job making you want to play even better. Definitely not as challenging as GH3, but it is far more fulfilling, and encourages even the most cynical of people to play after they watch for a while. Great songlists, weekly DLC, and some great graphics make this game very accessible for just about anyone!

2. Mass Effect

This game came very close to beig my #1 game this year. Thoughtful, engaging story, more meaningful dialogue than previous Bioware games, near cinematic gameplay, and characters with depth and personality that only Bioware seems capable of delivering on a regular basis. While loading screens and texture loads were a turn off for some, they did little to distract my attention from the story. What did, however, were the countless sidequests that eventually begin to look like eachother, and do little if anything to add to the depth of this game, outside providing more hours to waste your time. If Bioware found a way to make the sidequests more meaningful to the main story, this game would probably never leave my 360's loading tray.

1. Call Of Duty 4

This was, without a doubt, the best game I have played this year, and in many ways, the most engaging I've played in a long time. This game was inspired, and it shows in nearly every mission. Unique approaches to typical military missions, like sinking boats, or firing artilary from an aircraft to provide cover for an SAS unit, or a two-part sniper mission unlike any other ever invented...this game finds creative ways to keep missions and combat fresh throughout. Also, intensity of combat, from bullets tearing through the plaster of wasted apartment complexes, exploding cars, high speed movement, and C.O.'s who actually shout orders worth listening to, do alot to seel the intensity and authenticity of this game. The story is made more convincing because of the intense combat and sometimes unbelivable scenerios that are sometimes genuinely surprising. It's a short single player campaign, but it covers alot of gorund, and tells a complete story, that may not be the most original, but it's telling through the missions is certainly the most convincing since Half Life 2. This game not only took my best game of the year nod, it also sets the bar very high for other shooters that follow in it's wake.

Now, some other random awards...

Biggest letdown of 2007: Assassin's Creed

Halo 3 was saved from this dubious honor by the repetivite, uninspired, and tiresome gameplay of Assassin's Creed. At least Halo 3, while not a very inspiring addition to the franchise, was enjoyable to play. I can't make the same claim of Assassin's Creed. This game took a wonderful premise, and a potentially original story, and suffocated it with repetitive missions, uninspired combat, and a one note approach to combat that was truly shameful for a game with such high production values and more undeserved praise than any game I can recall in nearly a decade.

The game I most wanted more from: Unreal Tournament 3

I think Gears of War spoiled me, and really got me ready for the definitive multiplayer game of the year. What I got was a game that plays no better than the last Unreal installment. While some interesting additions have been made to the multiplayer, the gameplay seems a little too arcade for me, especially in light of the gritty, intense, and unique approach to combat Gears offered up under the flag of the same studio. It's a good game...but honestly, so was the last UT, and honestly, after the time spent on improving this franchise, fans deserved something better.

Biggest Surprise of the year: Team Fortress 2

This is the most refreshing multiplayer experience I've had in quite some time. After so many shooters that either take a simplified arcade combat approach, like Halo 3 or Unreal Tournament 3, or the other extreme of the realistic spectrum, like Call of Duty 4, TF2 does a great job striking a perfect balance between fun and easily accessible gameplay, with thoughtful and stretegic use of different classes. The Warner Brothers stylized graphics do alot to sell it's accessibility, and for as good as it is, I don't think I was quite prepared for how good it actually was. Easily Valve's best multi player since Counterstrike, and probably ranks along side Call of Duty 4 as the best multiplayer game I've played all year.

Games I'll have to wait another year for: (tie) KOTOR 3 and Mechassault 3

I had more fun playing Mechassault online than any other multiplayer I've ever played, and while it was too arcady for the die hard Mechwarrior crowd, the multiplayer for 'just pick it up and go' fun was unmatched by anything I can think of, and I desperately want an installment on the 360. KOTOR, as well, is a franchise in desperate need of completion, and every year a third installment fails to come out, is another year that fans must slave through games that they wish were as good as KOTOR. But, Fasa's dismissal by Microsoft, and rumors of an MMO version of KOTOR being released, will probably insure that these games will be on a similar list for me for quite a long time.

Game of 2008 I'm most looking forward to: (another tie) Lost Odyssey and FarCry 2

Both these games look like they're going to deliver, and deliver well. Lost Odyssey is easily shaping up to be the true turned based successor to Final Fantasy 10, with the same epic feel as the best FF games, and the traditional turned based combat system that has been all but abandoned by all game makers as of late. Some stunning visuals are definitely most welcome to all of us waiting for that true Next Gen japanese RPG.

FarCry2, after Crytek sold the project to Ubisoft to work on Crysis, had a huge questionmark over it's head on how good it would be, from everything to graphics to gameplay. But, thanks to two things, a game engine arguably as stunning as Cryengine 2 and an a truly open ended, interactive environment, makes FarCry2 look like it's going to be the true successor to Far Cry die hard fans all hoped it would be, and most likely, even more than we ever dreamed it could be. My hat's off to Ubisoft on this one, and I only hope that the game delivers in the way all the trailers and interviews hint it will.

And, that'll do it for me. I'm sure I missed some great games, and forgot to trash some truly bad ones, but I only have so many systems and so little time to play everything I want to play. Overall, 2007 really shaped up to be the gaming year everyone hoped it would be, and while our opinions vary from here to there, I think gamers were rewarded with one of the deepest pools of games, and remarkable ones at that, that we've seen in quite a long time.