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From dust.....

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I'm back to my blog after a long absence. Why? Because I am heading back to PAX East! This time however, I was only able to procure a one day pass so it will be a hard hitting day of nerdom. I will write a blog detailing my trip back to Boston, and hopefully provide a bunch of pictures. So, check back later in April and I should have things posted.

Penny Arcade Expo East 2010.....finally =P

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Hello everyone. Again, I have fallen behind on my blogging, but as I promised in March....I give you, the Penny Arcade Expo East. Now, for those who are not familiar with Penny Arcade, I highly suggest you check it out. Penny Arcade is a web comic/blog started by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik back in 98, and has since become a massive company. As you can guess their comics and commentary center on gaming and the life**** created from gaming. Hilarious stuff, check it out now, but come back eventually and finish reading my blog. So let me begin our journey. PAX East is the sister Expo to PAX Prime. PAX has been held in Seattle(home of PA) for 7 years now including this year. PAX East was initiated this year in Boston to the tune of 52,290 attendees(according to Wikipedia), much to the PA guys' surprise might I add. It was almost instantly apparent that they undershot the turn out estimates when they chose the venue. Luckily gamers are generally friendly people so being packed against one another wasn't all that bad.

pax east
Before arriving in Boston I had studied up the locale a bit. Two of the most notable places we visited before the expo began was of course the Cheers bar (inspiration to the TV show of the same name) and the Samuel Adams Brewery. Cheers was the first stop on about a 12 hour walk around Boston, ending in and around North End by nightfall. Amazing city, for those who have never been. Walking really seemed the way to go too as traffic was something akin to a Mad Max-ian battle for survival. On the first day, before the Expo opened, I visited the birthplace of some of my favorite beers, The Sam Adams Brewery. It was much smaller than I thought, making for a short tour, but quite satisfying in providing copious amounts of beer tasting.
cheerssam adams
On to the Expo! Upon arriving at the convention center we were assimilated into a wriggling, snaking mass of nerdish flesh known as the queue-line, something we became quite familiar with during our time waiting to get into panels. As you can see in the picture below, the queue-line to get in was tens of thousands of people strong and was probably hidden from the Fire Marshall through elaborate use of smoke, mirrors and a bit of chloroform.
queue
Once we got into the convention center, the queue-line for the key note speaker, Will Wheaton, was instantly filled.....so sad. So, we went on to the exhibit hall where we were hit in the face with this.....
rdr
A secure exhibit furnished with Xbox 360's playing what was then, an unreleased Red Dead Redemption. Much to my delight I approach the entrance to take a picture and the Rockstar DJ says "You with the green bag, you can't take pictures..." I was stopped of course but was quite amused nevertheless as everyone at the expo was carrying the green swag bags handed out at the door. You can actually see her pointing at me in the picture. As I waited in line to play RDR, I was given Rockstar's own brown paper swagbag, a RDR T-shirt and more RDR stickers than I could handle. Being my first gaming convention, I was more than willing to accept any swag being given out. Some of the most notable swag I..uh...swagged...was a full blown collectors edition box set of Lord of the Rings Online signed by the developers, a 4GB Alienware flash drive, various T-shirts, and a Pokemon shoulder bag. The Pokemon booth was also handing out Pokewalkers but the guy in front of me acquired the last one, curses!
For the sake of making this post a readable length, I will try and keep things short and hit some high notes with my pictorial aides....
What panels I was lucky enough to catch were excellent. The first one being the hilarious Penny Arcade questions panel numero uno shown below....
pa panel 1
Then immediately after leaving the PA Making the Comic Panel, we jumped in line for the nVidia panel. Where we were given 3D glasses and noise makers. We were lucky enough to grab front and center in the nVidia panel and caught some "Crank that S*&^ Up" T-shirts they were throwing out to the crowd shown below...
nvidiacrowd
The nVidia panel was the official unveiling of the GTX 480 and its panoramic 3D goodness. Our front and center seats combined with three huge projection screens quite literally put as all in the game and as the shirts suggested, and what was used as the tag line by the GeForce General Manager Drew Henry, the S*&^ was cranked up. *cleans drool from mouth*
Other panels included a very entertaining "Decisions in Games" panel given by the crew of Alpha Protocol. Their presentation, while very interesting, contained the word 'decision' so many times they made a drinking game of it. Needless to say, by the end of their presentation I was laughing nonstop. Also, we attended a live taping of an episode of X-Play. Which turned out to be a giant Q&A session, which was alright, but they stuck us in a elongated room with a projection screen they refused to use to show Adam, Morgan, and their cohorts. Quite disappointing. This was my view.....
xplay
Outside of panels, there was much to get into in the exhibit hall. One jewel I found was the Geek Chic booth, which had some of the most amazing gamer furniture ever. They had quite a bit there, way more than they show on their website. If, perhaps, I become rich I will outfit my entire house with their furniture. As you can see below to the left, their Sultan table transforms from eloquent dining room table to command center for the gaming enthusiast. *sniff*....it's beautiful.....
sultansurface
But the most magnificent table was found in the table top gaming library they had set up for people to borrow games. Some folks from Carnegie Mellon University were demoing their Dungeons & Dragons project for the Microsoft Surface(above right). For those of you who don't know, the Surface is Microsoft's touch screen table. These guys had programed their D&D maps, creatures, menus, everything for the Surface. You place your character figures on the screen and it recognizes what it is and configures a menu around that figure with the appropriate actions and abilities. I've shown a picture below, but you should really do a search for "D&D on Microsoft Surface", simply awesome. I knew then, I had to have one, but for $15,000, I decided to wait....indefinitely.
The closing ceremonies were basically the Omeganauts finals(below left). Omeganauts being the name given to those chosen for a gaming tourney at the beginning of the expo. Two teams of two, in a four game relay.....first game, Super Mario Bros., next Outrun, then Tetris, last....Contra. Each leg of the relay had its objectives, collect X amount of coins, rack up 1500 points, clear 10 lines, and beat the first boss. The place was Pandemonium until....Contra was revealed, and was frozen! Turns out the Konami code times out after a while. Anyways, they reset the competition and started over. The team who was winning the first time was not so lucky the second time. I felt bad for them, as they were winning handily before and ended up missing out on a trip to Germany.
finalsboston
So I will wrap up this menagerie of gaming goodness I'm calling a blog post and leave you with a nice night shot of the Boston skyline(above right). You can view all my pictures in my Images section. I actually have many more pictures and videos that I didn't upload, mainly because I am lazy, and I didn't want to spam Gamespot with poorly taken amateur photos, haha. Later.

Penny Arcade Expo.....East

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Hello everyone! Writing to you from Boston, I am attending the Inaugural Penny Arcade Expo East, or PAX East, this weekend. The expo opens later today so I will update you when I get home on my exploits and shenanigans. Until then, game on.

New System

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Hello again everyone, no new reviews this time but some new updates on my gaming spectrum.

I finally gave in and bought a PS3. I said I would probably never get one, especially after Final Fantasy XIII was announced for the Xbox360, but I figured I could kill several birds with one stone, allow me to elaborate...

The system I bought was Generation 1 PS3 with a 60GB HDD, its used of course but in good shape. This kind of started with a trip to Best Buy. I was perusing their open box Blu-Ray players and almost bought one, but as I often do I decided to consult the internet and research and price a player. This is where I started thinking of the PS3, but the fact that I couldn't play my PS2 games on it still really turned me off buying one. I have a substantial PS2 library so yes, this is a major factor for me. Xbox backwards compatibility wasn't a huge deal for me mainly because, a) the 360 will play pretty much everything I have, and b) I do not fear the heat death of my original Xbox quite as much as my PS2's demise. I have a thoroughly used first gen PS2, and I've bore witness those PS2 slims burning out easily so the possibility of losing my PS2 library forever has been greatly amplified for some time!

Back to the internet! While searching for an old PS3, that was in reasonable condition, I concurrently began reading about Heavy Rain....and I really started getting interested. As far as PS3 exclusives, this one has done the best job grabbing my attention. I lost my interest in the Metal Gears after MGS2 racked me with political laden diatribes, and the God of War series is still idling in the middle of the first one for me. Every other big title that interests me is available on Xbox 360 so there you go. Craigslist yields minimal results on the PS3 search, and then on eBay I find a moderately priced Gen1 PS3 with the 60GB HDD no less. Original packaging, manuals, controller, cables, no damages, Emotion chip....sold!

So now I have it and I have transferred my old PS1 and PS2 saves to it. I loaded up Final Fantasy XII and played around with the video options. The smoothing option actually seemed to help the graphics! I'm excited to load up some of my PS2 games again and play them anew. I will say though, the dashboard system seems less intuitive than the Xbox's, and their online system isn't as snappy, or stream lined. That aside, Heavy Rain is en route for delivery in about a week(free shipping option) which gives me some time to be exiled from the human race via Final Fantasy XIII.

Another long awaited return to blogging.

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Hey everyone, I'm back again after several months. Just wanted to let everyone know I'm alive and point you towards my recent review of Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalker, which you can find here:

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/strategy/magicthegatheringduelsoftheplaneswalkers/player_review.html?id=706550&tag=all-about;review1

I have a little soapboxing mixed in with this one, but nothing preachy. Check it out if you are familiar with the game and/or Magic itself. Other than that, I hope to have some more game reviews posted soon, and when I say soon, I mean before 6 months pass haha.

Awesome movie!

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Hey everyone, just wanted to tip you all off to a hilarious movie I watched recently. The movie is called 'Fanboys' and for anyone who likes Star Wars, and even Star Trek for that matter, should make an effort to see this movie! I guess it was in limited release earlier this year but we never saw it in theaters around here. I rented it on my Xbox and I'm glad I did! Now I've been trolling the movie stores looking for it but I will likely come back to the internet as I so often do.

So the premise of the story is that a bunch of Star Wars fanboys, circa pre-Episode 1 release, decide to travel to Skywalker Ranch and steal the script/movie. Needless to say, they are across the country so there begins a road trip of hilarity and reference laden comedy. I couldn't stop laughing through this movie, almost everything could be related to some reference to Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. Right down to the subtle remarks in dialog that most over look. So I cant emphasize enough how much you should watch this if you are a Star Wars fan. You'll be glad you did!

Back Again!

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Hey everybody, I'm back again. Been a little while since my last post, but a lot's happened since then. Let's see, first up....I bought a new car, which is awesome and I am very fortunate to have. Also, I have my own place now, an apartment. I was really hoping I could snag a house with the weakened economy but unfortunately I simply don't have the capital needed for buying a house. Maybe next year :-/

Anyways, I've played a few games since last time too. I plan on writing some reviews for those and posting them on here so stay tuned.

My Resident Evil 5 Review

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Hey everybody, back again. Been a while again I know, but I've been busy with work and whatnot. Anyways, I did find some time to play through Resident Evil 5 so I thought I would copy my review over here for those of you who may happen to read it. Enjoy....

So I'll start off by saying it's a beautiful game. Very good graphics, except for some of the face animations, in my opinion. The dialogue is what you expect from a RE game, but the story actually provides a very interesting chapter in RE lore. Actually, its a pretty integral part of the RE lore I would say. The controls are a bit sluggish to get acclimated to but once you do it seems to fit pretty well. It's probably an improved version of RE4 control wise, I say that not having played RE4 for more than a couple minutes. That being said the game play is good, and what makes the game shine is it's co-op. I doubt this game would be half as good if it weren't for the co-op option. The way the game play is set up for two people is smooth and doesn't really feel forced at all. The item interaction between players is smooth as silk too, exchanging, giving, and combining items. If you stand next to one another when you use first aid it will heal you both, if one of you is in danger of dying you have the option of helping your partner with either first aid in your inventory, or if you don't have any, a generic adrenaline shot that will get you moving enough to get the heck out of there. There are a lot of boss fights too, and a healthy amount of parody in game play. For instance, you play one section of the game shooting from a moving Hummer, one section from a boat.....plus there's some stuff towards the end which is really cool, so I wont spoil it yet. The last leg of the game, the final boss fight, was pretty long and towards the final segments was getting a little monotonous. However, that isn't enough to mar the game overall.
I took a look at what was left after the game was beaten and well, you get to keep all of your weapons and the upgrades you applied to them in your previous game, SCORE! Plus there are all sorts of secrets you can purchase with points you've accumulated through you play through and a lot of them is free at first. Like, costumes, figurines, camera filters (grainy horror film view anyone?), and if you fully upgraded a weapon in your play through then you have the option of buying unlimited ammo for it. Also, there is a multi-player mode called Mercenaries which I haven't played but sounds like a zombie version of GoW 2's horde mode. Online there is a VS mode you can download, but I think that costs a little extra, I don't know much about that but its likely just what it sounds like.
All in all, I would highly recommend this game to anybody. Especially if you have a co-hort, wife, sibling, roommate, etc. to play it with you. I missed RE4 but after playing this one I just may go back and play that one, but with all the incentive to play RE5 now with the weapons and extras, I may just run through it again. But really, get this game guys, or at least try the demo, which also happens to be co-op too.

Return

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Hey everybody! I'm back, finally.....

It's been a while, but now I have successfully defended my master's thesis and, save for a few revisions, I have a little bit more time on my hands. Man, it's been a rough stretch, I can only hope it will get better now that I'll be out of the academic world. I noticed my last blog was in March! (õ_0) I've been outta the gaming loop too long. That being said, I have kept up some with gaming news and of course the release of all the glorious games that I've been dying to play. I did cave one weekend and play some Fallout 3 and that was great! Focusing briefly on that game, while the weekend was certainly not enough time to beat that gem, it was certainly enough time to get my hands dirty. I told my friends that weekend that I knew I should be angry because Bethesda essentially re-skinned Oblivion with a Fallout theme but I wasn't. It worked, mainly because Oblivion was so good. While I miss the top down view of the Fallouts of the past, this new Fallout takes that familiar distopian feel and combines it with everything that was good about Oblivion. Very enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to getting back into it. I also played Gears of War 2 recently and so far that seems like a surprisingly nice sequel. Other titles I'm anxiously waiting to play is Dead Space and the rash of SquareEnix RPGs coming out on the 360. Then again, I have to finish GTA 4, FF XII and then finally start working on Twilight Princess. So many good games.....so little time.

Checking in / Soapboxing

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Hey everybody....it's been a while since I have blogged, and I have been pretty busy. However, in a recent bout of procrastination, I decided I needed to write something new on here. Actually, I hate to do this, but I'm gonna bust out the soapbox for a moment.

I've been somewhat following the EA - TakeTwo saga and have decided that so many people have put money before everything else. The recent article I read highlighted commentary from analysts who believe TakeTwo should have taken such a generous offer from EA. I don't know how TakeTwo is really viewing the situation, but I would like to think that they are more interested in making games that people enjoy rather than holding out for more money. I hope the stockholders of TakeTwo view it that way too. It's pretty obvious EA is notoriously buying up some rather enjoyable game franchises and whether or not they decide to shake things up once they buy them, I think we can all agree that it seems to stagnate things. These last two maneuvers seem a tad money hungry....."lets buy Bioware as Mass Effect comes out"......."lets get our stamp on GTA IV before it ships." Not to mention, if EA gets TakeTwo, the obvious dismantling of 2K Sports is imminent.....as if sports games anywhere had much to work with when EA acquired exclusive sports licenses, which nobody can convince me that EA doing that hasn't effected the quality of their games. I played NCAA Football 06 to death.....and excitedly bought NCAA 07 for the 360, and surprise...I had bought a watered down version of the previous year's installment, right down to the audio commentary by the announcers being, verbatim, the same. I digress, I should refocus on people's obsession with making money. In America, most people used to work to make quality products, to support their families, and overall contribute in some way to society. Now, that seems to be replaced with "what can I do to not get fired?" or "how can I get a raise?" To a certain extent I can't blame some people for trying to get ahead, being a student I understand how expensive it is getting just to get by. I can't remember the last time I bought a new game....granted, I'm busier these days, but $60 a game is a sizable chunk of what we pay for the systems themselves. You would think with the rash of games using blatant in-game advertising, it would help publishers pass those savings down to the consumer, instead we see price hikes. I guess its a mentality.....why do you want to keep buying other companies when you have quite a substantial fortune already....and some of your own games could use some much needed attention. It just seems like everyone has stopped working to live and started living to work, and the dollar takes precedence.
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