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polsci1503 Blog

I Hate Gymkhana

GodModeEnabled posted for the first time in forever, and I jumped on GS all hopped up and mad, so I'm posting too...

And my old buddy johnsteed7 will be somewhat satiated as he's bugged me multiple times to post a blog... but it's a vent, a rant, a Jbul bladder expunging... it ain't pretty...

I HATE GYMKHANA IN DIRT 3!!

I know Jbul liked it... I know others think it's a cool addition, but damnit, I just want to race.

Why am I forced to complete a Gymkhana event in a series in order to finish it?? I kick butt in all the races and then I'm forced to go through an obstacle course with a car that slides all over the place like a cat with greased feet?

Why not make it its own seperate section? Why force me to play through a feature I hate over and over again to complete sections I spent a lot of time playing?

I have loved the DiRT series since it was known as Colin McRae... but I'm done with this if it's leaving Rally racing as a side show and catering to the X Games crowd only.

Nesting

Aloha, just sprucing up the place a bit. I do still cruise through GS when I can, and I'm tired of looking at old depressing blogs about not being around. Here's a little iPhone shot during a recent play through of Alan Wake, these red chairs would show up in strange places throughout the game... this location I really liked because it looked down into a huge valley.

Played through Bulletstorm too and I'm halfway through Enslaved: Odyssey to the West... hope all you gamers are happy. Miss all of you... don't mind me when I show up in your blogs every so often.

Here's a bonus shot from Bulletstorm...Aloha!

Blog Bully

Johnsteed7 is a blog bully. I've seen him do this a number of times to others, but had no idea he would stalk me far and wide to write a blog... but alas, I do need to explain my six month disappearance from Gamespot, something I've been dreading all along.

In fact, my disappearance was dragged out because I felt bad about how I just stopped coming here. It wasn't planned and it wasn't due to any of the members and many great friends I had made during my 7 plus years of hanging out here nearly every day. So my return this week is with my tail between my legs... sorry if I was a jerk for taking off without saying anything.

The big culprit was my change in jobs... I used to sit on GS all day during work, because I could, and then go home and play games at night. Now I can't sit on GS at work because our internet use is monitored. Plus, I'm working a lot more... which is okay because I'm making a lot more money too. I'm also under more stress, having to deal with more office politics, and wondering if this is all worth the extra moolah. Well, for now it is, not sure about the long term.

I also got ticked off at GS for all the changes... I don't know how many site redesigns I've gone through over the years, but this last one (with the introduction of Raptr and Fuse) changed some of the behind the scenes mechanics of GS that I used, most notably game tracking. I kept getting mad that it was automatically throwing the games I was playing into my tracked list. I use all the "Games Lists" parts of GS and always have, it's one of the big reasons I set up my gaming home here. But with the changes things became so buggy... I couldn't delete games off my lists, couldn't move them around, and I want to track games coming out, not games already out. I use these tools, and they weren't working right for me, which frustrated the crud out of me. So much on the site has been broken for so long... can someone please fix my Page Views, which has been broken for what, 4 years?

Anyways, that's just a couple of the things, but I don't want to turn this into a drawn out complaint blog... Thanks to those who gave me a shout out over XBL... Jbul, johnsteed and MsCortana for keeping in touch with me, and eventually dragging me back to GS. I'm happy to be back and chatting with you all.

Good Deal Alert

I was just cruising around some sites to see if anyone was having any good deals today and ran across used copies of Batman: Arkham Asylum for $19.99 on Gamefly with free shipping and .94 cents tax (case and manual included). That's a very good deal considering it is selling for $45 new on Amazon and the best used price is $25 with $4 shipping. I scooped one up...

[EDIT]

As EXxile pointed out, and I had seen and should have mentioned, Halo 3 ODST is also on sale for $19.99 from Gamefly, which is an absolute steal.

I Got It!

Yep, I got the job with the school... the offer came this week as I had hoped. This is fantastic news and something I had been working towards since I moved to Hawaii six years ago. I've had good jobs here, but nothing that paid me what I felt I should be making, and none were really that stable to where I felt that I was settled. That has all changed and I'm extremely happy.

With this job I basically nailed down the 20-25 year stretch I have till retirement, with a pension and a ton of job security. This is the wealthiest private school system in the country, so it's not like they are going anywhere, can't afford to pay their bills, or the pension fund will dry up and whither. It's as secure a position as working for the state or county, and it is a coveted place to work in Hawaii. For a mainland guy like me, these jobs don't come along very often. If it wasn't for the connections I've been making since I got here, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Not only that, but I'm getting a 50% raise! Woot! With this economy in the crapper I am definitely thankful my life is taking a turn for the better. It's been a long road to this point, some of you may remember when I was out of work 3 years ago, struggling just to keep a roof over my head... so I'm not taking anything for granted.

Well that's the good news... that, and my little brother asked his girlfriend to marry him last week. My family is very excited...

To close out this happy little blog, here is a photo of my new view from my lanai (porch) in the condo I moved into recently...

Have a great weekend everyone! I may head out camping for a couple of days if the weather holds up, but it's been raining alot. I wouldn't mind a weekend holed up at home with Assassin's Creed II...

The Scoops

Two months without a new blog post from yours truly! It was a nice little vacation from blogging and not entirely intentional. I kept meaning to write over the past few weeks but work has been getting in the way. Usually I'll write these little nuggets of brilliance while sitting at my desk in the morning if it's quiet, except there have been no quiet days for quite some time. But I have been still yammering away in the comment section of your blogs so it's not like I've been hiding anywhere. In fact, if I took all my comments and put them together I'd probably have at least 10 blogs worth.

Life has been busy! Here's a quick and dirty rundown of what's been up...

For those in the know amongst my friends, I've been pursuing a permanent position with the school I work with (right now I'm a third party vendor under contract) and we are in the final stretch. I may be getting an offer this week, which I'm really excited about. All my interviews went great and they told me I'm the top candidate. My current company still loves me though so all is good there too.

I have a new girlfriend... yeah, I know I said I would try out being single for a lot longer than I did, but I met Helen about 6 weeks ago... and we've pretty much been attached at the hip ever since. I think my long-standing bachelor status may be in jeopardy at last... a very attractive, funny, affectionate, practical woman with good financial sense, no materialistic inclinations, who loves to travel (on a budget) and didn't judge me for being a gamer? Uh oh...

Games! My playing time was cut over this busy period, but I did manage to finish up Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and Ghostbusters. I also traded in some junk titles and picked up Assassin's Creed II (which I'm going to start this week) and Wet, as well as found some nice deals like Left 4 Dead ($14), Brutal Legend ($16), inFamous ($26) and Onechanbara ($11).

Anways, that's the scoops... I'll head back out and harass you all in your comments sections for the rest of day. Aloha 8)

Move Complete

Aloha friends, just a quick update since I haven't blogged since before my move. I moved into my new condo this week and it was alot of work. I spent the holidays packing and cleaning... I really hate moving. But I got a clean inspection on my old place and I'll get most of my security deposit back (they charge everyone for stripping the floors and paint).

I ended up buying a bunch of furniture this week too, $2,000 worth. But for that I got a bedroom set, couches, tables, dining room set and it's all really nice stuff. Since one couch alone can cost $1,500 I thought I did pretty good.

Yesterday was my first weekend day here in Kailua and I went for a run in the morning down to the beach and back, then went and spent the rest of the day laying on the beach with a cute girl from Brazil. I will post some photos of the area soon, this place is incredible... I'm one lucky braddah.

In gaming I'm a bit bummed because I'm off of XBL for a month. Once my current roommates move out and I take over the big bedroom I can setup all my equipment the way it should be. I've been playing Halo 3: ODST which is the game that kellymae sent me for Christmas (along with the super awesome Halo wireless controller). I was a bit tired of the Halo universe after Halo 3, but ODST has reenergized me. The city of Mombasa is just too cool, the music is great (like Setho10 recently blogged about) and I like that I'm seeing new characters. ODST has breathed new life into the franchise and I wouldn't mind seeing more branches like this off of the main series.

I also started Spider-Man: Web of Shadows last night. It's not bad, there are some fun things in there... but it is kind of broken. The camera keeps getting stuck on me. 6 times the camera froze on me and I couldn't turn around. I'd wait for a bit, enter and exit out of the menu a bunch, and eventually the camera would return to normal, but if it happens during a mission you're screwed.

Well that's it for now, hope everyone's doing good. Aloha! 8)

Ranty McRanterson

Apologies to lazyhoboguy for stealing his blog title, it's been stuck in my mind for months and it certainly applies to today's blog. This here is a New Years Rant so that I can get this out of my system and approach my gaming in 2010 with a fresh start.

Rant #1 - DiRT 2

I've been trying to enjoy DiRT 2 online and I've just about had it. There are way too many punks online crashing into me that it's taking all the fun out of trying to actually race. If you don't get out to a big lead and get some space between you and everyone else, then it turns into a demoliton derby. I realize this rant is as old as online racing, but it really shows how petty and ugly people are - "gee, I'm not winning so I'll try and take everyone out." Yeah, that's classy. There's an achievement for clean racing online that I can't seem to get solely because I can't get through a race without some moron trying to take me out... and that's after racing over 40 times. Sad, just sad.

Rant #2 - Secret of Monkey Island

I bought this game for half price on Christmas Day from XBL. I'm a big fan of Tim Schaffer and had never played Monkey Island so I was really excited to finally play it. I was very much enjoying the game and it's humor until the end of the second chapter when I hit a game-stopping glitch. You're supposed to fire yourself off in a cannon from your pirate ship to Monkey Island... I had all the items I needed, checked multiple walkthroughs to make sure I was doing it properly, but it just WILL NOT WORK! I reload saves, go back and get all the right items, try again... nope. I'd have to replay the 3 hours to get back to that spot just to see if the glitch was still there. ARGH!

I am so sick of this screen.

Rant #3 - Prototype

I made it to the final game-ending boss... This boss takes some serious work to beat. You've got to try and hammer on him with different techniques as he constantly tracks you and pummels you. You've got health sources around (in this game you consume soldiers to gain health) so that's not the problem. The problem is it can take you a long time to whittle this boss' health down and he's got a one shot kill. If he hits you with it there is nothing you can do but watch yourself die. How is that even remotely fair or enjoyable? I was so mad I even thought about contacting Radical and telling them I was mailing them my copy so they could stick it up their butt.

Get hit by one of those strands and it's Game Over.

Okay, rant over. I feel better.

Happy New Years everyone!

Mele Kalikimaka

Aloha to all, hope you are enjoying the holiday week, getting some time off with family, and playing some games! I have to work till tomorrow and then I'm off for a long weekend. Then next weekend during the New Years holiday I'll be moving to my new apartment, which I'm really excited about.

In the meantime, I've been trying to wrap up Prototype before the end of the year so that I can put it on this year's completion list. I believe that will make 22 games completed in 2009, which is a new personal record - previous best was 18. I had a great year bargain shopping and ended up with alot more games than usual at cheap prices.

Speaking of... I popped into my local Blockbuster again, my little gold mine of gaming lately, and came out with some decent titles, two of which unexpectedly showed up in Gamespot's 2009 awards - 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand and Velvet Assassin. I do appreciate a good mindless shooter and 50 Cent's game received some praise for being just that. Velvet Assassin also got praise from Kevin V. recently, and it was recognized by GS for its atmosphere, and I do like to experience creative settings in games. I know it can be frustrating, but what the heck, I got them both for $10. I also picked up Wanted for $10. I know it's short and not that good, but I liked the movie and want to curve some bullets.

I got an Amazon gift card from my brother and I was thinking of buying some MS points with it. Shadow Complex is on sale for $10 this week and I need to still get the Mothership Zeta expansion for Fallout 3. I am considering getting Need for Speed: Most Wanted for $20 too as a full download. I've been wanting that for awhile but used copies sell for more than the DL price. I should have bought it years ago when I saw it for $10.

In an effort to try and save other gamers money I posted my review for GH: Van Halen as soon as I could today. I tried to get the word out with my last blog post but it didn't get picked up by GS. I tweaked the review so it was better suited for that part of site (which means without my smartass humor). Take a look if you care too.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Mele Kalikimaka my friends. Aloha! 8)

GH: Van Halen - Neversoft Phones It In

When I was 15 there were two concerts I was absolutely forbidden to go to - Iron Maiden and Van Halen. After that I stopped asking for permission to go to concerts and made up excuses to slink off and go to shows Mom did not approve of. She thought Iron Maiden were devil worshippers and Van Halen were drunken obnoxious party animals. Wrong on the first one Mom, absolutely correct on the second, and I loved them for it.

And I still do... "Mean Streets" from the "Fair Warning" album still gets me going and is one of my favorite rock songs of all time.

At night I walk this stinkin' street past the crazies on my block
And I see the same old faces and I hear that same old talk
And I'm searching for the latest thing, a break in this routine
I'm talkin' some new kicks, ones like you ain't never seen

Insert nasty guitar lick from one of the primo guitar legends of my era. In my day, if you said "Eddie" everyone thought of Eddie Van Halen first, and Eddie the mascot of Iron Maiden second.

So we come to the end of 2009... Activision and Neversoft decide to give Guitar Hero fans a game we have been crying for for a long time by following up their star treatments of Aerosmith and Metallica with a dedicated Van Halen effort. How did it turn out?

The Good:

The Music. Old Van Halen rocks harder than the poppier Sammy Hagar years. They were nasty, edgy, dirty young boys and Eddie's guitar playing was brilliant, dynamic and gut punching. David Lee Roth was the eptiome of what every mother did not want their son to be, but his showmanship and vocal work exuded "PARTY!" He was also one whacked out dude (and obviously still is). Alex Van Halen on drums and Michael Anthony on bass were tight and contributed a great deal to the bands party vibe. Van Halen, Van Halen II, 1984and Fair Warning are must listen to albums, with Diver Down and Women and Children First close seconds.

The Bad:

The Music. If you're a fan of the Sammy Hagar years and quality albums like 5150 and OU812 (I only like "Poundcake" from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge) you're out of luck. All music with Sammy as the front man is excluded. That's some seriously big hits to leave out, and really is inexcusable. However the current band members feel about Sammy (and Eddie is known to hold a grudge like few others), leaving out the tunes from this era is just wrong.

Michael Anthony. Not only is Sammy left out, but so is original bass player Anthony. This, to any diehard old school Van Halen fan, is just flat out wrong. He meant as much to the band and its image as anyone, and to slap him in the face like this publicly is disgusting. Instead, who do we get to play as? Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's young son...

WHAT? Why the heck would I want to play as Wolfgang? What appeal does that have whatsoever? Is Wolfgang a legendary bass player? No, he's a stand-in... It's so awkward even seeing him in there, it's so obvious he doesn't belong that it's almost painful to see his avatar meekly meandering around the stage. It's like personally standing there watching Anthony get punched in the face and being constantly reminded of it while you're playing the game.

The Avatars. See that reference photo above... see Eddie? That's old wrinkled Eddie. That's not the Eddie you unlock after playing for awhile, that's the Eddie you start with and the Eddie you'll be stuck playing with until you unlock the c1assic Eddie. Same goes for the whole band... so you're stuck playing with dudes that look like this:

Who wants to play as a bunch of old guys? I'm an old guy and I wouldn't want to play as me, I'd take the younger version of me any day. Do I want to play as the David Lee Roth who girls had posters of in their bedrooms in 1982, or as washed up crazy DLR who looks more like a Beverly Hills hairdresser than a rock star?

And even when you unlock the avatars of the way they used to look, Eddie just looks weird.

The avatar you unlock for David Lee Roth is much better though and is the best one of the bunch. Oh yeah, you can unlock an alternative version of Wolfgang too... but considering he's only 18 years old, c1assic Wolfgang is a baby playing bass (I'm kidding, but that would be better than what you really get).

The Game. Neversoft obviously made this during a transition between the old model of GH because you see elements left over from World Tour and prior games, and you see a few of the changes made for the recent GH 5. It sits uncomfortably in that region in between, so for GH regulars it will feel a little strange.

No History. Unlike GH: Aerosmith, there are no cool unlockable interviews with the band. The care and attention to the band's legacy is missing and you will likely learn nothing about them from playing the game, other than they had alot of cool songs in the early years.

Price. I got the game free for buying GH 5 during the promotion Activision ran in September. I see that the pre-order price listing is $60 when the game is officially released in a couple of weeks. This post is an attempt on my part to make sure you don't completely waste $60. No way, no how, even if you're a Van Halen fan like myself, should you be plunking down that kind of money on this. Wait till it's $20, that's about the most you should pay.

I didn't cover the non-VH songs included in this because they seem completely out of place. At least with the Aerosmith game the band said those were bands that influenced them, they influenced, or they admired. With this game it seems like Neversoft had some tracks sitting around without a game to put them in and threw them in to take up the space that could have been used for the songs with Hagar singing lead. Jimmy Eat World? Weezer? Yellowcard? Huh??

Unfortunately for those of us that really (used to) love the GH series, this is an obvious cash in.