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zgreenwell Blog

Dragon Age II?

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I have been gearing up for Dragon Age 3 by playing through the original a couple more times. I went ahead and tried the demo today. So far it looks like 2 will be pretty good, but have terrible voice acting. That is all.

Post Christmas Post 2010

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I'm slightly jealous of others on this site at this time of year. Mostly because the majority of people on this site are still young enough that they get presents from their parents and relatives on Christmas. While I do still manage to get some nice food items or a pair of pants (if I'm lucky) I am largely in charge of my own Christmas, and am expected to be the one doing the spending. That fact isn't helped by the fact that I have 3 kids of my own. When I was younger, I would have a decent size "haul" to be talking about. While, I'm somewhat nostalgic, I wouldn't trade positions at this point. I had a great Christmas with family and friends.

The one thing I did decide to buy myself was a copy of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2. Its odd for me to be so hyped about a game that is not new, and I have in fact played for a significant amount of time (and already beaten multiple times). Well... it just so happens I love this game! I'm a very big fan of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and also G Gundam and have watched both multiple times. I also love Dynasty Warriors because it is an exciting co-op game. I should have just used "keep it" when I had it from Gamefly ages ago, but I felt like I did that WAY TOO OFTEN! Afterwards I could never find it at Gamestop when I had some spare cash. So, I'm having fun with it now, and I very happy about it.

I also bought Dance Central a couple of weeks ago. I'm mildly upset about it, not because the game is bad, but I just have trouble getting into playing it. I'm not exactly good at it yet, and I prefer not having people watch me while I play it. So, this was probably a poor investment on my behalf, but at least my curiosity is staved.

Even with me not being the kid anymore, I'm still about as pleased as possible with the way this Christmas turned out. My family all seemed to get sick right on Christmas Eve, but it didn't keep our spirits down. It snowed about 6 inches of snow overnight into Christmas day, and I love snow! We went sledding. My kids all loved their gifts and had fun playing with their two cousins. Also, I had some pleasant conversation with my family.

I hate waiting.

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So all the ads with the new artwork got me to want to try out Maple Story. I signed up and went to download the game. Then I realized it would be two hours just for the files to download. I gave up. Someone tell me if it is good or not.

Longevity + Replay Value + Fun = WIN!

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Game Dev story is a simulation rpg game where you are the head of a Japanese game development studio. Things start out simple, with you hiring a team and making some bad to mediocre indie PC games and then progress to you being the premier game developer in the biz, and possibly even making your own console.

The game is simple fun. You hire staff and train them, level them up, and choose what projects to work on and assign tasks. The objective is to maximize your sales by creating a great game that combines the correct genre and subject and selling it to the correct demographic on the correct platform. It might feel complicated at first, but it is fun enough that you'll be willing to overcome the slight learning curve.

While creating a hit game is fun, its the not-so-obscure inside references really put this title over the top. As a developer, you can create the top tier games for a console. It also gives you the opportunity to rewrite history, making your favorite former console the king of its generation. For a gamer who's been a gamer for years all of this will come out to be hilarious. If your not interested in gaming, or young enough not to know, the humor may be lost.

Another note is that the game was originally developed for non-touch mobile phones and ported. You can also tell that the game was originally Japanese. Still the game plays fine and the humor makes it through. I would have liked a slight expansion that allows for multiple simultaneous projects. Even as is, its the most fun I've ever had with an iPhone game and would encourage everyone who frequents this site to buy it.

Pepsi or Coke: What's your Flavor?

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With so many similar products on the marketplace, its interesting to see what products people get divided over and why. Pepsi and Coke are a classic example because most people have chosen a side and are 100% certain that their choice is best and everyone on the opposing side wrong.

pepsi vs coke

For the record, I'm a Pepsi person, but that isn't what this blog is about. I was examining my choice of game consoles and wondering why I'm so happily devoted to the Xbox 360 and so largely apathetic towards its equally likable competition. The reasons are very subtle and surprising.

xbox 360 logo

Its not the games

Everyone knows what games the Xbox is famous for and I have trouble really connecting myself to a single on of its major franchises. I wasn't waiting in line for Fable 3 and I didn't like Halo:Reach. I also am not a fan of Gears of War. I honestly hate Call of Duty, all of them (despite giving ample opportunity to each new iteration). The games I've spent the most time playing over the past year have been Dragon Age Origins (PC) and Shadowrun (PC). For clarification, Shadowrun is mostly considered an Xbox game, but it runs better on PC and I have a separate silver gamertag I use when playing. So, if I just wanted a platform to play games I know I like, it would be 100% PC.

Its not the hardware

I'll admit I like the Xbox 360 controller better than the PS3 and even the Wii. Normally, I don't even enjoy Keyboard and mouse controls and will often opt for an Xbox controller on PC games that allow it. Still, my PC gaming rig just kills the Xbox when it comes to performance. Also, I really enjoy games that work with their control scheme. Resident Evil 4 was way better on Wii and Dragon Age Origins is a PC only in my mind, because of the use the keyboard and mouse. I do like HD, but again PC is way more capable there and PS3 honestly looks the same as Xbox to me. That doesn't even consider the questionable reliability of my older Xbox 360s. If it were just hardware, the PC would win again, but it doesn't.

Its not the online multi-player

Xbox LIVE is famous for being the best online experience on consoles, but it is now $60 a year. There is now an equally good online network on the PS3, if you're only talking about online multi-player. PS3 has its share of some really good online games and many exclusives. My favorite online game in recent memory is actually Fat Princess. I want it on PSP, if anyone reading wants to get me a late birthday gift (Nov 7). I often realize how little I use my LIVE account for its original purpose. Yesterday, I played Kinect Adventures online and I think it was the first time I used it in months and I only played for about 15 minutes. When it comes down to it, I prefer to play games with people in person and don't enjoy paying for the few times I dare to go online by myself.

What do I like?

When I really thought about it, there are two things I love about Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE.

The Demos:

In recent history, between splitting time between my own business, my family (married, 3 kids), and my other hobbies (crossfit), I don't really have much time to game. While I used to, and still do occasionally, enjoy a marathon gaming session, my favorite way to play now is 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Since I am also an avid reader of this and multiple other gaming sites, I love keeping up on what is new and experiencing just about everything out there. So, what I enjoy doing most when I turn on the Xbox is checking what new arcade games are out and downloading all of the demos and giving them a try. I also download most of the retail game demos and try them out. This is a feature that PSN has, and it can also be found on PC, but no place is as consistent and makes it as easy as Xbox Live. Its especially great because usually, even if I bought the full game, I would get bored with it after about 15 minutes anyway. For me, this is the cheapest and most effective way to feel like I'm still in the gaming loop.

The social:

This is why I keep my subscription to LIVE going. I come home from work, turn on my console, see my brother is on, invite to party. I have three brothers I keep up with on Xbox LIVE and even though we would never call each other on the phone, we'll talk extensively while gaming. Sometimes we'll all decide to switch to one game, and sometimes we'll all just play different games, but it is something the we would only be able to do on the Xbox 360. It reminds me of when we were all younger and all lived at Mom's and would do 4 player split-screen for hours. On occasion, I might talk to someone else over LIVE, but usually the only reason I have a mic on is so I can keep up with family.

Conclusion.

So, I like Xbox 360. Not because of some blind devotion, but because it has features I use and enjoy. I don't think its perfect and am aware of places where other platforms are better, or at least offer a unique alternative. If I were forced to choose though, I would keep the 360 over PS3 and Wii. Of course, you could never convince me to toss my computer, especially since I have two desktops and a laptop I use to game, but the computers are mostly for work (Right?). What I'm saying is that I have a preference, I'm biased, and I don't care. I know what I like and why I like it.

Now to figure out why I hate Steam so much.

Xbox 360 Kinect: I HAZ IT!

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So... I bought Kinect!

I've only used it for about 2 hours at this point, but I can give you the long and short of it right here!

Good:

  • It works!
  • Its fun!
  • Its easy to set up.
  • Voice and Motion controlled console navigation

Bad:

  • Launch titles are a little weak
  • cost
  • space requirements

It took about an hour of rearranging furniture to give Kinect the space it needed for "Best" configuration. It actually isn't the first time I've done this (I had previously used a similar arangement for DDR). That said, Kinect does need its 6-8ft of space, but if there's a will, there's a way. It seems to handle poor lighting pretty well, since we're running it in a basement with only one lamp on the side.

The controls for navigating the Xbox are very cool, but feel a little half-baked at the moment. You can only control things in there new Kinect guide. So, while I can use voice commands to tell it to go to "ESPN", I can't tell it to go to "Games Marketplace" yet. You also can't turn the system on or off with voice yet. All the console navigation can be done sitting or standing.

I have played Kinect Adventures and Kinectimals, and I like them both. Kinect Adventures is well polished and fun, especially with 2 people. Kenticimals is really a smart game. Its intriguing because it plays like a tech demo in many places. The one thing Kinectimals proves though is that there needs to be a voice command for skipping cut-scenes in Kinect only games. I fully expect future titles to include this feature.

So, there you have it. If Microsoft continues to support the device, I wont regret buying it. It is smart and fun and active. It isn't a guaranteed hit right now, I don't know if other people will buy it, but Microsoft put out a competent product that does have potential to provide many unique gaming experiences.

Crackdown 2 Review

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Crackdown 2 is an experiment in stagnation. It seems like the developers put extra effort into seeing how little they could change and still release this title as a numbered sequel. Nothing has been improved, although they have added 4 player support over LIVE. That, can not make up for having a derivative and overly boring campaign experience.

If you've played Crackdown, you'll be instantly familiar with Crackdown 2. That's because you'll be seeing the same map with the exact same graphics cut and pasted right out of the original. The story has changed somewhat, you fight a gang call Cell, and now there are zombies. While its fun fighting them, the repetitive missions involved in ridding the city of them leave a lot to be desired. You'll do the same 2 types of missions over and over again for hours, then the game will be over. There is an online competitive multiplayer, but even if you manage to have some fun with it, it doesn't come close to making up for the weak campaign.

The fun in Crackdown 2 all comes from screwing around and searching for orbs. Exploration is still enjoyable, but the climbing feels a little less precise. I really enjoyed running over hoards of zombies in the agency cars, but as fun as that is, it can only entertain someone for so long. Other distractions include new orbs that run from you, requiring you to chase them on foot or in a car. There are some races too, but really thats it. It is fun, just like it was fun in the original, but its too shallow to support the entire game.

In the end, you have a worthwhile title that shows potential of possibly becoming something great. If this were not a sequel and this was the first time of seeing these ideas, I'd be impressed. As it is, you'd be better off replaying the original Crackdown again if you enjoyed it. Hopefully they'll decided to put effort into Crackdown 3 and make the series into the crazy fun and innovative franchise that it deserves to be.

Score and Rate up please.

Completed Dragon Age Origins Awakening

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I spent a good portion of the last 3 days working through Dragon Age: Origins- Awakening. If you haven't guessed already I've kind of fallen in love with the original game on PC and have played it several times. That said, I didn't import any of my characters. I have one I'm working on that I wanted to import, but I wanted to get a feel for things first. After playing through as a female Orledian dwarf rouge, I've decided I really like the expansion and wrote a review.

You have to have the original game to play. More importantly you have to know how to play from the original game. That said, I think I like this campaign way more than the main quest. Here are my reasons:

1. No troublesome low level fight. You start at 18 with whatever you want.

2, The starting equipment is very good, and you can play through the whole expansion with it.

3. You don't have to let a single team member join.

4. The dungeons are a more realistic length.

5. Many choices make an immediate impact on the game.

6. The new abilities are pretty cool.

I think it took me 25 hours, but I'm not sure. I know I spent 8 hours playing today and probably about 10 yesterday. Its long, but not too long. There are a lot of parts that are streamlined. There is only one town and your fort and the dungeons. After the initial shock, I've decided I like that better. There is much less wasted time traveling around for no reason. Your team-members don't have as much interaction though. I did miss that, but I like no being forced to drag around anyone I don't like. Overall, I like it better than the original game. Even though it is glitchy.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 first impressions

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Well, I now own Super Mario Galaxy 2 and spent six hours yesterday working through the first 3 worlds and clearing many of the individual galaxies. So far, I can say that this is a very good game, not a perfect game, but a very good game.

For the most part, the game is excellent. It is the best looking game I've played on the Wii and has an amazing soundtrack with new music and some nostalgic pieces mixed together. The level design is very entertaining. Every galaxy has a unique concept and so far I've enjoyed all of them.

The main problem I have with this game is its incredibly slow start. The first few hours you play will be spent waiting for a decent challenge. The game forces you to play with training wheels, even going so far as having multiple instructions on how to do the same basic action. Once things get going it becomes incredibly fun. Still, the first couple worlds felt too much like an introduction to platforming, which would be good if you were new to the game, but boring for a veteran Mario player.

Another issue I noticed were an occasional control bug. If you run in a circle it is very difficult to stop. Also, there is one boss where you can only move by pressing the thumb-stick in two directions but the game keeps switching whether those directions are up and down or left and right. Those are just some things you have to get used to though. The core platforming is as solid as ever.

There are a couple levels I've played though that have really sold me on the game. One had Mario jumping between platforms that switched position when he used a spin jump. When the game added purple coins and a time limit it created a deviously designed level that you will likely have you spinning to try and make a jump just to have your spin move the platform out from in front of you. Another one I really enjoyed was the slide. I know that isn't new to this game, but the nostalgia only added to the fun for me. I thought it was great!

There are a few other things, that aren't really bad, its just not what I was hoping for. One thing I miss from other Mario games is a hub world. You do get to jump around on your spaceship, which is shaped like Mario's head, but there is no huge castle to run around in. The stage selection feels like it was pulled right out of New Super Mario Brothers Wii. Another thing that I've noticed is all the galaxies feel very small. I don't know that they're actually smaller than other Mario game levels. It could just be the first time I've noticed. What I'm hoping is still in store are some long levels where Mario's jumping ability is really put the test.

I don't know how long the game is, but I'm wanting more. That can not be a bad thing. If I beat it and still want more, its nice because I can just got get the first one, which I haven't played except at store displays. Anyway, Mario Galaxy 2 is well worth playing. I don't know that I would say it is a must buy yet, I'll have to finish it to know for sure. Still, this game is a nice addition to the Mario franchise.

Why wont my xbox achievements import?

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Seriously. I got all excited and signed up for Raptr and now its been days and it still hasn't added in all of my Xbox achievements. It is finding the new ones, but it wont load the old ones. Is there something I'm doing wrong?