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Vainn Blog

Day of 24

Nono... this isn't a blog about Jack Bauer and his larger than life antics. I feel weird tooting my own horn this way but I guess a blog's nothing but a way for someone to toot their own horn. Therefore, I'd like to wish my fellow Canucks a great Canada Day and myself a happy birthday.

It's been pretty uneventful so far. After much swearing, I managed to close out Conan for the 360 and finally got around to watching Knocked Up, which was good, but I didn't find it as funny as 40 year-old Virgin.

Oh, and if anyone would like to send me gifts, I accept computer parts seeing as how I am in the neighbourhood for a new video card... which will probably also require a new power supply (I know you just got some zgreenwell *wink wink*). Other than that I also accept donations of beautiful virgins or slutty women who know what they're doing (whichever you happen to have on hand I suppose, I'm not picky). Money is always welcomed of course, and don't worry, it's not too impersonal for me.

In lieu of all that, I suppose well wishing shall suffice (cheapos!). Two decades down... who knows how many more left? :o Chao!


P.S. - I'm close to reaching the 10k Gamerscore mark, so that's pretty exciting. I'm still looking to get the achievements for beating the Hardest difficulty in Gears of War, as well as for beating the game as Dom. I'm also looking to nab the achievements for beating Halo 3 on Legendary, so if any of y'all are interested in helping me out give me a shout, okay? Pretty please?

MGS4 and 2.40

Hey all. Sorry for the lack of updates, it's been more than a month since I made my last blog post. I've just been really busy with work and script editting (not getting paid for the latter, it's more of a hobby kinda thing...) and trying to find time to game. With that being said, I have been spending most, if not all, of my spare time recently playing MGS4. I also have the privilege of playing it with a DualShock 3, which really makes the experience that much better. I know your blogs have probably been filled with MGS4 impressions blog, but bear with me for one more.

- The production values are amazing. I have yet to see any game look this good so far. Say what you will about GTA4, its graphics were indeed amazing, taking into account how much the game had to render at once in such a large open world. But in terms of details and nuances, MGS4 blows it out of the water. This is probably the closest that any CG character has come to looking like a real person.

- Having only played the original PSone MGS before this one, I think the controls work really well. Sometimes it is a little awkward to have to hold a bunch of different buttons to do certain things, but it's not the first game that has required gamers to do that.

- Despite being the next in a long line of stealth espionage games, this title feels a little less like previous MGS games. It's a lot easier to run-and-game and be successful than previous iterations, and there seems to be a much smaller emphasis on sneaking around and staying out of sight than before. That and after you got spotted, it almost doesn't even feel like MGS. It's much harder to try and run, get out of sight and hide until the alert passes, rather than just shooting everyone who comes your way before ducking into a nearby cave or something and wait for the soldiers to return to their regular duties.

- The story is EPIC. Again, having not really played and finished the other Metal Gear games, there are certain details that probably go unnoticed. Most of my knowledge of previous games comes from the series of Metal Gear retrospective videos on GameTrailers. If you need a refresher and don't want to play through all the games again, or haven't played a single MGS game before this, go ahead and hop on over and take a look at the vids. They're extremely well done, though MGS4 was done in such a way that even newcomers will get the basic gist of what happened in previous games just by playing it.

- There's a slight install when you first pop the game in, that takes about 8 mins. After that, there are extra installs that happen before the start of each new act. These tend to be a lot shorter, ranging from about 5 to 2 mins, so they're not that bothersome, to me at least. There are also some pretty lengthy cutscenes, and sometimes you'll have a bunch of cutscenes back-to-back (ie - after boss cutscene, new act install, mission briefing cutscene), but the cutscenes are genuinely interesting and it's definitely recommended that you watch them.

So yeah... if you can't tell already, I am really enjoying my time with the game. If you have a PS3, you owe it to yourself to play this game, even if you didn't like the previous installments. If you didn't, probably try renting it first before actually buying it, but I still think you should give it a try. I'm in the last act at the moment, so I will probably try to have a review up by the end of the week (I've yet to try MGO though).

Also, in the news, it looks like other Tecmo employees have followed Itagaki's example and are now suing Tecmo for royalties that they are owed. This may very well be the end of the Team Ninja we all know (and for some love), so it's pretty much safe to say that any further installments of the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series will be quite different from their current and past incarnations.

And finally, exciting news for PS3 owners! In an official PlayStation blog by Eric Lempel, the director in charge of PlayStation Network Operations, he has announced that firmware 2.36 will be released soon which should improvePSN stability when playing certain games. This is good news for me, as I am a little tired of seeing the error message telling me I've just been signed out of PSN while playing GTA4 or MGS4. But the best part is that he has officially confirmed that firmware 2.40 will, as previously speculated, include in-game XMB and trophies. This is very exciting. Unfortunately,. no news on when we should expect this, but I hope that it will be released within the next couple of months or so. The official post is right here.

Thanks for reading through this long thing! Till next time!

Edit: Oh, I forgot. I've finally hit level 24, "I Feel Asleep!!". Huzzah! What a perfect time to hit this level, right when Metal Gear frenzy is at its highest! Oh joyest of joyable joys! :D

Network Server Error

As anybody who's been tracking Metal Gear Solid 4 should know, when you preorder the game you are given a bonus disc that gives you an overview of the saga up to this point, as well as providing you a slot in the Metal Gear Online beta that will be running from April 21st to May 6th. Herein lies my gripe.

The beta doesn't officially start until the 21st, but Konami has come out and said that the beta will be available for download a few days before the official beta starts. Upon downloading and trying to access, it is revealed that the game already needs an update. Not a big deal right? Ain't the first game that's done this. However, every time I have attempted to download this patch I have been greeted by a big ol' "Network Server Error" message.

At first this only cropped up during the download process (you can choose either peer-to-peer or http download, but good luck getting the http option to work). But after a while it wouldn't even let me get that far. I'd accept the TOS, wait, and like 20 seconds later I'd be hit with the server error screen. After another long while I was able to get back to the download, twice in a row with no problems actually, and both times I was hit by the server error within a minute of the download starting.

You'd think that, based on the fact this is a closed beta and Konami is handing out keys with preorder discs, they would have an idea of how many people would be downloading/accessing this and would be able to dole out the appropriate amount of bandwidth to deal with it. Apparently I gave Konami too much credit. I mean yes, the beta hasn't officially started yet... but you are already letting people download it. Do you not believe they'd try to patch it ahead of time so they could just jump into the game when it starts on the 21st? And even among those who have been able to patch, I've heard that it took anywhere from around an hour to up to 9 hours and counting.

The one bright spot? At the title screen when you can choose either 'Start' (which leads to the TOS and download) or 'Trailer', if you have a DualShock 3 you do feel a rumble when you pick an option. That at least gives me hope that the beta will support the DS3... if I can ever get into the beta. ARGH!

Games to keep, games to buy?

Hey. Taking advice from V^3, I've decided to make a short blog asking for your opinions.

Due to my cousin's (d@mn him) purchase of Rock Band and my subsequent playing of it, I've been lured to the joys of playing fake guitar as sailors would be lured to their deaths by siren calls. Since then I've purchased Guitar Hero 3 on my own. Now here's the thing, I also recently picked up Guitar Hero 2 for the 360 for $50. I saw they put it on sale for $40 yesterday, so I can go back and get some money back.

At the same point in time, I also just picked up Condemned: Criminal Origins yesterday, partially due to one of Jim's earlier blogs about how good of a game it was. I haven't started it yet, but Best Buy now has the sequel, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, on sale for $40 as well. Here's my question: since I own Guitar Hero 3, is it worth my time and money to keep Guitar Hero 2 and just go and buy Condemned 2? Or should I return GH2 and put that money towards Condemned 2? Or should I just return all of the above and wait for GTA IV (which I'm also on the fence about).

Speaking of which... how many are of y'all going to buy GTA on day one? I've never really been a fan of the series (I've only played Vice City which I borrowed from a friend) so any arguments you guys can make to sway towards buying or not buying it are appreciated.

Also, I have a new review up, this one of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. Here's a link to it. Please leave feedback on it if you read it and if you have the time, let me know what you think of it and how I can improve my reviews in the future with a comment. Thanks all and have an awesome weekend.

Edit: Oh right, forgot to mention that I was also able to pick up a Dualshock 3 yesterday at Best Buy for $54.99 CDN (odd considering the Sixaxis is $59.99). Haven't spent too much time with it yet as I got home late from work last night, but I tried it with a PS2 game and found the "force feedback" a lot more subtle this time around. Maybe they toned it down to help with battery life? I'll have more impressions as I try more games and see what kind of results I get, though I'm disappointed to see that Call of Duty 4 doesn't have support for rumble as of right now. :P

Tetris Ninjas

Wow, these guys are high-larious. As their namesake implies, they did a skit imitating the cl@ssic game of Tetris.

Ninjas AND Tetris? Sign me up!

The most recent one I stumbled upon was one that they did at an anime convention that spoofed both certain animes and another cl@ssic game, though this was for the NES. There's a full version and a shorter version that cuts out the group setting up the stage.

Full version (includes stage set-up)

Shorter version

I found some other goodies as well. Gotta hand it to Blizzard, they sure know how to do April Fool's.

New Starcraft II unit

World of Warcraft Bard cl@ss

New X360 accessories. I'd buy it.

ZOMG! Legend of Zelda movie?!

Hope everyone enjoyed these. :D

Edit: Bleh, stupid GameSpot and their no using the word cl@ss. Can't do the Bard link that way, so you just have to copy and paste this... changing the @ to a normal 'a' of course.

Freed of mine chains

Ahoy-hoy fellow G-Spotters (I leave what I mean up to your imagination folks). Just doing some more updates.

I recently picked up a couple new titles in God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP and Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii. Impressions are as follow:

Few hours have been spent on Brawl so far... far less than what should have been. But what time has been spent has been a joy, even though I play only with one other person instead of with three others. Still, it's hard to deny how enjoyable and addicting this type of game is even though it's the third iteration in a line of games with very minimal changes made to its gameplay. It may just be my imagination but I seem to notice some slight recognition lag when playing with a remote and nunchuk, I will try to play with a Gamecube controller soon and see if that's really the case.

I just finished Chains of Olympus mere moments before posting this blog, and I must take some time out to give my utmost respect to Ready at Dawn. They have done a tremendous job with this game, as it plays, with minimal exceptions, just as smoothly as its PS2 brethren. The graphics and everything are amazing, and while it lacks quality and quantity in the puzzle area, it makes up for it in the action department. If you own a PSP, you owe it to yourself to get this game. If you don't but it's the kind of game you're interested in and would consider buying the system for, make sure you go pick up the Chains of Olympus PSP bundle when it comes out in "limited" supply in June, if you can wait that long.

I also recently finished Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law for the PSP as well. It's an enjoyable game with lots of humour, but unfortunately the gameplay is a bit lacking and the game is criminally short. Expect a review for Harvey Birdman and God of War soon, perhaps as soon as over this weekend.

As a final note, it looks like Ready at Dawn is hanging up their PSP development hats. (see here) For those too lazy to click the link, here's the important part:

"Moving forward, we can confirm that Chains of Olympus will be our last PSP game as we're moving on to other projects and other ideas on other consoles."

I'm sorry, I hate to end this post on such bad news, I really do.

Quicky Update (Persona 3 FES, YES!)

Hello all, just a quick update from your resident blogging turtle (slow to update, isn't very exciting, secretly wants to be a ninja, shall I go on?)

Earlier in the month, last Tuesday to be exact, one of my aunts went under the knife for open heart surgery. I didn't get all the info as I only overheard bits and pieces during a family gathering, but for what I was able to gather apparently doctors had found a tumor in there and so clearly they had to operate to remove that. Thankfully, the surgery went as well as I could hope and my aunt made an extremely quick recovery. I received an e-mail from my uncle just yesterday saying that she was already well enough to be discharged and go home, which was wonderful news. Little news could be better in fact.

Second on the docket, thanks to help and advice from zgreenwell, I am now the proud owner of a 37" Sharp AQUOS HDTV as of around 7:00pm EST. Finally, I am truly a "next-gen" (I guess that's current gen now) gamer. :D The set was originally discounted to $999.99 at Best Buy, but for tonight only they were having a "preferred customer sale" in which they offered an additional 10% off the lowest price tag on any TV. That brought the pricedown to $899.99 plus taxes, but here's the big thing that pushed me to buy the TV. An additional promotion was offered on top of that, where if you purchase said TV on their Best Buy card (provided your credit checks out), there are no payments and no interest on it until August. So I essentially have 6 months to pay off the price of the TV WITHOUT having to pay any interest. I really doubt I could've afforded it otherwise, so it was a Godsend for me.

Next on the agenda, I am EXTREMELY happy to see that Atlus has decided to bring what is essentially an expansion pack to Persona 3 out here in North America, titled Persona 3 FES. It's currently set for April 22 release at a price point of $29.99 (which means it will probably be around $34.99 here in Canada). I thoroughly enjoyed my time, however short, with Persona 3, and since I currently have my PS3 with me I plan to spend some more time with it before FES gets released.

Lastly... and xboxrulze will probably have something to say about this... I purchased a copy of Lost Odyssey when I went in to Best Buy. The preferred customer sale also entailed $5 off any Xbox 360 game, and since I had $10 in Best Buy Reward Zone coupons sitting around, I decided to cash those in as well so I knocked $15 off the price tag, so I got the game for $45 plus taxes. If it wasn't for the fact that I bought the TV I probably would not have bought LO until later on this year when I finished up some of my other games (or saved up enough money to buy an HDTV), but since I did I thought "Oh why not?" since xboxrulze and nocoolnamejim have been raving about it.

So... that's all for today folks. Oh, I've also been investing a decent amount of time into Call of Duty 4 Multiplayer as of late, so if any of you out there own the PlayStation 3 version of the game and want to hook up for some matches, feel free to add me to your friends list. The name's wchigo. Hope to see/frag ya soon.

What a game... and updates?

New York Giants just upset the 18-0 Patriots in a stunning 17-14 victory at Super Bowl XLII (42). /sigh

As for me... I apologize to any and all who have noticed my absence as of late and was expecting a more active me, especially after I had made my first blog post and all. I just have to say that the word of my demise has been grossly under-exaggerated (no, not a mistake, you read that right). =p Major details will be withheld for now, and smaller details may trickle through as time goes on.

Overall as an update to my situation, I've been busy with work mainly, and over the past couple days I've been helping out with family stuff as we recently transferred my ailing grandma, who's Alzheimer's has been getting progressively worse, to a much closer nursing home than the one she was in previously, which cuts down on the travel time for my grandfather to go see her. For myself personally, I've been having these on-again off-again headaches and dizzy spells, and I think I may be coming down with something yet again (I was pretty sick in early Dec). Might be too much info, but I may be falling into a small bout of depression again, which is not a new thing.

On the good side, I have finally gotten ownership of my own PC back about 3-4 weeks ago after having it die on me around mid-January 2007. I procured a copy of Orange Box and promptly went to work on Portal, and I have to say that while it's not the longest gaming experience I've every had by any stretch of the imagination, it's definitely one of the BEST and everyone should play through this game, whether you're a fan of FPS games or not. I've also been working on playing through Half-Life 2 since I never beat it when I bought it like 4 years ago or so, but have since been distracted by playing Counter-Strike: Source with my cousin and friend, and testing out a new {free} MMORPG with the aforementioned friend called 9 Dragons.

Just a throw away blog really, didn't think I'd be doing one on just my second blog in. Hopefully the next blog will have a more upbeat tone to it.


Hello and Happy 2008 to all. I realize that many of you don't know who I am, nor do you particularly care who I am, but seeing as how I have not made an effort to make myself known I can't say I loathe or blame you for that. Seeing as how I've never blogged before now, I suppose I should supply a little background info and just reveal a little bit about myself.

Well... to start, I'm a C-B-C (Canadian-born-Chinese). I was born in Toronto, moved to San Francisco when I was the wee age of 3, and moved back up to Canada around 1995. I don't remember exactly how I got into gaming, but my earliest memories of it were playing Mario Bros./Duck Hunt with my mum and playing a Castlevania game on one of my mum's friend's Game Boy. I've been lurking around GameSpot for a number of years, simply content with visiting the site once in a while to see the scores of either games that I was looking forward to, or perhaps any good games that weren't on my radar originally but were worth checking out. According to my profile I initially created an account here on GameSpot on Aug 17, 2005 but I neverr really used it much, half the time I wouldn't even bother signing it when I visited the site once or twice a week.

I'm a pretty big fan of anime and manga, so I would label myself an otaku (I guess most people would call me a "Japophile" or however that's spelt). My favourite genre was always RPGs, though as of late I have come to enjoy other areas of gaming as well, and so what (or more specifically, who) attracted me to GameSpot was Greg Kasavin. He was, and still is in my opinion, the best reviewer on any website or gaming publication. In terms of my gaming history, I originally owned an NES, which was sold last year in a garage sale (I still regret that to this day). Since then I've gone on to own an SNES, a Game Gear (also sold in the aforementioned garage sale), a Game Boy Color, an N64, a PlayStation, a PlayStation 2, a Game Boy Advance SP, a PlayStation Portable, a Nintendo DS, a Nintendo DS Lite, a Wii, an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 3 and finally a PlayStation Portable Slim. Wow, did I ever spend a lot of my parents' money... >_> (everything from the GBA SP on was purchased with my own money though.)

Err... what to talk about next. Well, I guess I can attribute my interest in blogging and adding to the community to one person, nocoolnamejim. I first came into contact with his writing when I noticed one of his undoubtedly more controversial blogs, Japanese RPG is dead. Despite the unabashed fanboyism I assumed would be permeating the thread's responses, I decided to take a look at what this man had to say about my favourite genre of gaming. I expected it to be nothing more than someone trashing this type of game (at this point, I usually did little on GS besides read the reviews and watch features like On The Spot) and I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-written article detailing why said person felt that the genre had gotten stale and was slowly, but surely, marching towards its deathbed. Though I disagreed with the title of the blog and some of his arguments, I could not help but agree with some of them as well, and thus responded with my own thoughts and observations on the subject. Little did I know that this would lead to what I feel to be a very important friendship, and I have come to respect Jim's opinion (man, can this guy write or what?) on numerous subjects, and I often even go to him on second opinions for various things.

Since then I've also been blessed with the friendship of a number of other very funny, but more importantly, intelligent and clever people such as digi_matrix, ChiliDragon, xboxrulze, and monco59 among many others. So uh... where was I? Oh yeah. Since then I've been involved a lot more in the community, I've started tracking people's blogs and leaving comments, and am occasionally frequenting certain unions. Since it's now the start of a new year and all, I decided that I would try to be more active when it comes to my contributions. Jim had mentioned the idea of making my first blog post about certain Japanese terms and maybe a bit about Japanese culture, seeing as how I'm really big on that kind of stuff, but Chili's most recent blog entitled Not Another Christmas Blog covered quite a bit on that subject, so I decided to hold off on that. I will hopefully continue on with this blogging thing from now on and make an occasional insightful blog or two, even if by accident. I have some ideas in mind, but I'm going to try and let them grow a little before I post in haste.

I feel like I've rambled on for quite a while now, so I'll end it before I make a bigger arse of myself in my first blog. I'll just end it by mentioning that I've just made my first GameSpot review on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and you can find it here. Upon posting it and looking over it, I cringed just a little looking at how lengthy it was, and that compared to most of the other one paragraph reviews there that it most likely just lost in the shuffle. I'm going to work on shortening my reviews and making them more concise, so any comments, concerns and advice that you can provide would be appreciated. So... that's it for my first post. I guess I'll go and attempt to make more headway in The Darkness now. If you appreciate a good story and haven't had a chance to check it out, I recommend that you do. I'm having a lot more fun with it than I thought I would.

Thanks for reading through all this everyone, I know it was tough. :)