d_black / Member

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d_black Blog

Compulsive Behaviour?

I took the time recently to update my Gamespot profile with all my games. I'm something of a collector and, much to my girlfriend's disapproval; I refuse to part with anything if I can really help it.

Go ahead and check my game collection – at time of writing there is 198 titles spread over numerous platforms. I actually have more than that but upon testing found that some of them didn't work and subsequently weren't included. I despise piracy, everything is legal and I take pride in that.

The point I'm slowing getting to is that I keep buying games before I've even reached the 3rd stage in the last game I bought. I know I'm not alone in this – why do we keep buying? I completed a game this morning (House of the Dead Overkill – also see my review). The game was about 5 hours long but I've owned it for about 6 months. When I bought it I played the first stage then didn't touch it for 5 months.

I have this thing about supporting developers. I feel if I don't buy their game quick enough that they won't get the sales figures and won't get their next project green lit. Two cases come to mind; Heavy Rain and Brutal Legend. I bought both these games at launch because I expected them to be great and because I wanted to support the developers. Sadly both let me down; Heavy Rain's selling point – 'the story' was totally underwhelming and Brutal Legend's game play meant it quickly got thrown back on the pile for who knows how long.

Ironically I play the same few games all the time. I've gotten quite good at Bad Company 2 but then I've logged 75 hours online to date so it's hard not to have picked up some skill. I just like having things – even when I don't use them and this isn't a good thing.

Still Alive

I should consider updating this some time and stop ripping off Portal with my titles.

Update coming soon for my one reader out there.

Broken Consoles, New Additions and .....Megaman?

It's been a while since the last entry and I guess I never did follow up on that Xbox failure rate issue. At this point I don't really plan to however I'm going to make short of mention of it. As you might know (if you read earlier blogs) I own two 360's, I've now had two broken ones (fortunately not at the same time). At time of writing one is actually off being repaired. It's been gone for 3 weeks and I should expect to be waiting another 2 weeks to get it back (no big scale game nights for a while then). Of the 5 RL friends I have who own 360's, 4 have had broken ones, 2 of whom are waiting to get theirs back from repair.

Broken consoles, makes you wanna do this:

Moving on slightly but sticking with similar subject matter, the Xbox Elite is due out in the UK on 24th August 2007. Initially I was sold on it, 120GB HDD, HDMI & black finish. That used to sound better. You see, at first I thought the Elite would use the new chips (65mm as opposed to the current 90mm) which would lead to a cooler, quieter more reliable system but I was wrong. The core components of the Elite are the same as the premium (which is the same as the core) meaning that the Elite is as likely to malfunction as a core system bought a launch. Now, the premiums as of next year will be fitted with HDMI ports as standard making the Elite even less impressive. Had the Elite included an HD-DVD drive (more on that later) and built in Wi-Fi then I would have gladly accepted the £330 price tag (premium costs £280 and is expected to have a price cut soon).

We know the HDD is 120GB but lets face it, that isn't pushing the price up. Microsoft has been ripping us off with HDD since the start. £70 for 20GB is a joke. The HDD is nothing more than a modified laptop HDD. As it stands, the extra £50 gets you 100GB of HDD and a black finish. It's not exactly worth camping out for (not that you'd have to).

Looks hot, but its whats on the inside that counts:

Microsoft 2, Sony 1.

If two 360's weren't enough I have finally gotten around to adding Sony's most recent entry into the system wars. Hooked up to another recent purchase, a 40" Samsung HDTV and the PS3 looks pretty impressive. However, I only own to two games though (Resistance and Motorstorm) as most games available are multiplat and looking better on Xbox 360. That's not a fanboy statement but a fair point. Sony's machine has some impressive hardware but its difficulty to program for is leading to a shower of weak ports. This, I suspect is temporary and soon the PS3 will begin to flex its processing muscle.

My Wii continues to gather dust. I consider it my portal to the VC and little else at this point (Megaman FTW). Nintendo's E3 '07 was a slap in the face to the true gaming community. Instead of giving us games, they choose to spend most of their stage time blowing their own ego and introducing crap in the form of Wii-Fit (which, laughably, they couldn't even get to work properly on stage). The Wii isn't for games, it's a medium they're using to force more peripherals onto the gamers or in this case, the casual market who didn't give a damn about them 5 years ago. This isn't a graphics complaint; good games don't need stellar graphics. The Wii is puking casual crap all over itself, it literally is a cheap date you wanna forget about the morning after. With tacked on controls and almost no online the Wii is perfect for all those non-gamers out there. Nintendo may be raking in the profit this gen but they have already died a more humiliating death than Sega. Megaman and Metroid are the only thing keeping my Wii out of the pre-owned section of the nearest game store.

Is this reason enough to keep the Wii in spite of Nintendo arrogance?

Bioshock demo hit Xbox Live last night. I didn't really following Bioshock too closely until recently when it perked my interest. Having played the demo, I'm definitely getting in line to buy. Amazing graphics, animation, sound, & controls. The story shard in the demo was enough to perk my interest and gladly accept that this is a single player experience only (not that one can't wonder how good a multiplayer could have been).

Coming to an Xbox 360 near me soon (assuming its not being repaired)

Red Ring of Death, anyone?

Whats wrong with this picture:

So, its been less than a month since the second 360 was purchased and now the first one has passed on;- passed on to Microsoft, that is - for repair (or replacement). It seems that Xbox 360's have had a higher-than-usual-according-to-a-recent-survey malfunction rate and until recently I was able to laugh / poke and generally not care about the people affected.

It didn't suddenly stop working either, it was the recent update from Microsoft that killed it. I come home from work and I turn on "Panda" (thats the newer Xbox 360). It tells me to update (and I mean, it tells you - this is not optional if you wanna continue using XBL). So, I update and no problem. Next up I turn on the other to get the update outta the way. It downloads, it installs, its resets and now its dead. The console was not modded.

I went to Xbox support online and did all the various checks. Next I rang their support line. It took 45 minutes to get an operator (and I had to listen to some awful music). When I did get an answer the gentleman was...not english. I'm not being racist but I couldn't make out much of what he was saying. There was a lot of "Pardon", "Sorry", "Can you repeat that?" and "WHAT?" before the end. By the end of the phone call I'd gotten a number and a guarantee of a free repair / replacement.

The number I was given is to be written on a sticker that I should receieve within four days of the call (I made the call four days ago - still waiting). Said sticker is then to be put on the box that I'll return the 360 in and I'm not to use the box the console came in. The sticker will have a numer for UPS who will pickup the console and subsequently deliver it again.

Besides the sticker being overdue my experience with customer support has been overall a fine experience. Expect another blog entry within a month to update this situation.

In other news:

I recently bought Lost Planet. First impressions are very good. I'll probably do a review on it soon.

Lost Planet link

My girlfriend recently bought Viva Pinata and well, she says its pretty good. Haven't played it much myself yet.

Viva Pinata link

(Click the links for a better scale of the pictures).

Two are better than one..........but it'll cost ya!

Recently my girlfriend and I purchased a second Xbox 360. I have a serious disliking of split screen and she has a seriously disliking for watching me play Smackdown vs. Raw for three hour sessions so in many ways, it seemed like the way to go.

So picture this, between us we have bought two premium Xbox 360’s, two extra controllers (four in total), thirteen X360 games (not including a second copy Gears of War and Project Gotham racing). That figure also doesn’t account for 10 original Xbox games (which in turn doesn’t count an additional copy of Halo 2). I also own an original Xbox (as not all my favourite games are BC yet) with two controllers and a DVD playback kit. If you’re thinking “fanboy” at this point then note that I also own a PS2, PSP, Dreamcast (R.I.P) and Gamecube.

As if all that money invested in Microsoft’s next gen console wasn’t enough we’ve each got our own paid gamertags (gold membership). So, we wire up the new X360 and recover the gamertags onto it so now we have our profiles on both consoles. I log into my profile on the new console and it works fine. She tries to log into her profile on the first X360 and it says her profile is invalid. Apparently you can no longer have a “roaming” profile whereas you could on the original Xbox. The only way to fix this is for her to recover her profile back onto the first X360. So, now her profile is locked to the first console and mine is locked to the second console.

The reason this is such a big deal is because the first X360 is linked up to a Hi-Def output and the second isn’t. If only one of us is playing then that person would obviously want to use the Hi-Def display. So, if I want Hi-Def I have to recover my gamertag (which takes a while – there is quite a bit attached to it). Now imagine we wanna play some online / co-op gears I have to go back over and recover my tag again (according to Microsoft, doing this to often can lead to deletion of offline achievements). Safe to say this is a frivolous and annoying routine.

There is light at the end of the tunnel but sadly there is a pound sign obscuring it. Ever wonder why you would need a memory unit when the hard drive detaches? This is why; if you wanna use your gamertag on a different console without having to frequently recover it then you’ll need to give it a mobile home. Basically you move your gamertag onto the MU (with all your save games) and you take it with you. Whatever Xbox you wanna play on you put your MU in and go – no recover necessary. This method works well but its sad that after all the expense of getting two consoles, two paid subscriptions and two copies of each game you wanna play together you also need to buy a MU. This seems like a deliberate move on Microsoft’s part as this was never an issue with the original Xbox.

Also note that if you buy an Xbox Live arcade game that the game will be locked to your gamertag. If you have another gamertag on the same 360 as your gamertag then they will be able to play the game however if you copy the game onto a MU and move it to a 360 that hasn’t gotten an account that the game has been paid for; then the game will once again be locked. In essence if you have two gamertags you will have to purchase two copies of the game in order to play against each other online.

On a happier note, during a first to seven match up on Gears last night the score was tied at six to six. It was just my girlfriend against one other guy. After a lot of fire exchange, rolling, swearing, and a rapid heartbeat she put him down and won the match for the team. The girls are rising up against the boys and to quote Gears “The war continues……"

You gotta start somewhere...

I've recently discovered that airing your views on a Gamespot forum will usually result in abuse from rabid, uninformed fanboys and a one week suspension. With that in mind I’ve decided to resort to a blog. Of course no one is going to read it but at least I can look back and wonder just what in the Hell I was thinking that day.

I've been gaming for a long time. The first game I ever owned (and completed) was Sonic the Hedgehog on the MSX and I just thought it was the best thing (sadly the Sonic franchise has gone to Hell). From there on I've owned every major console that came out. I always bought Sega consoles first and then Nintendo when the price went down. Makes sense really when you consider I loved Sonic and thought Mario was just a fat guy in a hat who took drugs to make himself feel big.

Until recently I would consider the 16bit era the best time to be a gamer. Although this is probably because during that time I had my first girlfriend who would make out with me each time I beat a level in Final Fight. Sadly I could only ever get as far as level three and we broke up due to boredom (on her part).

Our current gen (360, PS3, Wii) may be fresh but for me it seems like the best already. Microsoft are making a great deal of effort this time (and it shows), Sony have a strong hold on the market and as such are attempting to introduce a new media format to the world which will either flop or give us all something new that will be truly useful. Finally, the Wii is here, prioritising gameplay over graphics, physics, sound and everything else really but try to remember the FUN factor people because fun sells…….right?

Best of all this gen has online on all systems and that is by far the best thing to happen to gaming. Yes, PC online has been around for a long time but now the casuals are getting online (more on this later). Online opens a whole new angle on gaming. On one hand you can be fighting a questionable version of "Mr. Motivator" on "Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007" and on the other you could be pushing back the Locust Horde with someone you've only just met in "Gears of War". I love online gaming and you'd find me on everything from "Counter Strike: Source" and "World of Warcraft" to "Burnout Revenge" and "Splinter Cell". You should be able to see my Xbox Live gamertag to the right so feel free to add me if you wanna get beat (drop me a message to so I know where the request is coming from). I also use Xfire so drop me a message if you want my username.

At the moment my Xbox 360 and PC are my main picks for gaming. For my 360 I have 14 games and my PC, well I've spent and borrowed more money on my PC gaming habit than I care to think about.

Casuals and gaming is kinda a two sided argument. On one side it’s great to have a lot of people on every game but on the other hand you have the smack talking, the screaming, the quitting and the 10 year old wannabe gangsters. You also have the script kiddies who can't play a match without modding, flat out cheating or exploiting glitches (super jump, anyone?). If you fire up online and end up in the wrong match it could put you off forever, don't let it.

My girlfriend and I used to play a lot of Halo 2 online but that game is now dominated with kids who know more swear words than I do (although I think they make some of them up). You also have lots of wannabe gangsters on there. After being beat by a modding 12 year old and hearing "Did you like that, did you like that?? You suck, you suck!!” it does get a bit tiresome. Of course when you win you're treated to more insults like "Shut up, you're a noob - come on, I'll play you one on one!!" Even after you've left they send friend requests so they can annoy you further and as if you'd accept!

Halo 2 did have some good days though. When my girlfriend started playing she wasn't exactly the best aim so she ran about the whole time mashing the B button and getting melee kills. She’s better now, she has even (...ahem) beat me on occasion. Now we have two games of choice; Gears of War and Call of Duty 3. I should point out that she only learned to play Gears because of my fascination of the game. She warmed to Call of Duty 3 (haven't never played a CoD game) because she thought the noises soldiers made when they died was hilarious. So much for the developers putting all that time, money and effort into graphics and gameplay when all they really needed was funny gurgling sounds.

That’s all for now (and it’s probably too much). Till next time.