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oneshotskye Blog

Culdcept Saga? Bring it On!

Culdcept Saga Image

I added clothes to my succubus because I felt a little strange wrapping a string around her crotch and calling it pants. So, yeah. There it is.

Culdcept Saga and I have a love/hate relationship. I load in Culdcept Saga, give the box a hug, and pray for the best. Culdcept Saga, in turn, kicks my ass. Again, and again, and again.

But I still love it. Don't ask me why, but I do, and every time Markt obliterates my dignity, I pick the charred scraps off the floor, tape it back together, and forgive my adversary for outsmarting me yet again. I have roughly a hundred cards, and too many hours invested in this game in hopes that one day I'll get some points.

So I've been playing Lost Odyssey recently, and though the early boss battles are a bit on the difficult side, I still managed to make it in one piece to the third disc. I'll have a review up of that on later this week.

20,000 points, thanks in part to this gem of a title: Kingdom Under Fire

Kingdom Under Fire Image

See, the problem with this picture I made comes when you look at the lizardman on the left and come to the realization that an enemy that wears metal diapers is not a very imposing enemy. Then again, I could think differently than you.

Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom. There, I said (wrote) it after so many failed attempts, since I originally believed the game was called Kingdom OF Fire (which is, of course, a call back to the movie Reign of Fire, which is a completely different matter to discuss). Now I've perused a review or two and have to say that for a game I plucked off the rental shelf simply because I liked the box art, the title isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. It could have been Two Worlds with an elf chick, bad. Or Beowulf with less rhythm game action, bad. The possibilities are endless and none of them sound good.

In other news, I hit 20,000 achievement points on Xbox Live and feel like both a winner and a loser. But I'm going to try to focus on the "winner" part of that equation because, hey, if I pretend like I didn't sink hundreds of hours into getting that score, then it's almost like I actually didn't.

What? You mean to tell me I'm not dead?

Holidays are a crazy time of year. We all know that, and so I've disappeared from the reviews scene for a few weeks to stuff my face with eggnog. Or whatever.

New review up, which unfortunately is missing a companion artwork piece to be displayed beside it. Oh well. If anyone was planning on checking out NiGHTS on the Wii, might I suggest you think otherwise because the game is less than amazing, which makes me le sad. Also, if anyone had any desire to purchase Blacksite: Area 51 on the 360/PS3/PC/whatever, might I also suggest you look into renting the title first because that, too, isn't great.

I wrote a review for the latter at and if you want to check it out, I could guide you through a blow by blow account on why this game... um, blows.

The Golden Compass: Game of the Year?

Part one of a two part look at movie-to-game... games. Yeah.

The Golden Compass Image

  1. Clap your hands!!!
  2. March in place!!!
  3. Spout some stereotypical British expression!!!

Now, I read Northern Lights/The Golden Compass back when I was ten years old, and sadly don't recall anything from the novel save that featured a humorless bear and - big shock here - a golden compass (just like I remembered a lion and wardrobe - but no witch - from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). And since I was doing something with the Oxford University Riding Club the day my friends went to go see Philip Pullman speak, I hadn't thought of him or his trilogy in a long time. Needless to say, I was in the dark when I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on with this game, with its sassy protagonist and evil Nicole Kidman. Ten hours later, here's what I came away with:

  • 1.) Daemons (because let's face it, adding an extra "a" renders them cute and harmless) enjoy hardly anything better than instigating fights with monkeys. The only thing they love more is avoiding said monkey's attacks so the primate goes barreling into strategically placed vases time and again. Victory for daemon. Barrels of laughs time and time again for us.
  • 2.) Cats climb best with little girls attached to their backs.
  • 3.) Deception is key to saving the world.
  • 4.) Also, killing Inuits.
  • 5.) Also, throwing berries at naughty children... you'd best play the game to understand this one, though I'm sure you can envision the end product to be delightfully messy. Key emphasis here on "delightfully".

I just picked up Beowulf, and having a better grasp of the story here (though I know they sexified plenty of things for the movie), I should have a good understanding of who is doing what here. Still, I'm sure Ubisoft will throw a couple surprise punches my way.

Oh, and here's a link to my radio show. Check it out, please? Pretty please? Or, you know, whatever.

Quick Post Designed Solely for Self-Promotion

No picture for this one - I'll try to have a full-fledged blog post up and running later this week - but just a self-promotion thingy: I will have my first show for "Multiplayer Chat" (part of Blog Talk Radio) this Tuesday at 9:30 pm EST. Hopefully it will go well, though I know I have a tendency to raise my voice when I get nervous. That being said, if you hear the squeaky-voiced gnome coming through your computer speakers, then chances are that person is me. If I manage to conquer my fear, then check for the girl's voice.

I feel a pang of sadness over Jeff being fired. Am I the only one who actually enjoyed the Kane and Lynch review?

Of apples and eagles - which admittedly has little to do with Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed

How I played through Assassin's Creed, which means to say, not very well.

Oh, Assassin's Creed. Oh, that ending.

But that's not what I was most upset about. After all, I stopped paying attention to storyline plot by the time the final battle came around. No, instead I was too busy trying not to get gang banged by a group of Templars. Now see, I was never much of a fighter in the game, having gone thirty or so hours as a rooftop killer. And most of my boss battles played out in the same fashion: I ran around like a madman until I found an awning, jumped up on said awning and waited until the baddies jumped up one by one. Pull out a sword, chop off a few hands, and approximately five minutes later I was victorious, standing atop a pile of dead bodies and mangled knuckles.

Anyone's who has played the game knows that the last half hour is excruciating on your right thumb, as you'll be spending the better part of it jamming the X button as if your virtual life depended on it (because it does). Over at my house, there was much cursing once I realized the ingenious plan I had concocted over the previous few memory blocks failed me, as I was caged in a small area with twenty angry men and four sparkling blue walls acting as my fence.

Needless to say, I had a fun time running laps around the band of knights until my synchronization bar, hastily learning how to counter attacks just in time for the final boss battle, where the same technique was used once again. Hopefully others have had more successful goes with their games, and for those of you who haven't squared off against the final adversaries, my heart goes out to you.

Born in the USA

A picture I drew for MoH: Airborne

Lech mir an meinem Americanischen Arsch! (Kiss my American ass!)

There are two groups of people who can't seem to forget the Second World War, for two entirely different reasons: the Germans and the Americans. The first time I visited Berlin, I was struck by the fact that you cannot walk ten steps without bumping into a memorial - and I mean, for a tourist, that's great, but it makes for one depressing city once you realize what exactly all those concrete pillars are memorializing. Here's a hint: It's not for their stunning contributions to the world of accordion playing.

Jewish Memorial and Jewish Museum in Berlin

The last time I was in Germany I had photographed plenty of sites. From left: The Jewish memorial, the Jewish Museum.

Now, I'm not going to go into detail about the sheer number of WWII games out on the market, because I think that everyone's heard the whole spiel related to them at least once, or twice, or two dozen times already: There are a slew of these games glutting our gaming libraries, and by that I mean that every third game bookended on store shelves features a level where you're required to trudge up the shores of Normandy. And hey, that can get a bit old a bit fast. But then you think of what other, more recent wars the United States has engaged in, and I'm not even going to touch upon what kind of controversy would stir if the patriotic fanfare, featured in key moment in Medal of Honor: Airborne, were blasted while you were running around spraying Agent Orange in nearby trees, or whatever. Here's another hint: It would bring a lot of controversy, and for good reason.

So the eighth game in the MoH series hit the street approximately two months ago, and I'm originally left wondering, Who cares? And finally I break down and give it a try, if only to give my German vocabulary a workout, and despite the trite, jingoist vibe I get while sniping Central Europeans with my Springfield, I still have a fun time mowing down my adversaries. Now this is saying a lot seeing as I haven't really sat down with an anti-Nazi game since I blew away soldiers in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and half of that game's appeal came from the displeasure it stirred with my German exchange student.

There is a slight annoyance that I encountered while playing Airborne and that annoyance came in the form of the difficulty setting in the game. Now, I understand that snipers get a good shot or two on you when they line your head up in their crosshairs, but turret guns? The enemy soldiers are amazing shots, to the point where they can sometime shoot through heavy objects like cars, which can lead to some frustrating moments as you're forced to parachute back to your flared safe areas time and time again. Another grenade explosion or pistol whip to your helmet head and boom - you're descending back to earth once again.

I'm not going to get carried away on details; after all, that's what reviews are for and I'm too busy trying to pull mine on Assassin's Creed together to write a few paragraphs on our Boyd Travers, the unfortunate soldier stuck with two last names. But I will say this: Medal of Honor: Airborne might be frustrating, and it might be short with AI that hinders you as much as helps you out, but the game was fun, and fich dich (honestly, you should be able to grasp the meaning of this one) if you don't agree.

An Obligatory Post on Violence - or - Hopefully We Can Drop this Subject Soon.

Manhunt 2 Picture

"Me" in all my hand-drawn glory, with a bat and a few pints of blood used as accessories.

Um... so Manhunt 2. What is there to say about the game that hasn't already been said a ton of times before?

On one hand, you can blast the censors for the game being in its current state. Toss in a "this is a free country, man" for good measure and state that if you want to bash somebody's brains in with a manhole then, hey, by all means that's your God-given right. Besides, there are plenty of games out there that are just as violent as Rockstar's bloody gem if you play them correctly. Look at Dead Rising. Look at Postal. Look at God of War, which provides enough monster eye gougings to last you and your mother a lifetime. Besides, people argue that GameStop certainly isn't going to sell the game directly to minors, and if the kids happen to put down the crayons and pick up the game then it's just bad parenting to blame.

On the other hand, critics may right in saying that Rockstar is just trying to push the mature-rated envelope. Some people I've spoken with claim there isn't much beyond the bountiful buckets of blood you're sloshing around in, and at times the game can certainly seem that way. Sure, the story's interesting and the gameplay's decent, but I seriously doubt I'm being overly cynical when I say that Manhunt 2 isn't going to have a GOTY edition hitting store shelves anytime soon. With the protestors raising hell across North America and Europe, it's a miracle that the game saw the light of day at all. Because the unfortunate truth is that with the primaries fast approaching, violent video game awareness/curbing/prohibition appears to be an issue that spans the bipartisan chasm. All I can say to gamers is: Be aware of some future games facing the same level of criticism/censorship.

Violence aside, this game can be fun to play, and that's what matters at the end of the day. To be completely honest, I was just as disturbed by Dead or Alive Xtreme 2's odd breast physics than I was about stabbing somebody with a syringe. That other game, too, was fun to waste a few hours on, but it was obvious Team Ninja's mind was not completely devoted to ensuring that the Butt Battle's controls were tight. But even with the ridiculously inept AI, the game was oddly addictive, and at the end of the day I wanted to make sure that I collected every last one of Hitomi's swimsuits (and officially entered the Hall of Fame for losers when I accomplished it). Thankfully, I found that the gratuitous cut scenes can be ignored after their initial shock wears off. The same holds true for Manhunt 2.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 Picture

I felt a little out of the loop when playing Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 since the game developers obviously had the lonely male in mind for their target audience. Despite its shallow gameplay, the boob-jiggling adventure was mindlessly entertaining.

But maybe that initial shock doesn't wear off for some individuals. I don't know where I stand on the issue of video game violence, even after penning two reports on the subject back in my Sociologylecture. Because on one hand, I'm an adult, I don't need to be babied, and I know that playing a game like Manhunt 2 won't make me feel anything but dirty after I've dispatched a dozen people in the most gruesome manners. Plenty of other people feel the same way, I'm sure. And for those people who are on the fringe, for those few individuals that, after being influenced by Danny's actions, go recreate their own slayings, the question on where to place the burden of the blame for those actions is still unclear. Do the games create a heightened sense of agitation in people, or is it environmental circumstances that affect a person? Is it ingrained in our genetic code? And while I understand that it's a combination of all three facets (and while I'm tempted to look to the environment as the primary culprit), I'm not going to bank my last dollar on the exact percentage by which each individual aspect affects us.

No, I don't think Manhunt 2 should have been banned, and in the end I don't really care. That's a job for the media and concerned parents to talk about, not necessarily gamers - after all, look at how much controversy the first Manhunt stirred up and look how well it did sales-wise. This game won't be making my top ten anytime soon, and for those people who loved playing it, more power to them. I wrote a review for the game which tries to talk about the game buried beneath the blood. Check it out.

Beautiful Katamari - or - The Joy of Rolling Up Household Objects

Drawing for Beautiful Katamari

I never thought cleaning up a house could be fun until Katamari Damacy proved me wrong.

I remember the day I purchased Katamari Damacy well. I was doing some post-birthday shopping and after tearing through Prudential Center's GameStop, I realized I had about thirty dollars left to blow. That money had to go, no doubt about it. And there was this weird looking, bargain-priced game sitting with all its drug-induced glory on a shelf near the register. Employing childhood logic (which is virtually foolproof), I thought "bright colors + happy characters = genius game", and tossed the PS2 box in with the others. And amazingly, for the first time since I was five years old, I was not disappointed with the end result in the decision I made because Katamari Damacy was fun, quirky, and the game was proudly displayed to all my friends at school. Some people saw the game for the gem that it was, and those that didn't were quickly dropped from my roster of persons in my "in-crowd", shunned to this very day. Because let's face it, anyone who didn't think rolling up cows and samurai with a sticky ball was an idea of a good day, they were not fit to be my buddy. Simple as that.

And now, I'm not saying I didn't have fun playing Beautiful Katamari, because I did, but personally I felt extremely let down by the whole experience, because it was... how do you say... less than good when compared to the other games. So yeah, let down. That was a feat in itself, because I love oddball humor, I love collecting things, and finding myself thirsting for a puzzle title this week, I thought this game would have to be one never-ending loading screen to annoy me. Which it was. Thank you, Namco-Bandai.

The ugly snarl of disappointment had fully set in by the end of the second day, when I was sitting on my bed watching the epilogue to the game. Progression of feelings goes something like this:

Friday, 6:00 pm - Oh, Beautiful Katamari is out. Hope it's better than Jericho. I loved the first game, so let's give this one a try.

Friday, 11:00 pm - Isn't this the same game I bought three years ago? Yeah, it's pretty much the same game. Oh well, it's still a blast to play, even if I did spend forty bucks on what is essentially a high-def expansion pack. The loading screens are a little annoying, too.

Saturday, 1:00 pm - Holy Hornbill, King, you don't have to take up the entire screen when I roll up a present. That's just... that's just... well, obnoxious and - okay, now I rolled up a cousin. Great. Stop your record-scratching jabbering. And NOW I ran out of time so it's time for another loading screen and that disembodied head. Fantastic. It's like I paid money for an After Dark screensaver.

Saturday, 5:00 pm - Finished all the requests, except for Schloss Kosmos, which is a little bit more difficult than expected. Another load screen - "Wow! We love Katamari!" Yeah, shove it, King, I already know.

Saturday, 10:00 pm - Done! Thank God. And hey, this mini-game is kind of fun! They should have put more of this in the game.

Beautiful Katamari Intro

This is what I thought Beautiful Katamari was going to be all about: color and craziness...

Beautiful Katamari Loading Screen

... and this was what I saw for a good amount of the time instead.

As irritated as I got with Beautiful Katamari, I still did enjoy the overall feel of the game. There's addictive fun to be had, that much is true. And I'm sure plenty of people will still find value in this installment of the "roll-stuff-up-into-planets" action-puzzle, and I know that players are looking forward to the online battles and downloadable material that should be up on Xbox Live shortly. Still, I hope that Namco-Bandai is considering the addition of more new gameplay elements in the TBD releases of PS3 and Wii versions of Katamari.

Just Cruisin': A Look Back on Need for Speed: Carbon

Dreaming of Victory - NfS

Mind on my money and my money on my mind: Dreaming of the decadent lives our country's street racers enjoy.

There's some point in time when I think I'm being too hard on Neville.

I mean, I guess the guy is trying hard and I can tell that he likes me with all the encouragement he's slinging my way. And anyone who's played Need for Speed: Carbon knows what I'm talking about, too. You see, EA has decided to change around a couple of things from their last installment, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and most of these changes are questionable. They've toned down the amount of necessary police involvement, which is good. They allow you to autosculpt your car, which if I were any good at making myDodge Viperlook like anything besides a paperweight with flame decals, would be a good addition as well.

And then there's Neville. Big, fat... obnoxious... fat Neville.

Carbon gives you crew members: Drifters, Scouts, and Blockers. And these people can be quite helpful, too - Drifters give you extra nitrous bursts and Scouts map out all the short cuts that you can take in a given circuit (though Yumi had a terrible habit of knocking my car on its side whenever she sped past me). The chunk monster, though, is a Blocker, and even though he only manages to pull off a successful block half the time, he is always full of sound advice that he is just dying to dish out, like telling you to get ahead of the competition, and then informing you of your racing position once you inched ahead of said competition. Ingenious! Each race goes a little something like this:

"Get around these guys up ahead!"

"You're in first now. You can relax a little."

"Hey, look! The finish line!"

"You're racing in a car!"

Thanks Neville. You know, in other installments of the game I had the upper right hand corner of my screen to consult for stats. Now, I have you shouting out your car window at me. That is, how do you say it...uh, annoying? Yeah, annoying.

Neville - NfS

Oh, Neville, always the helpful one, aren't you?

I thought about reviewing the game in preparation for Pro Street, but that thought was promptly replaced by another once I realized that enough people have reviewed it on enough platforms to give the general public a good idea about what's in store for them. I'll try to have another review up by the end of this weekend, though, and until then I'll be finishing the challenges that this game has to offer. Oh, and dreaming of killing Neville. Because seriously, people that annoying should not be privy to racing beside badasses like my Need for Speed self.

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