Friday, May 30, 2008

May Pick-up recap

I made a conscious effort to cut back on gaming expenditures this month, and had it not been for my Wii arriving mid-month as a debt payment from a friend, I wouldn't have bought any games whatsoever.  I was compelled to pick up a few things, though:

I had to pick up a fresh Wiimote, and of course that meant Wii Play and a nunchuck.  Then, I felt obligated to pick up the reigning champ of casual games, Boom Blox, which rocks.  That would have been the end of this torrid affair, but I spied a copy of Hotel Dusk in the glass case for only $20, and judged that a good deal, and an easy and profitable flip online if I don't care for it, myself.  Not pictured is the Wii component cable I had to run out and buy to maintain some semblance of a respectable resolution and progressive scan in my console gaming.

My Wii came with well-rounded suite of entertainment software applications, gratis, as pictured here:

I have yet to try any of these games besides Wii Play (more like Wii Lame) and Boom Blox.  I'm not too sure about some of them, but I hope to put in a couple hours with them before hawking them toward Wii Point cards or better games for other systems.  Super Mario Galaxy, is of course at the top of this pile.  It's the rest that receive the gaze of suspicion.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time Wasters of the Week

I went and got Boom Blox for my new Wii, and it's pretty fun. My wife even enjoyed playing that some. At present, however, I only have one wiimote/nunchuk combo. I'll have to get another sometime for some real multiplayer Wii action. I still have yet to try out any of the other Wii games I have. I guess that's what happens when you get a new system complete with a respectable catalogue of it's games dropped on you from out of the blue sky.

Otherwise, I put the final nail into the coffin of Puzzle Quest (at least until the expansion pack) by consulting a FAQ and fast-tracking my way through the crafting system for that last achievement.

The myriad of RPGs on my stack has prompted me to institute a perpetual one-RPG-in-active-progress policy. In other words, there will always be one RPG (as defined by myself) in the rotation, until they're either all finished (not likely), or further notice. Puzzle Quest has just been knocked off, and the next game sliding into that niche once more is Etrian Odyssey. I'll probably just knock out the 3rd stratum and then sub that one out for another RPG, but for now the decision is made.

The only other game I've been playing is GTA IV. I put in around 6 hours or so over this Memorial Day weekend, and I'm up to around 30% or more finished. I'm taking missions on Algonquin from Playboy X, Packie, and Francis at present. I gave up tonight after my 3rd or 4th attempt at a mission taking out some union and mafia goons at a construction site. This game is fun as ever, and the story is starting to get pretty good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PQ Victory! Plus, a Wii

Beat Lord Bane on my first attempt tonight! And now, I am finally done with Puzzle Quest. I did every quest I could find, and I got all but that one crafting achievement. Maybe I'll come back to the game when the expansion hits for that one, but for now I have to swear off of this thing to get some other games out of the way. It's too addictive!

A good friend has owed me a decent chunk of money for a while now, and as payment he's sent me a Wii and a bunch of games.

Now, this is awesome, but... the thing smells like it's been in a smoker's house for two years, and the wiimotes and nunchuks are all grimy and nasty, not to mention without the original battery covers. Instead, they have a type of cover that holds rechargable AAA batteries and a third party charger kit thingy. So, these wiimotes and nunchuks (and Brunswick Pro Bowling... lol) are going to Game Trader ASAP, and will be replaced by fresh ones (going to have to pick up a Wii Play pack, I suppose). I also need the wi-fi dongle thing if I'm going to get any VC/Wii Ware titles.

I hooked the thing up, though, and it works just fine. The core unit and cords and stuff aren't near as dirty as the controllers, thankfully. I guess I'm going to have to get my Wii game on at some point. I've had 5 pretty solid games gifted to me (3 from this friend, 2 from my brother-in-law). I won't lie though, I'm more excited about VC games than anything Wii native! Guess I'll need to pickup a classic controller or wavebird or something, too. Oh, and I just remembered the thing plays GameCube games as well...

Lord Bane's Bane

For the past week I've been going back and forth between GTA IV and Puzzle Quest, but mostly concentrating on the latter. I'm at the final battle now, but Lord Bane is freaking tough. He gets turn after turn without end.

I went through most of the game relying on the same weapons and spells, namely a Great Axe, which has a 50% chance of awarding an extra turn anytime I do 5 or more damage, and a suite of spells designed to change gems en masse to match 3 or 5 of a kind in several places around the board, gaining me extra turns and doing damage to my enemies at the same time. However, I read up on some tips for the game on a couple of boards, and found that I have the gear and spells to make a strong damage build work for my wizard, too. I tried that build out on some of the battles leading up to the end, and it was awesome how powerful it felt compared to what I had been using, but it didn't stop me from hitting a brick wall at Lord Bane. After a while of that build I swapped back to a hybrid of my extra turn-focused build and the all-out damage one, and I came really close to beating him, but lost nonetheless.

Well, at this point the only other achievement I need (besides the one for beating Lord Bane) is related to the crafting system, which I haven't touched. Maybe if I get into that I can forge some bad-ass new gear to take down Bane and kill two birds with one stone.

As for GTA, I've just arrived at the second safehouse, in Bohan.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Future, Conan?

I haven't played a whole lot that I want to ramble on about this week; just a couple of hours of Puzzle Quest, a little bit of Hexic HD, and a bunch of GTA IV. I don't want to say a lot about the latter, partly because I'm just so sick of hearing about it in the press, and partly because I'm only maybe 15% into the game. Suffice it to say that it's a lot like III through San Andreas, but better--it's a lot of fun.

I thought I'd take this opportunity, then, to take a look into the future, all the way to the year 2000 (and 9). Thinking about the month of May, and the lack of any games I want to pick up releasing therein, I set my eyes to the beyond, and even beyond the beyond (not the shitty PSX RPG), to take stock of what's coming out over the horizon, and what of that I'm interested in.

A quick list:
Metal Gear Solid 4
Etrian Odyssey 2
Ninja Gaiden 2
Too Human
Fallout 3
Halo Wars
Resistance 2
Yakuza 2
MOON (little known DS game)
Mirror's Edge (that trailer looks incredible!)
Persona 4
FF and DQ remakes for the DS
Bionic Commando Re-Armed (the remake of the 8-bit)
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (...come to Butthead....)

I guess that about covers it. Not all of those are sure buys, but they're definitely on my radar. So many games!

Friday, May 2, 2008

April Pick-ups

1) Ikaruga

2) Ninja Gaiden DS rocks, Monster Hunter is ok, and I picked up Rondo of Swords because the battle system looks really interesting.  Also, a buddy of mine just got a job at Success, the Japanese developer behind it.

3) Last-gen refuses to go quietly into the night!  My RPG pile continues to grow!

4) Current-gen in full effect.  I just started GTA IV; so far, so good.

Other April-ending ends and odds

Quite aside from the MGS series (quite), I've spent a whole lot of time the last couple of weeks playing Puzzle Quest. I must be getting pretty deep into the quest mode by now. My Wizard is level 35, and I have a pretty nice set of broken equipment and broken spells for this broken (but awesome) game. Maybe it's not broken, maybe it's supposed to be ridiculously crazy and extra turn happy. It's amazing when I (or my enemy) can get like 7 extra turns all in a row and set up some insane chain-reaction culminating in 50 or more points of damage to the opposition.

Monster Hunter Freedom--not for me. Aside from just general graphics and interface jankiness (it's a 2004 PSP game, so I can understand this somewhat), the way this game is built just is not what I'm looking for at this point. The game seems to be 100% loot based. Get a mission, go kill some shit or gather some shit, and use the proceeds to upgrade to cooler gear. Rinse, repeat. There's barely any window-dressing of a world or story whatsoever, and the game is even further hamstrung by supporting only ad-hoc multiplayer for the, I don't know, 50% of the game that is designed to be taken on with a partner or team. I can see why this thing is so monstrously popular in Japan, and all at once I can see why it does pretty 'meh' numbers in the States. It makes perfect sense now that I've played the game. It's like an MMO, except not Massively Multiplayer, or Online!

I'd like to say that MH:F would have likely gained more traction with me back when I was like 15, but (aside from what would have been mind-blowing graphics), I kind of doubt the veracity of that statement. So, this is going to get traded in soon. I'm glad I finally got a chance to check the series out, though.

My copy of GTA IV should arrive today!

MGS2 post of bloat and genetic theory of information

I completed Metal Gear Solid 2 last night. It seemed shorter than I recalled, probably due to its extreme linearity, which not necessarily a bad thing. It's also no doubt due to the fact that the Big Shell is made up of small, straightforward modules that consist of simple arrays of narrow corridors and pathways--there is just nowhere to get either lost or sidetracked (other than in the plot :drumroll:).

The boss fights can be a pain in the ass. I have never liked Fatman (what a shitty character design; a roller-blading mad-bomber fat-ass with a glass of wine? Really?) or his pain-in-the-ass encounter. The Harrier fight wasn't bad, and it had cool cinematics featuring Solidus, but it treads the fine line between homage to and rehash (and simulation) of the Hind fight in the original MGS. The Vamp fight is a real pain. Once I had him down to one more shot needed with my Tranq gun when he killed me. At that point I started using the grenade thrower to murder his punk ass, which works pretty well. The toughest fight in the game for me is undoubtedly the squadron of Metal Gear Rays at the end. You have to see that fight as more of an endurance test than anything. Even on normal I breathed a sigh of relief after what must have been my seventh attempt was successful. And then, the battle I had been dreading the most, the sword duel vs. Solidus, turned out to be pretty simple. You just take the fight to him. Get up in his face and keep your guard up, and then when he attacks and you block, you'll be able to retaliate with a 2 or 3 hit combo. The first couple of tries had me dead having barely made a dent in Solidus, but once I figured out this strategy, he went down quick and easy.

As far as the plot goes: well, does anyone really get it all? Give me a moment to make sense of all this...

So, the Patriots are trying to reign in the flow of information over the Internet in order to cull the dross and pass on only what's worthwhile to the next generations of humanity. In order to do this, they needed to collect data from a super soldier such as Solid Snake, and thus set up Raiden's mock Shadow Moses mission, which apparently needs to be carried out in a real terrorist situation, which has just developed at Big Shell, which is actually the development grounds for Arsenal Gear, which is guarded by a unit of 25 Metal Gear Rays, and which Solidus Snake and Dead Cell wish to hijack in order to create a nation free of the Patriots' influence: Outer Heaven. The Plan is to detonate some kind of hydrogen-based nuclear bomb in the atmosphere over Manhattan, cutting it off from the world's power and information grid, giving birth to Outer Heaven, and it's citizens, the Sons of Liberty. Solidus then wants to hunt down and kill the 12 members of the Patriots' highest echelon, an elite cabal that Solidus, George Sears, ex-POTUS, once desired to be a member of, but had his chances of that ever happening cut out from under him when his plan, the Shadow Moses Incident, went tits-up in the first Metal Gear Solid.

Meanwhile, Revolver Ocelot is pulling double agent duty, working for the Patriots alongside Solidus and Dead Cell. His true objective is apparently just to steal one working Metal Gear Ray unit, and possibly to stop Solidus from gaining control of Arsenal Gear and completing the creation of Outer Heaven. The Patriots also have Olga Gurlukovich's child, and hold the boy hostage to force Olga to assist Raiden in his mission (remember, they need the mission data that his nanomachines are collecting). There is also the little matter of Liquid Snake's arm carrying his personality, and it taking over Ocelot's body and opportune times. By the end of the game, it appears as if Liquid is in total control, and his own objective is also to hunt down and kill the Patriots.... whom we learn at the end of the credits are all dead, and have been for around a century. Food for thought.

What I don't get is Raiden not knowing Solidus from their first encounter. Solidus supposedly 'adopted' the boy Raiden in a war-torn African nation, and taught him much about fighting. Not to mention the fact that Solidus used to be the President of the United States, for fuck's sake! How could Raiden live in the modern world and not recognize the man he himself knows and who is also constantly on tv and the front page of newspapers all over the world?

I do know that Raiden is a much cooler character than people give him credit for. At first he comes off as a whiny-but-cocksure virtual-veteran with a needy and naggy girlfriend, but then proceeds to do cool stuff like shooting down fighter jets and scads of advanced Metal Gears and using a katana to fight (and kill!) one of the Snake triplets, a clone of the mighty Big Boss himself. He's also got an incredibly bad-ass background as a ruthless child-soldier killer known as "Jack the Ripper" or "The White Devil."

So, uh, I think I'm ready for MGS4. I dunno though, I might need more skateboarding practice. Zing!