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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dragon Age II: Addressing the Bad Press

I have been playing Dragon Age II feverishly ever since I got it on Sunday and I must report to you that the game is crazy good. There have been a lot of negative buzz surrounding DAII and after playing a good 12 hours of it, I can assure that this game is a worthy successor to the masterpiece that is Dragon Age: Origins. The most common complaint about the game is the scope of its landscape, or the lack thereof. The game takes place in only one town and its surrounding areas and you pretty much have to traverse these places repeatedly. This is actually not a hindrance but it enhances the experience because it makes sense in the context of the storyline. DAII is about the story about your hero's life in the city of Kirkwall which in itself is rich with a dark and mystical history so of course you spend most of your time running around the city. It is also refreshing as well as personal to tailor the experience around a single main hub in a role playing game and it is a welcomed change to the norm. Sure, the places you can go to are rather limited but as far as I'm concerned, Origins wasn't all that big either in terms of the adventuring space and I rather visit meaningful places repeatedly than running through a large dungeon once and then the area is left to be forgotten forever.

Just because the map is small, it doesn't mean that the story isn't epic.

There is also the concern in regards to the character customization option in this game, both for the main character and his or her companions. You can't select races anymore for the former and you are stuck with this Hawke character. Though I did enjoy the given variety in the Origins, focusing on one caricature means that developer Bioware is able to really pinpoint the storyline and make it more cohesive. Think the Mass Effect series. The background deviations in Origins are there but they actually are not that significant. Sure, it could have been much improved here but Bioware decided to step back from it instead but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Though the character story options have been narrowed down in DAII, it doesn't mean that you are less involved in the tale because there are still a lot of conversation and action choices that will make you feel like you are in control of Hawke's destiny. As far as the companion customizations, you are now unable to outfit them with armor, only weapons and accessories. I like this change because it ensures that your companions will always look unique instead of looking like someone who is wearing your hand me downs. Though we have lost the ability to dress up the companions, they each receive a talent tree that is unique to only each of them and that more that makes up for the said gameplay omission.

The one character approach provides Hawke with a voice actor and even close family members.

The last thing I would like to address is the simplification of the battle system. Well, unfortunately, there is some validity to this particular concern. Though not a button masher - your character auto attacks the enemy - the pace of battle is now a bit too fast and it is obvious that this accommodation is made for the console gamers. Gone is the ability to play the game with tactical precision because it's all about who can deal the most damage to the opponent without any regard to positioning. This is made worse by the fact that the game likes to throw a lot of enemies your way in waves. The game is more action packed for sure but this design also makes playing the game with friendly fire on a near impossibility. The action is still fun but I really do miss the deliciousness of stratagem from Origins. Still, that is the only weak point that I have found in the game thus far. If you have been avoiding DAII but you are a fan of Origins, I am sure that the strong storyline in itself will win you over immediately. The good thing here is that many of the changes are actually logical and they don't hurt the game whatsoever.

Flemeth is a lot more kick-butt here and that in itself is worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Point to Pathos - Chapter 1, Part 5

     Clac and Jupiter soon arrived at Second Taste, their favorite restaurant at the Gathering Grid. The place was lively but the couple never had a problem getting seated rather quickly so they were able to get a table as soon as they arrived. Second Taste was very famous for its walled booths that offered a very private dining experience. One could never get to see the patrons eating when one step into the restaurant except for its very long, slightly narrow hallway between the translucent, but not transparent, white walls and floor.

     "How are you guys liking all those flowers out there?" Asked Seilee, the young maĆ®tre d' whom the couple considered to be a close friend, as she led them to their booth. "Quite lavish are they not? Especially the ones on the exhibition wall."

     "Yeah, they are very beautiful. Took some visions earlier," Jupiter said. "And guess what happened?"

     "Oh boy," Clac uttered, smiling nervously.

     "We ran into Clac's old girlfriend," Jupiter said before sticking her tongue out towards Clac.

     "Oh no," Seilee said, amused. "Hope nothing bad happened?"

     "Of course not because I was there," Jupiter laughed. "I guess I have to keep a closer watch on him from now on. I think she still has a crush on my man."

     "So what do you have to say for yourself, Mr. Haan?" Asked Seilee. "You have been very, very quiet."

Monday, August 29, 2011

You Got What in the Emporium?

As you may have known, I have wasted so much time yesterday messing around with my main character's looks for Dragon Age II on the Personal Computer. I ended up replaying the first part of the game 3 times before I was really happy with his face and guess what? I finally made it to the game's "The Black Emporium" and this is one of the free services that the place offers:

Well, the galaxy has a sense of humor...

It's a "Mirror of Transformation" and yes, as the name suggests, this mirror enables you to access the character creation screen again if you want to change the way your character looks and it doesn't cost you a single silver coin to do it! And what did I do when I found it? I gave my character a nose job because he looked like a hag when I was staring at him from certain angles... I was really close to restarting the game for the fourth time too... Scary stuff!

Games Played 08/22/2011 - 08/28/2011

- 08/22/2011 -
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS

- 08/23/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS

- 08/24/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Mortal Kombat - PlayStation 3
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Demo - PC

- 08/25/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Dragon Nest - PC
League of Legends - PC
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS

- 08/26/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Rift - PC

- 08/27/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Section 8: Prejudice - PC
Rift - PC

- 08/28/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Rift - PC

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Darker Stubble Means Virility?

Direct2Drive is offering a number of Personal Computer role playing games at great prices over the weekend and one of them just happens to be Dragon Age II. I have been wanting to play this game ever since it came out earlier this year and at that $12 price, how could I say no? So I made myself a male rogue and then played through the game's prologue and then I realized that my character had almost no eyebrows and that he didn't look all that manly...

I don't know if I want to play as this guy...

Shuddering over the fact that I would have to stare at that face during the character conversations throughout the game if I chose to keep him, I immediately exited my current game, deleted the guy and started a new one. A little bit of later, I ended up with this guy...

Hmmm, nicer eyebrows and savagely stubbly but wait... Doesn't he look like my first guy???

Yes, I like wasting my precious gameplay time by creating my character over and over and over again. Remember that I have spent 2 hours creating a group of characters before so this is just one of those quirky things I do while gaming. In case you are wondering, I like creating guys with a shaved head when a game has awful hairstyle for guys and apparently, that is the case for this game...

Rift Warfront Joy

I have finally started getting into the player versus player element of Rift for the Personal Computer by participating in the game's first Warfront called The Black Garden. I have been feverishly looking for this mode ever since I came back to the game on Thursday and I finally found it when I arrived at the Defiant main city of Meridian.  The funny thing is that the option has always been available from the game interface all this time and you can join the queue from anywhere, just like how the system was later implemented in World of Warcraft. Since I thoroughly enjoyed the Battlegrounds in WoW and also the multiplayer online battle arena games like League of Legends, I am really enjoying myself at the moment and I have even abandoned my questing just to participate in one Warfront after another.

Meridian in the distance.

The concept behind The Black Garden is simple. It is a 10 versus 10 match where players converge towards a central area to fight for an object called "The Fang of Regulos". Whichever team that reaches 500 points first wins the match and you gain persistent points when one of your team members is carrying the fang. You also gain points for your team when you kill a member of the opposing team. The player who is carrying the fang bears the corruption of the object and is constantly taking damage as well as being weakened by it. This is an interesting deviation of the capture the flag objective that I am familiar with at Warsong Gulch in WoW. It's hectic and full of action while avoiding boring "turtling" tactics because you really have to stay on the fang carrier, whether friend or foe, at all times and the area is small enough to accomodate that need! This is the only Warfront that is available for me at my 16th level so I'm looking forward to try out the others... Assuming that I am able to level up that quickly before September arrives.

Not as fun as LoL but it's fun enough to make me play it constantly.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Rift in My Usual Gaming Schedule

Ever since I downloaded Rift on my Personal Computer yesterday, I have been doing my best to use most of my free time to play the game. I continued where I left off - which is just a right outside of the epic prologue/tutorial area. My level 7 Cleric didn't feel right at first because I already forgotten about what I was trying to do with his build but an hour later, I realized that I wanted him to focus on being a melee damage dealer. He is at level 12 at the moment and I have finally experienced the invasion events for the game where computer opponents are sent to the important points of the map to capture the areas in question. These are actually a lot of fun and the first time it happened, it really caught me by surprise: I was happily crafting when a bunch of enemy soldiers suddenly attacked the area which resulted in my first death in the game. What worries me though is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of low level characters running about this first main area of the game. It's probably because I am playing in a low population server (Amardis). There is a transfer option on the character select menu but I am unable to use it at the moment because apparently my character's level is too low.

The invasions make the game feels quite dynamic.

Another pleasant discovery I encountered so far is the game's "Riftconnect" feature that allows you to sign in to your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts while playing the game. This works similarly to the Facebook feature for some PlayStation 3 games where certain events in the game will trigger log entries onto the website. You can also choose to tweet without leaving the game. The Riftconnect also has an in-game video recording tool that captures your gameplay footage at 720p resolution. The encoding is a little rough but the file size is quite small, which is always a good thing. Once a footage is captured, you can then have the video uploaded directly to YouTube while you are playing the game! This YouTube functionality mirrors the one found on some PS3 games but there, you cannot upload the video in the background. As you can probably tell, I am really having a good time playing Rift again. I don't see any reason why anyone would not play this right now with the access being free. Even if I decide to not continue the adventure when the time is up, it doesn't mean that I can't have a blast playing it. After all of those horrible "free to play" massively multiplayer online role playing games I have tried these past couple of months, Rift is certainly a welcomed distraction for me.

I really admire the game's visuals. I can see myself living here for a while.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rift: Free Access Get!

It's the "half-birthday" for Trion World's Rift and they are offering free access to the game from today until the end of the month. I have played a short trial of the game and I was very impressed by it so of course I am taking this opportunity to play the game again. Ever since I skipped on that Steam Summer Sale offer, I have been regretting that decision ever since because I really do want to get into the massively multiplayer online role playing game genre again as much as I tried to consistently deny it.... So here we go again, a week worth of Rift. If you are new to the game and would like to explore it together, please let me know. In a MMO, the more is definitely the merrier. Click here to open up a game account and join in on the fun!

I just cannot resist such a delicious temptation!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Staying True to the Price Commitment

I went out with my spouse to my favorite local electronics store this evening and I must admit that I was a little bit fearful that I may have a difficult time inside because of my new commitment on the maximum amount of money I would spend on a game. The games I really, really wanted to get my hands on at the moment are Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 and Bleach: Soul Resureccion for the PlayStation 3 and both games have that ridiculously expensive price tag of $59.99 each. I stayed true to my words however and pulled myself away from those games. I know that it is going to take a while for those two games to go down in price but I know that I'll survive just accessing my already over-bloated Game Library. I was able to find a game that matched my criteria of $39.99 or lower with Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the Personal Computer, so at least I didn't walk out of the store empty handed.

Acquiring a freshly released, brand new copy
of a game at $39.99 or lower may be tricky but it's possible.

The funny thing about this retail copy of the game is that it comes with an OnLive coupon that grants you access to play the game for free from that disappointing direct stream service. Though generous, the offer is rather ironic and redundant. Since I am going to install the game on my hard drive to play it, why would I play the OnLive version with its lower resolution and mediocre graphical setting? Are the people at OnLive getting really, really desperate? I suppose I could sell the access code to a person who subscribe to OnLive and make some money from it... But I don't even know anyone who is paying money for an OnLive subscription! I mean, seriously... Who would?

Suddenly 50! A Tribunal Surprise

I love working the League of Legends Tribunal cases. It's a great way to help clean up the game's community and that Influence Points reward, though small, has been pretty consistent. I was somewhat worried though because out of the 10 cases I worked on per day, I haven't been rewarded for all 10 for the most part which means that I am in the minority in the decision making process for several cases.  I can say based on my experience that 99% of the player reports that come in are very valid so it is disturbing for me to think that perhaps a lot of the nasty players are logging into the Tribunal to offset the balance of things and pardon the bad behaviors instead of adhering to the Summoner's Code. Well, I have to remember that a case will not be closed and acted upon until enough pardon or punish votes come through and that may take quite a while because all of a sudden, I got rewarded for 50 cases which resulted in a 250 Influence Points in my LoL pocket! That's almost the same amount of points one could get from the first win of the day! More importantly though, I regain my confidence in the system. Remember fellow summoners, don't allow anyone to treat you disrespectfully while playing the game - file a report at the end of the game! It matters because a lot of us are really working hard to create a better community for the game through the Tribunal system!

Woah! Thank you. Not enough to unlock the new champion Talon though!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Sweet Spot for Game Price

I love video games and I especially love showing my support to the developers who are responsible in creating those games but it should be no secret to all gamers that the standard of $59.99 for new releases that came with the introduction of the X-Box 360 many years ago is just way overpriced. I do my best to stay away from paying that crazy MSRP whenever I can and I have been lucky enough that my favorite local game store is very good with selling new games with a discount from $5 up to $10 off their regular price. Playing on the Personal Computer platform more than my consoles also provided me with great savings even though the $59.99 disease has started to show its disgustingly ugly face in the PC market as well.

Why should game prices go up when the value of the games you own continues to go down?

Well, I don't know about you but I had enough of games being so overpriced these days despite them looking better but playing much poorer than the games of old. These days, most games are about lengthy one time run adventures instead of promoting a short experience that warrants repeat plays. In one hand you have a game like League of Legends that focuses on a complete gaming experience every single time you play a match and in the other, you have something like the upcoming The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that promises an epic, long-lasting progressive adventure. The difference? The former is absolutely free to play and the other wants to charge me $59.99 as an admission fee. I don't know what Bethesda is thinking trying to sell the game at the same price as the console versions to the PC community despite our suspicion that the lead platform for this game is the X-Box 360. One thing is for sure, I won't be buying it at that price even though I really wanted to play it. There used to be a time when I would promote anyone to get the games they wanted at whatever price if they could afford it because life it too short to gamble on waiting for the price to drop since there is always that possibility that one might drop dead before one could pick up those games. Well, my perception have changed on that because I have too many games already in my possession and since I play these games when I am in the mood to play them - which resulted in newly acquired games being abandoned until later - there is really no reason for me to rush getting a new game when they come out because my gaming time is fully occupied most of the time. Does this mean that I have no desire to play the latest and greatest? Certainly not but I have decided that I should never pay a lot of money to get them quickly unless they hit my sweet spot for game price.

Sometimes new releases are bundled with extra items to entice early buyers.
But surely, we buy video games to play them and not to own extra trinkets, physical or otherwise.

I have decided on $39.99, plus or minus taxes. If I absolutely have to get a new game immediately after release, it cannot go above that budget per game. The developers need their money I am sure but surely they can make a lot even at the price I am proposing. Just imagine if no one out there would buy a game unless it is priced at $39.99 or below, you know that the developers would be quick to adjust to that price while still delivering the goods. The rapid advancement in graphical technology cannot overtake the complexity of gameplay design and the latter just requires a brilliant mind than access to a high tech graphics engine. To be fair, graphics and gameplay can meld into one to provide a very powerful experience but seeing that most developers are not pushing the graphical capabilities of the current generation hardware on all the gaming platforms - the PC included - that means that you are mostly paying for the gameplay. I am confident that this new commitment to the maximum amount that I would pay for any game would perfectly complement the way I access and use my Game Library. Others should make a similar stance so that we can stop being taken advantage of by the gaming industry. Start asking yourself this question: If you have the power to set the maximum price for a newly released game, what would that amount be?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Games Played 08/15/2011 - 08/21/2011

- 08/15/2011 -
Burn, Zombie Burn! - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 08/16/2011 -
Bastion Demo - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 08/17/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 08/18/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 08/19/2011 -
Heroes of Newerth - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS

- 08/20/2011 -
Far Cry 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS
Multiwinia Demo - PC

- 08/21/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom - PlayStation 3
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS

Saturday, August 20, 2011

PS Home: Checking Out the Stores

When I logged into the PlayStation Home on the PlayStation 3 about an hour ago, I noticed that the avatar items that were missing ever since my recent return to the application were finally accessible to me again. So I decided that I should redecorate my Harbor Studio. I realized very quickly however that I did not have that many items to play with. They were enough to make the space look distinctive but I wanted more customization options. I haven't been visiting Home as frequently as I wanted to originally when I reinstalled it but that is mainly due to me spending most of my time watching DOTA 2 and League of Legends competitive matches from the Gamescom convention that is currently being held in Germany. So I decided to check out the in-Home Store to browse through the items that they have for sale.

No, I don't want to be a Jedi... As least not before Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I found that the prices for most items are reasonable enough, averaging for around a dollar or two. There are some premium items however that cost more than $10. I don't see myself spending that much money for my digital items but I am actually considering buying the cheap stuff. In the past, I have purchased avatar items on the X-Box LIVE so my desire for the Home items is not that surprising to me. The coolest thing here with Home is that I can choose to display the digital items I purchase in a creative manner within my Personal Spaces and that is something that you can never do with the non-costume items for the LIVE avatar. Before I proceed with getting anything from the store however, I have convinced myself to collect as many of the free "Home Rewards" I can get from the game spaces first. This means that I will not be shelling out my precious cash any time soon because some of the things that you have to do to unlock those are a bit time consuming. Yeah, you have to really work for them but that is what makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. As I mentioned before, treating the Home application as a video game makes a lot of sense because I have given Home something that it was sorely lacking for me before... A concrete purpose!

Sony may be soulless but a lot of these game spaces are actually quite endearing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DOTA 2: 1 Million Dollars of Fail

As a avid League of Legends player, I am very excited about DOTA 2 from Valve because it is the sequel to the original multiplayer online battle arena that started it all, Defense of the Ancients. I have never played the first DOTA and of course, I would love to now jump on the sequel thanks to my experience with LoL, Heroes of Newerth, and Demigod. The game has been in development for a while and details have been kept under wraps since its announcement until a couple of days ago when several screenshots were leaked. Earlier this morning, specifically around 1:30am, Valve finally unveiled the game via a live stream from the Gamescom convention in Germany, where they are holding "The International" DOTA 2 Championships tournament with a $1,000,000 cash prize to be won - the biggest in eSport history. I managed to keep myself awake to watch the stream - that was severely delayed from its scheduled time of 1am - despite falling a sleep between 11:00pm - 12:10am. I played some LoL matches before then and then I was watching some Twitch.tv streams when I woke up from my quick sleep before the countdown stream started at 12:30am. It was one of the longest waits in my life.

The heroes look pretty darn cool.

Once the match commenced, I really liked the look of the game. It has that cartoonish presentation but it's a lot more refined than LoL. I especially love that the creeps are not miniature minions but they are as big as the champions. That adds a lot to the epic feel of the game. I don't like the interface too much. It looks a bit boring and old. Overall, it is the best looking MOBA to date because of its clean visuals and its consistent art design. Unfortunately, things didn't (and still isn't as I jump back on the stream after my short 3 and a half hours of sleep) go very well for the unveiling. The first problem was the co-caster TobiWanKenobi. Having listened to him before while watching HoN competitive matches, I immediately cringed. Listening to this guy is like listening to a mad person in an insane asylum who screams and yells out randomly before scurrying into a corner making sexual noises and uttering really, really, REALLY bad puns and jokes. His technique to create excitement is quite unprofessional because he just likes to yell out things and it's really quite annoying rather than exciting. Whenever something remotely exciting happens, he would act as if the earth is being pulled straight into the sun and that we are all about to die. I am not kidding you. Bad decision from Valve to allow this guy to cast this event. Then, the technical meltdowns happened... The actual game would lag and freeze very, very often and the stream would be taken down as they try to fix the problem. This scenario is still occurring now beyond the first match and it is very possible that this is going to happen continuously throughout the tournament. Utter. Failure.

Too much lag is not good for the body nor the mind.

It is obvious now that this game is not ready to be played in a tournament yet because of the game-killing lags/freezes. It's frustrating for us viewers because what would normally be the average one hour per match has been stretched out way beyond that because it takes a long time for Valve to get the match and the stream back up again whenever they are taken down. It's happening right now as I am typing this. I bet it's even more frustrating for the competing teams but well, they got to work hard for that $1,000,000.00 even if the technical disadvantages they are forced to deal with are quite unfair. Valve, this is very disappointing. DOTA 2 definitely has a lot of potential for success and I have already signed up for the beta access because I do want to play the game. Valve doesn't make many bad moves but this poor showing at Gamescom is going to go down as their most embarrassing moment ever. It doesn't help that they have not even managed to apologize for this as of yet and yes, things are made a lot worse by TobiWanKenobi. Can someone give him his ADHD medications please?

Update Note: 08/18/2011 - The live streams I have watched today were very smooth without any visible technical issues. It is a great recovery from the awful initial impression the game left me yesterday. The only bad news with seeing DOTA 2 being ran this smoothly is that it makes me want to play the game even more!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh My Galaxy: PS Home Kimono!

They got me... They got me good! As I posted yesterday, I have returned to PlayStation Home in an effort to greedily explore all of the casual variety games it has in store for me and treat that application as a video game in which the play objective is to unlock as many items as possible to customize my avatar and apartments. I have only downloaded 2-3 virtual spaces and already I found something extraordinary... A free kimono outfit!

And I actually paid money for that kimono outfit for my X-Box 360 avatar?

You know that I just absolutely love my kimono and this just makes things extermely exciting for me. I do need to find a pair of comfortable slippers to complete the look however. It is rather hazardous to run around these virtual spaces with just my bare feet you know. Sure, this kimono is not fancy nor colorful - you have to buy those at the PlayStation Network Store - but it is awesome enough. Speaking of buying items, though there is a part of me that doesn't mind getting the little decorative things from Home, there is currently a horrendous glitch with the application that caused a lot of people to lose their Home items. I noticed that all of my items that I accumulated prior to my return, which includes a complete Cole outfit from Infamous and a girly Fat Princess throne amongst many others, are gone and there is not a way for me to redownload them. Apparently, this problem occured during the last big patch and the official forum is flooded with angry Home enthusiasts. Some of them are able to finally get their items back while the rest are still waiting for the problem to be fixed. I sure hope that it will get resolved because I am really enjoying my renewed Home experience.

Monday, August 15, 2011

PS Home: The Video Game!

It is fact that the PlayStation Home application on the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 is a horrible failure as a place for social gathering for the console users. It's clunky, it has a lot of long loading time, and it is filled with avatars with little to no fashion sense. The fact that it is still in beta after all these years is a testament that it is a bad financial investment for Sony. Still, I think I have been wrong about this whole thing. Sure, as a social getaway, the PS Home is a grand, ambitious concept gone incredibly awry, but if you think of the application as just a free game from Sony, well, it may not be all that bad!

Don't be homeless on the PSN. Get back in!

Just stay with me on this for a moment... I had one of those weird moments earlier when I just couldn't decide on how I want to spend my evening while I had the PS3 booted up and suddenly I saw that lame PS Home icon on the Xross Media Bar. I started thinking to myself, "Hey, I haven't visited Home in like decades. Maybe I should take a look?" I acted on that thought almost instinctively and installed the application. Then, there was a pop-up that asked me for the amount of hard drive space I would like to reserve for the application and apparently, one can choose up to 12 GB. I chose that and all of a sudden it hit me. The PS Home is not a social nexus... It is actually a massively multiplayer online role playing game lite. In it, you can download all these different stages or "spaces" as they are called there and in each area, you can partake in activities where you can unlock items for your avatars. Then the PS Home is really a variety game compilation! Yes, all of a sudden, I am getting very excited about the PS Home. Maybe someone slipped something into my ice tea this evening? PS Home, get ready to be invaded!

Games Played 08/08/2011 - 08/14/2011

- 08/08/2011 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance - PC

- 08/09/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 08/10/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Two Worlds II - PC

- 08/11/2011 -
Arcana Heart 3 - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Two Worlds II - PC

- 08/12/2011 -
League of Legends - PC

- 08/13/2011 -
Arcana Heart 3 - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 08/14/2011 -
Greed Corp - PC
League of Legends - PC

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Final Destination 5

Final Destination 5 (2011)
Genre: Horror
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Steven Quale

Attention all horror movie lovers: The Final Destination series is back in its true form! The previous entry, The Final Destination, is certainly one of the worst movies ever made and nothing could ever redeem it from that pit of cinematic hell. Final Destination 5 however is able to retain the entertaining savagery and creativity of the second and third films.

The plot in these movies is simple: a bunch of people are able to escape deaths from a horrible disaster because of the premonition experienced by one of them. Then, one by one, they all started to die horribly because Death doesn't like to be cheated. This time around, a bunch of co-workers are able to save themselves from a monumental bridge collapse and man, the premonition scene that shows off the brutal ways they would have died there is quite horrific. More horrific however is what to follow as the survivors each encounter what would be normal everyday scenarios turn really, really bad. Of course you can't see Death in these movies and it presents itself as a series of innocent decisions made by the survivors or others around them that work their ways into becoming the cause of the survivors' unfortunate ends. Sometimes, it is easy to say that these people die because of their own undoing and that is the deliciously sadistic thing about the Final Destination films - note that when I mention good things about the series, they don't involve  the rotten trash that is The Final Destination. This movie contains, without a single doubt, one of the best death scenes in the entire series - the one involving the gymnast. Nothing, and I said nothing, can prepare you for the particular nastiness of this scene and the incredibly meticulous, sublime build up leading to the actual death is just pure genius! I watched the Real-D version of the movie and though the 3D effects look nice for the most part, they can be a bit distracting at times but at least they didn't cheapen the experience like they did in the last movie. Apparently, Steven Quale has worked with the technology with James Cameron before so he knows what he is doing and the entire film was indeed shot with a 3D camera but to be honest, I think it's time that we leave the 3D gimmickry behind us. Unlike Saw 3D where the 3D effects are used rather selectively, here Quale is pushing for the 3D look in almost every single scene of the film. Obviously, he was trying too hard. If you have to choose between the two, you won't miss anything just watching the standard 35mm print.

I was really worried about this franchise after The Final Destination debacle. Usually something that putrid is all you need to kill off what was a well-established movie series and it would have been a shame because of the unique concept behind these films. I am glad to see that Final Destination 5 is a success even if it is possible that this could be the franchise's final entry. It's good to stop things on a high note but I sure hope that we will get to see more of these movies in the future because of how good this one really is.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Here's how I rank the Final Destination movies from top to bottom:

Final Destination 2
Final Destination 3
Final Destination 5
Final Destination

Don't Mess with the Bull!

Alistar is one of the most annoying champions to fight against in League of Legends because the headbutt and stomp abilities are real jerk moves but of course those things make him so delicious to play as. There used to be a time when I played him a lot but these days, I focus most of my time playing Soraka. As someone who hated healing as my Priest in World of Warcraft, it is fascinating how fun the task is in this game. I mostly play my Soraka as an Ability Power + Tank hybrid and that seems to work to my team's advantage a majority of the time. Well, I recently picked up my fourth fancy skin for the game for Alistair because it was on sale so it looks like it's time to play around with him again. Apparently, the people at Riot Games have a Western-cowboy fetish because that was the theme for this "Longhorn Alistar" skin. Now Alistar and my Desperada Cassiopeia can go out on a date night at the corral. If things worked out, you know that they can make such cute babies.

Riot, it's really time to update that awful default splash art for Alistar...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cheaper 3DS is Not the Best 3DS...

We all know that when Nintendo was selling the Nintendo 3DS for a whopping $249.99, it was ridiculously overpriced. It is great then that Nintendo finally realized that they have been too greedy by dropping the price for the handheld down to $169.99. Is it more affordable now? Sure, still a bit pricey but sure, why not? I, however, am not convinced that I should pick the handheld up because, well please look at the image below:

Oh look, there is a new color combo... But wait! Something is still missing!

Yes, my readers, you have very keen eyes. There is something horribly missing on the bottom right hand corner of the 3DS underneath the four buttons. There's a large space there that could easily fit... a second analog stick! My take is that Nintendo is still being very brave (or perhaps they are just being incredibly foolish) to not update the flawed design of the 3DS because the PlayStation Vita is still not here. A second analog stick will become a standard once the Vita arrives. Has everyone forgotten how functional a second analog stick is especially when controlling the game camera? Not only that, it will also open up many gameplay possibilities! Don't fall for this ploy from Nintendo my fellow gamers. Wait for the 3DS with the second analog stick.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

11 is More Than Enough!

I have been playing the previously unexplored online multiplayer of Two Worlds II on the Personal Computer with a friend these last couple of days and I am really enjoying myself. I still have not completed the single player campaign but now that I am accessing the game again, it's probably a good time to get back into that. Back to the online gameplay though, I like how you start off choosing a pre-determined class and my choice was the necromancer. There is a persistent online lobby where you can shop for goods and meet other players and then when you are ready, you can choose from a variety of play options but my friend and I have been going through the "Adventure" mode that pretty much a typical dungeon run where you kill and loot monsters across the given map in an attempt to level up your character. At first. I regretted choosing my mage character because she seemed so underpowered.... that is until I was able to summon minions! I didn't dabble into sorcery in the single player campaign but now I wish that I did because once I realized that I could increase the amount of minions I could summon, things started to become real fun real fast. Whenever I leveled up, I spent all of my points into summoning until I was able to max it out at 11 summons. What proceeded that has been nothing but pure joy because 11 minions obliterating a single enemy - and it became more painful for the target because my friend is an archer and he can hit pretty darn hard himself - is just plain insane. Once, the minions cornered a warthog to a large rock formation  and then they beat it up mercilessly as its body was physically driven up the wall. Totally orgasmic! I love this game.

The only bad thing about this? You can't specify between summoning melee/ranged minions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kong vs. Wall

The Club Nintendo Donkey Kong 3-Poster Series that I ordered two weeks ago has finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, I still haven't worked out where they will be posted in my Game Room. There is a possibility that these will end up decorating the bedroom walls but I know the spouse would not be happy with such a decision because that space should remain "video game free".  There is always the hallway I suppose.

Nintendo sure knows how to make attractive posters.
Too bad they don't know how to make a good console anymore.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Games Played 08/01/2011 - 08/07/2011

- 08/01/2011 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
Guild Wars - PC
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - PC

- 08/02/2011 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC

- 08/03/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 08/04/2011 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
Guild Wars - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rusty Hearts Closed Beta - PC

- 08/05/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 08/06/2011 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
Galaga Legions DX Demo - PlayStation 3*
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

*Dx has destroyed the greatness of the original Galaga Legions.
by oversimplifying the gameplay. Horrible.

- 08/07/2011 -
Dungeons Hunter: Alliance - PlayStation 3
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unchained or Unplayable?

With Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures for the Personal Computer recently going free-to-play and now called Age of Conan: Unchained, I have decided to try it out again yesterday. I don't know why I even bother with these "ftp" massively multiplayer online role playing games anymore before I always end up being highly disappointed by them. I do remember how impressive this game looked when I played it briefly in 2008 so against my better judgment, I reinstalled the game. Upon reentering the game, I noticed that my previous character was no longer available to me. I was not sure what happened, perhaps I accidentally opened up a new account? I decided to just create a new character and jumped into the game. The game was still very beautiful to look at and now with DirectX 10 being fully implemented into the graphics engine, everything looked quite extraordinary. Then, before I was even able to leave the instanced introduction section of the game, I was already out of bag space. Oh my galaxy, I was so infuriated by this. Apparently, the bag space given to free players was shrunk to an annoying level. I did manage to get to the first central hub of the game where you could meet other players but I was so disheartened by the whole thing that I logged out and deleted the game off my hard drive immediately. That was it for me. No more "ftp" MMOs. These developers should allow free players to access everything that the game has to offer and only sell cosmetic stuff in the cash shop... like armor sets that make your characters look very pretty and epic. People will eat that stuff up and the developers would make a lot of money from them but why stop there right when you can apply micro-transactions on pretty much every aspect of the game from the bag space to skill customizations? I understand that these developers have to make money somehow but the things that they are selling are definitely not for me. To think that "ftp" will be the ongoing direction for the genre... It's scary and sad.

Unchained is nothing but a big tease...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Deal in Gaming My Buttock!

To have a spouse who is supportive of my gaming hobby means that I usually get emails throughout the day when my spouse found some "good" gaming deals on the Internet. Not a lot of these ended up in gaming inductions - they were just cute than anything else - but some of them ended up being unintentionally funny. Like this one for example that was sent to me earlier today:

Hun, just because they say it is doesn't mean that it really is.

OnLive could have been a lot better than it is as I have stated before and this deal is certainly not the "Best Deal in Gaming. Period" that it claims itself to be. As a matter a fact, it is not even close. Why?

1) The stream quality of you playing the games from their servers still look like what someone may deposit into the toilet bowl after a case of bad chili.

2) Most of the games are not even at maxed graphical settings so it's like you are playing on a low end computer. Then, there is also that issue with 720p maximum resolution...

3) You can "buy" the games but you can't even get a copy for your local hard drive if you cancel your OnLive subscription.

4) After all of the shame, the people at OnLive are still unwilling to change their policy in regards to game ownership.

I will just use that $9.99 to get something from Steam, thank you very much!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

League of Legends: Dominion!

Riot Games has posted a video for a new mode of play for their ever-popular multiplayer online battle arena game and, of course one of my favorite games ever, League of Legends. Other MOBA developers, be prepared to get pwned:


This very World of Warcraft looking "The Crystal Scar" map features a capture/defense gameplay instead of the typical destroy the base focus of the MOBA genre and it is definitely going to create imitations across all other MOBAs. The official statement specified that there will be 5 capture points on the map that the players will have to take control of to indirectly destroy the enemy nexus. If you look carefully, there are creeps in the video so it seems like there may be a level-up process during the battle on this map as well and it will be interesting to see how that is going to implemented. One of the main reason why I play WoW is to play in the Arathi Basin as well as the Eye of the Storm battlegrounds (I know there is one more for Cataclysm but I have not gone back to try it) which are also capture/defense player-versus-player maps and with this now announced, it looks like there will be no reason for me to go back to WoW. Unfortunately, there is no timeline given to when we can expect to play the new map. With many competitors emerging and Heroes of Newerth suddenly being free-to-play, I am sure that they are working hard to get this out soon or risk having the idea mimicked before they get the chance to release it themselves. You can keep track of this new LoL development by visiting the official Dominionweb site or if you are lucky enough, you can even check the mode out live if you attend the Gamescom and PAX conventions that are scheduled to take place later on this month.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SSFIV AE Extra Costumes: Are They Really Worth It?

I think by now we all should know that Capcom wants to milk the Street Fighter IV license dry - first, there are 3 iterations of the same game and then there are the downloadable extra costumes for the characters. Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough with my jumps between one SFIV title to the next because I have been able to sell my copies of the games for a pretty decent return. My first SFIV ownership was that of the PlayStation 3 version - which happens to be the inferior version of the game because of some graphical quirks. Then, I got the game again for the Personal Computer and this is the only copy of the "old" SFIV that I still have. Then, I got the X-Box 360 version of Super SFIV that I was able to sell off in preparation for the most recent release of Arcade Edition for the PC. I got the Steam version of AE and it was only recently that Steam users are able to download the costume packs for the game. There is an option to get all 103 alternate costumes for the characters for only $15. Buying the separate costume packs will increase the price of course so this seems to be the best deal for those looking to get these alternate character looks. The question here of course if whether or not it's even worth paying an extra $15 on top of the game itself when these costumes should have been readily accessible with the admission price. I mean, just look a game like Tekken 6 and how you are able to freely customize the looks of your characters by collecting costume pieces by just playing the game. For me though, since the costume pack is able to make Rose look like this...


...it is so very worth it! Yes, Capcom is greedy but I can't say no to my hot "French Maid" Rose so after much deliberation, I have unlocked the "All-In Costume Pack" today. I really wish that the computer opponents would use these alternate costumes while you fighting them to create much needed variety whenever I run through the arcade mode, which I do enjoy playing more than the online matches. I guess it's time for me to visit the online lobby.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Limbo is Nasty

Today, Limbo by the independent developer Playdead has finally made it to the Personal Computer via Steam. Limbo is a platform adventure game with a simple setup: "Uncertain of his sister's fate. a boy enters LIMBO...".. The PC version is $5.00 cheaper compared to console releases. I was in for a surprise when I received the game as a gift - I just completed playing a League of Legends match when the gift notification popped-up on my screen: Thanks Felix, it was extremely generous of you! So after the quick download, I started playing it and I was extremely shocked by the game's... violence. From watching some of the gameplay footage and screenshots in the past, I knew that the game would contain a really dark overtone but I didn't expect that the representation of deaths in this game were going to be so disturbing. Thus, Limbo is one nasty game... but in a good way. I am really enjoying its unapologetic sense of cruelty, the stark black and white visuals, and the thick atmosphere of dread. I sure hope that everything will turn out alright for the boy in the end but I wouldn't be surprised if it all ends with something incredibly menacing judging from how the game is progressing thus far.

Limbo offers a wide variety of excruciating deaths for the little boy.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5

Monday, August 1, 2011

July 2011 Gaming Analysis

The results shown below are of course based on the combined data from the Daily Game Log which should provide a clear indication of a game's usage frequency. Bear in mind that even if a game is played twice or more during a particular day, it would still register as 1 in the Day Count column below. In a sense, "merits" are given based on how often a particular game can make me play it again throughout the entire period of the month on a daily basis. A game that makes a gamer play it over and over again or at least spend a lot of time with it... Isn't that what we mostly want from a great game? I don't think it's really fair to count all the way down to the number of hours played since some games only require a short amount of time to properly serve their purposes.

OVERALL BREAKDOWN:


Total Games Played: 42

I stopped using Yourself!Fitness for the X-Box sometime last month and it shows. It was the second most played title last month and it will not be showing up in these reports again for a while because I am going to just stick with the treadmill for now. I was expecting Dance Central for the X-Box 360 to take the place of Yourself!Fitness but as you can see, that game was only played once last month. A one-hour session with that game really kicked my @$$ and even though that was definitely a good thing, it was a bit too exhausting for me and less fun that I thought it would be. Dance Central can be good for fitness but I just can't see it as a device to keep me moving on a daily basis. My retirement from Yourself!Fitness also returns League of Legends for the PC to its former glory of being the most played game of the month.

The third place slot is occupied by Fable III for the PC. I really enjoy playing this game and it is a lot better than the disappointing Fable II. The game had a slow start however and it utterly failed to engage me during the first several sessions of play. Once I was able to customize the outfit that my character was wearing however, things got a lot better, especially when the wardrobe selections started to expand. I didn't expect to enjoy this game as much I do and I want to keep playing it until I get to the end.


This Month's Inductees:


Total Inductions: 17

Games Played 07/25/2011 - 07/31/2011

- 07/25/2011 -
Borderlands - PC

- 07/26/2011 -
Forsaken World - PC
League of Legends - PC
Runes of Magic - PC

- 07/27/2011 -
Critical Mass - PC
League of Legends - PC
Realm of the Titans Closed Beta - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 07/28/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
Runes of Magic - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC

- 07/29/2011 -
Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters Demo - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 07/30/2011 -
Fable III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC

- 07/31/2011 -
LittleBigPlanet 2 - PlayStation 3
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - PC
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise Demo - PlayStation 3
Portal 2 - PC/PlayStation 3