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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just Go All Digital Already for Galaxy's Sake

I received a copy of Fable: The Journey for the X-Box 360 yesterday but since I was so busy setting up that Wii U, I didn't get the chance to check out the content of the game case until today. I wasn't that surprised to find that this game has no instruction manual. II do find it encouraging however that there has not been a no huge outcry about the lack of physical instruction manuals these days. I suppose most of these physical copy obsessed lunatics are just happy to hold on to cheap plastic cases and the game discs found inside. Then, I realized that Microsoft had printed the epilepsy warning for the game on the back of the cover slip where they urge gamers to pull out the slip and read it.
 
Unless there's a code for a free game hidden in there, I am not going to be doing that.
 
You know Microsoft, there is actually a better way to ensure that you make money from the games you sell than cutting corners and looking cheap while doing it. It's called digital distribution. Do it now and abandon all retail production of games immediately. Sure, a couple of thousands of people will cry and complain about it over the next couple of days but you know what will happen in a week's time? They will start moving towards where the cheese is located. I guarantee it. It's like "Oh I will never buy games ever again if they don't sell a physical copy! Oh what's that? You just released Halo Ultimate? Okay, here's my credit card! Let me go upgrade my Internet and download the game to my X-Box 360 tonight!" And you wonder why Steam is so successful?

Wii U Data Transfer: Cute but Annoying

I thought that the best way to approach my new Wii U was to take care of the data transfer from my original Wii console first. Boy, what a mistake that was. I should have played Nintendo Land first. I really didn't mind that it's a long process because I did have a lot of stuff to transfer but it was the transfer method that gave me a bit of a headache because it was just so annoying. You have to download a transfer software to both the Wii and Wii U consoles and then they both must be connected to the Internet together. Since I didn't have the new sensor bar out - I have the original one hooked up to the Wii U - I had to switch the connection to it between the two consoles. Seriously, why can't I just hook these two consoles up USB to USB, lovemaking style?

Go Pikmin, go!

The instruction wasn't all that clear either. Since a separate SD card is needed to do the transfer where the card is alternatively inserted between the two consoles, I thought that I would have to keep transferring data from my original Wii SD card into the internal memory several times to do a complete transfer. In actuality, the new SD card is capable of transfering all of your purchase history so that you can just redownload the games that were saved to the old SD card. Thankfully, the very cute presentation while the transfer process is taking place made me feel better in the end. Who can resist watching the Pikmin physically moving bits of data from the Wii to the Wii U across a vast electronic landscape? I sure couldn't... until things started to become repetitive that is when they kept passing through the same areas over and over again. If you do plan to embark on the journey of transferring your Wii data to the Wii U, just make sure you don't miss out on the beginning and the end of the transfer process: epic stuff. Check often in between however because there was an error that occurred where I had to do a hard reboot of the system. I am too tired to check if all my digital games got through and I will save that until tomorrow. It looks like I will be retiring my Wii since everything will be playable on the Wii U but this also means that I now have to get my Nintendo GameCube out of retirement yet again so that I could play my GameCube games. I think I will play a couple of minutes of Nintendo Land before I go to sleep.

Update Note: 12:20am - There is a 12 minute patch for Nintendo Land? Are you kidding me? Screw that! I'm off to bed.

Update Note: 11/30/2012 - I have confirmed that all my Wii digital purchases were properly transferred to the Wii U.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Walmart Shopping with a Twist

I hate Walmart. I don't like that it's always packed in there and that there is barely any space to walk in between the aisles. I would never step into a Walmart unless the spouse actually wants to go in there and I just happen to be there in the car. The spouse is definitely a Walmart lover. I am more of a Target person. Last night, the spouse saw a Walmart commercial that featured deals on cellular phones. This evening, the spouse went in there to get a phone upgrade that came with a $100 Walmart gift card. The spouse then decided to use the gift card immediately after noticing that they have that one new console in stock. Yes, you have probably guessed it. Here's the very predictable result:
 
The first thing I am going to do is play Wii games on this Wii U Gamepad.
Wait, what? That's not possible? That's kind of lame.
 
I was extremely surprised when I was handed the Wii U this evening. I am thankful of course to have the opportunity to check out the console but I was really caught off-guard with the gift because of that previous Vita conversation. I really thought that the spouse would not sneak up on me with a Wii U purchase. I have been buried in a sea of new games just recently thanks to Steam and now this? My gaming life is pretty darn awesome.

Steam and the X-Box Guide Button

The Steam Big Picture mode that is currently in beta is a pretty cool new optional interface for Valve's amazing digital distribution service for the Personal Computer. I would have used it more actually if the cool community stuff still hasn't made it to the new interface. Besides, navigating using the keyboard and the mouse on the default client is a lot more convenient even though I am using my big screen as my PC display. I recently opted to use the beta client again to fix a strange custom grid image bug and while using Steam this morning, I accidentally pressed the X-Box Guide button on my X-Box 360 controller and the Big Picture mode turned on! That was one of the funniest moments in my life. I also discovered that pressing the same button while playing games launched from the Big Picture mode brings up the Steam community interface! Bravo Valve for creating something useful out of Microsoft's extra little button.
 
With a gentle press of the X-Box Guide button... Kaboom!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Premier 3D Gaming Experience

I remember the first time I saw the 3D effects on the Nintendo 3DS - I was simply blown away, especially with the fact that the 3D was accomplished without the need for special glasses. Gaming in 3D on 3DS has been fun and I had wondered how great it would be to able to replicate the experience on the big screen. Well, with the arrival of my new display, that has become a possibility. Though I will say that I don't see myself gaming exclusively in 3D - I discovered that things are a little tricky with Nvidia 3D Vision for my particular screen where to benefit from Nvidia's 3D processing matrix, which does look far superior to my television's built-in 2D to 3D mode, I have to sacrifice the refresh rate to 24Hz to do 3D gaming in native 1080p though I could still do 60Hz at native 720p - I have found one game that I will never ever play in 2D again... And that game is Super Stardust HD for the PlayStation 3. I haven't gotten around to all of the special "3D Compatible" games on the PS3 just yet with several that did get tested showing mixed results, but as soon as I saw that infinite, expansive outer space with stars flying out of the display and the bottom half of the Super Stardust HD game title sliding out towards my face in the main menu, I knew that I was witnessing something truly remarkable.
 
With the 3D mode enabled, this is easily one of the most visually stunning games ever.
 
Super Stardust HD was an epic game before but there is something about seeing it "alive" in front of you that is just totally out of this freaking world. The planets that become the center stage for the gameplay becomes more prominent as they are floating right there in the middle of the screen, surrounded by the vast infinity of space that is littered with stars of varying distances. The surfaces of the planets also become more complex with elevated landscapes that are then surrounded by the spherical layering of the playing field. The huge meteors drop into the screen convincingly and all the crazy action that involves the screen filling up with enemies and debris really popped out. All of this with no slowdown whatsoever and everything looks crystal clear. I wonder why they don't just set up a PS3 with this game being demoed at the store to promote both the console and the 3D televisions they are selling because if you look at this game in motion while playing it in 3D, you will be convinced to upgrade your display immediately or at least plan to in the near future - oh yes, it is that good. It's also important to note that developer Housemarque was able to provide us with this 3D masterpiece via a patch - the game wasn't specifically programmed to support 3D when it first came out. This means that if a developer really works hard on it, the same kind of visual delight can be accomplished on all the other non-3D games out there whether they are on the PS3 or not. Super Stardust HD thus far has the best looking 3D visuals that I have ever seen in my life - it's better than watching the IMAX 3D presentation of James Cameron's Avatar - and as long as they can make them this good, there is absolutely no reason to not implement the option to enable 3D effects in all future video games.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Games Played 11/19/2012 - 11/25/2012

- 11/19/2012 -
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS
Photo Dojo - NDS
- 11/20/2012 -
Aralon: Sowrd and Shadow HD - iPad
Batman: Arkham City - PC
Infinity Blade II - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes - PC
Mortal Kombat - PlayStation 3
Totem Runner - iPad
- 11/21/2012 -
Bug Princess - iPad
Phoenix HD - iPad
Super Laser: The Alien Fighter - iPad
Totem Runner - iPad
- 11/22/2012 -
Eschatos - X-Box 360
Sine Mora - PC/Vita
Skydrift - PC
- 11/23/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - PC
Need for Speed: Most Wanted - PC
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 - PlayStation 3
WipEout HD - PlayStation 3
- 11/24/2012 -
Hotline Miami - PC
League of Legends - PC
Mark of the Ninja - PC
Need for Speed: Most Wanted - PC
WipEout 2048 - Vita
- 11/25/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
*Notice that I only played iPad games on 11/21/2012.
I spent most of that day wih the spouse at the hospital.
Screenshot of the Week:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Irony of the Week

And the most played "game" on Origin goes to...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kinect Messing with the Game Room Flow

When I purchased that new super thin LEDTV recently, I didn't even think about my Kinect that used to be placed on top of my previous display. I am no longer able to use the camera clip because of the TV's thing frame, almost bezel-less, design because the camera clip would actually block a part of the screen. Thankfully, the camera clip can also transform into a wall mount and since placing the Kinect below the display would take away some of my Kinect gaming space because it would have to be moved to the front of the entertainment center, I went to work on mounting the Kinect to the wall. I am not sure if I have made the right decision however because the result is not necessary that pleasing to the eye. To think that I had to sacrifice the arrangement of my room when the Kinect came into my gaming life and now, it wants more blood? Oh well, perhaps I will get used to the way things look soon.

I should just paint that whole wall black...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

October 2012 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: 45
 
Yes, it's League of Legends for the Personal Computer again that occupied most of my time last month and yes, I have ran out of things to say about this game. Something interesting did happen though that I thought was funny. I met this player whom I communicated with for a short time who ended up being quite a nasty individual. I always give people a chance even if they initially seem somewhat suspect - this person seemed to really take the game too seriously in that disturbingly pathological way. In the end, I just had it and ended the communication. I really do not have room in my life for damaged, crazy people.
 
Though things are offensively slow in regards to updates compared to the console versions, I found myself attached to Street Fighter x Tekken on the PC for a little while. I also did a lot of gameplay recording for Rocket Knight for the PC to be uploaded to my YouTube account but that project didn't last that long because showing playthrough videos is just not my thing. I also made an attempt to finish Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II for the PC but I ended up just repeating the earlier stages just for fun. I am surprised that I didn't play more Borderlands 2 though but that is because the game didn't feel that compelling - it's too similar to the previous game.
 
 
This Month's Inductees:
 

 Total Inductions: 35

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leave Me Alone, Steam... Leave Me Alone!

So that brand spanking new television set I just got yesterday wasn't exactly cheap so imagine my horror when I opened my Steam client this morning and saw that Steam is currently having its Autumn Sale that will last through Monday 11/26/2012 with new deals being offered daily.
 
5 bloody items are currently sitting in my cart and this is just day one!
 
The gaming universe is a merciless, brutal place. Oh what's this? Oh I always wanted that add-on... Another item has just been added to the cart for the new grand total of 6. Oh, this is not going to be a pleasant weekend at all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loner's Crazy Display Got Crazier

It has been close to 4 years since I took my beautiful 52" Samsung LCD home. Over the past couple months, I have seen signs that the display is going to die on me. There is this nasty full 1080 pixel tall 1 pixel wide red line every time I turn it on that would stay visible on the far right of the screen for about 10 or so minutes. Then, the display would lose signal on and off and this would happen rather randomly - usually during a heated League of Legends group fight, ouch. 4 years isn't a long time since my 7 years old 56" Samsung DLP is still going strong in the living room but I have decided to get a new display. At first, the spouse and I planned to get it next year but then the spouse was able to help me pick one up earlier, as in today! I chose an LED display from LG this time, sorry Samsung but it's time for me to branch out - the 55LM7600:
 
Super thin, super delicious.
 
This display also marks my very first foray into big screen 3D displays. 3D presentation, believe it or not, works better for real-time 3D gaming as illustrated by the 3DS than watching something flat like those 3D movies in the theater. I haven't used the 3D extensively so far. I have yet to try out the Nvidia 3D Vision processing but I did manage to play Sine Mora for the Personal Computer using the TV's own built-in 2D to 3D processor and it looked pretty darn good. And 3D League of Legends? It's as cool as it sounds. Then, I booted up my PlayStation 3 to test out that console's 3D processing power. The PS3 did freak out soon after it started, shutting down almost immediately when I got to the Xross Media Bar! I thought something was wrong with my PS3 but when I noticed that it just wanted to initialize the 3D settings, I was relieved. I played a little bit of Mortal Kombat with the in-game stereo-3D turned on and it worked great even though I did notice that some of the edges looked a tad jagged. Interestingly however, turning it off and using just the TV's own 2D to 3D mode made the 3D looked a lot more natural thus better. I have to look into this more.
 
This thing came with 6 seriously ugly 3D glasses.
At least they sit comfortably on top of my glasses.
 
I sure hope that this display is going to last me a lot longer than the previous set. I am still calibrating it but surely, this LED TV is a display of my dreams. For those interested in using this display as a PC monitor, it works perfectly with no lag with an HDMI connection - make sure to set the connected input as "PC". I should stop typing now and play more games on this glorious new display.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Games Played 11/12/2012 - 11/18/2012

- 11/12/2012 -
Arc Squadron - iPad
Bug Princess - iPad
F1 Race Stars Demo - PC
PlayStation Vita Fireworks- Vita
Punch Quest - iPad
Shellrazer - iPad
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS

- 11/13/2012 -
Punch Quest - iPad

- 11/14/2012 -
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PC
League of Legends - PC
Super Stardust Delta - Vita

- 11/15/2012 -
F1 Race Stars - PC
Just Cause 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Sine Mora - PC

- 11/16/2012 -
Bug Princess - iPad
Dodonpachi Resurrection - iPad
F1 Race Stars - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rayman Origins - PC
Sine Mora - PC
Temple Run - iPad
WipEout 2048 - Vita

- 11/17/2012 -
DariusBurst: Second Prologue - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Photo Dojo - NDS
Sine Mora - PC
Sleepy Jack HD - iPad
Temple Run - iPad

- 11/18/2012 -
F1 2012 Demo - PC
F1 Race Stars - PC
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PC
League of Legends - PC
WipEout 2048 - Vita


Screenshot of the Week:

Has anyone seen the trophy?

Friday, November 16, 2012

You Know I Like It... Hard

In January of this year, I got myself the Hard Pouch by Hori for my Nintendo 3DS. I loved it so much that I have decided to get the Hard Case that the same company made for the PlayStation Vita. This officially licensed case is quite a looker as you can see from the picture below:


I really love the red accents on both top and bottom halves of the case. The indentations on the top potion looks pretty cool and provide what could have been a generic looking case a little bit of identity. There is a soft partition inside the case that has two functions - the top can hold two Vita games and the bottom rest on top of your Vita's screen to protect it from any possible scratches. There's probably enough cushion provided by the sturdy encasing to protect the Vita from a drop but I wouldn't risk trying that out. I was just looking for a nice case that can protect the screen while moving it around and this one can certainly do that job well. If I make sure that I slip my Vita inside of it when the Vita is not in use, I am sure that the screen will be protected from incidental scratching like what happened to my PlayStation Portable two years ago.

RATING: 4 out of 5

More 10 Years XBL Nonsense

Microsoft thought that they were so hip and cool that they actually sent another annoying email with some accumulated hours factoid in regards to X-Box LIVE to continue their harassment of LIVE Gold membership imposition. I guess the numbers would look cool if ALL of the members of LIVE, Silver-level included, were factored into the mix. Just look at how embarrassing things ended up being for someone who don't have that foul Gold membership:
 
That didn't work out as you planned it, did it Microsoft?
 
So what you are telling me Microsoft is that I didn't play any online multiplayer games on the 360 in the past year? How very astute of you. Do you also know that I left Gold a while back? Don't you think you'd get more than 2,081,054,696 hours of online gaming if online multiplayer was a free feature as it should be? What was that about 603,549,497 hours of the 360 being used for non-gaming entertainment? Are you sure you want to flaunt that? I thought the X-Box 360 was a gaming console? I am happy to actually have 0 hour spent on non-gaming activities on my gaming console thank you very much. So what was supposed to be a bragging email ended up being an insult letter? Oh my. Apparently this email was created without the Silver members in mind. How rude.

Splitting Up: A Divorce from Steam?

Electronic Arts... Congratulations! You have done it. I actually like Origin a little more than Steam thanks to its incredible twitch.tv broadcast capability. Because I want to stream whenever I play a Personal Computer game, I actually have to launch Origin first and then launch Steam inside of Origin. This also means that I have deleted the Origin shortcut from Steam. Yeah, you must be extremely ecstatic about that EA. Despite the recent overblown claim about hacked accounts that was denied by EA, what has been accomplished by the new and improved Origin is something that EA should be very proud of.

Origin is the new Steam? Not quite, but getting there.

So how far reaching is the Origin influence now in my PC gaming life? I have removed all non-Steam games that I added into Steam and added them to Origin instead. Why is that? Well, Origin actually tracks the number of hours you play non-Origin games when Steam doesn't do that with non-Steam games. Also, my Origin client will always be on because I launch Steam from it so that I can stream all my Steam gaming sessions. Before the introduction of the new features, Origin would only be up and running when I play the games I got from the Origin service. Well, not anymore. I suppose not everyone is into gameplay streaming even though they should now because Origin made it very, very easy. But EA has been working, for quite a while now, to implement "achievements" into Origin (roll eyes) to get the rest of the community onboard. As for me, I think Origin has arrived. Valve, you better make your move and announce your gameplay streaming plan like soon to get things back to your kind of normal!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

X-Box LIVE: 10 and Juvenile

I received an email from Microsoft today that dared ask me this very serious question: "Bardnoon Lord, remember when you first joined Xbox LIVE?" Oh Microsoft, how nice of you to remind me that Xbox LIVE used to be a really cool place back in the original X-Box days... you know when the service used to be FREE and that it solely focused on something called VIDEO-GAMING! Apparently, the LIVE service is now celebrating its 10th anniversary but if it's not going to honor its own roots and become an entirely free service on the X-Box 360, I really don't think they have much of a reason to celebrate. Can't be too bitter about this however because Microsoft is giving us free download of the Kinect game Wreckateer for the next two days. Also, I was granted an avatar helmet because I have been with the service for a very long time.
 
Yes, Microsoft. I wish I could go back to LIVE's early years...
 
Cool helmet though. I'll keep it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Origin: Easy Streaming, Pure Win

The beta access to Origin's new twitch.tv integration has been released today and of course I was very excited to test it out. On top of that, you can now add non-Origin games to the client and yes, you can actually add the Steam client into Origin! This also means that you can pretty much stream any game, whether you got them via Origin or not, as long as they are compatible with the Origin overlay because not all of them are. unfortunately, at this time.
 
No, you are not dreaming. That's a Steam client inside the Origin client.
 
Streaming your game is ridiculously easy. First, you have to link up the Origin and twitch.tv accounts. You want to make sure to check out the stream setting for the proper resolution and frame rate and then just click on the stream icon from the in-game Origin overlay and you're good to go. The Origin is definitely the most convenient way to stream games but does it even work properly? I am happy to report that on my Personal Computer, streaming up to 1280 x 720 resolution at 30 frames per second resulted in no performance drop in-game. Pushing the streaming resolution to 1080p did result in slight fps drops however. The actual video that you are streaming is certainly not the best looking one out there with noticeable pixelation and occassional blocky decoding but remember that you are getting this feature for free. Currently, there doesn't seem to be a way to tweak the image quality beyond the resolution and frame rate so you are stuck with what you are given even if your PC is capable of streaming at a higher bit rate. I have a feeling that with time,  the streaming feature will continue to get better. [Update Note: 11/15/2012, 10:20pm - and just one day later, EA has provided us with the ability to adjust the picture quality from "Lowest" to "Mid" to "Highest" with that last setting looking pretty darn good!] To make things more engaging, there is even a mic function built into the streaming so you can chat away during your broadcast.  
 
You can see how many people are viewing your stream at the top of the screen.
Yes, apparently, I am very popular on twitch.tv!
 
The ability to stream gameplay straight to twitch.tv from the Origin client is a smart way to convince gamers to try out the service. I do plan on using it extensively so this will force me to have both clients up and running on my PC. It's too bad that when you added a non-Origin game to the client, you can't customize the game's icon. You would think that Electronic Arts were aware of the grid customization feature found on Steam but I have a feeling that they were just being a tad lazy. Origin is not even close to dethroning Steam as the king of PC digital distribution but today surely marks its turning point in the industry. The streaming and game add-on features will go live soon but why wait to try it out? Opt for the beta client and stream your favorite games via Origin ASAP!
 
Update Note: 11/15/2012, 10:30am - You can just launch Steam from Origin and then launch any of the games you have added to Steam, whether they are native Steam games or otherwise, to stream them using Origin. Doing this will save you the effort of having to add those games individually to Origin.

Sennheiser Due to Vita

Playing games on the PlayStation Vita can be an exhilarating experience thanks to its potential for visual spectacle (notice that I will never say that it could match the graphical fidelity of the current consoles) but the aural presentation via the built-in speakers is actually rather mediocre. This is not a problem exclusive to the Vita and I have addressed this very situation in the past. To get the total package experience from the Vita requires one to use the audio connector and I do have a dedicated earphones for my handhelds - a shamelessly expensive noise-cancelling one from Shure. I have been unhappy with those earphones however for a long while now because even though they sound great, fitting those tiny things inside my ear has never been all that comfortable, especially during lengthy gaming sessions. So I decided to get a pair of actual headphones instead and I decided on this HD 202 II budget model from Sennheiser.
 
Please don't ask me what that guy on the packaging is doing.
He's not even wearing the headphones and he looks like someone
who just jumped out of the bushes at night ready to drag you into his van.
 
Despite having that freaky looking kidnapper on the packaging, I am very happy with using this headphones with my Vita. It is amazing how much better it actually sounded compared to my uncomfortable earphones. Maybe the comfort contributed to the improvement but one thing is for sure, after using these headphones, I don't think that I can ever go back to the tiny sound that comes out from the Vita or my other handhelds. There used to be a time when the only satisfactory sound I could squeeze out of my handhelds could only come from connecting them straight to my receiver. Now, I can get the same satisfaction by just using these headphones.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

F1 Race Stars: Transform Now Than Later

It is disappointing to see that Sega has not provided any official announcement about the Personal Computer version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed that is currently slated for a release on the consoles this very Sunday. What happened? I thought Sega & Steam were working together so harmoniously since there have been plenty of Sega games getting released on Steam like Jet Set Radio and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Perhaps the fact that the re-release of Nights: Into Dreams... is still absent from Steam should have been an indicator that something foul is afoot. So yeah, we may actually have to wait for Sega's awesome new kart racer to hit Steam or the PC in general but at least Codemasters didn't forget about PC gamers when they released F1 Race Stars for the PC alongside its console counterparts today.
 
You sure you got your contacts in?
 
This Steamworks-equipped PC release is strangely more expensive than the console version - $44.99 instead of $39.99 - but those who pre-ordered the games paid almost the latter. Not sure entirely of the reason behind that price mismatch but I can tell you that the game certainly looks quite expensive. F1 Race Stars is an officially licensed Formula One kart racing game and as the title implies, it features caricatured drivers from the actual F1 teams. The one thing that you will notice immediately about this game is its gorgeous, highly stylized graphics that I was able to run at native 1080p with silky smooth 60 frames per second on my PC. The game may look simplistic at first because of its cartoonish visuals but then you will start noticing the grandeur behind the overall design. The race tracks are huge and they like to show off how expansive they are by showing you breathtaking views that usually summarize the entirety of each location as you are driving through them. All the real world locations have been infused with things like crazy jumps, twists, turns, as well as loop-the-loops and they are filled with fantastical, exaggerated landmarks.
 
Because you know they love their animal hot-air balloons in Japan.
 
The actual racing mechanics isn't too shabby as well. Though lacking the drifting technique that is almost something that is obligatory in the genre, there game does have plenty of power ups and speed boost pads are scattered everywhere along the tracks. The racing is fast and hectic and just like the real F1 racing, you have to go through the pit stop when your kart is damaged but of course doing that may be hazardous to your current position so it's always best to avoid attacks when you can. There is no rubber-banding thankfully but that also means that you have to pay attention to ensure that you are not left behind. The game offers plenty of championships you can participate in or you can play the tracks individually. You can even create your own event by mixing and matching tracks as well as play modes. The game features online and local multiplayer but unfortunately, I was not able to find people to play with online when I tried earlier today. The career mode is keeping me occupied however that I haven't even gotten back to the online mode.
 
There's always a pretty scenery around the corner.
 
When I tried out the game's demo last week, I knew that F1 Race Stars was special and now that the final product is here, I am really falling in love with it.  I don't look at the game as merely something that PC gamers should settle for until Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed finally gets a release date but an excellent, engaging kart racer on its own. It's actually pretty cool to see Codemasters loosen up a little bit by adopting a whimsical approach to one of their F1 racing games and focusing on nothing but pure, unadulterated fun.
 
Something sinister and exhilirating can be seen in the distance.
 
FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Defeated Janna but No More Regret

Season 2 has officially ended today for League of Legends on the Personal Computer and with it, I didn't get to reach the gold rating to be granted that astonishing Victorious Janna skin. I ended up with the highest rating of 1475 - close but no cigar because that's still the silver tier in the solo/duo ranked queue. I just needed two or three consecutive wins but that's a bit hard to do when your teammates are randomly assigned. Still, it's a group game so I am a believer that the burden of victory and the causes of defeat are shared across all who are involved. I got to that rating soon after I realized that I still had time to get myself to gold but to be honest, playing the ranked matches were just not that fun because I encountered too many players with rotten attitude so I didn't keep it at. Apparently both the Honor initiative and the Tribunal system are still not enough. At least I made that attempt to get to gold before I had enough. With the arrival of Season 3, I will be playing some ranked matches for sure but depending on the type of people I ended up being grouped with, ranked matches would either become a habit or something that I would be more than happy to avoid playing altogether, with or without the eventual fancy skin reward.

At least I can enjoy the silver frame adornment in the versus scereen.

Games Played 11/05/2012 - 11/11/2012

- 11/05/2012 -
Eschatos - X-Box 360
Strikers 1945 Portable Plus - PSP
 
- 11/06/2012 -
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition - PC
Infinity Blade II - iPad
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 - PC
Metal Slug Anthology - PlayStation 2
Super Stardust Delta - Vita
 
- 11/07/2012 -
Fast Striker - Dreamcast
Last Hope: Pink Bullets - Dreamcast
League of Legends - PC
Metal Slug Anthology - PlayStation 2
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology - PlayStation 2
 
- 11/08/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Metal Slug Anthology - PlayStation 2
Super Stardust Delta - Vita
 
- 11/09/2012 -
Arc Squadron - iPad
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition - PC
League of Legends - PC
Punch Quest - iPad
 
- 11/10/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Punch Quest - iPad
Sine Mora - PC
 
- 11/11/2012 -
Arc Squadron - iPad
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD - iPad
Frobisher Says! - Vita
Jetpack Joyride - iPad
League of Legends - PC
Punch Quest - iPad
 
 
Screenshot of the Week:
 
Don't hold back on them bullets.
Sine Mora (Personal Computer)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Origin: Get Enticed

Would you like to own a free game? Well, it's not exactly new, but Electronic Arts is currently giving away a free digital copy of Battlefield 1942 via their Origin service. It was first released in 2002 so don't expect pretty graphics from that game. I personally have never played the game but I did claim my copy just mere minutes ago. In other news, it looks like Origin may be one-upping Steam with an upcoming update that will allow users to actually stream games to twitch.tv via the Origin client. Ever since I got this super fast Internet, I always wanted to stream again but I really didn't want to go through the hassle with the whole Adobe Flash Media Encoder + capture software thing. It looks like I will be doing a lot of streaming again very soon. Origin will also introduce the ability to add non-Origin games into the client, just like what Valve did with Steam. This is going to be really interesting. I wonder if I can just add the actual Steam client into the list because that was what I did with the Origin client in Steam. The real battle between the two Personal Computer gaming clients will finally begin once this streaming feature becomes live very soon. I wonder if Valve is going to respond and present to us a streaming partnership feature of their own...
 
I don't know about you but I love free games.

Sine Mora: Now on PC

Sine Mora by Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture has arrived on the Personal Computer today via Steam and it reminded me that I should stop getting downloadable games on the consoles because they eventually come to the PC. I already own this game on the X-Box 360 and I really enjoyed the time I spent with the console version. Basically, Sine Mora is quite a gimmicky shoot-'em-up with its time manipulation mechanics but it is still a triumph for the genre thanks to its undeniably gorgeous visuals, haunting soundtrack, and a poignant storyline that's comparable in the somberness of its tone to masterpieces like Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun. This article will just focus on how the PC version turns out while you can read the full review of the game by clicking here.
 
If you like evil bosses, you'll love this game.
 
The game is straight port of the X-Box 360 version and even though there is a 3-tier visual option, using the highest "Ultra" setting yielded no real graphical improvements compared to its console counterpart. I ran the PC and the 360 version together, with the 360 at the upscaled 1080p and I am not even sure if the PC version is rendering at native 1080p [Edit Note: 11/14/2012 - The developer has come forward to address the internal resolution situation and you can read about it by clicking here], and there are only two noticeable differences between the two - the PC version is less jaggy so details popped out a little more and that the in-game cinematic runs a lot smoother when you use the fast forward function. Other than those, it looks like the PC version uses the original graphical assets from the 360 version and it doesn't look as crisp as you'd like it to be. The menu screens are impacted by this as you can see many horizontal black lines underneath the text that should have been cleaned up. This is not a bad thing however because the 360 version was no slouch graphically so there's not much to complain about here. There is the option to use a mouse or a keyboard to play the game though you cannot customize the keys yourself but this game is meant to be played with the controller and of course, the 360 controller works flawlessly with Sine Mora. If you missed out on this game when it was released on the 360, now is your chance to experience this intriguing modern shooter. The port may be a bit lazy but when the original product is this polished, there's not much more that you could ask for.
 
They are pretty serious about their defenses.

Random Game Room Moment

 
It's not about how many masks you wear,
it has never been about how often you wear them.
The problem is that sometimes, you are just not wearing one.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Random Game Room Moment

 
I always see something nice when I open the window,
though it often leaves me vulnerable,
I never seem to learn from my mistakes.

Random Game Room Moment

 
4 meg and three eyes,
the colors still bright
as I cling to past demise.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dark Souls: PC-Style

My wait to play Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for the Personal Computer is finally over. I was waiting for the price to come down and when it did several days ago, I snatched it up instantaneously. It would have been easy to justify getting it at the $39.99 when it first came out, which of course perfectly matches my price sweet spot, because the game is quite remarkable as I have written about it before but I already have the PlayStation 3 version and that became somewhat of a roadblock. You know how much I hate redundancies. The PC version of the game comes with the additional features that also became available as a paid downloadable content on the console version so why didn't I just get that for my PS3? Well, it's because of this:
 
As soon as I got in game, the difference in image quality was immediately noticable.
 
You may have heard that the PC version was a straight port of the console version and yes, that was true which meant poor graphical optimization when things could look a million times better. But as soon as the game came out months ago, this awesome modder also released a self-made patch to make the game look incredibly gorgeous. All of a sudden, the game is no longer stuck at low native resolution and using the patch, I myself am now running it at native 1080p. Sure, the frame rate is still stuck at 30 because of the game engine - there is actually another patch that can fix that but it also ruins the game speed - but imagine playing the Dark Souls in crystal clarity with improved default effects as well as the addition of ambient occlusion with no frame rate drops... Oh what delicious fantasy! Only that it is a reality with the PC version of the game - that is as long as your computer can handle it. I can't wait to revisit the areas that slows the game to a crawl on the PS3 and experience them without that frustration. I played the PS3 version for 75+ hours and I am ready to invest at least the same amount of time with this version. The Prepare to Die tag line is extremely cheesy for me as it continues the trend of over-hyping the game's so-called "super difficulty" - you would think that such a shallow marketing strategy would only work with children but the game is rated M unless Namco Bandai Games was thinking that childish gamers are their target audience... A lot of people got stuck thinking that this game is super-duper-isn't-this-awesome hard so the publisher was indeed successful in their intent. To me, the only thing that should "prepare to die" is my PS3 Dark Souls disc.

Monday, November 5, 2012

DOTA 2 Access Up for Grabs!

I have 3 DOTA 2 access keys in my Steam inventory right now and I want to give it to three lucky readers on a first come, first served basis. So you don't want to pay $29.99 to get the early access to play this game, well here is your chance to start playing without paying. All you have to do to win one is to follow the blog using the Google Friend Connect to the right hand side of the blog and then post a comment on this article specifying your interest in getting the access key. Please make sure that you have an email address in your profile so that I can contact you if you are one of the lucky three or you can choose to leave your Steam profile in the comment. This article will be updated once all 3 have been claimed. Good luck!
 
Make DOTA 2 a part of your Steam Game Library today!
 
 
Update Note: 11/12/2012 - All the keys are gone now.

Import Shooter Triple-Threat

That recent GunLord induction really got me hungry for more import games. Last week, I finally got Sunsoft Collection for the PlayStation 2 and today, I received Eschatos by Qute for the X-Box 360 and the two games that I never thought I'd be able to get for the Dreamcast: NG:DEV.TEAM's Last Hope: Pink Bullets and Fast Striker Ver. 1.5 - I was so surprised to have found these brand new as well.
 
That's a lot of shooting.
 
I have gotten the "Wonder Price" version of Eschatos - the original print comes with the soundtrack CD and it doesn't have the white border around the cover image but it's being sold for double the price of the "Wonder Price" version. Out of the three games, I have only tested out Eschatos: you are given  access to a vertical shot with a long range, a wide shot with shorter range, and a rechargeable shield as the game throws waves upon waves of enemies towards you rather rapidly - the game feels really fast paced. Eschatos also comes with two WonderSwan shooters, Judgement Silversword: Rebirth Edition and Cardinal Sins: Recycle Edition but since I haven't touched these, I am not sure how they hold up compared to the main attraction. Eschatos uses 3D graphics on a 2D plane and though it is not one of the better looking modern shmup, the constantly moving scenery and strange bosses keep things lively. If you are interested in this game, it's region-free so you can play it on your North American X-Box 360. Thetwo Dreamcast games are region-free as well. I am really looking forward to spending a lot of time with these three games! And can you believe it, my Dreamcast got two more new games! I really love that pink case for Last Hope by the way... Ah, I'm in shmup heaven.

Games Played 10/29/2012 - 11/04/2012

- 10/29/2012 -
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit - PC
Orcs Must Die! 2 - PC
 
- 10/30/2012 -
Dynasty Warriors Next - Vita
League of Legends - PC
Reality Fighters - Vita
Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS
 
- 10/31/2012 -
Cho-Aniki: Kyukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyo Otoko - PlayStation 3
Dynasty Warriors Next - Vita
Gaia Seed - PlayStation 3
Mobile Light Force - PlayStation
Zombie Driver HD - PC
 
- 11/01/2012 -
Dynasty Warriors Next - Vita
Ether Vapor Remaster - PC
eXceed 3rd: Jade Penetrate Black Package - PC
League of Legends - PC
Satazius - PC
Sunsoft Collection - PlayStation 2
Super Stardust Delta Demo - Vita
 
- 11/02/2012 -
Dynasty Warriors Next - Vita
League of Legends - PC
 
- 11/03/2012 -
League of Legends - PC
Super Stardust Delta - Vita
 
- 11/04/2012 -
Cho Aniki Zero - PSP
League of Legends - PC
Strikers 1945 Plus Portable - PSP
Super Stardust Delta - Vita
 
 
Screenshot of the Week:
 
You guys hold on to your blurry shields while I spread my legs to channel this super move!
Dynasty Warriors Next (PlayStation Vita)

Getting to Know the PS Vita

So I finally got the PlayStation Vita after a long period of time completely ignoring the system and now, after almost a week of owning the system, I must say that I really do like this Next Generation Portable. No, I would never, ever call it a "game changer" - a game changer in the portable gaming world would be a handheld system that can run games in native 1080p on its screen and has an internal memory of no less than 1TB with all of its titles delivered exclusively via digital means. The Vita would not be that device I just described of course but it is still, fortunately for me, a capable little handheld.
 
Of course my Vita lock-screen is League of Legends related... Sakura Karma for the win!
 
I am actually quite surprised at how much I am enjoying my Vita. I really like how easy it is to open and close applications. The Vita's dashboard and overlays feel a lot more responsive than on the Playstation 3. Checking your gamer profile on the PS3 can be a traumatizing experience because of the extremely slow synchronization process between the console and the server but that problem surprisingly doesn't exist on the Vita. Hitting the "PS" button also doesn't result in the frequent hang ups you normally encounter on the PS3. All I can say is that if things could be this smooth on the Vita, Sony better get their act together and fix things on the PS3.
 
I have inducted two digital PlayStation Portable games via the Vita already.
 
Sure the interface is slick but how's the gaming experience? It's actually quite satisfying. The tiny analogue sticks can be somewhat flimsy but after a while, I got really used to it. I still don't understand why they didn't just use the standard analogue sticks found on the PS3 controller - or a slightly smaller variation - on the Vita itself. The OLED screen may not be high definition but the clarity and sharpness of the images produced are unlike anything that I have seen on a handheld gaming device before - that is if you don't consider the iPad as one. It is obvious that the Vita is not even close to being as powerful as the PS3 - some of those low resolution textures are quite atrocious - but it does its best to trick you into thinking that you are seeing something extraordinary on the screen until you notice the blemishes that are just too easy to spot.
 
Dynasty Warriors Next looks almost as good as DW7 on the PS3. Almost.
 
My favorite game on the system right now is Dynasty Warriors Next, even though the touch screen implementation in the game is rather contrived. Sony is probably mandating developers to include touch controls for all Vita games, which is a terrible mistake because when they are just tacked on, they can easily ruin a game. I am also enjoying the digital download only shooter  Super Stardust Delta a lot and I can see myself playing it for a long time to come. I haven't downloaded non-gaming apps for the Vita as of yet. I really don't see myself tweeting or using Facebook on the system. If I want to watch Netflix while away from home, I rather just do that on my iPad 2. The system comes pre-installed with an app called "Near" that allows connected user to see each other within a 2 mile radius around them. Sure, the program doesn't pinpoint where exactly the other users are located but I think it's pretty darn easy to figure that out if you are using it in a residential area. This seems a bit unsafe. Perhaps Sony should have just limit the access to the list of users on a City/State level or allow users to use an alternative ID separate from the PSN user ID so that the users can choose who they want to reveal their actual PSN IDs to. There seems to be a lot of fun things you can do with this app like giving and receiving gifts with other players but you can't participate in them without revealing your PSN ID and I'm not willing to do that at the moment.
 
Super Stardust Delta is the best looking of the bunch.
 
I am glad that I got the Vita. I am using it a lot more than I thought I would. The Vita also encourages me to head to the bedroom sooner than usual these days because I don't mind looking at the OLED screen versus staying in my Game Room and gaming on the big screen. The scary thing is that I was even considering getting games that I already own again like Mortal Kombat because it's cheap now even though the Vita version doesn't even come close to looking like the console version just so that I can play it while being away from my Game Room. Looking at the big picture however, there are a lot more digital PSP games I wanted to get than actual Vita games so that is a little troubling when justifying the system's necessity. Hopefully, there will be more exclusive games coming for the Vita to make it a thoroughly worthwhile investment.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Random Yoshi Moment


That's exactly how I  look like when I see something I want on Steam.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Final PlayStation 2 Import Induction

If you look at the list of PlayStation 2 games I have in my Game Library, you will notice several Japanese titles in there - this is because I also own a Japanese PS2. Yesterday, the final Japanese import that I am interested in for the system finally arrived: It's Sunsoft Collection which features Galaxy Fight and Waku Waku 7. This collection was released back in 2008 and it was my recent induction of GunLord that reminded me that I have import games to search for before they disappear forever. I already own Waku Waku 7 on the SegaSaturn but that version unfortunately is filled with slowdown and long loading time, both remedied in this PS2 release. Now that I have this game, there is only one PS2 title that I am still interested in for the system and that is Growlanser: Heritage of War. Since that game is ridiculously priced on the Internet, it's probably going to take me a while to finally be able to say that I own all the games that I have ever wanted on one of my favorite gaming consoles ever.
 
Left it sealed just for the photo. It's opened now.