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  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I didn’t want to spoil this review by including any non-required information, so I’ve left it purposefully brief–those four words are, basically, all that you need to know.

    For the record, however, I will state that Tomb Raider is easily one of the best games that I have ever played. It is perfectly intuitive on a PC with keyboard and mouse, it ran at 40 FPS on my 5 year-old POS and looked amazing, and finally, everybody involved with the game has every right to be extremely proud of the final product.

    Brilliant work of entertainment.

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Tomb Raider (2013)

Tomb Raider (2013)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Off. The. Fucking. Chain.

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  • fuwalda says:

    I’m sure this game is awesome, but I never finished the first game. The first game was also awesome, but I stopped playing midway though because I got a little bored.

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      You know, it’s funny. I did the same thing with the first game. It wasn’t boredom, really, but I just got to this point about midway where all the enemies started carrying weapons, and I kept messing up trying to complete some objective, and I couldn’t be bothered to continue.

      I never had that problem with Arkham City. I don’t think it was easier–I just think the controls are a lot better on a PC, so I never felt like I was battling with the game mechanics.

      Anyway, I loved it. I’m waiting to see Arkham Asylum go on sale on Steam so I can pick that one up and finally do a full play-through.

  • fuwalda says:

    Arkham City is currently five dollars on Xbox Live. I’m downloading it now. I’ll check in later on.

  • fuwalda says:

    I got sick of this game even quicker than I did the other one. Then again, it’s basically the same game, just in a slightly different environment. Technically speaking, they’re amazing games with some of best graphics I’ve ever seen, excellent voice acting, and well written stories… but I dunno. As games, they both bored the shit out of me for two reasons:

    Combat stinks. It’s just button mashing. I just tap the x button and wag the stick around until everybody is dead. That’s it. It’s well animated so it’s fun to watch, but it’s so boring.

    Detective Mode stinks. I do applaud them for making an attempt to show that Batman is also a detective, but detective mode is this antithesis of actual detecting. It literally has captions pop up that tell you exactly what to do, what item to equip, where to use them, etc. How is this being a detective? It’s not a puzzle if the game presents the solution alongside the problem. Also, since you have to use detective mode in order to make it through the game, it’s easiest to just keep it on all the time, which makes the graphics look like shit.

    So… yeah, I dunno. These games just aren’t for me. I want to make it through because it is a great Batman story, I just wish the game mechanics were more fun.Then again, everybody else loves these games so maybe I’m just missing something.

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      I disagree with everything you just said. 😉

      I get that the combat isn’t…I dunno…Tekken, but for a beat-em-up, it’s pretty damn good. If all you’re doing is button mashing, you’re either playing the game on too easy a setting or you never got past the first few fights or never leveled your character to unlock new combat abilities. Using the counters is absolutely essential, as are the quick attack abilities, advanced moves like the beatdown, redirecting attacks, etc.

      I suppose I don’t disagree entirely about detective mode–sometimes I think they could have made me work a little harder to discover some things–but overall, I like the depth it adds to the gameplay. I didn’t really keep it on all the time either. You learn when you need it and when you don’t. A lot of the time detective mode is just about teaching you how to notice things, so once you learn that skill, it’s not essential to keep it turned on.

      I think it’s just not for you, but I do wonder if maybe you didn’t play it long enough to discover the real challenge of it. Personally, I totally get the reason the game has a 94 meta critic rating. As I said, I played this obsessively right up to the end and beyond. I almost never do that.

  • fuwalda says:

    It’s true I only played this for a few days, but what I saw wasn’t an improvement of the previous game, that I played for a few weeks. I just don’t find it fun.

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Batman: Arkham City (PC)

video-game-noir-batman-arkham-city-catwoman-via-digitaltrends[1]

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Batman: Arkham City has restored my faith in adventure game ports from the console to the PC. The game plays so intuitively and fluidly that I’m inclined to believe it’s actually quite a bit better suited to playing with a keyboard and mouse than it would be with a game controller. While Batman: Arkham City is a spectacularly entertaining game on its own merits, the sheer playability of the PC version puts it over the top for me.

Just a quick note, I played the Game of the Year Edition, which in addition to the base game, includes a Harley Quinn’s Revenge expansion, a Nightwing bonus pack for the challenge modes (non-campaign), and other sundries. If one were considering purchasing the game, I would suggest this is the version you would want (especially if you can pick it up for $7.50 on Steam, as I did).

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Drive, Fast Five, Star Wars: The Old Republic

So I’m moving this blog onto a semi-annual schedule. ha ha.

Well, yeah, it’s clear that I no longer have any will to keep this blog regular updated, but I’ll post a few things just for the hell of it, and because there are maybe two people out there who might actually care.

Drive (2011)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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7 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    I got nothing against Bay. He’s only guilty of trying to make movies that people will find entertaining. For some reason, that makes him the most hated man in Hollywood. If anything, I wish his movies had MORE action and stuff blowing up.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    heh. Well, I tend to think he has enough action and stuff blowing up, but yeah, it’s hard to deny the guy has filmed some good action sequences. Though I’m sure there are plenty of people who will deny that.

  • fuwalda says:

    You know what movie sucks? The French Connection. Seriously. Have you ever watched this supposed classic? It’s so slow, boring, and full of thoroughly detestable characters. And that car chase which is considering by many people to be the best of all time is pathetic and boring.

    Give me The Rock any day.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I feel as though you and I may have actually watched that movie together back in Charlottesville. In any case, I’ve seen it, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t think it was that great. It just felt dated to me, I think.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    You should do a “top 10 overrated action movies” post on your blog. As far as I can tell, nobody has done that.

  • fuwalda says:

    A while ago I thought about doing a “top ten most overrated movies” list, where I’d include shit like Juno and Napoleon Dynamite, but I decided against it because I didn’t want to do anything intentionally mean just for the sake of being mean.

    But maybe.

    I don’t know if I could think of ten overrated action movies anyway. Is the French Connection even considered to be an action movie?

  • fuwalda says:

    Oh, and by the way, I actually downloaded the demo for this game a few days ago. It was neat. Great graphics and pretty exciting, but it was too… cinematic or something, if that makes any sense. Like, the camera zoomed in and out and moved around as you made turns and stuff. It was a bit too high concept for me.

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A trailer through the eyes of Michael Bay

I think I’m one of the last people on the planet who still isn’t talking shit about Michael Bay, especially in light of the Transformer films (the last two of which I haven’t seen). I do feel a little bit cheated by the trajectory of his filmmaking, because after The Island, I really thought we’d see him exercising more of his storytelling chops, but he seems to be moving further and further away real characters and cohesive plotlines.

Anyway, it kind of made me laugh when I saw a commercial for the new Need for Speed game the other day that began with the prominent statment, “A trailer through the eyes of Michael Bay”.  The guy already has the reputation of making films with all the reality of a video game, so I suppose it’s a natural fit for him to direct a trailer for one, though I don’t know it’s necessarily the best career move. Regardless, I went online to check out the full trailer.

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Beta Weekend

So as part of the ramp up to the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic in December, BioWare have begun inviting pools of temporary testers for what they’re calling “Beta Weekends”. I think it’s largely an opportunity to stress test their servers, but in the process, they get more feedback than they can possibly know what to do with about the early game experience.

Anyway, long story short, I’ve been invited twice. So I’ve had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time with the game. This weekend that just ended, in particular, I played the shit out of Star Wars: The Old Republic owing to the fact that my wife and daughter are in Europe. Seriously. Played the shit out of it.

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4 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    These graphics are pretty amazing. I’d go see a Pixar movie with characters that looked like these.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I think I found my niche as a guy who only has enough artistic talent to be able to create good looking characters using video game avatar creation tools. Somebody should hire me to do this.

  • ALL of these Avatars you displayed are some of the best I’ve seen…but the middle right picture of the dark skinned female with facial tatoo (Minmatar race?) takes the prize.

    I would love to create one like it for my Minmatar mercenary female in Dust 514, but unfortunately 514 has NO character creator engine. (You EVE players have all the luck and luxury, LOL).

    Is this avatar copyrighted by you, or may I have your permission to use it as my chosen avatar in the Official Playstation Network forums?

    Please let me know…I will respect whichever decision you make.
    My User name in the forums is Chedwidden, and I’ve only been a Dust 514 player for 23 days.

    Thanks and keep up that great work!!

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      Sorry, I almost never check comments when I’m not actively blogging. I doubt I could copyright any of these images even if I wanted to. And I don’t play EVE anymore, anyway, so do as you will! 😉

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EVE Online Character Creator

You know, it may seem as though I’ve completely given up on this blog. And I have!

Well, not entirely. I did mean to write a couple of short reviews of The Unknown and Black Swan, but I’ve been pretty lazy lately. So instead, I thought I’d just share a few of the character portraits that I’ve worked up in the EVE Online character creator. Does anybody care? No, probably not. But I’m just in awe, really, of how great this thing is.

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8 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    Oh man, I got no sympathy for anybody who bought the Arcade version of the 360 and then starts to cry about it later on. You saved a bunch of money by knowingly buying the stripped down version of the console. I’ve always wondered what kind of sucker would buy the 360 Arcade, and now I know.

    A trade in program? Pffft. As far as I’m concerned, you Arcade people are a lower class of 360 owners and you shouldn’t get shit.

    But don’t feel too bad. The only thing worse than a sucker who bought the 360 Arcade was some sucker who bought a Kinect.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I actually had no idea I was buying a stripped down version of the system. At the time, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t buy the Xbox 360 with a built-in hard drive–I think you had to get it externally. This was more than three and a half years ago.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    And yeah, they should have a trade in program, because now I’ll never buy the Kinect or any of the games for the Kinect. What do they expect me to do? Buy a second Xbox 360? Sorry–no. If I’m going to buy a new system, I’ll get a Playstation 3, thanks, and Microsoft gets less and less of my money.

  • fuwalda says:

    When the 360 first launched, there were two consoles: The Pro, which had all the bells and whistles, including a hard drive, and the Core, which was a lot cheaper and lacked the hard drive. The Core was later phased out and replaced with the Arcade, which was more or less the same thing. There have always been two models of the 360, one for people like me who do their homework and buy the best investment, and one for suckers. 😉

    And come on… a trade in program? Why should you get a brand new system?

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I’m not saying a brand new one. Maybe a $100 credit toward one of the newer models or something.

  • fuwalda says:

    I don’t even want a Kinect, but now I’m going to go buy one just to annoy you.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I wish you would–you’ll love it. You’d be doing yourself a favor.

  • fuwalda says:

    Before I’d buy a Kinect (for which, at this point, there are no games that seem worth a damn), I’d just buy a Wii.

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Things that annoy me: Xbox 360 Arcade Bundle

So  back in 2008, I purchased the Xbox 360 Arcade Bundle, which included what was at the time the standard Xbox 360, which came with absolutely no hard drive. Even then, I knew that was really dumb, because hell–even the original Xbox had a hard drive, and it was very useful.

Fast forward to a few years later and while toying with the notion of purchasing the Kinect for my birthday, I discover that not only does it require that you have at least the 4GB Xbox 360 (which now is the standard–as far as I can tell, they don’t sell the console anymore without a hard drive…because basically, you need a hard drive for everything now), but my Xbox 360 console doesn’t even have a proper power supply to support the Kinect. So…basically, my Xbox 360 is a huge piece of crap and kind of useless for the next generation games. It’s kind of equivalent to owning the original Xbox at this point.

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The Sims

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  • Echelon says:

    Free 2 Play seems to be the new route for games that just didn’t meet expectations.

    I was very excited about Age of Conan when it came out, I followed it up until launch, had a guild and all of that overly nerdy dedication to something that doesn’t yet exist (see SWTOR for the current example in my life). When it was launched the first 10 levels were absolutely amazing. Tortage (Noob) Island was so well put together that I could just imagine the rest of the game.

    Unfortunately the rest of the game was only a fracion as good as those first 10 levels. It was tightly put together, the quests were interesting and close, so you were constantly progressing. The combat was interesting and because things weren’t difficult yet, it felt fun instead of like the combo system was just in the way.

    I will say that the open world PVP was about as good as you’re going to find (outside of Shadowbane).

    Had the new guy been more concentrated on making the rest of the game like Tortage, the game wouldn’t be going free 2 play right now, no doubt. The game ends up being just another example of how important a good launch-first 3 months is.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    There is something that I sort of like about Funcom’s pricing model: it’s pretty simple for one thing. There are only the two tiers of membership (unless I’m mistaken). (1) Free subscribers and (2) premium subscribers–basically, just people who pay the monthly fee that Funcom has charged since the game launch–who get everything simply as a result of playing the game.

    Something that burns me up is when people talk about games offering a subscription pricing structure where the standard $15/month subscription only gets you so much while microtransactions get you all the stuff you really want to have. Perhaps I’m naive, but if I’m paying a monthly subscription, I want everything.

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Age of Conan Going Free-to-Play

Age of Conan fatalityFollowing up on the comments thread from the last post, I just discovered that Age of Conan is going free-to-play this summer, so it might be worth having a look. It IS a fun game, though maybe I’ve overstated things saying it was better than WoW half a year after their respective launches.

It sounds as though the free-to-play option will allow you to experience much of the game up to level 80, which is really the best stuff anyway. After you reach the level cap, it kind of sucks, because the PvE becomes incredibly tedious, and the PvP is really just dominated by overgeared players.

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  • fuwalda says:

    I’ll be honest, I try to avoid stuff like this because I haven’t had a gaming PC in years. I’ll admit that I love my 360 and my Macbook, but I do miss MMRPGs. A little while ago I tried to get back into WoW on my Mac, but it just wasn’t the same.

    Still… this game looks phat.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    When I began playing WoW, I thought it was the best game ever. And it _was_ pretty good, but it’s weird that I never made it past level 40 or something like that. After a while, it started feeling a little grindy, and I began just trying all of the different classes to check them out, but never getting very far. Good game, but I’m not sure it really deserves to be pretty much the only successful game in the genre. I actually thought Age of Conan was better, at least compared with where it was a half a year after launch and where WoW was at the same time.

    The reason I’m interested in this game is because it seems as though it will have a shitload of story-driven elements, such that it will almost play like a single-player RPG a lot of the time…except for the MMO part. Also…because it’s Star Wars.

  • fuwalda says:

    I’ve played a lot of MMRPGs (though probably not as many as you, because you’re a huge nerd… heh heh), and WoW was the only one that really hooked me and get me going, until around… I don’t remember. I think I quit somewhere in the mid 40s. Did it deserve to be the most successful? Maybe, if only because it was so user friendly and fun for even casual gamers.

    That Camelot game was also very good. I never did play Conan, although it looked cool. I have some hack and slash Conan game on the 360, if that gets me anything.

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Only Troopers Are So Precise

You know how the troopers in the original Star Wars trilogy were supposed to be awesome, but they couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn? I think Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to redeem them even more so than the prequel trilogy did. Granted, this game occurs during a different time period…

This is a trailer showing the alternate progression tracks you can take as a Galactic Republic trooper in the upcoming game.

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