Self Similar self similar’s personal gaming nonsense blog

26Jan/090

Katagraw

After beating Warhammer: Battle March I jumped right into my Xbox 360 backlog.

I decided to hit up something entirely different first and started Beautiful Katamari. I'm certainly familiar with the concept behind the Katamari games and indeed have tried them in very short bursts in the past but this is the first time I've actually tried to sit down and play through one. I don't feel like I need to say much about the quirky characters, stylized art, bizarre, catchy music, or how it is all hilariously countered by the disturbing concept of "rolling up" living people, destroying cities, and even uprooting entire continents. The controls take a little getting used to which I'm sure is quite intentional but, even so, I found myself sucking at Beautiful Katamari lot more than I'd anticipated. I had to retry some stages several times before beating the required goals which doesn't even guarantee you got a good score a long the way. The king is also a pretty big dick when you do any less than fantastic. Thanks Dad!

I blasted through the entire single player campaign in just a few sittings picking up an easy 245 achievement points along the way. Definitely a unique, enjoyable game but definitely not something I felt like I wanted to invest a lot of time into especially considering the size of my backlog though I admit I was definitely tempted to try to beat some of my more lackluster scores. If you are the type who wants to complete games 100% though Beautiful Katamari gives you plenty of goals to chase after - collecting hidden cousins and presents in levels and completing your collection of rolled up items as well as other achievements will have you playing for quite a few more hours. There's also several additional DLC levels you can purchase as well which I've heard are pretty good.

Sure, don't worry about why I'm in cover guys, just stand there in the open.
"Sure, don't worry about why I'm in cover guys, just stand there in the open."

Next up was Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2. I've been a long time fan of the Ghost Recon series although the original Ghost Recon is quite clearly my favorite with all subsequent games taking different directions to try to break out of its hardcore niche into a more mainstream audience. I'm only about a third of the way through the single player campaign at the time of this post but so far GRAW2 definitely corrects some of the issues I had with the first GRAW: The campaign feels much shorter, with less drug out and strung along missions. The game as a whole feels a lot easier and, more importantly, less frustrating than the first one. Overall I'm having a lot more fun with GRAW2 than I did with GRAW as well - I'm not sure if this is because of some of the changes and the extra polish that it's received or maybe just because it has been a while since I've played this kind of game. Regardless so far I'm considering replaying the whole thing on the hardest difficulty when this run is done with which is in stark contrast to GRAW's single player campaign that I couldn't wait to be done with by the time it was nearing the end.

My Warhammer Online burnout morphed into a general MMO burnout after taking a very quick hop around space on my Eve Online account thanks to a free reactivation promotion. I was quickly reminded of why I quit the game and, more importantly, if I wanted to get the most out of hopping back into it I'd have to invest way more time than I currently have running around with a corporation (Eve's equivalent of a guild or a clan) and the like. Besides that I'd simply rather be playing other games than any particular MMO right now. There are certainly some interesting looking ones on the horizon, such as Jumpgate: Evolution though. It may take one of them to get me back in the fold after I finally decide to cancel my WAR account.

Please forgive the horrible photograph of GRAW2. This is the first time I've actually posted a photo of a 360 game despite being tempted many times before. It's better than nothing, perhaps? I definitely prefer posting my own screenshots over stealing someone else's in any case.

21Jan/090

Two Thousand Eight

Hey, it's the new year!? Here are a few New Year tidbits:

Best 2008 game I played: Grand Theft Auto 4. I realized I hadn't played nearly enough games this year, and of those, not many were 2008 games. In fact I was really struggling to come up with 2008 titles deserving of this accolade until I remembered that GTA4 was an 08 game. I've already talked about my experience with GTA4 a bit in past blog posts so enough about that. I will say, however, I can't fathom why it has suddenly become so popular to hate on this game. Not as good as the previous ones and other, similar games in some ways? Sure... Heck, I had my initial complaints as well. But horrible garbage? Hardly!

Best 2008 game I didn't play: Fallout 3. Yeah, I pretty much just made up this one but considering how much of the most interesting stuff that came out last year I haven't actually played yet it seemed like a fitting topic. Being a big fan of open world, sandboxy RPGs, as well as Fallout along with Bethesda's previous RPG efforts, I can't help but predict that I'll love Fallout 3 when I finally get around to playing it. I also predict that I'll really, really enjoy Fable 2 when I finally pick it up as well.

2008 game that everyone tried to get me to play that I didn't: Left 4 Dead. A lot of old gaming chums had been picking this up, I'd been hearing tales of it on podcasts and reading about how awesome it was in forums, but I just couldn't convince myself to drop any money on it. I came VERY close a couple of times but the vast majority of opinions I've come across on the subject pretty much imply that Left 4 Dead is a game best played with friends. Most of the friends of mine who wanted me to play it with them are in fact in different time zones than I so I figured I'd never end up playing it not unlike Team Fortress 2. I had actually decided to check out the demo of the 360 version the other day with the intent of possibly trying some split screen co-op but for some reason Valve has already removed the demo from everywhere. Hmph, here I was not even slightly interested in the 360 version now considering buying it? Boo! One potential sale down the drain!

Most disappointing 2008 game: Age of Conan. Easy... So much potential! You can read a lot more about my feelings on the subject in earlier posts. Pirates of The Burning Sea was also a big let down for me as well.

Most anticipated 2009 game: I don't know! 2009 feels very different from 2008 so far. There really isn't a ton of games I'm dying to get my hands on though there are many I'm fairly interested in. I might have to go ahead and name Diablo 3 as my most anticipated game of 2009 but it is a little optimistic to even assume it'll be out this year.

Gaming related New Year's resolution:I need to play more games! Yeah, looking back over 2008 I'm surprised how relatively little gaming I've done. I chalk most of that up to being hooked onto MMOs, Age of Conan and then Warhammer Online, for a large portion of the time. I also let two lengthy Xbox 360 games, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Warhammer: Battle March, dominate far too much of my limited console time. I really feel like I need to spend more time beating and completing more games. I've got massive 360 and DS backlogs now and there are countless PC games, new and old, I'm pining to revisit not to mention titles I plan to discuss, log, and/or review for this site. What's the solution to this problem? One great first step would be to stop sinking so much of my gaming time into these damn MMORPGs, all of which usually end up sucking in the end anyway. Hmph.

Site related plans: I'll continue slowly working on Garn's Oblivion adventure. It hasn't even gotten too interesting yet, I know, but it'll get there. I also hope to do some others as well. Some potential possibilities are Stalker, Fallout 3, and some one off ArmA missions. I'd also like to do some logs of older games, such as Master of Orion and X-com. Who knows how many of these I can pull off though. I also intend on putting out more and more retro PC and console game reviews. I only got one full review out the entire time last year which is really quite pathetic though I am currently wrapping up a playthrough of a combined 3 games in a series for my next review. Yes, there are a lot more old games I'm just ping to replay.

I was going to make this sort of thing my first post of the year but I've been busy and the 1UP thing seemed to take precedent.

7Jan/090

1UP Theirs?

Some slightly depressing news dropped yesterday. Straight from the source it looks like UGO has bought 1UP, killed 1UP's remaining print magazine EGM, and apparently canned most of the staff including almost all of our beloved podcast personalities. They say the intend to keep the site up and there are vague whispers from some of the few people that remain there about the possible return of some of the 1UP podcasts but, even if that is true, they won't be at all the same without the same people being involved.

I had been listening to the 1UP Yours podcast on and off for a long time and catching it every week for more than a couple of years now and it was almost certainly my favorite podcast. Sure, it had it's ups and downs with staff coming and going but as a whole I liked it a lot. Eventually, after hearing Jeff Green on it a few times and being familiar with him from CGW I supplemented my weekly 1UP Yours digests with GFW Radio/Lan Party, and later 1UP FM and the occasional 1UP Show as well.

This may sound pretty silly to some of you but after listening to the same guys for so long discussing a topic I love and given the casual atmosphere of all of the 1UP podcasts I really felt like I knew some of them almost as well as I know some of my other online gaming friends. It is definitely a blow to suddenly lose contact with them all at once like this and I of course feel for all of them losing their jobs, especially during these economically rough times. On the bright side I'm sure many of them be hired on by competitors or even start up their own ventures much like the guys at Giant Bomb did. In fact we're already hearing rumors of a new podcast hosted by Nick Suttner, Philip Kollar, and Anthony Gallegos (the core of 1UP FM) called Rebel FM.

It might not be surprising that EGM was laid to rest given that Ziff Davis killed off Games for Windows (AKA Computer Gaming World) last year and the general decline of print magazines (particularly tech related magazines) in the Internet age. I myself had been a CGW reader on and off for a long, long time and thought it was one of the more mature and well written gaming magazines out there. When CGW died I started getting copies of EGM in the mail as a replacement and thought it was a decent read from time to time as well though it definitely wasn't as good as I remember it being in the past. Still, listening to the 1UP podcasts for a while and starting to associate some of the names with real people made reading the articles written by the same guys much more interesting.

Yes, I know a lot of people absolutely scoff a the idea of print magazines these days given all of the great material to be found online but personally I still enjoy flicking through a magazine from time to time particularly when my eyes have had enough of staring into a monitor all day long. I really hope they don't all completely disappear anytime soon but at the very least I'm sure we'll continue to see the selection slim.

I really have a hard time trying to figure out what UGO's scheme is with this buyout. For one, I'm not a UGO fan in the slightest nor do I really use any of their sites, while 1UP's website and again, particularly, their podcasts have gained quite a lot of recognition in recent years. I get the impression that many gamers, at least the ones in the circles I follow, feel the same way. So UGO buys 1UP and kills off their biggest attractions and then lays off all of the talent responsible for it. OK, they still have the website but who is even going to come to the site without the podcasts bringing them in now? That'd be like some other burger joint buying McDonalds and immediately getting rid of the Big Mac or something. What do they really get out of this deal? Not only will the popularity of the website seriously diminish without the podcasts and print magazine and of course particular popular staff writers bringing in visitors but this whole deal is surely going to hurt the reputations of both UGO and 1UP. Did they just plop down a huge sum of money for some seriously negative publicity or what? I'm sure there's a lot more to it but for now it boggles the mind.