Sunday, July 29, 2012

Neymar Skills & Tricks

Many Americans including myself got their first real introduction to 20 year old Brazillian soccer phenom Neymar this morning in the Brazil v Belarus match, which Brazil handily won 3-1 after going down 0-1 to start the game. In a stunning display of otherworldly talent Neymar stole the show with a goal and two assists. As I told esteemed soccer fan Umopapisdnpuaq, I think now I really understand why they call it The Beautiful Game. Spain is out now, so I wont be surprised if Neymar carries his country all the way to a gold medal.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Massive L4D2 DLC Incoming

***UPDATE 7/24 Cold Stream has been delayed on Xbox 360 till next week!***

A brand new campaign, and 3 of the original L4D maps are coming to L4D2 via a massive DLC pack from Valve this Tuesday. Cold Stream, the new campaign, is joined by old school classics Blood Harvest, Crash Course and Dead Air. No Mercy was already released via previous DLC, so L4D2 players will essentially have the entire original game in their hands with all of the newer games features. Also, the update allows for any mutation (essentially a rules set) to be used at any time, where they were previously available only in a periodic rotation set by Valve. There are 20 mutations currently available to choose from, some which make the game easier, like Gib-Fest - where all survivors get an M60 with unlimited ammo, and some which make it much, much harder - like Nightmare and Deaths Door (you dont want to know).

The pricing for the DLC on XBL hasnt been released yet, but its going to be cheap, Im guessing 400-800 MSP. What, you dont have L4D2? *cough*MD*cough* Well, it costs $5 on ebay and and probably only a little more than that at a games store. Its on the unofficial list of awesome coop games that you officially need to own. Im going to be playing the crap out of the new DLC and various mutations over the next few weeks. Gib-Fest might even let us finally take a crack at Expert difficulty. I mean anything is possible, right guys?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gamefly Doomed, Next Gen Looking Scary

So, I recently tried to log into my Direct2Drive account, for those who dont know it was a digital download gaming service owned by parent company IGN. I had been using it for years and overall, while it wasnt as good as Steam, it was perfectly fine and I had some older games on there. I like digital download because I dont have to worry about losing or damaging the disc or keeping track of authorization codes, and as a general rule I dont pirate software (or music, or movies for that matter - almost never).

So, when I logged in, I learned that D2D had been sold to gamefly in August 2011, and that all my games would be over there now. Now, as a former gamefly member, I wondered how it would work in terms of merging my accounts, as I get offers from gamefly to renew all the time. I logged into my GF account, and lo and behhold, there were some games - but, not all of them. I checked around and learned that only a fraction of the games people bought on D2D were ever transferred to GF - the rest would possibly "be added later," had some legal issue which prevented the transfer, or were "older games" which GF had deemed not even worthy of adding to their servers because only a few hundred people would ever download them. The outcry has been phenomenal.

So in the end, the customers got screwed. We paid for games, so we could have them indefinitely, and because D2D sold to a buyer who had no experience in the digital download market and no incentive to provide servers and updates and authorizations for older games, and various DRM issues with some newer ones as well - we now have a fraction of what we paid for. The GF client interface sucks, and from what I can tell its also some sort of evil spyware that wont ever close unless you end the process from the Task Manager.

If the rumor is true, and the next generation of consoles doesnt allow used games to be played without paying for an authorization, Gamefly is going to go out of business. Most of their money comes from renting and selling used games, and if this latest fiasco is any indication, they have no idea what they are doing in the digital download marketplace. Competitors like Steam and EA will eat them alive.

Im concerned about the next generation, between the lack of used games, online games only being active for 2 years, integrated motion controls for every game, and Sony filing a patent for in game advertisements which stop the game and force you to watch a commercial. Talk about breaking the players immersion, something like that would positively shatter it. Im sure they will find ways to get us to buy their next gen consoles, mostly by selling us remakes of games we already played which have since been taken offline or which will be remade in HD, offering features which we had and were taken away, and of course needing to buy one to play Bungie's next gen IP or Half Life 3. The greedy, money-sucking face humping vampire squid that is the gaming industry will find a way to get us to buy one, just like they did with the 360 and the Xbox and PS2 and N64 before it, ad infinitum, but that doesnt mean I wont do so kicking and screaming.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Borderlands 2 - Pandoras Mighty Jungle Trailer

There are only 2 games that are absolute, day one, must buy Xbox 360 titles for me left in 2012, and Borderlands 2 is one of them. There are a few other games Im interested in, but given my extreme backlog, Im in no rush to shell out for them new. I think the timing of Borderlands 2 is pretty much perfect, as the late September launch will give us about 6 weeks to just play the living hell out of it before Halo 4 takes over our lives. What I love about Gearbox's masterpiece franchise is that its a blast to play coop, has a wonderful art style, and never takes itself too seriously.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Splinter Cell Blacklist Gameplay Demo

Ubisoft showed some Blacklist gameplay at E3, and I have to say Im pretty disappointed. I cant say Im surprised though - this is just what Conviction was like. The game "looks good" - its clear they have designed the gameplay around what they want the game to look like in motion, not what necessarily makes for the most fun or most challenging game. This is what people are referring to when they say that games today "play themselves." Im not trying to be that guy, bent over with a cane and 3 foot long white beard, scratching his head and saying "In my day, Sonny, when you wanted to kill a terrorist in a Splinter Cell game, you actually had to aim at his head," but Ive got some stubble and my knees are starting to feel creaky.

French accent: "Splinter Cell: Better With Kinect!, gameplay handholding, no Michael Ironsides, and a nifty time machine that makes Sam Fischer 35 again!"

Current odds of Spies vs Mercs multiplayer: 5-1 against (a gutshot straight draw).

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Best Shot of All Time

Stayed up all night playing poker as usual, but tonight was particularly awesome because right as the poker game was breaking, the Wimbledon semi-final between Djokovic and Federer was starting. This wasnt just your average semi-final either - this match had the feeling and importance of a final - the players have a great, historic rivalry, and if Federer wins the tournament he will regain the #1 ranking in mens tennis, something no tennis expert or fan could reasonably expect given how exceptional the current #1 and #2 players are.

The first two sets went by in a flash, with Djokovic regaining his form to draw even and take the second set. In the 3rd set both players raised their game to another level, but it became clear that Federer, on this court, on this surface, just had a higher ceiling. His forehand isnt just a weapon, its the single best shot in the history of the game. Federer won the 3rd set, and in the 4th just dominated Djokovic, aceing him with first and second serves, defending all counter attacks brilliantly, and making the world class shots which have enabled him to win a record 16 grand Slams. By the end of the match, Djokovic looked helpless; the #1 player in the world wasnt even competitive.

The Murray and Tsonga semi-final match has just started, and Im off for a nap, but I will be surprised if either of them are able to upset Roger in the final. Murray would make a great story for the Brits, and Tsonga for the French, but after watching the greatest tennis player of all time at the top of his game this morning, Im expecting nothing less than #17 for him.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Last of Us E3 Gameplay Demo

This is the 3rd and final big game that Sony showed at E3 this year. Developed by Naughty Dog, the makers of the Uncharted series, The Last of Us is a post apocalyptic survival action/adventure game where a fungus has infected the human race and driven our species to the brink of extinction - yet its "not a zombie game" - other survivors and the military pose a threat as well. Its a single player game where the protagonist is controlled by the player and the AI controls his companion, a 14 year old girl, who have come to depend on each other for survival in their quest to escape the quarantined zone. Beyond that, we dont know much, other than that if games like this can be produced in 2 years time on current gen consoles, do we really even need a next generation?