Friday, August 31, 2012
Valve finally released their update to Counter Strike, called Global Offensive, this week. As with most things that happen on Valve Time, it took a while but the wait, for the most part, was worth it. Its mostly a new coating of paint for the same old game, the weapons physics and maps and gameplay are all the same, but they did throw in a couple of new modes which are pretty cool.
I played the 45minute XBLA demo and I think they did a pretty good job with porting it overall, but the game is so twitchy that it really benefits from being run at 60+ frames per second on the PC, and of course the ability to aim with the mouse makes a big difference. So it just doesnt quite play the same, and although its good as an Xbox game its not a great one, with the upside being that pretty much everyone playing it on XBL isnt very good, so if you are a newcomer to the series its probably the best way to get your feet wet rather than than face the grizzled veterans playing on Valve's Steam servers.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Well, Im not a huge Resident Evil fan, I think games like Dead Space and Left for Dead have far surpassed it in terms of horror ambience and actual gameplay, but I alway forget that one of the big inspirations for Gears of War was Resident Evil. And when I look at this footage, its Gears that I think of. How awesome is it to be able to dive backwards on the floor and shoot from your back?
Anyway, the footage is from a Gamestop preorder map pack, which I wont be getting, as Im looking at grab this game used sometime down the line in 2012-2013. I will play it, probably gripe about the controls and bizzare inventory like I always do, but its usually a worthwhile experience, even if the RE games now are nothing like the old ones, they are still pretty fun to play and I commend Capcom for extending the series for as long and as far as they have - the fans still love it.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have said that life is a series of annoyances punctuated by the ocassional spell of happiness. The hard part of life then, is to dwell on these happy parts and try to let them spill over into the mundane and annoying everyday trials and tribulations.
Today, August 22nd, 2012, Im fairly sure is the greatest day in my life. I met someone over a month ago, and while I was immediately drawn to her, it took a fair bit of time and effort to get her to go out with me. Sometimes the things you want the most are the hardest to get, but usually they are also the most satisfying. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or a week or a month or a year from now - but I cant dwell on that. You have to live in the present, and try to enjoy the great moments as much as possible.
We have gone out a few times, and today after I dropped her off back at her place in the late afternoon/early evening, I drove home sort of in a dream like daze. Is this really happening? Is it possible that I am actually this lucky? Do I dare contemplate the consequences of this, or how this all turns out given my spotty luck in the past and all the mistakes I have made, and bad beats I have been dealt?
No, I wasnt going to do that, so I drove down by the waterfront here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I sat down in the grass not far from the shoreline. The sun was low in the sky, and there were a lots of people out enjoying a spectacular, dare I say perfect, late summer evening. Kids were running around playing, a guy was snoozing in a lawnchair, couples were laying out on blankets chatting and laughing, there was a small group of people playing music - just an acoustic guitar, some bongos, and two girls singing. The breeze was light, and I could hear the water lapping at the shore. The sun moved closer to the horizon - an epic, skyspanning vista of steel and concrete - Manhattan.
No, I was here just to enjoy the moment. To really let it sink in. I just sat there and tried to think how I got to this point. Part of it was planned, a lot of it was pure luck, and even given the mistakes I made in the past, and know I will make in the future, I dont regret any of it. I cant dwell on those things. If my life at this point in time is what it is, and this is all real, how could I? I could not possibly be any happier right now. Sure there are things I wish were different. Things I wish I could change. But even given all that, it seems silly to dwell on them.
Im about to go out now with some good friends, have a great meal, and then let the night take us where it may. I dont know what the future holds, and Im not worried about it one bit, because right now everything seems to good too be true, I would even dare say perfect, and Im going to try to make this fleeting feeling last for as long as possible.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
So I got Orcs Must Die! 2 over the weekend, and its a total blast to play coop on Steam. Its not out on Xbox Live or PSN, although if it sells well I wont be surprised if it is one day. But if you have a gaming PC and enjoy coop games, this one is extremely satisfying and easily worth the $15 asking price. In a word, its addictive as hell.
There isnt a whole lot to the game, it has no AAA aspirations, and those are its strengths. Its like a restaurant that only serves on thing. Im my experience, these restaurants tend to be of much higher quality than some random place you might pick out of a phonebook. If a place is called Joes Cheeseteaks or Bobbys Lobster Rolls, you can bet that their signature dish is probably going to be pretty solid.
This game serves up orc slaying in the form of a tower defense, action light-RPG recipe without no fluff or filler whatsoever. You get some points, spend them on upgrades like traps, obstacles, and guards, and then trigger a multiwave attack of orcs which you must not only survive, but are graded on for style and efficiency. Dont let any orcs through your defenses while earning huge killstreaks and combo multipliers, and you will earn more skulls which allow you to purchase upgrades to your gear, new items, better traps and guards.
Its a simple, effective recipe and while I never played the first game, I cant imagine it being nearly as good due to the lack of coop. I dont think I would even want to try to play OMD2 by myself, as half the fun is coordinating your defenses and upgrades with a partner for maximium efficiency. Its probably not the type of game which will keep you playing for 100 hours, but I downloaded it Friday and the next thing I knew the sun was rising and Ajax and I had earned our first flawless, 5 skull mission completion. If videogames are the ultimate distraction, this one isnt far off from being perfect.
Friday, August 10, 2012
So I bought Frozen Synapse on Steam, based on the recommendation of a friend that its an insanely good tactical turn based strategy game, with a coop campaign and an active online multiplayer community. Its like a combination of Rainbow Six, Metal Gear, and Tron remade as the classic game Robosport (an ancient Maxis title from 1991 which I played as a kid). I havent tried it yet but it does have an 85 rating on Metacritic. If any of you have any interest, as a bonus they threw in an extra copy which I can gift to you on Steam. I dont think it even requires much of a PC at all to run. If you can handle VGA graphics you should be good to go.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
In an event which will surely have repercussions for future Olympic games, 8 female badminton players were disqualified for what has been called "match fixing" by attempting to purposefully lose games. The teams doing so were highly skilled, medal contending teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia, who attempted to manipulate the draw of a round robin style tournament by throwing a match so that they would face weaker teams in subsequent rounds.
Im here to tell you that the only thing disgraceful about the entire situation is the structure of this badminton tournament - not the players actions. As the great Jets coach Herman Edwards said, "You play to win the game. You play to win the game. Thats the greatest thing about sports. You play to win." In the Olympics, winning the game means winning a medal for your country, and players should do everything in their power to accomplish that task - as long as it does not violate the rules of The Games.
The badminton players werent accused of breaking any specific rules. They simply "violated the spirit of the Olympics," which couldnt possibly be a bigger load of bullshit. These players all wanted to win a medal, they and their coaches looked at the structure of the tournament, applied basic game theory and deduced an exploit. It just so happened that the people who designed the tournament dont understand game theory, and were appalled at the admittedly "unpretty" results - world class players serving into the net repeatedly.
Blaming the badminton players for playing the tournament metagame perfectly is like criticizing a poker player for lying about the strength of their hand, bemoaning a pool hustler for giving away a shot, or chastising a baseball player for stealing second base. "Hey! That wasnt very nice!" To people who dont really understand how competitive sports and games work, it might seem unsportsmanlike and somehow crude, when in reality, such plays are the epitome of the competitive spirit - the definition of playing to win. You work to get the odds in your favor and you crush the opposition.
It isnt the 8 female players who should be disqualified from the Olympics - its the people who changed the tournament structure from single elimination to a structure which could be gamed for an advantage who should be disqualified from ever overseeing any competitive event ever again. You play to win the game. It is the tournament organizers and the IOC who are a disgrace to the Olympic spirit in disqualifying these players - not the players themselves.